|Vain/Stala & So - Cardiff, Bogiez - 15th March 2012|
|Written by David Whistance|
|Wednesday, 28 March 2012 05:30|
On entering tonight's venue and witnessing an array of back combed hair, a combination of leather trouser and cowboy boots whilst a feast of great '80s hair metal emanates from the speakers I can't help but feel that I've suddenly been transported back in time, to a place when music was all about good times, partying and women. That is until I notice my paunch sticking inelegantly over my stretch jeans and I'm quickly brought back to reality and the reason for tonight's nostalgic display...there is a glam legend in town!
But first we have the little matter of Helsinki glam metallers Stala & So to deal with. For anyone in tonight's audience who hadn't been living under a rock for the past two decades they would have already realised that lead vocalist Sampsa Astala has either been in their living rooms or been witnessed destroying stages at various festivals in recent years under the guise of Kita - as he was once the drummer of monster rockers (and Eurovision winners) Lordi. That is until he lost his position when he dared to break the unwritten rule of the band by appearing in public without his disguise when entering Stala & So in the 2011 Eurovision song contest with their European bubble gum anthem 'Pamela'.
So it's without a hint of irony that as the band take to the stage they look like they belong in a 1970's edition of the Eurovision song contest, in particular their behemoth of a guitarist in a red leather flared jump suit looking not unlike a member of seventies glam legends The Sweet. Sampsa Astala (or Stala as he likes to be known now) meanwhile looks like he's stepped straight from the sun set strip circa 1987 as the guys deliver a set of glam metal delights with a distinctive European feel. Stala most definitely relishing in his role as front man after being stuck behind a drum kit in disguise for so many years. Stala & So might not be rewriting the rock 'n' roll history books tonight but as a warm up act for a glam metal legend they certainly do an amicable job.
The last time I witnessed Vain live was in one of the coldest venues I've ever had the misfortune to attend, namely The Vice club in Swansea, where upon the original line up of the band would play their debut album 'No Respect' in its entirety to a poorly attended crowd of people (not that you would have noticed by the jovial mood of Davy Vain mind you). Whilst I couldn't knock the performance of the band that night, they were hardly recognisable from the big haired chaps adorning their old record sleeves, that was apart from lead vocalist Davy Vain who hadn't appeared to have changed at all over the previous two decades and I couldn't help but wonder if he in fact possessed an oil painting of himself in his attic. However as he takes the stage tonight accompanied by a band barely out of their teens I realise my previous judgement may have been slightly misjudged, that is not to say Davy Vain hasn't aged gracefully though as he still commands the stage tonight like a performer half his age.
Tonight the band are in Cardiff for the second night of their UK tour to promote the 2011 album 'Enough Rope' and anybody in possession of said album will no doubt agree that it's a definite return to form, and one that easily rivals the band's debut. Whilst 'Enough Rope' features original members James Scott, Tom Rickard and Ashley Mitchell on the live front it's simply "The Davy Vain Show" as he has selected a fine array of young musicians to accompany him on this trek. But stop right there, anybody reading this sighing at the prospect of this particular scenario having witnessed many bands in the genre touring with a revolving door of musicians whilst giving a third rate performance, will have their opinions changed by this version of Vain as "this band rocks," and personally I have to commend Davy for selecting such a fine band and for more importantly giving us a chance to hear these new songs in the live arena.
As Davy spits out the lyrics to opener 'Secrets' I feel like I'm about to witness something very special, his voice sounding as vibrant as it did in 1989, before heading straight into 'Greener' a track from the new album already proving to be a crowd favourite. The band playing a mixture of material from both their debut and latest albums, but when both albums are as great as these nobody is about to complain, even though it would have been nice to have heard some material from 'On The Line'.
I'd forgotten just how great debut album 'No Regrets' sounded, always preferring the less polished sound of the San Franciscans compared to the conveyor belt of hair metal bands of the time, and tonight 'Who's Watching You', '1000 Degrees', 'No Respect' and 'Icy' have never sounded so fresh and animated, whilst the songs from the new album seemed to be as popular as the old favourites in particular 'Stray Kitten Burns', 'Cindy' and set closer 'Triple X'.
It wasn't just Davy's vocal skills that stood out for yours truly tonight, his onstage banter kept me captivated throughout the evening, his tales about sexual diseases and sharing a house with ex Guns N' Roses drummer Steven Adler kept me laughing throughout, but nothing could top Davy's complete bewilderment of Wales and in particular the Welsh language, even commenting at whether he and the band would be able to leave the venue alive after discovering our secret code. It was great to see a band from this particular genre leave their egos at the door (unlike certain bands that shall remain nameless) and just let the music do the talking for once. The band returning for their biggest hit and MTV favourite 'Beat The Bullet' as the crowd erupts for the finale.
Tonight I was half expecting to simply enjoy a night of musical nostalgia; instead I happened to witness a gig that could be an early contender for my Uber Rock gig list of 2012.