Material: The trouble with going to see bands at the world famous Whisky a Go Go on Sunset Boulevard is that there’s a pay-to-play system in place for bands wishing to open for prestigious headliners. On a Friday night in early October, the headliners happened to be white-clad rockers Angel, reformed with guitarist Punky Meadows and vocalist Frank Dimino, so it’s likely that there was no shortage of groups willing to try to shift tickets to their friends and family in order to get on that stage. But all of that means the openers can be a bit of a mixed bag.
So when The Hard Way took to the stage immediately before Angel, and immediately after fellow local rockers Angeles, it was a blessed relief because they’re genuinely great. The hard rock was driving and unrelenting, like Whitesnake at their very best.
Musicianship: Singer Eric Jeffreys is an absolute powerhouse. The Boston native was in a decent band back home called Expose and, when he relocated to Southern California, worked his butt off in a number of bands before hooking up with guitarist Joe Drock and forming The Hard Way. The two have a great chemistry, in the Steve Tyler/Joe Perry mold. They were joined by Swedish six-stringer John Huldt who also plays in the band Ampora and teaches at the LA Music Academy. Bassist Tim Luce has worked with the likes of Alcatrazz, Michael Schenker and Roger Daltrey, while Bobby Rock has played with Lita Ford, Slaughter, Vinnie Vincent, Hardline and more. So there’s plenty of experience here, and it shows. This is a group of real players, and they visibly enjoy playing together.
Performance: There’s really not a lot to talk about here. The band got up and blasted through a 40-ish minute set, and then left. There was not much in the way of a show, or banter. Jeffreys wore a beaming smile throughout the gig, though, and his joy spread through the band and indeed the crowd.
Summary: The members of The Hard Way have been around for long enough to know that fame probably isn’t waiting around for a band like theirs. But this isn’t about big money contracts—this is about the love of playing great rock & roll for crowds that still want to hear it. There are plenty of them.
Players: Eric Jeffreys, vocals; Joe Drock, guitar; John Huldt, guitar; Tim Luce, bass; Bobby Rock, drums