On November 7th, 2013, I was finally able to cross off a box on my bucket list. I have finally seen one of my favourite bands of all time, Skid Row. Please don’t misunderstand, I ADORE Ugly Kid Joe with a passion, but I saw them at Download 2012 so that box was already checked for me. That said, to see these two fantastic bands together made me happier than Sebastien Bach would be on stage with Axl Rose.
When I arrived at The Waterfront, Norwich, there was a massive range of people queuing for the door: from spotty-faced teenagers up to balding 50-somethings, the diversity was up there with London’s population & Noel Edmunds’ shirt collection. It was good to see that, despite their years in the trade, Skid Row and Ugly Kid Joe were still attracting a lot of attention and had a strong following, as they sold out the gig.
As per my usual regime, once I was through the doors and into the main hall, I went to the merchandise counter to purchase oneself some branded attire. I make a point of buying some merch, even if its tiny, to commemorate the event- a souvenir. The merch was reasonably priced at £20 a t-shirt, £15 a beanie and even some signed drum heads! pretty darn cool. I got myself an Ugly Kid Joe T with the familiar words “I hate everything about you” printed in bold, green letters on the back. Mother would be proud.
Shortly after entering, the lights dim and AC/DC’s “Highway to Hell” begins to play, notably louder than the rest of the music being played. Unbeknown to me, my ears were about to be blown by a barrage of bombastic aussies. Good stuff. Dead City Ruins hold no bars when performing, and it shows. The manic flare in the singers eyes, the unison head banging, the screaming guitars. It was quite the performance. I enjoyed their set and they had some interesting riffs and rhythms, the one criticism I can make was the sound. Now, by sound I do not by any means mean the music. It was the EQ that bugged me. There was way too much on the high end of EQ, and that meant that whenever there was a stunning guitar solo or impressive wail from mr. vocalist, my ears would cave, and I’d have to cover them. Dead City Ruins make a point of being self managed and independent. Something we see a lot of today, but less so in rock bands, which is ironic given that most pioneering independant bands way back when were rock bands. Now I’m not sure if it was because of this fact that their sound came out too treble-y or if it was simply just the sound guys fault, either way, it made my experience tainted from what was a clearly a really good show.
After the break and my tinnitus had settled down, the lights dimmed again to prelude the forthcoming funk-metal storm that was Ugly Kid Joe. Now this I was looking forward to. Having seen UKJ at Download 2012, the scent was still fresh in the air, and I wanted some ugly-ass meat. The band opened with ”VIP”, Which couldn’t of made me happier. The band touched on their old classic stuff, including my personal favourite, “CUST” and their hits “Cats in the Cradle” and “MilkMans Son”. Neither the crowd nor the band faltered during the set, with the crowd going crazy at the hint of a riff and the band acknowledging our glee with stupid, cheesy grins. Whitfield Crane ( the vocalist) took the time to address his fans and even talked about our fair city of,*ahem*, NORRRWICH (roll the R’s in a scottish accent for no apparent reason). I really appreciated that though,I have seen many bands play in Norwich, and not many of them took the time to even talk, let alone learn the name of our city. After an awesome set of songs, both old and new, UKJ had their finale with a cover of Motörheads “Ace of Spades”, and intriguing choice, but a solid one, none the less. Ugly Kid Joe had a great sound, you can tell that they have steadily refined their sound over the years and experiences. After a bow and a cheeky salut from Sonny, the band left the stage, and I left to get some fresh air.
Once back, and relocated behind someones dad, I had a a good view of the stage. For the third and final time, the lights went off and klaxons began to sound and warning lights start flashing at me. A clear indication that I should brace myself for a very exciting hour. I was skeptical before the show, as many were, I imagined, as I had never heard Sebastian Bach’s replacement, and was worried that i would be disappointed. Obviously I was stupid to have even doubted the mighty Skid Row. the instance they kicked into “Big Guns”, my 15 year old self came rushing back to me with open arms. I loved it; I was sold. The band were on top form, running about what little space they had on our humble stage, but they didn’t mind. they were just glad to be back out in the open with a crowd screaming at them and a wall of amps behind them. Just like Ugly Kid Joe, Skid Row frontman & veteran Texan Johnny Solinger talked with us a short while. He slyly implemented twitter and facebook into the show by getting people to tweet and whatnot at that very point in time. I enjoyed it and it made me actually feel like they genuinely valued my opinion. something of a rarity in today’s musicians, i find. As the night continued, Skid Row performed their set with style and power. They touched on their classics like “18 and life”, “Makin’ a Mess” (my personal favourite. If you know the song, you can probably guess why.) & “Monkey Business” while showcasing their newer works like “Thick is the Skin” & “King of the Demolition”. All solid song, I would like to add. I haven’t had the chance to hear their newer records, but I can safely say that I will now. Skid Row had an amiable outlook on their age and background and the crowd responded well. Bassist Rachel Bolan performed the vocals on their cover of “Pycho Therapy” by The Ramones. As the show came to a close, Skid Row tore up the stage with a stellar performance of “Youth Gone Wild”. I was sad to see them go, but fulfilled none the less.
The night as a whole had been a complete success, In my opinion, with all three bands giving great performances. I can say with a utmost certainty that I will be seeing those guys again.