If there was only one word to describe Slaughter’s recent headlining performance at The Space at Westbury, ‘loud’ would be fitting. The metal quartet, led by former Vinnie Vincent Invasion vocalist Mark Slaughter, brought their raucous show to Long Island, N.Y. on Wednesday, August 15, and proceeded to thrash the eardrums of the hundreds in attendance, in a set that while a tad short, clocking in at just over an hour, was made up for with passion.
Leading off with the title track to the band’s gold-certified sophomore effort, The Wild Life, Slaughter, along with co-founder Dana Strum, Jeff Blando, and Zoltan Chaney, never wavered, executing a blistering set that highlighted the strengths of each individual member.
Slaughter’s high-pitched, shrill vocals were as penetrating as they were back in 1990 on the group’s debut album Stick It to Ya, their most successful endeavor, evidenced by standout numbers “Eye to Eye” and “Mad About You,” both much heavier than they were originally recorded but no less melodic. But perhaps the true value of the frontman’s instrument was most clearly obvious on the softer, stripped-down tunes that he so precisely performed. Arguably the band’s most underrated love song, “Days Gone By,” received the solo treatment with only the singer-songwriter and his guitar on stage and he sang it beautifully, while the more familiar “Spend My Life” prompted fans to sing along to the beloved ballad.
Not to be overlooked was the wonderfully talented rhythm section of bassist Strum and drummer Chaney. The duo complemented each other brilliantly on “Burning Bridges” as well as the obscure “Take Me Away,” the lone selection off of 1999’s Back to Reality, the unit’s last studio recording.
Strum’s interaction with the crowd and constant pick-tossing was a delight, as he genuinely seemed to appreciate the positive response, and the charismatic Chaney, the group’s least-tenured member, was a virtual one-man show, flipping, hurling, and juggling his drum sticks masterfully while simultaneously pounding the skins with a ferocity befitting an outfit named Slaughter.
Blando has quietly become a steady, consistent, presence in the band since taking the spot once occupied by the late, adroit Tim Kelly, 20 years ago. Splitting his time between this gig and with Vince Neil (Strum and Chaney are also part of Neil’s touring troupe), the one-time Saigon Kick player displayed his formidable guitar chops on the haunting “Real Love,” fondly remembered for its Shannen Doherty-starring music video, as well as the chart-topping ode “Fly to the Angels.”
But when it comes to Slaughter, there’s one song that’s truly synonymous with the popular 90s rockers. Fan favorite “Up All Night,” an MTV staple for years, appropriately capped off the evening with vigor. Its unmistakable anthemic structure makes it the quintessential closer, and this night was no exception. The eruption in the jammed theater was indisputable as the group headbanged their way through a rousing rendition of the vintage classic that left the throngs of spent metalheads quite satisfied.
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