It had been a little over 4 years since I’d last seen Skid Row perform (in Melbourne with their second singer Johnny Solinger) and coincidentally it was almost exactly a year to the day since I’d seen Skid Row’s original vocalist Sebastian Bach play an Adelaide solo gig at this exact same Adelaide venue, The Gov. This gave me lots to compare this current incarnation of Skid Row to.
Now fronted by ex-Dragonforce singer ZP Theart, this was the first time the band had played in Adelaide since the band’s tour in support of their debut album way back in 1990. I was there at that first Adelaide gig at Thebarton Theatre, and this time I was really looking forward to seeing the band up close in the more intimate setting of The Gov’s main room.
Opening the show was local 2-piece Fyre Byrd. Comprised of singer/guitarist Josh, and Drummer Daniella, there were a few raised eyebrows when the 2 young band members took their positions. They didn’t quite look like the expected support act for a Skid Row gig; however, the crowd soon got behind them when they realised their sound was much bigger than what was expected. Fyre Byrd had a sound that was more retro-inspired than the music of Skid Row, yet they had a more modern sound than the other bands tonight (yes, that is a little confusing). Their huge sound and energy on stage, particularly from Daniella who played the drums like a monster, kept the crowd interested for the duration of their set and kicked off the night nicely.
Soon after, second support Matterhorn hit the stage. With a growing following in the Adelaide rock scene, they attracted a healthy crowd down to the front of the stage and they looked more the part of a band suitable for supporting Skid Row.
Originally a rock and metal tribute act, Matterhorn, now armed with an album full of their own material (Crimes of Man) were here to play a set full of their own original tunes. The band’s tight set full of traditional hard rock songs complete with powerful vocals delivered by front-woman Amanda Ozolins, ensured the crowd was entertained and pumped up for the headliners.
When Skid Row hit the stage, it was to the familiar sound of their usual opener Slave to the Grind, the title track from their monster #1 second album. Right from these opening chords, the crowd was in full voice singing along to all of the Skid Row classics that made up the majority of the set.
From here, the next five of the following six songs were from the band’s huge debut self-titled album, including Piece of Me, Big Guns, and the hit ballad 18 and Life. The three original members, guitarists Dave Sabo and Scotti Hill & bassist Rachel Bolan were all in fine form, looking more or less exactly as they did back in their hey-day, and with the same energetic moves, they’ve always had onstage. Drummer Rob Hammersmith, having been in the band for a few years now, fits right into the mix and played the songs like he’s been in the band from the start, never missing a beat.
The biggest issue the band has had to deal with over the last few years is finding a front-man that the fans will accept as a replacement for Sebastian Bach. Let’s face it, Sebastian was a larger than life character that really can’t be replaced. Current singer ZP is the band’s fourth singer and even though Sebastian hasn’t fronted Skid Row for over 20 years, this is who every Skid Row singer is bound to be compared to. I had no idea what to expect from ZP as I wasn’t a Dragonforce fan and I had no real idea how he would fit in with this band. Coming to the gig with an open mind and no real expectations, I was pleasantly surprised by the band’s latest choice of vocalist. It was obvious early in the set that ZP had the voice for the job as he nailed every song without an issue. Not only that, he seemed to gel well with the other guys and showed more personality than Johnny Solinger did when I saw the band last. He certainly seemed to win the crowd over with this combination of vocal ability and charisma.
The set went on with more songs from the first two albums as well as Medicine Jar from their third album Subhuman Race. This song was a highlight for me and went down really well with the crowd, despite that album being a commercial failure in a time of grunge rock dominance in the mid-nineties. The only other song performed that wasn’t from the first two albums was a cover of The Sex Pistols’ God Save the Queen, with bassist Rachel Bolan on lead vocals.
The set was closed with a few of the band’s biggest songs including their hit power ballad I Remember You and finally their sing-along anthem Youth Gone Wild, which really had the room screaming along at the top of their lungs.
When it was all over, despite the Skid Row faithful still dreaming of a reunion between the band and Sebastian Bach in the future, everyone would had to have enjoyed hearing these songs performed live again by the original writers, in a great intimate setting, reliving the early 90s all over again with a great fun old-school rock show on a Tuesday night. If you’re a fan of Skid Row and you didn’t get to this gig because it wasn’t the original line-up, you really didn’t do yourself any favours as the original spirit of the old-days was most definitely in the room at this gig.
Review Contributed by Kym Robey
Gallery by Samuel Phillips