With London's Dungeon, Little Green Men and Black Out
The Rail Club, Fort Worth
Sunday, February 14, 2016
It's not every Valentine's Day that you get to enjoy Lita Ford's fiery brand of rock 'n' roll for a room packed with every generation of misfit youth culture since the heyday of big-haired, leather-clad glam. On Sunday night, there was a light-hearted sense of escapism at The Rail Club, the recently reopened venue on the west end of Fort Worth. Even if it was Valentine's Day, the crowd there to witness a legend in action was massive, consisting of seasoned rockers and rebel tykes young enough to be their grandkids.
Ford's been dubbed "The Mother of Metal" by some and is best known for her multiple roles in the legendary all-girl garage punk band the Runaways, who championed the spirit of teenage rebel girl garage rock in the mid-1970s. The band's most popular song, "Cherry Bomb," tops any list of all-time greatest rock songs about female empowerment. To say that the band has an influence on contemporary femme-driven music is an understatement. They were pioneers of their time, predating the peak moments of punk by at least a couple of years.
After a good three hours of opening bands that included the heavy Little Green Men and power-metal group Black Out, Lita Ford came to the stage in a fabulous red leather outfit that screamed rock legend royalty. While she's been hitting up the Dallas-Forth Worth area plenty in recent years, riding on her previous material, Sunday she was here to promote the upcoming release of her new book, Living Like a Runaway, and a new album titled Time Capsule. She did it by delivering a real, balls-to-the-wall show that rejected mediocrity. It's tough business to continue building on this genre's dated formula in 2016, but Ford was able to keep it interesting with her raunchy yell and graceful axe-shredding throughout the whole of her set.
Since the beginning of her solo career in the early '80s, Ford has written a bundle of hits that suggest a free spirit with a rogue heartbeat, and seeing her perform them was definitely a treat. Her moments of solo guitar shredding showed her to be one of the best guitarists to grace The Rail Club's stage. Hell, she's one of the best metal guitarists in the game.
Ford opened a strong set with "Gotta Let Go" from her 1984 album Dancin' On the Edge. It was exactly what the audience wanted, proving that the love flame for pure rock won't stop burning even after four decades. Then she went into "The Bitch is Back" from one of her more recent albums. Her wicked riffage and vocal work emulates the best of hair metal, with roots in punk and hints of blues that harken to the days of wild makeup and bawdy hair.
In between songs, she paid tribute to some of her legendary counterparts, including Nikki Sixx of Mötley Crüe and the late Lemmy Kilmister from Motörhead. She also reminisced about her days of cruising down Sunset Boulevard that set her on the path to where she is now. The blazing solos kept on coming between her and the backing guitarist Patrick Stewart, drummer Bobby Rock and bassist Marty O'Brien. Each song was played as if it was going to be their last — never allowing for a dull moment.
Near the end of the set, Ford pleased the crowd by playing her own version of "Cherry Bomb." She nailed it, right before ending with "Kiss Me Deadly," perhaps the greatest hit in her solo career. It just goes to show that even four decades later, Ford still pushes the limits of what rock 'n' roll and living are all about.