When push comes to shove, I am a child of the 90’s. Sure, I was born in the early 80’s, but I think that was a decade of music that completely passed me by. For me, my musical enlightenment began with the angsty (God, not that word again) anthems of Soundgarden and Pearl Jam. My taste in music has expanded quite a bit since then, but I still love the standbys, so when I heard that the Road Recovery organization was putting on a benefit show headlined by a super group performance from Tom Morello, Slash, Jerry Cantrell, Perry Farrell, and Wayne Kramer of the legendary MC5, it sounded like a rocking, nostalgic time.
This super group came together, along with a whole host of other performers, in support of Road Recovery’s 10th anniversary. Begun in 1998, Road Recovery was formed by tour manager Gene Bowen and band manager Jack Bookbinder to help young people find their way towards a healthy future. Utilizing the industry connections Bowen and Bookbinder had made through their years, they were able to bring in musicians and industry people for lectures and classes on music and their experiences with substance abuse. Although its main base is in New York City, Road Recovery has expanded with programs in Yonkers, the Bronx, Cedar Knolls, New Jersey and even the Voices Project in Haines, Alaska.
At 8:00, the Nightwatchman himself, Tom Morello, stepped out onto the stage to begin the proceedings. As he explained it, they had quite a bill to work through. The first hour and a half consisted of one- and two- song sets by a plethora of performers, including comedian Dennis Leary, Joseph Arthur, The Miggs, Ours, two fun performances by youths involved in the Road Recovery program, and the Road Recovery house band, Crazy James. Honestly, it was all a little overwhelming, but it was obvious that they all wanted to support Road Recovery and the work it does.
When Morello finally returned with a guitar in hand, the night really picked up. The highlight of his short set was an acoustic version of the “traditional song” “Guerrilla Radio.” They were still gearing up towards the amplified rock that was to come, so Jerry Cantrell had an acoustic guitar in tow as well. I’ve been a fan of Cantrell’s songwriting for a long time, and hearing the Alice In Chains classic “Brother” in an intimate acoustic setting with Tom Morello accompanying was pretty special.
But what came next might have topped it. Slash made his first appearance of the night joining Cantrell for a fantastic cover of “Wish You Were Here.”
The ramp up continued with Perry Farrell performing a few Porno for Pyros and Jane’s Addiction tunes. Honestly, I’ve never really gotten Perry Farrell. His wail has always struck me as a little too childish, but set to the powerful riffs of Jane’s “Mountain Song,” it can work.
There is probably a reason why I can’t name any bands that feature four lead guitar players. But for one night only, a supergroup with that kind of talent can make it tasteful. They played classic tunes like Thin Lizzy’s “Jailbreak” and Stevie Wonder’s “Superstition.” Despite being written nearly 40 years ago, “Kick Out The Jams” by the MC5 still rocks harder than most anything written today.
Sen Dog, of pioneer rap-rock outfit Cypress Hill came out for four songs. I never really got into Cypress Hill, and I definitely never got rap-rock as a genre, but I was definitely in the minority at Nokia Theatre.
To add to the hodge-podge of guest appearances, Jakob Dylan appeared from the wings as the night was winding down and played two songs including “He’s Got The Whole World In His Hands.” Still, despite all the performances, the crowd made it clear about what they wanted to hear, and that was some Guns ‘N’ Roses. The band didn’t disappoint.
The show closed with “Paradise City,” and it really was the perfect capper. Slash and co. brought the house down, and Road Recovery will hopefully continue to make the grass greener for many more people for many years to come.
For More Information on Road Recovery, their programs, and how you can help, go to http://roadrecovery.org.