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All photos copyrighted and courtesy of LJ
Wilson-Knight – www.ljwkphotography.com

The Flight to Mars show on Friday, April 8 at The Showbox was the kind of loud that reverberates in the chest cavity and rings in the ears hours later. It was a two-fisted-devil-horn evening, rocking too hard for just one hand!

Flight to Mars, a UFO tribute band, features Pearl Jam’s Mike McCready (guitar), Paul Passereli (lead vocals), Tim DiJulio (guitar), Kelly Van Camp (drums), Gary Westlake (bass), and Ty Bailie (organ). The show was the the 9th annual benefit for the Crohn’s and Colititis Foundation of America (CCFA). Up to this point, the benefit concerts have earned a total of almost $200,000 for the Foundation.  Some of the proceeds also benefit Camp Oasis, for kids with Crohn’s and Colitis.  The show was also being broadcast live on Sirius’ Pearl Jam Radio.  Throughout the night, there were auctions, announcements, raffles, and lots of top-notch music.

Buckets of Rain, a local band, opened the marathon evening late, because the pre-show auction ran overtime. They were a bit small for the cavernous Showbox, and seemed to get drowned out by the noisy, rowdy crowd. It was very hard to catch the vocals in these loud settings. I did enjoy the song, “This Train,” which had a nice repetitive bass line throughout and was a little more upbeat and memorable than the others. The band may be more comfortable in a smaller venue, though. Buckets of Rain finished their short set with The Who’s “Squeezebox,” which got everyone energized and singing along.

Lazy Susan, another Seattle band, took the stage.  They’d reunited for this show for the first time in 14 years. The band’s country rock sound was led by vocalist Kim Virant and Tim DiJulio on lead guitar. Lazy Susan reminded me of a female version of Seattle’s late great North Twin, for whom DiJulio also played guitar. Virant rocked “Wish,” among others, and I wondered why Lazy Susan ever broke up. They will be making another appearance on June 11 at the Tractor Tavern in Ballard.

Tim DiJulio of Lazy Susan and Flight to Mars

Following Lazy Susan, Mike McCready played a three-song acoustic set with Brad Sinsel, the former lead singer of TKO, a Seattle-based glam metal band from the 70’s and 80’s. He still maintains a glam-y image, only in a David Bowie-sings-folk sort of way. And his voice was beautiful.  The two sounded nice and folk-y, accompanied by mandolin and organ. The quick set included “My Lily of the West,” “Kill the Pain,” and ended with “You Are My Sunshine,” and the audience joyfully sang along. It was an ironic song choice, considering there was going to be a blast of metal and screaming lyrics from Flight to Mars within minutes.

Flight to Mars landed on stage in heavy fog while the “Close Encounters of the Third Kind” theme song blasted through the speakers. Paul Passereli, from the 80’s band Lipstick, reminded me of Jack Black both in stocky frame and stage personality. He dominated the stage instantly. Passereli got the audience moving while he pointed at them, hung the microphone over the crowd, smiled, grimaced, and let out some huge rock screams. He did UFO serious justice.

Flight To Mars lead singer, Paul Passereli

The setlist was filled with vintage metal and good old-fashioned rock ‘n’ roll. They started out the evening right with “Doctor Doctor,” then blasted right into “Mother Mary” before introducing Dave Coalter from Florida, who apparently “paid a shitload of money” to play with the band.  Dave and the band rocked “Too Hot to Handle,” and Tim DiJulio had a rollicking solo (poor Dave’s amp was not turned up, so his solo was lost).

They slowed down a bit with “Love to Love,” skillfully sung by Passereli, but then picked things right back up through “Lights Out” and “Shoot Shoot.”

Both DiJulio and McCready busted out earth-shaking solos and jams throughout the long set. Gary Westlake, the bass player, also did his share of jamming with the band, while Gary Van Camp of The Dusty 45’s kept up the rock beat on drums.

Mike McCready

And then there was the other-worldly Ty Bailie on organ. Ty is also in Star Anna and the Laughing Dogs. He can rock the keys like Benmont Tench. He had some great solos and hammed it up near the end with the last song of the set, “Rock Bottom.” Ty entered the stage wearing a silver sequined cape and sported a giant white keytar, turning the rock to eleven.   He later relinquished the cape to Passereli, who played it off in rocker style.

Tim DiJulio and Ty Bailie

The band left the stage briefly while everyone’s ears were still ringing with the last notes of “Rock Bottom.” The audience stuck around and clapped and stomped until the floor was shaking even harder than before. Back they came for the encore, appeasing the roaring crowd.

Passereli then took to the mic: “The next time some mutha fucka says rock ‘n’ roll is dead…” and proceeded to explode into AC/DC’s “Let There Be Rock,” and then Van Halen’s “Everybody Wants Some” to end the crazy, raucous night…and all for a great cause.

Flight to Mars

All photos copyrighted and courtesy of LJ
Wilson-Knight – www.ljwkphotography.com

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