Review by Paul Davis, Photos by Lisa Billingham
As bands look at different ways to get their music out there, Skid Row have opted to release a series of EPs rather than a full length album. The second EP Rise Of The Damnation Army, United World Rebellion: Chapter Two has just been released and sees the band on another UK tour. As they have been regular visitors in recent times this tour doesn’t just focus on major cities, with visits to rock ‘n’ roll outposts like Wakefield, Buckley and Nuneaton as well as Stourbridge.
A late arrival meant missing some of the set by openers The Last Vegas but it was enough to be impressed. Not many bands from Chicago can make this claim but it’s their second visit to Stourbridge this year and as such they seem to have a few fans here already. With support slots with Buckcherry and Motley Crue in the past, as well as the Nikki Sixx seal of approval it’s no surprise that The Last Vegas bring a little glam and sleaze to Stourbridge. Frontman Chad Cherry has been compared to Brian Johnson and Tom Keifer but you can throw Steven Tyler into that mix too. Now that these guys have made their first UK appearances it would be good to see them back in 2015. One for the festivals maybe?
Sister from Sweden then served up some sleazy, punky rock ‘n’ roll with the attitude of early GnR. Touring their second album Disguised Vultures they arrive on stage with a masked frontman while other members of the band are sporting corpsepaint; it’s a band with a striking image. When Jamie (vocals) asks the crowd to move forward and don’t be afraid, it appears that some are. There’s some dark lyrics, particularly on ‘Slay Yourself’. (Slay Yourself for me, do the world a favour)
After Sister had got the crowd warmed up, ‘Blitzkrieg Bop’ rings out across the venue and you know it’s almost time for Skid Row. Throughout the show the band switch between ‘old school’ and ‘new school’ Skid Row, the quality of the recent material ensures this is more than just a nostalgia trip.
If you don’t go to see Skid Row anymore because of the absence of a certain someone, then tonight you missed out. Regardless of who is up front singing the songs, Dave ‘Snake’ Sabo, Rachel Bolan and Scotti Hill remain as the beating heart of Skid Row while Johnny Solinger has been singing these songs for fifteen years now.
From the ‘new school’ Skid Row we hear the set opener ‘Let’s Go’, as well as ‘Give It The Gun’ and ‘Kings Of Demolition’ while ‘Piece Of Me’, ‘Big Guns’ and ‘Riot Act’ are given the rousing reception that you would expect. ’18 And Life’ and ‘I Remember You’ are sang word perfect by the crowd packed in to this small venue.
After Scotti Hill had taken centre stage during ‘In A Darkened Room’, Rachel Bolan took his turn in the spotlight. He asks to see devils horns raised and gives thanks for Ronnie James Dio. The great and much missed metal legend’s name is chanted by the crowd. Bolan, still with the familiar nose to ear chain in place, says it would be perfect if they had a Dio cover lined up. It is, however, ‘Psycho Therapy’ by The Ramones that he sings before the return of Solinger.
The encore includes new school, old school and a cover of Queen’s ‘We Will Rock You’ thrown in too. The show ends the only way it could, with ‘Youth Gone Wild’ taking the roof off The River Rooms. A good time was had by all, from the 17 year old at her first rock show, the young rocker who ended up on stage with Scotti Hill and the forty-somethings who were there back in the day. Roll on Chapter Three.