Across the road from the Royal Shakespeare Company’s Newcastle base a modern-day bard took to the stage in typically theatrical fashion. Sebastian Bach is no stranger to treading the boards and if Legends was just a little bit tight for his liking then one of rock’s consummate performers refused to let it affect what mattered most: the songs. For all his Axl-esque attitude and bluster (Mr Rose’s buddy has clearly been spending too much time with his long-time pal) it’s impossible to dislike the ex-Skid Row frontman. He might have moaned about the PA system, groaned about the demand for his former band’s classics, aimed a broadside at the music press and berated his band for one moment of mistiming but when it came to the delivery Seb was Bach to his best.
Even the material from his latest – and far from greatest – album Angel Down was given every chance to shine but it was the beefed up cover version of Back In The Saddle which made the greatest impression. If Bach truly thinks dirge like (Love Is) A Bitchslap and American Meltalhead bears comparison to his former glories then he’s clearly been blinded by a serious case of self-importance.
Woe betide that ever happens to young Brit rock heroes Falling Red who could, and should, have warmed up Seb’s faithful to boiling point given the opportunity. This rabid bunch of modern day sleazesters are a band to watch – and watch carefully – but this truncated set was more a case of blink and you missed them.
Soundchecking as the crowd poured in and given a paltry three songs to showcase their talents, the quartet managed to do just that. And they even found time to apologise to the masses for their long-delayed entry – which is more than Mr Bach could manage. Seconds after informing a full house that they had one song left to play the plug was pulled – we never heard it but what we did hear was the full potential of the fantastic Falling Red.
Back to Bach and at least he was canny enough to let rip with 18 And Life midway through a supercharged set. Less expected was a heartfelt rendition of I Remember You – an outstanding cut from Skid Row’s self-titled 1989 debut but nothing like the trash metal peddled by the man himself 21 years down the line. Perhaps the injection of new blood in the shape of 20-year-old axe slinger Nick Sterling will change all of that as the stripped down track credited to this exciting new prospect hinted at a return to the good old days.
And what good days they were. As Monkey Business whipped the masses into a frenzy it was impossible to escape the sense of nostalgia washing over men and women in their 30s and 40s spoon fed a diet of MTV gloss and hair metal excess. Even Bach can’t fail to accept that the old ones, in his case, really are the best when hundreds of middle-aged rockers fill a sweaty club with high pitched screams and word perfect choruses.
We may not be the Youth Gone Wild in 2010 but it’s clear we still want to be. And if Bach really respects his fans the way he says he does then the follow-up to Angel Down must surely marry new material with retro quality.