Gig review: JAKE E LEE’S RED DRAGON CARTEL – Islington Academy, 6 June 2014

Red Dragon Cartel performed a stunning set in London on Friday night to mark a remarkable return to form for guitar hero Jake E. Lee.

The legendary riff-master, best known for providing Ozzy Osbourne with some of his finest 80’s moments, had disappeared from the mainstream for a number of years citing shady promoters and record labels for his decade-long absence.

However a YouTube renaissance after a cameo appearance re-kindled Jake’s love affair with music and more importantly, his fans again.

Jake embarked on creating a new band and founded Red Dragon Cartel with ex- Beggars and Thieves guitarist Ronnie Mancuso. A series of guest singers appeared during the recording of the album before British-born Darren James Smith (ex-Harem Scarem) was given the permanent slot. Black Betty’s Jonas Fairley completes the line-up on drums.

Just in case you forgot who exactly Jake was, the opening numbers were a quick reminder of the immense talent on-stage.

Ozzy’s classic ‘Ultimate Sin’ was performed superbly before the band really got the party started with their own hit singles ‘Deceived’ and ‘War Machine.’

Badlands fans didn’t have to wait long when ‘High Wire’ and ‘Shine On’ were superbly sung by Darren, whose stunning live vocals really made a mockery of so-called Internet Critics. His ability to seamlessly switch between songs sung by Ozzy, Ray Gillen and his own were a testament to his superb ability and diverse vocal range.

Ronnie Mancuso, dressed remarkably like Carlos Santana, smiled from ear to ear throughout the night such seemed his joy at playing bass in front of London’s fans.

The night however belonged to Jake E. Lee who rightly took centre stage churning out killer riffs and superb guitar solos. ‘Rock N Roll Rebel’ and ‘Feeder’ were set highlights but the biggest ovation of the night was saved for the rip-roaring Ozzy classic ‘Bark at the Moon’ – still sounding as good today as it ever did.

Their headlining UK tour may have descended into a farce with breaking news of late cancellations and arguments between promoters and management.* However as the half-full Islington Academy will testify, Red Dragon Cartel put on one-hell of a show. Catch them if you can!

Review by Vikram Sangar (@vsangar)

* Ed’s note – since this review was written the Buckley Tivoli show is back on at a reduced entry of £10

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