Two veteran American hard rock bands, both sporting double-platinum albums among their musical accomplishments, literally shook the walls of the Samala Showroom at the Chumash Casino Resort in Santa Ynez during an ear-piercing double bill on June 27.
Hard-rock music fans knew they were in for a special show when they arrived at the venue, with the normal state-of-the-art sound system buoyed by a massive addition to the PA and Bass speaker systems.
Opening act Slaughter played an explosive 55-minute set, exploiting the thunderous sound system that simple wouldn’t be allowed most anywhere else in Santa Barbara County because of strict sound ordinances.
Lead singer Mark Slaughter fronted the animated band, unleashing ear-piercing wailing vocals, in several octaves that Robert Plant lost from his voice more than 30 years ago.
Wailing in his trademark high-pitched voice, Slaughter sang like Plant back in his prime Led Zeppelin days. The veteran singer can still hit the notes of his early ‘90s classic songs like “Up All Night” and “Fly to the Angels.” Much like the MC Hammer show the previous week at the venue, the singer took a long stroll out into the audience, seeming to high-five and make eye contact with nearly every member of the crowd.
The other three members of the band made up a classic hard rock trio that played a tight show of thunderous jams and impressive solos, including the band’s original bassist, Dana Strum. The newest member of the group, drummer Zoltan Chaney, played maniacally, channeling the ghost of The Who’s Keith Moon. Playing behind his back, with his feet on the snares, and leaping from the massive wall of amplifiers, he could barely contain himself during the show.
Headlining act Great White performed a less impressive set, unfortunately. Original lead guitarist Mark Kendall led the band in impressive renditions of the group’s biggest hits, but new lead singer Terry Illous had a tough time filling the shoes of original vocalist Jack Russel.
Russel, who recently formed his own version of the band without the other original members, has a distinctive voice associated with the band’s music. Illous is a competent singer and did his best to fill the void, but Russel’s trademark wail was sorely missed.
Nevertheless, the band soldiered on, performing a loud and impressive 90-minute set of hard rock favorites.
The show seemed to satisfy most of the headbangers in the audience, especially when, as is customary at the venue, people were allowed to swarm the stage halfway though both of the sets.
— L. Paul Mann is a Noozhawk contributing writer. The opinions expressed are his own.