By Mike Ritchie
From the knees down it looked like the packed house crowd in Franklin could have been sifting through the sands of the West Coast beaches under the warm LA summer sun as JD Legends presented the 80’s metal throw down sponsored by Harley Davidson. Saturday July 11 brought the legendary sunset strip action of Dokken with East Coast players Firehouse and Trixter.
Though commonly linked and lumped into the glam/hair metal category showed that whatever label is bestowed they’re still going strong, outlasting countless others and contemporaries that all tried to ‘make it’ back in the day. Though technically, the first two acts came to prominence in the early 90’s. They played their respective classics, favorites and new material that will remain timeless, proving that the music of the 80/90’s rock scene remains popular, vital and never truly went away.
New Jersey’s Trixter had their first run from the early 80’s to mid-nineties with MTV airtime on Headbangers Ball. After glam temporarily went out and grunge even more temporarily came in, (one of the few ‘hair’ bands that made flannel look fun) they broke up, reuniting in 2008. They opened for Dokken and Firehouse in the early days and for Scorpions and Poison on their first arena run. A second record Hear! followed but failed to catch on in the US with grunge in full swing. After the breakup/reunion New Audio Machine came in 2012 then Human Era this year and they’ve continued to tour since. If nothing else proving their staying power.
They broke out a cut from the machine, showing their still bad boys with a “Heart of Steel.” They were on MTV when it was still cool, making them “One in a Million.” The next tune was a little fast paced and loud for grandma’s chair so they invited certain crowd members on the “Rockin Horse.” Going back to the beginning they stood center stage in the “Line of Fire.”
Motley Crue has their anthem for the working girl but Trixter have theirs for the women that slay and play with ink. “Tattoos and Misery” is the greatest pain and pleasure combo on the market. They went back to ’92 on the “Road of 1000 Dreams” and ended with the Headbangers Ball garage/backroads introduction “Give it to me Good.” More of Trixter at http://www.trixterrocks.com
The original flame that started mid-80’s in Charlotte, exploded in the late 80’s-early 90’s and basically hasn’t stopped since, even outliving MTV’s glory days. The band that was ‘aqua net sprayed’ into the outskirts of the glam/hair scene and won Favorite Heavy Metal/ Hard Rock Artist in 1992 over grunge titans Nirvana and Alice in Chains have continued making new music with extended popularity overseas. They’ve cranked out eight records since 1990 and played a gambit of material acknowledging the early years with healthy doses while proving they’re not ‘nostalgia.’ The Firehouse was ready to sound off.
They set the place ablaze with some hose twisting “Shake & Tumble,” playing the loudest Dear John letter ever, that’s “All She Wrote.” “You’re too Bad” to Hold Your Fire. The tribal drums and arena cry that introduced the world to “Rock on the Radio” Firehouse style hit the speakers. Since 80’s rules applied that night with every hard rock thumper they needed a tender ballad follow up. Cue the keys and the bad boy soft side “When I look into your Eyes.”
“Mama didn’t raise no Fool,” taking the first page from chapter 3 she told you “Love is a Dangerous Thing.” Keyboard synth and acoustics ushered in “Hold Your Fire.” The lovely brunette with the smoking house match suggested “Don’t Walk Away.” With half a decade from formation to success, they’re a self-proclaimed “Overnight Sensation.”
The satin sheets breathed from the synth, as sterling acoustics accompanied the waving hands, smiling faces and dancing bodies. As one of the last power ballads to be used on mix tapes proclaimed, I’ve finally found the “Love of a Lifetime.” They “Reach for the Sky” one more time saving the last shot for their video introduction “Don’t Treat Me Bad.” More at http://www.firehousemusic.com
Unfortunately a rushed schedule/technical difficulty reared its head multiple times during Dokken’s set, affecting the sound, band delivery and his voice on certain songs. They coped, performing through the various issues, apologizing several times as the show must go on. Though they stopped mid-tune on the “Tooth and Nail” encore from equipment problems they played many of their catalogue hits and staples.
From the sunset strip came “The Kiss of Death” as Dokken dressed in black and sunglasses brought back the classic 80’s, 90’s and beyond. They played and plunged “Into the Fire” as guitarist Jon Levine tore/shredded through the long haired history books with the spirit and energy of Randy Rhoads. They spit more Tooth and Nail on “You just got Lucky.” Dokken grinned, “See if you remember this one.” The glove tapped our ear taking a nightmarish trip back to Springwood as Millard Drive became Elm Street and the “Dream Warriors” came back.
They broke out the chains then got a little bit Dysfunctional on “Too High to Fly.” Paris burned bright in the night sky. With a chill of the cymbals the slow, somber chords played out as the stage went cold emotional blue and lighters, cell phones and camera’s lit up ‘the beach’ for the arena anthem. The crowd sang along happy to be “Alone Again” in the moment.
They took a few more turns from Under Lock and Key. The symbolic rain fell on the hot clear night during “In my Dreams.” Then the long flat-bed semi pulled out for a nostalgic trip down Sunset Strip and the boulevard of broken dreams on “It’s not Love,” sandwiching in a Free classic for the old-schoolers.
More Dokken at http://www.dokkencentral.com
JD Legends : http://www.facebook.com/jdlegendsconcerts
All images by Mike Ritchie
Read more from the pit articles and reviews by Mike Ritchie on his web site www.coveringthescene.com