The Manning Bar, Sydney NSW
October 27th, 2017
Sebastian Bach fronted one of the most important hard rock/heavy metal bands of the 1980’s/90’s, the ground breaking Skid Row. Their debut, self-titled album, sold millions of copies around the globe and they were catapulted in to the spotlight on the back of the singles ‘Youth Gone Wild’, ‘18 and Life’ and ‘I Remember You’. The band actually toured here in 1990 on the back of this album and played the Hordern Pavilion in Sydney. Fast forward a little over two years and they were back here again to support their sophomore album, Slave to the Grind, with Guns N Roses. This album was a little angrier than the debut, but dripping with melody and anthems all the same. The bands third album, Subhuman Race, would be Bach’s last with the band.
A lot has been said about this split in the press, and no love has been lost between the band and front man. Skid Row, despite releasing solid albums in Bach’s absence, have never reached the same heights with him fronting the unit. This is really tribute to the singer’s voice, presence and attitude. Love him or hate him, and he doesn’t care either way, he is the epitome of a rock star. Bach himself has released six studio albums as a solo artist and has written some fantastic songs, collaborating with some of metal’s greats. He has also toured tirelessly during this time and has been here five times as a solo artist.
Tonight is a sold out show at The Manning Bar and people have definitely turned up for a good time. It is amazing to see the crossover of fans at this show. You have your metal heads, your die hard 80’s glam freaks, your Mums all dolled up who haven’t been out of the house without the kids for ten years and your younger generation, and this is tribute to his talent and charisma. The opening act was Gypsy, a young Sydney trio, who really played well tonight. They are a band who remind me of 70’s rock with patches of early 80’s metal, and in particular NWOBHM. A number of their songs tonight reminded me of the British cult metal act Angel Witch. Watching them play songs tonight like ‘Solstice’ and ‘White Spirit’, they could be Angel Witch songs! Other tracks that really grabbed me tonight were ‘Leaving Home’, ‘Black Majors’ and their rendition of ‘Love Gun’. These guys are a band to definitely watch, they have talent, they have presence and they have youth on their side. I am really interested to see how these guys develop over the next few years.
Bach hit the stage in full charismatic style and the audience lapped it up. He opened the set with a number of slower tracks including the hits ‘Breaking Down’, ’18 and Life’ and ‘I Remember You’. I must admit this threw me a bit, as I was expecting something hard hitting to open the set. But in to the evening Bach explained in his elegant rock star style that he was no longer nineteen, that he can’t thrash out at the start of a set like he did some thirty years ago, and I accepted this. Obviously, singing songs that he recorded over twenty years ago means he can’t sing them the same way he once did, as a young man, however, his enthusiasm for the songs and his ability to engage an audience has not waned. The band were very tight and ready to play and most songs were a hell of a lot faster than the recorded versions. Bach commanded the stage and attacked the audience with his own style of rock n roll rhetoric and you honestly can’t help but be drawn in by the guy; even though you may not agree with some of his opinions or social commentary especially around suicide. He also has not lost any of his passion or mastery of the stage. The set is plastered with Skid Row classics such as ‘Big Guns’, ‘Sweet Little Sister’, ‘Slave to the Grind’ and ‘Wasted Time’. The band really did the back catalogue justice in their tight and seamless musicianship. Of note in the line-up is obviously drummer Bobby Jarzombek, he was sensational, even on such a small kit and he kept the balance and the power of the set, an amazing musician. Brent Woods on guitar also needs to be acknowledged, he is a brilliant musician and someone who holds his own on stage next to Bach, no mean feat.
I was happy to hear some songs from his solo career including ‘American Metal Head’; predictably, in 80’s rock style affectionately changed to “Australian” Metal Head. This track in particular stood strong against the Skid Row tracks. The highlight for me though was definitely ‘Monkey Business’, which actually navigated through a cover version of Rush’s Tom Sawyer, and it worked seamlessly and very well. This track, the Skid Row part, exemplified why this guy is so revered in hard rock and heavy metal circles.
The audience really didn’t grow tired of tonight’s performance and to be honest the set went extremely quickly, always a good sign. My only real concern was the encore, acapella versions of two Rose Tattoo songs and then a bastardised version of AC/DC’s TnT. This sort of left me a little perplexed and underwhelmed as Bach’s set tonight left out a number of notable back catalogue gems and they would have served well ion the encore. The band also fizzled out as Bach left the stage without a wave, followed by Brent and the rhythm section aptly completed the set. I must confess though, this is my opinion and it didn’t seemed to be echoed with the sell-out audience, who held on to every note for the entire set.
Skid Row are a band who really meant something to me when I was growing up and tonight Sebastian Bach proved why, and as much as I love the whole band, and the band post Bach, it was because of this guy and the front man that he is. This was a great night all round and I am sure that no one went away from The Manning Bar tonight disappointed or let down. The set tonight has really left me pondering….is a Skid Row reunion a possibility? If the band ever put their volatile relationship behind them, it would be an amazing show!! Thank you Sebastian Bach and thank you Metropolis Touring!
Review by Mark Snedden
Revisit Sebastian Bach co-hosting Wall of Sound: Up Against The Wall here
Sebastian Bach – Australian Tour 2017
Saturday 28th October – Melbourne – Forum Theatre