Review: Lita Ford and FireHouse at Penn's Peak
Lita Ford and FireHouse rolled into Penn’s Peak, in Jim Thorpe, PA on April 6, 2018 to a sold out show. Lita’s setlist spanned her entire 43 year career and she is currently working on a new album. FireHouse’s setlist also covered their expansive 28 year career.
FireHouse consists of CJ Snare (vocals, piano), Bill Leverty (guitar, vocals), Michael Foster (bass, vocals), Allen McKenzie (drums, vocals). They first hit the scene in 1990 with their self-titled debut album and in 1991 they won the American Music Award for Best New Hard Rock/Metal Band beating out Nirvana and Alice In Chains. I attribute this win to their radio friendly rock sound and catchy lyrics. They were a different sound during the huge influx of Seattle’s grunge bands.
They opened the night with Overnight Sensation which opens with a distinctive guitar riff and the drum beat of Rush’s Neil Peart. A few bars in and CJ let out a huge scream. This set the tone for the entire night. I was in the crowd surrounded by huge FireHouse fans, some have followed their career from the beginning. Some may have been influenced by their parents taste in music, like a 16 year old girl who sang every word. From their first album they also performed All She Wrote, Shake and Tumble, Seasons of Change and Love of a Lifetime. It was cool to listen to these songs live so many years after they were written. Bill’s guitar riffs and Michaels’s baselines are literally what new bands are trying to recreate in the current rock scene. Bill’s playing was super clean and he was fun to watch. Love of a Lifetime is a monster ballad that has also stood the test of time. CJ’s vocals were able to shine during the few love songs that they pulled out including I Live My Life For You off their 1995 album “FireHouse 3” and When I Look Into Your Eyes off of their 1992 release “Hold Your Fire”. They closed with their big hit Don’t Treat Me Bad, the packed house was singing and dancing not wanting the night to end. FireHouse showed during their 15 song set that well written songs stand the test of time.
Lita Ford’s Career started in 1975 when she was recruited to play lead guitar in the Runaways. She played along Cherie Curie, Jackie Fox, Joan Jett and Sandy West until 1979 when the band broke up due to creative differences. This fostered Lita’s ability to have a successful solo career. Her first two releases “Out for Blood” and “Dancin’ on the Edge” gained moderate success but it wasn’t until 1988 when she released “Lita” that she found success as a solo artist. This album had several hit singles including Kiss Me Deadly, Back to the Cave, Close My Eyes Forever ft. Ozzy Osbourne and Falling In and Out of Love co-written with Nikki Sixx.
Lita Ford (lead vocals, guitar) has recruited some of the best musicians to tour with her. Patrick Kennison (guitar, vocals), Marty O’Brien (bass, vocals), Bobby Rock (drums). Patrick was a founding member of Union Underground and sings and plays guitar in his current band Heaven Below. Marty O’Brien has been a successful touring (Disturbed, Tommy Lee) and studio bassist (Kelly Clarkson, Tommy Lee, Gus G.) and has had his own bands Kilgore and We Are the Fallen. Bobby Rock has had a successful career with Nelson and Vinnie Vincent Invasion, he is also a music educator authoring several books and creating instructional videos.
Lita opened her 17 song set with Gotta Let Go from her 1984 album “Dancin’ on the Edge”. This song is a great opener, it is about letting go at the rock show and that’s just what the crowd did. The guitar riffs from both Lita and Patrick are simple yet suck you in. Next up was Larger Than Life, which Lita is. This track is off the “Dangerous Curves” album. This song starts off with Patricks squealing guitar, then goes into an fast paced rock song with a swing back beat from Bobby. They also performed Playin’ With Fire off the same album, this is a classic rock song with a perfect hook. Lita’s vocals literally sound as good as the recording, Patrick and Marty’s vocals blend perfectly with hers on stage. Another song with a great guitar riff is Living Like a Runaway form her 2012 album of the same name. This song pays homage to her early years and running away to be in the Runaways at a young age. Lita also performed two classic Runaways tunes, Cherry Bomb and Black Leather.
They played all of the previously mentioned tracks from the “Lita” as well as Can’t Catch Me which was co-written with Motorheads, Lemmy Kilmisiter. This song features Marty’s blistering bass playing and an always incredible drum solo from Bobby. If you have never seen him play, you are missing out. One of my favorite part’s of a Lita Ford show is when she performs Close My Eyes Forever. She pulls out a custom, one of a kind double-neck B.C. Rich guitar that was specially made for her and Patrick takes on Ozzy’s vocals. The first time I heard them perform this together was in April 2016 when Lita was on tour with Halestorm. Lita’s vocals are always spot on, but when Patrick opened his mouth the entire audience was floored. This night’s performance was no different. His vocals are clean, smooth and haunting. I’m sure he had plenty of women looking him up after the show.
Lita closed the night with a fan favorite, Kiss Me Deadly. She started to sing and let the crowd fill in the line, “It ain’t no big thing”. By this time, the audience should have been exhausted from singing and dancing for 3+ hours but they were totally into it and it was a great way to end the a perfect night of rock and roll.
This was a concert that spanned 40 years of rock and roll and everyone showed up to celebrate music and life. FireHouse and Lita Ford still have what it takes to command an audience and keep everyone entertained. Although they aren’t touring together, they both have show dates throughout the year. Keep your eyes peeled and your ears open for some new and surely amazing music from Lita and her band. Also, check out Patrick and Marty’s projects for some great music.