By CRAIG HAMMONS
Rock and Roll was in the air at the Imperial Ball, which this year brought out veterans and bands on the rise like Bones UK, Watt Zeppelin featuring Andrew Watt and Chad Smith on drums, and Queens of the Stone Age with good buddy Johnny Depp sitting in.
The Imperial Ball is the brainchild of Nathan Fawley, president of Duesenberg Guitars USA. Since 2014, he has been bringing some to the biggest stars to the event such as Alice Cooper, Steven Tyler, Joe Perry, Joe Walsh and Johnny Depp.
It was a Saturday night rock and roll party. NAMM was in full swing and rock and roll was in the air tonight. The Imperial Ball may be an intimate show but its big on entertainment. Nathan came out and introduced the first band of the night, Bones UK. They are a heavy rock band from Camden Town, London consisting lead vocalist-rhythm guitarist Rosie Bones, lead guitarist Carmen Vandenberg who has toured with Jeff Beck and drummer Heavy.
Bones UK recently released their debut self-titled album and played most of it during the night. Bones UK has come a long way from when the band members first met in a small blues kitchen in their hometown. This power trio is armed with good songs, strong stage personality and full of kick ass rock and roll energy.
They played their recent single “Pretty Waste” which is powered by some real heavyweight beats and Rosie’s unforgettable vocal delivery. They also did a excellent cover of David Bowie’s “I’m Afraid of Americans.”
On their last song of the night they brought out Jessie Hughes from Eagles of Death Metal to sing “Helter Skelter.” Watch for Bones UK out on the road later this year opening for Korn.
Next up was the man who wears many musical hats the mighty Andrew Watt fronting Watt Zeppelin featuring Chili Pepper Chad Smith on drums. Andrew Watt’s vast background includes stints with everyone from Justin Bieber, Post Malone, and California Breed. Watt produced, co-wrote, and plays guitar on every track on Ozzy Osbourne’s soon-to-be released album, Ordinary Man.
If anybody could take on Zeppelin it is this dude. He’s paid his dues, done his homework and he made Plant and Page proud. They opened with “The Immigrant Song” and Watt nailed Plant’s searing vocal opening. They didn’t waste time telling us what song was next. These are songs we were all brought up on and already know by heart. They did a killer version of “Dazed and Confused” and ran it into “Moby Dick” which Chad’s drum solo was so powerful his drums wanted to sue him for damages. Andrew Watt plays guitar with fingers of fire. When they ended with “Whole Lotta of Love” he was Jimmy Page in overdrive. Believe me, you’ll be hearing a lot more of Andrew Watt in the future.
The Imperial Ball also auctioned off some items tonight for the charity including a beautiful painting of David Bowie. I really wanted it but the bid started at $5,000 and the item eventually went for $35,000.
The next band up was simply billed as Josh Homme but little did we know it would be the entire Queens of the Stone Age doing their first show in recent memory.
They opened with a slow groove then went into “Go With the Flow” from their 2003 album “Songs for the Deaf.” Josh seemed happy to be here and have the boys back together again. They did songs that covered their vast catalog including “My God is the Sun” the title track from their 2013 album of the same name.
Josh then welcomed us all and thanked us for participating in such a fine charity. He said he was happy and wanted all of us to go out and make someone happy. The next song Josh said was a very personal one to him and you can understand once you listen to the lyrics. Josh and his wife Brody Dalle of the Distillers announced in November they are ending their 12-year marriage. They then played “I Sat by the Ocean.” It’s the breakup song of the century with my favorite line “time wounds all the heals as we fade out of view.” Josh’s slide guitar work on this track give it an emotional touch all the way to the abrupt end.
Josh then introduced the Band with guitarist Troy Van Leeuwen on guitar, former Mars Volta drummer Jon Theodore, Dean Fertita on keyboards and Michael Shuman on bass. This is the lineup that played on 2017’s Villains album produced by Mark Ronson and toured on the Queens of the Stone Age’s last tour in 2018. It was only appropriate, then, that they play “The Evil Has Landed.” The Queens seemed more polished and friendly. Josh just seemed to really enjoy being back on stage again.
After doing “Smooth Sailing” and “ No One Knows” he brought his son Wolf Dillion Reece Homme out on stage. He asked him who his favorite Rock star was and he said “Billy Idol.” Wolf said ”he wanted to play the drums and for all of us to go home.”
Josh put his son up on the drum high riser to assist with the drumming duties. Then out came Johnny Depp with his new Duesenberg Guitar and they launched into “Dancing With Myself.” Johnny roamed the stage, interacting with the band and acknowledging the audience appreciation with hand and facial gestures.
Everyone seemed to be loose and having fun. They then went right into a old Queens track from 2007 called “Make it Wit Chu.” Josh tonight was not trying to be a rock and roll badass, but a dad, band leader and performer.
It was time for the finale and Josh looked over at Johnny asked “What key is this song in?” and Johnny replied “the Chuck Berry key,” and they kicked into “Takin’ Care of Business” by Bachman Turner Overdrive. It was a surreal moment as I didn’t expect that song. But we all danced and sang along until Josh wished us a good night. And it was, indeed, an imperial night.
Video courtesy of Alphaba2: