It’s rare for me to able to see a show in my neck of the woods anymore, even though I live significantly closer to this venue than The Borgata in Atlantic City, which is where I last saw Jerry play. I haven’t been to too many shows lately; but outside of my last time seeing Black Label, most of the shows I’ve been to required me to travel. And keep in mind again, I didn’t attend too many shows between 2019 and now. I also am hesitant about seeing musicians twice on the same tour because I’ve heard stories regarding their inability to change things up. Zakk had that ability, hands down. I saw him live three times in 2005 and each time was DRASTICALLY different!
By the way, we’ll be getting around to him again real soon.
But nevertheless, I just to give this a go. It’s Jerry after all, and this was the final leg of the Brighten tour. My understanding is Alice are to reconvene soon so they can record their follow up to 2018’s Rainier Fog. This time they had a different opening band, an all-female group calling themselves Thuderpussy, not to be confused with Alabama Thunderpussy.
Thunderpussy began their set with guitarist Molly Sides playing a guitar propped up on a stand with a violin bow. I was a tad taken aback by that, as that was EXACTLY how Tyler Bates opened up Jerry’s set and encore in Atlantic City when I saw him previously. So, was this to mean Tyler wouldn’t be doing that tonight or even on this leg of the tour at all? Stay tuned to find out, girls!
The rest of the band walked on stage, and they began to play, their music reminding me of a modern-day Heart if Ann Wilson circa-1976 transcended time somehow. There were undeniable traces of Led Zep and Allman Brothers in their music peppered throughout. As if the violin bow on the guitar didn’t immediately give that away! Whitney Petty can sing her ass off. And she knows how to physically express herself on stage in a way that’s equal parts provocative and elegant.
There was one point that I do have on film, in which Whiteny is on her knees. Molly walks to Whitney and begins to lean over Whitney, Whiteny leaning back for her like they were going to kiss. HOT. Even hotter? Finding out later on that they are in fact a couple, and that the band are ALL lesbians. And I’m not even talking about the K.D. Lang/Indigo Girls style of butch dyke. I’m talking the hot lesbian type – the type I almost forgot existed!
So, between Thunderpussy’s kick ass live show – because their album, while not bad at all, sadly is a gross misrepresentation of the band! – and their physical performance, I’m convinced I want to fuck every member of Thunderpussy. Hard. I’ll fuck one while the three other members scissor each other while waiting their turns! I’ll make it work!
Did I ever mention I love lesbians?
Now for Jerry’s set!
Tyler Bates did in fact open up with the violin bow on the guitar. I guess there’s a theme here. I knew by the fact that he was bowing in the key of F that Jerry was going to open up with “Atone” and I was pretty much right. Before I continue, here’s the set list. All songs are solo songs unless noted otherwise:
Them Bones (Alice In Chains)
Cut You In
Check My Brain (Alice In Chains)
Black Hearts and Evil Done
No Excuses (Alice In Chains)
Lesson Learned (Alice In Chains)
Man In The Box (Alice In Chains)
Whale And Wasp (Alice In Chains)
Down In A Hole (Alice In Chains)
Rooster (Alice In Chains)
Goodbye (Elton John)
Notice a difference compared to last show, if you read about my last time seeing Jerry? More on that in a minute. The three-song opener was somewhat similar to the previous show, with “Psychotic Break” and “Them Bones” appearing early. One thing I noticed right away was his organ player. This time around, he took Lola Colette, his opener from last year with him as part of the band this time. Lola’s presence was made apparent almost immediately, not “just” because I was sitting in the middle of the building this time, but because Jerry had her playing organ on “Them Bones”. So, this wasn’t a situation where she was going to step back during the Alice tracks, Jerry made sure she’d be part of the show. And I have to say, while I understand Jerry wanted to do something different, organs and Alice In Chains songs go as well together as rock and rap ever did.
But this is a minor complaint.
The good news was that I was able to hear the entire band this time. The bad news is that I was able to hear Greg Puciato this time. I said it. Fuck, what was Jerry thinking to take Gil Sharone’s advice?? Greg was so pitchy, and so fucking WHINY! Greg, please, stick to sacrificing your body jumping off balconies. But the important part of this show was that this time around Jerry played a LOT more solo material than he did last year. Unfortunately, this doesn’t mean he did a deep dive of his previous two albums. He in fact performed the exact same tracks for those two records that he performed last time. But when I heard “Siren Song”, which I’ve dubbed “Breaks My Back Pt.2”, I was pleasantly optimistic. I also thought it would’ve been one hell of an opportune time to break out “Breaks My Back”! He did preform about 90% of Brighten, however. That alone was a major step up because any time Jerry plays solo is a rare privilege. I might be wrong, but I feel like he toured for this album longer than he did for Degradation Trip back in 2002.
The energy in the place also was MILES ahead of the crowd at the Borgata. I didn’t need to be told it would be, as Montclair, being in northern New Jersey, is essentially in the shadow of New York Shitty. Therefore, there was definitely a mixed, yet equally rowdy crowd. I even bumped into someone I hadn’t seen in almost a decade, while walking to the back of the line. Jerry himself even commented that we were “the best crowd on the tour so far!”.
That energy was made apparent when, for the start of the encore, Jerry had broken into “Whale and Wasp”, the gorgeously depressing instrumental off of Alice’s 1994 EP, Jar of Flies. No one could’ve expected that. I know he performed it in 2019 in Seattle, before he even announced he was even writing a solo record, but that was a completely different situation. So this was a treat! When he broke out “Down In A Hole”, one of Alice’s greatest songs of ALL TIME, the entire crowd, minus a few, joined in one big singalong. The only thing that damaged the moment was Greg’s WHINY bitch vocals. I will never forgive Greg Puciato for that or for even having any kind of a career.
Upon leaving after Jerry’s final performance of the classic Elton John track “Goodbye”, I walked out of there feeling like he might’ve actually listened. The biggest complaint of the tour’s previous leg was addressed – he played more solo shit this time instead of turning his band into an Alice cover band! Fuck yes! I just wish he performed more material from the previous solo records. They could’ve proven to be an interesting challenge for the rest of the band, and even for Jerry. We’re talking tracks that, before 2019, he hadn’t performed for the better part of two decades!
So, with Jerry poised to record with Alice again, the question remains: will he ever record or even perform solo material again? I guess only time will tell…