Band Concert Review
Sebastian Bach: Bach Alive
Allstate Arena - Rosemont, Illinois (Chicago) - November 27, 2006
The long and lanky Sebastian Bach hit the stage of the Allstate Arena with the same poise and liveliness that he did when he first performed in Chicago, over seventeen-years ago when he was opening for Bon Jovi. A lot has been written about Bach in the last year with his reality star turn on the VH-1 reality show "Supergroup" along with his opening spot on the Guns N' Roses tour. Like Axl Rose, Bach is touring without his former band (Skid Row). His current backing band is superb, but even they can not rekindle the magic that the original incarnation of Skid Row once had. Great musicians don't necessarily make great bands. While the band's musicianship is first rate, they can't quite capture the magic that people like Dave Sabo and Rachel Bolan brought to these songs. Jon Bon Jovi deserves credit for helping Skid Row reach the limelight, however, they would not have stayed in the public eye without the compelling songs written by Dave Sabo and Rachel Bolan and those songs would not have reached the masses without Bach, one of the most charismatic and misunderstood front men in the history of hard rock. I'd like to see the original Skid Row reconcile because there is so much more that they could accomplish together rather than apart, however, I do realize this is highly unlikely to occur. With that being said, it's not as if Bach and his band called the performance in, on the contrary, they thrust themselves into a tizzy for 75-minutes as Bach led the way giving half of the crowd a nostalgia filled set while to the younger members of the crowd, he demonstrated what a rock n' roll front man is capable of.
The set list was a mix of new material and vintage Skid Row classics. Each performance brought out the inner madman in Bach as he clearly was honored and thrilled to be performing in arenas once again. The energy brought by Bach and his band could not be denied as they delivered heavier renditions of Skid Row classics ("Slave To The Grind" and "Big Guns") while balancing some surprisingly solid new songs from his second solo album to be released in 2007. New material like "Stuck Inside" shows that Bach has no intentions of mellowing with age. He receives a lot of bad press but in truth, one has to admire Bach because he is who he is. He doesn't pretend to be something he's not or follow a band wagon of genre's that are currently popular. He is a rock n' roller at heart who's frantic and thrashing personality can cue crowds into hysteria. There is more than just a pretty face to this poster boy for late 80's metal. Deep in his heart lies a determination and love of rock n' roll and no matter what is riding atop the Billboard charts, expect a first rate rock show anytime you plan on seeing Bach.
Early in his set, the crowds reaction was tepid despite Bach front and center giving his all. Instead of being frustrated by this, he continued to eat away at the crowd, chipping away at their solitude. I deeply admired this as he was not ready to be defeated. Bach gave props to the arena formerly known as the Rosemont Horizon refusing to acknowledge the corporate sponsor which received a roar of approval from the crowd. But the evening's biggest surprise was the new mid-tempo ballad, "By Your Side." This is the first song I have heard from Bach since leaving Skid Row that I feel could have huge potential. With the right promotion, this song could bring Bach and his music back to the mainstream media. "You Don't Understand" was another new number that showed Bach hasn't lost his edge just yet with a riff so pulverizing and assaulting it is reminiscent of a classic Judas Priest or Iron Maiden riff. Regardless of who inspired this song, it supercharged the audience.
As the set progressed, Bach became more and more confident as he belted out the classics of "I Remember You" and "18 and Life", but it was an album cut off of "Slave To The Grind" that really caught me off guard. "The Threat" was delivered with riveting raw energy that the entire arena took into account. When another "Slave" track appeared, "Monkey Business", the crowd was in Bach's hand. He even reminisced about shooting the video for "Business" in Chicago mere days before the band and Guns N' Roses opened the "Use Your Illusion" tour at Alpine Valley to 80,000 fans over two nights in May of 1991. Despite the glories of yesterday, Bach was focused on the present even while he delivered a passionate performance of "Youth Gone Wild", his final number of the evening. Despite being near forty, Bach sung the song with divine conviction making you believe this wasn't just a trip down memory lane.
One of the reasons so many 80's rockers have been unable to reclaim the spotlight is because they haven't stayed true to themselves. Many of them abandoned the metal genre and hopped on numerous bandwagons and when those ventures failed, they came back to metal with their tails between their legs. Despite witnessing the highest highs and the lowest lows the music business has to offer, Sebastian Bach respects his audience and gives them his all for the time he's on stage. Say what you want about Bach, but he's never attempted to be anyone other than himself and as a result has not only stayed true to himself but his music as well.