I’d never seen Lita Ford before. I have always been jealous of her. You see, when I married at 20, I was told by my husband and his friends (ex-husband now) that during his stint in Los Angeles, in the early 80s, his hair band’s practice place was in the same building as Lita’s. Word on the street was that he “dated” her for a moment, and I was always a bit jealous. 20 years old, married to a good guitarplayer who had “dated” Lita is a high bar to live up to. True or not true, I always really liked her music and secretly wished I had her skill to play the guitar, had her beauty as a woman, and had her boldness to take the stage to sing.
Let’s back it up to the start of the entire show.
Breaker Breaker, a Portland band that I’d also never seen before. While not traditionally the kind of music I listen to, they were really quite good and entertaining. In the same genre as The Darkness and Steel Panther, they were incredibly entertaining, energetic, and well, good. The bass player in his near belly shirt was sturdy, the guitar player/vocalist was engaging, and the drummer was technically good and really fun to watch. The comradery between the members was visible, and that was refreshing to witnesses. Their interaction with the crowd was vibrant, and the singer/guitarist perched himself on the shoulders of a fit fan and walked through the sea of Lita fans, hitting nearly every corner of the venue. Their set was rather short, but everyone was there to see Lita, so it didn’t really matter.
Up next was another band I’d never seen called Vanity Kills. Let me say that I always try to like a band. I always try to see the appeal and try to understand why the band exists. Is it a magical chemistry between the band members? Is it an insatiable love of music? Do they have something they need to get out or say? Even if it isn’t a genre that I love, I always appreciate that they spend their time and money to practice and play shows. I take note, and am conscious of what it must take to get ready and perform in front of hundreds of people. Although I tried, I didn’t like Vanity Kills. I was in the front row, and I was so worried that they could see the confusion on my face. I looked around, and it was obvious that I wasn’t the only one. There was a bit of a technical issue on the vocal volume level, but it was corrected. The singer would try to rile the crowd up and it would be met with a dull, “whoo.” To me, the vocal style didn’t fit the music. Sometimes the music didn’t fit the music, and sometimes the amorous attention by the singer to the fans was a bit awkward. Perhaps it was just an off night. Again, it didn’t really matter because everyone was there to see Lita. We were just killing time at this point.
A relatively quick set change, and Accept’s “Balls to the Wall” came on the PA, loudly. The crowd sang, then chanted: “Lita, Lita, Lita, Lita.” I have to admit, it was exciting. I expected all focus to be on Lita; perhaps a diva or prima donna entrance like I’d seen so many times before with female “rock stars.”
It was nothing of the sort. Lita emerged from stage left, and entered the stage at nearly the same time as the rest of the band. She walked over to her cabinet stack and embarked on vibrato-driven feedback, leaning her head forward, fully engrossed in the sound, like someone sunning their face in the summer heat, before she addressed the crowd. After maybe a minute, she turned to the crowd at center stage and gave the crowd a smile that showed that she was happy to be there.
Lita is stunning. She wore a tight red leather ensemble, and wore it well. Actually, I don’t think anyone in the world could wear what she wore and have it not be weird or trashy. Stunning, classy, pretty are all words that I would use to describe her, that is until she began to play. Lita, and perhaps only Lita, has something very magical about her. Let me see if I can adequately describe it. She is a musician. She is a great guitar player. She is a good vocalist. She has a class about her that is evident at every turn. She radiates music and I believe she truly needs music to breath. There was nothing awkward about her, and you sort of forgot that she is a woman once she began to play and sing. She truly is simply a composer, guitarist, vocalist, leader of a band….and, well, rock star of rare proportions.
Her selection of band mates was great; each of them excelled in their own right. The set was polished, professional, and spot on. Her bassist was one of the most entertaining I’d ever seen, utilizing his bass as almost a body part. He stopped the sound by grabbing the entire bass by the strings….in synchronization with the music. The drummer and other guitarist were also impressive, but less forward and animated than the bassist.
No woman cannot pull off what Lita does naturally. She has an air about her that makes you love her. Her smile is infectious, and any perceived roughness turns into an endearing quality. From her old songs from her time in “The Runaways,” to the classics we love… from newer songs that we were not as familiar with to the eclectic selection of covers, Lita and her band were great.