After waiting for far too long to finally see Skid Row, with some pretty ample support from Bad Touch and Toseland. I had been able to catch up with Scotti Hill at Hammerfest for a chat before Skid Row went on stage, I was quite eager to see how ZP would fit in with the band.
First on were Bad Touch, an AOR sounding 5-piece from Norwich. Taking to the stage to a remix of Led Zeppelin’s Whole Lotta Love and James Brown’s Sex Machine, the crowd seem initially fairly unsure what quite to make of them. The songs are played in quick succession, leaving little to no gap between tracks, to fit in as many as they can into their short set. The room is around a quarter full as they start and within a couple of tracks, heads are visibly starting to nod. There is an element of The Black Crowes at times to their sound, enriching the otherwise 70s feel of their songs. As their set continues, the room starts filling more, with a similar approval being found in nodding heads and general levels of attention being on the band instead of chatting or phones. Their set goes down well to a decent level of applause at the end, the sign of a job pretty well done.
Next up come Toseland, who enter to the theme tune of Bottom, which raises a few laughs and plenty of smiles around the now half full room. They get a very good reception from those in, who clearly know their releases, judging by the reaction to them. The pace is a bit quicker than the laid back AOR of Bad Touch, filling in a touch better as the build-up to the headliners for the evening. The third track of the set, Life Is Beautiful, seems to grab in those who were not previously reacting as much to the music, getting a better response as more and more of the crowd seem to be drawn into the performance. James wheels out an electric piano for the 4th song – which has a very Home Sweet Home feel to it – for a few tracks, dedicating the 5th to a fan who was attending after a triple heart bypass, which stands as a testament to the person behind the performer. The crowd continues to grow, also increasingly won over by Toseland, to being around 3/4 full by the end of the 30 min set, which is greeted by loud applause and thanks for a good performance.
A bit of interval music, with the crowd singing along to Pour Some Sugar On Me separates Toseland from the headliners, who take to the stage with the been there, done it attitude you would expect from a band that has been performing together for so many years. New vocalist ZP, of DragonForce fame, amongst others, immediately gets on with winding the crowd up, after opening track Slave to the Grind, getting them to chant along with him, before launching into Sweet Little Sister, which seems him throw a bottle of water over and out into the audience, where it’s immediately launched back to him, to smiles from ZP. This continues through the next couple of tracks, into 18 and Life, with ZP seemingly intent on winding up as many people in the crowd as he can and getting the reaction he wants, getting plenty of energy back from the congregated audience.
After a couple more songs, ZP leaves the stage for a track, as Rachel takes to the mic, explaining a bit about the band before launching into a cover of The Ramones’ Psycho Therapy, sung by Rachel.This done, followed by a bass solo, ZP retakes the stage to perform In a Darkened Room with the rest of the band, after which Snake is introduced and asks for the crowd to boo him, afterwards commenting he now feels at home, whilst also getting the finger from ZP. They slowly edge into Monkey Business, which is bisected by a shred off between the equally talented Scotti and Snake on guitar, who both acknowledge the skill of the other, before continuing on with the solo in the song and finishing it, to loud acclaim for the audience. They go off stage for a couple of minutes, before coming back on to a 3 song encore of I Remember You, We Are The Damned and Youth Gone Wild, before finally taking their leave for the night. As they do so, Rachel jumps down off the stage, coming over to the accessibility area to give a young boy a souvenir of the night, saying hi to him, before jumping back on stage and walking off with the rest of the band. A great performance from a very talented band, with frontman ZP proving to be a good replacement for the departed Sebastian Bach.
Photgraphs taken at Hard Rock Hell AOR by David Wilson