Heart of Steel: Concert Reviews

Skid Row

Sunday, February 22, 2004
Ozone Nightclub
Surrey, British Columbia Canada

Review and live pictures by Lord of the Wasteland


When I interviewed Skid Row bassist Rachel Bolan back in December of 2003 , he mentioned that he had just got off the phone with a Canadian promoter minutes beforehand and was setting up a tour of the West Coast. Just a few days later, the band posted dates (including one here in a Vancouver suburb) on their official website, skidrow.com. I had seen the band three times before, twice with original vocalist Sebastian Bach and once with new singer Johnny Solinger on the KISS Farewell Tour. Still, it had been 3 ½ years since I saw the band perform live and with their excellent new album, THICKSKIN, now in stores, it was also a chance to hear some new material, as well.

The venue that was booked was a curious choice because The Ozone is not a place I would normally think of. It is housed in the same building with a strip club and is nowhere near the usual bustle of live concerts. Perhaps that is what brought out the crowds, because for a Sunday night, it was a full house! The stage is no bigger than 15' long and 10' wide and despite the rather cramped space, the band put on an excellent show.



The three opening acts were all local bands that more or less were brought in to fill space and sell drinks before the headliners got on stage. Due to some confusion and "technical difficulties" over getting into the show, I missed the first band, Wrecking Crew. They had just finished when I got inside and the changeover was being done for the second slot which was filled by Gladyss Patches, a four-piece who were more along the lines of hard rock/alternative. Not bad, but not really my type of music. The third act, Crystal Pistol, is L.A. sleaze rock circa 1988. Dressed head to toe in black with black hair, black eyeliner and an abundance of tattoos, these guys definitely took a wrong turn off the Sunset Strip. They certainly had a good stage presence and the crowd seemed pretty enthusiastic, but unfortunately they didn't win me over either. I was there to see one band and one band only: Skid Row!



At 10:30, the lights lowered and I jockeyed for position to snap off some decent pictures. Because the stage was so small and the floor was so packed, getting a steady shot was not an easy task. But for the love of metal, I persevered! The band opened with a killer version of "Slave To The Grind" and kept the nostalgia flowing with "Piece of Me" and "Makin' A Mess," before touching on new material with "New Generation" from THICKSKIN. As promised, the band didn't rely heavily on the new stuff but did throw in four tracks from the new CD in their 90-minute, 14-song set. "18 And Life" and "I Remember You" got the best reception, as many in attendance seemed to know Skid Row solely from the videos played on the music stations. I would be willing to bet that a good chunk of the audience didn't even realize that it wasn't the same guy singing on stage as was in the songs they knew! That aside, the crowd was very enthusiastic, and a few of us in the crowd were even able to sing along to new tracks like "Ghost" and "Thick Is The Skin." The band played BOTH versions of "I Remember You," the familiar version from their 1989 debut and the re-recorded punk version retitled as "I Remember You Two" from THICKSKIN. A few surprises were included such as The Ramones cover, "Psycho Therapy," from their 1992 E.P., B-SIDES OURSELVES and "Beat Yourself Blind" from 1995's SUBHUMAN RACE.



The band seemed pretty excited to be playing to such a packed house and wild-eyed guitarist Scotti Hill even hopped into the crowd for some drinking hijinks. Dave "Snake" Sabo is more reserved than his counterpart on the six-string, but was still able to trade some first-rate licks. Solinger was in fine form hitting the highs and lows and playing the crowd for all we were worth. His statement that "Surrey belongs alongside major metal cities like Madrid, Paris…" was a bit of a stretch, though! Up close, Rachel Bolan now bears a striking resemblance in the face to the actor, Dennis Quaid, but man can he hit that bass! I was a bit puzzled over who was behind the drum kit, though. Supposedly, Phil Varone left the band in late-December citing "personal reasons" and was quietly replaced by Tim DiDuro. Now I was up pretty close and it sure looked like Varone behind the kit! Not sure what's going on there?!?! This was a great show and a real treat to see the band up close and personal in such a small club. Even though Skid Row's members are all in their mid-30s, they still kick out "Youth Gone Wild" with a youthful vengeance.

Slave To The Grind
Piece Of Me
Makin' A Mess
New Generation
18 And Life
Monkey Business
I Remember You Two
Get The Fuck Out
Beat Yourself Blind
Psycho Therapy
I Remember You
Thick Is The Skin
Youth Gone Wild

**"Lamb" was on the setlist but due to a midnight curfew, got dropped.

Gladyss Patches-Official - www.gladysspatches.com
Crystal Pistol-Official  - www.crystalpistol.com
Skid Row-Official www.skidrow.com