If like me, you grew up in the eighties, your first foray into heavy music may well have been via the hard rock bands of that era. While individual tastes change over time, and heavy music continues to evolve and push boundaries, sometimes it is excellent to re-visit those hard rock roots, and tonight, I’m doing just that. And what better place to knock back a few cold ones and enjoy some great live music than Sydney’s haven of all things hard and heavy, Frankie’s Pizza By The Slice.
Opening this evening, Newcastle two-piece Poison The Vein. With an old school hard rock sound and some banging riffs, they put on an awesome display of guitar-driven rock music. Drummer Vinnie and guitarist Joel combined seamlessly to get the Frankie’s crowd going.
There wasn’t a great deal of interaction between the band and the crowd, the guys were happy to let the music speak for itself, and from what I heard, there is lots to like. Heavy riffs, funky riffs, and even a hint of thrash, frontman Joel effortlessly showcasing his musical ability, while also delivering strong vocals.
Word is that they are in the process of recording their debut EP, so keep your ears peeled for that one.
Next up it was Sydney hard-rockers ThunderDome. Fresh out of their Delorean, this band is a throwback to the eighties, before every group needed their own sub-genre. You could be forgiven for thinking that they are some kind of parody, with charismatic frontman Dave rocking denim on denim, and a lead guitarist sporting an Eddie Van Halen style striped guitar. But, they unashamedly bang out the music they love and have a great time in the process.
Kicking off with ‘Hot From The Front’, Dave and the boys got the punters rocking and fists pumping. ‘Teacher Crush’ kept the momentum going, with some cool riffage, and a ripping solo. The set highlight was the kung fu movie inspired ‘Fist Of Fire’. They also threw in some covers of classic eighties songs, Kenny Loggins ‘Danger Zone’ and Michael Sembello’s ‘Maniac’ from Flashdance. The latter getting a great reaction from the Frankie’s crowd.
ThunderDome wears their eighties rock influences like a badge of honour. Anyone who’s ever rocked out to bands like Van Halen and Motley Crue would get a kick out of their live show. Their mission is to remind the world that rock music is supposed to be fun, and they deliver it in an entertaining and boisterous way.
With the Frosty’s flowing, and the Frankie’s crowd pumped, Melbourne hard rockers Ablaze wasted no time in picking up where ThunderDome left off. Touring hot on the back of recent album No Chaser, the lads launched into tracks ‘Back For More’ and ‘Pick Your Poison’, the riff-driven pub rock sound the perfect tonic for the thirsty throng of punters.
The band sounded great, combining rocking riffs, fist-pumping drum beats, and libidinous bass grooves to create a real party atmosphere. Vocalist Danny Slaviero was strong and energetic and kept the crowd engaged for the entire set. While many high-profile hard rock bands are going for a softer sound and more accessible lyrics and themes, Ablaze are happy to fly the “old school” flag, with plenty of distortion, and an underlying theme of living the rock and roll lifestyle, drinking and partying hard.
New single ‘Long Way Home’ was well received, and ‘Just A Taste’ had the crowd singing along in fine fashion. They closed the set with ‘Bar Fight Blues’, which also had some spirited crowd participation. Ablaze have been gigging extensively since the release of said album, and it shows in their live performance. The band are at the top of their game, and they possess all of the trademarks of the classic Aussie pub-rock band, with potent groove, soaring harmonies, and anthemic choruses.
While support for the hard rock scene may have waned since the heights of the eighties and early nineties, nights like this prove that this style of music still has validity. Whether it’s paying homage to the trailblazers, or enjoying the offerings of younger, up and coming bands, as long as people enjoy a few drinks, and singing along to some good old guitar-driven rock (which will probably be forever), then hard rock will have a place.