by Frank Ariveso

Ask anyone their favorite classic rock song – and I’ll bet you’ll hear it at Raiding The Rock Vault – a concert of all rock concerts, where you get to hear some of the best hit rock songs of all time from the most legendary rock bands of the ‘50s–‘80s, played by real rockers! 

If for some reason your fav isn’t included, you’ll never remember, because by the end of the show, your head will be swimming joyously with all the fantastic songs you did hear. From legendary bands like the Rolling Stones, The Who, The Doors, Jimi Hendrix, Led Zeppelin, Deep Purple, The Eagles, Queen, Boston, U2, Van Halen, AC/DC, Aerosmith, Foreigner, Journey, Bon Jovi, Whitesnake, the hit songs just keep on coming. Played by a group of actual members of some of the greatest rock bands in history, the show at Las Vegas’ LVH is constantly alive with energy from fabulous guitar playing and vocals that bring each classic rock song back to life – cranked up and rocked out, and sounding just like the original. 

Raiding the Rock Vault is the brainchild of John Payne, vocalist from the band ASIA, and David Kershenbaum, award-winning record producer. Payne, a bass and guitar player, vocalist, composer, recording engineer and record producer has toured with Kansas, Peter Frampton, Styx, Ted Nugent and David Lee Roth, to name a few. His vast years of experience rocking the world has certainly given him the wisdom of what rock audiences love to hear and respond to. Kershenbaum was an executive at three major record companies and helped to establish acts like Duran Duran, Janet Jackson, Cat Stevens and Joe Jackson. He has been awarded 75 international gold and platinum albums as a producer, and is extremely knowledgeable in the history of Rock ‘n Roll. 

After coming up with the storyline of the earth being hit by an asteroid and that a 1,000 years later hazmat-suited men arrive at a Mayan Temple and come upon the Rock The Vault performance, the challenge was to find musicians and singers (L-to-R: Michael T. Ross, Howard Leese, Carol-Lyn Liddle, Jay Schellen, Andrew Freeman, John Payne, Stephanie Calvert, Robin McAuley, Doug Aldrich, Paul Shortino

who would come together and augment each other to bring this all to the stage. A narrator, a DJ, and a couple actors were added to help tell the historical rock evolution from AM to FM radio, and on to MTV.

With John Payne’s notability in the world of music, he probably didn’t have a hard time gathering his band. Payne leads the band, along with extraordinary drummer Jay Schellen (Asia, Badfinger, Hurricane, World Trade, Circa, Unruly Child); keyboard whiz Michael T. Ross (Lita Ford, Missing Persons, Hardline, Angel); Rock and Roll Hall of Fame member and guitarist Howard Leese, (Heart, Bad Company); and electrifying guitarist Doug Aldrich (Whitesnake, Dio, Burning Rain). Then came the vocalists: Robin McAuley (MSG, Survivor, Grand Prix); Andrew Freeman (Lynch Mob, The Offspring); Paul Shortino (Rough Cutt Quiet Riot); Carol-Lyn Liddle (Monsters of Rock); and Stephanie Calvert (toured with both Starship). The singers bring life to the songs and the band couldn’t be better. They all take their performances seriously, but you can tell they’re having the time of their lives while doing it. The bandmates have so much fun performing the classic rock songs that the feeling of fun permeates the entire theater, engulfing the audience with fever-pitch excitement. 

Raiding the Rock Vault is the story of classic rock, delivered in a chronological order that starts back with the Vietnam hippy era of the 1960s and proceeds through the ‘70s and ‘80s, ending with Van Halen. It takes you back to the days of August 1969, when pop culture attracted more than a half million young people to Woodstock to hear music that helped define an entire generation. Rock ‘n Roll has influenced lifestyles, fashion, attitudes, even language – and the effects on American culture are still felt today. The show is an illuminating history of Rock ‘n Roll for the young – and if you’re 40 and up, it’s an exciting and intoxicating trip down memory lane. Classic anthems that everyone immediately recognizes are performed by this all-star group of talented musicians that will absolutely blow you away. There are historical videos and still pictures from each time period played on giant video screens that help move the story through time and keep it cohesive. 

HOWARD LEESE, former Heart Lead Guitarist, played alongside sisters Ann and Nancy Wilson for more than 20 years and is still energetic enough to go on Bad Company’s 40th anniversary tour this summer before returning to the show in Vegas. After meeting Robin McAuley at a Rock ‘n Roll Fantasy Camp, Robin introduced Leese to John Payne. Immediately John saw how organized and professional he was and made him the co-musical director. He credits his dad with telling him: “If you want to be the best, you need to work with the best,” and fortunately he was able to do that. Leese’s amazing guitar solos are dead-on to the original riffs – and his fingers flow across the frets with such ease, seeming so effortless – as Mike Myers would say: “Like buttuh!” 

Keyboardist MICHAEL T. ROSS, is a classically trained pianist. He studied Chopin from age 8-18 and still loves to play the great composers every day. He also plays guitar and bass. He played bass synth in many songs with the band Missing Persons. He brings the ability of a virtuoso keyboard player to the show. 

JAY SCHELLEN was the Drummer for John Payne in ASIA for 8 years. In 1997, he wrote a book about drumming methods called “Rocking Independence”, that garnered him many accolades and endorsements. He describes himself as tough, hard working, hard playing, hard lovin’, and a person who can’t get enough of life. He brings excitement to the show as the pounding force that drives the band.

DOUG ALDRICH, Lead Guitarist, has joined the show as the other main guitar axe, since Whitesnake is not touring. He’s enjoying being in one place, as he now has a young child. He has the look and intensity of a true “Rock God” on stage as he wails on his guitar. Taking on some of the most legendary solos from the likes of Jimi Hendrix and Jimmy Page, Aldrich makes his guitar sing and scream with the exact tone of the original tracks. His charisma is undeniable, making you feel like you’re right there watching the original acts on stage. He even pulls out the old vocoder (talk box) to perfectly play Richie Sambora’s lead groove in Bon Jovi’s “Livin’ On A Prayer”.

PAUL SHORTINO, Vocalist for Quiet Riot and Rough Cutt. Besides being one of the most heralded singers in heavy metal history for his velvet meets gravel voice, and also known for his cameo in the film, This Is Spinal Tap, Shortino takes complete control of the stage as he sings and struts his stuff. He dramatically adds a black cane topped by a silver-studded skull while performing some songs. I loved his performance of Jim Morrison’s “Light My Fire”. 

ROBIN MCAULEY, an Irish rock Vocalist known for his work in McAuley Schenker Group and Survivor, has tons of charisma and his high-end notes on Queen’s “We Are The Champions” is almost a showstopper. His stage presence is so strong, with his marble blue eyes like magnets drawing you in and grand gestures that let you know he’s a star.

Vocalist ANDREW FREEMAN of Offspring and Lynch Mob has vocals so versatile that he can do anything from Journey to Van Halen. Payne calls him the show’s “secret weapon” – because he can nail it both live and in the studio. It’s those super-high top notes sung in the songs “Dream On”, “Stairway to Heaven” and even that change of key on “Livin’ On A Prayer”. Freeman’s hitting them – nailing them, actually!

JOHN PAYNE, Vocalist/Bass Guitarist/Guitarist from ASIA, is the Tour de Force of the band, the strong presence on stage, and the foundation that put it all together to form an aural and visually spectacular show. Payne leads on stage, and shows great respect to each and every member of his multi-talented rock band. Hopefully Payne and his talented bandmates will continue Raiding The Rock Vault so that it will be around for a long time to entertain us time and again. 

There are five vital ingredients that make a Rock ‘n Roll show a truly memorable concert: 1) Screaming guitar solos. 2) Powerful vocal performances. 3) A hard-rockin’ tight and flawless band. 4) A sound system that rocks! 5) Rock ‘n Roll Gods that kick ass! Raiding The Rock Vault delivers all five to the Nth degree.

Raiding The Rock Vault is performed Friday-Tuesday at 8pm at the LVH Las Vegas.

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