Vocalist and guitar hero Richie Kotzen has toured the world many times, both in bands such as Poison and Mr. Big, and as a solo artist. On October 8th at the Viper Room, one of the Sunset’s Strip’s most intimate and aurally pleasing venues to retain the grit of rock & roll, Richie Kotzen walked onstage in front of a crowd bursting at the seams with anticipation and excitement. The guitar virtuoso launched into a scorching new 90-minute set with ‘Losing My Mind,’ the first track off of his album Get Up. The music blared and the lights flashed as fog wrapped the Viper Room’s small stage.
Dressed in black and wielding a brand new Fender Telecaster, Kotzen unleashed a salvo of soulful rock upon his eager audience, setting the gain just high enough on his Marshall 1X12 to overdrive the tubes while keeping the tone both warm and clear.
Kotzen’s trio took a moment to settle into their groove, but once locked in, they held the stage with a commanding presence. Although it was the inaugural performance for the new lineup, their chemistry was that of a veteran band. Throughout the show, he constantly switched between using a pick and using his fingers for a more nuanced attack.
The live arrangements of most tracks were true to the album cuts, but Kotzen extended the intros of songs such as ‘Doing What the Devil Says to Do,’ letting it build up before exploding into the song. In others, he included breakdowns and extended jam sessions. During one song, he even completely altered the arrangement, switching the bass and guitar parts.
Although Kotzen is known for his guitar playing, he is also a great vocalist. He sounded true to his recordings, however in some songs the reverb on his voice muddied the mix slightly. He also pulled away from the microphone a bit when using his higher register, but he remained in tune and appeared generally comfortable on stage throughout the show.
Kotzen finished the set with his sing-along hit ‘Remember.’ After he topped off the track with an amazing guitar solo, the lights went down and the encore chants began. Donning his guitar once more, Kotzen launched into one last song, ‘Go Faster.’ As soon as the show ended, Kotzen’s audience rushed the guitarist, who stuck around to sign autographs, take pictures, and talk with his eager fans. Even after years of heavy touring, Kotzen is a humble and gracious person, and a well-rounded artist that you won’t want to miss.