By Chuck Cox
When you are a big music fan, you naturally develop relationships with bands for various reasons.
Skid Row is one of those bands for me.
It goes all the way back to Jan. 27, 1989. I was living in San Antonio at the time. And it was on that Friday night I saw Skid Row open for Bon Jovi at Hemisfair Arena four days before the band’s eponymous first album hit stores.
When the lights went down, Napoleon XIV’s “They’re Coming to Take Me Away” started blaring out of the speakers. And then … boom. I spent the next 30 minutes or so falling in love with a band I knew nothing about. It was one of those magical moments you always hope for when you go see live music.
The arena packed with hot girls there to see Bon Jovi didn’t hurt, either. Hey, I was 19 years old at the time.
After that, I saw the band once more with original lead singer Sebastian Bach. Skid Row was opening for Van Halen at what was then Starplex in 1995. The band went on hiatus after Bach was fired the next year.
Skid Row reformed in 1999 with lead singer Johnny Solinger, who grew up in Dallas/Fort Worth and had fronted the band Solinger. I saw the “new” Skid Row play at the dearly departed Bronco Bowl with Vince Neil of Motley Crue, Tesla and Jackyl in 2002. I saw them once more the following year with Poison and Vince Neil back at Starplex, which was then Smirnoff Music Centre.
Until Saturday night at Trees, that was the last I had seen of Skid Row live.
It didn’t take me very long to realize what I had been missing. Seeing Skid Row again after 11 years was like falling in love with the band all over again. They looked great, sounded great and seemed really excited to be playing for their old and new fans.
After opening with “Let’s Go,” the band hit the crowd with four straight songs from Skid Row — “Big Guns,” “Makin’ a Mess,” “Piece of Me” and “18 and Life.” While Bach is a one-of-a-kind lead singer, Solinger fits in very well with the band’s sound. And he was obviously excited to be playing in “a dirty little rock and roll bar in Deep Ellum.”
After “Thick is the Skin” and “In a Darkened Room,” the band played “Kings of Demolition” off its latest EP. It sounded like vintage Skid Row. Skid Row then closed its main set with a cover of the Ramones’ “Psycho Therapy,” the monster power ballad “I Remember You,” “Riot Act” and the amazing “Monkey Business.”
The encore consisted of a cover of Cheap Trick’s “Surrender” for the fans 40 years or older (as Solinger said), “Slave to the Grind” and “Youth Gone Wild.” For me, it was 90 minutes of pure rock and roll bliss. I felt like it was 1989 all over again.
After the show, I got to say hi to guitarist Scotti Hill (who I had met once before) and bassist Rachel Bolan. It was the perfect end to an amazing time. I hope Skid Row makes Dallas an annual stop.
The only opening act I got to see was Carbon, who put on a very solid show and did a great cover of the Butthole Surfers’ “Who Was in My Room Last Night?” Junk and Supernova Remnant also played.