FIREHOUSE AND WARRANT BRING DOWN THE HOUSE IN UPSTATE NEW YORK
Date: June 9, 2017
Venue: Del Lago Casino
Location: Waterloo, New York, USA
Reviewer: Tyson Briden
Photos: Jessie Briden
This past Friday night my wife and I took a five hour trip from Toronto, Ontario, Canada to see Warrant and Firehouse at the newly built Del Lago Casino in Waterloo, New York, USA. I will admit we were a bit rushed, leaving a little later then I had hoped. We got into Seneca Falls in New York State (which is the adjoining town to Waterloo) just after six o’clock, which really was stretching ourselves a bit. My wife had come straight from work and into the car for the journey. So she still needed time to get ready for the 8 o’clock show. We were cutting it close to say the least. So I ventured across the street from the hotel to the Topps Friendly Market and purchased a twelve pack of Rolling Rock. The reason for my excitement in this purchase is the fact that in the US, Rolling Rock is available in green bottles and frankly tastes much better. Of course, I only had a couple and took the rest back to Canada with me to enjoy at a later date.
So at 7:30 pm, we were ready to head to the casino. We called a cab and hoped for the best. At 7:50 pm, the cab arrived. Ten minutes to show time and who knows how long the drive would take. Luckily, the casino was a five dollar cab ride away. We made it just in time… Or so we thought. We still had to get in the casino and pick up our tickets at will call. As we entered the casino, we were met by security asking for ID. To which I didn’t get asked, but I’m cool with that. At 42, I really don’t think I look 21. We quickly asked the security guard where will call was and he directed us accordingly. We dashed quickly through the casino, whizzing by those who might be in our way. As we approached will call, I was relieved to see that there was no line-up. I approached the girl at the desk and gave my name. I told her that there should be tickets and passes under my name that drummer Steven Sweet had left for us. Low and behold, they were there. I honestly wasn’t too worried. I had been in contact with Sweet for the last few days. He had assured me that the tickets and passes would be there. She quickly handed them to us and we were on our way.
As we walked into the venue, Firehouse were already on stage. Damn, we had missed the first two songs. They were already into “Oughta Be A Law.” It was funny because outside the doors of the venue, you couldn’t hear the band playing. Now that’s some fantastic sound proofing. So even at will call, we had no clue if the show had started. A security guard quickly led us to our seats. We were second row, center stage. Fantastic. Thank you Steven Sweet! As we sat down, Firehouse were already into the next song “Hold The Dream.” It sounded killer.
As the band moved onto the next song, singer CJ Snare moved to the back of the stage, to my left and got behind a keyboard. I quickly recognized the opening keyboard line to “When I Look Into Your Eyes.” Being that we had been late, I knew I was thirsty and really wanted a beer. But looking to the back of the venue, I could see that the bar was a good distance. Do I miss a few minutes of the show and remain thirsty or do I make my journey upward to quench a thirst brought on by my stressful arrival at the casino? I made the decision… So I made my way through my row, saying excuse me to those I was interrupting and ventured towards that elusive bar that seems so far away. As I was walking, I quickly notice the merch table. I had to stop. I had promised a good friend a shirt and my seven year old son as well. I will note, as of this writing, my son’s favorite song is “Only Broken Heart” by Warrant, soa shirt was a definite must for him. So I dropped down 50 dollars for two shirts and carried them on to the bar. Firehouse were now into the next song. I was paying attention as I am very good at multi-tasking. The band was now into “Overnight Sensation.” Man, did it ever sound great. I dropped down my 12 dollars for two Blue Moon’s (Belgian Moon in Canada for those who are unaware) and made my way back to my seat.
The rest of the show seemed to fly by so quickly. As Firehouse went into “Love Of A Lifetime,” the crowd quickly erupted. The whole place was singing along. My wife and I were entranced by the song, singing the words to each other as we swayed back and forth. That might sound corny, cheesy etc. but everyone in the whole place was following suit, so it was just a natural reaction. “Reach For The Sky” was up next. I have always loved the intro of that song and the band did it perfectly. Snare’s vocals are still top notch. The man has really lost nothing. The song then kicked into a high intensity rocker that really worked the crowd perfectly. Guitarist Bill Leverty who was right in front of us, was putting on a display of guitar virtuoso. Bassist Allan McKenzie was doing a great job laying down that heavy bottom end, while drummer Michael Foster rocked hard, twirling his sticks and occasionally throwing them in the air. A nice touch to what was shaping up to be a stellar performance. The performance was quickly coming to an end, when guitarist Leverty broke into the classic “Don’t Treat Me Bad” guitar intro. They did the song as it should be and everyone seemed to be enjoying themselves. From there Firehouse went into the chorus of the KISS classic “Rock N Roll All Nite.” Then it was over. I was left in perpetual awe as the band left the stage. Brilliant performance.
01. Shake & Tumble
02. All She Wrote
03. Oughta Be A Law
04. Hold The Dream
05. When I Look Into Your Eyes
06. Overnight Sensation
07. Love Of A Lifetime
08. Reach For The Sky
09. Don’t Treat Me Bad
10. Rock N’ Roll All Nite (chorus only)
During the Firehouse performance, I had touched base with Steven Sweet. We let him know we had made it to the show. He asked if we had gotten our passes. He then responded “Okay, when Firehouse ends ,go to the door right of the stage. I will meet you there and we can say hello!” A few minutes passed and sure enough there was Sweet to greet us. As we got inside the door, there was Robert Mason to greet us as well. We shook hands and chatted a bit. It was a fantastic start to Warrant’s upcoming show. Both men were very friendly, super cool and laid back. I asked Sweet how the stage setup arrives at the venue. Warrant generally do fly out gigs, so I was curious if the gear flew with the band. Sweet’s very calculated explanation was as follows, “We have two gentlemen that drive the gear ahead of the band to the venue. It’s all taken care of when we arrive.”.\ For those who have not seen Warrant live recently, the stage set up is very impressive. It is all based around the cover of Warrant’s latest album Louder Harder Faster.
Prior to Warrant taking the stage, an intro song was heard. I recognized it immediately. For those who are interested and if you’re not, I’ll mention it anyways. This song is “Stop The World” which is only available on the Japanese release of Louder,Harder Faster. I do have a copy of this song, thank you once again to Steven Sweet. Every time I hear it, I think, this really should be on all copies of the album.
Warrant arrived on stage and kicked ass immediately. “Down Boys” was the perfect opener. “Big Talk” was next and kept the flow going nicely. These first two songs for me, epitomize what Warrant were in the late ’80s — high intensity arena rock n’ roll. Since Mason has been in the band for nine years now, he has definitely made these songs his own. “DRFSR” would follow and I was immediately singing along. As a Warrant fan since the band’s first album, it was hard not to. These are songs that never get old for me. Just before the band broke into the band’s classic hard rock ballad “Heaven,” Mason made a request to the sold out crowd. “Bring out those cell phones!!!” It was just as the band started the song that Mason realized his guitar wasn’t working. He handed it off to his guitar tech. The tech brought the guitar back close to the end of the song. It was somewhat humorous to me, but probably not to Mason. As Mason was singing close to the microphone, the tech was trying to maneuver the guitar over Mason’s head. In the end, it all worked out and Mason didn’t miss a beat. I will also make a note regarding the performance so far, especially on “Heaven”. I don’t think many people realize how much an integral part Steven Sweet is to the vocal sound of Warrant. All those high harmony parts you hear are not the lead vocalist, but Sweet. His voice meshes so well with Mason’s. Mason made sure of pointing this out many times throughout the show. I myself was actually mesmerized by Sweet’s vocals and found myself singing along to his parts.
As the concert was going on, my anticipation was mounting. I could not wait to hear something off of Louder Harder Faster. My wait was over. The band quickly broke into “New Rebellion.” I immediately sang along. At one point in the song, bassist Jerry Dixon noticed me singing, pointed in my direction and smiled as if to say “Right on brother, you know this.” Next up would be the only song from 1992’s Dog Eat Dog album — “Hole In My Wall.” It was time for guitarist Allen to shine on the Talk Box. And let me tell you, this song was heavy and kicked major ass. The background vocals that accompanied Mason were perfectly executed. From here, it was time for two more songs from DRFSR — “Sometimes She Cries” and “So Damn Pretty (Should Be Against The Law)”. This brought the crowd into a frenzy. As I was watching Allen playing the guitar solos to these two songs, I was thinking “Man this guy is so awesome. He is so underrated. He really plays his ass off and those solos are not easy.”
Then for me, this may be the highlight of the performance. Mason started asking if anyone owned the Rockaholic CD. Of course I knew what was to come — “Dusty’s Revenge.” So I called it out. Mason hearing me five feet from him, looks directly down at me and says “I know, you know this. You don’t count. You listen to records for a living!!!” I laughed, as did Mason. It was at this time that everyone in the crowd was looking at me. I could feel their eyes piercing me like a razor sharp knife. Regardless still, a great moment. Once again, the background vocals of the band were fantastic. As the show was pushing on, we all knew what was still to come. Cherry Pie album anyone? “I Saw Red” — the epic ballad written by the late Jani Lane was now out there for us all to hear. I listened intently as Mason made the song his own. I couldn’t wait to hear him sing the bridge before the guitar solo. The emotion he put forth in that part was dramatic and really brought a chill down my spine.
Switching gears again, Mason went to the front of the stage, over to where one of the logo screenings were. He pointed, going over the words Louder Harder Faster. I was kind of disappointed at the crowd though. Mason was not getting the reception he so deserved. I know it’s a new album and all, but c’mon, show the guy some love. “Louder Harder Faster” — the song, sounded so great. I even caught my wife singing along. I can admit though, she has to know it because it’s primarily played in my house at least once a day. “Blind Faith” would follow and sounded exactly like it was meant to sound. Fantastic.
Upon completion, Mason proclaimed “Anyone heard of PBR?” A fan off to the right of me had. Joey Allen started up some banter with this gentleman, then proclaimed to Mason, “Hey Dud!, I made a friend.” Well for those who don’t know, “PBR” stands for Professional Bull Riders. The next song “I Think I’ll Just Stay Here and Drink” was done specifically for “PBR.” It’s a fantastic cover of a Merle Haggard classic. The amazing part of this song is that Joey Allen, Robert Mason and Erik Turner each do a solo in this song. It was obvious this great show would soon be over. Warrant broke into “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” followed by “Cherry Pie.” Where would they go from here? I was a little dismayed at this point. I really didn’t want them to leave the stage. It’s not very often do I go to a concert and dread the last song ending. As the band was just about to leave, the guys were throwing many picks out into the audience. I managed to get a Mason pick for my wife. As Steven Sweet stood up from his drum stool, we made eye contact. I mouthed thank you, he mouthed thank you, we waved and it was all over. As Warrant rode off into the sunset, “Stop The World” was heard again. Many fans were frolicking at the front of the stage, retrieving remnants of the night’s events that may have been left behind by the band i.e. setlists, picks etc.
As I am finishing my very long winded review, I have to make a very bold statement regarding the band Warrant. There are those who just cannot bring themselves to appreciate the band without one Jani Lane. I respect that. I don’t agree with it, but I do respect it. I will say this and I ask nicely, remove yourself from behind your keyboard, swallow your pride and pick up the new album Louder Harder Faster. Than go on the Warrant website, look at the touring schedule and buy a ticket to a show (location appropriate of course). All in all, from this experience I have just spoke of, no one in the business rocks as hard as these guys do. Then you compound this with Firehouse as the opening act. It’s a can’t miss formula. In terms of vocalist Robert Mason, and no disrespect to CJ Snare, he is pretty amazing in his own right, but to me, Mason is a true ball of energy. Possibly in my eyes, the greatest vocalist and frontman on the planet. And if you’re not willing to look from the past and embrace the future… it’s totally your loss because you’re truly missing out on something special.
Warrant Set List:
01. Down Boys
02. Big Talk
05. New Rebellion
06. Hole In My Wall
07. Sometimes She Cries
08. So Damn Pretty (Should Be Against The Law)
09. Dusty’s Revenge
10. I Saw Red
11. Louder Harder Faster
12. Blind Faith
13. I Think I’ll Just Stay Here And Drink
14. Uncle Tom’s Cabin
15. Cherry Pie