Skid Row frontman Sebastian Bach rocked a sold-out crowd at Barrymore’s on Wednesday.
Bach delivered a fast-paced, heavy show, opening with a turbocharged version of 1991 title track “Slave to the Grind.” He followed up with a pair of tracks from his 2011 solo album Kicking and Screaming, before settling into a selection of Skid Row classics such as “I Remember You,” “Sweet Little Sister,” and “Monkey Business.”
Bach’s voice still sounds great, and his backing band – featuring bassist Rob De Luca, guitarist Brent Woods, and acclaimed former Halford drummer Bobby Jarzombek – was stellar. The former Skid Row vocalist (touted as the original – and “only” – voice of Skid Row) was clearly having a good time, grinning from ear-to-ear as he regaled the sold-out crowd with groove-metal rockers and nostalgic power ballads.
“It sounds like we’re in an amphitheatre,” he raved of the 400 screaming fans who’d packed Barrymore’s – many of whom, Bach noted in awe, had been following his career for “thirty years.”
It was a nostalgic night, as the Canadian vocalist told stories about a childhood friend in the crowd (“We were in the church choir together!” he recounted) and reminisced about headlining rough Quebec venues as an eighteen-year-old in the 80s. An anecdote about navigating the drug scene in Hull metal club Le Papillon formed the introduction to “Eighteen and Life,” Skid Row’s tragic power ballad about gun violence and misspent youth; the crowd knew the song so well they were able to sing the opening verse unaccompanied.
(Almost thirty years later, it’s still an excellent song – lyrically vivid, with guitars that sound like the clanging of a cell door).
Towards the end of the show, the band played a reverent cover of Pantera’s “Cemetery Gates” in honour of late Pantera drummer Vinnie Paul, a close friend of Bach’s who died suddenly last week.
Bach then closed with raucous Skid Row anthem “Youth Gone Wild,” before returning to the stage for an encore. As fans wondered how he could possibly follow that song, the band started playing a solid cover of Rush’s signature track “Tom Sawyer.” As Canadian music moments go, it was pretty epic.
(It was perhaps the show’s second best CanCon moment – the best being Bach demanding, “Does anyone like model f**king trains?” in reference to his iconic Trailer Park Boys guest spot.)
Bach’s set was preceded by a pair of Canadian bands, Aylmer metallers INIRE and Oshawa’s The Standstills, a hard rock duo with a penchant for “wild west analogies.”
After the heavy opening set by INIRE, The Standstills played an upbeat set that included their catchy single “Wild” as well as a cover of Led Zeppelin’s “Immigrant Song.”
Standstills singer/guitarist Jonny Fox also paid tribute to Vinnie Paul, who he called “an unbelievable individual.” He had high praise for Bach’s ability to soldier on through his grief.
“To still have him come out here and rock the f**k out…just shows that he is a true f**king rock god,” Fox said.
Line-Up: INIRE / The Standstills / Sebastian Bach
Date: Wed. June 27/2018
Venue: Barrymore’s, Ottawa