@ O2 Islington Academy
13th April 2013
Review by Anna Dumpe
Photography by Daniel Gray
If you consider yourself a fan of 80’s rock’n’roll, then nothing can possibly seem better than a chance to see Skid Row play a sold-out show at the London’s O2 Academy Islington. Yes, the same Skid Row that many years ago toured the world with Guns N’Roses and released songs like “Youth Gone Wild” and “18 and Life” that once were soundtracks for a whole different generation.
What makes things even better is that tonight is a Saturday night, everyone seems to be up for a party and Skid Row have rolled into town bringing two great opening acts with them.
The venue is filling up quite fast as retro rockers Buffalo Summer kick things off with a convincing set of blues infused rock’n’roll. They deliver an entertaining set and manage to keep the crowd’s attention until they’ve hit the last chord, which can be such a crucial thing for the opening band.
First of all, they attract the audience with their retro image that symbolizes flower power bringing back the bell-bottom jeans and lots of hair.
Secondly and most importantly, their sound incorporates classic blues rock elements that we all love to associate with such bands like Led Zeppelin, The Black Crowes and more recently – Rival Sons. And to make it even more exciting, they throw in some Lynyrd Skynyrd-worthy southern rock elements and spectacular guitar work.
Songs that stand out are “A Horse Called Freedom” and “Down to the River” sounding like the grooviest and sexiest blues classic to get the crowd singing along.
Buffalo Summer deliver a charismatic performance and it is hard to believe that they are just an up-and-coming band from South Wales. We can assure that you will be hearing more of Buffalo Summer in the near future and we highly recommend you to check out their self-titled debut for some top quality 70’s groove.
Next ones up are Londoners I Am I.
They develop a great connection with the crowd as soon as they’ve hit the stage opening with “In the Air Tonight” and keep it up throughout their performance. Delivering a melodic set with technical power metal elements, they are completely different to Buffalo Summer, which makes tonight’s show a lot more diverse than expected.
It is more than obvious that their singer ZP Theart has had a previous front-man experience as the singer for Dragonforce, which has gained him a lot of confidence and ability to manipulate the crowd no matter what size. As well as that, it has become inevitable that I Am I are constantly being compared to Dragonforce. I Am I sound is still very technical and full of epic effects and choruses, but it is much more emotion-driven and melodic.
There are two highlights that mark I Am I performance tonight. First one is a cover version of John Farnham’s “You’re the Voice”, which has a chorus epic enough to cheer up every single person in the room. So does a comic accident that breaks out in the middle of the set because of ZP Theart’s habit to keep splashing water all over the crowd, when someone in the front row makes a point by opening an umbrella.
It instantly instigates a humorous scene and Theart is forced to burst into laughter in the middle of the song.
Finally it is time for Skid Row to take the stage with “Blitzkrieg Bop” by Ramones playing in the background, which can only be a good way to start a sold-out show in London.
As much as everyone in the audience are happy to see Skid Row for what they are today with Johnny Solinger taking care of vocals for the past 14 years, we still hope for a classic Skid Row set with all our favourite songs from Sebastian Bach era.Tonight Skid Row start their set by getting straight to the point and blasting out classic “Slave to the Grind” that instantly raises the energy level in the room to the max.
The start of the set is unexpectedly dynamic and the crowd seems to get more and more excited with each song. Classics like “Big Guns”, “Piece of Me”, “18 and Life” are real crowd pleasers and instantly turns the whole place into a sing-along party.
Skid Row manage to find the perfect balance between playing the obvious classics that everyone wants to hear and promoting new material off their new EP United World Rebellion – Chapter One that is due to be released on May 27 with two UK bonus tracks.
Tonight the new material is well accepted by the crowd and sounds more than promising. “Let’s Go” and “Kings of Demolition” are raw, energy-driven and pumping tracks to mark the new EP as great new chapter in Skid Row’s career.
When it finally feels like it does not get any better, Skid Row throw in another surprise when Rachel Bolan (bass) takes over the vocals for a cover version of “Psycho Therapy” by Ramones that they once released on B-Side Ourselves EP. The whole place goes nuts. But what really makes a Skid Row show is “I Remember You” – one of greatest love ballads of all time. As cheesy as it sometimes may seem, it is and always will be a great song and tonight it lifts the roof off, rips our hearts out and, once again, proves that you just can’t do anything about a good ballad.
The band seem really grateful to be playing a sold-out London show and “Youth Gone Wild”, which is saved for the encore, turns into a celebration where Buffalo Summer and I Am I join Skid Row on stage to properly commemorate the ending of such a successful tour.
Tonight’s show has had a real positive affection, as the crowd is left satisfied and catching for breath. Skid Row delivered an energetic performance of all our favourite songs and even more. If before seeing this show someone might have doubted the quality of Skid Row’s performance these days, then any doubts were soon blown away.
Make sure you check out the new EP United World Rebellion – Chapter One, as it really might be the record to kick things off for Skid Row once again.
Slave To The Grind
Piece Of Me
18 And Life
Makin’ A Mess
In A Darkened Room
Kings Of Demolition
I Remember You
Thick Is The Skin
Get The Fuck Out
Youth Gone Wild