Live Reviews: Leah & The Troublemakers at Mad Hatter Pub in Commerce, MI

Material: This sextet plays unabashed classic rock with a capital “R.” Over the span of two sets there may be one or two original songs, but nothing that appears too impressive. Their strong suit is a blend of modern and timeless cover tunes by artists that have lit up the airwaves from the ‘60s right up to the present day. Cream, Led Zeppelin, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Iggy & The Stooges and Sublime top the list of selections. But they also throw a curveball or two in there, with faithful renditions of songs by blues royalty such as Etta James and Albert King.

Musicianship: Everyone appears pretty solid and seems to interact well. With three guitar players on the front line, a virtual ego fest 
could possibly ensue. But they each know
 their musical roles and have a distinct stylistic approach. Coburn draws from early influences like Clapton and Mick Taylor. Moening tends to lean toward the heavier Randy Rhoads side of things and MacKenzie falls somewhere in the middle. Front person Giesey has a powerhouse of a voice that conjures up images of Pat Benatar meets Patsy Cline. Bassist Thayer runs the fret board with unfettered dexterity while Tjilos offers a manic, yet steady hand on the drum kit.

Performance: Their first set began with “Aeroplane” by The Red Hot Chili Peppers, which segued into Zeppelin’s “Rock ‘n Roll.” A few songs down the list Danzig’s “Mother” and Iron Maiden’s “The Trooper” took center stage. There is no question that these young performers are musically hungry and are eager to please. However, there were moments where they were, perhaps, stretched a tad beyond their comfort zone. Alannah Myles’ moody “Black Velvet” featured some rough changes and could have used some much-needed backup vocals on the chorus. And Rush’s “Fly By Night” was rhythmically a bit loose. But the band really came to the fore on tunes like Cream’s version of “Crossroads” and Jefferson Airplane’s “White Rabbit.”

Summary: Leah and the Troublemakers are
 a rough-and-ready rock & roll troupe that executes a wide variety of material admirably well. All are still in their teens but their knowledge
 of music past and present is most impressive. At the risk of sounding like a cliché, they would be well advised to hold on to their dreams by finding out who they are as a band and what their collective and original sound is. All told, they are entertaining and seem to be moving in the right direction.

Players: Leah Giesey, vocals; Chris Coburn, guitar; Colin MacKenzie, guitar; David Moening, guitar; Scott Thayer, bass; Mike Tjilos, drums.

Photo by Eric A. Harabadian

Venue: Mad Hatter Pub
City: Commerce, MI
Contact: [email protected]
Web: leahandthetroublemakers.com

LIVE VIDEO: "Since I've Been Loving You"