Max Watts Brisbane 24 August
There wouldn’t have been many at Max Watts tonight who weren’t crossing off the dates on the calendar in anticipation of Richie Kotzen’s Brisbane show so when the lights went down bang on 9:30 the swarm at the punter barrier thickened up and out he glided – like a prize fighter sure of a win but quietly confident.
“End of the Earth” was a perfect opening track with the perfect amount of dazzle and riffery. Surprisingly, Richie- a man who has become renowned for playing a Fender Telecaster without a pick and making it sound dirtier than a sailors’ joke – chose a Stratocaster to open the show. This is a rarity these days, but the purists would know that Richie is one of the few players on the planet who has a Stratocaster and Telecaster model endorsed in his name by Fender (insert WOW here, or “Fuck you for being that good Richie”…whatever…we mortals are not worthy of you).
Now you don’t expect too much banter between songs at a Richie show, so following a quick swap onto the telecaster and while we were all still dazzled by how ridiculously awesome the opening song was – he got the drop on us and punched into the anthemic intro of “Socialite”. This morphed into the first remarkable bass solo from Mr Dylan Wilson and then we all soul funked into “Meds” where Richie took to the pornographic riffs of the clavinova. By this stage it was noted by more than one person in the crowd was dubbing Mr Kotzen “The White Prince” due to his adept flexibility at playing any instrument he damn well feels like and playing it exceptionally well!!
Now its always going to be a challenge for a journeyman with 21 albums to try to please everyone within 90 minutes, but Richie’s creative cycle has always been about where he’s at now, so halfway through he set the new album “Salt of the earth” was put into play.
This is a calmer and more balladeer approach to anything Ritchie has done. The grooves and tempos at times can lean toward yacht rock territory but this is a good thing:- the new songs are infectious and maybe somewhere in this world Richie might get airplay and the recognition he is entitled to. Passion abounds on these tracks: “I Would” and “My Rock” are the picks.
Back to the real world now and we’re quickly yanked from our tasty coma by the power ride to the finish. Any Richie aficionado might have summoned an arsenal of other songs to play but “Fear”, “Help Me” and “This is Life” contributed to a full tilt finish. Please do not miss the remaining shows and thanks Richie for showing us what passion and dedication means.
Words by John Anon
Behind the lens Richard Maher