BY JOSE MARTINEZ
Everybody loves a good cause, but let’s be honest, when it comes to benefit concerts, it’s all about the bands and the music that makes most people come out in droves. Monday night (Nov. 18), former Guns N’ Roses drummer Matt Sorum helped orchestrate a one-night-only show at the Avalon Hollywood to benefit Ric O’Barry’s Dolphin Project.
In case you don’t remember, O’Barry starred in the 2009 Oscar winning documentary The Cove where he led a group of activists into a controversial cove in Taiji, Japan to expose the shocking slaughter of dolphins during the annual roundup and sale of dolphins to marine institutes. Hundreds of dolphins who weren’t sold into captivity were mercilessly killed; the scene was so graphic it turned the cove’s water blood red.
A new dolphin activist, Sorum went to Taiji to protest with O’Barry earlier this year and as a result, put together the concert featuring fellow ex-Gunners Slash and Duff McKagan, alongside rockers Corey Taylor of Slipknot/ Stone Sour; Glenn Hughes of Deep Purple, and Black Country Communion; former Billy Idol guitarist Steve Stevens; and actress turned rocker Juliette Lewis. Billed as the Kings of Chaos, Monday’s show marked the band’s only U.S. performance of the year.
Originally billed as Rock ‘N’ Roll Allstars, other Kings of Chaos members include Joe Elliott of Def Leppard; ex Gunner Gilby Clarke; and Sebastian Bach of Skid Row fame. These three weren’t on hand at the Dolphin Project show but there were enough former GNR members on hand to rile up the rowdy crowd.
“I’m thrilled to bring a bunch of heavyweights together for a fun night with fans,” Matt Sorum said. “The main thing is to keep creating awareness for the Dolphin Project and everyone involved.”
“This is a rehearsal for the big one,” said former Flipper trainer Rick O’Barry. “We plan on taking the show to Japan. We’ll add a few Japanese friends to our lineup and rock the socks off Tokyo. There isn’t a better way to bring Westerners and Japanese people together than rock and roll and the world should also know about the wonderful relationship between Japanese people and dolphins in the Tokyo Islands. Dolphins are respected and protected in this part of Japan. It’s the opposite of Taiji, but very few people know about it. This concert will hopefully change this by bringing positive, international media attention to what is right about Japan.”
If this show wasn’t the “big one,” it sure was big enough to delight fans. Singer Glenn Hughes kicked things off with Deep Purple classic rock staples “Highway Star” and “Smoke on the Water.”
Almost as if a tag team, Corey Taylor took over the mic next aptly taking on Billy Idol’s “Rebel Yell.” Things then really picked up as Slash sauntered onstage and the band, with Taylor filling in for W. Axl Rose, tore into “Mr Brownstone” and “It’s So Easy,” which laid waste to any notion that this is a band of karaoke fat cats. With Taylor on vocals, the ante was upped and I can see why these guys are itching to take this show on the road.
Juliette Lewis jumped aboard and channeled her inner Patti Smith on AC/DC’s “Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap.” I’ll give Lewis credit; she has manic energy and struts around like a cross between Mick Jagger and Patti Smith in need of sedation. Bummer she only did the one song as I would have liked to have seen her mesh more with the veteran fellas.
Glenn Hughes returned as the band got their Led Zep groove on with “Communication Breakdown” followed by “Immigrant Song” with Franky Perez delivering solid and powerful vocals.
Corey Taylor elevated the fun singing Velvet Revolver’s “Slither” (between Slipknot, Stone Sour, his one-man solo shows, not to mention good times with his Junk Beer Kidnap Band, Taylor, who was once even rumored to become the new Anthrax singer, should really team up with Slash, Sorum, Duff and Gilby Clarke because they can probably create a pretty powerful band).
During the encore, things got a little odd as a wandering and disheveled Billy Ray Cyrus jumped onstage as Franky Perez took on Queen’s “Tie Your Mother Down.” Then it became a free for all during the show’s closing number, Guns N’ Roses “Paradise City.”
Fans had a good time and the message of Dolphin Project to stop dolphin slaughter and exploitation around the world was stressed. Matt Sorum urged fans to boycott places such as Sea World and not to buy tickets to any dolphin show or swimming with dolphin attractions. The organization believes most captive dolphins are confined in miniscule tanks containing chemically treated artificial seawater, not to mention dolphins in tanks are severely restricted in using their highly developed sonar, which is one of the most damaging aspects of captivity.
Without having done too much but rock out and have a good time, it was nice to help out a worthy cause. If only everything could be that easy.