SEBASTIAN BACH DELIVERS ONCE AGAIN TO ALMOST HOMETOWN CROWD
Date: June 28, 2018
Venue: Mavricks Music Hall
Location: Barrie, Ontario, Canada
It seems that Sebastian Bach concerts are where I meet long-time Sleaze Roxx readers. Back in December 2014, I met for the first time long-time Sleaze Roxx reader Eduardo, who had just moved from Mexico to Canada, at a Bach concert in Toronto. Unfortunately, Eduardo eventually left Canada to move back to Mexico but along the way during his two year stay, we became friends and got to see some great concerts together including Last Bullet (R.I.P.), Diemonds and Helloween along with experiencing some rather comical surprises. Fast forward to about a month ago and another long-time Sleaze Roxx reader Fred Couture (who had initially inquired about contributing to the site) and I made plans to see a concert — Sebastian Bach once again — together in Barrie, Ontario. As it turns out, both Fred and I canceled on each other although I still had some hope of making it but it would be a game time decision. Funny enough, I had forgotten that Sleaze Roxx writer Metal Mike moonlighted in Barrie for a small part of the year and about two days before Bach‘s appearance in Barrie, he inquired whether I was going to the show. We made plans to meet up but my attendance was going to be contingent on a somewhat undependable and very non-rock n’ roll event — whether I could get my youngest daughter to sleep and have enough time to make it to Barrie to catch Bach‘s set. This meant that I kept Metal Mike hanging until the very last minute — and I mean, very last minute — on whether I would get to the venue. Metal Mike was quite understanding taking into account my complicated schedule.
As predicted, my youngest daughter was finally asleep by 9:15 pm, which meant that I had one hour in my mind to make the drive from Toronto up north to Barrie, which would mean that I would likely arrive right on time for Bach‘s set. I estimated that Bach would start at 10:15 pm given that doors opened at 8:00 pm and there were two opening bands before him. For those who do not know the Toronto to Barrie route, the fastest way to get there barring no traffic is Highway 400, which is notoriously busy during rush hour traffic and even worse during cottage season (often bumper to bumper driving for large parts of the highway). Commuting to and from Toronto is at times simply awful and Toronto was recently ranked the worst commute in North America and sixth overall in the world.
Given that I was leaving at 9:15 pm, I figured that there would be no traffic so my trek up Highway 400 would be a speedy one. Boy, how wrong I was. Unbeknownst to me, Toronto’s horrible commuting was going to live up to its ranking on this night. I didn’t know that Highway 400 was going through some major construction in not one, not two but three different spots between the Toronto to Barrie route. I couldn’t believe it when I lost 20 minutes due to bumper to bumper traffic with the highway shrinking from five lanes or so to two and I wasn’t even out of the city yet. This meant that my arrival would now be set back to 10:30 pm or so. Unfortunately, Metal Mike was waiting for me to bring his ticket so he couldn’t even get into the venue until I arrived. It was even more frustrating when traffic on Highway 400 grinded back to a halt with the second round of construction since I was only 20 kilometres from the venue. And of course, the third round of construction on Highway 400 was even more infuriating since I was less than ten kilometres from the venue.
During that time, I often thought of just turning around and heading back to Toronto but probably since Metal Mike was waiting for me to get into the venue, I forged ahead even though I thought that I would be missing a big chunk of Bach‘s set by the time I arrived. I think part of it also has to do with how phenomenal Bach‘s performance was the last time that I saw him play live at the M3 Rock Festival about two months prior. I was blown away by Bach‘s stellar performance that night, ranked him as the best performance of that rock n’ roll weekend and was hoping for a repeat performance. I believe that Metal Mike and I eventually got into the venue at 10:50 pm or so, and to my delight, Bach had yet to start but his arrival on stage was imminent. I was able to pick up a media pass courtesy of Mavricks Music Hall (thank you!) who made it quite easy to obtain one. As I entered the venue, I was really impressed with the set up. Think of one huge open room with super tall ceilings (I would say three storeys high) and ballroom like staircases on each side of the room leading to a balcony deep into the venue. The stage seemed to be just the perfect height with people in the standing area coming up to the performers’ waists height wise. To my delight once again, media people were allowed onto the staircases along the side and up on the balcony. This would mean that I would have many great sightlines to watch the concert from (and take a few photos along the way). Barrie area photographer Sebastian Vasoff was also on one of the staircases and I can readily say that his photos were way better than mine on this night!
Bach and his all-star band of guitarist Brent Woods (Vince Neil, Wildside), bassist Rob Deluca (UFO, Spread Eagle) and drummer Bobby Jarzombek (Halford) took to the stage with their usual and sped up opener “Slave To The Grind.” Bach seemed to be in a happy mood which continued throughout the evening. Next up were two songs from Bach‘s 2011 solo album Kicking & Screaming — “Dance On Your Grave” and “Dream Forever.” Although I thought those two songs were the least favourably received ones in Bach‘s set on this night, the singer at least gets some credit for playing some of his solo material. Funny enough, Bach had a music stand for at least one, if not both of those songs, since he didn’t completely remember the lyrics to his own songs! He did joke that his eyesight wasn’t as good anymore that he was 50 years old and reading the lyrics from the monitors was too difficult, which explained the music stand. Whatever the case, it was nice to see Bach playing some of his solo material and if you’re going to do it, best to do it early on in the show when people are just excited to see the band or performer onstage.
What I have always liked about Bach and what makes him stand out from other frontmen out there is that he addresses the audience, often seemingly with things that pop up in his mind. Before the fourth song, Bach apologized to everyone for… his short rock n’ roller pants. Apparently, something happened to Bach‘s usual pair of stage pants so he had to use a pair that he hadn’t worn in four years. To Bach‘s credit, the pants fit nicely but seemed a little short. Usually, people might grow an inch or two on the waist level rather than the height level so I am not sure how to explain Bach getting to be an inch or two taller four years later other than his older set of pants shrunk along the way. But enough about Bach‘s pants on this night. My point is that Bach is able to take any event and make conversation with the crowd, which is an art and skill that many performers are simply unable to successfully pull off. Next up was a slew of some of the best known Skid Row songs including five from the band’s debut self-titled album (including the hits “18 And Life” and “I Remember You”) and the very good “The Threat” from 1991’s Slave To The Grind. No need to say that the entire audience seemed really into those songs.
From there, Bach introduced his anthem (and cover song) “American Metalhead” from his debut solo album Angel Down, which he rightfully has opined stands up well to the Skid Row classics that he usually plays live. The song title was humorously changed to “Canadian Metalhead” given that Bach was playing in Canada and only about an hour away from his Canadian hometown of Peterborough, Ontario. I noticed that once again, Bach had the huge banner for Angel Down in the background and while back in 2014 when I first saw it at the M3 Rock Festival, I wondered why he didn’t have a more recent backdrop promoting his latest solo album Give ‘Em Hell, this time I knew and Bach explained that it was his deceased father that had designed it. Accordingly, it made sense as to why Bach was still using his 2007 era banner as a backdrop to his stage show eleven years later. I was slightly alarmed when I heard “Monkey Business” as this meant that the evening was coming to a close if Bach followed his usual patterns from past performances in the last few years. Bach did throw in a solid rendition of Pantera‘s “Cemetery Gates” in tribute to his recently deceased friend and Pantera drummer Vinny Paul. In fact, Bach mentioned Paul numerous times throughout the night and reminded me everyone how life is short (and to take advantage of it while you’re here).
A short reprise of “Monkey Business” followed before Bach advised that a Canadian legend was in the audience. For what seemed like a little longer than expected, Bach asked the Killer Dwarfs‘ frontman Russ Dwarf to come up to the stage. Bach joked that we might not be able to see if the diminutive Killer Dwarfs singer was there given that he was so short. Eventually, Russ Dwarf finally made his way to the stage with a drink in his hand. Bach started singing a few lines from some classic Killer Dwarfs songs such as “Heavy Mental Breakdown” and “Keep The Spirit Alive.” At one point, Bach pointed to the audience to sing some of the words to “Heavy Mental Breakdown” but with the crowd not responding as well as he thought, the former Skid Row singer somewhat chastised the audience for not knowing the words. For whatever reason, at that point, I knew that Bach would not be playing “Heavy Mental Breakdown.” Bach asked Russ Dwarf to stay for two songs before launching into the Skid Row classic “Youth Gone Wild.” I have to say that I was a bit disappointed as this likely meant no Killer Dwarfs song would be played.
I am not sure whether Russ Dwarf didn’t know the song “Youth Gone Wild” or simply wasn’t in the mood to be onstage but he just didn’t really seem into it at all. He really seemed like he would have been much more comfortable sipping his drink from somewhere in the audience rather than being onstage. The band and Russ Dwarf then left the stage before coming back for a cool but shorter rendition of the Rush classic “Tom Sawyer.” It seemed a bit odd to me but the band intros were done at the end of the night with Bach introducing his all-star band before Jarzombek took the microphone and introduced Bach as Skid Row‘s original and I believe only voice (which I agree with). Overall, Bach put on a good performance which I would rank as better than his performance back in Toronto in November 2016 but definitely not as strong as his fantastic performance earlier this year at the M3 Rock Festival. Part of the reason why I would not rank Bach‘s performance as high had to do with the setlist on this night (I’m never been a big Pantera fan) and Russ Dwarf‘s appearance which was cool but felt like it hadn’t been capitalized on to come up with something truly special.
After the show, it was fun to catch up with Sleaze Roxx writer Metal Mike whom I hadn’t seen in person in a couple of years as well as Diemonds‘ frontwoman Priya Panda who gave me an update on the new Diemonds album and about the writing process for that record this time around. Panda did (humorously?) chastise me for always wanting every record to sound the same (perhaps). She must have been referring to my comments for Diemonds‘ album Never Wanna Die and how the sound had changed from the group’s previous album The Bad Pack. Nevertheless, Never Wanna Die did finish at #3 on the Sleaze Roxx’s Top Ten Albums of 2015 and I did acknowledge that I ended up needing extra time to warm up to the more modern sounding guitar tones. That and the fact I hadn’t received my purchased copy of Never Wanna Die until after I came up with my review. I think having Never Wanna Die in CD format would have made a difference for my review of the album. Anyways, all that to say that Panda warned that the new Diemonds record would not sound exactly the same as prior albums! In case that you are wondering, the lack of traffic at 1:00 am and in the various construction zones on Highway 400 was fantastic and I was able to get home by 2:00 am. Staying awake the next day at work was more challenging but the concert was well worth it.
Sebastian Bach’s setlist:
01. Slave To The Grind
02. Dance On Your Grave
03. Dream Forever
04. 18 & Life
05. Piece Of Me
06. I Remember You
07. The Threat
08. Big Guns
09. Sweet Little Sister
10. American Metalhead
11. Monkey Business
12. Cemetery Gates (Pantera cover)
13. Monkey Business (reprise)
14. Youth Gone Wild (w/ Russ Dwarf)
15. Tom Sawyer (Rush cover w/ Russ Dwarf)
Sebastian Bach performing “18 And Life” live at Mavricks Music Hall in Barrie, Ontario, Canada on June 28, 2018:
Sebastian Bach in concert June 28th 2018 Barrie, Ontario Mavericks Music Hall