Lunatic's Serenade

Facebook Twitter Google

Brighton Rock/Blacken’d Red/Sarasin
Molson Studios, Hamilton ON
April 29, 2016

This past weekend I had the chance to take in a show at the Molson Canadian Studios in Hamilton Place. For those of you who do not know, Hamilton is a largely metal loving/bustling city in Ontario – priding themselves on rabid adoration for hard rock and metal acts. Thanks in large part to an old friend, I was invited down to review Brighton Rock, Blacken’d Red and Sarasin on a Friday night for a show that would guarantee plenty of hard rockin’ vibes all around.

We managed to cut through all the traffic on the 401, as we made our way to Hamilton from Toronto. When we arrived, the place was already a bee hive of activity and plenty of older rockers were already filling the Molson Studio up fairly quickly. The first act to go on at 8pm was Sarasin, led by guitarist Greg Boileau with whom is a long time veteran musician known mostly in the Hamilton scene. In fact it was stated that Greg was celebrating his 56th birthday, but you wouldn’t have guessed it based on his prolific nature slinging that guitar of his on stage. I was quite impressed with his solo on “Wake Up” and the band also kicked it up a notch on “The Hammer”; the first cut from their 2016 debut on Pure Steel Records. Sarasin’s set was short, but it definitely got the crowd into it and set them up nicely for the next act.

When Blacken’d Red took to the stage, they had a little problem with the power – so after a little calamity the band started things up on a rip roaring number and then proceeded to tear the roof off. Led by the spirited Iggy on vocals, the band informed the audience that this was their final show as a group, and that was a little disheartening to hear that sad news. I rather liked their set quite a bit, and often I seem to recall a comparison to bands like the Killer Dwarfs and Cinderella. They certainly had an infused style of 80’s hair metal and hard rock, blending into a strong set that left the audience with a huge buzz once it was all said and done. Some of the band’s numbers included; “Drive”, “Nothing to Looe”, “Dimestone”, and then they closed off the set with “Watch Me Die”, “Lies” and “Wanted Man”. It’s too bad that after eight years, Blacken’d Red is calling it quits, but such is life for music of this ilk.

The kids today just don’t get into this style of hard rock/metal, so I wasn’t surprised to find the crowd was made up of mostly old time rockers and die hard 80’s metal fans. Perhaps it was only fitting for this type of crowd to enjoy a night like this and when Brighton Rock took to the stage it was most evident. The adoration began quickly and the band opened with “Nothin’ To Lose” from 1991’s Love Machine. The crowd got into it right away and vocalist Gerry McPhee provided a spirited rendition of “Save Me” from 1986’s Young, Wild and Free. At this point in the show we learned that this was the singer’s hometown and he was quite happy to be back performing for family, friends and the fans.

When the band started the first few notes to “Assault Attack” the crowd cheered largely for this classic cut from 1986 and then they dipped into their sophomore release Take A Deep Breath for “Hangin’ High ‘N’ Dry”; a true sing-along in their oeuvre of classic hits. Gerry then announced to the crowd that this was their first show in Hamilton since 1992, so it had indeed been a homecoming of sorts for McPhee and his bandmates. With that said, the band cranked it up with “Power Overload” and then “Can’t Wait for the Night”, before getting into “Can’t Stop the Earth from Shaking”; a number they claimed hadn’t been played for a live audience in twenty years.

“I was just a teenager when I took in my first Brighton Rock concert as they opened for Triumph at the Kingswood Theatre back in the late 80’s.”

They then when full tilt into the hard rocking “Jack is Back” and brought out Sarasin guitarist Greg Boileau to guest on the next number “Nightstalker’. Gerry brought up the fact that he once played with Greg in his first band The Rockers, so it was a nice connection to make, as they ripped into the dark inspired song attributed to 80’s serial killer Richard Ramirez. The pace quickly changed to just good rocking vibes as “Shootin’ For Love” erupted, forcing the audience into another sing-a-long. We then got another heavy hitter in “Bulletproof” and then launched “We Came to Rock” to end the set.

The band left the stage for a brief few moments and then came back for the encore. First up we got “One More Try” from the album Take A Deep Breath; a very popular radio friendly number that the audience really enjoyed singing along to. But to end the night off, Brighton Rock decided to cover one of my favorite AC DC songs “For Those About to Rock (We Salute You)”. Perhaps it was a bit of an odd choice to end a concert with a song you had no hand in writing, but I must say they performed a faithful rendition of this number to send everyone home happy, so I commend the bad for ending the show on that note.

Brighton Rock’s set lasted for about ninety minutes and it was a good time all around. For an old fart like me, it was a chance to revisit a time when hard rock and metal reigned supreme in the golden era of the 80’s. I was just a teenager when I took in my first Brighton Rock concert as they opened for Triumph at the Kingswood Theatre (Canada’s Wonderland) back in the late 80’s; so this was a great night to see the band perform again nearly 30 years later.

Even better, this was also my first trip out to Hamilton Place and it was a great venue to take in a live show like this. I am sure I will be retuning again in the near future, but in the meantime I am still reveling in my first experience there and enjoying a magnificent show put on by all the bands involved.

Kenneth Gallant, HMS

Back to Lunatic's Serenade Menu