February 11, 2016 Blue Öyster Cult Rock NYCB Theatre At Westbury, NY 2-6-16 w/ The Blue Magoos & Vanilla Fudge
Few names in Hard Rock history have stuck out and have enjoyed longevity the way that Blue Öyster Cult has. Originating on Long Island, NY, the band many call pioneers of Heavy Metal have been making Blue Öyster Cult a household name since 1971. Debuting with their self-titled album in 1972, it was not until 1974’s Secret Treaties when the band broke the Billboard 200, ranking # 53 with the release. Then, in ’76, they really broke into stardom with the platinum selling Agents of Fortune. Overall, this hard-working bunch of musicians has written and recorded some of Hard Rock/Heavy Metal’s most memorable tunes as they continue to keep their legacy alive over four decades later.
While Blue Öyster Cult has not released a studio album since 2001’s Curse of the Hidden Mirror, and have sustained lineup changes over the years, they continue to this day to be led by original member Donald “Buck Dharma” Roeser (lead guitar, vocals) and long-time member Eric Bloom (lead vocals, stun guitar). Rounding out the group are three talented rockers including Richie Castellano (keyboard, rhythm guitar, vocals), Jules Radino (drums, percussion), and Kasim Sulton (bass). Continuously touring and rocking fans of all ages, Blue Öyster Cult always make it priority to return to their home and play shows at a variety of venues on Long Island. One of the stages they call home is the one in the round at the NYCB Theatre at Westbury, NY, and they returned to that very stage on Saturday, February 6th, with support from The Blue Magoos and Vanilla Fudge. With a crowd ranging from lifelong fans who grew up with Blue Öyster Cult, to younger fans who discovered them at a later point, the feeling inside the venue was one of awe and anticipation.
Warming up the show was The Bronx’s own The Blues Magoos. The band came together as the The Trenchcoats in 1964 before later becoming The Blues Magoos to better fit their psychedelic vibe. Changing their rosters a few times, the band found a following with their 1966 debut album, Psychedelic Lollipop. After releasing four more albums, in 1970, they disbanded and it was not until an astounding thirty-eight years later in 2008 that The Blues Magoos rose from the dead. Led by original members Ralph Scala (vocals, organ) and Emil “Peppy” Thielhelm (guitar, vocals), Blues Magoos is now joined by Geoff Daking (drums), Mike Ciliberto (guitar, vocals), and Peter Suart Kohlman (bass, vocals), who were ready to jump start the night.
With a crowd eager to begin the night’s festivities, the band took to the stage and excitedly greeted the crowd. Playing a variety of their best known songs, they clearly were enjoying themselves in front of a local crowd close to where they grew up. Playing through some of the cuts that defined the band, including “Pipe Dream” and “There’s a Chance We Can Make It,” they closed with their hit song “(We Ain’t Got) Nothin’ Yet.” The Blues Magoos now have their three original albums now available in CD form, loaded with extras including mono versions, fan club exclusive, and early recordings of the band. Forty-three years after the release of their last album, the reunited band released the perfectly named Psychedelic Resurrection in 2014, giving fans of the band and the genre a new album to sit back, relax, and enjoy. They continue to tour and prove to be a fun band to see for fans of the Psychedelic genre.
As the break came to an end, the lights dimmed to bring the second band to the stage, Vanilla Fudge. Celebrating fifty years of touring together is no easy feat, and yet, next year, that is exactly what Vanilla Fudge will most likely be able to do. The Long Island natives, best described as a Psychedelic Hard Rock band, are most known for their extended Rock tributes to Contemporary hits along with their original ballads. While the band has seen some faces change, Vanilla Fudge remarkably always found a way to return to the original members. With that said, Mark Stein (keyboard, vocals), Vince Martell (guitar, vocals), and Carmine Appice (drums, vocals) have only had to bid farewell to their bassist, Tim Bogert, who retired from live touring in 2011. In his place is normally Pete Bremy, who had worked with the band previously, but unfortunately Bremy was currently in the hospital on the date of the show. The band made sure to inform fans during their live show, easing fans by letting them know that Bremy was going to be ok.
On to the show, Vanilla Fudge wowed the audience right off the bat with a cover of a song everyone was familiar with. The band joined the stage and broke right into their version of The Monkees’ “I’m a Believer.” Giving the fans a song to sing along with right from the start proved to be a smart move as everyone began singing. Continuing on with another cover, the group moved into The Doors’ “Break On Through (to the Other Side).” As the track came to an end, Stein thanked fans for coming and happily proclaimed that the band is nearing their fifty year anniversary touring together. Furthermore, Vanilla Fudge played a hit off their first album, a self-titled album dropped in 1967 which hit #6 on the US Top 200, The Impressions cover, “People Get Ready.” Appice then took his turn on lead vocals for the next track and had Westbury pumped up. As the song came to an end, the live crowd gave a standing ovation to the band, their first of many throughout the performance.
Inspired by the audience’s response, Stein thanked fans again, saying it felt good be back home in Long Island. Informing everyone about their bassist, they introduced Jeff Ganz, who was playing bass that night in place of a recovering Bremy. Ganz is no stranger to the main stage, having previously toured with many acts including Chuck Berry, Lou Reed, and Blood, Sweat & Tears to name a few. Returning to their first album, the band then played Trade Martin’s “Take Me For A Little While.” Asking fans to clap along yielded the right result as fans put their hands together for The Spencer Davis Group’s “Gimme Some Lovin.” This gave Martell his chance to greet the crowd, and as the song came to an end, the navy veteran took some time to proudly thank the troops. The fans rose to their feet, applauding before the band slowed things down with the aptly time “Let’s Pray for Peace.”
Remembering fun times of the past, the band made mention of when they had the privileged of playing for the Ed Sullivan Show before going into Jr. Walker & The All Stars’ “Shotgun,” the same song they had played on the show years prior. While the rest of the band left the stage as the song concluded, Appice treated the crowd to an extended drum solo. With the stage all his, he wailed away on his drum kit as the crowd’s cheers grew louder. Appice had some fun with the fans, having them clap along before asking for them to sing along, repeating a series of “Heys!” Feeding off the excitement, Appice joking said, “Heyyyy, I’m from Brooklyn. Anyone here from Brooklyn?,” eliciting a loud approval from the crowd. After the segment, the rest of the band rejoined Appice as they closed with their rendition of “You Keep Me Hangin’ On.” Originally sung by The Supremes in 1966, the cover has been a staple for Vanilla Fudge since 1967. Much like Blues Magoos before, Appice joined fans in the lobby after the band’s showings to spend some time with the crowd, gladly putting his signature on anything the long line of fans brought his way.
Simply put, Vanilla Fudge are a very powerful band to experience live. Every band member has a chance to shine, showcasing their talents to the crowd. Their live performance, a mix of fantastic cover songs and enjoyable originals stick out and are well-worth seeing live. The band continues to tour regularly, giving everyone a chance to see them live.
Then, the time came for the main attraction, Blue Öyster Cult. A band as epic as Blue Öyster Cult needs an equally epic entrance theme. Coming out to the notorious Game Of Thrones series theme set the mood for the entire set as it made the band larger than life. As fans stood to greet the band with a loud cheer, the show kicked right off with “The Red & The Black.” As the song finished, Bloom welcomed the crowd to the show, thanking everyone for coming. After a few pleasantries, the band changed gears into “Golden Age of Leather” before playing “Career of Evil.” Then crowd favorite “Burnin’ For You” followed as everyone joined in with the band to sing along. Keeping the energy flowing, they continued on with “ME 262” and “Buck’s Boogie.”
Castellano then shifted the mood, playing the keyboard with church organ effects as the lights dimmed to a beautiful aqua. With Blood taking the microphone, as the rest of the band and the crowd listened in, he took everyone on a journey. Bloom told a story of a weak Ulrich in search of a magical sword. As young Ulrich obtained the Storm Bringer’s sword, thus began the quest of the Black Blade. This was the perfect way to segue into the track “Black Blade.” Slowing things down a little, the band took their audience on a journey with “Then Came the Last Days of May.” As the song came to its end, Bloom, playing up to the crowd, asked if they heard a sound as a earthquake-sized “Boom” echoed throughout the venue. As the booms drew louder, fans knew the monster was closing in. As the opening guitar riffs of “Godzilla” rang throughout the theater, everyone smiled with delight as the behemoth had arrived.
Rounding out an exciting show, Blue Öyster Cult completed their set with massive hit “(Don’t Fear) The Reaper.” As the famous lead-in began, fans rose from their chairs to dance and sing along. Bloom had some fun with the crowd while miming a cowbell, perhaps playing tribute to the Saturday Night Live “More Cowbell” sketch that introduced a whole new generation of fans to the music of Blue Öyster Cult. As the song hit its climax, Dharma had a chance to shine under the limelight, blowing the crowd away with a flawless guitar solo. Then, in the closing, the fans showered the band with praise as loud applause and cheers echoed throughout the circular theater. Thanking their dedicated followers, they threw guitar picks into the crowd as a chant for one more song echoed. Bloom took to the microphone, remorsefully stating, “Sorry, this place has a curfew.” Disappointing to hear as the band left the stage, a big surprise came when Blue Öyster Cult returned as Bloom exciting said, “Well, they say we can do one more!” Giving new life, Blue Öyster Cult had one more trick up their sleeve and closed out with “Cities on Flame with Rock and Roll,” capping off the night with Rock perfection.
Seeing a Blue Öyster Cult show live is a must for anyone who fancies themselves a Rock fan. Whether someone only know the hits or they have an extensive knowledge of their music, Blue Öyster Cult simply cannot be missed. Dharma and Bloom continue to keep the band rooted in its original form, having not lost a beat over their many years together. The guitar solos delight, the enjoyable stories leading into songs entertain, make the overall performance unforgettable. With shows posted through all of 2016, including dates overseas this Summer, fans across The States have a great chance to see a one of a kind show.