The HardRock Allstars
By Maya Dawn Henderson
Jaime St. James (Black N Blue), Juan Croucier (ex-RATT), Jon E. Love (Love/Hate) and Pete Holmes (Black N Blue) have come together to form a new Super Group, aptly named The HardRock AllStars. Thirty years ago these players were creating their own brand of take-no-prisoners, all American hard rock and metal. Today they still have a passion for what they do and represent, along with an engrained know-how of what it takes to put on a show and to deliver an entertaining product. The HardRock Allstars are a matured return to the elementary fury of their first hair metal/hard rock era. What’s fantastic about HardRock AllStars is the eclectic array of songs that they cover. The set list recalls classic rock gems from the 70’s and 80’s and a few slightly obscure chestnuts for the pleasure of their rock aficionado fans.
Opening with the one-two punch of the iconic Judas Priest, Jaime sang over the dark gallop and skidding guitars of ‘The Hellion’ and ‘Electric Eye’. His voice started off surprisingly strong, hitting high notes and sustaining vibrato and attitude like it was 1984 again. His flashy bravado ingrained into every swagger and wail. If ever there was a born showman, Jaime is it. With kicks as high as his ears and helicopter maneuvers of his mic stand, they launched into a perfect rendition of ‘D.O.A’. They momentarily brought me back to the fist-pumping days long ago when we cranked up the first Van Halen album in the basement. Aerosmth’s ‘Toys In The Attic’ was played next, followed by Golden Earring’s driving tune, ‘Radar Love’. Without question, the HardRock Allstars know what their fans want and are sure to bring it with an almost too-polished precision that only a quarter century on the road can bring.
Guaranteed crowd pleasers like ‘Rock ‘n Roll Damnation’ by AC/DC and Black Sabbath’s ‘Supernaut’ were as exhilarating as expected, maybe even more so thanks to the venue’s intimate size. To further preserve the noisy nostalgia of the evening, they played an old school Alice Cooper classic, ‘Be My Lover’. Pete drove the train with both precision and power during ‘Everybody Wants Some’. His drum solo expressively showcased his talents, including his ability to even play a complex, funky rhythm. Jamie once again demonstrated his vocal chops are in great shape on an unlikely, gorgeous rendition of Mott the Hoople’s ‘All The Young Dudes’. Three really interesting selections from Cheap Trick’s library; ‘Hello There’, ‘He’s A Whore’ and ‘Downed’. Each delivered with a sweet passion that sparked the audience to join in and beg for more. The transitions from one song to the next were smooth, and seemed well thought out.
The swaggery riffs of Aerosmith’s ‘SOS Too Bad’ showed the band’s meticulous attention to detail with this music. There’s really a certain euphoria in witnessing rock legends doing their thing. Juan seemed every bit as excited to be performing. He grinned widely and splayed his signature swivel hip bass guitar spin throughout the show. The Hardrock Allstars give the audience exactly what they expect: meaty, familiar songs delivered by guitars, bass, drums that still proudly stand the test of time. All with tongue in cheek and amps on 10. By the time they launched The Tubes’ down and dirty ‘White Punks On Dope’ and the familiar chugging rock of Alice’s “School’s Out’, that was helped immensely by the blazing guitars of Jon E. Love, the room was up and screaming for more. Not bad for a pack of dirty old dogs that haven’t learned a new trick in decades.
They closed up with songs from their own discographies, Black N Blue’s classic ‘Hold On To 18’ and RATT’s ‘Round and Round’. The performance was a natural knockout – cocksure grooves, pithy knife-play guitars and little overdub fuss. Here they are, a quarter-century later, kicking enough ass to make any of the current young rock stars bow and confess, “we’re not worthy!” Their minions of rock-n-roll fans can continue to revel in and witness the glorious results of a misspent youth. A damned good night of music!