Richie Kotzen came through Illinois for not 1, not 2, but 3 shows earlier this month. The tour was dubbed Salting Earth, but Salting Illinois is more like it. Richie was kicking off part 2 of his tour which got started in good ‘ol Moline, (almost Iowa “Are we in Heaven”) IL. Then Richie hit Reggie’s Rock Club in South Chicago and for extra rock n’ roll measure Kotzen performed for the Wentz Concert Hall in Naperville, IL, which was a make up show that was canceled last year. 3 nights of Richie made fans really happy in the Chicago-land area.
Kotzen is no stranger to rock n’ roll, with a little over 20 solo albums spanning a 28 year career; 5 years with Mr. Big; 2 years with Poison and now with The Winery Dogs (with Billy Sheehan & Mike Portnoy); Richie is definitely in a class of his own. His vocal style has a smooth raspy edge to it, similar to that of David Coverdale. Richie has a 3 finger fingerpickin’ guitar technique, with a lightning-fast guitar style. He slides his fingers up and down that guitar neck so effortlessly. Richie is a force to be reckoned with.
The very intimate Wentz Concert Hall in Naperville, IL is a slightly different type of venue that may not see a ton of Rock n’ Roll but I’m sure has seen plenty of Orchestras, Plays etc. being a performing arts center, which gave a very clean and crisp acoustical sound. The venue has an oversized stage, and the Kotzen 3 piece band was set front and center so the crowd could be up close and personal with Richie. There was no lighting flare with this show, no crazy visual displays, but what this show did have was great, performed to perfection rock n’ roll. When the 3-piece ensemble hit the stage it was with only one purpose – To deliver pure Rock and Roll. Richie along with Dylan Wilson (bass), and Mike Bennett (drums) slowly took their spots to a slightly somber crowd. Which heated up shortly after the first chord rang out.
Richie kicked everything off with a very appropriate song “You’re Entertainer” off the 2009 album Peace Sign then launched right into “Bad Situation” off 2011 album 24 Hours. The evening bounced around through all of the essential Richie Kotzen songs old and new. At one point Richie broke set to fulfill a special request, which he mentioned he doesn’t normally do, but he launched into a very smooth version of “Sara Smile” by Hall & Oates which the crowd just ate up.
Richie lit up the evening with a great selection of music spanning through his lustrous 28-year career. It was a great show in a great little Naperville, IL venue. The fans were very appreciative that Richie came back too. It might’ve even been why he gave a special extended encore, which included, “War Paint” with a little classic “Fooled Around and Fell in Love” a old Elvin Bishop cover, and so did the crowd.
Richie is on tour now until May 23rd in the states then off overseas until July 27th. Check out Richie Kotzen’s web site at: http://richiekotzen.com/tour-dates/ for more details. It was a great show, by a very impressive guitar virtuoso. Catch him while you can.
- Your Entertainer
- Bad Situation
- Love Is Blind
- Go Faster
- Fooled Again
- The Road
- Sara Smile (Hall & Oates cover)
- End of Earth
- Help Me
- War Paint
- Fooled Around and Fell in Love (Elvin Bishop cover)
WORDS AND PHOTOS BY RICK TRIANA