Review and photos by John Jeffrey
Akron, NY - It’s been the better part of 20 years since Slaughter has played the WNY area. Formed in the beginning of the 90’s, although they weren’t a “glam metal” band (however, Slaughter founders Mark Slaughter and Dana Strum’s previous band, the Vinnie Vincent Invasion, were the epitome of that genre), Slaughter’s arena rock styling got them lumped in with the “hair bands”, which led to the decline of their popularity, when grunge become in vogue in the mid 90’s.
Despite the change in the musical climate, Slaughter continued to release quality CDs with their own unique brand of high-energy hard rock, with the last one being 1999’s “Back To Reality”. Slaughter has been dealt more than their fair share of adversity, as they suffered the loss of their original lead guitar player, Tim Kelly, as he died in a freak automobile accident in 1998. Original drummer, Blas Elias, left the band to join the Blue Man Group, and Dana Strum vacated his spot as bassist for the group for several years in order to be the personal assistant to Motley Crue’s Vince Neil.
Singer Mark Slaughter has probably dealt the biggest blow personally, as due to nodules on his vocal chords and a string of unsuccessful vocal surgeries to fix the problem, Mark’s voice was reduced to a mere shell of what it once was.
But, Slaughter is back! With Dana Strum back in the fold, and through some miracle cure, Mark Slaughter’s voice returning to top form, they are joined by longtime guitarist Jeff Blando and drummer Zoltan Chaney on their current tour, doing a one off show with Ratt vocalist, Stephen Pearcy. Their stop at Braun’s Concert Cove drew fans from all over upstate New York and Canada. Slaughter performed a short, 65-minute headlining set in front of a good-sized crowd, performing songs mostly from their first two studio albums. With a super-loud stage volume, Dana Strum played his bass like a madman, but could not out-do the stage antics of drummer Zoltan Chaney. Chaney is perhaps the most visually entertaining rock drummer on the circuit today, as his over-dramatized playing, and his unconventional hitting of the cymbals with other cymbals was a show of its own.
Guitarist Jeff Blando clearly graduated from the Zakk Wylde school of guitar playing, showing his proficiency in creating and controlling guitar feedback. Again, I cannot stress how great Mark’s voice was on this night. He effortlessly sang all of the songs, just like on the records, not straying away from any of the high notes.
Unfortunately, the same thing could not be said about opener, Stephen Pearcy. Notoriously known as being vocally lazy live, Pearcy reaffirmed the notion, as he half-sang/half-spoke a near 90-minute set of almost all Ratt material (with the exception of performing a cover of Judas Priest’s “Heading Out To The Highway”). Although Stephen did not put much effort into his vocal performance, he and his backing band (featuring former White Lion drummer Greg D’Angelo, and long-time solo band guitarist Erik Ferentinos) created an enjoyable vibe, doing justice to most of the Ratt songs they played. My only real criticism of Pearcy’s band was that their guitar sound was very thin and trebly. Ferentinos, a long-time Gibson Les Paul aficionado, recently switched to playing Stratocasters. Instead of getting that authentic, Warren DeMartini “Ratt” sound, it just made the guitars sound tinny. Pearcy made a few comments about the uncertain future of Ratt, but said he was thankful for still being able to perform at this point in his life, and for the loyalty of his fans.
The Slaughter/Stephen Pearcy show was a great bill and a huge home run for Back II Back Entertainment. I’m looking forward to seeing a number of great shows at Brauns throughout this year’s concert season.
Special Thanks to Ross Catalino, Dana Kaiser and Scott Barberio