LIVE PHOTOS: Mammoth WVH, Dirty Honey
By Greg Maki
When it rolled through Baltimore on a Friday night, the “Young Guns” tour felt like a “remember when” kind of show. As in, years from now, when Mammoth WVH and Dirty Honey are two of the biggest rock bands in the world, the people who were there will be telling anyone who will listen what it was like to see these two immensely talented acts in a club-size venue.
Each already has started compiling an impressive resume, with Dirty Honey becoming the first unsigned act to top Billboard’s Mainstream Rock Songs chart with “When I’m Gone” in 2019 (follow-up “Rolling 7s” hit number three) and Mammoth WVH reaching number one on the same chart with each of its first two singles, “Distance” in 2020 and “Don’t Back Down” in 2021. But it’s the stage where these two acts truly shine as Mammoth in the studio is one-man band Wolfgang Van Halen and Dirty Honey plays the kind of gritty, bluesy hard rock that always thrives in a live setting.
With no opening act, Dirty Honey took the stage promptly at 8 p.m., and singer Marc LaBelle, guitarist John Notto, bassist Justin Smolian and drummer Corey Coverstone were in complete command of the crowd for the next hour, playing a mix of songs from their 2019 EP and 2021 LP (both self-titled). LaBelle’s high-pitched croon that falls somewhere between Robert Plant and Axl Rose enthralled the onlookers, while Notto showed he is a rising star on the guitar.
Highlights of the Dirty Honey set included the aforementioned hits, plus “California Dreamin’,” the singalong-inducing “Heartbreaker” and a bluesy, showstopping cover of the Prince classic “Let’s Go Crazy.”
DIRTY HONEY SET LIST: “Gypsy,” “Break You,” “Heartbreaker,” “The Wire,” “Fire Away,” “Tied Up,” “Down the Road,” “California Dreamin’,” “Let’s Go Crazy” (Prince cover), “Another Last Time,” Bass solo, Guitar solo, “When I’m Gone,” “Rolling 7s”
The world got to know Wolfgang Van Halen when he played bass for his father and uncle’s namesake band. But as we learned from Mammoth’s self-titled 2021 debut, he’s a multi-instrumentalist and an absolute beast on the guitar. That was crucial on this night because the band, already down one guitarist with Frank Sidoris recently wrapping up touring obligations with Slash, was without guitarist Jon Jourdan, who missed three shows due to a family emergency. So Baltimore got the Mammoth trio with bassist Ronnie Ficaro and drummer Garrett Whitlock (ex-Tremonti) backing up Wolf. To his credit, it didn’t sound like much was missing as he covered the parts of three guitarists and sang lead vocals.
Though he was working as hard onstage as he probably ever will, Wolf did it all with a smile, repeatedly expressing his gratitude to the fans with friendly between-song banter. Though descended from rock royalty, he seemed to be in disbelief at the success he’s achieved thus far and was amazed that the next day he was set to fly to Las Vegas to attend the Grammy Awards. (“Distance” was nominated for Best Rock Song.)
Highlights of the Mammoth set included the eponymous opening number; “Think It Over,” which Wolf introduced as his father’s favorite song on the album; a solo acoustic performance of “Distance;” a cover of “My Hero” in tribute to fallen Foo Fighter Taylor Hawkins; and the closing “Don’t Back Down.”
MAMMOTH WVH SET LIST: “Mammoth,” “Mr. Ed,” “Epiphany,” “Horribly Right,” “You’ll Be the One,” “Stone,” “I Don’t Know at All,” “Think It Over,” “You’re to Blame,” “Distance” (solo acoustic), “My Hero” (Foo Fighters cover), “Don’t Back Down”