Fresh off of an extremely successful fall tour with the legendary Alice Cooper, guitar virtuoso Nita Strauss hits the road on her second solo tour Winter Wasteland. To say that the last few months has been good to Nita could be considered an understatement. Not only has she announced the release of her second solo album, but also dropped the massively successful single Dead Inside featuring Disturbed frontman David Draiman. The single has been burning up the billboard charts and every streaming service that has played it. But the track has also landed her as the first solo woman to score a top 10 single as a lead artist on the Mainstream Rock Airplay chart in nearly 26 years. Armed with seven string slinger Marc Rizzo, New York metal act Black Satellite and local talent Auditory Amory, Nita Strauss brings the Winter Wasteland to Orlando and it will no doubt be an epic show.
As soon as the room goes black the lights on stage start to spin around the room and the exhilarating sounds of a Carmina Burana remix pulsating through the room. Through the darkness Bassist Christopher Dean trots on stage right before Drummer Josh Villalta greets the crowd and takes his place behind the kit. Then you hear the unmistakable sounds of a bottom out tremolo shaking in the speakers just as the metal maiden herself jogs out on stage and dive bombs right into the first song of the night. The opening lick sounded pretty familiar and I couldn’t put my finger on it. And then I heard the main lead and was blown away to realize Nita was shredding out the theme song from Mighty Morphin Power Rangers. Definitely not the first song you’d think you’d hear at a metal show but if there is anyone that could put a metal spin on it, it would be Nita.
Of the eleven tracks that make up the shredders playbook that is Controlled Chaos, Alegria was the one that really made me sit back and say “holy shit”. But watching and experiencing it live takes it to a whole other level. The build up of that first riff with Josh’s cymbal mutes draws loud whistles and cheers from the crowd and immediately puts a smile on Nita’s face. But when she breaks into the ballet of notes that make up the songs main lead paired with the percussive tremors of Josh and Dean it was like a euphoric wave that would give you goosebumps. The song’s heavy breakdown had Nita jumping and spinning around the stage causing an almost similar reaction in the crowd.
Nita would grab the mic to tell the crowd “I thought we’d change it up a bit on this tour and play something you guys have never ever heard before. How does that sound?”. The band delivers the head banging harmony infused Summers Storm. Now I can’t say for sure if this is another new track of Nita’s upcoming record or if it was something they wrote for the tour. But what I can say is that it was an absolutely killer song. Great riffs, crushing rhythms and the breakdown had everyone with a pulse moving. You could tell the band was excited to play new music for the crowd and there is not a doubt in my mind it is worthy of a spot on the new record. I guess we’ll have to wait and see.
After our mystery song, Nita changes her tune by saying “I’ll take you from a song you’ve definitely never heard before, to a song you DEFINITELY have heard before. And to help me with this song, please welcome back from Black Satellite Larissa Vale”. With the stage saturated in green lighting those famous words “Feeeed My Frankenstein” come pouring out of the speakers as the crowd lose their minds. With big shoes to fill Larissa’s stage presence was awesome and did an amazing job on vocals. Where the song’s solo would normally come in, Larissa makes the announcement to “Give it up for Marc Rizzo”. The fans cheer on as Marc hits the stage and to no surprise gets into a solo battle with Nita much to the fans excitement.
In the middle of the insanity of The Quest, Nita and Dean walk off stage leaving Drummer Josh Villalta rifling around his kit. The second he stops, the intro riff to Metallica’s Blackend starts to play. Josh jumps back behind the kit and plays along with Ulrich’s tom shuffle and blast beats. But the metal homage didn’t stop there. Josh would hammer out some of the most iconic drum beats of all time. From the subtle and direct work of Vinnie Paul on A New Level, the machine gun double bass of Metallica’s Fight Fire With Fire to his explosiveness during Slayer’s legendary Reign in Blood. Josh had the crowds ovations growing louder with every song he played during that most impressive montage and still had enough energy to jump back into our regulary scheduled program to finish out The Quest.
Nita would address the crowd as she recalls getting the news of her incredible accomplishment with breaking into the top 10 as a female solo artist, the first time it has been done in 26 years. At that point it was clear what song was next in the set and I’m sure it was the one fans were looking forward to all night. I was curious how Dead Inside would sound with just David Draeman’s vocal track but I was not disappointed. Nita and Dean kicked out as much energy as if David was on stage with them as the fans showed no lack of vocal restraint while they belted out every single lyric. The song is full of addictive melodies and heavy riffs and even if Draeman himself wasn’t in attendance, Nita and company couldn’t have done better.
Before the last song of the night, Nita steps up and gives her thanks and appreciation to the fans for giving her the opportunity to play her own songs for all of us on this tour. She soon steps back and gets ready for her vertical guitar attack to kick off Our Most Desperate Hour. The band put the pedal to the floor as the hard hitting ballad would soon close out the night. At one point Nita showed some guitar sass as she turned sideways towards the crowd with her pick hand behind her back and let her left hand rip up and down the neck. But it would be the brutal breakdown at the end that would really round out this amazing show on a crushing high note. With a room full of screaming and appreciative fans Nita, Josh and Dean give a final bow to the crowd. But before they leave the stage, they shower the fans with guitar pics, drum sticks and setlists as one last thank you!
Watching someone as skilled as Nita Strauss really takes you back as a fan and as a fellow musician. Her abilities not only as a songwriter but as a performer as well are the two things that take her live show to that next level. There are plenty of guitar players that have the same skill set and have their axes hiked up and don’t move more than a few inches. But Nita Strauss moves around every inch of the stage like a metal ballerina because she wants her fans to have the best show possible and showmanship is a big part of that. Throughout the show she made it a point to let every single fan know how much their support means to her and the band and that is something that goes a long way with people. With 10 shows left on the tour there aren’t too many more opportunities to catch Nita in action, so make sure to get tickets because you are not going to want to miss this show. And don’t forget to look into the VIP Meet & Greet for an intimate Q&A with Nita, one on one photo and signing. Trust me, it’s worth it!