By Andy J. Gordon
The anticipation was building as the crowd at The Mint waited for the start of the last Eric McFadden Wednesday night residency gig. The show took place on January 30, 2019 and had a who’s who lineup of classic rock and punk dignitaries scheduled to perform. Special unannounced guests were expected as well. After over four hours of amazing jams, the show lived up to its billing as a rotating lineup of musicians paid tribute to Led Zeppelin, Jimi Hendrix, Nirvana, The Stooges and more.
Eric McFadden is a guitarist, vocalist, and songwriter from San Francisco. He is best known for his massive skills as a rock, funk, punk and flamenco guitarist. McFadden has toured with George Clinton and the P Funk Allstars, Stockholm Syndrome, Anders Osborne, T.E.N. (Thomas Pridgen, Eric McFadden, Norwood Fisher), and most recently launched the new band Tasty Face with legendary Fishbone frontman, Angelo Moore and McFadden’s wife, Queen delphine (delphine de St. Paër). McFadden and Queen delphine put together the series of four Wednesday night shows this January at The Mint and invited a diverse mix of talented musicians to perform with them.
The immense lineup included amazing drummers Stephen Perkins (Jane’s Addiction), Erik Eldenius (Billy Idol), Matt Starr (Mr. Big), Marco Bazzi (Eric McFadden Trio) and Anthony “Tiny” Biuso (T.S.O.L., The Dickies). The guitarists included Pete Pidgeon (Arcoda), Courtney Thompson (Mothership, Tasty FAcE), Jimmy Burkard (Moby Dicks), Tommy Baldwin (Brotherhood of Guitar)and Lily Maase (Rocket Queens).
The bass players included Dug Pinnick (Kings X), Jorgen Carlsson (Govt Mule), Mike Watt (The Stooges) and John Flower. Keyboards were handled all night by Thomas Johansen (Tasty FAcE, many more). Guest vocalists included Keith England (Allman Brothers Band), Chaz West (Foreigner, Bonham, Resurrection Kings) and Kellie Sue Peters. Several other guests popped on and off the stage through the night.
We got a copy of the set list as the show was about to start, but quickly realized that it was going to be a general guideline, not a rule. McFadden and Queen delphine had a difficult time wrangling all the musicians that were hanging out with the audience and lounging backstage in the green room. When artists were supposed to be onstage for a song and were missing in action, the duo laughed it off and brought up other musicians. They then proceeded to improvise from selections on and off the setlist. The night rolled on like this for several hours of chaotic, electrifying jams.
McFadden started the show with a couple of original songs while playing solo acoustic guitar. He also played Nirvana’s “Polly” before going full-on electric and bringing out the first of many guests for the tribute show. John Flower on bass and Marco Bazzi on drums helped McFadden perform Nirvana’s “School.” Pete Pidgeon and Queen delphine came out to help on the Bob Dylan classic “All Along the Watchtower.” It had scorching lead guitar solos from both McFadden and Pidgeon that were more reminiscent of the Jimi Hendrix version of the song.
Lily Maase came out to play guitar and Queen delphine was joined by Kellie Sue Peters on vocals for hardcore versions of Nirvana’s “Something In The Way” and “Love Buzz.” McFadden took a break to hang out in the crowd and was replaced by Courtney Thompson. He and Queen delphine sang Nirvana’s “In Bloom” while “Tiny” took over on drums. McFadden came back onstage for a Stooges song and Nirvana’s “Come As You Are.” Erik Eldenius replaced Tiny on drums and Keith England came out to sing Led Zeppelin’s “What Is and What Should Never Be.”
Jorgen Carlsson came out to play bass. Chas West sang and played harmonica on Led Zeppelin’s “When The Levee Breaks.” McFadden sang and played a poignant solo during Hendrix’s “Little Wing.” Dug Pinnock took over on bass and vocals for “Purple Haze.” Mike Watt came out to play bass, Stephen Perkins played drums and Queen delphine sang on “Jump In The Fire.” Perkins played a long, amazing drum solo before Watt took over on vocals for The Stooges’ “Fun House.”
The cast rotated again as Pete Pidgeon, Tommy Baldwin and Dug Pinnick joined McFadden for Hendrix’s “Voodoo Child.” Chas West came back out to sing and was joined by Jimmy Burkhart on guitar, Stephen Perkins on drums and Dug Pinnick on bass for Led Zeppelin’s “Whole Lotta Love.” Matt Starr took over on drums and Pinnick sang lead for Hendrix’s “Manic Depression.” Keith England took over on vocals for Hendrix’s “Good Times Bad Times.”
After a short break, Queen delphine introduced some of the musicians on stage and said they had formed a new group called Tasty FAcE that recently recorded some new songs. The players included McFadden, Angelo Moore on saxophone and vocals, Pete Pidgeon and Courtney Thompson on guitar and Tomas Johansson on keyboards. The group played about five of their originals that were a combination of rock, punk and funk.
After that mini-set of new music, McFadden, Chas West, Pete Pidgeon, Courtney Thompson and Kellie Sue Peters took a stab at Led Zeppelin’s “The Battle of Evermore.” While West and Peters struggled with the lyrics, McFadden’s mandolin work made up for it and was particularly melodic. Another roster change brought out Marco Bazzi for Hendrix’s “Castles Made of Sand.” The rotating lineup continued for a few more tunes, but the crowd had thinned out significantly as the clock closed in on 2AM, so it was time to wrap up the wild show.
Eric McFadden and Queen delphine hosted an explosive musical tribute to some of the forefathers of classic, alt and punk rock. Their super talented guests made it a memorable night and an excellent closing act for their January residency at The Mint. Knowing what crazy, fun and musically dynamic nights they can put together, we hope they do it again very soon.