Nov 9, 2009

VH1 Metal Mania Unplugged - House of Rock

By Bob Suehs


VH1 Metal Mania Concert

Jani Lane • Stephen Pearcy • Don Dokken • Reb Beach • Firehouse • Kip Winger


House of Rock - Maryland

I'll admit that the premise for this tour, to take hairband giants & to strip them down to just acoustic guitars & to "Strip" their music down to the basics, was not really anything that I found interesting, UNTIL I got to see it done live, & then I realized that there was a unique thing there, because each band on the bill were primarily known for their loud, amplified sound, & to take something that's loud & over the top, & to turn it down & un-plug it, really shows the musical value in each artist, plus, this tour is promoting the VH1 Metal Stripped Unplugged 2 record, so everything serves a purpose here I suppose.

I guess the interesting thing really, is to see bands that used to see out & headline arena's, playing in these small, intimate clubs, which, if you were old enough to remember these bands, you can really take a trip back into "hair Band" history & re-live some cool tunes with some of the original guys who created this music!


First on the bill, opening the show up was Kip Winger & Reb Beach, who played the "Hits" of WInger. "Seventeen" & "Magdalene" were the 2 songs that got the crowd really pumped, but it was the stuff in the middle that showed just how good of musicians these 2 guys really are, although I did miss the intricate guitar solo's that Mr. Beach had performed in the originals, these songs were all pretty much flawless, & it was funny to see how Mr. Winger was still the same guy that he was back in the day, just he no longer wore shredded t-shirts & leather pants. Winger played about 6 songs before they vacated the stage.

Stephen Pearcy & his Ratt-Bastards stormed the stage next & they were rockin! "Way Cool Jr." opened their set, & they did a good selection of all the hits, including "Lay It Down", "Round & Round" & "Walkin' the Dog". Stephen REALLY got the crowd on their feet, & his set had as much energy as an acoustic set could possibly have! Stephen was wearing a guitar that was covered in stickers & the focal point of all the decals were pics of Robyn Crosby, & his guitar strap looked like a Police Line Do Not Cross Banner. Out of all the bands on the bill, Stephen really personified the 80's & he still had the same amount of charisma & personality that he did back in the day...even his looks were pretty much the same! I'd have to say that the set of Ratt tunes was my personal highlight of the was like you were sitting around a camp fire & Stephen was singing the tunes directly to you in a very personal & intimate just made arena rock seem stale!

Firehouse took the stage next, & I'm gonna be totally honest here...I review bands that I like, & I have NO pressure to review a band that I don't like, so I was never a Firehouse fan back in the day, so why would I review or promote anything that I just didn't/don't like, or care to talk about, ya know? I'd be a hypocrite to lie to anyone...Firehouse played an okay set, but I just didn't want to see them, so I went away till their set was done.

Jani Lane was to be the 4th on the bill, & this is where the night took a turn! Jani came out looking like a mix of one of the guys from the band Lit & Albert Einstein...his hair was pretty fried looking & someone from the crowd commented on his weight loss & he picked up his shirt to show he had lost some weight. Jani opened with "Uncle Tom's Cabin" which was full of flaws & flubs, & then he went into an impromptu version of Prince's "Purple Rain" which was actually quite good! "Cherry Pie" was played with alot of flubs, "Heaven" was actually pretty flawless, & "I Saw Red" was what ended up being his last song. When Jani came out, he had a DIet Coke & he spilled it all over the stage...for some reason, in the middle of his set he threw down his guitar & tossed his guitar pic (I got it!), & he allowed his guitar player to play the guitar by himself while Jani just sang, & his guitar player commented that Jani should look at the crowd & not just him & Jani replied, "But I love you so much!". Jani appeared to be hammered, or stoned, or on "Something", because he couldn't keep things rolling & he commented that this was the worst show he'd ever done & after "I Saw Red" Jani tried to leave, but he couldn't find the door & tried to walk into a storage closet, & a roadie had to show him the door & he walked off, & the made noises & some people were saying that was a horrible show, Jani Sucked, etc., but to be honest with you, that IS rock N roll & I enjoyed the spontaneous act of Jani falling apart before our was very human, & it WAS sad, because Jani is a great singer, but he's self destructing, & the small crowd that night got to see the beginning of the downward spiral. All I can say is Jani...Please get it together...we've had too many rock n roll casualties!


Next up were the closers..Don Dokken with Reb Beach!

Dokken played a 6 song set & it was more like storytellers off VH1...Dokken is actually a really good guitar player & I was impressed by his ability! "Dream Warriors" was the highlight of the set, because Dokken rarely plays that one because the range is too high for him to hit at times, & Reb added alot to the songs! Don Dokken & Reb were mimicking Spinal Tap throughout their set & that was pretty funny if you know that movie. Dokken was a great way to close the show & although Don's hair looks a little fake, this might have been the best set of the night! Don was smoking & drinking throughout the set & he appeared a little tanked by the end, & he interacted well with the crowd & commented how everyone was talking while he was trying to set up each song! If you missed this show, you missed a very rare & unusual tour for sure!