Skid Row – Fibbers, 10/04/13

Photos included in this posting were taken by Marc McGarraghy, whose work can be found on Facebook or the Yellow Mustang website. Thanks, as always, go to him for allowing me to use them.

I often cite “heavy metal” as the musical genre I first started listening to in my formative years at secondary school. In reality, even if you discount the facts that a) a lot of the bands I was listening to were probably more rock than metal and b) I never really got into the heavier stuff of the time (AC/DC and Motorhead, for example), it was more of a dalliance before my friends ditched “heavy metal” for other genres and I decided that, rather than follow the crowd, I would simply like what I liked. In between then and now, I lost track of the genre and although there are still some examples in my CD collection, they tend to be older albums from established bands. Morpheus Rising, with their Iron Maiden influences, have piqued my interest recently but not only do I know little about which other bands are out there but, before a brief mention in AOR magazine (two issues of which I bought before realising that adding yet another magazine to an already crowded reading schedule was a non-starter), I hadn’t realised that tonight’s headliners weren’t, in fact, a punk band. In fact, it was only when reading up on them before tonight’s gig that I found out they were American…

All this is basically a precursor to say that the following review probably comes from even more of a position of ignorance than previous ones.

Buffalo Summer were already on stage, and Fibbers already pretty crowded, when I arrived. Hailing from South Wales, they have been compared to the likes of Led Zeppelin, Lynyrd Skynyrd and Free (as well as Stillwater, from the film Almost Famous). The impression I got was the blues-based rock of Whitesnake, with Andrew Hunt’s vocals definitely having a feel of David Coverdale. All the rock staples were present – the guitar solo of A Horse Called Freedom, a pounding drum-line on song that I didn’t catch the title of, thumping bass. I’m guessing that most, if not all, of the six song set came from the band’s self-titled debut album but Down To The River and Typhoid Mary were the only other titles I managed to hear. Those six songs, however, were enough to add that album to my wish list. The only criticism I have is that, contrary to some quotes I have seen, there didn’t seem to be much of a stage presence. Darren King on bass hardly moved and, towards the end of the set, Andrew Hunt looked, from where I was standing, slightly disinterested, wandering across the stage rather than prowling across it. Still that didn’t detract from the overall performance.

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Andrew Hunt and Darren King – Buffalo Summer

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By the time I Am I had taken to the stage we had moved much closer to the front. Both Rob (a very occasional gig-buddy) and I had the same thoughts when the band members started off with their backs to the audience – firstly, that this foreboded something which should be spectacular and secondly that, as a certain mobile device advert (which I seen for the first time just the night before) said, “wouldn’t they sound better facing the audience?”. Eventually they did turn round and vocalist ZP Theart joined them on stage. Despite the initially grinding guitar riff, a touch of “cookie monster” backing vocals from bass-player Neil Salmon and what seemed to be problems with Theart’s microphone (his vocals were barely audible, let alone being swamped by the music) theirs was more of an American style AOR sound and I was surprised to find out afterwards that the band come from the UK, albeit with members from the USA and Poland. Theart is, apparently well known as the frontman for Dragonforce and has previously performed in front of crowds of up to 85,000. Fibbers might have been filling rapidly, but there was nowhere near that number in tonight’s crowd. Not that that seemed to make any difference to Theart, who came across as a consummate showman, taking smiling ownership of the stage and, once the microphone issues had been fixed, producing some top-notch vocals. Again, most of the track came from the band’s debut album – Event Horizon – the hard rock of Cross The Line was followed by the slower Stay A While. Pave The Way featured some fantastic twin guitar work from Jacob Ziemba and Jake Thorsen, while Kiss Of Judas featured the band at their heaviest. Through all these, Theart had been explaining that it was OK that the crowd weren’t familiar with the band’s music as it was probably the first time we had heard it, but that there was something coming up that we would know and that would get the crowd going. He was right – covering John Farnham’s 1986 classic You’re The Voice might have seemed a strange choice, but it certainly got most of the crowd singing along and brought them to life for the set-ending Silent Genocide. Buffalo Summer had set this evening’s bar quite high. I Am I rose to the challenge and are easily one of the best support acts I have ever seen.

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Jacob Ziemba, Phil Martini and ZP Theart – I Am I

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By the time Skid Row took to the stage, Fibbers was as full as I have ever seen it and the crowd were pushing forward. Having not quite made it to the very front, I found myself pinned in, next to what was inevitable going to be the mosh-pit, with little chance of being able to take any notes during the performance. Having already had water thrown over me by Theart during I Am I’s set, I also found myself splashed from behind by what I assume (hope…) was beer. The band came on to, or just after, a rendition of Blitzkrieg Bop. “That’s the last song you’ll know,” quipped my gig buddy. He was right. Heavier than both support acts the band currently boasts three original members, with Rachel Bolan (bass), Dave Sabo and Scotti Hill (guitars), being joined by Rob Hammersmith on drums and vocalist Johnny Solinger. The latter proclaimed how great it was to be back in York after so long, until Bolan, replete with chain connecting nose to ear, eventually asked whether they had played here before only to be told by the crowd that they hadn’t. Nobody seemed embarrassed. Further humour came when Sabo took to the microphone for a few words, only to be drowned out the crowd’s chant of, “Yorkshire, Yorkshire”. “I don’t even know what that means,” he admitted when the chant subsided. It was getting harder and harder to concentrate on the music as I tried to avoid drunken, overweight, middle-aged men throwing themselves around the pit and, in one case, nearly skittling me over after falling at my feet – the bouncer had his work cut out with that one. Let’s Go, the first of two tracks to be played from United World Rebellion, the band’s new EP (the other was Kings Of Demolition) was hard and rocky, but mixed with more melodic interludes. The softer acoustic start of power ballad I Remember You seemed to bring the couple in front of me, who had been having a loud row before the set started, back together as the woman sang along to her partner. One song, I can’t remember which didn’t so much feature a guitar duet as a guitar duel, with Sabo and the pale, eye-linered Hill, with his Joker-like grin, playing off each other as much as playing together. Solinger, sporting Axl Rose style bandana and, throughout most of the set, sunglasses, was as confident a frontman as Theart had been, flashing devil’s horns symbols to the crowd while belting out the lyrics during a set comprised of songs from most of the band’s back catalogue (only 2006’s relatively poorly received Revolutions Per Minute wasn’t represented), as well as the two tracks from the forthcoming EP and Psycho Therapy, a Ramones cover performed by Bolan. The evening was brought to a close with a three song encore which ended with the anthemic, crowd-pleasing Youth Gone Wild.

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Johnny Solinger, Rachel Bolan, Scotti Hill – Skid Row

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Despite knowing nothing about the new bands and my unfamiliarity with Skid Row’s material, tonight’s gig seemed to take me back to the days, nearly thirty years ago, when I went to Queen’s Hall in Leeds to see such acts as Ozzy, Dio and Whitesnake. At the time, as I was just getting into music, I generally only knew a handful of tracks from the headliners and, usually, nothing from whoever was supporting. (In fact, I can only remember one support act from the time – Great White – and the feeling that they weren’t very good.) The only difference tonight was that I would probably say I enjoyed one of the supports, I Am I, more than I did the headliners.

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About Ian

Regular gig-goer in York, both to see local and touring bands. Huge music fan, with more CDs than my wife thinks any one person should own. I also collect American comics, read a lot of SF and fantasy and am a season-ticket holder at Leeds United.
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