• Mon. Jun 24th, 2024

BulletBoys, Garden of Eden, and Rahway – Hard as a Rock on Stage at Vamp’d!

BulletBoys played Count’s Vamp’d on Saturday, May 18, 2024, with support acts Rahway and Garden of Eden.

It’s always a rock and roll party at Count’s Vamp’d, with the venue continuing to book the best in local, national, and international rock. There are many houses of rock in Sin City, and it’s with good reason this is the one where I spend most of my time. Upon hearing BulletBoys would be returning to the venue this rocker knew where he was gonna be on Saturday night. It wasn’t overly busy on this evening (it didn’t help that Pearl Jam, George Thorogood, and EDC were all also going on), but those who didn’t attend certainly missed out.

The show featured not one but two support acts. Starting the evening was Garden of Eden. I’d seen these guys play at Vamp’d many years ago prior to the Pandemic, and it was great seeing them get back on stage. The trio features Steve Unger of Metal Church on bass, and is fronted by vocalist/guitarist Dan Crenshaw. Crenshaw looks like the hypothetical child of Biff Byford and Mick Box, and definitely knows what he’s doing on stage. The group’s influences clearly include the New Wave of British Heavy Metal and other classic power metal bands, which gives them a sound all their own while still paying tribute to the heavy metal heroes of yesteryear. It was great seeing these guys again, and they didn’t disappoint.

An unexpected surprise came in the form of Rahway, the one group of the three I’d never seen live. I wasn’t quite sure what to expect from these guys when I saw a frontman take the stage who looked like he could’ve been on his way to audition for Limp Bizkit, but I quickly changed my tune once the show was underway. Vocalist Nick Hade won me over almost instantly with the amount of energy he had on stage, jumping back and forth from one end to the other and never slowing down. Their sound is a good mix of modern and classic elements, and I truly think these guys have a lot of potential, and it’ll be interesting to see where things go for them. There was only one man on the stage on this evening who had more energy than Mr. Hade…

The headliners of this evening, of course, were BulletBoys. Formed as a King Kobra spin-off band in the late 1980s, the group came on the scene with their 1988 Ted Templeman-produced debut, spawning several classic hits. While sometimes derided as a Van Halen rip-off, the naysayers have little to fall back on there. Vocalist/guitarist Marq Torien remains the band’s one original member, and he’s one of rock’s most animated and energetic frontmen. The current lineup of the group includes bassist Brad Lang (formerly of Y&T), guitarist Ira Black, and drummer Fred Aching (also of Kings of Thrash), although there have been occasional reunions of the classic lineup.

It had been many years since I saw a BulletBoys show (I unfortunately missed the one at Vamp’d last year), but I knew I had to make up for lost time and see the group live on stage, doing what they do best. I even had to do some research to see who had been in and out of the band over the years and how many records they’d put out; It was astonished to learn that the group has no fewer than NINE studio releases, with the most recent coming out in 2018! Again. Marq Torien remains the band’s only original member, but always surrounds himself with great players.

One source of curiosity regarding a BulletBoys show would be what songs they’d play. The group had a massive hit debut with several singles, a follow-up in 1991 which had a handful of popular songs, and several other records that were largely ignored by the public due to changing music trends. Unsurprisingly, about half the set consisted of tracks from the 1988 debut, including “Hard As a Rock,” “Crank Me Up,” The O’Jays cover “For the Love of Money,” “Hell On My Heels,” and the biggest hit closing the evening, “Smooth Up in Ya.” The set also featured drum and guitar solos which were excellent, and selections from several overlooked later BulletBoys albums like ELEFANTE and FROM OUT OF THE SKIES. My one complaint with the setlist is that it completely ignored sophomore album FREAKSHOW, meaning with didn’t get performances of “THC Groove” or the band’s cover of “Hang On St. Christopher.”

But how about the performance itself? This may very well be the best BulletBoys lineup since the original one. Ira Black proved himself an excellent shredder throughout. Brad Lang, who I’d seen perform many times at Vamp’d in his Y&T days, likewise contributed excellently. And Kings of Thrash drummer Fred Aching beautifully demonstrated his talents, even getting a lengthy solo that impressed an enthused audience. And what about the other guy?

I’m someone who goes to a lot of rock and roll shows. I’ve seen everything and everyone (well, almost everyone). And in all my years as a concertgoer, I have never seen a frontman who has more energy, enthusiasm, and love for performing than Marq Torien. And he even wields a guitar and can play some pretty damn good leads too. He’s 62 years old, but moves around the stage better than many guys in their 20s. Many frontmen of the 80s are still performing today, but this guy is in a class of his own. I’ll even go so far as to say, of all he 80’s frontmen who are still musically active, this guy is heads and shoulders above the rest. If you don’t believe me, go watch him perform. You’ll thank me later. Words aren’t enough.

All three bands gave great performances on this evening of rock and roll. Rahway and Garden of Eden are certainly worth keeping your eye on, but the performance from Marq Torien and BulletBoys is easily my favorite of 2024 so far, and that’s no small feat. If you’re a fan of 80s rock, you owe it to yourself to see this guy rock the stage.

Live Photos by Taylor T. Carlson for ZrockR Magazine 2024 – All Rights Reserved.

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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