Dean Delray’s Comedy & Rock Show ‘Tribute To Bon Scott of AC/DC’ At Avalon, Tuesday April 3rd 2018
Bon Scott, the original singer for AC/DC, was a hell of a vocalist and a true rock star… like most rock legends, his death is mysteriously tragic (alcohol poisoning or asphyxiation depending on what you read) and very premature (he died at the age of 33). He was a dangerous rock star living the life, at a time when drugs sex and rock ‘n’ roll was still a rule, and you have some AC/DC fans who swear that the band was never as good after the Bon Scott years.
38 years after his death and almost exactly 40 years after the release of the album ‘Powerage’, comedians and musicians had organized a tribute to AC/DC’s Bon Scott at the historic nightclub Avalon, on Tuesday night. They performed the 1978 album in its entirety, with an impressive line-up of musicians, who formed an all-star turnover band.
Organized by funny man Dean Delray, the tribute was featuring comedians Bill Burr, Marc Maron, Joey Diaz, but obviously plenty of musicians, including Mötley Crüe’s Nikki Sixx, Scott Ian, Afghan Whigs’ Greg Dulli, Michael Devin, Rudy Sarzo, Chris Goss, Josh Zee, Billy Rowe, Steve Gorman, Dave Kushner,
Whether you like AC/DC or not, you have to be familiar with the big hits ‘Highway to Hell’, ‘Hells Bells’, ‘Back in Black’, ‘You Shook Me All Night Long’, ‘For Those About to Rock (We Salute You)’,.. these have been used in many commercials and movies, but ‘Powerage’? You have to be a real fan to know all the deep cuts of this one, and Dean Delray is truly one die-hard AC/DC fan, as he showed us his gigantic Bon Scott tattoo on the side of his torso. All night long, he proved he could carry the torch, as this guy can sing for sure, and he performed the entire album with the only help of Greg Dulli for the last song.
Comedy and music are often a winning combination, but is there another subject for stand up comedians beside sex and drug? I know, what else is there when performing in front of an AC/DC crowd, a wild rock ‘n’ roll kind of crowd? The obnoxious guys behind me (who were always screaming at the performer and talked very loudly during Marc Maron’s set) certainly gave them a bad press.
If I didn’t care much for Joey Diaz’s loud dick humor, as he was playing the loud guy screaming sex jokes with the gravelling voice, Delray was funny. He joked about legalizing cocaine – there would be no traffic because people would be at work at 4 am. Marc Maron brought up more diversity while he still had a few mushroom stories. Going through his usual existentialist stories, he dared to mention politics, homophobia and religion, in a story featuring Mike Pence, Christians, the apocalypse (‘My hope is that on that day, Jesus is not coming back, it’s a small victory, but…’) and brought reflection about the pre-internet days ‘it was a better time because there was still shame involved with porn’. ‘Breaking Bad’s bad man Bill Burr joked about the Me Too movement, ‘Say what you want about guys, but when they are mad at least they have the decency to kill you. Women, they want you to live and suffer and wandering the earth’… In his well-known confrontational style, he noticed one of the obnoxious guys and told him to shut up, just before a series of ISIS jokes ‘I can’t pretend I am afraid of ISIS’…’It’s a fucking mom and pap business, and they have to kill themselves to succeed. I don’t have a business but it’s not a long term operation’. And his tough-guy delivery got plenty of laugh and worked marvelously on the male crowd, and I don’t mean by that there were no women attending, but as Dean Delray noticed during the show, ‘so much testosterone here!’
When I arrived, rows of seats had been installed and I was skeptical about listening to ACDC music while sitting down, but it turned out that the night was cut on half, with a first part for standing comedians, and a second part for the music… you surely can’t interrupt an album like this one, and it would have effectively been a bad choice to alternate comedy and music, ‘Powerage’ (plus a few other songs) had to be played in its entirety,
Surrounded by this all-star bands, Dean Delray sang with a high pitched fury, and honestly, he did a fantastic job, proving that being a stand-up comedian is no different than holding that high note and having the stamina for a rock show. However, you have to know that Delray used to play in an international touring band years ago, he even opened for rock stars such as Tom Petty or Lenny Kravitz and signed a record deal with Linda Perry. Going back to his roots was probably what this night was about.
If I was far from being familiar with the faces of all the members of the band, they were all top musicians and they played the blues with plenty of swagger and soul. Among them, you had guitarist Josh Zee (the Mother Truckers, the South Austin Moonlighters, Mojo Rising), guitarist Scott Ian (Anthrax, Stormtroopers of Death), bassist Rudy Sarzo (Quiet Riot, Ozzy Osbourne, Whitesnake, Manic Eden, Dio, Blue Öyster Cult, Queensrÿche, Devil City Angels), guitarist George Lynch (Dokken, Lynch Mob), guitarist Michael Devin (Whitesnake) and Billy Rowe (Butlers), drummer Steve Gorman (The Black Crowes), guitarist Dave Kushner (Velvet Revolver, Wasted Youth, Electric Love Hogs, Loaded, Danzig, …)… with such a pedigree, how couldn’t they have sounded great live? At the top of this, Marc Maron and Bill Burr, respectively on guitar and drums, also joined the band for a few songs, and an all-comedian-star power.
On a side note, Eagles of Death Metal’s Jesse Hughes and Dave Catching were announced on the bill but didn’t show up, and if nobody gave any explanation, this may have been related to the latest Hughes controversy on gun control.
Whatever, the room almost exploded with all this rock ‘n’ roll stardom when they were also joined by Nikki Sixx for a wild ‘Kicked in the Teeth’ and a Motley Crue’s song, which curiously had the same title than AC/DC’s own ‘Live Wire’
My favorite moment had to be the last song, Night Prowler’, performed by Afghan Whigs’ Greg Dulli, I would not have necessarily thought about Dulli for an AC/DC song but he brought his special sense of mystery, darkness with his high howl fitting the song to perfection.
Of course, Delray seemed to be the one having the most fun, I am still not sure if this event was done to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the album, or was just a pretext for an epic rock party, but every one around had obviously a great time
Rock ‘n’ Roll Damnation
Down Payment Blues
Gimme a Bullet
What’s Next to the Moon
Up to my Neck In You
Kicked in the Teeth
Live Wire (Motley Crue cover)
Let There Be Rock