Firehouse with Janet Gardner and Justin James @ Riviera Theatre, North Tonawanda, NY 3-30-24

It was pre Easter feast as 2 acts from yesteryear graced the Riviera stage in North Tonawanda, this past Saturday evening. The acts were Firehouse and former vocalist of Vixen Janet Gardner and her husband Justin James. It was little but for everyone as Firehouse had an all plug in electric set while Gardner and James gave an acoustic set. This was the first time I seen either act in a very long time so I was curious to see how each still would measure up all of these years later.

First up was Gardner and James. Gardner left her primary band Vixen a little over 5 years ago to concentrate on her solo career.  Since that time, her and James have put out out 2 records under the Gardner/James moniker. They took to the stage at 8pm sharp and James sat while Gardner stood singing and playing during the 50 minute set.  The material they played was mix of solo and from Gardner’s days with Vixen. Gardner talked about how kids can drive parents mad sometimes. They both dedicated “She Floats Away” to their daughter. Gardner talked about Stevie Nicks being a huge influence on her. They did a cover of Nicks’ “Stop Draggin’ My Heart Around” where she handled both Nicks and Petty vocal parts. Of course, Vixen hits “Cryin” and “Edge of a Broken Heart” were played as well. I thought Gardner’s vocals held up extremely well besides a few cracks on “Cryin,” James let almost all the talking and vocals handled by Gardner. Overall, it was solid set by the two.

Headlining the show was Firehouse.  This is only was second time seeing them and first since 2005. What was noticeable this time around was that original vocalist C.J. Snare was absent. This was due to him recovering from abdominal surgery. He hopes to be back by the end of 2024.  The sub was former American Idol contestant Nate Peck. The unknown Peck had large shoes to fill. No one I talked to had heard or seen him sing in any outfit so there was a lot of uncertainty for sure. The band still was led by original drummer Michael Foster and guitarist and primary songwriter Bill Leverty. The band started with an appropriate track called “Rock You Tonite” off of their second album titled ‘Hold Your Fire.’ Two of their biggest hits followed in “All She Wrote” and Shake and Tumble.” It was immediate that not only could Peck hold his own, that he was winning over the crowd with each song he sang. Beside Peck’s ability to sing the hell out of each song was the overall playing of Leverty. He held the same tones that I remember him playing back in the day from the days of Firehosue being played on the radio awhile being all over MTV. Make no mistake it was Leverty’s playing that was steering the ship of the bands performance at the Riviera. Foster also shined during his short drum solo at the end of “Lovers Lane.” By the end, Peck had everyone on their feet leading the way during heh bands biggest hit in “All She Wrote.” He even said that was jealous that most of the attendees got to live in the best era of music which was the late 1980’s and early 90’s when glam rock was king  (Peck is only 23 and obviously missed this time period).

All in all it was a great night of music provided by both acts and a great way to welcome in Easter Sunday!




Rock You Tonite

All She Wrote

Shake and Tumble

Outta Be a Law

When I Look into Your Eyes

Lovers Lane /Drum Solo

Home is Where the Heart Is

Don’t Walk Away

Guitar Solo

Overnight Sensation

Rock on the Radio

Love is a Dangerous Thing

Love of a Lifetime

Reach for the Sky

Don’t Treat Me Bad 



We would like to thank David Fillenwarth from the Riviera Theater for the credentials to review the show.