With the rallying cry, “Happy Mother Fucking Christmas!” Royal Machines, an all-star cover band, delivered a fierce sonic musical assault of the best kind at The Roxy for their annual Christmas shows (both sold-out) held December 15 and 16. On hand for the December 15 performance, tHeARTofla was blown away by their bad-ass attitude, and their staggering, jaw-dropping musicianship had us in total awe.
Images by Caren Spitler
Royal Machines put on a hell of a show, and they killed it live — just like the renowned industry legends they are. Royal Machines (formerly Camp Freddy) members included Dave Navarro (Jane’s Addiction and Red Hot Chili Peppers), Billy Morrison (Billy Idol rhythm guitarist, and ex-The Cult bassist), Donovan Leitch (son of folk legend Donovan), Chris Chaney (Jane’s Addiction and Alanis Morrisette), and Mark McGrath (Sugar Ray). Band member Josh Freese (The Offspring, The Vandals, and Devo) was not in attendance at the Friday show. Instead, Billy Idol’s current touring drummer Erik Eldenius performed. Billy Idol’s keyboard player Derek Sherinian also played at the show.
It’s a known fact that this show sells out every year. Devoted fans traveled far and wide this year from Northern California, Arizona, Chicago, Texas, even São Paulo, Brazil, and more — a great number of them planning on attending both nights of the show. Many of the concertgoers who came out to see Royal Machines are also loyal fans of the member’s other bands: Billy Idol, and Jane’s Addiction.
Royal Machines went big, thoroughly entertaining and rocking fans from the beginning of the night until the end, with well-known covers that were greeted with wild, vocal cheers and screams. Billy Morrison, Donovan Leitch, and Mark McGrath alternated on the lead mic, but it was the guest appearance by the talented singer and frontman Franky Perez (Apocalyptica) that stole the spotlight on “Man In The Box” and “Enter Sandman.” Steve Stevens (Billy Idol) also performed on a few songs, including, of course, “Rebel Yell.” His lead guitar work is always top-notch and transcendent, marked by his incredibly distinctive, influential style.
Known for special guest appearances at these shows, there were two artists and one band who performed in addition to Royal Machines. Billy Morrison told the audience Fred Durst was at The Roxy and told him to join the musicians onstage. The crowd turned all around to look for him; it wound up that he actually was in the audience and people gathered around as he sang “Sweet Emotion.” Finally, he made his way to the stage and offered some commentary on cell phones and selfies, then finished the song and added a snippet of a Limp Bizkit song that drove concertgoers wild with enthusiasm. Next up was a rousing and exciting performance by Daryl McDaniel (Run DMC) that brought the house down with the classics “It’s Tricky,” “Walk This Way,” and a show-stopping cover of “Black Betty.”
Jane’s Addiction closed the Royal Machines show. tHeARTofla recently reviewed the band’s appearance at the Rhonda’s Kiss benefit concert. The brief closing set on the 15th was as thrilling and completely engaging as their last appearance, and the set on this night included “Mountain Song” and “Been Caught Stealing.” Farrell is a gifted frontman, and he performed with his typical aplomb in a very campy way, with exaggerated, over-the-top, theatrical gestures. After he sang “Been Caught Stealing,” Farrel cheekily suggested that any holiday shoppers in the audience could stuff the front of their pants with gifts on the way out the door of a store, and then demonstrated hypothetically how to do it. Next, on a more serious and somber note — totally switching the evening’s tone — Perry’s wife and Jane’s Addiction dancer, Ette Ferrell, duetted with Farrell on “Gold Dust Woman,” doing a fairly credible version of the song. Ette even held an impossibly sustained high note in the chorus that brought chills.
Once again, the Royal Machines brought the goods and more with its annual Christmas show. They gave a true rock fan everything they would want: a variety of well-known songs which tore through the roof of The Roxy, supported by outstanding performances that could be best described as truly epic.