Written By Braddon S. Williams aka “The Concert Critic”
On this date in history, 12/10/21, Nita Strauss brought her solo band to the Blue Note in Harrison, OH. Support acts were Judas Priestess, Black Satellite, and Marc Rizzo. Strauss has been one of Alice Cooper’s lead guitarists since 2014, gaining steadily increasing acclaim in the guitar community as a world class shredder. I have seen Nita with the Coop six times (so far) and was super interested to see how she would hold a crowd with a primarily instrumental set. Her show obviously shouldn’t be compared to her boss’s extravagant productions, but she certainly brings a metric ton of energy and enthusiasm to the stage.
Stauss was in constant motion throughout, vigorously headbanging while playing intricate rhythm parts and soaring leads that showcased superior technique, resonant tone, and heartfelt emotion. On two songs there were vocals, but both left a little room for complaints, unfortunately. The first, Dead Inside, which is sung by Disturbed’s David Draiman, was piped in as a backing track. I realized that lots of bands are using tracks these days, but somehow having a vocal track utilized in a concert just doesn’t work for me. I’m probably bitching because I don’t care for Mr. Draiman, but I still would have preferred him singing the song live in person. In all fairness, Dead Inside was the first song in 32 years to hit number one on Billboard’s Mainstream Rock chart by a female rock solo artist. It went over quite well, so who really cares what I think? I loved the guitar solo, at least!
The second vocal song featured Black Satellite’s singer, and this one was problematic for the fact that she wasn’t up to the task of covering Alice Cooper’s Feed My Frankenstein. I must give Nita Strauss credit for bringing up members of her support bands (Marc Rizzo contributed some blazing leadwork to give Strauss some fun musical competition) and being savvy enough to realize that a couple of well-placed vocal numbers would be great for the set’s overall flow.
It’s always nice to see members of different bands doing guest spots with each other. Strauss performed a gorgeous instrumental version of Queen’s The Show Must Go On, and it was probably my favorite part of the entire concert. It was so beautifully executed and Nita just looked blissful and in the zone from beginning to end. All in all, I believe Nita Strauss will do just fine with her solo career. She is an outstanding musician, and by all accounts she appears to be an absolutely first- class human being.
Playing direct support to Nita Strauss was Judas Priestess, apparently the world’s only all-female Judas Priest tribute band. They were quite good, their singer in particular. In addition to singing admirably all of Rob Halford’s soaring vocal parts, she was funny and charming in her between songs chatter. The guitar players were solid, handling all the iconic riffs and leadwork with style and finesse.
Black Satellite looked promising when they hit the stage, but I felt like they relied too much on backing tracks for enhancement of vocals and keyboard parts. It fell a little flat and seemed to point out the band’s weaknesses rather than strengthening a really cool looking group. Hopefully they will grow stronger and more confident as they move forward. They definitely showed potential, but they just didn’t quite get it done that night.
The opening act was Marc Rizzo, who had recently left the band Soulfly. Rizzo is a phenomenal guitar player, but instead of having live musicians on stage with him, his whole show was just him playing to pre-recorded drums, bass, keyboards, etc. I realize this is a cost-effective way to tour, but I grew tired of Rizzo’s act before he finished his third song, and I’m a guitar player.
The man is a major talent and I hope he can either recruit a backing band or join with an established act that he can improve with his fantastic playing. This was a fun evening, and it was certainly great to see Nita Strauss step out of Alice Cooper’s spotlight and claim some well -earned glory for herself.