Reviewed by Paul Quinton
To paraphrase one of her own songs, it has been a bit of a rocket ride for Chez Kane in the last couple of years, from being spotted by Frontiers Records and Crazy Lixx frontman Danny Rexon, after posting covers on Youtube during the early parts of the lockdown, to releasing two hugely well received studio albums in the space of 18 months, with the latest one Powerzone, even starting to feature in independent and rock charts in the US and Japan, it’s been the sort of rise that some might call meteoric. And why not? Her particular brand of 80’s radio rock is hugely infectious, and if you’re listening to it in the car, it’s almost compulsory to wind the window down and blast it out.
This date at the Tivoli was the second in her debut headlining UK tour, which had opened in London the previous night and support on the night was provided by Switzerland’s own BLACK DIAMONDS. In their bios and previous reviews there’s been a lot of comparisons to the likes of early Motley Crue, and their name suggests an obvious Kiss influence, not to mention bass player Andi Barrel’s headband and sequin jacket, but there’s something more about the band, a definite glam/punk influence that brings to mind the great Hanoi Rocks, musically at least. They highlighted songs from their latest, fourth, album No Tell Hotel, and definitely hit the stage running, with the title track of the album and trying to cover every inch of the stage, with even drummer Manu coming to the edge of the stage to egg the crowd on. Due to guitarist Chris Johnson being unavailable for the early part of the tour, they’d had to bring in a stand in, Mike HB, who had apparently played the show the previous night without rehearsal,and if you weren’t familiar with the band before tonight, you genuinely wouldn’t have known there was a stand in, he did such a good job. Some of their songs did hint at veering away from the glam-punk attack that dominated the start of their set, but there’s a good live band here, well worth checking out.
After seeing CHEZ KANE’s support slot on the Crazy Lixx tour earlier this year, and with a new album’s worth of songs to play, it felt slightly odd that that she opted to start the set with one of the more restrained songs, ‘I Can’t Have You’. It’s not quite a ballad, but equally not quite the explosive start that might have been expected, and with the sound being slightly wonky for the first couple of songs, with the guitar levels not settling down at all, which could have affected the whole set. However, the one-two punch of two songs from the debut, ‘’Too Late For Love’ and the big chorus of ‘All of It’ soon increased the tempo, the sound settled down, and the set really caught fire. It was split almost equally between the two albums, with the band keeping the pace up in the first half with a minimum of between song chat. The infectious blend of her vocals, bringing the likes of Pat Benatar, Vixen and Robin Beck very strongly to mind, and a really strong and tight band , can make for an irresistible force.
In putting her band together, Chez has opted for a twin guitar line up, with the lead parts split evenly between Harry Scott Elliott, who played with her and her sisters in Kane’d, and James Ready. Since those early days, Harry really seems to have grown in stature, and it will be fascinating to see how he fits into the mighty Tyketto, as he steps into Chris Green’s shoes when the band tour next year. Like Black Diamonds, Chez’s band also had to bring in a substitute shortly before the tour, with James’ brother Keiron having to step in on bass at short notice. He kept to the back mainly, apart from in the encore, but did a good steady job holding down the bottom end.
There was an instrumental break after ‘Better Than Love’, while Chez indulged in a costume change, then it was rockers all the way, including the title track of the new album, a terrific ‘Ball and Chain’, which is the sort of song you wish Bon Jovi were recording thee days, and an even better ‘Rocket on the Radio to close the main set. The encore was a cover of Mr Big’s ‘Daddy, Brother, Lover, Little Boy’, which again really galloped along, and even drew young Keiron to the edge of the stage.
If I have a criticism of what was unarguably a terrific show, it’s that, after the comparatively gentler opening, it was full-on all the way, with Chez seeming to be singing at the top of her range for every song, so perhaps the band might consider pacing things a little, after all, all the great bands in this genre had a big ballad in the set. As the tour goes on, though, and the band get road tested, this will be some show.
Chez’s UK tour concludes with a date at the Station in Cannock on November 20th. Anyone with a taste for 80s rock should give it a try, you might even be able to say you saw a big rock star when she was playing the clubs.