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SPREAD EAGLE/STONEY CURTIS BAND concert review

ByTaylor T Carlson

Jun 13, 2023

Spread Eagle played Count’s Vamp’d on Friday, June 9, 2023, with Stoney Curtis Band.

It’s already shaping out to be a superb summer of rock at Count’s Vamp’d, Las Vegas’ premier house of rock and roll. This past Friday saw the arrival of Spread Eagle at the venue, perhaps best known for being an early group featuring bassist Rob De Luca, who has since recorded and performed with acts like UFO and Sebastian Bach. Perhaps best known for the minor hit “Switchblade Serenade,” the group are true unsung heroes of the rock and roll world. As a fan, even if not the most knowledgeable one about the band, I knew this would be a gig I couldn’t miss!

An epic rock band like Spread Eagle requires a strong support band to kickstart the evening of rock and roll, and in this case, we got that in the form of the Stoney Curtis Band! The trio features Stoney Curtis on vocals and guitar, Barry Barnes on bass, and Shon McKee on drums; the three musicians have also played together in Count’s 77 as well. When I first began getting more involved with attending concerts on the Vegas music scene, Stoney was one of the first people I became aware of, and rightfully so. For many years now, this guy’s combination of rock and blues sounds has continued to impress, and he doesn’t show any signs of letting up; new releases are on the horizon as well.

Stoney’s opening set was as energetic as one would expect, featuring great original tunes like “Last Train to Chicago” and “Halo of Dark Matter,” with some killer guitar playing. Just as impressive was the rhythm section. Barry Barnes has largely become a go-to bassist in the Vegas Valley (I actually saw him play with RAIDING THE ROCK VAULT a few months ago too), and rightfully so with how energetic this guy is on the live stage. Shon McKee continues to impress behind the kit, with this concert taking place on the same day that saw the release of the full-length debut from McKee’s other band, Crashing Wayward (also featuring Stacey Blades, formerly of LA Guns). Every man on this stage keeps busy with numerous bands and projects, but that didn’t stop them from bringing their A-game to the table. I seldom miss Stoney when he takes the stage at Vamp’d. For anyone who attended this set, it’s not hard to see why.

We then arrive at the evening’s headliner, Spread Eagle. To be completely honest, outside of the song “Switchblade Serenade” and the presence of UFO/Sebastian Bach bassist Rob De Luca, my familiarity was somewhat limited (though I’ve seen a few UFO shows with De Luca over the years). As a relatively unfamiliar fan, I had to do some research prior to this gig! Outside of the band’s 1990 debut which spawned their most popular song, the group has recorded and released two additional albums; OPEN TO THE PUBLIC in 1993, and SUBWAY TO THE STARS in 2019. De Luca and vocalist Ray West remain the band’s original members of the group, who are now joined by guitarist Jommy Puledda and drummer Rik De Luca (Rob’s cousin).

I love playing “catch up” with classic hard rock and heavy metal bands who didn’t necessarily get the proper credit and recognition back in the day, so this Spread Eagle gig was perfect for me. While the turnout for the gig was admittedly smaller than I would’ve liked to see (it doesn’t help that Vegas has competing live music gigs almost every weekend), we did get some fellow rockers hanging out in the venue for the evening, including Last in Line singer Andrew Freeman (more on Andrew later), Ozzy Osbourne/Last in Line bassist Phil Soussan, and even former Skid Row vocalist Sebastian Bach himself (no surprise given that Rob De Luca plays bass in his band).

Spread Eagle could’ve just played their first album from top to bottom and I would’ve been perfectly happy with that. But the group wasn’t content to be a nostalgia act or take the easy way out. I was very happy to see a set that also included tracks from the band’s second and third album, with everything flowing together perfectly. The group even found room for some unexpected cover songs, including tunes originally by The Cult and INXS, plus the expected jams and solos.

So, how was the chemistry of the performance? Do these guys have a stage presence? Do they rock the house? The answer, put simply, is YES. I’ve seen many performances in Vamp’d, but I have no reservations in saying that Ray West was one of the most energetic, in-your-face frontmen I’ve ever seen on the stage, utilizing the rising platforms on the stage and being mere inches away from the rockers at the front of the barricade. The rhythm section of the Cousins De Luca was one of the tightest and heaviest I’ve seen in the venue, and guitarist Jommy Puledda proved beautifully he knows how to shred.

Apparently Andrew Freeman is an old friend of the guys from Spread Eagle, and that actually made for some of the most unexpected and entertaining points of the evening. Freeman was rocking out in the audience with fans, leaning right up front to sing lyrics into Ray West’s microphone that was extended out to him; I know this because I was right next to Freeman in the crowd for most of the show! He was even brought up on stage to perform a song with the group, much to the enthusiasm of the crowd. Even after Freeman left the stage, he was right back to standing right up front, rocking out, singing lyrics into West’s mic. These are the truly classic and epic moments that sum up why I love live music.

I fully intend to go and explore the Spread Eagle catalogue a little more thoroughly after seeing the quartet doing what they do best on the live stage. This was my first time seeing the group, and I don’t plan on it being the last one. The opening set from Stoney Curtis kicked ass as well (keep your eyes open for his newest releases as well!), making for a truly epic evening that had all the bases covered. If you’re a classic hard rock/heavy metal fan, don’t pass an opportunity to see Spread Eagle live. Even if you’re not familiar with the group, give their live show a chance. You won’t regret it.

By Taylor T Carlson

Taylor T Carlson Assistant Editor/Senior Staff Writer Taylor T. Carlson was born August 17, 1984, and has called the Vegas Valley home his entire life. A die-hard fan of classic rock and metal music, Taylor has been writing album and concert reviews since he was 16 years old, and continues to do so, having done well over 1,000 reviews. He is also a fan of video gaming and cinema, and has reviewed a number of games and films as well, old and new alike. His thorough and honest (some would say brutally honest) reviewing style has won him the respect of hundreds of music fans and musicians alike, both local and abroad, and the ire of just as many others. Despite being one of the youngest attendees at classic hard rock/metal shows around Vegas, he is also one of the most knowledgeable, having gained the unofficial nickname of “The Eddie Trunk of Las Vegas.” In addition to reviews, Taylor has written and self-published three books on classic hard rock bands, and is a regular participant in rock and roll trivia contests. Taylor also holds a masters degree in special education from the University of Nevada Las Vegas (UNLV), and has appeared on the hit History Channel television series Pawn Stars. His dream is to be able to one day make a living from writing music books and reviews.

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