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Chris Jericho.  Even if you don’t know his history of being a famous WWF/WWE wrestling star since the 1990’s, TV actor, writer, etc., you get the feeling there’s nothing subtle about him with a name like that.  His band Fozzy has been steadily rising in the ranks for decades and has gone from being a cover band to a legit hard rock machine.  Fozzy is currently touring the US promoting their current single “Nowhere to Run”.  So, when asked to cover their show at Brick by Brick in San Diego, I jumped at the chance to experience the spectacle that is Fozzy in America’s Finest City. 

Cracking the seal on the evening was Jared James Nichols.  His three-piece blues-rock powerhouse was unknown to me this night, but what an impression he and his bandmates left.  Raw, full of feeling and energy, they powered through a one hour set that left the early birds amazed and chanting for more.  In addition to his crowd-pleasing riffs and raw singing style, was his unique ability to play this big rock sound without any guitar picks.   Yes, no guitar picks needed!  Fans stood hypnotized as he and his band put out a clinic on how to do blues-rock.  Jared’s style lends itself nicely with 70’s style rock, Southern Rock etc., so it was no surprise he mixed in an excellent version of Mountain’s "Mississippi Queen" toward the end of his set.

Now that the surprisingly young crowd was properly warmed up, you could feel the electricity in the air start to swell with each passing minute.  The crew activity onstage was getting less and less now, and you could feel it was close.  Mic checks done, house lights down, here we go.  As Rich “The Duke” Ward (guitars, vocals), Frank Fontsere (drums), Billy Grey (guitars), and Randy Drake (bass) took their places, the intro being pumped out of the PA began to wind down.  Then, like a slingshot there he was!  Jericho bolted atop his trademark FOZZY BOX and stood there with his arms out, reveling in the volume the crowd was putting out.  It was here you could see his showmanship emerge. The natural front man hadn’t done a thing yet and already had the crowd eating out of his hands.  Finally,  Jericho broke the silence from the stage with a siren-like “San Diego, are you ready for Fozzy!?” 

Once the music started it was full speed ahead and Fozzy wasted no time in unleashing back to back rockers from their most recent release “Judas”; The title track “Judas” and the upbeat rocker “Drinkin’ with Jesus”.  Followed immediately by “One Crazed Anarchist” and the jackhammer-like “Sin and Bones”, it was clear this was not some lighthearted side project.  This is some serious shit going on here and Jericho and the band weren’t messing around.   Longtime band-mates Ward and Fontsere brought with them the same power and precision they exhibited when playing together in the pioneering Stuck Mojo eons ago, and I smiled to myself being able to see them onstage again.  Billy Grey and Randy Drake were on fire themselves; smoothly providing powerful rhythm and bass, while engaging the crowd, dancing around, effortlessly doing their thing.  Pros all the way around.  

Powering through the set, we get a taste of their new single “Nowhere to Run”.  A big plodding riff that’s sure to peel some paint somewhere.  As if that wasn’t enough, they mixed in a couple of cover tunes including a very rocking interpretation of the ABBA hit “SOS” which fit perfectly in this set.   

Fozzy is legit.  They’re also upbeat, loud, professional, real, and most of all just one big can of Rock ‘N Roll fun.  Basically all you need from a top-notch rock band.  Far from being a parody or a goof, Jericho has surrounded himself with some of the most no-nonsense musicians out there.  As a result, Fozzy is putting out some serious music that stacks up against the very best in the business.  They are making their way up and down the Western US right now!  Do yourself a favor and let Fozzy remind you what a good old-fashioned metal show is all about.  You won’t regret it.

John McAteer

Photojournalist - Orange County

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