Tonight’s line-up features three heavy rock bands from across the years. Up first were the relative newcomers, Norfolk’s own Bad Touch with their massive hair and a stage presence to match. Having been massively impressed with the band the first time I saw them at Fort Fest back in 2016 I was eager to see them again. Stevie Westwood on lead vocals and the rest of the band took to the stage to showcase several of the band’s tracks from their ever-growing catalogue. The crowd were even treated to a brand-new song during the short but very enjoyable set.
Up next was the 2007 World Superbike Champion James Toseland with his band Toseland who had “popped over the hill” from Doncaster to perform tonight. They kicked of the set with “Puppet on a Chain” which, after a little encouragement by Roger Davis on bass, soon had the first few rows of the audience bouncing along. The tempo only slowed for a moment between “Living In A Moment” and “Life Is Beautiful” for Toseland to thanks the members of the headline act for touring in the UK and also for letting the band support them.
After the third song of the set there was an announcement hot off the press that Toseland will be supporting Theory of a Deadman on selected dates of their upcoming UK tour in April, although like myself Toseland seemed to be a little confused as to why the band have appeared to have shortened their name recently to Theory.
“Fingers Burned”, a slightly slower song, was next to feature on the set list, the change of pace allowing Toseland to show off his impressive vocal range with his slightly high-pitched yet somehow husky voice. As the band only had a 30-minute set, “Renegade” was the penultimate song and went down well with the crowd especially with Davis and Ed Bramford on guitar engaging with the audience and getting them to sing along. “Renegade” also gave Toseland the chance to demonstrate his keyboard skills.
The final song of the night was “Hearts and Bones” which, like the rest of the set, proved that the change of career for Toseland was definitely the right move.
For the headline act it was a trip back in time to the late 1980s and early 1990s with heavy metal legends Skid Row. Despite having only been with the band for a short time, when ZP Theart and the rest of the band entered the stage with The Ramones “Blitzkrieg Bop” playing in the background there was a huge cheer from the die-hard Skid Row fans.
The set was kicked off with “Slave to the Grind” followed in quick succession by “Sweet Little Sister”, “Piece of Me” and “Livin In A Chain Gang”. There was a brief pause in proceedings to talk to the crowd to ask them if it was time to “bring out the big guns?” before diving into the song of the same name. The next song was something of a classic which prompted a large majority of the audience to raise their camera phones and start recording as so as the intro to “18 and Life” began.
“Make a Mess” received huge cheers and “Rattlesnake Shake” was up next before Theart left the stage leaving Rachel Bolan in charge. Bolan give a heartfelt speech about being inspired by some of the early British heavy metal bands and reminisced about previous gigs in Manchester including one a few years ago where the gig was upgraded to the “big room” at the Manchester Academy showing how much of a following the band still have in the UK. Bolan then treated the crowd to a brilliant rendition of The Ramones “Psycho Therapy”.
Theart reappeared on stage for the final two songs of the set which included “Quicksand Jesus” and “Monkey Business” which featured an insanely long jam session from Scotti Hill and Dave “The Snake” Sabo on guitars. The band left the stage briefly before returning for a three song encore of “I Remember You”, “We Are The Damned” and “Youth Gone Wild” proving that after over 30 years in the industry and a number of line-up changes Skid Row still have what it takes to rock.
Photos by Jack Barker Photography