Live Review: Terry Ilous & The Vagabonds

The Backyard  Ontario, CA

Contact: Brent Harvey - KB Entertainment, [email protected]

Web: terryilous.com

Players: Terry Ilous, vocals; Luis Villegas, guitar, vocals; Jose Garcia, guitar, vocals; Mike Paganini, bass; Al Velasquez, percussion, vocals; Julio Figueroa, drums, vocals; Arleen Hurtado, flamenco dancer

Material: Entertaining a small but jovial crowd for over an hour, Terry Ilous & The Vagabonds shared an eclectic mix of classic rock, covering hits by everyone from Bob Marley and Nina Simone, to Led Zeppelin and Black Sabbath. Opening with Palmas clapping, fabulous bass sway, and a beguiling guitar solo, they moved on to a Gypsy Kings-style interpretation of “Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood,” including great vocals, party rhythms, a good-natured party vibe complete with Flamenco dancer, and a samba-style version of Marley’s “I Shot The Sheriff.”

Musicianship: Ilous (formerly of XYZ, Great White) brings a seasoned vocal prowess and gravely strength to each song’s voicing, and a surprising gentleness on Peter Gabriel’s “In Your Eyes,” which included guitarist Jose Garcia on backing vocals. The Doobie Brothers’ “Long Train Runnin’” brought great harmonies and a Flamenco guitar and dance outro, with badass vocals unfolding in the group’s phenomenal rendition of Led Zeppelin’s “Whole Lotta Love.” Ilous’ vocals shine through in a fantastic blend of classic rock and Flamenco for an intense, fresh sound.

Performance: The evening continued with Don Henley’s “Boys of Summer” (with many onlookers singing every word), which included a fabulous guitar intro by Luis Villegas, alongside gorgeous bass support from Mike Paganini, and a guitar solo (Garcia) and vocal duet ending. Black Sabbath’s “Heaven and Hell” and Stevie Wonder’s “Another Star” both involved more Flamenco flavor, with a fun percussion/drumkit breakdown on the latter. The chilly evening did not dissuade the committed crowd, who sang and danced along for most of the show. 

Summary: Rounding things out with Dio’s “Rainbow In The Dark,” the group added conga and percussion highlights, great growling guitars and a steady bass drive, before wrapping their set with the 1968 original (French) version of “My Way” (as written by Claude Francois), before doing a verse in Spanish, and then English. With unbelievable showmanship, Ilous presents the ultimate frontman trifecta of talent, humility, and presence. In combination with his stellar Latin band, the group delivers a passionate, energetic performance of unique Flamenco rock. 

– Andrea Beenham