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John Dee, Oslo 24. March 2004

Wednesday the 24th of March, Oslo, Norway. A great night for those about to rock! First I witnessed TNT in their best shape for a decade, delivering an awesome gig at Rockefeller Concert Hall. Then, half an hour later I found myself at John Dee, a club, where Skid Row entered the stage!

Skid Row: In 1991, with their Slave To The Grind album, they were the first hard rock band ever to enter at the No. 1 position at Billboard’s album chart. Back then Sebastian Bach was the singer and the widely reputed front man, and the world was lying at the band’s feet.

But Sebastian and the rest of the band didn’t go along very well, so their career stranded in good time before the end of the 90’s. While in the band Sebastian Bach recorded some of the most wicked and powerful vocals the world had ever heard. So after he was forced out of the band due to his way too hard to handle larger-than-life-personality, the band was stuck with some very big shoes to fill in front of the mike stand.

The end? No. Some few years ago Snake, Rachel Bolan and Scotti Hill took the chance on singer Johnny Solinger. Former drummer Rob Affuso was replaced with Phil Varone, and they recorded a new album, Thickskin, released in 2003.

Then they had to start all over again, and these days they are over in Europe to prove they still deserve some attention.

Thickskin is an album that grows on you, big on variety, and it contains songs just as mean and serious as the old riot acts. How are the old and new songs and guys doing live, then?

“Slave to The Grind” was first out on Skid Row’s first European night, and Johnny Solinger went for the task with a smile on his face and an approach towards the audience as if they all had come to see him, and no other singer. I liked that. He didn’t enter with any kind of fake attitude, he was obvious himself, and acted impressing natural and relaxed in front of the crowd. I got used to him right away.

Another thing, Johnny’s voice, even though he missed some of the notes, was carrying the classic Skid Row songs all the way. He never sounded as great as Sebastian did on the old albums, but Sebastian didn’t do that live himself. Still, the difference between these two singers were easily revealed during numbers like “18 and Life” and “Monkey Business”, where Solinger’s voice just wasn’t strong or heavy enough, but the variety in his voice and his honest stage manners made up for the most of it.

Johnny sounded much more secure and complete on his own songs from “Thickskin”, which the band performed four of. Among these was “Ghost”, quite different from the other tracks, but still a great song. ( A video to this song is soon coming to a TV near you! ) They played “I Remember You Two” from Thickskin too, a punk-rock version of the ballad “I Remember You” from Skid Row’s fantastic debut album (1989). They even performed the latter. Not a lot of bands do two version of the same song live, but Skid Row did. The new version doesn’t pay much justice to the well known original, but Rachel Bolan did some very cool bass stuff on it. Rachel Bolan, however, was in great shape, not looking like he has aged a lot since the early 90’s, and even made his way to the lead vocal when Solinger left the stage for the other guys to perform the Ramones’ “Psycho Therapy”. He obvious is Skid Row’s tightest alibi when they choose a more punk oriented direction in their songs, which Bolan also proved when “Monkey Business” was played in a bass driven havoc.

Scotti Hill was quite a view. He had this madman look on his face for the whole show, smiling like crazy, literally, to the crowd, and did his guitar duties just as tremendous as one could hope for. He just seemed to love his audience. During a Snake-solo later on, Hill went of the stage to suddenly appear among the audience to shake hands and cause amazement.

They only played one song from from their third and frightening underestimated Subhuman Race album. That album is just so full of energy, and Skid Row took it out on “Beat Yourself Blind” only, in which Snake as always performed a solo full of force, edge, melody and elegance in combination.

Phil Varone on drums did everything right. Still it’s said he’s about to quit, handing the drum sticks over to some Tim DiDuro. The rest of the line-up will stay the same, though. Hopefully. And they have planed to tour a lot. Go and see them, because these guys has got what it takes. After finishing the Oslo gig with the rock and roll anthem “Youth Gone Wild” Solinger shouted “We are Skid fucking Row!”. Yes you are! No one else is for sure.

Don’t forget to listen to Metal Express’ streaming audio interview with Dave “The Snake” Sabo! Click here:SNAKE!

Set List:

Slave To The Grind
Piece Of Me
Makin A Mess
New Generation
18 And Life
Monkey Business
Get The Fuck Out
I Remember You Two
Beat Yourself Blind
Psycho Therapy
I Remember You
Thick Is The Skin

Youth Gone Wild

Email: poh (at) metalexpressradio dot com

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