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(Live Review) LITA FORD + SUPPORT - St. Charles, IL (6/14/24)


The Beard & Little Johnny


Good evening friends, fans, and followers. It is your reviewing duo The Beard and Little Johnny and we are reporting live from the classic Arcada Theater (in Saint Charles, Illinois) for show #34 & bands #132-133 of our 2024 season.

On tonight’s bill it is the 80’s American icon and pinup girl of metal Lita Ford with openers Broken Vegas.

Once more the Beard shall come face to face with one of his feminine fantasies as on the heels of Doro Pesch & Christina Scabbia, I review the “other” lady whose posters decorated a young Beard's wall in the early 80’s. (Ed: You were a dirty old man even back then, Beard!)


Lita Ford is only a few months shy of 66 years old. At one point in my life, I would have stated emphatically that I would never want to do a woman old enough to be collecting social security. A chagrined and appropriately chastised 57-year-old Beard rescinds that statement and proudly says I would be honored at the opportunity to be with a woman like Lita Ford who probably has had a little work done, and yes from a few feet away does look closer to her actual age (than from 100 feet away on stage) but is still one fine female. Even Little Johnny acknowledged, “Beard, she does look good for her age, but for me it would be like doing my grandma. Hey, for all I know she might BE my grandma.” “Go away Johnny.”


As I reviewed Lita Ford about a year ago, I will not rehash her entire musical career. Suffice to say for the newer reader, Ford was an oft overlooked, but vital, part of the 1970s all girls act the Runaways, and, like fellow member Joan Jett, went on to solo success albeit on a more limited basis. Releasing several albums in the 80s and early 90s, Ford's self-titled Lita would garner her biggest solo hit "Kiss Me Deadly", and the all-time classic duet ("Close My Eyes Forever") with metal prince of darkness himself Ozzy Osbourne. 


From the mid 90’s until 2009 Ford concentrated on raising her children and was largely out of the music scene before re-emerging with Wicked Wonderland in 2009. This almost nu-metal sound was a commercial disappointment to fans. Ford acknowledged the failure and returned in 2012 with Living Like a Runaway (which was more in line with her earlier sound.) The last decade Ford has been touring solo or appearing on the festival circuits. I don’t expect much in the way of new stuff this evening, but the Beard is always hoping for that stellar memorable moment. First though, we have openers Broken Vegas.


Broken Vegas was a pickup for the night, a bar style covers band that filled the evening's opening slot for Lita Ford. I do not really review cover acts, but I will say that if you walked into your local pub and these guys were playing a set you would neither leave nor be in any way overwhelmed. 

They did their jobs and filled the time slot. Attempting "Dream On" was kind of questionable music wise but their singer did a reasonable high note. The Joe Perry portion was more like watching someone playing the guitar hero version of "Dream On". On a positive note, they did play some original material and the singer sounded a bit like Sammy Hager meets The Black Crowes. Ultimately though, I am issuing no grade as this was a primarily covers set.


Lita Ford's voice has lost some power and authority, but she still plays well on the guitar and physically she is in great shape as she strutted around the stage for over an hour in four-inch stiletto heels, (which at 66 clearly indicates this lady doesn’t miss “leg day” at the gym.)


It was pretty much the same set as a year ago. I was hoping for some new tracks given 2024 was supposed to be when some new Lita Ford material was going to be released, but no such luck tonight.


"Gotta Let Go", from Dancing on the Edge opened the show, followed by "Larger Than Life" (from Dangerous Curves). I enjoyed "Relentless" (from her newest release Living Like a Runaway), and "Hungry From Stiletto" was also a good song to hear again. (Ed: Proud to say I haven't heard any of 'em. Heh, heh.)


On the other hand, even though I know it is popular with her fan base, I really do not need to hear Ford cover Elton John with "The Bitch is Back". “Playing with Fire” also from Dangerous Curves was the best Ford sounded vocally and there was certainly no doubt that she is well practiced in striking the rock goddess type poses for the hundreds of iPhone’s snapping away from the front twenty rows.


"Back to the Cave" (from her self-titled and most popular release Lita) continues to be the showcase for the rest of the band as bassist Martin Anderson and guitarist Patrick Kennison both got their extended solos on that one. Kennison quietly managed quite a bit of the overall guitar sound through the set, and after watching him perform, I believe he is underrated as a guitarist. Drummer Bobby Rock got his turn, (for a solo), on the next song "Can’t Catch Me", also from the Lita release.


Between these two songs, about twenty minutes of Lita Ford’s set were just soloing. Respect to the band, but personally that dragged on for me. Of course, Ford closed with her main four numbers. "Cherry Bomb", (from the old Runaways release), which was okay vocally, but the star of that song was Lita walking on-stage with her vintage #15 Black Hammer guitar from back in the 1970’s. Seeing her play that was more fun than hearing her sing the song.


Next, was an abbreviated "Only Women Bleed" which I understand is “personal” to her and hey, you cannot go wrong with an Alice Cooper song. After that, what many people were waiting for (judging by how many iPhones lit up the crowd), the duet "Close my Eyes Forever". The Beard will make a special note here, Kennison did an outstanding job in the Ozzy role. Last year, I was not too impressed with this number, but this time honestly I think Kennison overshadowed Ford. Where Lita tried for emotion, Kennison owned the emotion mirroring the way Ozzy did the song, even if not exactly his iconic voice. Possibly the best single vocal performance of the show and it was from the guitar player.


Finally, the Lita Ford crowd sing-along, and her most popular hit, "Kiss Me Deadly" would close a set with no encore. Initially I thought that odd, but looking at her past shows, on this tour, apparently that has been the standard protocol. (Ed: Maybe she's never invited back?)

Overall, Lita Ford gave us a traditional set with largely the same makeup as a year ago. Little Johnny and I enjoyed it, but can now comfortably wait until Ford puts out some brand-new material before signing up to see her again. The Beard is granting a solid but nothing spectacular 82/100 for tonight’s performance.

That will do it for show #34 and bands #132-133. Remember to follow us every Wednesday on The Mighty Decibel and check out the videos on TikTok at thebeard0728. Finally, friend and/or follow Mark McQueen on Facebook for all the non-metal reviews.

Until next time, this is the Beard & Little Johnny saying ... Stay Heavy & Horns Up!!!


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