America Rocks Tour (Featuring: Jack Russell's Great White, Faster Pussycat, Bullet Boys and Lillian Axe) @ Rockpile Bar & Nightclub, Toronto, Ontario
Tuesday, June 26, 2012
By: Allan Robertson
The ‘America Rocks’ tour made its only Canadian stop at The Rockpile on the west end of Toronto on this Tuesday night. Thankfully, all the bands made it across the border except for Pretty Boy Floyd who unfortunately did not take part in this show. Instead, local bands Diemonds and Raised Emotionally Dead got the audience warmed up starting at 7:15pm with 30-minute sets each.
Funny enough tonight, all the American bands featured only one original member. In Lillian Axe’s case it was guitarist Steve Blaze. The New Orleans rockers finally returned back to the city after not playing here since 1992. Bringing new singer Brian Jones to the fold, Lillian Axe rocked through a 40-minute set of both old and new songs. Having released a new album earlier this year called ‘XI: The Days Before Tomorrow’, two cuts “Babylon” and “Death Comes Tomorrow” were performed from it. “Deepfreeze” and “Show A Little Love” were highlights for me and I was surprised not to hear “True Believer” in the set.
Up next were the Bullet Boys led by singer and guitarist Marq Torien. His crazy energy along with the cool guitar stylings of Nick Rozz made for a great 40-minute set. All but two songs were taken from the debut self-titled release, going back to 1988. You could tell the brotherhood that all the bands shared including a moment where Faster Pussycat’s Chad Stewart got up on stage to tighten Torien’s loose microphone with a screwdriver. “Witness" was written for one of the greatest guitar players to ever live” Marq stated in reference to Dimebag Darrell. The crowd cheered back in approval and the song was set in motion. Lastly, Torien thanked a Peace Bridge officer who let him into the country despite some trouble he got into when he was younger. The band went out on a high with the hit “Smooth Up In Ya.”
Faster Pussycat is no stranger to these parts as this was their third appearance in a year. They hit the stage at 11:15pm with the classic tune “Cathouse” which is now sang as “Whorehouse.” The gothic looking Tamie Down requested some lights be shut off and held an unlit cigarette for the duration of their 35-minute set. He sat at the edge of the stage for “House Of Pain.” In the middle of “Bathroom Wall,” bassist Danny Nordahl took over lead vocals for a Supersuckers cover of “Pretty Fucked Up.” “Shut Up & Fuck,” a Betty Blowtorch cover, was dedicated to the late Bianca and brought their performance to a close. The show was running behind and I’m sure they were asked to cut their set as the usual closer of “Don’t Change That Song” was missing.
There are currently two versions of Great White out on the road, this one is branded 'Jack Russell’s Great White' and features the original singer. The fact that Jack is alive today and continuing to sing is somewhat of a miracle to say the least. Dealing with substance abuse and health problems over the past couple years, his former band mates counted him out and said he wasn’t up to performing on the road. That couldn’t be further from the truth and to sum it up, Jack is back!! He is surrounded by a great new band featuring Matthew Johnson (Doctor M, Jack Russell) and Robby Lochner (Fight) on guitars, Dario Seixas (Firehouse, Stephen Pearcy) on bass and drummer Derrick Pontier (who played previously in Great White from 2001-2005 and in C.C. Deville’s Samantha 7). 12:20am saw the start of the set as they opened with “Call It Rock N’ Roll” and “Desert Moon” from 1991’s ‘Hooked’ album.
Jack almost came to tears as he thanked the fans for all their letters and emails that pulled him through some tough times. He introduced his band and then acknowledged original Great White drummer Gary Holland was in the crowd, who he hadn’t seen in 28 years. “On Your Knees,” a 1982 love song, was up next. Featured in the middle of “Mista Bone” was a Jimi Hendrix cover of “Voodoo Child” that had Matt Johnson on lead vocals and again later during a blues song called “Save Me.” “Can Of Wupas” identified Robby Lochner’s guitar solo.
“We were on the road with Whitesnake in 1987 and I woke up in a hotel room in Nashville, TN and wrote this song,” Jack mentioned about “House Of Broken Love.” “Can’t Shake It” featured some wicked dueling guitar solos before the band closed with Russell’s favorite Great White song, “Rock Me.” Returning for an encore, Jack thanked the fans once again. “I’ve been doing this for 30 years at least, it’s people like yourselves that make all the truck stops, poor food and shitty hotels all worthwhile." “Once Bitten, Twice Shy” concluded the 75-minute set and showcased Johnson on the keyboards. I wasn’t sure what to expect from Jack, as he looks frail, but rest assured he owned that stage. He sounded great throughout and particularly during the ballad “Save Your Love.” I’ve seen both versions of this band and I can honestly say I prefer Russell’s to the other.
All the bands were accessible for photos and autographs, including Jack ,who came off the bus to meet fans. This was a great package that was inexpensive and highly entertaining, we need more of these tours for sure.
Jack Russell’s Great White Set List:
Call It Rock N’ Roll
On Your Knees
Save Your Love
Voodoo Child (Jimi Hendrix cover, Matthew Johnson on vocals)
Mista Bone (Reprise)
Can Of Wupas (Robby Lochner Guitar Solo)
House Of Broken Love
Save Me (Matthew Johnson on vocals)
Can’t Shake It
Once Bitten, Twice Shy
Faster Pussycat Set List:
Slip Of The Tongue
Number 1 With A Bullet
Sex Drugs & Rock N’ Roll
House Of Pain
Pretty Fucked Up (Supersuckers cover, Danny on vocals)
Bathroom Wall Reprise
Shut Up & Fuck (Betty Blowtorch cover)
Bullet Boys Set List:
Born To Breed
Hard As A Rock
Hell On My Heels
For The Love Of Money (The O’Jays cover)
Smooth Up In Ya
Lillian Axe Set List:
Death Comes Tomorrow
Ghost Of Winter
All’s Fair In Love And War
Show A Little Love
All Photos by Backstageaxxess.com Correspondent Darren Eagles
We would like to thank Valerie Ince from Dreams Carry On Entertainment for allowing Backstageaxxess.com to review the show.