Hunnypot Does...
Powered by CircleSquareLA


Written by 

Sitting in the all-to-common traffic I experienced while driving over to the City National Grove of Anaheim for the UFO and Armored Saint show Thursday afforded me plenty of time to reminisce.  You see, my formidable years happened to be during the 80’s when the Metal/Hard Rock scene literally exploded.   Back then, we didn’t have every song known to man streaming from our phones, but rather we relied on word of mouth and that 2-hour Local Metal Show on the radio late Sunday nights to figure out what was good! Then, my friends and I would spend hours in the record store and chose albums based on the album cover art. We then went home and bumped our cassette tape copies for our car stereos, and endlessly debated which bands were better than the next.   I distinctly recall Armored Saint as being one of my absolute favorites at the time.  Their unique look, distinctive vocals, intricate sound for the time, and raw intense live shows in their infancy separated them a bit from the rest.  That whole package is what I dug about them and continue to do so to this day.

Upon entering the theater, it was clear I wasn’t the only one with this sentiment.  The people inside all seemed to be in a hurry to get where they had to be.  The urgency was palpable, and I wasn’t going to waste any time myself.  This show had in fact sold out several weeks prior to tonight and I am here to tell you darn near everyone was here on time to see that curtain drop for The Saint.

Armored Saint hit the stage precisely at 8pm, and by 8:01 it was clear they were on point!  Starting the night with “Raising Fear”, it seemed many in the crowd might have been a bit stunned at the sheer musical power this band was putting out.  Perhaps many just simply forgot?  Regardless, for me the unmistakable John Bush on vocals sounded as fresh as that first time I spun “March of the Saint” decades ago.  Joey Vera (Bass) and Gonzo Sandoval (Drums) laid down the foundation of this onslaught while brother to Gonzo, Phil (Lead Guitar) sprayed some equally devastating guitar goodness from stage right.  On the left was the metal stalwart Jeff Duncan (guitars) providing some serious heft behind this massive sound we were all enjoying.  

They immediately followed with 1984’s “Can U Deliver”, 2000’s “Creepy Feelings”, and 2010’s “Head On”, showcasing a testament to their longevity and consistently pure sound. Surely, I was not alone in feeling that this was a band who clearly have mastered their craft and were executing this set to perfection.  Next up was arguably their most recognizable song, 1991’s “Last Train Home”, and “Underdogs” reaching back to their infancy again. “Seducer”, “For the Sake”, and “In the Hole”, led the way towards the classic and unforgettable “Reign of Fire”.  Full momentum obtained now, they finished with “Win Hands Down”, “Nervous Man”, and finally the classic textbook metal anthem, “March of The Saint”, which even to this day, when hearing that intro, gets me fired up every time. 

This band just completed a fierce and damn near perfect set.  As I stood there watching the crew prep for UFO, I was again brought back to the early days and those debates with my buds.  It occurred to me that in the mid 80’s it would have been a complete long-shot that the freight train that was Armored Saint would ever share the stage with a band such as UFO. Obviously not a knock on either band, but their musical styles are worlds apart,  And, these bands were a generation apart so to speak, as UFO was already doing their thing and influencing every one of the bands that were part of this 80’s metal uprising. 

Tonight, however, it’s different.  This double-bill that I’m giddy to be witnessing is what amounts to a history lesson in Heavy Metal.   The people in the crowd were keen on this as well.  You got the feeling of being at a family reunion of sorts.  Truly a multi-generational vibe both on and off the stage. 

Anticipating UFO, I’m thinking to myself the mark they have left on heavy music.  They have sold over 20 million records and played to many more millions for the past 50 years!   There’s no question they are part of Metal’s royalty, and these true “influencers” are about to arrive onstage any minute.  The tension is building and it’s truly one of the best feelings a lifelong Hard Rock fan could  experience.  I’m truly a pig in slop waiting for this…

The lights finally dim and the sold-out crowd roars in appreciation, as we catch our first glimpse of the legend that is vocalist Phil Mogg.   Adorned in a classic 40’s style “pork-pie” fedora, and jacket, he immediately was greeted by another surge of appreciative noise from the sold-out crowd as he made his way to center stage.   When that first chord of the opening song “Mother Mary” escaped from that beautiful wall of Marshall's, I knew we were in good shape.  Phil effortlessly unwound the opening salvo of lyrics to the big fat opening song and it was confirmed; School has begun.

The barn-burning “We belong to the Night” was next, followed by the even fatter “Run boy Run”.  Phil was effortlessly throwing out the lyrics with equal parts ease and bad-assery and completely owning it.  He knew he was on.  You could see the look on his face; happy and confident.  This was epic.  “Venus”, “Lights Out”, and “Only You Can Rock me”, “Cherry”, and “Love to Love” flowed from this band in such a fashion it seems like only 3 minutes had passed.  So good, so right.

UFO has always been one of the most unique bands in Hard Rock.  Their songs always seemed to have a dreamlike quality to them.  Their choruses always seem to lure you down a path into their genius then smash your face with a bombastic return to the rock goodness.  On this night, the return of Neil Carter (keyboards, rhythm guitar) seemed to inject a whole new energy in the band, and along with the indelible Vinnie Moore (lead guitar), had no problem doing the classic tunes justice.  Holding down the bottom end was longtime drummer Andy Parker and on bass was the familiar Rob DeLuca.  These four gents had no problem sticking to the lesson plan, making it easy for Phil to be Phil.

The Band led us down the homestretch with “Too Hot to Handle”, “Rock Bottom”, crowd favorite “Doctor Doctor”, and finally “Shoot Shoot”.  Those could quite possibly be four of the most kick-ass songs of all time.  Period. 

Looking back on this evening, the one thing I takeaway is how two bands, who decades ago, would be considered opposites had come together to give us all a perfect night of Hard Rock.  The teachers and those they influenced, sharing the same stage, doing their thing for the appreciative die-hards who witnessed it all was something I’ll never forget.

 Sadly, this is slated to be the final tour for UFO as retirement is calling.   It’s satisfying to see a band of this ilk get to go out on their terms, and at the top of their game.  Even more so, the fact I got to witness it.

John McAteer

Photojournalist - Orange County

Website: Email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
  • Twitter