Kings of Chaos reign over Turning Stone

 

Hard rock super group Kings of Chaos performed at the Turning Stone Casino recently. Kings of Chaos was founded by former Guns ‘n’ Roses drummer Matt Sorum. Much like their soft rock counterparts in Ringo Starr’s All Starr Band, Kings of Chaos features a rotating roster of rock ‘n’ roll superstars with all the members famous in their own right or as part of other well -known bands. The set list for the evening consisted of cover versions of songs from everyone’s respective bands.

The band consists of drummer Matt Sorum (The Cult, Guns N’ Roses), singer Chester Bennington (Linkin Park, Stone Temple Pilots), bassist Robert DeLeo (Stone Temple Pilots), guitarist Billy Duffy (The Cult), guitarist Steve Stevens (Billy Idol, Michael Jackson, Vince Neil), singer and guitarist Billy Gibbons (ZZ Top), and singer Robin Zander (Cheap Trick). The instrumentalists (Sorum, Duffy, Stevens and DeLeo) stayed on stage for mostly the entire show, while the singers (Bennington, Zander and Gibbons) would come and go from the stage as needed to perform vocals. The current seven member line-up features three Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame inductees (Sorum, Gibbons and Zander).

The show kicked off with the Stone Temple Pilots song “Vasoline.” Bennington, who fronted STP from 2013-2015, sang lead. Bennington is a high energy performer who is dancing and gyrating practically the whole time he is on stage. He carried this energy over into the Billy Idol classic “White Wedding” and The Cult standard “Fire Woman.” Bennington seems to be a bit of a vocal chameleon, able to tweak his voice just enough to fit the sound of whatever song he is singing.

Up next was Zander who came out on stage wearing a bright white jacket and top hat. He sang a trio of Cheap Trick songs, “Hello There,” “Surrender” and “I Want You To Want Me,” that really got the crowd pumped.

The last, but certainly not least, member to come out on stage was legendary voice and guitarist of ZZ Top, and beard aficionado, Billy Gibbons. He is currently the oldest member of Kings of Chaos at a still rockin’ 67 years old. He tore it up on ZZ Top rockers “Waitin’ For The Bus,” “Sharp Dressed Man” and “Tush.” “Sharp Dressed Man” was the first song of the show to feature all three guitarists (Duffy, Gibbons and Stevens) trading off on guitar solos within the same song. This would happen several more times throughout the show.

Next up were a pair of solos. Zander took the stage by himself with just an acoustic guitar to perform the Cheap Trick ballad “The Flame.” Then Stevens came back out to do an extended acoustic guitar solo. His solo featured a lot of Spanish flavored rhythms and even a little Led Zeppelin thrown in for good measure.

Those two performances lead into a stripped down three song acoustic set. Bennington came back out for the first two, The Cult’s “Edie (Ciao Baby)” and STP’s “Interstate Love Song” after which Bennington thanked DeLeo for writing one of the most beautiful songs ever written. Gibbons rejoined for the ZZ Top song “Jesus Just Left Chicago.” Gibbons joked about having “finally made the casino” which got the crowd laughing.

The most surprising moment of the night came when Sorum sang lead on the Motorhead classic “Ace of Spades.” It turns out that Sorum had toured with Motorhead a few years ago and this was his tribute to its famed singer and bassist Lemmy Kilmister -who passed away last year. He joked that he got the job because Dave Grohl wasn’t available. Sorum told the story and had talked between songs throughout the show, in a voice that had a somewhat high, lispy quality and wouldn’t sound out of place as a character on the Simpsons. However, once the song started and he dug into those lyrics, he absolutely channeled Lemmy’s gravelly, whiskey-soaked, growl.

Bennington then sang on STP’s “Sex Type Thing” and The Cult’s “Love Removal Machine” followed by one of the evenings more interesting pairings of Zander doing Billy Idol’s “Rebel Yell.” It was a good example of the several “what if?” moments inherent in a band of this sort. Zander followed that with Cheap Trick’s “Dream Police” featuring Bennington doing vocals for the maniacal interlude.

Gibbons came out for the rest of the show and went into ZZ Top’s “La Grange” featuring extended solos from all three guitarists. The final three songs of the show featured all seven members on stage jamming together. “Beer Drinkers & Hell Raisers” had the three singers trading back and forth. Up to this point in the show all of the songs had been from bands that Kings of Chaos members had been a part of. The last two, however, were songs from artists that none of the members had previously been in. “Going Down” was a blistering take on the blues-rock classic by Don Nix. The group even brought out opening act Frankie Perez to lend his gritty vocals. The final song was a no holds barred cover of Led Zeppelin’s “Whole Lotta Love.”

By its very nature, Kings of Chaos is a band with no permanent line up (Sorum and Stevens are the only members from the original line-up). This manifests in the way they all seem to be having a blast on stage. There’s a real sense that being in Kings of Chaos is a chance for these guys to break up their routine a little in the off season and perform with other musicians that they respect. No egos, no hogging the spotlight, just a bunch of rockers jamming together and enjoying their tenure in the band while it lasts.

Kings of Chaos have concluded their current tour but plan on coming back in 2017. It’ll be interesting to see how the band evolves in its next incarnation.

 

 

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James Suits / James Suits Photography / The Fuze Magazine

 

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