JANI LANE, WARRANT & THE TRIBUTE THAT WASN’T
Show Date: May 18, 2008
Location: Walker, Minnesota, U.S.A.
Venue: Northern Lights Casino
Reviewer: Anthony Bryant
Band Website: www.warrantweb.net
I didn’t have high hopes for Warrant to pull off anything brilliant on the 18th of May during their 2nd show reunited. After all, I’d just watched a YouTube clip of Jani Lane‘s solo band playing “Big Talk” just a few months before, and Lane‘s voice had had it. I’ve seen approximately 15 Warrant shows, and had never heard him struggle so much to hit a high note.
However, as I carried the first three Warrant CDs out to my car for the two and a half-hour trek to Walker, Minnesota, I thought, hey, how bad can it be? Over the course of the trip, I listened to Dirty Rotten Filthy Stinking Rich, Cherry Pie, and Dog Eat Dog in succession. Every song – even “Cherry Pie,” a song I’m so sick of I bet I haven’t listened to it on purpose since 1999. And you know what? I’m amazed at how much Warrant‘s music has held up. Songs like “Mr. Rainmaker,” “Blind Faith,” “Andy Warhol Was Right,” “All My Bridges Are Burning” and a number of others still hold up in my book. And the unreleased “Only A Man” off the remastered, extra-tracked DRFSR… well, it really says something about Jani Lane as a songwriter that a song as beautiful as that didn’t make the damn album when originally released.
The crowd at the Northern Lights Casino was a mixed bag. The usual suspects still dressing like it’s 1989 were there. Some of us, including myself, definitely don’t have the hairline we did back in the day. There were some younger souls there, though, and I even spotted a couple single Moms’ toting their kids along to learn about the finer aspects of “Cherry Pie.” Like Crosby, Stills and Nash said, “Teach your children well.”
The auditorium was three-quarters full at 7:00 pm when Joey Allen started strumming the opening notes of “Down Boys,” but the roar of the crowd really vibrated when Jani Lane strutted out and stated, “Some things you do really make me mad I must confess.” Of course, this is the opening line to the song, but it also could’ve rang true as a comment among the five rockers onstage who had gone through much infighting in the 14 years since they’d last played together–okay, excluding the previous night in Tennessee.
Those who know Lane‘s drinking history would be glad to know that he and everyone else in the band was drinking water on stage. Not all was clean living though, as Lane lit up about five cigarettes in the non-smoking casino. No one seemed to mind, though.
As the band raced through “Down Boys” and on to “Dirty Rotten Filthy Stinking Rich,” what was most obvious to the crowd was that Lane‘s voice is in tip-top shape. He was hitting all the high notes and reaching down deep for screams he would’ve avoided in concerts past.
As the band rolled through “All My Bridges Are Burning” and “Sure Feels Good to Me” I had to note that the band truly looks great – and before I go on, yes, I’m heterosexual. Jerry Dixon‘s hair is long again, and he’s lost weight; he looks just like he did during the Dog Eat Dog heyday. Erik Turner seems to get younger every year, and Joey Allen, well, at least he saves a lot of money in haircuts. I did have to wonder what the hell Steven Sweet was doing with his Afro pulled back and bearing a strong resemblance to Weezy Jefferson’s hairdo. Of course, I wouldn’t mention it to the dude’s face, cause he looks like he lifts a lot of weights. Anyway…
I realize I’m disappointed that they continue to play “32 Pennies,” a song I know the band loves, but I hate. Especially since they could pull this song out and replace it with something like “Andy Warhol” or “Inside Out” from Dog Eat Dog.
“32 Pennies” rolls into “Heaven,” and you could sense the panties in the crowd moistening with every heartfelt strum of Jani‘s acoustic guitar. “Bed Of Roses” followed, and continuing to show his sensitive side, Jani stuffed a rose down his crotch and gave it to an adoring female fan. I’m sure she’s still got Jani‘s ball sweat in a lovely vase.
Which brings me to Lane‘s stage presence. Now I’ve seen Warrant numerous times, but I honestly have to admit this is maybe the happiest I’ve ever seen him on stage. He was constantly joking and smiling with the crowd, and it carried over to his singing. He seemed to enjoy the songs again, where as previous performances it had seemed at times that singing was a job. Not tonight.
“Hole In My Wall” from Dog Eat Dog was next, followed by “Mr. Rainmaker.” Then came the song that impacted me so much, I had it tattooed on my right arm – and as he launched into “I Saw Red” Jani said, “I still hate this bitch from the bottom of my heart.” I concur, Mr. Lane.
Speaking of wearing songs on your arm, Jani pointed out that the next song, “Song And Dance Man”, was on his. It was at this point that some moron in the crowd started calling for “Cherry Pie,” A little advice, okay… they’re going to fucking play it, so you don’t need to call for it, mmmkay? Thanks in advance from me, and according to his VH1 interviews, Mr. Lane as well.
“Machine Gun” came next, and during the breakdown Jani announced their tour with Cinderella, Lynch Mob and Lynam, and made special mention of every hair metal head’s wet-dream, Rocklahoma. Which I won’t be at, thanks to my fucking job.
Joey Allen ripped shit up as the band broke into “Uncle Tom’s Cabin,” and with that the band left the stage. But wait! What was this! The crowd started calling them back! And lo and behold, here came our heroes to play a couple more! Whew, I was worried they weren’t going to play “Cherry Pie” and that fat dude screaming it would’ve had a fucking seizure. I, of course, would’ve left him alone.
I digress, though. The band did play “Big Talk,” and finished off with “Cherry Pie.” During the former, Lane came out in the crowd, which a lot of rock stars are too cool to do. Classy move I thinks.
And, suddenly, 75 minutes after they began, Warrant was done. And you know what? They fucking ruled. Lane‘s voice was as strong as it’s ever been, Jerry and Erik were having fun up there, Steven and his afro belted the skins and sang killer backup vox, and Joey Allen proved that he is really an underrated lead guitar player.
Who knows what will happen over the course of this summer’s tour with Cinderella? Will Lane fall off the wagon? Will the old battles between band mates resume? I have no clue. But, on this night, they reminded us who the Down Boys really are.