Sometimes, there’s nothing better than an outdoor concert. When the weather is just right, the crowd is in the right mood, and the band(s) is sonically in the pocket. So it was at the Rock Never Stops concert August 13th at the Wisconsin State Fair.
I normally focus on the strengths of the concert when reviewing and then mention the negatives of it, if any. But for this review, I have to address the one thing that kept this show from being all it could be. There were time limitations put on the bands, and they were severe. Being this was held on the Wisconsin State Fairgrounds, they would not let the concert run past when the fair closed. So Firehouse, Ratt, and Quiet Riot were only allowed to play for 20 minutes each. TWENTY MINUTES! That’s 4 songs and some very brief talking in-between songs. Cinderella was only allowed to play for 40 minutes. Whatever promoter that brought this package into the state fair made a very poor decision by either pulling in a tour with this many bands, or having the show at the WSF. It was not fair to the bands, and it was not fair to the fans.
Firehouse hit the stage full of energy, seemingly comfortable in their role as the “warm-up” band. This band delivers in a live setting, and this night was no different. I’m not sure why… but the tempo of two of their songs; “Love Of A Lifetime” and “Don’t Treat Me Bad”, were a bit too slow. Normally bands will speed their songs up, so this had me a bit curious. One thing to note was that their drummer (Michael Foster) did not seem happy one bit. He never cracked a smile while the other band members were hamming it up. I’m guessing that it had to do with their extremely short set.
Quiet Riot came out next, and they managed to get the crowd to their feet and into every song. Lead singer Kevin Dubrow, who looked almost like a Rod Stewart impersonator with his highlighted blonde locks and leopard skin outfit, definitely made the most of their short set. Fans were treated to their hits such as “Mama We’re All Crazy Now”, “Come On Feel The Noise”, and “Metal Health”. They could have kept going, and I think the crowd wouldn’t have minded at all.
Then Ratt hit the stage, full of swagger and attitude. Naturally, the biggest bummer with Ratt is that it’s not even the original lead singer, Steven Percy. Their current singer, Jizzy Pearl, seemed more into strutting and posing than to doing the songs justice. The rest of the band, which only contain two original members (drummer Bobby Blotzer and guitarist Warren Dimartini), sounded fine. But watching Ratt was almost like eating imitation crap meat at a seafood restaurant. How this version of Ratt was not the opener is beyond me, as both Firehouse and Quiet Riot blew them out of the water.
Cinderella took the stage, and the crowd was definitely ready. The only band on the tour to have 100% of their original members from their heyday, they didn’t waste a second of their measly 40 minutes. They gave a 110%, and the crowd gave right back. Word for word, song after song. Tom Keifer looks and sounds like he stepped out of time machine, he hasn’t changed one bit in two decades. He really could be a one man show, as he floated from playing guitar, harmonica, piano and even a saxophone! The biggest change with this band is the looks of their bassist, Eric Brittingham. Once the only blonde in the band, now the casual fan wouldn’t have recognized him with his black locks and facial hair. Other than their short set, there’s nothing negative I can say about their show. It was hit after hit, each one sounding fantastic. “Somebody Save Me”, “Shelter Me”, “Coming Home”, and “Nobody’s Fool” were the highlights of a fantastic performance. Add a little pyro, and you have one heck of a concert that gave fans a steal for their money. And that’s even after the fair short-changed them.