What better way to spend a Saturday evening than to travel up to London to my favourite venue ( Kentish Town Forum ) to watch one of the most iconic 90s Rock bands of their time with support from no less than 4 acts !! A magnificent gesture from the head liners with tickets still available on the night for £25 so with doors opening at 5pm and a generous gathering of punters eager to get inside to catch local act
who had brought a tidy following of locals to see their energised full on set. This 5 piece certainly know how to get tongues a wagging and heads a rolling, Guitarist “Niro Knox” peels off some impressive riffs with his mane of long hair really cuts an imposing figure backed with thumping drums and solid bass sets the mark for the remainder of the set. Definetly for fans of old school Crue,Thunder and Skid Row. New single “Love Is A Chemical” with its flurry of drums kicking the song into gear soon settles down to a mid tempo pace with vocalist “Gav Twist” still dancing like a cross between Danny Bowes and Gary Cherone. The musicianship and entertainment value of this up and coming band is second to none so much so I even went to the merch stall afterwards and brought their debut album ( Which Incidently is amazing) a great start to the evening with KILLIT being a lovely breath of fresh air.
10 years into their career the vega boys have beefed up their sound and as far as im concerned have gone from strength to strength and are now beyond recognition whilst still maintaining the hooks and melodies that weve all come to love about the group. “Worth Dying For” from the new album is a lovely slab of melodic rock with “Nick Workmans vocals scaling new highs in an almost effortless approach and a front man of some class as he gets the crowd participation in full swing with “White Flag” with its gentle backing keyboards acting as the foundation of this crowd favourite. Such is the bands arsenal of material songs like “ Lets Have Fun Tonight” “Explode” “Kiss Of Life” and “Stereo Messiah” the audience is well and truly in the palm of the bands hand. I have a funny feeling that in another 10 years time if the group keep releasing the solid material they will be headlining venues this size with the fan base increasing every year good times await.
Anyone witnessing HEAT for the first time tonight were in for a rude awakening, with a intro tape of “Glen Freys “ The heat is on the group entered the stage to a huge roar and it was over to “Erik Gronwell” vocalist extraordinaire and man of manic insane stage presence I don’t think ive witnessed anything so unorthodox in a very long time., with most of the opening song “Bastard Of Society” spent doing a pogo dance over every inch of the stage before it morphs into “Breaking The Silence” by which point “ Gronwell” is in the photo pit for the first of many occasions of the evening. Again very much like previous band “Vega” HEAT have upped the stakes on both their sound and their stage approach, gone are the heavy keyboards sounds, replaced by “Dave Dalones” crunchy guitar that is prominent in every track and “Dalone” being everything central to the band all with his typical classy hat firmly in place !! “Beg Beg Beg” is like a bullet from a starting pistol and effortlessly oozes class before it flows into “ACDC,” and Whole Lotta Rosie is filling the venue, not content with that the song then slides into Piece Of My Heart by “Erma Franklin” amazing stuff from the band. “Mannequin Show” deserves special mention with all the group heading for the finish line with such confidence it was one of he best songs in the set with once again”Gronwall” taking photos of the audience as well as himself ? “A Shot Of Redemption” ended HEATS evening with some lovely keyboard flurries filled out with full crowd sing along and once again the Swedes has signed sealed and delivered in ruthless fashion.
I have to hold my hands up on this I have never seen BACKYARD BABIES live before our paths have never crossed until now, but I am confident they will again after tonights performance. Opening with the intro music of “Friggin In The Riggin” that grabbed my attention and brought a smile to my face and that was before they had even entered the stage. When they finally stepped into view imagine my delight when they had the most laid back stage attitude you could ever dream of, with two low slung guitars and a low slung Bass they gave us a masterclass in Punk/rockabilly/ attitude with minimal amps on stage the group whipped up a bit of a frenzy with the likes of “Look At You” and “A Song For The Outcast” with plenty of smiles and banter from Dregen who seemed to be having a blast on stage even throwing in a snippet of “Smoke On The Water” and DIO,s “Stand Up And Shout” much to the amusement of Nick Borg vocals / guitar. Towards the end of the set the group played a couple of slowed down acoustic songs of which I never heard the titles of but personally they fitted in just right with the more up tempo tracks.
He Ho lets go,He Ho Lets Go !! blasts the intro tape followed by a deafening air raid siren and BOOM its straight into “Slave To The Grind” with all hell breaking loose in front of me. If its old school metal that floats your boat then the whirlwind that is Skid Row should do the trick with feet on monitors and swirls of hair guitarists Snake and Scotti Hill have covered the stage completely within 2 minutes, cool as fuck Rachel Bolan decked out in cool shades just commands attention all the time. Then of course its ZP Theart taking centre stage with such confidence as they rip into “Big Guns” and a super Bass heavy “Physco Love” that gets Bolan working himself into a frenzy, This year marks the 30th anniversary of one of the most important debut metal albums of the era so its only right that the band celebrate this by giving us a triple whammy of “Sweet Little Sister” a jaw dropping sing along of “18 And Life” that raised the hairs on your arms and followed by a savage version of “Piece Of Me” with Scotti Hill deciding the time was right to treat us to a short shred fest of a guitar solo. With a simple twin backdrop of the “Rise Of The Damnation Army” artwork Rachel Bolan takes to the front of the stage and tears it up with a punk fuel take on “Pychotherapy” that shakes you to your very core and remembering just how ferrocious “Skid Row” were and thankfully still are.
Then comes the moment that I had been personally waiting for as its a song that along with many other people holds a personal meaning to me and as “I Remember You” tip toes out the speakers everyone was waiting for ZP Theart to hit those those high notes and man did he deliver, an amazing vocalist who can do the songs the justice they fully deserve. Whether its a gut crunching “Mudkicker” or a ball busting “ Get The Fuck Out” the man is a monster front man and proves the point when the group decide to play a encore they received the loudest cheer of the evening when “In A Darkened Room” makes an appearance, with a song so hard vocally to replicate in a live setting it was just nailed spot on. Set closer was obviously “Youth Gone Wild” and downstairs mosh pit was a frenzy of impressive proportions. Its bee a couple of years since I last saw the band and to me they are as good as ever and finally promising us some new studio material the future looks healthy.
From begining to end the 5 bands that played tonight all deserve a huge amount of credit from the fantastic up and coming KILLIT who make us realise just how vibrant the UK scene is right now with all these young bands.VEGA and HEAT for improving their careers with every new release and stepping up to the plate. BACKYARD BABIES for bringing the fun out in their music and delivering a care free performance. Finally SKID ROW for well, being SKID ROW and influencing a new generation of talent and rocking the shit out of London. Finally the next person that ever says metal is dead need to open their ears and eyes more and their mouths less because on tonights evidence its in great health.
Review by Steve Bruty
Photography by Darren Smith
Photography : Official Skidrow Pete Key