Rock fans are truly die-hards. Whether it's the lifelong rocker listening to Led Zeppelin on pristine vinyl or the teenager at Guitar Center trying to nail the intro to "Smoke on the Water" for what seems like the hundredth time, fanatics of all ages and backgrounds continue to fall in love the great classic rock anthems of yesteryear.
As it approaches its second anniversary, Raiding the Rock Vault continues to be a tribute worthy of those fans. The show is a combination of concert and production show, which banks on nostalgia as much as it does on the timelessness of the music, bringing new life to classic rock hits with the help of many artists that made them hits in the first place.
When they left the Westgate (née LVH) for their new home at the Tropicana, the Rock Vaultcrew didn't just unpack their old show and call it a day. They refined the set list, improved the lighting and effects and, in the most notable departure from the production's early days, reworked the entire narrative. The end result is something a little more streamlined and, simply put, even more fun than the previous show.
The band is made up of heavy hitters like guitarists Howard Leese (Heart) and Doug Aldrich (Whitesnake, Dio), bassist Hugh McDonald (Bon Jovi), vocalists Robin McAuley (Survivor), Paul Shortino (Rough Cutt, Quiet Riot), Andrew Freeman (The Offspring), Carol-Lyn Liddle (Masters of Rock), Stephanie Calvert (Starship) and Mark Boals (Dokken), keyboardist Michael T. Ross (Lita Ford) and drummer Jay Schellen (Asia), giving them range to cover a wide swath of classic material and bringing the audience closer to the music that captured the hearts and imaginations of millions over the decades. In past performances, the Rock Vault band has even welcomed rock stars like Toto's Bobby Kimball, Rainbow's Joe Lynn Turner and Jon Anderson of Yes to take the stage with them, adding yet another layer of authenticity to the show.
The concert set list tears through a diverse group of hits by The Who, Led Zeppelin, Jimi Hendrix, Def Leppard, Supertramp, Queen, Bon Jovi, Van Halen and many more, in mostly chronological order. The end result is not only something of the story of rock music, it's also as close as one can get to piecing together a classic rock canon.
And then there's the story. Several brief and comedic narrative segments link together the band's songs as members swap in and out seamlessly, wardrobe matching the era or song they're performing. These segments provide the greater scope of the events going on while these songs were released, from the point of view of someone who was there. In this case, it's a tour roadie whose sense of humor and one-liners seems pulled from a stoner comedy du jour. It's a fun, not-too-serious look back in time that helps contextualize the music.
Not only do you get to hear these hits live, but you also get to see how rock went from a ragtag subculture to a commercial juggernaut. And in the process, you might just fall in love with the genre all over again.
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