Music has evolved through the years, from humble beginnings in Tribal Chants to majestic symphonies of Mozart and Chopin, to the Rock N Rock Diner era of Chuck Berry and Little Richard. The Beatles took the world of current music into a new era, spawning a plethora of kids wanting to be the new Beatle Mania. The next chapter in musical history, which is pivotal to the reason we stand here in Amplifier tonight, was opened by one man, a preacher’s son who wanted nothing more than to have that mania whilst riling up the parents. His love for being different, putting on a show, wearing tight spandex and make up, gave the world something it wasn’t ready for at that point.
As the Great ‘Dee Snider’ once said about this genre’s beginnings, ‘Alice Cooper ejaculated and Glam Metal was born!’ If that isn’t the greatest way to explain the music of the 80’s, I don’t know what is. It is a genre that has influenced artists across the years, a staple of many party playlists, and one which age is not discriminatory. Watching as the crowd pilled in and packed out Amplifier, the age was diverse from the new 18 year-old partygoers to the faithfuls who had the long perms when ‘Slippery When Wet’ was on cassette tape and sat at number one.
The night’s bill was filled with bands who all had a love for the genre, a love for the great era of massive hair and chunky riffs, followed by a stage performance that was more than five dudes in jeans playing instruments. There was no band more fitting than Hair Metal Heaven to start the night off, I spoke with Jacob Kenny from Legacy Alive after their sound check and asked about his choice for the evening. There are many who have asked him why put a cover band on his show, it isn’t usual for an original band show, let alone an EP Launch. His answer was quite simple, ‘We played on their show at Lucy’s Love Shack and it was so much fun, so I knew when we did this launch we had to have them on ours.’
For me I felt it shown the roots of where most of the musicians on that stage came from, we all as artists learnt by playing other musicians work. All of the greats we idolized all started off playing other people’s music, hell Alice Cooper’s first band The Spiders opened for The Yardbirds and played The Yardbirds music during the set!
As Hair Metal Heaven hit the stage the room started to quickly fill and the crowd sang to all the anthems that they knew. Having seen Sexl (Sal Abate) in his lead role at the helm of Australia’s premier Guns N Roses tribute band, Gunners, I knew this set would be performed flawlessly. Sal, has one of the largest vocal ranges I have seen, he hits notes with both pitch and tone perfection all whilst creating a cohesive bond between the band and audience.
So, with the hair large, the spandex tight and banter flowing, Hair Metal Heaven launched into their set with gusto and flair. As the riff of ‘Welcome To The Jungle’ kicked in the crowd pushed forward edging for more as Randii Loads (Nigel Woodward) and Itchy Zamora (Alan Dunne) set the tone for their skill on guitar for the evening. Cherry Pie is a song that had the crowd shouting along with the backing vocals, as Sexl effortlessly powered out the vocally complex pre chorus. One of my favourites for the set list was The Prince of Darkness, Ozzy Osborne’s smash hit ‘Crazy Train’, Squeezer Butler (Matt Harskamp) and Chad Thundercock (Jamie Harskamp) locking in impeccably and still maintaining stage presence between them.
The set list took a slower pace as we were advised the next song was to be dedicated to Randii’s father who had sadly passed away. As Sexl belted out Skid Row’s ‘I Remember You’ with vocals rivalling Bach’s original version, and Randii hit a spine chilling solo, every member of the audience was with him in that moment, feeling the emotion with every note he hit. That is the power of music, a crowd of relative strangers, singing along with a group of lads on stage in Australia to a song that was written by Skid Row, 30 years ago on the opposite side of the world. I was so caught up in the moment on stage that I didn’t turn to watch the crowd but I can only imagine there was a few lighters up in the air during that song. It was a very moving tribute alongside the black memorial bands that the band wore through their set.
Throughout the set there was banter a plenty as Hair Metal Heaven put on a full show including crowd participation where possible, it was like watching an early incarnation of Steel Panther with jokes, innuendo and plain silly fun. I think Australia, needs a tongue in cheek band like this, the world is far too serious, there’s so much doom and gloom everywhere you look and Hair Metal Heaven are jumping around the stage, having fun and reminding us of when the world was a little less dark, and to top it off they are all excellent musicians.
They teased us as little as Sexl commented on Squeezer’s Poison T-shirt and Itchy kickstarted ‘Talk Dirty To Me’ there was a huge cheer but alas there was no dirty talk. They softened the blow with a little Def Leppard, at this point I was surprised at how many 18 year olds knew the words to all of it, I guess the newer generation will hold up the rock n roll torch.
‘Kickstart My Heart’ was a fitting finale for this band as it showcased all of the band’s talents from Thundercock’s impressive skin smacking to Sexl’s vocals which again I have to say would take on Vince Neil’s any day, they certainly had the crowd pumping, the blood flowing, and them screaming for more.
I absolutely loved this set, it was a performance and a half and I can’t fault it, oh wait a minute yes I can, IT NEEDED MORE COWBELL!!!!
Set List: Welcome to the Jungle, Unskinny Bop, Cherry Pie, Crazy Train, We’re Not Gonna Take It, Rock You Like A Hurricane, Nothin But A Good Time, I Remember You, Pour Some Sugar On Me, Kickstart My Heart
As a mass of hair and spandex exited the stage, whilst stage hands frantically changed the set over, a different styling of hair and all things bedazzling entered. The sheer glittering of the vocalist blinding everyone with his silver starry shirt had the crowd waiting with anticipation. There was no introduction, Diamond Sky launched into ‘Outlaw City’, their sound is nothing like anything else here in Perth, their composition is similar to bands like Alestorm, Nightwish and System Of A Down, its technical, intricate and Freddie Mousavis’s Vocals are exquisite.
I had been eager to see Diamond Sky for a while, I have seen two fifths of the band in their tribute band, System Of A Down Under before so again I knew the musicianship would be second to none, but I was genuinely impressed with the show they put on. Freddie’s vocal range and strength is striking, having the ability to move through complex melodies, high notes and even a couple of gutturals. Cameron Nicholas shreds with precision as was shown in ‘Providing The Fuel’, his stance and stature on stage is powerful, almost Viking like.
‘Paradise’ took me on a journey, I felt like I was heading out to return a precious ring with some mates, in all honesty I say this to emphasise the songwriting within Diamond Sky. Their songs have the structure and ability to be in the background of motion pictures, their cohesiveness on stage showcasing that not only are they a band who can write complex pieces but can also bring them to life in a live setting.
Their new track ‘Your Hair’ showcased Tom Langridge on Keys/Keytar, he has an immense skill and one of the only keytar-ists that I have ever seen play live. As the song was a little more stripped back and slower paced that the others it gave a look into the relationship between both an intricate shredder in Cameron and Tom whose fingers were flying up and down those ivories. It was something else to watch indeed, I loved Freddie’s vocals on this song, it felt a little more intimate and vulnerable than the other songs, it was also the first time this was played live. They show that you can be hard and heavy whilst going a little slower.
My favourite track of the night was ‘We Are Heavy Metal’, yes, you’ve guessed it, it was bass heavy, haha. Mark Derbyshire has the speed to rival many on bass, the rhythm connection between him and Jake Isard on drums was tight and flawless. Everything worked in this track, one happy metal fan here.
One nod back to the beginnings of hair metal was Diamond Sky’s version of ‘Poison’, the crowd loved it, the band looked like they were having fun and Freddie has that growl in his voice that can pull an Alice Cooper song off.
I definitely recommend seeing Diamond Sky, they’re entertaining on stage, are some of the most talented musicians I have seen here and bring something to our stages that we don’t usually get here.
Set List: Outlaw City, Providing The Fuel, Paradise, Your Hair, We Are Heavy Metal, Rock Me To The Beat, Poison (Alice Cooper), Shortcut To Heaven
As the bands switched over, I glanced around and saw what has to be one of the largest crowds I have seen in Amplifier when it’s not an international touring band on stage. It’s a testament to the bill that was given to us on this evening, as Legacy Alive started with a band riff intro reminiscent to something the late Eddie Van Halen would play. They then kicked into ‘Firefight’, with Jacob Kenny pumping out a heavily distorted riff before taking on lead vocals, Jacob has the vocal range of the great man himself, Mr Bruce Dickinson, if Iron Maiden ever needed a front man again, they could easily look to him, plus they have a Steve Harris in bassist Owen Fisher. Speaking to Jacob earlier he mentioned the band sound is heavily influenced by Journey and Van Halen but I can never get past the feeling of Iron Maiden influences in Legacy Alive, which I feel is so prominent with their track from earlier in the year ‘Let It Go’.
It’s a hell of a track and one I wish I’d written! It is a high contender for my song of the year, and I am not talking about Australian song of the year, I am speaking about all music that I have listened to and reviewed from my beginnings with Nightwish to Marilyn Manson and Seether and I bloody loved those albums. There is just something about it that gives me everything I love in a song, the bass is blistering, it layers perfectly with the drums as Frank Lupino thunders through fills and rolls. The vocal melody is intricate, the joint soloing between Jacob and Curtis Sucksmith is sheer enthralling pleasure to my ears.
Now played live, ‘Let It Go’ is a show stopper, it brings out that extra quality in each musician and LegacyAlive looked both seasoned in their skill level but had the excitement of being the first show they have ever played. Owen stood out for me, I have never seen him play like this with the crowd before, a group of lads stood in front of him were having the time of their lives and oh did Owen join in. As he played, he got down to their level and played off their energy as their hands beckoned for more and more, which he happily gave to them, it was ongoing for the whole night, with high fives and praise after each song for him. I asked him after the show about the guys to see if he knew them as they were so fired up but genuinely looked like they hadn’t seen a live band before, and he said ‘he hadn’t met them but as they were getting into it, he wanted to fire them up. As someone who has just turned 20, a lot of the people in high school were all used to other genres other than rock or metal unfortunately. So, to notice young lads really getting into our stuff was really awesome for me to see, it was really cool.’
Owen may only be 20 but his skill level does not tell his age, his bass playing is phenomenal for a bassist who has only played for three years, his ability, speed and fluid style is a testament to his dedication and the legends that have influenced him from Les Claypool to Chris Wolstenholme. His brutally honest answer when I asked him how he got so proficient so fast…..‘I practice every day’, shows that he is a very down to earth guy with a huge future ahead of him.
Dropping the tempo and changing things up, Jacob introduced ‘Good Ride’, the most political piece he had written, whilst a little calmer than others, it has a slight funk feel to it. Basslord Owen was on fire tonight as he had a wireless issue with his bass during this song, but in true Owen style, the signal managed to cut out on the slower parts of the song adding to the atmosphere. It did not cause issue to the audience, I don’t even think they realised, I just know the moment of despair in a musos face and the frantic look to the amp when something goes wrong, the song however was another hit with the crowd as they surged and shouted for more. With leads switched over Legacy Alive kicked up the dial to 11 again with ‘Lucid Chances’, they quickly become a six piece as Stuart from Bohemian Crash joined for backing vocals with some pretty striking harmonies.
‘Goodnight’ swiftly followed, it is an extremely emotive ballad, showing that Legacy Alive are able to pull an exposed live performance out without issue, the crowd loved it and Jacob’s voice excelled. It was interesting to see the band members interact during this track as there wasn’t any effects or a high performance intensity to hide behind, it’s four musicians raw, bare and proving why they deserve to stand in front of a near capacity crowd and do what they love, Curtis shone during this song for me locking in seamlessly between Jacob on lead and Owen and Frank in rhythm. I have to add in, the last vocal hold from Frank was chilling and a gripping moment. After the show, I took a step back from the live performance to listen to the lyrical content of the track, it gave further credit to the high quality of composition, both musically and lyrically. It also gave me a greater understanding to the formidable formula that makes up a Legacy Alive song.
The culmination of the evening was the lead single from the EP launch ‘Great Unknown’, as Jacob announced the EP was originally an album but they decided to split it into two EP’s to get it out faster in this year of uncertainty and unknowns. The track is a fiery piece, steeped in all of the delights of eighties grandeur, it’s stacked with riffs, a catchy as hell hook and oozes with guitar solos that you would want in a Van Halen or Bon Jovi piece. I particularly liked Frank’s style throughout this song, he clearly has a comfort behind the kit, fluidly moving through rolls and fills throwing in stick spinning whilst singing harmonies, a true pleasure to watch.
I think a huge factor in what makes Legacy Alive the complete package is the fact they do everything themselves, whilst the drums were recorded at Vision Studios everything else on the EP was recorded at Legacy Studios. Jacob mixed, engineered and mastered ‘The Great Unknown’, he’s truly a very talented man, speaking with him about the process he mentioned they had been mastering for a while now, working on a single with Jackson Koke and Matt Taylor (Chain). I think this is another reason that I feel Legacy Alive is a very underrated band, from their show being packed out with fans to recording, mixing and mastering their own music to even working on other musician’s tracks. I cannot wait to hear the full EP in February when they release it at Perth Rocks Festival.
If you haven’t already seen them, I strongly recommend going out to see them, the same for all of the bands on the show. As always thanks to Scott Crighton for the impeccable sound, to Amplifier for their newly improved set up including an outdoor beer garden and of course to the Legacy Alive boys for putting on a show with the perfect three band line up which allowed all bands to get a decent 45 minute slot each.
Set List:- Firefight, Let it go, Crisis, Good Ride, Lucid Chances, Goodnight, Great Unknown, Left Behind
Review conducted for The Rockpit, Australia 28 November 2020