While most people might think of either Bon Jovi or Bruce Springsteen when the subject of New Jersey rockers comes up, it’s difficult to ignore another powerhouse from the Garden State – Skid Row.
Formed in 1986 by bassist Rachel Bolan and guitarist Dave “The Snake” Sabo, the pair recruited second guitarist Scotti Hill and drummer Rob Affuso before eventually settling on the notoriously extroverted Sebastian Bach to provide lead vocals.
Three years later, the band gained immediate success on the heels of their self-titled debut effort, and they failed to miss a beat with their much heavier follow-up Slave to the Grind in 1991. While 1995’s Subhuman Race took the harder sound to an entirely different level, it didn’t reach the popularity or garner the interest of the initial two records, mainly due to the drastically different musical landscape of the time.
In the more than 20 years that followed, Skid Row has dealt with their share of turmoil, most notably the very public split with Bach, who many fans considered to be the ‘face’ of the band. But they persevered and when the dust settled, three-fifths of the classic lineup remained.
Joining Bolan, Sabo, and Hill, drumming duties have been masterfully conquered by Rob Hammersmith while South African ZP Theart, formerly of DragonForce, has effortlessly stepped into the role of frontman. The current version of the group, at the tail end of a U.S. run but getting ready to head to Europe in 2018, brought their auspicious tour to the Paramount concert hall in Huntington, N.Y. on November 9. The tight, 75-minute set was light on filler and heavy on hits as they launched right into the hard-hitting title track from Slave to the Grind before continuing the onslaught with fan favorites “Sweet Little Sister” and “Piece of Me.”
While Theart has been singing for the band for less than a year, he displayed a distinct confidence in his stage persona and his bombastic vocal range certainly shut down any doubters as to if he could handle the beloved Skid Row catalogue. But if any member rivaled Theart’s showmanship, it was Hill. The ax-man engaged the crowd the entire night while never allowing his interaction to hinder his flawless playing.
Bolan, not used to being the center of attention despite his stellar songwriting abilities, did a fine job singing the Ramones classic “Psycho Therapy,” while Sabo’s extended solo on the raucous “Monkey Business” shoved the crowd into a frenzy.
Unfortunately, for diehard fans, the only ‘obscure’ track performed was 2014’s “We Are The Damned” off of their Rise of the Damnation Army – United World Rebellion: Chapter Two EP. But it’s an understandable dilemma; while I’m sure the group would undoubtedly relish the opportunity to play material from Subhuman Race as well as their more recent offerings, it’s tough to swing when the majority of ticket-buyers are yearning to sing along to “18 and Life” and “I Remember You.”
“Youth Gone Wild,” their unequivocal anthem, capped off the evening in pulsating fashion. And for Skid Row, even in 2017, the title couldn’t be more appropriate, as this is one band that’s showing no signs of slowing down.
- Slave to the Grind
- Sweet Little Sister
- Piece of Me
- Livin’ on a Chain Gang
- Big Guns
- 18 and Life
- Makin’ a Mess
- Rattlesnake Shake
- Psycho Therapy
- Quicksand Jesus
- Monkey Business
- I Remember You
- We Are the Damned
- Youth Gone Wild
Click here for upcoming shows at the Paramount.
Click here for Skid Row’s tour dates.