They were the first heavy metal band to top the Billboard album charts, with Metal Health, in 1983. They had a string of successful music videos in the MTV-saturated 80s. They toured with some of the most elite acts in rock, such as Black Sabbath, Iron Maiden, and Whitesnake.
Today, in 2018, Quiet Riot is still making records, they’re still out on the road, and they’re still raising hell. But nowadays, there’s a major difference. Plagued with a plethora of obstacles since their initial formation 45 years ago, whether it was internal disagreements, popularity erosion, substance abuse, or even death, one constant remains – drummer Frankie Banali.
Banali, doubling as the group’s manager and guiding force for nearly a quarter of a century, is the sole remainder of what is widely considered to be the ‘classic’ lineup of the band, along with guitarist Carlos Cavazo, bassist Rudy Sarzo, and of course, longtime vocalist Kevin DuBrow. With both Cavazo and Sarzo partaking in their own separate musical endeavors and the tragic passing of DuBrow in 2007, Banali decided, with the blessing of DuBrow’s mother, to revive the beloved band with a fresh roster.
Mulcahy’s Pub and Concert Hall on Long Island in New York was the latest setting for the current version of Quiet Riot on June 30. Along for the ride with Banali were venerable journeymen Alex Grossi and Chuck Wright, on guitar and bass, respectively, who have both seemed to find a home in the band in recent years – quite the coup for fans who have craved consistency for the metal legends. And in the crucial role of frontman was the newest addition to the fold, former American Idol contender James Durbin.
Periodic opener “Run For Cover” kicked things off before leading in to “Slick Black Cadillac” and “Mama Weer All Crazee Now,” two of the band’s most revered tracks. Quiet Riot then shifted things to a block of more obscure songs from the band’s extensive repertoire, including “Whatever It Takes,” off of 1995’s overlooked Down To The Bone; “Terrified,” from the 1993 album of the same name, and a lesser known track off of Metal Health, “Love’s A Bitch.”
Durbin, known for his predilection for the genre during his Idol stint, was in his comfort zone, faithfully belting out all the heavy tunes in the QR arsenal. But perhaps his strongest moment was his passionate rendition of the vocally muscular “Can’t Get Enough,” the sole selection performed from the band’s latest studio album, Road Rage. The record, a blistering collection of face-melting, true-to-form, anthems befitting the group’s definitive status, originally featured former Adler’s Appetite singer Seann Nicols on vocals before astutely being re-recorded with Durbin.
Wright shined on the brief, but memorable, “Bass Case,” his sultry bass solo that initially appeared on 1986’s QR III, his first album as an official member of the unit, while Grossi, with an axe-playing resume as deep as the Quiet Riot catalogue, complemented his three cohorts beautifully on the album’s only other elective track, “The Wild and the Young.”
In an uncharacteristic somber moment for the band, Banali paused the music at one point to come out from behind his drum kit and lead a terse period of silence for the late DuBrow, his one-time best friend. The deserved tribute only lasted a few minutes but was effective nonetheless and it allowed the enthusiastic crowd to catch their breath before the next wave of massive sounds was unleashed.
A ferocious encore of the signature cuts, “Cum on Feel the Noize” and “Metal Health (Bang Your Head),” brought the rousing, 75-minute performance to a fitting close. And when the dust settled, it was perfectly clear that Banali’s decision to keep Quiet Riot an active force in the industry was a wise one.
Special guests for the evening were the influential 70s British outfit The Sweet. Anchored by founder Steve Priest on bass, the glam rock pioneers presented a fun, nostalgic set comprised of fan favorites like “Set Me Free,” “Little Willy,” and “Fox on the Run.” Brooklyn-born Paulie Z, a newcomer to the band, handled lead vocals with true flair, exhibiting a flamboyance reminiscent of Freddie Mercury. Guitar virtuoso Mitch Perry, hard-hitting drummer Richie Onori, and charismatic keyboardist Stevie Stewart rounded out The Sweet, who capped the night off with a stirring version of “The Ballroom Blitz.”
Quiet Riot setlist:
- Run For Cover
- Slick Black Cadillac
- Mama Weer All Crazee Now
- Whatever It Takes
- Love’s A Bitch
- Condition Critical
- Can’t Get Enough
- Party All Night
- Bass Case
- The Wild And The Young
- Let’s Get Crazy
- Cum On Feel The Noize
- Metal Health (Bang Your Head)
Click here for Quiet Riot’s tour dates.