Review/photo by Thomas S. Orwat Jr.
Akron, NY - Multi-platinum, 90's hard-rockers, Firehouse, turned up the heat on an already hot night, when they performed last Friday, at what is quickly becoming the most popular concert facility in WNY- Brauns Concert Dome. The decent-sized crowd was ready to party after local cover band, Hit N Run, played a predictable, high-energy set of classic rock and 80's covers. This was the first WNY performance for Firehouse in eight years, and it certainly turned out to be worth the wait.
Firehouse hit the stage at 9:30pm, and played a hit-filled 90-minute set. The band, which consists of C. J. Snare (vocals), Bill Leverty (lead guitar), Michael Foster (drums), and Allen McKenzie (bass), was focused and zoned in from the start, when they kicked into "Shake & Tumble," from their 1990 best selling debut release. It was very clear from the first song that Firehouse is much more intense, raw and rockin' live, in comparison to their somewhat polished and glossy studio sound.
Firehouse is a true band, in that all four members are equally musically skilled and masters of their instruments. Vocalist C.J. Snare was flawless through the evening. He had no difficulty in hitting some of the higher notes that are prevalent in many of the bands early hits. Although he is 53 years of age, he has lost nothing in range over the years.
Guitarist Bill Leverty may certainly be one of the most talented guitarists in rock. He was just incredible on this evening; all eyes were on him during his blistering and soaring solos, some of which even contained Eddie Van Halen-styled two-hand tapping.
In addition, every member of the band had an opportunity to go into the spotlight and sing lead vocal. Guitarist, Leverty, sang "Holding On," from the 2003 'Prime Time' release. After a rather entertaining drum solo, Michael Foster sang lead vocals, while also playing the drums, to "Door to Door," another great track from 'Prime Time.'
Bassist, Allen McKenzie (who joined the band in 2003 after leaving the Jani Lane band), picked the AC/DC classic, "Highway to Hell," for his moment in the spotlight. Although McKenzie is no Bon Scott, he still had the spirit and the crowd responded by flashing the metal horns and singing out loud.
The highlight of the evening was, without a doubt, when Snare went to the back of the stage to a keyboard for the band’s biggest hit, "Love Of A Lifetime." This song is the perfect power ballad, and again, the band had the crowd singing along and swaying to the music.
The band closed the set with the hits, "Reach For The Sky," and then, "Don't Treat Me Bad." Then, shortly after the band’s set, they came out and signed autographs for the many fans that waited in a long line to meet them.
Firehouse proved that they are still at the top of their game, and hell, maybe even better than ever. Hopefully, the band will return to Brauns next summer and rock us all again.
Shake & Tumble
All She Wrote
You're Too Bad
Rock On The Radio
When I Look Into Your Eyes
Door to Door
Hold Your Fire
Don't Walk Away
Highway to Hell
Love Of A Lifetime
Reach For The Sky
Don't Treat Me Bad
Special thanks to Ross Catalano and Dana Kaiser.