Roadcase Royale

May 31, 2017
Coach House
San Juan Capistrano, CA

Review & Photos by Mimi Franco

Things got loud at the Coach House for a Wednesday night as Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee and Heart guitarist Nancy Wilson and R&B powerhouse vocalist Liv Warfield debuted their new band, Roadcase Royale to a near-capacity crowd.

Wilson and Warfield were joined on stage by Heart musicians Dan Rothchild (bass), Chris Joyner (keys), Ben Smith (drums) and Warfield's guitarist Ryan Waters. Every single one of these artists are seasoned, accomplished professionals in their own right. They have come together to create a new and original entity. You would expect nothing short of tight chord progressions and pitch-perfect vocals, and that is exactly what Roadcase Royale brought to their performance.

Roadcase Royale opened with one of their original songs, "Get Loud," a song borne out of the 2016 election cycle and now an anthem by and for women. The song was released in support of the Women's March on Washington, D.C. in January. Rather than take a negative, angry view, Wilson and Warfield created a hopeful, uplifting tune, which encourages women to use their voices to affect positive change. "Get Loud" was received with energetic applause from a captivated audience.

The band then followed with some vintage Heart, beginning with "Even It Up." The crowd erupted at the drop of the first recognizable beat. Ryan Waters' searing guitar solos backed Warfield's commanding vocals to deliver a hard-driven performance that left no one in doubt of how abundantly skilled and talented everyone in this band is. "Even it Up" lit up the room and had the crowd on its feet. It set the tone for the rest of the night.

The most poignant moment of the evening came when Wilson paid tribute to singer Chris Cornell, who passed away on May 18. Wilson and Cornell, both natives to Seattle and its music scene, were also close friends. The guitarist wrote "The Dragon" originally to honor Layne Staley, the Alice In Chains singer, also from Seattle, who succumbed to the demons he could not quite conquer. Staley died in 2002. It was a touching and fitting tribute to Cornell who gave so much to so many.

True to their spot-on professionalism, the tone and tenor of the evening quickly changed as the band launched into Prince's "Controversy," driven by hammering rhythms, delivered masterfully by drummer Ben Smith and bassist Dan Rothchild. The audience was out of their seats and grooving to the funk as soon as the first note dropped. There was more original music, vintage Heart ("These Dreams," "Crazy On You"), and even a little Foo Fighters ("No Way Back"). A little old, a little new and a whole lot of awesome!

Mastery of more than one genre of music is exceptional. To transition back and forth between genres during the same performance is extraordinary. The seamless transitions between rock and R&B/funk by Wilson, Warfield and the musicians of Roadcase Royale is a testament to their professionalism, and left no doubt in anyone's minds that they can deliver the goods.

The original songs are solid, tight, and engaging. Wilson and Warfield have created a refreshingly original new group that has the ability to bring a little something for everyone to the table. Stand up and take notice. Recently announced as the opening band on select dates of Bob Seger's Runaway Train tour, Roadcase Royale is coming to a city near you and they're gonna "Get Loud."

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