By Brandon “B-Mac” McCarthy, Photos by Matt “Rabit” Martinez Red Hare Images
The last time I saw a truly remarkable instrumental show, it was earlier this year when Joe Satriani, Dream Theater’s John Petrucci, and Def Leppard’s Phil Collen came to the Orpheum Theatre in L.A for the G3 Tour. That performance was something special; watching all 3 guitarists, who have established themselves as shred masters, create riffs that gave me goosebumps. Recently, there has been this one guitarist who has captured my ears with his progressive style that made my mind go into a state of euphoria. His name is Angel Vivaldi, and he is, in my opinion, one of this generation’s newest guitar heroes. This winter, he has hit the road to share his latest masterpiece, 2017’s Synapse, with Nita Strauss, arguably one of the best female guitarists in the world today, and Jacky Vincent, whose main performance we missed. We also missed the opening acts, Incipience and Hedras Ramos, but I am sure they killed their sets. Dubbed the Guitar Collective Tour 2018, we caught them at the 1720 Club in Los Angeles on December 9th, and you can be sure that air guitar would in full force.
Nita Strauss is very well known for her metal/rock style of guitar playing. She started out with the Iron Maidens (all-female Iron Maiden tribute band), and recently taken the spot as lead guitarist for Alice Cooper. After a lot years on the road, she has finally released her debut album this year, Controlled Chaos. Watching her up there perform, you can tell she was the master of her instrument. The riffs she performed were spellbinding and metallic. Her bassist for this tour, Christopher Dean, was a heavy-duty monster, plucking away beastly bass licks. Drummer Josh Villalta raged with passion on the drum kit, especially when he went into his solo. Strauss and her group played some awesome songs like “Pandemonium,” “Alegria,” “Mariana Trench,” “Lion Among Wolves,” “The Quest,” “The Stillness at the End,” and “Our Most Desperate Hour.” She even appeased her Alice Cooper fans with the classic rocker, “I’m Eighteen.” The best part was when she performed my favorite Queen song of all time, “The Show Must Go On,” which is featured on Controlled Chaos. Freddie must have been smiling from Heaven when heard that. There is a reason they call her “Hurricane Nita,” because her playing blew me away.
Full Nita Strauss gallery below:
After listening to Britney Spears’ “Work Bitch,” an Angel walks onto the stage, his “Dorothy RG7 guitar in hand, and starts shredding to “G.A.B.A.” Vivaldi is not only a fabulous guitar player, but he is quite the showman. He has this special bond with the audience, making them feel that are on stage helping him create magic. There was this one point of the show where Vivaldi is only playing the neck of the guitar, and a roadie comes on stage to wipe the sweat away from his playing arm with a dildo. It is not every day one sees that, but it was funny. His 2nd guitarist, Jason Tarantino (who also performed with Strauss earlier), did a great job providing rhythmic riffs, while drummer Bill Fore crashes the kit with tremendous force. Throughout the set, Vivaldi played intensely and with ease, as if he can do it in his sleep. From “Dopamine” to “A Mercurian Summer,” “Acid Reign,” “Crystal Planet,” “Adrenaline,” “Oxytocin,” and “A Martian Winter,” it was like watching Beethoven work his magic. During his performance, Vivaldi dedicated the show to his late guitarist friend, Oli Herbert of All That Remains. Having recently passed in November, he dedicated the songs “Sea of Heartbreak” and All That Remains’ “It Dwells in Me” to his friend.
Full Angel Vivaldi gallery below:
After playing “A Martian Winter,” Vivaldi invited Hurricane Nita back out to jam with him on the song they wrote together for Synapse, “Serotonin.” It was a site for sore eyes to watch these 2 guitar wizards work their craft together so exquisitely. They each took turns pumping out solo riffs that made me join in on air guitar. During their performance, they were goofing around with each other while playing. Nice to see friends have fun up there, without a care in the world. After that, Jacky Vincent stepped out back into the light, ready to shoot at us his remarkable riffs. The song they chose to perform together was called “Tornado of Souls.” Seeing all these styles meshing together so well is what makes music that much more beautiful. Playing together, side-by-side, they were a rock ‘n’ roll storm on stage.
Full Guitar Collective gallery below:
The name of the tour, Guitar Collectives, is well suited for these fine musicians. Vivaldi, Strauss, and Vincent kicked tremendous ass. What was great about this show was that you did not get one particular style of guitar playing, but an array of different styles that all the fans of the night can enjoy. Also to note, the 1720 is located off the 10 freeway. It is not in a beautiful location, but once you enter, it looks amazing for a small rock club. I will come back for another show soon enough. To Angel Vivaldi, Nita Strauss, and Jacky Vincent, I salute you. Horns up