Review by Ian Savage, Photos by Russ Powney & Mark Lloyd
A 6:30pm door time combines with Friday traffic and problems with passes to ensure that your faithful MR reviewer misses Aussie openers Dead City Ruins entirely. An impromptu chat with their frontman and a quick listen to debut album ‘Midnight Killer’ ensures that they won’t be missed again though – truly nice guys with a killer work ethic who seem genuinely humbled to be on this trip. Next time, Antipodean blokes.
As Ugly Kid Joe tear onstage the by-now capacity crowd go absolutely spare (and collectively raise wonder as to exactly how this show fit into the considerably smaller Rugby Vault two nights before). From the off frontman Whitfield Crane has the audience in the palm of his hand, directing chorus chants from different sections and orchestrating cheers panto-style as the band power through a choice selection of cuts from their first two albums.
By halfway through UKJ clearly feel that the crowd are onside enough to unleash a one-two punch from latest offering ‘Stairway to Hell’ (‘No-One Survives’ and ‘Devil’s Paradise’), neither of which feels the slightest bit out of place. There’s a definite ’30-something’ vibe to the crowd (making MR’s neoteric, vibrant team feel decidedly youthful) and so when 90s mega-hits ‘Cats In The Cradle’ and ‘Everything About You’ roll around they somehow find another notch of appreciation to crank it up to.
The band round off a sterling set with a surprising-yet-satisfying version of ‘Ace Of Spades’, the sound out-front massive enough to shake the filaments in the bar’s lightbulbs with every kick drum thump and bodies bouncing across the front third of the dancefloor. This was a bunch of guys in their mid-40s showing the new guard EXACTLY how a great live show is done, and setting the bar for the ‘headliners’ that little bit higher.
As they emerge following a blast of ‘Blitzkrieg Bop’ to a howling air-raid siren, Skid Row aptly explode into new tune ‘Let’s Go’, an initially dodgy mix (leaving Rachel Bolan’s vocal practically inaudible) singularly failing to throw them off-course. The band waste no time in rolling out the ‘Big Guns’, heralding a cavalcade of sleaze rock gold – ‘Makin’ A Mess’, ‘Piece Of Me’, ’18 And Life’, they’re all here, and the crowd respond by going appropriately apeshit.
“It’s been 24 years since the first Skid Row album and you’re still here, God bless you all – there is no Skid Row without Nottingham, England!” – the sentiment from Johnny Solinger is as cheesy as a Dominoes kitchen floor but clearly heartfelt, and helps newer material like ‘Kings Of The Demolition’ and ‘This Is Killing Me’ slot comfortably in alongside the classics. The acoustic guitars come out for ‘I Remember You’ and prompt a mass sing-along with more than one moist set of eyes across the venue.
Pulling the same ‘encore-without-leaving-the-
See more of Russ’s photos here
And Mark’s photos from Wolverhampton here;