With Rock Goddess recently added as support to Lita Ford, what better way is there to cap off a weekend than to take a trip to Islington’s O2 Academy for a double bill of heavy metal and rock 'n' roll?
My Sundays are usually devoted to pies, mash and pints down the local boozer followed by an evening lazing on the sofa watching dodgy, unimaginative t.v shows. But tonight I’m taking a 50 minute walk (yes walk!) from east to north to see South London’s Rock Goddess and LA’s Lita Ford. Definitely a good enough reason for me to drag myself out of the standard Sun-daze.
In the past, I recall that the venue has not been very full before a supporting band comes on stage, however, the room is already packed to the brim with Rock Goddess fans. After their first re-union show here a couple of years back, there is still an air of excitement as the crowd wait for the power trio to take the stage. The ladies get straight in there, opening with 'Satisfied Then Crucified' and 'God Be With You'. Since that first show in 2015, it's immediately clear that they have been practising a lot; everything fits together perfectly. Jody Turner's tough vocals mixed in with an unsuspecting soft edge sounding as bright as they do on the Hell Hath No Fury album.
Whilst mixing tracks from the first two albums (including my absolute favourite 'Take Your Love Away'), we are hit by the new creative force coming from the band. 'Two Wrongs Don't Make a Right' and 'Back Off' both encapsulate the Rock Goddess sound with heavy metal street style riffs. Lead guitarist Jody is backed by the powerful rhythm section that is Tracey Lamb and Julie Turner, who each in turn provide secondary vocals. They are an absolute force to be reckoned with proving that a trio of musicians is all you need to create this hard and heavy sound. Much to our delight we learn that they have been in the studio working on an EP that's due for release in May, and honestly I can't wait. If the track 'Back Off' is anything to go by, it's going to knock our socks off.
Of course they finish the set with the anthems 'My Angel' and ‘Heavy Metal Rock n Roll’. The ladies have injected bolts of energy into the room, and personally speaking, I’m wondering how anything can follow this. A few moments pass and people are making their way to the bar to replenish the supplies, thinking that there is going to be at least 15-20 minutes of a stage changeover. However, just as i'm about to move from my prime spot, the girls come back on stage announcing that there is time for another tune, the first song that they recorded; 'Make My Night'. A splendid ending to a perfect set!
Fresh from an appearance at Hard Rock Hell AOR in Wales, Lita Ford is ready to take on London. Accept's 'Balls To The Wall', plays in the background as the final stage preparations are made, with the occasional member of the audience belting out the staunch chorus. As the rest of the band make their way on to the stage, an intro tape booms out of the speakers, setting the scene of a rebellious daughter revving up the engine of her dad's Ford, out to cause some trouble.
Confidently slinking onto the stage with a femme fatale swagger in a skintight red catsuit, Lita strikes her whiskey bottle shaped guitar, playing what sounds like the intro to 'Bad Motor Scooter' by Montrose, ending in a long high note. This seamlessly blends into the beginning riff of 'Gotta Let Go' from Dancin' On The Edge. The big American glam/heavy metal sound topped with Lita's hard as nails vocals fills the room, and I'm transported; fantasising about long road trips, dancing on table tops and generally having a good time. I'm ripped from this chilled out vision when the punchy tune 'Larger Than Life' hits me in the face. Showing that she is essentially a lead guitarist, she rips out lick after lick on stage, sharing some of the duties with second guitarist Patrick Kennison.
Lita and her band include a wide variety of songs from her discography, including Elton John's cheerful uptempo number 'The Bitch Is Back'. Showing that she has many musical influences, we are teased with the intro lick to Hendrix's infamous 'Voodoo Child' featuring the Wah effect, before flowing into the deep southern rock style riffs of 'Relentless'.
Before a change of pace, Lita plugs her book, a memoir called 'Living Like A Runaway' which is followed with the nostalgic track of the same name. We've had a chance to slow down, before they plough back into older tracks such as 'Hungry' and 'Can't Catch Me' which starts with a choppy thrash like riff.
Bobby Rock and Marty O'Brien hold a deep soulful groove as Lita goes into the intro of 'Back To The Cave' before suffering from a guitar mishap. Professional as ever, Patrick takes over lead duties as she waits for another guitar to be handed to her, keeping the flow of the song. Unfazed by the swap, she dives straight back into the smooth intro, picking right off from where she left.
The audience lap up her story about how she came out with the song 'Falling In And Out Of Love' with Nikki Six, in the same "magical room" that she wrote 'Close My Eyes Forever' with Ozzy Osbourne. It's a supercharged power ballad complete with equally supercharged solos.
Of course, being an original Runaway, the crowd would be disappointed if their most famous track wasn't included. Sure enough, 'Cherry Bomb' is next and she plays it so effortlessly, which is not a surprise at all. Capturing that mid to late 70s glam rock/punk sound, the momentum is prolonged with a cover of the Sex Pistols' 'Black Leather'. As if following a timeline of events, Lita asks the crowd if “we have time for three songs”, to which they reply positively as she introduces the first solo song she wrote 'Out For Blood', which saw her move more towards heavy metal in 1983. Swapping guitars yet again for a stunning white twin neck, 'Close My Eyes Forever' sees second guitarist Patrick Kennison duetting with Lita on that well known Ozzy collaboration with the crowd echoing the lyrics. The night is concluded with 'Kiss Me Deadly' on a more lighthearted note.
Now this is the way to do a Sunday and I have no doubt that everyone is leaving the venue feeling that we have been spoilt with such a rich lineup boasting of rock royalty.
You can buy Lita's Book 'Living Like A Runaway' here
Photography: Christophe Vernimmen