It's wonderful to see Sub 89 sold out on a Sunday night for a rock act. It gives credence to the view that rock and Metal is alive and well in a usually alt rock, or increasingly dance/rap culture based town, and also credit to the legacy of the two main acts on stage.
When one surveys the crowd we see a mixture of the old Reading rockers, with receding hair and beer guts (and that's just the women... joke!) and your new uber sleek glamsters with flat stomachs, pencil thin legs and flowing locks, inspired by Noel Fielding and Black Veil Brides.
To the former, myself included, Ugly Kid Joe can be re-remembered with polluting the top ten with 'I Hate Everything About You', and 'Cat's In The Cradle', a band I regularly ignored.
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Skid Row on the other hand, to me, were the band that could have been the next legends after Iron Maiden, Guns n' Roses and Kiss. Mega performances at Donington 92 and playing Wembley and the now defunct Docklands Arena showed their true potential.
Mind you, back then they were the complete package with a megastar frontman with an ego to boot. If you ask the uber glam kids in the audience tonight they are expecting the klassiks and original line-ups of the 90s heyday. The elders are more clued up but it just proves the power of the brand and legacy of these bands.
So tonight Ugly Kid Joe have reinvented themselves into some kind of New York gangster hardcore Metal band, motherfucker... the crowd enjoy themselves bouncing high, and having instructions to raise their hands in the air and enjoy it and sway in time, but the majority of their set contrasts deeply to the required namby pambyness of chart safe stuff your mum would love like 'Cats In The Cradle'. A case of playing the hits to play the songs you love I guess. A Trojan horse by any other name... still, they go down well.
I'm pleased to see Sub 89 have also stopped the stupid rule that everyone in your round needs to be present to get a drink as we refresh ourselves.
On to Skid Row. Now, it's been 10 years at least since current singer Johnny Sollinger has been in the band, and one Sebastian Bach should be a distant memory, yet journalists and Seb himself are constantly fanning the fires of reunion speculation. I've seen several bands in this situation, and my rule of thumb is be greatful for the music, and the fact the band are still going. Certainly there would be no Maiden or Priest today without Blaze or Ripper.
I have many happy memories of great gigs in the era of these stand ins and am greatful for their service. Skid Row put in a good performance in a set of classics plus new stuff from their recent album. The passion and the dedication and enjoyment is there. They are certainly having fun and get the crowd into the songs.
It's great to appreciate songs such as '18 And Life', 'Big Guns', 'I Remember You' and 'Youth Gone Wild' which were the anthems for my generation, and great that the new generation can hear these ones performed by most of the original line-up.
The majority of the set is classic Skid Row hits. Perhaps the newer songs are better suited to the range of Johnny Sollinger, as he really struggles with the screams and range of the Bach era classics. The customary Ramones 'Psychotherapy' gives the rest of the band a chance on vocals.
Skid Row were a victim of circumstance in the 90s they split due to egos and fashion, preferring to follow Pantera style hardcore with Subhuman Race, which was clearly anathema to many fans and no doubt some of the lineup. If only they'd stayed true to their glam Metal roots in the long term.
Even so, even in this incarnation this evening could have sold out twice over, such was the demand for tickets... however, think of the possibilities that could have been. Egos aside...
A great rocking night out delivered on a level that could have been higher, but I'm glad they're still out there on the road bringing da music.