If ever there was a gig tinged – nay, dripping – in nostalgia, this was it. The tickets were purchased well in advance with not a thought to line up changes or new material. My cousin was coming up from the West Midlands purely so we could pretend we were 17 again. I’ll admit, we were a bit perturbed to hear that it wasn’t Sebastian Bach on the mic for Skid Row these days, but such is life. New vocalist, Johnny Solinger has been with the band since 1999 and the triumvirate of Dave ‘The Snake’ Sabo, Scotti Hill and Rachel Bolan remain.
We had been lucky enough to acquire tickets for a pre-gig secret session by both bands at new Glasgow rock pub, Rockus so we got treated to a brief acoustic set. Both bands sounded in fine form ahead of the main gig, I had a pint of Zombier and we were able to get a quick photo with them too, so all was good with the world.
Come proper gig time we found ourselves a quality spot upstairs at the sound desk. The rationale being that if we were next to the sound guy then we would be guaranteed good sound and the view was excellent. Also, there’s a bar right next to it so everyone’s a winner!
We missed Dead City Ruins who, by all accounts, were pretty decent, but we were there in plenty of time for Ugly Kid Joe. After quite an extended intro the band took to the stage and quite simply ripped the roof off. From opener ‘V.I.P.’ through to closing with a cover of Motörhead’s ‘Ace of Spades’ they were tight and a lot heavier than I expected. Frontman Whitfield Crane got the balance between getting on with the music and interacting with the crowd spot on. Although most of the set was drawn from the band’s ’90′s heyday, they did play three songs from 2012′s E.P. Stairway to Hell with ‘No One Survives’ being the highlight of them.
The two big hits, ‘Everything About You’ and the cover of Cat Stevens’ ‘Cat’s in the Cradle’ were rolled out to a rapturous welcome – and in the case of the latter a mass singalong – before they closed what was an excellent show with the Motörhead track.
And then it was over to the headliners to entertain us. Sebastian Bach hasn’t been with the band for some time. Despite this, the impression I got was that Johnny Solinger is still suffering a bit from new guy syndrome. More than once through the gig he felt the need to point out that 14 years he had been with this band. 1999 he joined y’know? Where Whitfield Crane got the balance exactly right between songs and banter, Johnny seemed to like the sound of his talking more than he did his singing, to the point it got tedious and then progressed to plain and simple irritating. And let’s just try and forget his humourous pronunciation of “Glasgae”. Over and over again.
These grumbles are a shame because, you know what? The guy can sing. Hitting the notes in ‘In A Darkened Room’, rocking the crowd with ‘Piece of Me’, he really does the business. There were maybe a couple of duff notes in ’18 and Life’ but that’s being a bit picky. And the band sounded in great form, Dave Sabo and Scotti Hill riffing off each other superbly. Rachel Bolan even took the mic when they ripped through a cover of the Ramones’ ‘Psycho Therapy’.
The older stuff sounded great, the biggest problem really came with the couple of songs they played from latest release, the United World Rebellion: Chapter One E.P. Sad to say, but it really doesn’t stand up with the old stuff. Even ‘Thick is the Skin’ from 2003′s Thickskin album sounded better. But then we came to the last 3 songs of the set and with that particular 1,2,3 all was forgiven. ‘Monkey Business’ was the one I was desperate to hear and it didn’t disappoint – probably the highlight of the night – then in to ‘Slave to the Grind’, both of which served to remind that although they were maybe thought of as glam or hair metal, Skid Row could really heavy it up. The night was finished off with an epic, anthemic version of ‘Youth Gone Wild’. It was magnificent and those three definitely more than made up for any possible grumblings about the rest of the show.
All in all, a great night out. But I gotta say, next time I would probably pick Ugly Kid Joe as the headliners.
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