Little Caesar offered a gutsy performance that served as a showcase for its new release “Influence” (DGC). The band, which most of the industry hailed as the “next big thing” upon the release of its self-titled debut disc a couple of years back, has survived the jinx-fated prediction with pride, humor and talent for turning a tune intact. And this was their night to celebrate.
Alternately brazen, amusing and charming, vocalist Ron Young led his spirited bandmates through a diverse assemblage of songs.
Included were a soulful cover of Aretha Franklin’s “Chain of Fools,” a high-octane version of “Stand Up” (“Influence’s” first video and single), the stirring and sad “Ballad of Johnny,” the sleazy grinder “Slow Ride” and the ultimate biker tune, “Rum and Coke” (“Rum and Coke, Colt 45 is all the proof you need”).
As diverse in their personalities as they are in their choice of material, the members made distinct contributions to the overall sound and mood of the evening.
Young sported leather pants and gloves, a true biker down to the Harley “flames” on his microphone; guitarist Louren Molinare showboated a la Spinal Tap’s gloriously dotty Nigel Tufnel; Fidel Paniagua compensated for simplistic bass runs by providing rich backup harmonies; drummer Marc Danzeisen (ex-Riverdogs) offered admirable though basic percussion work; and, most significant, guitarist Earl Slick (ex-Bowie, Phantom/Rocker/Slick, Dirty White Boy) displayed his technical proficiency as only a veteran could.
Deftly plugging his leads into musical holes then stepping back to watch the sonic ripples spread, the elder statesman of Little Caesar was the exemplification of the “less is more” theory. Unlike many of his industry peers, Slick understands when to stick his tonal two cents in and when to just let the high-octane juices flow from elsewhere within the band. Evidently, the entire Little Caesar gang has benefited from this method. Quite possibly, the reason for their gleeful approach in concert is the recognition that they may in fact become the next big thing.