The Fuel Room at Austin’s Saloon and Eatery
March 22, 2007
Review and Pics by J.M.
On Thursday March 22, 2007 Vince Neil and his band played what appeared to be a sold-out show at Austin’s Saloon and Eatery, a restaurant/bar/hall located in Libertyville, Illinois, about 30 miles northwest of Chicago. What immediately strikes you upon entering Austin’s is that it is not the type of place you’d expect to see potential heavy metal mayhem. Austin’s is divided into three parts – the dining room, the bar/restaurant, and the Fuel Room. The Fuel Room, where the gigs are performed, is an intimate room with high ceilings, a bar area and a balcony.
Prior to the opening band, young ladies dressed in blue hot-pants walked through the audience handing out free samples of Vince Neil’s new Tres Rios tequila (www.vincevineyards.com). Vince is promoting his tequila on this tour, and has been doing a number of in-store signings at liquor stores. The day after the show I had a chance to head to Sam’s Liquors in Chicago for his in-store appearance there. Vince was in great spirits, and was accommodating to the requests of all who came to meet him (and buy his booze, of course!).
The opening band was a local cover band called F-N-R, or Fuckin’ Rock Band (www.myspace.com/fuckinrockband). They started out their set with a great rendition of Guns N’ Roses’ Nightrain. The band was tight and the singer worked well with the crowd. Other covers included “Mr. Brownstone”, Tesla’s “Modern Day Cowboy”, Velvet Revolver’s “Slither”, Phil Collins’ “In The Air Tonight”, and Def Leppard’s “Foolin’”
FNR left the stage around 10:00pm and the wait for Vince began. Around 10:30pm the crowd started getting a bit restless. The stage-techs kept coming on stage, constantly checking the instruments – perhaps just to calm the audience. At around 10:50 Vince made his entrance, and he started out strong. Vince looked pretty good, sporting an oversized black t-shirt and black leather pants. Vince’s band features Dana Strum (Slaughter, Vinnie Vincent Invasion) on bass, Jeff Blando (Slaughter, Saigon Kick) on guitar and Will Hunt (Tommy Lee, Dark New Day, Skrape) on drums. For those who are curious, Dana Strum had a cameo as the guitar store clerk on Wayne’s World who stopped Wayne from playing “Stairway to Heaven.” Anyway, they started out with a powerful rendition of “Live Wire.” Vince was in strong voice and high spirits. Having seen him with the Crüe in October, and having heard numerous audience recordings of recent shows, I know that Vince occasionally struggles to hit the notes. To be fair, when I saw him in October he had already been on the road for several months, and even when Vince is lacking in vocal power, he makes up for it in liveliness. This night at Austin’s, however, there was no need to worry; it was his first show of the tour, and he sounded well rested. The second song of the evening was “Piece Of Your Action.” It was a great surprise and it energized an already excited crowd. He continued on through the evening with Mötley Crüe classics.
Vince also played guitar (both acoustic and electric) on a few songs throughout the show; however it was barely audible. Regardless, Vince happens to be a master at flicking guitar picks into the audience, and this is reason enough for him to pick up a six string. Early in the evening he mentioned that he would be playing Mötley Crüe tunes, covers, and solo material; unfortunately we never received the latter (“Set Me Free” from Exposed was listed on the setlist; however, it was not performed).
About half way through the show Vince took a break and Jeff Blando took the lead on a “War Pigs / Whole Lotta Love” medley. It was nice to hear these songs, but if I had my choice, I’d have preferred to hear Vince sing another song. Vince closed off the set with “Looks That Kill” and came up for an encore of “Teaser,” the Tommy Bolin tune that Mötley Crüe originally recorded for the Make a Difference Foundation – Stairway to Heaven – Highway to Hell benefit album back in 1989. Overall it was a great night. It is not everyday that you are able to see a legend like Vince Neil in such an intimate setting. If he comes to your area, I highly recommend checking out the show, going to an in-store appearance, and maybe even buying a bottle of his tequila – I’m drinking mine right now.
Piece of Your Action
Rock and Roll (Led Zeppelin)
Don’t Go Away Mad
Same Ol’ Situation
Kickstart My Heart
War Pigs / Whole Lotta Love (Jeff Blando lead vocals)
Girls, Girls, Girls
Looks That Kill
Thanks to John at ARM Management