Lynch Mob w/ opener Gavin Evick live at Tally Ho Theater in Leesburg, Virginia, USA Concert Review


Date: June 24, 2023
Venue: Tally Ho Theater
Location: Leesburg, Virginia, USA
Reviewer: Jeff Onorato
Photos: Jeff Onorato

There are few guitarists in the world of rock n’ roll that rival the legacy of George Lynch in terms of playing ability, musical output, and overall commercial success. He has a unique, identifiable flight and tone to his sound that is influential to many, and Lynch’s bold, dynamic, and often progressive style is only elevated by a natural dexterity and adroitness for the instrument. His brilliance on the guitar was first catapulted into the spotlight as one of the driving forces behind Dokken, and now in both the original and subsequent incarnations of Lynch’s own band, Lynch Mob. There’s no replacing the combustible chemistry of the Mob’s original, pilar line-up, which also featured drummer “Wild” Mick Brown, singer Oni Logan and bassist Anthony Esposito. The pairing of Logan’s soulful vocals against George Lynch’s virtuosity on the axe remains one of the great singer-guitarist duos of the era, which was only elevated by that dynamo rhythm section of “Wild” Mick Brown and Anthony Esposito.

Back in 2020, Lynch announced that he would finally be laying to rest the “Lynch Mob” name and continuing to tour under the Electric Freedom moniker. However, George Lynch has instead chosen to forge ahead in 2023 with a new iteration of the band featuring bassist Jaron Gulino, vocalist Gabriel Colon, and long-time drummer Jimmy D’Anda under the original banner that he had a hand in weaving decades ago. This new class is carrying the flag of the band’s name loud and proud, filling the demand from fans to hear Lynch Mob’s respectable catalog live on. That forward momentum will log quite a few miles on the wheels of their tour bus this summer, with their late June show in Leesburg, Virginia the first of many stops scheduled in the months ahead.

Gavin Evick

Quickly rising to notoriety for his ‘80s inspired, radio-targeted single “Favorite Songs”, Virginia based singer/songwriter Gavin Evick has been making the rounds of late, landing coveted opening slots with a slew of hard rock’s revered veteran acts. With his own sound reminiscent of those great bands of the late ‘80s and early ‘90s, Evick’s original music had me initially drawing comparisons to Tuff and even early Bon Jovi the first time that I heard it. As a longtime fan of Tuff, I can hear a tonal quality in Evick’s voice similar to Stevie Rachelle’s vocal style on What Comes Around Goes Around and that’s a huge compliment. That album is a classic.

Having recently opened for KIX, and with another show slated for late June with All Or Nothing, Evick was tapped to fire up the house of fans eager to hear Lynch Mob rock in Leesburg once again. For a new artist on the rise, I can’t imagine a greater opportunity than sharing a bill with a guitar legend while also showcasing your own material in front of what is essentially a target demographic. With a setlist built largely upon ’80s classics and one killer original, Gavin and his band revved up a sizable pack of Lynch enthusiasts with a hard-hitting, energized set that struck a chord and enlisted him as the younger statesman for a generation of musicians continuing to fly the flag for traditional hard rock with hooks.

Opening with the Poison classic “Look What The Cat Dragged In”, it was immediately apparent that the band embodied rebellion and had a high degree of enthusiasm for the music that they were playing. If they didn’t, they’re sure good at acting! From the moment that they took the stage at 8:00 pm sharp, Evick and his group turned in a high-octane, passionate performance that amped-up the packed house. Rabidly headbanging and flailing his locks in unison with the sinister guitar intro and crashing percussion of Metallica’s “For Whom The Bell Tolls”, the young frontman kept the adrenaline level flowing through the Tally Ho as the guys moved into their rendition of this metal masterpiece.

Equally impressive, Evick’s lead guitarist Gavin Hades played with a degree of passion and prowess that some guitarists twice his age aren’t capable of. At just 16 years old, he was firing off leads to Poison, Metallica, and Mötley Crüe hits with great accuracy while making it look easy. This had me drawing comparisons to Thomas McRocklin, who was Steve Vai’s young progeny in the early ’90s. Playing the part of a young Steve Vai, Rocklin appeared in the guitarist’s video for “The Audience Is Listening” and eventually went on to play in his own band, Bad4Good. Look them up. Even cooler, Gavin was sporting a Dokken Beast From The East t-shirt for this show. I can’t even tell you the last time that I saw a teenager wearing a Dokken shirt.

For the sole breather in their show — the ballad “Favorite Things” — bassist Jacob Gsell switched over to keyboards as the guys were joined onstage by the band’s sixth member, bassist Ivorie Helmbright, for their run through this original song. Admittedly, the single (released in 2022) took things down a notch from an otherwise full-throttle set, but not in a bad way. Incorporating all of the fundamentals of the ever popular ’80s ballad, “Favorite Songs” was forged from this genre of music and didn’t sound out of place alongside the Quiet Riot and Mötley Crüe anthems that it gave respite from.

And then we were right back at it. Splashing cymbals, a thunderous beat and instantly recognizable guitar riff counted off the start of what is one of the best live songs ever written — “Shout At The Devil”. Drummer Steven Hudgins was kicking ass and taking names here and everywhere else in the band’s show. The young drummer was adrenalized and in the pocket through the course of their six song set, keeping time like a seasoned pro behind his kit. The band hit the end-zone with “Youth Gone Wild”, topping off what was essentially a 40-minute party that we didn’t want to end. Sebastian Bach’s vocals on the original are tough to tackle, but Gavin did a commendable job with them as did the rest of the band on what was the perfect finale to their show.

Shortly after the band wrapped up their spirited performance, I heard someone in the crowd say “finally – an opening band that doesn’t suck”. While that assessment was comical and fitting in that moment, it’s certainly not a universal ruling on all opening bands. Still in his early 20s, no dissertation was needed to see that Gavin Evick was born and bred to stoke the embers of heavy music. With an aggressive, rollicking sound that doesn’t sacrifice melody or instrumental proficiency, those signature elements that make ’80s hard rock so appealing to a great number of music fans are well seeded in what Gavin Evick does. With regard to his original music, the relatable themes, singalong choruses, sweeping guitar hooks and slick radio sheen are all present for dutiful categorization. Most importantly, the band’s music just sounds good, and the guy looks like he crawled right out of any popular MTV video of the ’80s – take your pick. With the right refinement and touring prospects to garner him additional exposure, the bedrock of a star is there.

I often wonder what will become of the dwindling hard rock scene as the remaining bands of our favorite era retire or move on. Hearing the Gavin Evick Band fanning the flames with a fresh spin on these heavy metal standards offers me hope that the music will live on.

Gavin Evick’s setlist:
01. Look What the Cat Dragged In
02. For Whom the Bell Tolls
03. Cum On Feel the Noise
04. Favorite Songs
05. Shout at the Devil
06. Youth Gone Wild

Lynch Mob

With over 13 live, studio, and EP releases dating back to 1990 and released under the Lynch Mob brand, there’s a long list of songs that are contenders for the band to include in their live show. That’s not even counting the bounty of Dokken classics, numerous solo albums, and countless side projects (Souls of We, KXM, Ultraphonix, Dirty Shirley) that Lynch has doled out. In fact, he’s released two albums in the past six months alone with Sweet & Lynch and The Banishment, respectively. Realistically, the two albums that fans most want to hear at a Lynch Mob concert are Wicked Sensation and the 1992 self-titled follow up. The combined pair spawned a slew of radio and video plays, with the Mob’s brilliant debut rightfully regarded as a hard rock masterpiece amongst fans (myself included). Highest on my wish list for the set? Aside from the entire Wicked Sensation LP, “Flesh And Blood” from his 1993 solo album Sacred Groove gets my vote for the deep cuts. I’m confident that Gabriel Colon could reach the vocal heights attained by Ray Gillen on the recorded version, and the studio track has a relentless beat that would be thunderous if played by Jimmy D’Anda in a concert setting. With so much material to draw from, how then does the band choose which songs to play in an 80 or 90-minute set? Of course, “Mr. Scary”, “River of Love”, “Into the Fire”, “Wicked Sensation”, and “It’s Not Love” are vitals. Or are they?

Flanked by the backdrop of a religious deity with provocative, serpentine arms, the band hit the stage at 9:15 pm and began to start their engines to the hypnotic crescendo of Lynch’s spiraling web of notes. Very unpredictably, the mid-tempo “She’s Evil But She’s Mine” marked go for the guys in what would be a 14-song set consisting of hits, deep cuts, and a pair of new songs from Lynch Mob’s forthcoming Babylon album. Right off the bat, I was impressed with frontman Gabriel Colon, who not only looks cool but wails like a banshee on the new and older material. Prior to the show, I was only familiar with Colon’s work on the Savage Grace album Sign of The Cross, but he made me a believer. The man is an absolute powerhouse of pipes behind the mic. In fact, when one heckler yelled out “Dance of The Dogs” in between songs, George Lynch commented that Colon was the one singer in Lynch Mob’s 35-year career that could pull that one off. I’ll leave that right there. But like all great frontmen, he has a fire in the pit of his stomach that he unleashes on the microphone.

“River of Love” followed, and as one of Lynch Mob’s biggest singles, it was very well received by the theater of fans who were nearly wall-to-wall by this point. “For A Million Years” has always been kind of a sleeper for me on Wicked Sensation, as it follows “Through These Eyes” on the LP and I think the combination of the two usually causes me to lapse into a ballad-induced coma. That said, hearing it live gave me a new-found appreciation for the song with the concert version featuring an extended solo and jam by the band. That impromptu convergence of musical talent brought me to the realization that If I can’t hear Mick Brown drumming for Lynch Mob, Jimmy D’Anda gets my vote as the next best thing. Perhaps best known as the original drummer for the BulletBoys, his talents have led to both a 23-year stint with Lynch Mob and session work with acts such as Black N’ Blue (who he has performed live with). Much like “River of Love”, the extended “For A Million Years” was met with high praise from the audience, and I think that would be the case with anything that the band were to play off Wicked Sensation. That record is so beloved by fans. The songs on Wicked Sensation have endured the test of time, and the integrity of the songs is upheld by the current line-up. That is, they don’t make concerted efforts to modernize or fix what isn’t broken. The material sounds as flawless in 2023 as it did in 1990.

Lynch Mob performing “She’s Evil But She’s Mine”, “River of Love” and “For A Million Years” live at the Tally Ho Theater in Leesburg, Virginia, USA on June 24, 2023 (video from scott lee‘s YouTube page):

Joined by bassist Jaron Gulino, the Mob’s honed rhythm section was intuitively gridironed, giving George plenty of room to fly as he gave us an untouchable solo right down the middle of “Let The Music Be Your Master”. I have an appreciation for bands that through in the lesser-known, underappreciated material into their show. The band’s setlist was a full-on career retrospective, and not anchored solely in one album. I like the hearing the hits just as much as anyone but hearing the album cuts are one of many facets to a concert that make it unique. So, when I hear “21st Century Man” or “Let The Music Be Your Master” from the very underrated Smoke and Mirrors album, all is right in my little world. Of course, the flip side to that practice is that throwing in deep cuts can be at the detriment of momentum in the show. If audience members don’t know the song, they’re like a deer in headlights for four minutes.

The same can also be said of playing brand new material that hasn’t officially been released yet, and the band opted to give us two new songs from their upcoming album Babylon, which hits the streets in late October. In fact, the cover art (depicting a crumbling empire and “pigs with dicks”) for the new album served as the band’s backdrop for portions of their show and it looks incredible. Following “When Heaven Comes Down”, George Lynch asked that the Babylon backdrop be put back on the overhead, candidly explaining to us that the statues in the art remind him of “pigs with dicks”. Hence forth, I’ll never be able to unsee that. We were treated to two new songs from the LP, “Time After Time” and “Sinner”. The first of those I would say is a more melodic rock song while the latter is more classic rock inspired with a slight Led Zeppelin influence. It’s difficult to gauge a brand-new song in a concert setting, with so much going on and subtle nuances missed so I’m looking forward to hearing the recorded versions when they’re officially released in a few months.

Lynch Mob performing “When Heaven Comes Down” and “Time After Time” live at the Tally Ho Theater in Leesburg, Virginia, USA on June 24, 2023 (video from scott lee‘s YouTube page):

“If you don’t like this next song, you don’t like rock n’ roll” was vocalist Gabriel Colon’s declaration as he introduced “Street Fighting Man”, which started off with an untouchable bass intro by Jaron Gulino, who fits the band like a glove. He concurrently hammered out basslines while belting background vocals for the duration of their show. With a thunderous beat, soaring vocals, and breakneck tempo at the chorus, I can’t disagree with Gabriel’s assessment that “Street Fighting Man” is a crown jewel, epitomizing the very best hard rock attributes. And while this was never my favorite song on Wicked, it’s pure hellfire live. Surprisingly, the set didn’t include any material from Lynch Mob’s self-titled sophomore album. Pondering the reasons for this, the lack of a horn section would make it difficult to pull of “Tangled In The Web”, but I couldn’t think of a reason for them not to include “No Good”, “Cold Is The Heart”, or “Dream Until Tomorrow”.

For all of the old school Dokken fans, both Tooth and Nail and Under Lock and Key made the cut with “When Heaven Comes Down”, “The Hunter”, and “It’s Not Love”. All of which smoked and exemplified how a good song never goes out of style. Hearing Lynch play those solos live was nothing short of incredible. Another awe-inspiring moment of the show was hearing the heavy instrumental “Mr. Scary”, from Dokken’s Back For The Attack disc. It’s been said that when the music for this song was originally written, it was to counter both the melodic and up-tempo direction taken on songs for Back For The Attack. Ultimately, the composition proved to be too heavy for Don Dokken’s voice, and the band opted to leave the track without vocals. Things have a way of working out, and true to the recorded version, “Mr. Scary” was an intense, frenzied few minutes of the band’s performance that felt as though they had the walls of the Tally Ho Theater tremoring. All of Lynch’s live solos were truly a marvel to witness for his degree of focus, precision, and his melding with the guitar as if it were another bodily appendage. His performance of “Mr. Scary” lived up to all of my expectations and then some. He destroyed it! I expected a guitarist of Lynch’s stature to have a ridiculous pedal board, however to that end his gear was really very minimal. The fact that he doesn’t require an abundance of pedals and effects speaks volumes.

As the band were wrapping things up for the night, their pre-encore cover of “Honky Tonk Woman” by the Rolling Stones was unexpected to say the least. But it worked, bringing some light-heartedness back to the room post-impact of “Street Fighting Man” and the epic finale of “Wicked Sensation”. Winding down at 10:55 pm, it was a very well-rounded set that showcased multiple eras of George Lynch’s career (as opposed to Lynch Mob exclusively). Sure, there were certain albums that they didn’t get too but they did well in covering the years with an hour and forty-five minutes. Personally, I’d like to hear a song or two from The Brotherhood, which is my favorite of the band’s latter-day releases. It features a number of fantastic tunes that this current line-up could kick out with ease. Maybe next time.

Prior to the concert, I wondered how the crowd level would be given that Poison frontman Bret Michaels was playing on the same night less than 25 miles away (in Charlestown, West Virginia). Had the concerts been on different nights, I would have attended both. Despite Poison and Dokken sharing a fanbase to some extent and two key members of both acts performing within a small radius of one another, Michaels’ “Party Gras” tour coinciding with this show appeared to have little to no impact on its draw. That could be due to the sheer variety of music offered on that package or the different venue types that each tour is hitting with one being a theater, and the other a casino. Whatever the reason, everything seemed to work out. Before the doors opened, the separate VIP and standard admission lines both stretched around to the sides of the Tally Ho Theater. That’s always a good indication of what to expect in terms of turnout as the night goes on. George Lynch has turned the page to this new chapter in his career, raising the stakes with an ensemble of players that he’s compiled to faithfully bring Lynch Mob’s music to fans new and old. It’s unlikely that we’ll see a reunion of the original line-up at this point, however this iteration is nothing short of colossal and more than capable of carrying on the legacy that he’s carved out.

Lynch Mob’s setlist:
01. She’s Evil But She’s Mine
02. River of Love
03. For A Million Years
04. When Heaven Comes Down
05. Time After Time
06. Let The Music Be Your Master
07. Mr. Scary
08. Sinner
09. The Hunter
10. 21st Century Man
11. It’s Not Love
12. Street Fighting Man
13. Honky Tonk Woman
14. Wicked Sensation

Lynch Mob performing “It’s Not Love” and “Street Fighting Man” live at the Tally Ho Theater in Leesburg, Virginia, USA on June 24, 2023 (video from scott lee‘s YouTube page):