I think it’s safe to say that anyone who grew up in the ’80s had time for Skid Row. No matter if you hated glam rock, there was always a place for the Skids. Now, this may or may not have been at the hands of Phil Anselmo due to his ongoing praise for the band but he made liking Skid Row to be a cool thing for everyone and not just limited to the female rock audience who’d gotten bored with the Brets, the Rikkis and the Nikkis of the 80s hair metal era. Skid Row’s self-titled debut is an ass kickin’ classic and if that wasn’t enough, they followed it up with an even more solid rock n roll masterpiece in Slave To The Grind. Following that, they did another album hardly anyone remembers (it was called Subhuman Race and it didn’t live up to their former releases, in my opinion, but it still rocks regardless), and then their overly vocal frontman, Sebastian Bach, parted ways with the band and went solo while the band battled on with another vocalist and they have been touring the world ever since. Not a bad effort. Now, after five years since their last visit, the New Jersey bad boys of rock returned to our shores with fellow old school rockers, Ugly Kid Joe, and our very own local heroes, Dead City Ruins. It was going to be one awesome riff packed night and this ’80s child was damn well looking forward to it.
Dead City Ruins took to the stage and right from the first chord, they delivered the goods. There’s something heart-warming watching a band you’ve seen in small pubs cross that line and make it to the bigger stages. Having seen Dead City Ruins a few times now, I have watched them become this professional troop of high energy rockers who are more than ready to rub shoulders with any professional act on any stage in any part of the world. They have the songs and the musicianship and it’s great to see one of our own be recognised by their peers as they received much praise with Ugly Kid Joe and Skid Row both inviting them on stage to join in during their sets. They have toured various parts of the world and are now well schooled in delivering a show that would fit nicely with any Aerosmith, Rival Sons, or Motley Crue that passes through town. They put on a stellar performance resulting in the perfect start to what was going to be one of the last rock n roll parties the likes of The Palace will ever see.
Having not been the biggest Ugly Kid Joe fan; honestly, I knew like three songs, I wasn’t sure what to expect but when these cats in the cradle took to the stage, they brought everything they had and gave a performance that was pure and energised. I was surprised to see guitarist Sonny Mayo (Sevendust / Amen / Snot) filling in for Dave Fortman, but along with fellow shredder Klaus Eichstadt they are a powerful force of wailing solos and riffs-a-plenty. I was hugely impressed and found myself really enjoying the band’s set. Not that I ever disliked the band either, I was just never into them but tonight I could see the appeal. These guys were a tight unit and it was more than obvious that they were enjoying themselves and the crowd loved them. And how could they not when they won over anyone who wasn’t already a fan (like me) with their bitchin’ cover of AccaDacca’s If You Want Blood (You Got It). A nice touch. They left the stage and everyone seemed pleased with what they just witnessed. I give their performance a thumbs up.
While waiting for Skid Row to take to the stage, standing next to me, I overheard a guy say to his buddy “I wonder if they’ll be any good without Sebastian Bach?” A valid question as I am sure I thought the same thing at least twice in the week leading up to this show. Well low and behold, Skid Row appeared on stage to a huge roar from the punters and they wasted no time getting down to business opening with Let’s Go (off their latest release, United World Rebellion Chapter One) to rile the crowd up. The classic Big Guns followed and the electricity in the air was just awesome. The band were bringing it and they sounded great. Here’s a group who have no doubt been dealing with press going on endlessly about Sebastian this, Sebastian that when all they want to do is just go out there and kick out the jams. Vocalist Johnny Solinger is doing the best he can with what he’s got and you know what? That’s all that matters, really. This is good time party music and sure, he’s not Sebastian and nor should he be. The idea that Skid Row should be stuck in some kind of space time continuum that revolves around Sebastian’s involvement in the band is kind of insulting to the talent that was on stage, tonight, doing what they do best which is rockin’ the f**k out. They played all the classic hits like Makin’ A Mess, Piece of Me, and 18 And Life, while also finding time to throw in some newer numbers like Kings of Demolition and Thick Is The Skin (ok, so that second one wasn’t exactly new but to most Skid Row fans, anything classed as ‘new’ is anything released in the last 14 years that doesn’t have Sebastian on vocals). The ballads like In A Darkened Room and the sweetly perfect I Remember You were definitely crowd favourites with the latter becoming Skid Row Karaoke and was lapped up by everyone in attendance. Bassist Rachel Bolan took over the mic and ran through their cover of the Ramones should-have-been-a-hit, Psycho Therapy, before finishing with Monkey Business (with bonus extended guitar solo) before leaving the stage for a well-deserved breather.
Moments later the band re-appeared and cranked out the second AC/DC cover of the night; a roaring rendition of Highway To Hell. It seemed like as good a song as any to finish the night with but nope, Skid Row still had some aces up their sleeves and busted out Slave To The Grind before finishing with the anthemic Youth Gone Wild. It seemed like everyone and anyone was invited on stage to singalong and the smiles on the faces of those around me proved that this show was really something else. Skid Row came, we saw and they kicked our asses. And good for them.
To be brutally honest, I was also one of those people that were wondering just how Skid Row were going to be in a Sebastian-less world and I have to admit that I was floored. They are a good time party band with great songs that have aged well 20+ years on. Tonight was nothing but good times and no hassles and that’s the way rock n roll should be.
Not to be a total downer on what was a really good night but it has to be said that this was also the last rock n roll show that I was ever going to see at The Palace and that makes me feel sad. I’ve seen a lot of great shows there over the years there so in closing, thanks for the memories. You rocked while you lasted.