American glamsters Jetboy are one of those bands I got into during the dark years in the 1990´s when the grunge wave was at its height. My friends laughed at me when I told them I had discovered a new, cool band that I missed out on in the 1980´s. Let´s be honest and say they did not get so much promotion over in Europe where I lived so that might not have been so strange. Anyhow, the debut album, Feel the Shake, was riddled with those infectious choruses on songs like the title track, “Make Some Noise” or “Locked in a Cage”. Mickey Finn with his huge mohawk haircut was so different from anything else in the genre and I wanted to know more about these guys. The next obvious album to check out was the second, entitled Damned Nation, and it had been released in 1990. I really think this album even supersedes its predecessor by far. Mickey Finn´s vocals are one notch up and sometimes remind me of the great Richard Black of Shark Island. A heavier album, it still had all the trademarks of Jetboy.
For a long while, that was all that was heard of the band and I just assumed that they´d split never to be heard of again. Then collections of unreleased songs started being released by Texas-based label Perris Records in the late 1990´s and early 2000´s. These were obligatory purchases of course and a couple of years later the band got back together and started playing the odd gig, mostly around the Los Angeles area. It never even crossed my mind that I would ever see the band live one day. Then the opportunity randomly appeared when the band was added to the bill of Rock N Skull 2016, long after I had purchased my ticket for the event. Unfortunately, however, they were replacing the band for which I originally had bought the ticket – the great Gypsy Rose.
This gig had been highly anticipated by me although I found out that original drummer Ron Tostenson was no longer with the band. Filling in on drums was Al Serrato and on bass we had Faster Pussycat bass man Eric Stacy. The band came out hard, starting off with the catchy “Locked in a Cage” which invites you to sing along and shout your lungs out. It sounds tight and except for the partly strange acoustic sound of the venue, I get into rocking mode almost instantly. My fist is in the air and it is impossible not to shout along. Jetboy use the momentum to build on a great start and go on with the first album epic ”Make Some Noise”. The crowd responds to the band’s plea for that one.
Fernie Rod delivers a couple of fiery guitar solos and the rhythm guitar from Billy Rowe is steady as a rock. Mickey‘s voice seems in fine condition although he states that he is so happy to still be doing this after more than 30 years. Well you know Mickey, we are really happy that you guys are still around letting us feel the shake. They go on with the gritty “Bad Disease” which is another cut from the classic debut album. When announcing the next song Mickey Finn tell us that they have just re-released the Off Your Rocker EP in Europe and that they are going to play the first song off that EP called ”Going Down (Above the Clouds)”. He also reveals that the lyrics are about the first time he had sex on an airplane. This song takes the tempo down a little bit and it is not as well received. The lost momentum continues on ”Bullfrog Pond” and one of the weaker tracks off the still excellent Damned Nation album. We are soon back on track on the Damned Nation anthem “Rock n´ roller”. Al Serrato and Eric Stacy provide a steady beat and make the loss of the classic members indistinguishable. ”Moonlight” fires up the steam again and my fist is back in the air. Any focus on other things around me is long gone again.
Things are moving towards the end of the set and time is almost up. Mickey introduces the Jetboy dedication to the American car industry with the song ”Heavy Chevy” which is a heavy song with a nice chorus line and one of too few songs played off the excellent Damned Nation album. The gig ends on a high with the big Jetboy anthem ”Feel the Shake”. The crowd shouts and sings along to it and they are greeted with a great roar when the guys finish.
All in all, the gig shows a band that has aged with dignity. The performance is top notch and any thoughts of a band soon going into retirement are long gone. Personally, I miss great songs like ”Stomp it (Down to the Bricks)” which definitely should have been in the set and the melodic and catchy ”Evil” might have been given the edge in favor of some of the more modest songs. This gig was definitely one of the highlights of the whole Rock n´ Skull weekend. The band showed up at the merch stand and I was able to have a brief chat with the guys. They were really friendly and stayed for a long while taking pictures with fans.
Mikael “The Lionsheart” Svensson
PHOTO CREDIT: Shawn “Animalize” Irwin