• Tue. Apr 16th, 2024

LOVEDRIVE and HIGH PRIEST – Tributes to Two Legendary Heavy Metal Bands!

ByTaylor T Carlson

Jul 25, 2023

High Priest and Lovedrive played Count’s Vamp’d on Saturday, July 22, 2023.

Judas Priest and Scorpions are two of hard rock and heavy metal’s greatest bands; the legacies these groups have left behind over the years in the minds of many a headbanger speak for themselves. Upon hearing there would be a single rock-packed evening at Vamp’d with killer tributes to both bands, I knew it was a show I absolutely couldn’t miss, especially seeing as how Scorpions and Priest rank among my all-time favorite rock groups.

Beginning the gig was High Priest, a Vegas-based Priest tribute. The group had previously played a single gig at Vampd back in April; I unfortunately missed this gig because I was attending RAIDING THE ROCK VAULT that night. The band consists of several veterans of the local Vegas scene: Andy Hellman, Robert Wiggin, Dave Fisher, Paul Cunningham (AKA Paulie Walnuts), and Marc Mersol. For the evening, the group also utilized a pair of backdrops with the classic Judas Priest “Trident” insignia.

I’d been eager to see High Priest play a gig for months now. These guys have been solid in their respective projects, but would they have the chemistry on a live stage to do justice to some Priest classics? The answer is a resounding YES. These guys will never be mistaken for the actual musicians, in terms of physical appearance or vocal-wise, but that’s not a bad thing. In particular, vocalist Dave Fisher’s voice is reminiscent of Marc Storace from Krokus, and if anything that’s a compliment. The fans, or as Rob Halford would call them, heavy metal maniacs, were clearly enthused by the musicians and their renditions of these songs. Of course, seeing Paul Cunningham on stage is always a riot since the guy can’t help but bring humor to the forefront in one way or another

And what of the setlist? I came in here expecting a pretty basic set with mostly hits and a few deep cuts thrown in for good measure. This was the biggest and most pleasant surprise of the evening: The set was ONLY deep cuts! I’ve heard “Breaking the Law,” “You’ve Got Another Thing Comin’,” and “Living After Midnight” more times than I can count, and while I love the songs, it was nice to finally see a band that delved deeper into the catalogue. Cuts like “The Sentinel,” “Victim of Changes,” “Genocide,” “Tyrant,” “Night Crawler,” and “Freewheel Burning” were given new life by this quintet of Vegas’ finest. And it was a full-length set, not limited by the band being the first of the night. I never thought I’d live to see a set of Judas Priest music that was all deep cuts, but these guys were up for the task at hand and then some. I can’t wait to see what surprises they give us next time around!

Lovedrive took the stage next. These guys, hailing from California and paying tribute to Germany’s greatest rock band, consist of the following members, according to their official website:

-Bill C. (as Klaus Meine) Lead Vocals
-Jamie K. (as Rudolf Schenker) Rhythm Guitar/Lead Guitar
-George C. (as Matthias Jabs) Lead Guitar
-GB (as Buchholz, Maciwoda) Bass Guitar
-Jeff C. (as Rarebell, Kottak, Dee) Drums/Backing Vocals

The guys playing Klaus and Rudolf certainly look (and sound!) the part! As I quickly learned, this a very tight band that has chemistry and does justice to the material in question. The group had the stage decorated in backdrops with the band’s name, and even utilized smoke machined for added theatrics. It’s clear this is a group that has studied the band over the years, even giving Klaus a guitar for the instrumental “Coast to Coast” and the band members forming a cheerleader-style “pyramid” near the end of the gig with Klaus on top. Anyone can simply play the music of a band, but I appreciate these guys actually doing their research and putting it to use. Their musicianship and chemistry with one another are second to none.

And how about the setlist? These guys play all the hits but also aren’t afraid to delve deeper into the catalogue, giving audiences the best of both worlds. Renditions of “Rock You Like a Hurricane,” “ No One Like You,” “Still Loving You,” “The Zoo,” and “Wind of Change” are a given; the band more than did justice to them on the Vamp’d stage. Two of the biggest surprises of the evening were “We’ll Burn the Sky,” a cut from the band’s early days with Uli Jon Roth on guitar, and even “Rock Believer,” the title cut from the Scorps’ latest album. I greatly appreciate when a tribute band actually makes an effort to learn a band’s newer material, so this was a great surprise.

The rest of the set was filled out with other minor hits and deeper cuts, including cuts like “Lovedrive,” “Another Piece of Meat,” the instrumental “Coast to Coast,” “Bad Boys Running Wild,” “Coming Home,” “I’m Leaving You,” “Tease Me Please Me,” “Dynamite,” “Can’t Live Without You,” and “Holiday,” It was a solid set with a nice assortment of tunes. Cramming this much material from a band that’s existed since 1965 and has been releasing albums since 1972 is no easy task, but this was a great setlist. A few potential tunes I’d love to hear next time would be “Pictured Life,” “He’s a Woman, She’s a Man,” “Suspender Love,” “I Can’t Explain,” “Hey You,” “Love ‘em or Leave ‘em,” “Raised on Rock,” and “Crazy World.” And I know these guys would be up for the task and then some.

Probably the only minor criticism I have with this set was the use of the smoke machines. These were used a bit excessively, and the smell became a bit nauseating after a few songs. This is great gimmick on an open-air stage or in a larger venue, but in a smaller spot like Vamp’d, it’s too much. This combined with the lengthy set time, Vegas heat, and lengthy running time wasn’t the best combination. Thankfully, it didn’t hurt the quality of the performance in the slightest.

This was a killer night of rock and roll at Vamp’d with worthy tributes to two of classic hard rock and heavy metal’s greatest bands. Fans of either group weren’t disappointed and were banging their heads all night long; I gladly would’ve spent multiple sets or nights listening to either group! Both bands get my highest recommendations.


All photos other than event advert by the author.

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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