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Marc Bonilla and Friends at The Coach House
San Juan Capistrano, CA-Jan.16, 1998

I was not too pleased when I first heard about the Marc Bonilla show back in November. At that time, the shows were going to be the first week in December. The same weekend as Sue and I were going to Florida to see Deep Purple perform (for me, it was the first time seeing DP in 12 years). It meant that I was going to miss some of my favorite players (but also going to see one of my favorite bands in FL!) , Glenn Hughes and Ronnie Montrose. To say that I Was excited when I heard that the Bonilla show was rescheduled to Jan.16 and 17 would be an understatement. I bought my tickets and counted the days.

As the show got closer, I was getting very excited. I had never seen Glenn Hughes live before! We arrived to the show about 7 PM, got our seats and ordered dinner. Coach House looks like a glorified beer hall inside. It's a nice place though and the sound system is excellent.

The opening band, whose name escapes me, was good ! A pleasant surprise. They played some really good blues material. After about 45 minutes of that, they brought on a comedian. This guy was really funny. Again, I forget his name. Hey, I was there to see the headliner!

I was interested in seeing what Marc Bonilla sounded like. The only recordings I had heard from him were from Glenn's "Addiction" album. He was good on there, but, it didn't prepare me for what was to come!

At 9:35 PM Bonilla and his band came onstage. From the minute they started playing, I was hooked. These guys are tight and professional! The sense of melody that they have is amazing. I will now have to go out and buy all the Bonilla releases. Bonilla and band played their own tunes for about 40 minutes. They were all instrumental.Then Glenn Hughes came out. They started with "Whiter Shade Of Pale" from Marc's "American Matador" album. Glenn was stunning.This man can sing! After that, they did a new song that Glenn and Marc had written called "Middle Of A Dream". This song is more of a funky, soul song with more great vocals by Glenn. Then on to two songs from "Addiction", "Cover Me" and "I Don't Want To Live That Way Again". Now, I have been a Glenn Hughes fan for a long time. But,I was not prepared for just how good this man is live. He exceeded all my expectations. I hope that Glenn does many more shows in the Southern California area. I would go to them all.

Next up was Ronnie Montrose, a favorite guitarist of mine. I haven't seen Ronnie M play since the early 80's. He has lost nothing in his guitar playing. They did 2 of Ronnie's songs. First was "Black Box" and then "Town Without Pity". Both were instrumental. These guys are just phenomenal.

After Ronnie was Keith Emerson. They started out with one of Marc's tunes, "White Noise" from his "EE Ticket"album. Keith played on the studio version of this song also. Good song, nice piano solo. Then on to a couple of ELP tunes. We got to hear "Tarkus"and "Hoedown". I've never been a big ELP fan, but hearing these tunes in a guitar driven band context was great.

Marc and his band did one last song after Keith left the stage. This song must have included every hard rock riff in the last 30 years! Every measure had a different riff. The result was stunning. Some of the riffs you got right away. Other's you were left thinking "I know that riff,but can't place it". That ended the main show.

For the encore, ALL the guests joined Marc's band onstage! The result was nothing short of amazing. 3 guitars, 3 keyboard players,the bass player, the drummer and........ Glenn. :) They started the intro to the old Allman Brothers song "Dreams (I'll Never See) which was a huge hit for Molly Hatchet in the 70's. The wall of sound that all of these guys caused was over whelming. I would LOVE this band, with the guests as part of the band, to tour every year. After every one gets a solo, Ronnie Montrose walks to the front of the stage and rips out the riff to "Rock Candy"! The crowd, who was already going crazy through the whole show, just explodes! Ronnie and Glenn seem to have a great repoire on stage. On these two songs, they really seem to play to and off of each other.

"Hey Glenn! Bring Ronnie in for the next album and tour"!

That ends the show. Two hours and fifteen minutes worth of great music. I would recommend these guys to anyone who wanted to see a great show. I wanted to go see them at Billboard Live the following night, but took my daughter to "Toy Story On Ice"instead. Hey! I'm a

Dad! I have priorities! :)

REVIEW BY : Jim Amentler 1998

 

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