As soon as the Hair Metal Holiday was announced, I got on the internet to see how many members of the various groups had managed to keep the long locks for which an entire genre of rock had been named. Most of them still had it, some had cut it somewhat shorter, a few had shaved their heads and a couple wore caps so we’ll never know. SLAUGHTER is still a hair band, though, and it fits them well.
Mark Slaughter still has the hair and still has the rock and roll voice, although he now looks healthy instead of malnourished. Several members of the audience chose to bring back the 80’s through their dress. Although this was an eclectic crowd where concert T-shirts were the order of the day, but pullover sweaters and a few sport coats were spotted.
I always enjoy concerts at The Bomb Factory and it’s quickly becoming one of my favorite venues. It holds 4,800 with an intimate feel, yet still has the most modern amenities. I talked to several people around me in between bands and they told some great stories, some outright lies and some didn’t even remember the 80’s and early 90’s. As “Highway To Hell” played over the loudspeakers, we heard a primal scream and knew that SLAUGHTER was taking the stage. Mark Slaughter explored the stage as they started “The Wild Life” and Dana Strum on bass and Jeff “Blando” Bland on lead set the tone with hard-charging guitar work. It was a great start to the set with a terrific jam at the end.
The next song, “Burnin’ Bridges,” featured more strong guitar work, but the highlight was the drum jam by Zoltan Chaney.
First, I love the name. Second, he does things with drums I haven’t seen since Keith Moon of THE WHO. I had heard about him and my new friends in the crowd told me about him, but seeing him live was a treat. This was turning into a great night.
As if we weren’t already pumped up, “Spend My Life” kicked it into an entirely different gear. In addition to loving the song, the experience of the music moved everyone in the audience in some way. Mark’s voice still carries the song, Dana and Blando were on fire, both individually and as a guitar unit, and Zoltan played with the drum sticks like a majorette in the Miss America Meat Parade. Mark grabbed some sticks and joined him as a cymbal smasher before Zoltan took one cymbal off a stand and used it to smash the other cymbals. Yes, I want to be a drummer when I grow up.
“Mad About You” was the perfect song to play next as Blando exploded on stage. He was entertaining us and enjoying himself as he had complete freedom. This solo started the introduction of the band and he took advantage of his time to shine. Dana played an aggressive bass for his solo to intense enjoyment as everyone loves a throbbing bass solo. Zoltan’s was amazing as he used his hands and feet to play, hit the cymbals from underneath and rocked our faces off. The band restarted with MUDDY WATERS‘ “I Just Want To Make Love To You,” and a “Yeah, Yeah, Yeah” sing-along with “the biggest choir in the country of Texas!”
One of my favorites, “Fly To The Angels,” was next and it lived up to my expectations. It again showcased Mark’s resonant voice, several chord and harmony changes among the band. Then it was time for their finale. “Up All Night” was a headbanger, from the ten-year-old kids in the audience to the sexagenarians who rock it all night long. The crowd sang most of the song as the band jammed big time. They rocked and they rolled as Zoltan played the drums with a crutch before jumping off a speaker to bang the last cymbal of their set.
We wanted more, but with multiple bands comes a time limit. We were treated to rock and roll the way it was meant to be played. We heard great songs and saw a great live show. The longtime band members still know how to put together a concert that people want to hear and see and still have fun at what they do.
Zoltan Chaney is someone I’m going to watch in the future as I predict great things from him and for him. I never got to see Keith Moon or John Bonham live, but I have seen Bun E. Carlos, Carmine Appice, Graeme Edge and most of the great drummers of the day (Neil Peart stands alone), and Zoltan has the potential to be among the greats. Learning from and playing with master musicians like SLAUGHTER will only make him better. I’m glad I got to see the concert and equally glad I didn’t wear my 1980’s spandex!
LIVE WORDS: DAVID SIMERS
LIVE PHOTOS: GUZPIX
(STAY TUNED FOR PART II FEATURING GREAT WHITE AND DANGEROUS TOYS!)