Review & Photography by Manny Manson for MPM
With a little confusion about dates, I find myself on my way back to Wolverhampton. Tonight, I’m off to cover the opening night of American giants, Skid Row on their 2022 tour of the UK promoting the latest album, one that features the new singer Erik Grönwall, formerly of Swedish Legends H.E.A.T.
Ironically, my last visit to KK’s was to cover that very band, now with original frontman Kenny Leckremo rocking the vocals. Another interesting point is that the mighty Collateral have also appeared on each of these visits.
I get parked outside the venue with plenty of time, so a quick visit to Jacks Café for an Indian mixed grill to fill a hole and then I sit in my car whilst the queue steadily grows. Doors are at 7pm tonight. Sorting my camera out I see Chip Z’Nuff walking along the crowd to chatting to everyone. There’s something you don’t see too often.
Collateral are up first, and they hit the stage on time. It’s great to see the boys again, and its quickly obvious that touring with H.E.A.T. and now straight onto the Skid Row tour has meant they are battle ready. What a difference the 5days have made. They are energetic, tight and having fun. Starting off with ‘Lullaby’ they are on it.
Ben’s hitting the snare like he’s trying to hurt it, the rimshot is cracking out like a missile going supersonic. The bass is hitting hard as our ‘Gothic Vampire’ is digging deep, avoiding the bright lights as he does so. Angelo is smiling as he dances about, he’s on fire.
The Union flag is flying tonight as he dances around with it tied to his mic stand. ‘Mr Big Shot’ continues the high energy attack. Todd Wingers Kramer is sounding nasty as he floats about on-stage right, posing for cameras before kicking out, Malagodi is ripping it as the chorus fly’s out. Angelo is again posing for the cameras and the fans, there are plenty in for them which is always good to see.
Midnight Queen’ sees the acoustic come out again and a gentler delivery from frontman Angelo. A great tune showing a different side to this fun band. The brief harmonised solo gives the song a bit of grit that shouts out over the steady walking drum beat of Ben Atkinson.
This leads into ‘No Place for Love’, again another vehicle for Angelo to demonstrate he has a better voice than he’s often given credit for. The guitars cry out over the thundering onslaught. Angelo’s asks for the crowd to sing back which they all seem to do. Great stuff.
Sin in the City’ is the latest single from the new album ‘RE-WIRED’ out on October 21st. A pacey number full of catchy hooks, has Angelo racing about again. KK’s stage is a wide one so he’s getting his steps in as he swops sides. The solo again adds an extra layer before the vocals start up again. The crowd seem to enjoy this one judging from their reaction, and rightly so.
A band shout for Enuff Z’Nuff and the mighty Skid Row by Jack Bently-Smith who has decided he’s too hot and has removed his top. The band then drop into their final song, the stunning ‘Merry Go Round’ a Bon Jovi-esque type vibe abounds with this one, A great number to finish their all to brief set. What a difference those 5days have made, as they kickass with a cracking final, instrumental volley. Awesome. I can’t help it but I really enjoy what Collateral bring to the table. I’m looking forward to getting my hands on the new album.
With the usual stage clearing ready for Enuff Z’Nuff to smash us a new one we are soon up and running. A simple black curtain covers the name on the kick drum, they are using Bens kit as Skid Row’s kit dominates the back line.
On time, the crowd start the screaming and cheers as Chip Z’Nuff ( Gregory Rybarski ) appears on stage, the intro to ‘Magical Mystery Tour’ from ‘Hardrock Nite’ plays out.
Chip stands in a white leather jacket, Cops hat and Big purple tinted glasses, his arms outstretched as the band start into this Beatles cover. The bass rumbles deep as he hits the multicoloured strings adorning this battered instrument of choice, the strap is held on with copious amount of gaffer tape. I sure sign of its long and arduous life.
It’s a great cover in that it captures the very essence of the original and goes down great with the crowd. Tony Fennell seems to be channelling George Michael as he rocks out his Gold Top hanging low as Chips belts out ‘Kiss the Clown’ from the 1989 album, Enuff Z’Nuff.
This is followed with a stirring version of yet another Beatles cover, ‘Eleanor Rigby’. Again, Chip’s voice nails this vocal. As this one thumps across the room. The dirty guitars sounding menacing and brooding, Tory Stoffregan’s solo is mesmerising, the myriad or back lights outlining him, as he rips through it, his head thrown back.
They are forgiven for covering the Fab Four, they have done them justice. ‘Baby Loves You’ from 1991’s Strength follows on, a sleazy number delivered with verve and fuzz. Standing at the microphone, Chip oozes filth from that bygone era when it was said that the band wanted to be a rock version of the Beatles, or the bastard children of Slade and the Raspberries.
A great blast back to the glam years of lip gloss and back combed hair. Another cover follows, this time its Wings and ‘Jet’. A favourite of mine from decades ago, and again a Chip’d up version which sits well in the set. Looking at the crowd I can see several of the guys singing along, we like this, the guitar breakdown and harmonised solo is a great nod to Denny laine.
Its rocking hard, plenty of bite and a great voice, check, we like this one. We’re now down to the last two songs, the stirring power ballad ‘Fly High Michelle’ originally written by founding member Donnie Vie about a friend who had died is great addition to the set, slow with a scorching solo that lifts it. Hill is driving this forward with a deafening beat from behind the kit.
This remains the bands best-selling single. The final song is again from the same best-selling first album, Enuff Z’Nuff. The mono-tone, melodic delivery of ‘New Thing’ brings the set to a an untimely close. The sets to short, with 16 studio albums to their name there is a definite greatest hits tour in there just waiting.
They leave the smoke-filled stage to rousing applause and cheers! Loved it. I bump into Chip later, what a humble human being, as he sits behind the merch desk chatting to everyone. Rock Star!
Skid Row have been through a few singers in there, dare I say it, quest to recapture the Sebastian Bach era, undoubtably their most successful period, in fact the first two albums are the money makers, tours have been built on these bangers.
After Bach left back in ’96, the band had a run of singers, Solinger in 2015, a brief spell with Tony Harnell followed, before Dragonforces, ZP Theart joined in 2017 he stayed with the band util he left in early 2022. We now have possibly the most dynamic front man to date, Sweden’s Erik Grönwall who joined them earlier this year. Having seen Eric in H.E.A.T.
there is no doubt he has the capability to smash the vocals. The new album’ The Gangs All Here’ is the first release since Solinger and Revolutions Per Minute in 2006. I’d been a fan in the years and I have to admit that I was surprised that the new album is only their 6th studio release.
Sirens scream and lights flash as we get the rat-a-tat-tat snare build up from Rob Hammersmith on the kit. The bands in place and starting to riff into the opening to ‘Slave to the Grind’ from the self-named sophomore album from 1991. As Erik races on in time for the fire balls to spew to the heavens as the band rocks out.
Erik’s vocal is ridiculous as he smashes his way through this first number. Dave the Snake Sabo’s face is lit up by the fire balls, his smile is hard to disguise as he knows the band have made the right decision with Eric. The energy on stage is through the roof, Eric is racing around as he delivers, posing for the crowd and the cameras, a knowing look in his eyes. Bolan and Hill are digging deep seemingly trying to keep up with the dynamo of activity speeding the song along. The screams are there make no mistake, we have a show on our hands.
‘The Threat’ follows on at a furious pace. This again from the second album. Hard hitting and punching, Erik’s voice swoops and soars over the dirty guitar and rumbling bass. In fact, the high notes he’s hitting, with the clarity and power of youth, he’s equal to anything that Seb has done on the original, there’s less fry in his tone and the lyric is better for it. The shriek of the guitars struggling to better him.
Jumping onto the security barrier, Erik is up close with a young lady as they sing to each other, he takes her phone and uses it to record them singing together, there’s a happy fan. A quick visit to the debut album for the next three songs, ‘Big Guns’ with its hard-hitting riff and slamming bass line, the scream to finish off is next level.
The fan favourite ’18 and Life’ follows and has the crowd singing louder than ever. This is classic Skid Row but now with extra kahunas. The song pulses forward with its deliberate drum beat. Erik is racing back and forth, his foot on the monitor, momentarily as he delivers his vocal with consummate ease and then he’s off again. ‘Piece of Me’ finishes this quick visit to 1989 debut album. The punky bass line is soon joined by the rattling guitars and the thundering vocals. As this almost ‘Batman’ sounding romp bounces along, the crowd joining in as they along bounce in time. Scotti Hill sends the solo into the crowd with a pointed hand, the hair is flying as the song builds to its climactic finish of squealing guitars.
‘Livin’ on a Chain Gang’ is next. The crowd is on it singing right from the first note. Erik is moving again, as Sabo and Hill rock out to this banger of a tune. Erik’s scream cuts through like a hot knife through butter. As Sabo rips out the solo Erik is up close and personal, flicking his hair as he does so. His energy is relentless, as he powers out the finish full of head shaking craziness.
Finally, we get a visit to the new album, it’s the first of only two that we’re going to get a listen too tonight. ‘The Gang’s All Here’ is the title track and the first single from the band’s first studio album since 2006. A thumping bass line and crashing drums brings this song to life. Bolan Sings backing vocals as this new one races along into ‘Riot Act’. Another visit back to the halcyon days and Slave to the Grind.
This faster song roars along at breakneck speed, Sabo’s hand is a blur as he riffs along with Bolan and Hill on stage left. The staccato deliver of the lyrics is broken up as the crowd join in. Hill rips the solo a new one as Erik takes it up into the higher register once again, what a voice. Stunning.
Another fan favourite follows on, ‘In A Darkened Room’. The stunning fat guitar riff leads us into this seductive piece, again from the second album. This is a great song, its demonstrating Erik’s vocal control, two hands on the mic when he needs to emphasise a phrase, punching the air as he brings it home, his voice soaring with the angels when it needs to, Scotti Hill is up front, his Les Paul crying on a par with Grönwall’s voice, he grins like a Cheshire cat as he winds this up.
The crowd are cheering hard, they’ve been given a night to remember so far and are duly showing their appreciation, this is returned with an absolute banger, started with Dave Sabo playing double stops on his guitar, the crowd are again clapping along as Erik leans into the crowd momentarily before a rattle of cowbell and an ear-splitting scream heralds ‘Monkey Business’.
The crowd seem to have gotten lighter in their loafers as the bouncing is crashing around the venue. Hands and horns are flying as the words are sung back. The drums are thundering, tied in tight to Rachel Bolan’s bass line. The call and answer sing a long has the crowd in fine form. Sabo rips out another screaming lick as this thundering anthem builds to a closure with Erik up front spinning and punching as the drums crash out to a full stop.
A brief respite and the sound of thunder and rain, the blinders flash to simulate a storm. Erik is back on and asks if we want more, “it’s the best feeling in the world when the crowd do” he says, he then asks for the place to be lit up with the cell phones, which quickly happens. Sabo is strumming ‘I Remember You’ on an acoustic.
The crowd are yet again singing along as the rest of the band join in. Arms are being waved over head as the song plays out. Whoah ah’s punctuate Erik’s vocal as the young man’s voice soars into outer space yet again, he thanks the crowd again and the lights dim.
We now visit the new album again, the steady drum beat of ‘Time Bomb’ ticks away, hooked into Bolan’s bassline as Erik’s vocal soars effortlessly. “Tik Tik Tik Time Bomb” see’s more fireballs erupt into the air. The heat can be felt right back at the sound board. These fireballs pop throughout the song giving it a magical glow as Sabo and Scotti trade lead licks back and forth.
The song brings us to the last one of the set, it can on only be one song, another anthemic banger from the first album, yes of course it’s ‘Youth Gone Wild’. The crowd are asked to go insane on this one, and they do. The place has been turned up to eleven as the place rocks as one, the crowd are on the vocals. As it plays out hard and heavy it strikes you with the subtleties of a run way express train.
The band punch the air as the kick drum and toms slam out. Feedback filling the air the whoah whoah’s start, the stage spotlights are playing all across the crowd as they sing along. The crash cymbals help to bring this one down as the crowd go nuts. Thank you and good night says Erik as they leave eventually the stage.
What a show. Erik has finally put the ‘Mighty’ back in SKID ROW and boy has it been missed. There will always be folk out there ready to knock bands, that aren’t the original line up, but let’s face it all these years on there will be line up changes, and but from what I’ve just witnessed tonight, we have a reborn SKID ROW, a band full of new vim and vigour, and, if I may be so bold, with a voice, in Eric Grönwall, that is an equal to anything done during the Sebastian Bach years, yes he’s really that good!
Bloody excellent job guys!