Pray For The Soul Of Betty took the Sunset Strip by storm, delivering their brand of hard rock to a packed house at the historic Roxy Theater in Hollywood, CA. Constantine Maroulis and Company brought down the house, while surprise guest Bo Bice, who joined them for a special song, brought even more screams and excitement to an already rocked out crowd.
Pray For The Soul Of Betty: Live At The Roxy
Story by Janice French and Vicky Welfare
Photos by Janice French
It was a warm sunny day as we stood outside the historic Roxy Theater on the Sunset Strip in Hollywood at 11 a.m. A parade of fans, dressed in black with the logo of Pray For The Soul Of Betty on their shirts, already waited in line for the 8 p.m. show. The Roxy has played host to some of the biggest musical artists in the world and on this night,
Pray For The Soul Of Betty would get their chance to take center stage. Hard New York rock with an alternative, bluesy edge hallmarks their music, with Constantine Maroulis? tricky vocal bridges, Joao?s bluesy lead guitar riffs and Taylor?s brash bass, all driven by the powerful drums of Hamboussi. You may remember Constantine as one of the ?rock dudes? from last season on the popular FOX series ?American Idol.? The line was packed with women, movie stars and colorful characters from the strip dressed in black leather and chains.
Before the doors to the Roxy opened, I met a beautiful and intelligent young girl I?ll call ?Betty.? A long time fan of the band, she had traveled all the way from Canada to see PFTSOB. She?d tried once before, but was unable to see the stage. This time she was determined to be in the Pit against the stage even though she was in a wheelchair. Once inside, I was in the crush of the crowd against the stage when a security guard tapped me on the shoulder and asked if we would let ?Betty? in. She had almost made it to the front but no one would let her get further. We shouted out, the crowd moved and she was in front against the stage with the other girls in the Pit.
Opening band The Numb Ones blended melodic hard rock with an alternative/punk influence. This was a perfect complement to Russ Rogers? young, rich and honest vocals. Phil Tucciarone?s precision on the drums was mesmerizing to watch, while James Coyle?s lead guitar put out clear and intricate riffs. The vocal harmonies of these guys blend perfectly. Their song ?Space And Time? really stood out. Russ? vox languished softly, then soared into the high note chorus ?And let you dream it/ Halfway to believing?? This track alone has put their album
Everything In Between in my CD rotation. Then it was time for a set change.
If a song could have a New York accent this would be the one. The busy sounds of a subway station filled our ears, the crowd screamed, the curtain lifted, strobe lights flashed and Pray For The Soul Of Betty burst into ?Drift.? Hard, metal driven instrumentals set the framework for this song. Constantine stood on a speaker and leaned out over the roaring audience. Women screamed and reached for him as he walked by. He connected with the crowd, making eye contact with a piercing stare and accentuating the
powerful vocal ?Close your eyes when you see me coming/ Razor sharp?? that came to a screeching vocal halt, followed by a second of silence, then the hard rock beat began again as the hunter stalked the target of his affection ?Can you see me?/ I?ll be the one on fire??
Multicolored lights shifted and changed on the stage as the intense instrumental for ?Rich Bitch? filled the venue. This song, filled with anger and hurt, is performed in the hardest of hard rock fashion. Constantine slid across the stage on his knees and stopped in front of the crowd who reached out and strained to touch him. He stood and swayed back and forth, delivering the bitter words ?I wonder what I did to suffer you...? He looked down at that moment, spotted ?Betty? and his eyes lit up. Constantine is known for his obvious delight interacting with children and those with special needs. He showed it in his face as he put his knee up on a speaker and leaned toward ?Betty.? He sang the heartfelt lyrics then smiled and reached out to her. ?Betty?s? dream finally came true!
A new song written by Taylor called ?To My Unborn Son? was up next. Its sweet, haunting, emotional words and delivery were enhanced by the use of only two acoustic guitars. Joao and Taylor?s skilled manipulation of the strings blended smoothly with Constantine?s voice as it rose and fell in vocal perfection and he drew the listener in. I suddenly realized I was hearing a hit song. It was amazing and moving. When it was over, the crowd whistled and roared their approval.
Stepping up the beat once again was ?Three Cheers For The Unknown Solider,? a rocking song with an infectious beat that highlighted Hamboussi?s drum skills. Hamboussi started the piece shirtless with a drum around his neck, beating it in a fast primal rhythm. He was soon joined by a beautiful, scantily clad dancer who undulated and flipped her hair to the beat. Her sensuous, agitated dance became wildly erotic as Hamboussi handed off the drum at his neck to Taylor, when he entered the stage, and moved the beat to his drum kit. Taylor thumped the single drum and moved about as the dancer met him, throwing herself foreword and back, her hair and hands flying. It all came together in a wickedly wild ending as the remaining band members joined in and the smashing beat reached a crescendo ? then it was over.
Taylor accompanied Constantine on acoustic guitar when he sang the smooth and romantic ?Renwick St.? With quiet, gentle, tenderness he crooned ?Love to see you in the morning?? My mind became transfixed on his skillful vocal transitions and romantic words. The audience was mesmerized by this beautiful new love song.
?Cross street/ Can you tell me your cross street?...? echoed through the room. As the first heavy, clear notes of ?Cut The Cord? were heard, the crowd roared. This moody song showcased Constantine?s vocal talent. Heavy bass and a hard rockin? beat drive this dark, soulful tune. During the instrumental bridges Taylor and Joao played off each other, then crossed the stage and walked up to the edge getting touched and screamed at by fans whenever they came near. Constantine was the master of this song, that ended with one of the most soulful, intense and bluesy vocal runs I have ever heard. Hamboussi stood up in a fury and threw his sticks to the crowd, walked around front dripping with sweat, clad only in black shorts and stomped off the stage. The band was gone.
The crowd yelled for more and started chanting ?Betty, Betty, Betty.? The screaming continued until the band returned. Constantine announced a special guest and
Bo Bice climbed up on the stage. The audience screamed and raised their hands in obvious affection. United again, these two
first became friends after being roommates on American Idol. They performed a cover of ?Sunshine Of Your Love,? with Bo singing the first part and Constantine the second. The audience was insane and reached out to both as the wild crowd continued to roar. Then Bo hugged Taylor and finally locked Constantine in a bear hug with obviously sincere affection. As Joao played an awesome guitar solo, Constantine joked with him and pushed him as he played. Then Bo and Constantine?s awesome voices belted out the rest of the song together. After watching these two it was clear that what they both won on American Idol was a friend.
Hamboussi started the final song, ?Some Of My Fucked Up World,? with a drum solo, soon joined by Joao and Taylor on guitars in a catchy beat. Everybody rocked to this infectious, sexy, head banging song. The pace slowed and Constantine launched into a beautiful, exotic vocal bridge then was caught back up into the hard rock beat. Joao played a mean long lead guitar solo against Hamboussi?s racing drums while beautiful women reached out for him. This was one of the best songs of the night. The crowd was totally rocking out and into it. The song slowed and Constantine dropped into another haunting, exotic vocal that ended with ?What ever happened to our love?? They said goodnight and left the stage for the final time.
Pray For The Soul Of Betty is a young band but you couldn?t tell that by their performance. This?concert had a well rounded hard rock presentation and throughout the fifteen songs they never lost the interest of the audience. Their hard, brash NY rock is complimented by their new songs which are thoughtful, powerful and focus on the love we have in front of us. Constantine?s training gave his performance a professional edge and, combined with the skill and maturity of their instrumentals, the band proved they have earned the critical acclaim they?ve received. See Pray For The Soul Of Betty live if you can. They are a visual and audible treat not to be missed.
PRAY FOR THE SOUL OF BETTY ONLINE
-JF & VW