European Tour 2018 Scandinavian leg
Dirty Thrills – support act
Kulturbolaget, Malmo, Sweden
9/5 – 2018
Live review and pictures by: Anders Sandvall
Skid Row hasn’t been active when it comes to releasing albums recently, the band’s latest EP came out in 2014 and their last full length album arrived in 2006. However, the band is now out on tour through Europe that lasted through April/May 2018. With them is new singer ZP Theart (ex-Dragonforce). This tour consisted mainly of dates in Germany but also Scandinavia and a few other countries. The Scandinavian leg of the tour began in Malmo, Sweden and then continued to Norway and Finland. For the Scandinavian leg, Dirty Thrills joined as support act (in Germany it was a band called Double Crush Syndrome). As so many other bands today, Skid Row hosted an expensive meet and greet for fans. The most expensive package costed 115 Euro with a slightly cheaper one available at 90 Euro, which is crazy expensive. Besides meeting the band, the fans could attend the sound check, get a photo with the band, a poster, and a T-shirt. In my opinion it’s a sad trend that bands are charging money from the fans in order to meet them. After all, aren’t the fans paying the band’s rent by buying their albums and attending shows?
I thought the show was almost sold out but I was wrong, there were tickets left and maybe many have lost interest in the band since Sebastian Bach isn’t involved anymore. I was outside the venue about 20 minutes before the doors opened at 7 o clock and a shorter line had formed outside the club when it was time to enter. As always I checked if there was a photo pit, which there wasn’t, and I knew it was going to be a bit hard to take pictures. I took a short look at the merchandise and could see that the band sold T-shirts, signed posters, and drum skins. Everything was overpriced and I wondered who would buy all this expensive stuff.
Nothing but a mic stand, drums, and other gear was standing on stage and it still looked pretty crowded up there. Time went pretty fast and suddenly the clock struck 8 and it was time to kick off the night.
“I’ll Be With You” opened the evening and singer James ran around on stage from the very start. He had problems standing still for any length of time during the show. He thanked the crowd for the applause and asked if the fans were doing fine this night. “Go Slow” and “Hanging Around” followed. The band’s classic British rock n’ roll music included influences of progressive rock as well as blues (think of bands like Free and Bad Company and you’ll know what I’m talking about). The band experienced some problems with the guitars but it was quickly solved and the show could proceed. James asked if the fans were ready to hear Skid Row and fired off the next song in “No Resolve”. Personally I didn’t find the music attractive at all; I thought the songs felt pretty standard and boring and James didn’t seem to know how to take on a crowd. Bass player Plows tried to look cool but didn’t pull it off. The line up in the band is:
Louis James – lead vocals
Jack Fawdry – guitar
Steve Corrigan – drums
Aaron Plows – bass
The band didn’t appear as a unit, instead it felt like everyone was doing their own thing and it wasn’t only me that got tired of the band as many in the crowd went over to the bar instead of watching the show. James tried his best to have the crowd scream at his command but that didn’t go too well. He said it was time to do a cover. When someone in the crowd screamed “which cover?”, he replied with, “Well, I won’t tell you, you’re soon going to hear it.” The band did a version of Jimi Hendrix’s “Foxy Lady” which woke up the crowd. In the middle of the song James’ mic stopped functioning and he grabbed Fawdry’s mic instead. Then he also experienced trouble with that mic and had to head over to drummer Corrigan and use his gear. It was a bit crowded behind the drums to say the least. The song turned into “Law Man” and it felt like they did a medley of the two songs. The guys went back to “Foxy Lady” during which the band still had problems with the mics. James asked if the band could play one more song for the crowd and after a shorter intro by Fawdry it was time for “The Brave”. Luckily that was the final song for the band and the guys thanked the fans and walked off the stage.
The show lasted for 40 long minutes and it was time I’ll never get back. As you already probably realized, Dirty Thrills was nothing for me and I thought every song was a bore. The poor lights and the technical problems didn’t help either and the band had nothing in common musically with the headline act.
I’ll Be With You
Foxy Lady (The Jimi Hendrix Experience)
Skid Row’s gear made its way up on stage pretty fast and I could see a huge backdrop portraying the band name, along with the drum kit and some speakers. On each side of the stage the American flag hung and that was about it regarding the backline. To be honest it’s been quite a while since the band’s glory days and the fans that arrived to the club consisted mostly of middle aged folks (like me, ha ha) that were probably in their prime when Skid Row reached success. At 9 the intro music, “Blitzkrieg Bop”, began. It was time for the legendary US sleaze act Skid Row to enter the stage.
As soon as the band showed up on stage they kicked off the night with the epic “Slave to the Grind”, that woke up the crowd as the fans sang along and jumped up and down. Singer ZP Theart asked if the fans were ready for some fun and fired off “Sweet Little Sister”. He moved around the stage during the entire show with the rest of the band beside him. The line up in the band today consists of:
ZP Theart – lead vocals
Rob Hammersmith – drums
Scotti Hill – guitar
Rachel Bolan – bass
Dave “The Snake” Sabo – guitar
The fans barely had time to catch their breath as the show continued with “Piece of Me” and the band had already now fired off a few classic tunes early in the show. Theart grabbed a bottle of water and squirting it out on the fans. He seemed to be a bit nervous on stage, having trouble deciding what to do and say between the songs. It felt like he hadn’t really grown into the role as front man yet. The rest of the band felt solid and tight as a unit and it was fun to see my old heroes on stage again. “Livin’ on a Chain Gang”, taken from the legendary album SLAVE TO THE GRIND, followed and so far the band only played older songs. Theart wanted to hear everyone sing along with him in “Big Guns”, which the fans did instantly. The guys at the front of the stage worked hard to get the crowd going and the fans seemed to be having just as a good time as the band. “Are you ready to make a mess with us now?”, the singer asked and it was time for “Makin’ a Mess” which was another song taken from the debut album, produced by Michael Wagner and which sold 5x platinum. Right after that came “Rattlesnake Shake “.
Again, it felt like Theart didn’t really belong in the band; he felt a little insecure and lacked the presence of previous singer Johnny Solinger who was a better fit for the band in my opinion. I know that Tony Harnell was in the band for a short while but he never toured with the guys in Europe so I didn’t see him in action with Skid Row. However it’s hard not to compare every singer in the band with Sebastian Bach who, in my eyes, is the only true singer in Skid Row. Theart now said, “it’s time to take it a little slower, let’s give it up for Rachel Bolan.” Bolan took the mic that said the band had been out looking at the city of Malmo last night when they had some time off. “It’s a really beautiful and clean town you guys have, rock n’ roll is alive in Malmo!”, Bolan shouted. “I have looked around in the club and have seen all the great bands that have performed here through the years; thanks for supporting the band for 40 years, thanks for sticking with us through thick and thin that means a lot for us and we appreciate your support so much.”
“The next song we dedicate to Johnny, Dee Dee and Joey Ramone, here is “Psycho Therapy”. While Bolan spoke, Theart walked off stage and returned when it was time to sing again. The band did a great version of the song; I have always liked their interpretation. A roadie came out with an acoustic guitar for Sabo and it was time for “Quicksand Jesus”. “Thanks for being here tonight”, he said, “let’s give a hand for our drummer Rob Hammersmith who has been in the band for 8 years now.” Sabo wanted the fans to boo for him, he asked them to do that because then he felt like home he said and laughed. “OK, now let’s get serious”, he said, “I know it’s a Wednesday night and you all are here watching us even though you might have more important things to do at home like being with your families. Thanks for being here and supporting us like you have done for 40 years now. It means the world to us that you all are here tonight with us.” It felt like he really meant what he was saying and the same went for Bolan when he held his speech. The guys felt honest when they thanked the fans and it’s so nice to see humble musicians express their gratitude for the fans. “Now Malmo”, Sabo continued “it’s time for some “Monkey Business”. Sabo and Hill entered the ramp in the middle of the song coming closer to the fans and together they threw a guitar duel between them.
Theart thanked the fans and the band walked off the stage. I looked at my watch and saw that the band only had been on stage for one hour. The fans weren’t ready to part ways with the band just yet and shouted for encores. Thunder and rain was heard from the speakers and a chair was taken out for Sabo. The band returned and it was time for the ballad “I Remember You”. Theart began to sing but the fans took over and sang the first verse. “We are the Damned” followed straight away, which was the only more current song this night. It’s taken from the EP RISE OF THE DAMNATION ARMY – UNITED WORLD REBELLION CHAPTER TWO. The band walked off stage for a short while, then Theart came back and thanked the fans again, saying the band performed in Germany before they came to Sweden and that the German fans really could scream loud. “Can you beat them Sweden?” He had the fans scream for him a couple of times after which he asked if they wanted to hear some more music in “Get the Fuck Out”. Before it was time for the final song for the night, Theart said the band had written and recorded a new album that is about to be released soon. “Now, let’s leave you with “Youth Gone Wild”. Of course, that was the song everyone had been waiting to hear. Theart had the fans singing and screaming at his command and ended the show after another 20 minutes of music.
Well, what is there to say about the show? First of all I have to say the lights were really poor. It is strange that such a great venue as Kulturbolaget doesn’t have some better lights going on. The sound system was great but not the lights and that’s not the first time I’ve complained about this. I guess I’m going to come back to the issue if there’s nothing done about it.
The band did an OK show but I’m curious as to why the guys delivered so many songs from the debut album and the second one? After all, they have released quite a number of albums over the years. 8 songs were taken from the debut and 5 from SLAVE TO THE GRIND, which made 13 songs out of 15 being old ones. I had wished to hear some new material and preferably some songs from when Johnny Solinger sang in the band. I also consider 60 minutes too short to be playing if you are a headline act. Sure, they came back and did another 20 minutes in the encore, but as a headline act I think you have to deliver more than 60 minutes of an ordinary show. It felt like time-wise, the band made a rehearsal run for the festival shows that’s coming up this summer.
As I wrote earlier, I thought Theart felt a bit insecure on stage but I guess he needs some time to adjust to the position as front man. The rest of the guys performed a solid show with energy and tempo, and the speech from Bolan and Sabo felt honest. Overall it was an OK, but not more, show and I think that if Skid Row want’s to keep their fans they have to get their new album out really soon instead of relying on old material. Since the band had trouble maintaining a singer they now have to go back to the club scenes and the smaller festival stages in strive to regain their success and fame they got back in the late ’80’s early ’90’s.
Blitzkrieg Bop (intro)
Slave To The Grind
Sweet Little Sister
Piece Of Me
Livin On A Chain Gang
18 and Life
Makin A Mess
Psycho Therapy (Ramones cover w Rachel Bolan vocals)
I Remember You
We Are The Damned
Get The Fuck out
Youth Gone Wild
Thanks to Totte Lundgren head at Kulturbolaget
for help with press/photo pass to the show.
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