Could there be a more perfect opening band tonight than the Muggs? The blues rockers are so predictably great every time they play nowadays that there’s little less to say. But as ever, Danny pulls out some killer riffs, Tony makes amazing bass-type noises come out of his keyboard, and the cover of the Beatles’ “Help” was intense. This band has gone a long way from its TV show days. Now, the Muggs are undoubtedly among the very best live bands in Detroit. The fact that somebody behind me was yelling “Good luck Cactus” at the set’s conclusion says everything.
Of course, Cactus didn’t need any luck at all. From the opening, crunchy and slowed down cover of “Long Tall Sally”, a song that Cactus made their own way back in the day, the unit was as tight as fuck, bang on form and obviously having a great time. Guitarist Jim McCarty pulled as many impassioned expressions from his face as he did magnificent licks from his guitar.
There were too many highlights to mention them all. The whole thing was a highlight. But two shining moments from the eponymous debut – “Bro. Bill” (dedicated to deceased original vocalist Rusty Day) and the rarely played version of Willie Dixon’s “You Can’t Judge a Book by the Cover” – were right up there.
Jimmy Kunes has been singing with the band since the reunion, and he continues to kick ass from the front. McCarty is, of course, amazing, as is legendary drummer Carmine Appice. Bassist Pete Bremy is no slouch. But with Cactus, it is the sum of the parts, not the individuals, that makes it so special. Tonight at the Magic Bag was no exception.