Review by Ian Savage, photos by Russ Tierney
Straight from the outset there’s a bad vibe about tonight’s show. An afternoon rumour about total cancellation which turns out to have stemmed from technical issues (leading to the gig being moved to the Kasbah’s smaller room) results in the somewhat unnerving feeling of watching openers Venrez through a letterbox due to the low roof, wide stage and high crowd barrier. The band put in a spirited effort before an initially mostly-empty venue, those punters who have got inside in the few minutes between doors opening and the five-piece hitting the stage mainly preoccupied with getting their first beer in.
A grunge-edged hard rock outfit, Venrez set a few heads nodding as they settle in, tunes like ‘Unforeseen’ and ‘Nowhere’ nicely blending big rock riffs with their dual-vocal melodies. The two-singer thing is a little overused and loses its impact after a while, and some songs come across as formulaic (‘Sanctity’ being a case in point), whilst the band seem to have had the wind knocked out of their sails by the venue’s apparent failings. A fairly uninspiring opening, but perhaps forgivable given the circumstances.
By contrast, Hardcore Superstar go for the throat from the outset as if their lives depend on it. From opener ‘Moonshine’ they push out from the stage to the barriers with a fullness of sound belying their single-guitar lineup, frontman Jocke getting into the faces of the dozens by now sandwiched at the front. Making the reduced stage and venue dimensions work to their advantage and playing to the dynamic of the crowd, the Swedes proceed to tear up the room with a swagger worthy of classic era G’n’R and riffs that thunder through the Kasbah like runaway juggernauts.
HcSs are one of those outfits who don’t need to put on a veneer of ‘cool’ onstage, they simply are – so there’s no riff-grimaces and guitar-solo-string-bend-wincing, just grins almost from start to finish, as they power through a good-time rock ‘n’ roll show giving no mind to the reduced space except to comment that “this stage is smaller than my TV”.
Things are slowed down a touch around halfway through with ballad-ish ‘Long Time No See’, before the stops are again pulled out for ‘Dreamin’ In A Casket’ and ‘Wild Boys’, whilst ‘Someone Special’ exemplifies the crossover between hard rock riffage and pop-tastic melodies which should by now be seeing Hardcore Superstar playing far bigger places. They gun their engines towards the finish line with ‘Last Call For Alcohol’ and ‘We Don’t Celebrate Sundays’ like Bon Jovi with a switchblade and a bad attitude, and set a VERY high bar for the nominal headliners to overcome.
There have been few better rock set-openers than ‘Lit Up’ ever penned, though, so Buckcherry are more than equipped to take the bull by the horns. As ‘Rescue Me’ and ‘All Night Long’ roll out the audience are more than happy to be pulled along despite Josh clearly having problems with his voice; the guitar-heavy mix also doesn’t help as ‘So Far’ is turned a little sludgy and ‘Everything’ lacks the subtlety and texture which lifts it above ‘typical rock ballad’ on record.
The setlist will surprise no-one aware that Buckcherry are promoting a ‘Best Of’ offering – the hits come thick and fast and the assembled throng lap them up. ‘Next To You’ prompts mass fist-pumping (but disappointingly little bumping-and-grinding) and ‘Borderline’ introduces a little funkiness into proceedings, before a blast of AC/DC’s ‘Big Balls’ introduces dancefloor-filling hit ‘Crazy Bitch’ and the crowd collectively lose their shit.
The band wrap it up with ‘Out Of Line’ and ‘Dirty Mind’, sweat rising to the Kasbah’s lowered ceiling from every corner and voices across the room by now hoarse and struggling. A spirited effort in the face of difficult odds from all, but one in which only one band truly deserve to lift the trophy – tonight was Hardcore Superstar’s night, and everyone here knew it.
See more of Russ’s photos here: