Going to Las Vegas for your birthday can be a highly gratifying experience when you have a game plan for what you are going to do while you are there. My number one priority was to go see Kings of Chaos at the House of Blues Las Vegas, located inside the Mandalay Bay Hotel and Casino. Kings of Chaos is a rock 'n roll supergroup which consists of multiple highly influential musicians that have made a huge impact on rock 'n roll music. The show at the House of Blues Las Vegas, which ran from December 1st to December 3rd, consisted of musicians Chester Bennington of Linkin Park and formerly of Stone Temple Pilots, Corey Taylor of Stone Sour and Slipknot, Billy Gibbons of ZZ Top, Robert DeLeo of Stone Temple Pilots, Billy Duffy of The Cult, Steve Stevens of Billy Idol, and Matt Sorum of Guns 'N Rose and Velvet Revolver, with guest vocals from Frankie Perez on "Going Down" originally by Joe Satriani, Eric Johnson, and Steve Vai. Frankie Perez and the Truth opened for Kings of Chaos.
Frankie Perez and the Truth hit the stage first. Now, I'm not a big fan of Perez with Apocalyptica, but he and his band put on one spectacle of an opening performance. Perez amazed with his soulful and bluesy vocals backed by an instrumental composition that could have put some of the greatest musicians in history to shame! Perez has a way of wooing the crowd! His vocal prowess could have any woman on her knees and begging to be personally serenaded by his powerful and sensual vocal style. Having Frankie Perez in his element made for a fantastic supporting act for a group of musicians who are rock 'n roll gods!
When it was time for the big boys to woo the crowd, the vocals on the first three songs of the set from Kings of Chaos went to Chester Bennington. The first vocal rotation had Bennington performing "Vasoline" by Stone Temple Pilots, "White Wedding" by Billy Idol, and "Fire Woman" by The Cult. Bennington has always astounded me with his talent. From the first Linkin Park song I heard, I've been hooked on Bennington's voice and range. His ability to sing any song that he writes or covers is undeniably enviable to that of other vocalists. Bennington was definitely on top of his vocal game with Kings of Chaos! The acoustics in the venue truly brought out the best in Bennington's vocal talent! The acoustics really set the experience throughout the entire night, including Frankie Perez and the Truth.
The next vocal rotation had Corey Taylor performing "Sex Type Thing" by Stone Temple Pilots, "Slither" by Velvet Revolver, and "Wild Flower" by The Cult. So, I came prepared with a sign that read “This is my first birthday trip to Vegas!" because anybody in their right mind would be honored to have some of their favorite musicians recognize you on your birthday week. As Taylor came out to perform vocals for his first appearance on stage for the night, he saw my sign and nodded at me. He then spoke to the crowd for a moment and then walked over to me and said "Happy Birthday"! He proceeded to fist bump me and then grabbed my hand for a brief moment! It was a really awesome moment for me, aside from the music and the birthday greeting I was going to get from Chester Bennington a short time later on during the Kings of Chaos set. Taylor starts to sing his first part of the set. He was on fire! I honestly don't know whether he or Bennington sings Stone Temple Pilots tunes better. Regardless, Taylor amazed me with his voice, as he always does. Something about his voice just draws you towards him in the best way.
The third chunk of the set had Billy Gibbons performing classics "Waiting for the Bus", "Sharp Dressed Man", and "Tush" from his band ZZ Top. With this show being the first time I had ever seen any of the members of ZZ Top live, I was definitely a little bummed that ZZ Top came around before my time. Billy Gibbons still knows how to rock a crowd, even for being in his 60s.
Next up on the set list was "Through Glass" by Stone Sour, which Corey Taylor performed a solo acoustic version of the song. The crowd went wild for Taylor's solo acoustic piece. He definitely nailed the performance. The simplicity of just Corey Taylor with his acoustic guitar hits you in the heart and the mind with a unique energy that sends chills down your spine and makes you pay attention to his powerful stage presence. He is one of the few musicians that truly capture the essence of what it means to be a performer. He commands the stage no matter how intense or simple the instrumentals that accompany him on stage might be.
Steve Stevens came out next and performed a guitar solo. Stevens, in my opinion, is a highly underrated guitar player. The talent that came out of that man's finger tips was truly the work of a musical artist. No vocals or other instrumentals... All Stevens really needed was himself and his guitar. He showed the audience that a guitar can do all the singing for itself.
The backstage crew helped set up the stage for an Unplugged-esque performance, which included "Edie (Ciao Baby)" by The Cult, "Interstate Love Song" by Stone Temple Pilots, and "Jesus Just Left Chicago" by ZZ Top. As soon as Sorum, Duffy, Stevens, DeLeo, Taylor, and Bennington hit the stage again, the crowd went wild. After roughly thirty seconds, Corey Taylor pointed to me and mentioned to everyone that this was my first time celebrating my birthday in Las Vegas. It was then that Chester Bennington started singing "Happy Birthday" to me. Of course, a few members of the audience decided to sing "Cha cha cha" after every sentence in the song. I kind of liked the throwback to when I sang "Happy Birthday" to my friends back in the day. In fact, I thought it was hysterical! After I had been serenaded, Bennington began the acoustic portion of the set with "Edie (Ciao Baby)". Taylor and Bennington sang duet for "Interstate Love Song" and Billy Gibbons came back on stage to sing "Jesus Just Left Chicago".
After the acoustic instruments were taken away, Matt Sorum took a stab at singing lead vocals on Motorhead's "Ace of Spades". Sorum was not the person whom I would've expected to sing lead vocals, but then again I've never seen him live. I honestly wouldn't know if he’s ever sung live. I guess that's what I get for being younger than most GNR fans. Sorum definitely delivered a strong set of vocals that Lemmy Kilmister would be proud of, so I'll give my kudos to Mr. Matt Sorum for his vocal contribution to the Motorhead cover. I can't imagine how hard it must be to play drums and sing at the same time, but Sorum isn't the only musician that can do it. Am I to really ask that question of any musician that has tried to do both at once?
After "Ace of Spades", "She Sells Sanctuary" by The Cult, "Rebel Yell" by Billy Idol, and "Love Removal Machine" by The Cult were sung by Corey Taylor. Then "Tube Snake Boogie" and "La Grange" by ZZ Top were sung by ZZ Top's vocal god himself, Billy Gibbons. The Encore consisted of "Going Down" by Freddie King and sung by Taylor, Bennington, and Perez, then "Beer Drinkers and Hell Raisers" by ZZ Top and sung by Gibbons, Taylor, and Bennington.
The night was filled with incredible talent from many eras of rock 'n roll. Kings of Chaos and their supporting act Frankie Perez and the Truth definitely did not disappoint me! If one were to ask, "What is a good show to see for my birthday?" I would definitely tell them to go see any show for any of the bands that Corey Taylor, Chester Bennington, Billy Gibbons, Steve Stevens, Billy Duffy, Robert DeLeo, or Matt Sorum are a member of. If the next question is why, the answer is because these gentlemen are a part of an elite group of musicians that have been influenced by legendary entertainers, while becoming just that. They have helped pave the way for musicians that have entered the music business after them or current up and coming musicians, and they have honed in on what makes their talent so distinguishable and influential to the new wave of talent entering the music business. Being "Kings" is a term that is merely an understatement for the creative prowess and talent that they have graced us music listeners with for the duration of their careers. If any of these gentlemen are not on your list of people to spend your birthday with, there are still some great musical acts to do so with; however, these gentlemen should be at the top of your list if the chance presents itself because they give you a one of a kind concert experience that will have you reminiscing the night for the rest of your life.