Sebastian Bach should need no introduction but for the few who may not know his background, he is a legendary Canadian rock/metal singer and sex symbol who has been on the scene for 25 years, making his name as the front man of Skid Row. Since 1996 he has pursued a successful solo career as well as taking part in Broadway plays and taking on television roles. He still has his trademark long blond hair and is as energetic and charismatic as ever. Two days before playing Manchester Sebastian played Sonisphere festival and there was a well-documented incident where the tent was closed off due to some over enthusiastic fans pushing and shoving to get into the too-small area. (Watch the interview for his take on this.)
Supporting tonight were Toseland, the Yorkshire blues rock quintet fronted by James Toseland. The incredibly small stage was made even cosier by the fact that their drumkit had been positioned in front of the headliner’s kit meaning James could not move from his spot in front of his mic and keyboard, and bassist Roger was almost wedged between the drummer and an amp. James apologized to the crowd, saying; “Sorry I can’t say hello to everyone but I’m kind of jammed in!” The band’s performance was not compromised in any way though and they gave it their all throughout their short set, kicking off with ‘Gotta be a Better Way’ and ‘Burning the System’. There were clearly a large number of Toseland fans in the audience and they attracted a large crowd which got even larger as the set went on.
Even if you didn’t know who they were you couldn’t fail to be drawn in by the bluesy rock riffs and charisma. James played the keyboard along to ‘Life is Beautiful’ then the set ended with the 90s rock influenced ‘Renegade’ and the most recent single ‘Crash Landing’ which got everyone moving and singing along to the catchy chorus.
Before Sebastian himself appeared to play the sold-out show, his star-studded band, including drummer Bobby Jarzombek (Halford/Riot) and guitarist Rob De Luca (UFO/Spread Eagle), took to the stage and played us into ‘Slave to the Grind’ (from the Skid Row album of the same name). Sebastian bounded on and attempted to headbang but then soon realised there was a beam just above his head and he gave a comical impression of someone bashing their head and almost falling over. The small stage (which he commented was probably the smallest he’d ever played on) combined with his height meant that he couldn’t get up to his usual antics of jumping around and moshing but again, as with Toseland, this did not detract from the show.
Sebastian showed off his spot-on vocals as he powered through the set which comprised of 9 Skid Row songs, 1 cover (Painmuseum’s ‘American Metalhead’) and 5 of his newer songs from his solo career. Something else that was apparent was his sense of humour, as all through the show he was laughing and making quips, mainly about the stage size and how it was “hot as hell”.
At the beginning of the incredibly moving ’18 and Life’ the audience began singing along to the guitar intro and Sebastian held his hand up and joked; “Hey, you’re supposed to wait for me!” He seemed to be moved by the reaction of the crowd to all the songs and, as could probably have been predicted, it was the Skid Row songs such as ‘Big Guns’, ‘Piece of Me’ and ‘In a Darkened Room’ that got the best reception. Having said that there were clearly plenty of fans of his solo work there too which was great to see. As he said himself, he’s still going strong after 25 years in the job.
After ‘Monkey Business’ Sebastian told the crowd that was the point where they were supposed to go off stage and pretend they weren’t coming back, then appear again. He disappeared for about 3 seconds, then ran back on shouting; “I’m back! Hey- I’m baaaack!!” There were 3 encores; another emotional and moving Skid Row song- ‘I remember You’-followed by ‘All My Friends Are Dead’ which is from his latest album Give ‘em Hell and features Duff McKagan on guitar (although Duff himself did not appear unfortunately!) and finally the most iconic Skid Row song of all, ‘Youth Gone Wild’. Sebastian dedicated this to all the fans that had been around for 25 years, particularly those who were at the Milton Keynes Bowl where they played with Vixen and Bon Jovi. The crowd loved it and many seemed to be re-living those days, then the band took a bow and Sebastian informed everyone he couldn’t wait to take a shower as he was so sweaty, and that was that.
A brilliant performance overall that showed Bas has definitely still got it and his voice is better than ever. Hopefully he’ll be around for many more years to come and will keep releasing albums and performing, hopefully on bigger stages where he can headbang to his heart’s content!
1) Slave to the Grind
3) The Threat
4) Big Guns
5) Piece of Me
7) 18 and Life
8) American Metalhead (Painmuseum cover)
9) Tunnel Vision
10) Taking Back Tomorrow
11) In a Darkened Room
12) Monkey Business
13) I Remember You
14) All My Friends Are Dead
15) Youth Gone Wild
Review: Rachel McMurdo