Concert Review with PHOTOS: Skid Row


By Nick Daunt

Artist: Skid Row

Date / Venue: Thursday October 25th, 2018 - The Studio, Auckland

Skid Row were central to the development of my air guitar chops as an uninhibited nine-year-old jumping around in my buddy’s rumpus room with reckless abandon and I’ve been a fan ever since.

Times have changed since 1989 but core founding members Dave ‘the Snake’ Sabo, Scotti Hill and Rachel Bolan are still carrying the Skid Row torch some 30 years later. Even though it’s been over 20 years since original singer Sebastian Bach left the band, it’s probably difficult for many people to accept anyone else fronting them.

Bach was an incredibly charismatic frontman with a powerful vocal range few could match (yes even in the 80s). Skid Row’s best and most successful work will always be associated with him, hell, I still hear stories about how the Skids blew Guns n Roses off the stage opening for them at Mount Smart Stadium in 1993.

However, Skid Row knows this better than anyone and they don’t shy away from it. The set is practically perfect, dominated heavily by tracks from their self-titled debut and 1991’s masterpiece follow up Slave to the Grind.

Two local acts kick off the evening with Metaract taking the stage first. Even though the venue is sparsely filled this early they deliver an energetic and tight set. Metaract’s sound is inspired by classic thrash metal and they are a great fit as an opening act.

Silence the Day follows up and though a dozen or so people are head banging along at the front, most of the audience seem impatient and uninspired by the band’s generic hard rock formula.

There’s some tinkering around with sound checks and what not for a good half an hour before Skid Row take the stage, but once the lights go down and The Ramones’ Blitzkreig Bop blasts out the excitement builds. Skid Row storm the stage and launch into Slave to the Grind quickly followed by a string of gems from the first record.

Skid Row are now fronted by ZP Theart, their fourth singer, who has been with the band since 2016. The guy has a hell of task replacing Bach but he’s more than up to it. He’s full of energy, interacting with the audience, encouraging the half-filled venue to go nuts and the crowd warms to him quickly. The dude has serious pipes too (and perfectly conditioned hair, my girlfriend tells me). He struggles a little with some of the highest notes at times, particularly during Livin’ on a Chain Gang and 18 & Life, although the crowd gave him plenty of help on that one. Skid Row has been touring heavily most of the year though and he mentions this is their sixth show in seven days so we’ll cut him slack. Also this is more the exception than the rule as other moments like his spine-tingling opening scream on the closing Youth Gone Wild more than make up for it.

Dave, Scotti and Rachel are a joy to watch. Dave has a smile plastered on his face the whole show and the three of them are full of energy, playing the songs with the same enthusiasm as they did in their heyday. These guys have been playing together for over 30 years and it shows. They bounce off each other effortlessly, full of loose rock n roll spirit but technically flawless at the same time. There is no such thing as too many squealies (pinch harmonics for the non-guitar nerd readers) for Dave and Scotti and their dual guitar approach where they trade solos and dynamically interchange rhythm parts is truly something special to witness.

Other set highlights include Makin a Mess, the power ballad Quicksand Jesus and Get the Fuck Out – the best passive aggressive track ever to play at a party that has run its course. Midway through the set Bolan takes over on lead vocals for a blistering cover of the Ramones’ Psycho Holiday, the crowd screaming along as though it’s as familiar as one of their own tracks.

Of course all the hits were there too, with Theart encouraging everyone to sing along to I Remember You and 18 and Life, to which we happily obliged.

Skid Row seem to have a new lease on life with Theart in the band but they know what their fans want to see and don’t pretend otherwise. There’s a reason why the band sold 20 million records in the Bach era and nothing anywhere close to that since and the set wisely reflects this. These guys still love doing what they do and it’s infectious as hell. Smiles all round as the ‘youth’ go wildly home to bed on a school night.


1. Slave to the Grind

2. Sweet Little Sister

3. Piece of Me

4 Livin’ on a Chain Gang

5. Big Guns

6. 18 & Life

7. Makin’ a Mess

8. Psycho Therapy (Ramones cover)

9. Quicksand Jesus

10. Medicine Jar

11. Monkey Business

12. I Remember You

13. Get the Fuck Out

14. Youth Gone Wild