Live Review – Lexx Luthor – The Berkley Café, Raleigh, NC – 3/16/13

With Dark Design

Occasionally I stumble upon a band that I just cannot understand why great things have not happened to them and that is exactly what I feel about Lexx Luthor. However, there is one important point about Lexx (we’ll keep it short ‘cause we’re friends ok?), and that would be they are a cover band. Uhggg! Normally I would stop right there but let me explain…

I’ve hinted at my disdain for tribute bands in previous reviews and it might be hard to see why that might be any different for a band playing exclusively covers, right? Well, for me, a tribute band is a bit like taking a Toyota Corolla and tearing off all the bodywork and grafting a Ferrari-like body kit on top. Give a quick glance and it seems about right, but any closer inspection reveals the truth. Sure, it’s fun party-time entertainment, but even if done extremely well, it doesn’t excite me. The necessary horsepower just isn’t there. I’m surely not going to drive 600 mile round-trip for that. However, I’ve seen Lexx Luthor three times now and for the most recent show they were the headline act. To be fair there was another good reason to make that trip, but I surely wouldn’t be writing this review if the band headlining had been one of the tribute acts making the rounds.

So, that still doesn’t explain why a “cover band” might be treated any differently? Well, to continue my car analogy, what we have here with Lexx is a home-built sports car, but in this case every bit as good as a Ferrari, Porsche, Aston Martin, you name it, and in fact appears to be any one of those cars depending on when you happen to look at it, horsepower and all! Now, I will grant you there is one aspect missing and that is the home grown creativity you find in a original act, but, kind of like iTunes, sometimes ‘shuffle-mode’ is just what you’re looking for. That’s what Lexx delivers and they deliver with style.

But, before we continue with Lexx, a quick mention for the opening act, “Dark Design”. This was my first introduction to them, and the sum total of my knowledge about them was that I will be seeing them again in a few short days when they on the bill to support Queensryche when they play Raleigh, NC on March 23rd. My first impression of them was a good one, with the band being a tight technical thrash/power-thrash sort-of-thing. At times some of the guitar interplay reminded me of Iron Maiden on mega-steroids. Their singer, Andrew Bertrand was energetic and powerful, and at one point was off the stage into the crowd singing and then sprinted off to the bar to fetch the bass player a much-needed Rolling Rock. That’s taking care of your band-mates! Since this was such a quick intro to them, I’ll reserve a few more column inches when I write the Queensryche review for the coming show this weekend.

Turning back to Lexx now, this band has existed for almost 30 years, having originally formed back in 1984! That’s some history for a band of this type. Now, I’m far from qualified to write Lexx’s bio, having come very late to this particular party, but my understanding is that Todd Jackson is the surviving original member in the current line-up, and it may be that for some part of the last 29 years Lexx didn’t exist or was dormant. Anyway the current line-up is a killer one comprising, Tony Rock (lead-vocals), Todd Jackson (guitar and part-time lead-vocals), Danny O’Rourke (guitar), Scott Davis (bass and part-time lead-vocals) and Greg Evans (drums). The life-blood that runs through the heart of Lexx is extremely well played heavy metal covers – anything from Metallica, Motorhead, Metal Church, Megadeth… wait, it’s not just bands beginning with the letter ‘M’! Throw in some Iron Maiden, Deep Purple, Saxon, Dio, Thin Lizzy, Queensryche, Judas Priest and more. You get the idea, right?

If I had to write a one-line sentence to explain Lexx Luthor it would be this: “Seeing Lexx Luthor is like going to a concert where 20 of your favorite bands all get to play one killer song”. If I was allowed a second sentence I would add: “You’ll walk out of the gig with a big smile, a sore neck and have lost half your voice from singing along, but man, you will have had a blast!” And that in a nutshell sums up last Saturday. Now I have the setlist from the gig, well actually it is two setlists since all the songs wouldn’t fit on one sheet of paper, but it’s not to hand as I am writing this (I’ll add a picture to this article when I get a chance), but unless I’m mistaken they played for some 2 hours or perhaps it was more and every song was awesome. The band is tight, heavy and smacks you straight between the eyes with power and passion. It’s hard to explain, but many bands playing covers seem to defer to the original in a way that just comes over as timid, but Lexx have none of that, and deliver great versions of everything they tackle. Below you will find some links with video taken by our good friend David McGowan from the show, so you can see what I mean.

A quick word on vocals with this band. You will have noticed that I listed three vocalists and this is one of the exceptional things about the band. All three are A-list vocalists, but the band cleverly fits the songs to the style best suited to one of the three, so for a Queensryche number Tony will take center-stage, while Todd will take Metallica and Scott Megadeth for example. Now, I have to say that Tony is an exceptional vocalist and is one of the few vocalists I have ever seen that can nail “Queen of the Ryche” by Queensryche for example. Not an easy song to pull off. However, as you will see from the videos, it doesn’t matter who is taking the vocal, they all are excellent.

Another highlight for me is the gentleman on the lead guitar – Danny O’Rourke. If he would just stand still long enough I’d take and post a picture (actually I might have a couple I managed to sneak), but Danny is a superb guitarist and nails so many solos from bands and guitarists with a wide variety of styles. That’s not to say Todd is any slouch when it comes to the guitar either and they trade licks across the stage in songs like “2 Minutes To Midnight” in perfect balance. Holding down the rhythm section is Scott Davis on bass and the exceptional Greg Evans on drums. With Scott on vocals I particularly like his version of ‘Dave Mustaine’ on “Peace Sells, Who’s Buying”, complete with Mustain ‘snarl’, and I have to say he’s a wicked bass player to go with it.

As I sit here writing this, I’m trying to find any negatives, but this lot are one of those rare breeds that simply are what they are. There’s no pretension or expectation of greater things, there’s no ego (in fact you would be very hard pushed to find a nicer bunch of people in ANY band) and a genuine desire to entertain to the maximum. About the only thing anyone could complain about is that they didn’t do a song from a band that they particularly wanted to hear. My response to that would be “go ask them!” Lexx have a set list that, if they played every song, would run about 4 hours or so, and it’s my bet they probably do know something by that band you so desperately want to hear, at least if you can legitimately call it heavy metal. Anyway, to close, if you ever get the chance to see Lexx Luthor my recommendation is GO SEE THEM. I cannot imagine anyone being disappointed. Currently Lexx Luthor really only play around the Raleigh, NC, area so your options to see them might be limited, but they are surely worth it. My score for the show this weekend: 9/10

Tony Rock - lead vocals

Tony Rock – lead vocals


2 Responses to “Live Review – Lexx Luthor – The Berkley Café, Raleigh, NC – 3/16/13”

  1. Tony Dio Says:

    Awesome review Neil. That was a killer show for sure. Even with Lexx’s long history, I think that this is one of the best lineups that they’ve ever had. They are just as powerful now as they were in the late 80’s. Lexx has sort of been a breeding ground for future “big time” Rockstars. Sully Erna from Godsmack was once their drummer & Robert Sledge from Ben Folds Five was their bassist for a few years. They reformed back in 2005 & have had several lineup changes since then. I’m glad they’re still going & it’s always an honor to have them perform at my annual Birthday bash each year.

  2. Awesome review, and just read the “Queensryche” review as well.. will definitely put this as a favorite in my browser. Hope to see you at another show soon too!

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