VAIN / PRETTY BOY FLOYD / PROPHETS OF ADDICTION
As I sit here to write this review, I can still hear the final notes of last night’s show ringing in my head. I’d say that is a good thing as I finally got to see a band I have wanted to see since the day I first heard them back in 1989, Vain.
But first, I had to sit through some other bands before Vain would take the stage.
After the obligatory local band opening, the first band up was Prophets of Addiction, featuring former Queeny Blast Pop / Pretty Boy Floyd alum Lesli Sanders. The band hit the stage with pure rock n roll debauchery. Powering through openers “As We Fall” and “Babylon Boulevard,” I get the sense that this band was born from the sleazy Hollywood heydays of yore. There were hints of Guns N Roses and L.A. Guns as well as some “Too Fast For Love” era Motley Crue. The band played loosely throughout the set (tight bands generally do not make for great sleaze rock) in keeping with the swagger of the songs.
Bassist / vocalist Sanders sang his heart out while slinging out the occasional rock star poses, Drummer Jimmy Mess played with an almost nonchalant yet confident attitude. Guitarists, Lee Taylor and Sweep (yes, Sweep) bought it home with a swagger not unlike Izzy Stradlin of Guns N Roses fame. “Self Portrait” really brought out the best from Lesli in his playing as well as drummer Jimmy Mess, proving they were a solid rhythm unit once and for all. Now I have mentioned how the band sounds similar to other groups earlier here but there was something I was missing and I could not put my finger on it until the last few songs such as “Spare The Bullet” and “Postcards From The Grave”.
What is that bugging me so? Then I finally GOT IT! They are definitely pushing a great Dogs D’Amour vibe as well! An earlier song I heard in the set “Alter of Altercation” really showcased that Dogs sound, it just took awhile for it to click. Great sleazy rock n roll just when you thought the cause was lost! Thanks guys! I needed that!
Up next was Steve “Sex” Summers formerly of Pretty Boy Floyd. Now don’t get me wrong, I have seen him perform in Pretty Boy Floyd before and he wasn’t bad at all. But for some reason I was just really not looking forward to his set. So I came in a bit weary.
Steve hit the stage with a returning Lesli Sanders and Jimmy Mess from Prophets of Addiction filling in the bass and drumming duties respectively and the addition of T’Chad Drats on guitars. They kicked off with the usual crowd pleaser of “Leather Boys With Electric Toys” followed with a cover of Motley Crue’s “Toast of the Town” and the crowd actually seemed to be really digging it. One could tell Steve was still adjusting to the higher altitude as his voice wasn’t quite there, but he still pulled it off pretty well.
T’Chad is an excellent guitar player and with Lesli being in the band we were essentially seeing the former Pretty Boy Floyd line up from the “Size Does Really Matter” era, so everyone played off each other very well. The band rolled through with more songs from the ‘Leather Boys …’ album, “Rock N Roll Outlaws”, “I Wanna Be With You” and“48 Hours”. This was turning out to be a pretty great night for sleaze rock for me.
The band played through a few more songs before stumbling for the only time in the set. A not very well done guitar and vocal only version of the song “Wild Angels”. The stripped down version of this song in all actuality does not sound good without the accompanying bass and drums. It was very disappointing to say the least. Not to diss Steve and T’Chad in any way as they did their parts correctly (and easily), it just sounded “wrong.’
The band also did a cover of Poison’s “Talk Dirty to Me”. Now some of you may cringe at the thought of Steve covering this and I agree his voice is not best suited to the song either. But, I get it. This is a great song to get the audience to sing along to and I understand why it was included in the set as Steve got the audience to jump right in with him and sing along. They closed out the set with “Rock N Roll (Is Gonna Set the Night On Fire)” and the crowd was pretty happy. Drunk, but happy.
Finally – what we’ve all been waiting for. A rare appearance from Bay Area music veterans Vain. Vain is not known for touring or playing around the States often and with this being the last of only three scheduled shows, this was no exception.
The show started out with the proclamation from the band that (and I quote loosely) “Tonight was about the passion and love of the music”. If there ever was a truer statement, I have yet to hear it.
To say that vocalist Davy Vain, guitarists James Scott and Shawn Rorie, bassist Ash (Ashley) Mitchell and drummer Tommy Rickard were prepared to deliver would have been an understatement.
The band riled the crowd up with the opening guitar salvo of “Secrets” from their first album ‘No Respect.’ Already, everyone was singing along word for word. Up next was “Love Drug” from their second (and almost never released album) ‘All Those Strangers.’ Good poppy sleazy rock right there. The band then swung into “Icy” from their debut before subtly shifting gears into “Greener” from their recent album ‘Enough Rope.’
Davy’s vocals were almost spot on. It was apparent he also was struggling a bit with the higher elevation to catch his breath. Regardless, you’d be hard pressed to find someone who could sing this well at lower elevations in better circumstances. I was informed that there was a minimum amount of rehearsal prior to these dates yet the band was playing tight, as if they’ve been practicing together for hours every day for months before these shows.
The band returned to their first album for the next few tracks “Down For the 3rd Time”, “1000 Degrees” and “No Respect.” Davy took a moment afterward to ask the audience if they’ve ever heard such a “true” performance of album tracks. I’m not going to lie, it was pure ear nirvana.
“Worship You” (from ‘Enough Rope’) came up next before the band slipped back into the first album again with “Smoke And Shadows” and “Who’s Watching You”. At this point it was a given that just about the entire debut album was the focus of the show and there was no way that was a bad thing. The audience was still singing along at the tops of their lungs. The excitement was a constant steady buzz throughout the entire set. The band then powered through their catchy as hell “XXX” before leaving the stage.
Of course the crowd was not satisfied, we wanted more. Right on schedule the band came back to perform their final song of the set, or was it? Davy announced to the audience that they were adding a new song to the set for the first time ever. He declared he had not sung it since they day they recorded it and never looked back. Davy discussed how the band committed mutiny of sorts and rehearsed the song anyways in order to try and get him to sing it at some point and well, tonight’s show was it. He looked to guitarist James Scott and asked “We’re Halfway There Tonight?” to which Scott affirmed. The band then broke into the song “Vain” from ‘Enough Rope’. For a song he’d not sang since recording, he did an outstanding job The song sounds much better live than on the album and will hopefully become a regular in their set in the future. It’s just that good.
The band closed out the night with their most well known song (and staple music video) “Beat the Bullet.” The audience was still fired up and showed no sign of wearing down. The energy from the band and crowd was something I had not seen in years. When the breakdown of the song came it was obvious Davy was going to cue the audience to sing along but he never had the chance. They were belting out the chorus before he could get a word in edgewise. The crowd chanted the chorus over and over all the way to the final note before he declared “That was great! Now it’s my turn!”. There is something special in seeing something like this. This was not a concert, it was an experience on some kind of cosmic level I had not seen before. A band and it’s audience in tune so much with one another. Yes, I was caught up in it all too. This show will be in my all time top five for a long, loooong time.
You NEED to see this band at least once in your life if you are a fan in any way.