Concert Reviews

Skid Row / Night Ranger Hot

Added by Central Electronic Brain     March 21, 2018    
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Skid Row / Night Ranger - Shepherd's Bush Empire, London (UK) - 11 March 2018

Lesson learned – always aim to be early if you wish to enjoy every single second of a show. Starting five minutes earlier than scheduled meant I walked into the crowded venue in the middle of the fabulous party rocker 'Somehow Someway'. It was a song that set the tone for what was going to be a superb night filled with Night Ranger's best hits that was to then be followed by Skid Row's best hits. There could be a much worse way to spend a Sunday evening!

The quintet from San Francisco only had a little over one hour to amuse the audience, hence lead singer and bassist Jack Blades reduced his usually lengthy informative/entertaining chats to a minimum and concentrated on delivering great renditions of Night Ranger's classic tracks such as 'Four In The Morning', 'Don't Tell Me You Love Me' (with a snippet of Deep Purple's 'Highway Star' in between) and the closing rocker '(You Can Still) Rock In America'. Original member Brad Gillis was happy to share lead guitar duties with the talented Keri Kelli who has a truly impressive CV that includes Alice Cooper and, incidentally, Skid Row.

The stage set-up for the band was not the standard one for them as they had Eric Levy's keyboard placed to our left and drummer Kelly Keagy's drum kit to our right. This is to ensure the latter could be more easily seen as he showed off his phenomenal singing skills during 'Sing Me Away', 'Sentimental Street' and the touching ballad 'Sister Christian' for which he came to the front of the stage to start with and had everyone in the audience singing with him. Blades' short-lived yet sensational side project Damn Yankees was, as in their previous tour, not forgotten and the band delighted with three of their most special tracks – 'Coming Of Age', 'Come Again' and the emotional 'High Enough'. All in all, a truly satisfying set by Night Ranger in celebration of their thirty-five year long career, with more to come.

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When Skid Row lost their original singer Sebastian Bach in 1996, they also lost some of their fan base. Tonight's show introduced his latest replacement to a London stage (in this band), South African ZP Theart, best known for his work with DragonForce up to 2010. Given his high pitch approach to singing in that band to suit the Power Metal style they represent, one could feel the immense curiosity in the air to see/hear how Theart would deliver Skid Row's songs whilst still maintaining the band's trademark sound. I took my hat off to him during the first three songs, the adrenaline-infused 'Slave To The Grind', 'Sweet Little Sister' and 'Piece Of Me'. If you closed your eyes, you could picture a young and energetic Bach singing them – he was that good. However, as the set progressed with the less impressive 'Livin' On A Chain Gang' from the 'Slave To The Grind' album, it was noticeable that some notes were not hit/sung or the microphone was placed far from his mouth. In any case, Theart still gets my admiration for doing an overall great (and always challenging) job replacing the inimitable Bach.

The rest of Skid Row's set was sensational and almost exclusively included hits from their 1989 monumental and highly acclaimed self-titled album; 'Big Guns', '18 And Life', 'Makin' A Mess' and 'Rattlesnake Shake', to leave their slow-paced 'I Remember You' and the explosive 'Youth Gone Wild' for the encores slot. Towards the middle of the set, the UK lover and most Punk-oriented member of the American band, bassist Rachel Bolan, took over microphone duties to perform the Ramones' 'Psycho Therapy', a cover Skid Row recorded on that 'B-Side Ourselves' treasured EP from 1992, and one that brought him closer to the already devoted audience. There was no sign of Skid Row's latest work ('United World Rebellion' chapters 1 and 2, from 2013 and 2014 respectively), but together Theart, Bolan, original guitarists Dave Sabu and Scotti Hill, and drummer Rob Hammersmith (who has been in the band for the last eight years already) formed a great team and had myself and a large number of punters singing along throughout, and truly enjoying a night of memorable hits.

Mónica Castedo-López

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