Flashback to the late 80’s early 90’s and it was not an easy time for Little Caesar. Lumped in amongst the “hair” bands of the day, they really did stick out like the proverbial spare prick at a whore’s wedding. Similar to Ghost today, they didn’t sound like they looked, which meant that the Geffen marketing department was left scratching their heads. In 1989/1990 how did you market a bunch of long-haired, tattooed bikers who played bluesy hard rock dripping in soul? The simple answer would be that you didn’t, meaning that Little Caesar was the band that got away; the one that fell through the cracks. But before the band “died” they produced two incredible albums: the 1990 eponymous debut, and 1992’s ‘Influence’. Re-convening in 2009 the band have gone about things their own way, with no label interference, and released some stellar albums. But since it’s the 30th anniversary of the debut album, and no-one can party to celebrate, what better way to mark the occasion by performing the album in its entirety, with the cameras running to make sure that everyone was invited.
In 2014, and without label support, Little Caesar made it to Europe and the UK and for 90 minutes each night, all was well with the world. A return visit in 2018 clashed with the Beast From The East and if you ventured out to catch the band, it would have been obvious that time hadn’t dented their playing ability or their enthusiasm. LC stalwarts; Ron Young on vocals, the mercurial Loren Molinare on guitars, and drummer Tom Morris, were bolstered by the addition of Pharoah Barrett on bass, and guitarist Mark Tremalgia, and with the exception of Rob Klonel filling in for Morris tonight due to Covid concerns, it’s pretty much the same line-up that has been flying the Little Caesar flag for the last four years or so.
No frills, no fireworks, no lavish production: just five guys playing, and having fun in a studio. The sound is on-point, and with no dips in quality with the stream itself, everyone involved deserves credit. It’s also free. Viewers are asked to make a donation to Save Our Stages, a campaign that helps live venues survive in these shitty times. But apart from that, tonight is gratis. Once the introduction is made by Young, Molinare cranks out the opening riff to ‘Down N’Dirty’ and we are off to a flying start. The viewer is instantly aware that the band has been chomping at the bit to play again. You don’t fly across the Atlantic to schlep up and down the UK in the middle of a snowstorm unless you are committed and enjoy playing together because let’s face it, no-one is getting rich here. And it’s this sheer joy of playing together that shines through tonight. By the way: Rob Klonel is sporting a rather fetching “eat.sleep.fuck.” t-shirt and doing a grand job of filling in for Tom Morris.
Pharoah Barrett brings the crucial bottom-end on one of the coolest covers ever (and LC’s big “hit”): ‘Chain Of Fools’, and it becomes painfully obvious why Little Caesar stuck out so much in 1990, can you imagine Poison attempting an Aretha Franklin track? No. Don’t go there. Not only did LC pay homage to the “Queen Of Soul”, but they also paid tribute to The Temptations with a stunning cover of ‘I Wish It Would Rain’ (which appears later on). Just two of the many reasons why considering Little Caesar as a “hair” band is laughable.
Two tributes are paid tonight. First up Molinare is sporting a Junkyard t-shirt in tribute to Clay Anthony, the original bassist with LC’s brothers-in-arms who sadly recently died, then Ron Young mentions that Tremalgia is wearing a shirt in the memory of Captain Jack Rose, a member of the Mount Marion Fire Department who died at age 19 in the line of duty, and Tremalgia taught his brother guitar. An armhair-standing-up inducing ‘In Your Arms’ is dedicated to his memory, and if you ever want a reminder of how fragile life is, then google Captain Jack Rose.
Long-time Little Caesar fans are rewarded with airings of deep cuts from the album; ‘From The Start’ hadn’t been played live in 30 years (same with ‘Midtown’); ‘Little Queenie has never been played live before tonight, and all would have had Caesar fans purring with delight. Ditto the run-through of ‘Cajun Panther’ which has some sweet slide work from Tremalgia which, coupled with another killer Molinare solo, sees the volume control creeping skywards. Ron Young is in fine voice, and if his performance tonight didn’t have you reaching for any album from his career then nothing will. His voice doesn’t seem to have diminished at all, and although he jokes about rehab back in the days, it’s fair to say that he has looked after himself and kept in shape. A far-cry from getting chucked through a window by Arnie in Terminator 2.
No-one is pretending that Livestreams are a substitute for the real thing, but they are a great way of keeping artists in touch with their fanbase, keeping them in shape, or even just keeping them in guitar strings. And until the situation changes, then this is what we have to go on. But, when they are as well produced as this, and as much fun as this, then hopefully more bands will make use of the format.
The stream is still available to view on the Little Caesar Facebook page, here.
A raffle has been set up to benefit the family of Clay Anthony, and bring his remains home. Find out more information here.
Review – Dave
All live images -Dave Jamieson Glasgow 2018