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Skid Row, FireHouse provide hard rock twinbill at the Peak

  • Skid Row guitarist Scotti Hill swirls his hair while delivering a riff at Penn's Peak Friday night.
    Skid Row guitarist Scotti Hill swirls his hair while delivering a riff at Penn's Peak Friday night.
Published August 02. 2010 05:00PM

Prior to Skid Row taking the stage at Penn's Peak Friday night, two songs were blared over the speakers.

One was "The Star-Spangled Banner", which Skid Row plays before every show as a tribute to U.S. troops serving overseas.

The latter was Rainbow's "Long Live Rock'n'Roll", featuring the late, great Ronnie James Dio on vocals.

While it was meant as a tribute to Dio, who died in May of this year (Skid Row bassist Rachel Bolan said he considered a moment of silence, but Ronnie wouldn't have wanted that), it also covers Skid Row and special guest FireHouse, whose careers have long exceeded the shelf lives of regular hard rocking bands.

It's almost shocking when one considers Skid Row is now performing in its third decade. The band has had many different line-ups over those years, with Bolan and guitarist Dave "The Snake" Sabo the only remaining original members from when it originated in Toms River, New Jersey.

Skid Row remains a brand name that stands for in your face, tear down the walls heavy rock, and the current version took no prisoners among the 1,200 that showed up at The Peak.

With the volume cranked up rafter-rattlingly loud, Skid Row plowed through its edgy repertoire with all the subtlety of a jackhammer on concrete, which is exactly what its fans have come to expect.

The twin guitar attack of Sabo and Scotti Hill slashed and burned. The duo even had their own six-string duel during "Monkey Business".

New drummer Rob Hammersmith is aptly named, as his powerful bashing on the skins left nothing to chance.

Leather-lunged Texan Johnny Solinger has long since replaced Sebastian Bach on vocals, but Solinger, who donned a cowboy hat and shades onstage, is up to the demands of all parts of the Skid Row catalog, be it the Bach-era hits or his own vocal stylings from more recent releases, Thickskin and Revolutions Per Minute.

Among the newer songs, "New Generation", "Thick Is the Skin" and "Ghost" fared well with the rest of the material, the bulk of which was culled from Skid Row's self-titled debut and Slave To the Grind, which hit number one on the album charts.

Bolan did take his turn at the microphone as the band roared through its cover of The Ramones' "Psychotherapy", but the rest of the set included Skid Row's hits, including "18 and Life", power ballad "I Remember You", "Youth Gone Wild" and "Slave to the Grind", as well as better known brainbenders like "Piece of Me", "Makin' a Mess", "Sweet Little Sister" and the encore number "Quicksand Jesus".

Bolan has said he and Sabo are working on a new Skid Row album, which means they have no intention of slowing down now.

Like Skid Row, FireHouse has been around for longer than one might have expected. The band had a bunch of hits during the early 1990's and ever beat out Nirvana and Alice in Chains for Best New Hard Rock/Metal Band at the 1992 American Music Awards.

FireHouse still has the core of its original membership intact, including Lock Haven High graduate C.J. Snare on vocals, Bill Leverty on guitar and Michael Foster on drums. Allen McKenzie appears to have finally shored up the band's revolving door on bass.

The secret to FireHouse's success is its ability to write hook-filled, anthemic-style rock that sticks with you. The band also has the knack with the power ballad, which doesn't hurt when it comes to across the board, commercial radio play.

Snare continues to be in fine voice as he rips through FireHouse rockers like "All She Wrote", "Reach For the Sky", "Shake and Tumble", "Outta Be a Law" and newer songs such as "Holding On".

The ballads "When I Look in Your Eyes" and "Love of a Lifetime" are still guaranteed to bring the lighters/cellphones out in participation.

FireHouse topped it off with "Don't Treat Me Bad", its first Top 10 single and still its best song. Long live rock'n'roll, indeed.

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