Paul Gilbert with Thomas Lang on drums at the HOUSE OF BLUES SUNSET The Vibrato Tour 1/9/2013

Paul Gilbert House of Blues


I was just starting high school in the mid-80s  when my aunt and uncle took me to my first heavy metal concert (I won’t get into the shows my mom and grandma took me to prior to that).

They took me to the Country Club in Reseda on a Saturday night to see King Kobra with Carmine Appice.    What a scene that was.   All the metal heads sure partied hard back then.   People drinking excessively, women getting naked to impress the bands onstage –  I’d never witnessed anything like that.    4 bands played that night.   The band before King Kobra was Racer X.   I was completely blown away by the guitar wizardry of Bruce Bouillet and Paul Gilbert.   I’d never seen anyone shred like that.     They quickly became my favorite band and I spent all my money finding a way to see them there over and over throughout high school.   I lost count of how many times I went to see them play over the next few years.   Some of my very best concert memories are of Racer X at the Country Club- that was definitely the golden age of shred.

A few years later, I remember the night my friends and I were watching MTV’s Headbanger’s Ball.    I think it was Adam Curry that announced that “former Racer X guitarist Paul Gilbert is starting a new band with Billy Sheehan called Mr. Big”.   I was definitely a big Billy Sheehan back then, but I still wanted to cry because of it.   I figured Racer X was going to be signed to a major label and be around forever.   No such luck.

Since then, I’ve caught Paul with Mr. Big a few times and even at the Racer X reunion at The Whisky in 2001.       I’ve also seen him play solo quite a few times as well over the past 15 years, including his performance on the G3 tour in 2006 along with Bruce Bouillet.   His solo albums are great and he manages to continuously up his level of musicianship and guitar playing.

The show started at 10:00ish and was a two hour shred-fest.  Paul and his band (with wife Emi on keyboards, Kelly LeMieux on bass and the incredible Thomas Lang on drums) played a good portion of the new Vibrato album, along with some Racer X instrumental classics (“Scarified” and “Technical Difficulties”) that fired everyone up.   I’m not sure there are too many people that are into Paul’s music purely for his vocal abilities.  His band also covered tunes by Pat Travers, Rod Stewart, Gary Moore, AC/DC and others.  He also did some of his older material like “Down To Mexico”.   The highlight of the cover tunes was definitely “Synchronicity” by The Police.  To give the rest of the band a quick break, Paul did a few tunes solo – playing a little Mr. Big, some of this solo tunes and some other recognizable tunes.   One thing I do miss is the crazy whammy bar stuff Paul used to do back with Racer X. 

I’ve seen Emi play before in Paul’s band (at G3 at the Grove)  and she is really good.    Her keyboard parts really added to the show.    Her keyboard work on the instrumentals gave the songs a cool, updated feel to them.   Prior to the show, I had no idea who Kelly LeMieux was, but he’s quite a bass player.  He kept up nicely with the rest of the band and even threw a little funk in here and there.

From a technical standpoint, I’m not sure if I’ll see a more “proficient” rock concert this year.   And after seeing Paul Gilbert and Thomas Lang play, I’m not so sure I feel the need to go to NAMM this year to see any more shredding.  In a lot of ways, I feel like I just went.

Paul Gilbert House of Blues







Paul Gilbert House of Blues


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