Tom Keifer and L.A. Guns Rock The Ojai Libbey Bowl in L.A.
A double bill of Blues inspired heavy metal bands filled the Ojai Libbey Bowl with ear-shattering music on a warm Saturday near the end of the venue’s season. The show featured Tom Keifer, the former lead singer of 80s rockers Cinderella, with the Keifer band, his solo project. Another stalwart of the Los Angeles 80’s hard rock hair band wave, L.A. Guns, featuring former Guns N Roses guitarist, Tracii Guns, opened the show. Libbey Park, in the center of the small resort town of Ojai, is a natural green space lined with a grove of Oak trees. The Libbey Bowl is a music venue located in the middle of the park that is reminiscent of small-town bandstands of yesteryear. The little venue has near-perfect natural acoustics making it an excellent location for all sorts of concerts from folk music to hard rock. The bowl features seating for just under 1000 people and room for another 300 on a lawn area in the back.
As the hot afternoon bathed the venue in orange light, L.A. Guns took the stage for a raucous opening set. The band has been offering up guitar drenched hard rock shows for more than 30 years. The current line up of the group may be its best. The band includes lead vocalist Phil Lewis, guitar icon Tracii Guns, Ace Von Johnson (Faster Pussycat), bassist Johnny Martin (The Raskins), and drummer Scot Coogan (Brides of Destruction, Ace Frehley.) The group’s latest tour is in support of their album, “The Devil You Know,” released at the beginning of 2019. The band also just dropped a new Christmas album, “Another Xmas in Hell.” Despite the blazing sun, the crowd jumped to their feet as soon as the band hit the stage. The first album tracks got the crowd going, including “No Mercy,” “Sex Action,” and “Never Enough.” Guns raged on guitar, offering up numerous solos while lead singer Lewis wailed relentlessly. At one point, he donned a devil mask in homage to the last album.
Some other set highlights including rocking renditions of “Electric Gypsy” and “Kiss My Love Goodbye.” Ironically, the performance of “The Ballad of Jayne,” the band’s biggest hit, was the only mellow moment in the ear-piercing set.
Tom Keifer, the former lead vocalist of the band Cinderella, took the stage next with his exquisite group of hard rockers. Keifer took the stage and was instantly swarmed by fans who leaped out of their seats and rushed to the front of the stage. The band began the set with several songs from their new album “Rise,” including “Touching The Divine,” “Rise,” and “The Death of Me.” As a beautiful twilight fell on the venue, the set continued with a mix of Cinderella hits and songs from “The Way Life Goes,” Keifer’s first solo album. The set finished with rock drenched covers of the Cinderella classics, “Shake Me” and “Shelter Me” and a three-song encore of “Long Cold Winter” (Cinderella), “Death of Me” (Rise) and “Gypsy Road” (Cinderella). The lucky hard rock fans seemed elated after the show at the intimate venue, which is fast becoming a bastion of hard rock in Ventura county.