Jake E. Lee is back with his new project Red Dragon Cartel and after a long hiatus it’s good to see him back on the scene. Jake pretty much was unheard from since the breakup of Badlands in the early 90’s with only some sporadic appearances to speak of like an instrumental solo record in 1996 titled “A Fine Pink Mist” and then 2005’s covers album “Retraced”. There was also the somewhat peculiar appearance on a few tracks of the “Dissonance” album from Enuff Z’Nuff in 2008 but that’s been pretty much it for the last 20 years or so. All sorts of rumors circulated about Lee such as he was homeless and living on the streets to him just living his life outside of music in Las Vegas after becoming totally disillusioned with the music business. The latter of which happily seemed to be the case. One thing is for sure, people never stopped wondering and finally last year Jake mounted his comeback.
Lee recorded the new self-titled album (Frontiers Records) with several guest vocalists like Robin Zander (Cheap Trick), Paul DiAnno (ex-Iron Maiden) and Maria Brink (In This Moment) but has finally taken to the road with vocalist D.J. Smith (drummer of veteran Canadian act Harem Scarem for those who wonder where he came from), drummer Jonas Fairley and bassist Ronnie Mancuso (ex-Beggars & Thieves).
On Sunday, April 27, 2014, fresh off their appearance at the M3 Festival in Maryland a day earlier the band pulled into Mexicali Live in Teaneck, NJ to play a re-scheduled date for one that was cancelled earlier in the month. It was the bands last show of the US leg of the tour as the next day they headed to Europe to play the Frontiers Festival in Italy as well as some other dates across the pond.
If you've followed the news of the tour you may have heard how the first couple dates on the west coast were much debated by fans after some YouTube clips surfaced displaying the band in a less than favorable light. Vocalist D.J. Smith seemed unprepared, as did the band as a whole. Thankfully they seemed to have gotten their act together and the band seemed to be running on all cylinders at Mexicali.
Opening the show with the Ozzy Osbourne number “The Ultimate Sin” from the Jake era, the band tore into a somewhat short 11- song (70 minute) set. The show was (thankfully) heavy on Badlands material, as they featured no less than five songs from that part of Jake’s career. It was a treat to be able to hear songs like “High Wire”, “Rumblin’ Train”, “In A Dream” again and the slightly obscure “Sun Red Sun” from the final Badlands disc “Dusk”. The crowd was also treated to four songs of the new self-titled record and an encore of the classic Ozzy track “Bark At The Moon” (which of course everyone but Ozzy seems to know he co-wrote!). Jake seemed very appreciative of the fans as he was the last one on stage high-fiving and shaking hands with as many fans as he could after the show ended.
All in all it was great to see Jake E. Lee again on stage playing some of the great songs he’s been a part of over the last 35 years. Hopefully the band will continue to gel and maybe add some more material to its set and fans can get an even longer show next time around.
Special thanks go out to Diana Lane of Lane Six Entertainment for the evening at Mexicali.