FIREHOUSE & AMERICAN ANGEL
The Wreck Room - Wallington, NJ
April 9th, 2005
After a rather short hiatus, The Wreck Room in Wallington, New Jersey is back and what better way to celebrate a grand re-opening than with one of Jersey’s finest, AMERICAN ANGEL, and veteran rockers FIREHOUSE. The venue itself certainly hasn’t changed all that much but one of the aforementioned bands definitely has.
Still very much alive and kicking, AMERICAN ANGEL hit the stage at about 10:15pm. Only nowadays, lead singer and founder of the band Rocco Fury stands alone as the last remaining member of the original band but still has the chops to belt out AA favorites like “After the Laughter” or “How Can I Miss You” as well as some of their newer arrangements like “Turns to Grey.” Sadly enough, though, despite the band’s best efforts to put on a performance worthy of the glory days of AA, this particular evening… they were fighting a losing battle against the soundboard. Whoever was on the board for them should be shot! Rocco’s powerful vocals were drowned into the background, for the most part, and the mix as a whole was so horrible that all the instruments just seemed to blend into each other making it hard to even determine one song from another. I was very disappointed but thankfully I’ll be able to check them out again in a few weeks. On with the show!
Now FIREHOUSE, on the other hand, is another story…
I first got the chance to catch these guys way back in 1990 when they played the long defunct Studio One in North Newark, New Jersey and they absolutely blew me away. Since that time, I have seen the band about ten times over the years in small venues and large arenas alike and they have consistently impressed me time after time. Why should tonight be any different? Truth be told… it wasn’t and FIREHOUSE proved once again that they are one of the better live bands over the past decade and today. Despite a very rare “voice crack” every once in a while, take out the crowd noise and it would almost sound exactly like the CD was being played for you right there in the venue.
Other than being “slightly” bass heavy, the mix was perfect and the distinctive voice of lead vocalist C.J. Snare echoed through the venue like a siren. Even after all these years, his voice is impeccable and sounds just as good today as it did on their debut release over 14 years ago. But I cannot go any further without mentioning the backing vocals and harmonies of the rest of the band which really give FIREHOUSE that fat, full sound we are all use to. All of these guys CAN SING and they each get a chance to step up and take over the lead vocal duties throughout the show… but more about that later.
Lead guitarist Bill Leverty has truly come in to his own and is an absolute pleasure to watch. Whether he’s ripping through FIREHOUSE classics or just “jamming” with the rest of the band, watching his fingers just fly so effortlessly across the fret board is a real treat for the average fan and the seasoned musician alike. And when you’re being backed up by long-time FIREHOUSE drummer Michael Foster and the newest member of the band, incredible bassist Allan McKenzie, it drives you even MORE than with just your “average rhythm” section.
After a short intro, which also happens to be the intro on their debut album to the first track “Rock On The Radio,” the band kicked it right in with a couple of crowd favorites “Lover’s Lane” and “All She Wrote.” After that, they kept the ball rolling with a couple of tracks from their latest release “PRIMETIME,” “Crash” and “Holding On”… the latter of which featured Bill Leverty on vocals.
Slowing it down a bit, C.J. jumped behind the keyboards for the next couple of songs… a montage of two of their ballad hits; “When I Look Into Your Eyes” from “REACH FOR THE SKY” and “I Live My Life For You” from “3.” “Shake & Tumble” was next up on the set list but one of the real highlights of the evening followed… a ten minute rendition of “Door To Door” which not only featured Michael on lead vocals, but a heart pounding drum solo by him as well.
The rest of the evening included “Overnight Sensation,” another track from their “PRIMETIME” CD, “Perfect Lie” and even a cover of AC/DC’s classic “Highway to Hell” which showcased Allan’s phenomenal vocals. Of course, what would a FIREHOUSE show be without their classic “Love of A Lifetime” which almost inspired me to whip out that old lighter like back in the day. And I would have, too, if only I wasn’t so close to the stage I probably would have burned Allan’s eyebrows off!
Finally winding down the set with NO encores due to “time constraints” on the venue itself, the band raised the roof with “Reach For the Sky” and their first single ever, “Don’t Treat Me Bad.” The guys then left to take a breather before coming back out for a “meet and greet” with their adoring fans… which AGAIN was cut short because of the damn time constraints! Got a little advice for ya Wreck Room! Instead of opening the doors at 7:30pm and making people stand around for over three hours till the show ACTUALLY starts while you try to cash in on your “BEER MONEY,” try to AT LEAST start the shows a bit earlier. That way you won’t have to worry about trying to kick everyone out… INCLUDING the band… to cover your own asses!
Other than that, it was just another GREAT FIREHOUSE performance. These guys are tight and whether they’re playing for 100 people or 40,000… it’s always the same. Just a great, great rock band doing what they do best… ROCKING THE HOUSE! If you get a chance, don’t miss these guys on the “Rock Never Stops” tour this summer also featuring RATT, CINDERELLA and QUIET RIOT. Even if you don’t like the other bands on the ticket, FIREHOUSE alone is more than worth the price of admission.
Left to right: Michael Foster (Firehouse), Bill Leverty (Firehouse), David Felix (Rock Eyez), Brian Rademacher (Rock Eyez), Judy Latham (Rock Eyez), C.J. Snare (Firehouse), and Allan McKenzie (Firehouse).
- C.J. Snare – vocals, keyboards
- Bill Leverty – guitars, vocals
- Michael Foster – drums, vocals
- Allan McKenzie – bass, vocals
- Lover’s Lane
- All She Wrote
- Holding On
- When I Look Into Your Eyes
- I Live My Life For You
- Shake & Tumble
- Door To Door
- Overnight Sensation
- Highway To Hell (AC/DC cover)
- Perfect Lie
- Love Of A Lifetime
- Reach For The Sky
- Don’t Treat Me Bad
Official Firehouse site: http://www.firehousemusic.com/