Christmas came early for the lucky few who nabbed a ticket to Orianthi’s hometown gig last Sunday 21st December, cos they witnessed some Australian rock n roll history (nope, I ain’t referring to beau Richie Sambora guesting with her either). See, Ori rarely does solo shows downunder, and this performance was by an artist at the very top of her game.
I saw her at Sydney’s Enmore as part of Sambora’s band back in February – and although she shined, I really wanted to see her headline – which would give me the chance to see if she’s worthy of all the accolades. After lengthy flight delays, I finally stand in this sweaty live venue (Hindmarsh’s Gov) nursing a pint of Coopers and await the arrival of the Queen of Shred. Not being a Crow-Eater, openers – The Stefan Hauk Band were a complete unknown to me, but I was soon very impressed. This solid three-piece belted out some quality blooze – winning over a room-full of guitar-geeks with a tight set of original tunage. Hauk is a name to file away folks. At around 9:30pm, Miss Orianthi storms the stage – kicking off a sweaty 2 hour set with ‘Heaven In This Hell’ – the title track from her most recent album. ‘What’s It Gonna Be’ from the Believe’ album is up next and it cooks. Was great to see Ori churning tunes out from that record – even ‘Think Like a Man’ with its heavy raunch chorus is played and is well received. Former Eurythmic Dave Stewart produced and co-wrote much of the material off ‘Heaven In This Hell’ – including the infectious ‘Filthy Blues’ – aired tonight to maximum effect – and the army of six-string geeks packed in this venue have smiles a mile wide. By the way, I never got around to reviewing ‘Heaven In This Hell’ but to summarize – it’s littered with catchy, guitar-fuelled tunes and is close to some of her most outstanding work.
Rumours are that next year, there is an album’s worth of material with Sambora to look forward to – but that being said, I ‘still’ do not think we have heard the best of Orianthi and am excited about what she will produce over the next 18 months or so. You can quote me on that too. The Desmond Child co-penned ‘Bad News’ gets cranked – beats me why this was never a radio hit – all the commercial ingredients are there, and is followed by Orianthi welcoming Richie Sambora to the stage. Saw him with Bon Jovi back on 87 and 89 tours and the guy is an amazing talent. His strong vocals were a massive, massive part of his former band’s sound and no matter what you may read or think, he is the real rock n roll deal. He and Ori run through the Nicks/Petty classic ‘Stop Draggin’ My Heart Around’ which was a real surprise. They also blaze through Jovi’s ‘Wanted Dead Or Alive’ which gets the place high – however it was Orianthi I came to see – so dueting on her ‘You Don’t Wanna Know’ – as they’ve done at many shows this year – was much cooler. Incidentally, the band were comprised of guys who she’d played in a covers band with at 15 – which was a nice touch I thought. You gotta admire that about Orianthi – although a world-wide star, she remains unaffected and as humble as ever – qualities which are not often found in that world of fame. Encores were the popular, but seldom-played-live ‘According To You’ and the riff-laden ‘Sex E Bizarre’ – followed by the Coop’s ‘School’s Out’ (with Sambora) – which was a nice acknowledgement of her former boss, who she’d spent a couple of years on the road with. ‘Voodoo Chile’ closes a very memorable evening – and was the stuff guitar-nerds fantasize about.
In three decades of seeing bands – tonight’s show easily makes my top 10. Yes, Orianthi deserves all the accolades (she was once referred to as a ‘once-in-a-lifetime musician’). She is gifted and can play anything. But be in no doubt, she has rock n roll pulsing through her veins and that for me, is essentially what it’s all about.