GIG REVIEW: GUS G & Angel Vivaldi Live at Herman’s Hideaway, Denver
I can remember the exact time and day I first listened to Firewind. It was 2006, I was in a computer class in high school digging around the internet for new music. Instrumental, “The Fire and the Fury” from 2003’s ‘Burning Earth‘ hit my speakers like a runaway freight train; the incredible guitar work completely blowing me away. I immediately had to learn more about this breathtaking guitarist, Gus G, and completely fell in love with his talent and sound. Fast forward, ten years and five Firewind albums later, Gus G shredded his way to the top, as he now plays guitar for Ozzy Osbourne on top of his successful solo albums.
Revived in 2013, his solo act features work that doesn’t quite fit in with the power metal/speed metal archetype laid down in Firewind, and instead features more straight forward rock n’ roll tunes and classic metal anthems. Celebrating the releases of ‘I am the Fire‘ and ‘Brand New Revolution‘, Gus took his solo material on the road in 2016 with the Operation Domination Tour, joining forces with guitar virtuoso Angel Vivaldi. Self-made legend, Vivaldi picked up a guitar in the year 2000 and never looked back. This unsigned guitar master has released an LP, four EPs, and a single on his own. Top that off with over 50,000 subscribers and millions upon millions of views on YouTube, fans could be sure that they would be in for a treat with this tour.
September 21st at Herman’s Hideaway; Denver, CO was blessed with this fantastic tour with support from locals The Caveat, Driven by Turmoil, and Lotus Gait. For me, it was a strange crowd, full of people I have never seen before at local shows, yet they all seemed to know each other. I felt as if I walked into a class reunion I didn’t belong to, but lucky enough I found some familiar faces later on. The Caveat was playing as I walked in, and I instantly felt hooked. I have never heard of these guys before but they are an impressive and soulful progressive rock/metal act with amazing guitar and bass work, and I can’t wait to see them again. Driven by Turmoil was a somewhat chaotic hard rock/metal band with simple, yet funny lyrics and obviously didn’t take their craft too seriously. It was a good way to get some energy going at Herman’s, that’s for sure. Most of the night so far, I had some guys in front of me with back patches for Lotus Gait featuring a typical thrash metal logo, and artwork not falling too far behind that stereotype, yet when they hit the stage, I was thrown for a loop. These guys were pretty straight forward punk rock, with some heavy metal mixed in, and were surprisingly catchy though that’s definitely not my typical style.
Up next, Angel Vivaldi hit the stage, and from the very first note – I was hooked. I couldn’t look away, I couldn’t pick my jaw up off the floor, and I couldn’t believe how incredibly flawless this guy was. I am not usually one for fully instrumental acts, but this was so captivating that vocals layered over it would only take away from it’s beauty. He appeared humble, gracious, and honored to be in his position, and it all seemed and felt genuine. I have nothing but respect and love for a musician that talented, that still appreciates every smile and every clap from his audience. Joining him were Alex Bent (ex-Battlecross, Testament) on drums, another guitarist whom I can’t seem to find the name of, and Jake Skylyr on bass. Ending the set, Gus G hopped on stage and they played “The Fire and the Fury” together; and honestly, I could have died. Seeing that song live is one thing (which I can happily say was already checked off my bucket list) but seeing this amazing guitar work live with not only Gus, but this incredible young virtuoso as well was nothing short of fantastic.
After their instrumental together, Gus stayed on stage, and vocalist James-Paul Luna (Holy Grail) joined. When I read that Luna was covering the vocals, I was ten times more excited. For those that aren’t familiar with him, he has one of the strongest heavy metal voices in the United States – and holy hell did he work his magic on Gus G‘s tunes. There seemed to be some sound issues, as Gus kept asking for more volume and never really getting it; then his guitar cut off all together. However, James kept the energy alive engaging the crowd until the sound came back. This set was incredible all around, but the highlights of the night included track “I am the Fire” that engaged the crowd incredibly, as well as completely showed off Luna’s vocal abilities. Gus also decided to jump into the crowd and played right in the middle of the pit, with lucky fans all around. Angel Vivaldi came back on for a couple tracks, and the guys closed with Ozzy’s “Crazy Train” – a great choice since the crowd went absolutely nuts for it.
All around, from the locals to the headliners, this show was fantastic. It ran smoothly, on time, had a great family-type vibe going on, and the bartenders were great. Huge thanks goes to all the musicians of course, but also to Wolfpack Productions for putting on this great show. I’ve learned about some great local talent, and have a new appreciation for instrumental music, and really, really, loved watching Vivaldi and Gus G playing together. It was truly an experience that can’t fully be explained. If you get the chance to see any of these dudes playing your city, make it out! This tour comes to it’s close in just a few days, ending in NY state, but keep your eyes and ears open for these names in the future.