FASTER PUSSYCAT, PARADISE KITTY & MAYBE NEVER – Rochester, NY (Concert Review)

Faster PussycatAhhh the road trip! Almost more exciting than the destination. I have a friend that I used to road trip to shows with, rival website editor Olivier from Sleazeroxx. Often road trips would bring us across the border into the US of A. A new city, new venue…always exciting. Somewhere we drifted apart. He got busy, I got busy. We call it the mutual breakup. Recently we have gotten back on the horse and the rock and roll road trip is revived! Borne out of a shocking meeting at the Mpre-party we realized that we both still were traveling for shows.

Our first venture back was Friday, July 26 and a three-hour journey to the Rochester area for Quiet Riot. After over four hours in the car and still not even reaching the Canada/US border we aborted mission as we would arrive missing the show at this point. Disappointing to be out the time and ticket money and miss the live show, but the traffic was unimaginable. 

Attempt number two, while still flawed, met with more success. Sunday, July 29 saw us again on the same route to Rochester area for Faster Pussycat/Paradise Kitty. The drive was slow and the border crossing line horrific, but we made it a few moments before the local opener took the stage. That opener stated their presence even before they got on stage. I counted more Maybe Never shirts in front of the stage than anything else.

MAYBE NEVER

Maybe Never, was impressive, to say the least. Their heavy brand of hard rock garnered rapt attention right from the first song. With strong female vocals and a great catchy chanting chorus by the male bassist and guitarist, “Smells Like Sin” set the bar. And, like riding an escalator, it only got higher and higher as the show went on. I was fully on board by the end of the second song, “Ghost Me.

All three front members were up on monitors regularly. The bassist A.D. Zimmer and guitarist Steve Cone always switching sides. Maybe Never used the full stage well. Lots to watch, simple but effective. Next were songs “With Blood” and “In the Water”, the latter announced by singer Jody Luce. During the later moments of the song “In the Water” she nearly tripped and fell stepping back off a monitor. She covered well, sharing a quick smiling laugh with guitarist Cone and the song never missed a beat.

One they’d never played out before came in “Hangman” ahead of “Something About You”. Awesome song which had a great low-end groove thundered through by drummer Aaron Robinson. This was the start of the real end upswing to an already engaging set. “Everybody Up” literally had that feeling to it for me. Maybe Never ended with a song you might know but this is our version” introduced Cone. Indeed we all knew Led Zeppelin‘s “Communication Breakdown” but this was really rocked up and sounding great. Hope it’s on the CD I saw at the merch table on the way in.

Absolutely fabulous set from a completely unheard of band! Shockingly during the CD purchase post gig, learning that this was indeed only Maybe Never‘s second live set! I know what we’re spinning on the drive home, Maybe Never‘s newly purchased debut CD!

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And now it was like being transported back aboard the happiest place on earth. No, not Disneyland, but Monsters of Rock Cruise.

DON JAMIESON

Now we were treated to the comedic stylings of Don Jamieson. And I use the word “treated” loosely and incorrectly. First of all, it’s an odd blip in the action to go from a rocking live music set to stand-up comedy and then back to live music. While just my opinion and I know different strokes for different folks, I just don’t get it. In fact, it’s not just Jamieson. I don’t get That Metal Show. It wasn’t aired in Canada so I’d never even heard of it nor it’s hosts. Well, I’d heard the name Eddie Trunk, but didn’t really know who he was on that first Monsters of Rock Cruise. I’m not the only one. Many Canadians and also Europeans I’ve talked to on cruise don’t get it.

And basically, I don’t find Jamieson funny. I had one vague chuckle, but mostly I felt embarrassed for him. Again, just my opinions and as evidenced by the crowd stage front laughing right along with him, I’m not in the majority here tonight.

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PARADISE KITTY

It’s through the cruise that I first came in contact with Paradise Kitty. They are an all-female Guns and Roses tribute band. And they’re pretty damn good as well! Performing as well as looking! Although as the ladies began taking the stage and plugging in instruments, I noticed that only Jenna Syde (vocals) and Rachel Rhine (drums) were from the cruise shows. I’d seen a couple different guitarists (Courtney Cox even for one year/gig), but these two were totally new. And disappointingly bassist Nikki Stevens also was not present, a taller blonde in her place. After some sound checking, the ladies disappeared from the stage. Shortly the recorded intro beginning with “Pink Panther Theme”, running through a collage of several songs and ending with Tom Jones“What’s New Pussycat?” signified the big entrance.

Launching into the well-known and uplifting opening riff of my fave GnR tune “Outta Get Me”, Paradise Kitty made their statement in minutes. Addressing the band, vocalist Jenna Syde said “powder your noses ladies, let’s get this shit done!” as “Mr. Brownstone” was followed by “Nighttrain”. While Paradise Kitty exhibited great stage presence all around I especially noticed blonde guitarist, Ariel Bellvalaire on the far side of the stage really banging. Amidst some short stage addresses Paradise Kitty served up ripping classics “Rocket Queen” followed by “Welcome to the Jungle”. Do you know where you are? Do you need an uber? Jenna bounced around the stage commanding attention at every moment. Her serpentine dance carefully calculated.

The barrage continued with “Sweet Child o’ Mine” and “You Could Be Mine”, the lone Use Your Illusion inclusion. I must say that I really miss Nikki‘s bounce and energy on stage. In defense of the current bassist, she didn’t have a fan and literally seemed to be totally melting in the heat on stage, evidenced by the sweaty sheen coating her face. A cover of GnR doing a cover of Aerosmith‘s “Mama Kin” took us to “It’s So Easy”, for all the dirty girls. I had a little chuckle during “My Michelle”. A random crowd attender rushed up to Danny Nordahl (Faster Pussycat bassist) who was watching side stage near me and had him sign the Faster Pussycat debut cassette. Do you know he didn’t play on that release mate? The girls wrapped up with “Used to Love Her” followed by “Paradise City”.

Rousing high energy set, great job ladies! Many people bash cover bands. But I’m all for them. I love hearing these classic tunes that I had to hide from my mother in days of youth. And the added niche of being an all-female band vs. the original all male. Just a really fun time.

FASTER PUSSYCAT

Now many may already know I’m not a high and mighty Faster Pussycat fan. I was a few years ago, even traveled great distances to see them. But to be honest, I got a bit tired of the schtick. The standard recorded “Pussy is a powerful thing” intro led the band on stage. Blasting into “Jack the Bastard”, like Paradise Kitty‘s start, my favorite song. Great vocal harmonies in the choruses. Next along was “Cathouse” and I couldn’t help notice the difference in stage presence and energy. After Paradise Kitty‘s show, Faster Pussycat seemed rather subdued with little stage action.

“Slip of the Tongue” was a hit amongst friends in days of youth. We figured out what the lyrics meant. I thought about Faster Pussycat and considered that Taime has done a great job of prolific touring of the band, considering there’s been no new material since 2006. One thing is certain and that’s that Ace Von Johnson and his guitar partner Xristian Simon can sling their axes! By the way, Simon‘s was lit up red down the neck. Visiting that 2006 album, “Number 1 with a Bullet” and the title track “Power and the Glory Hole” came next. The Carly Simon cover “You’re So Vain” had me wondering just what was “off” soundwise. Something didn’t sound right. “Don’t Change That Song” also seemed off. I think it was bassist Danny Nordahl‘s backup vocals.
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After a little stage confusion, Taime took a seat on a road case for “House of Pain”. The Faster Pussycat boys were joined by Paradise Kitty‘s Rachel Rhine, Jenna Syde and Ariel Bellvalaire for the sing-along classic. Remaining seated, Taime led his band through “Nonstop to Nowhere” ahead of “Where There’s a Whip There’s a Way”. During “Bathroom Wall” Taime Downe mumbled unintelligibly into the mic and all of a sudden he was gone. Guitarist Ace Von Johnson took control of the mic. With Downe off stage, the show seemed to liven up a bit as there were no worries about upstaging the boss. Shortly, Jamieson was out and singing the next track…and he was actually quite good! Given I didn’t know the song of course. The rotating singers continued as Nordahl took over for “Pretty Fucked Up”. With Downe back, they reprised “Bathroom Wall”.
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“Shut Up and Fuck” and “Babylon” closed out Faster Pussycat‘s time. I enjoyed it overall. Much better than the infamous (-ly embarrassing) Monsters of Rock Cruise uber drunk midnight pool stage show that has become a tradition. I recall the first cruise when Faster Pussycat had two shows in the tiny lounges. Now they get Pool Stage gigs. That cruise has done quite a bit for Downe and the boys.
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All in all, a great night. Glad we made it out! While Paradise Kitty stole the show, Maybe Never was a pleasant surprise. They are a band to watch out for as they are on the rise. Hopefully, I encounter them again before long!
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COMPLETELY CRAPPY CELL PHONE PHOTOGRAPHY BY: The Meister

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The Meister

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