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DIRTY HONEY In Los Angeles With Photos!

By Junkman, On-Air Personality
Tuesday, November 28, 2023 @ 8:06 AM

At The Belasco Theater 11-20-23

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All Photos By Junkman

In support of their new album Can't Find the Brakes Los Angeles quartet DIRTY HONEY rocked the Belasco Theater in a return to their hometown that caused quite a stir. A packed house greeted their heroes, who have been touring around the US with a rowdy, enthusiastic welcome. In return, the band gave their audience plenty to shout about.

After an enjoyable acoustic set from the tour's opener, Texas based rocker Austin Meade, who is quite the rocker himself, it was time to get the party started in downtown LA as the Belasco Theater's occupants were starting to get restless and ready to get their "ya-ya's out" with some serious rock and roll. That's exactly what they got. In that last few years, DIRTY HONEY, along with their show and product, have made many in the music business take note. They are truly "the real deal!" Excitement and anticipation were in the air.

Opening with the title track of the new release, DIRTY HONEY had no problem firing up their fans, for a good old-fashioned rock show. No explosions, or samples and background dancers for this outfit. Just great songs, a killer groove throughout, and the fabulous, strong vocals and dynamic stage personality of singer Marc LaBelle gave this reviewer and everyone else in the crowd plenty to smile about.

LaBelle, sporting his trademark wide-brimmed hat, aviator shades and a fuzzy, grey coat was all over the stage from the get-go, before planting himself in the center to croon his air-raid siren of a wail. Songs like the easily likeable "California Dreamin'" and "Heartbreaker" show the brilliant combination of LaBelle's vocals and guitarist John Notto's perfect pairing when it comes to taking a very listenable song and giving it the extra "balls" to make it truly rock. They both are so consistent, and are blessed with the tools to do so.

"We got a new record out. Let's play some new shit" LaBelle excitedly addressed the crowd, before the band launched into "Dirty Mind", a slinky, skip-tempo rocker from the latest release. That one paired perfectly with the funky "Tied Up" from their 2021 full length debut. Drummer Jadon Bean and his solid beats on his sparkling Gretsch drum kit were in-sync with bassist Justin Smolian and his thundering bass riffs. Bean also supplied terrific background vocals from behind the drums, which were planted directly below a light up DIRTY HONEY logo.

About midway through the set, Smolian switched to acoustic guitar and Notto to Dobro for a take on the lovely ballad "Coming Home (Ballad of The Shire)" which not only featured a soaring vocal from LaBelle, but truly kept things in the spirit of a hometown show for the band that has been on the road for quite some time. LaBelle, smiling like a kid on Christmas, exclaimed "Looks like we got a hootenanny goin' on in this MF'er tonight" as Notto spotlighted his solid, acoustic, bluegrass-style finger picking, and the band rocked a countrified version of the ROLLING STONES classic "Honky Tonk Woman" that really changed the pace of the show to the point that it felt like a barn dance.

Another new one, "Don't Put Out The Fire" showed off the band's soulful, southern Muscle Shoals influences, especially Beans almost gospel sounding background vocals. Their take on the Prince classic "Let's Go Crazy" got the crowd to do just that, and the band put their own spin on the song with a very rave-up ZEPPELIN feel, as well as paying homage to Prince with magenta/purple lighting and Notto channeling the classic guitar solo of the original version.

A uplifting "The Wire" was followed by the pleading "Another Last Time" that had the band totally in touch with their adoring crowd, before Notto again flashed his skills on his Gibson Les Paul with a brief solo, that led into the set closing "When I'm Gone", the incredibly infecteous song that put the band on the map, as it hit number one on Billboard's Mainstream Rock Songs airplay chart back in 2019, making them the first unsigned band in history to achieve that feat.

After leaving the stage to a thunderous applause, the band assembled onstage moments later and LaBelle brought out singer Chris Robinson of THE BLACK CROWES, who DIRTY HONEY toured with a few years ago, and LaBelle spoke about how much of a mentor he was to him, and how Labelle had "stolen" so much of his stage presence from him. Immediately, the band and Robinson brought the house down with a killer version of the AC/DC classic "Rock 'N' Roll Damnation" with Labelle and Robinson standing center stage, at times face to face sharing vocals. The joy on both their faces was obvious to all in attendance. It truly was a magical moment for all involved.

The very AEROSMITH-like groove of "Won't Take Me Alive" followed and again had the band showing off their many influences and songwriting, as well as performance, and they closed their set with their bluesy, winding groove of their second single "Rolling 7's", also from 2019. It featured an extended bass part from Smolian, and Jadon Bean showing off some of his serious jazz chops from behind the kit. Notto, not to be outdone, cranked out more chunky, fat riffs from his trusty guitar as LaBelle's vocals were the glue that held it all together and showed just how tight of a unit this band can be.

After thanking the crowd, and introducing the band members one by one, LaBelle smiled and waved and the band bowed and left the stage to a screaming audience, who left the building fully satisfied with seeing a great rock show. DIRTY HONEY and their combination of style, feel, tone, chops, groove, and riffs blended together with great songs, and energetic performance, make them the leaders in a welcome new generation of classic rockers.

After some more US shows through mid-December, the band heads to Europe in February. My thanks to those who made it possible for me to witness this.

Check out some more photos from the show!
All Photos By Junkman

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