December 4, 2015 Buckcherry Shake The Webster Theater Hartford, CT 11-22-15 w/ Saving Abel & Full Devil Jacket
One of the true survivors in this crazy world of Rock-n-Roll has been Southern California’s Buckcherry. With roots that date back two decades, the band has stood toe to toe with time, and in 2015 remain one of the most vital American Rock bands around. Declaring their independence of major record labels back in 2014 with the launching of their own F-Bomb Records, they quickly followed the 2013 concept album Confessions with the fun Fuck EP a year later. Learning new aspects of what makes this music industry’s spinning wheel go round, they are taking their business into their own hands.
Founding guitarist Keith Nelson told CrypticRock “It is the maximum risk with maximum reward. We are kind of hanging our nuts out there, and there is nobody to blame but ourselves and our team, and we are very happy with the way the EP went. The EP was us getting our feet wet in that pool and seeing the result. Now we have the full-length record, things look pretty good at this point, and we are really stoked about that.” That record Nelson would be referring to is 2015’s Rock ‘n’ Roll; a ten song testament to true Rock. Living up to their reputation of being a band which lives for the road, following a slew of touring throughout 2015, Buckcherry take to the road one last time before the year ends for North American tour dates that team them up with Saving Abel, as well as Full Devil Jacket. Amidst their travels, which found the band everywhere from Canada to New York City, on Sunday November 22nd they visited the south end of Hartford, Connecticut to do an intimate Rock show in front of a vibrant crowd at The Webster Theater.
With a list of local talents such as Vengeance, Sirius Fades, The End of the World and Fiction jump-starting the show early, The Webster Theater was prime for Tennessee Hard Rock band Full Devil Jacket. Initially breaking it big fifteen years ago, the band halted due to lead singer Josh Brown nearly losing his life to an overdose. Finding his way, Brown dusted off Full Devil Jacket nearly a decade later and, after a few years of hard work, fan support and dedication, they find themselves signed with eOne Entertainment and saw their album Valley of Bones receive a major label release.
The band walked on the black stage while white strobe beams appeared, causing the anxious crowd to begin raising their voices. Brown, long-time drummer Keith Foster, bassist Moose Douglas, along with guitarists Paul Varnick and Jeff Caugnron began their six song set with “7X Down” from their latest album Valley of Bones. That is when the crowd knew Full Devil Jacket meant business with this true Hard Rock song, full of guitar riffs in response to lyrics about battling one’s inner demons, was a pure adrenaline rush. Between the end of “7XDown” and beginning of “Killers,” Brown began talking to the masses, getting them ready for the moment when they would be hit with the heavy tune, which also happens to be their latest music video. Going into the title track of their latest release, they followed by “The Moment” which showed off a tight vocal performance from Brown, included a rolling drum break down from Foster, accompanied by Douglass who provided a strong bass performance. No one could deny the strong powerful lyrical message of the slower Hard Rock ballad, intertwined with some amazingly strong guitar solos by Varnick and Caugnron that brought the song to life.
Moving along, they went on to play “Now You Know” from their 2000 self-titled full-length debut. Brown addressed the crowd at this moment in time as being “hardcore,” talked about how great a country we lived in and how glad Full Devil Jacket was glad to be playing Connecticut. He dedicated the last song to our troops, as the band began “Green Iron Fist,” a bonus cut from that same 2000 release, as well as the Heavy Metal 2000 soundtrack. At this point in the set, fans starting dancing and cheering, the song being the heaviest on the set list thus far. Brown’s vocals seemed to change into screams, as Douglass started off the song and had sections of the song with bass solos, guitarists Varnick and Caugnron were headbanging in time while playing their respective heavy guitar riffs, playing off one another. Foster continued through out the songs with what he does best and provides a steady heavy beat as time keeper. From the moment Full Devil Jacket hit the stage, the band was in full Hard Rock mode. Each member was a warrior, knowing their craft and ready to slay the crowd with their music.
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Next on the lineup was the Southern Hard Rock band, Saving Abel. A band which celebrated early success with their major label debut 2008 self-titled album going gold, they followed up strong with 2010’s Miss America followed by 2012’s Bringing Down the Giant, the last to feature vocalist Jared Weeks and drummer Blake Dixon. Rather than pack it up and call it a day, Saving Abel’s Eric Taylor (bass), Jason Null (lead guitar), and Scott Barlett (rhythm guitar) recruited new vocalist Scott Austin and drummer Steven Pulley to keep their music alive. Working out exceptionally well, the band is moving forward and playing one tour after another, celebrating their highly charted 2014 album, Blood Stained Revolution.
Creating an atmosphere, Saving Abel began the set with a Johnny Cash tune mixed with distorted guitar riffs as the stage was covered in black. As the stage lights went up, green and red bulbs brimming, the crowd was able to see the faces of Null, Bartlett, Pulley, and Taylor rocking hard as Austin finally entered last. Austin starts off by speaking to the crowd, getting them ready for “Ready to Burn” from their last album. Concluding the opener with a devious laugh, the mood was set and the Rock-n-Roll was just getting started. From this point forward the band perfectly intertwined with Austin’s strong vocals and persona. Austin has a way which really connects to the crowd by talking to fans between songs, and even getting off stage and standing on the barricade. Playing a strong offering from Blood Stained Revolution, including singles “Love Like Suicide” and the title track, Saving Abel had ten songs in total, all of which meshed seamlessly together.
Mixing in 2010’s “Contagious,” the second song of the night, they gave a Country Rock vibe that the fans could not help but move to as it was filled with killer guitar riffs by Null and Bartlett. Showing they were all enjoying themselves, Taylor was bouncing around in time with his bass while holding a grin and Pulley was keeping a steady Rock vibe. Going into hit single “The Sex is Good,” many were seen singing along as Austin let the crowd fill in certain parts of the chorus. The band was all smiles and the vibe was full of fun and before “Mississippi Moonshine”Austin made sure let the crowd know that his two favorite things are “Mississippi and Booze.” Thereafter, “Bringing Down the Giant” started with an alien sounding guitar riff which then melted into pure Hard Rock. Taylor and Pulley seemed to be playing off one another’s energy, making sure the percussion section was woven together with heavy beats. At this point, Austin decides to get close to the audience by singing on the barricade and interacting with the fans, all with a big grin on his face.
Keeping the audience’s interest, “Let it all out”, started off with Austin asking the crowd to repeat and sing along “Ohhh, Ohhh, Ohhhh..” The heavy bass and drum parts of the song remained consistent through out, providing to be a great sing along number. Perhaps one of Saving Abel’s most unique song, “15 Minutes of Fame” had Austin speak/sing the beginning with Pulley playing steady drums, while guitars seem to be distorted throughout. Storytelling, Austin captivated the audience as they went into the Blues Rock guitar ballad “18 Days.” At this point the crowd was sing with him throughout the track and it was beautifully by all involved.
Going strong, “Drowning (Face Down)” started off with the fans waving back and forth in unison after Austin stated “music is magic”and how it helped him through hard times. He went on to confess how we all have a song that we go to to help us through the hard times and the latter song was his. Concluding with “Addicted,” Austin had the crowd screaming as loud as they could as the sexy, slow Rock song started to build. As one of Saving Abel’s most popular song, it was easy to tell by the way the band devoted a great deal of passion and conviction in every note. Saving Abel has a spice of southern flair mixed with a true Rock that unquestionably continues to connect well with concert goers. True veterans of Rock, they look confident as well as comfortable onstage and show no signs of slowing down.
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As the crowd waits for Buckcherry to hit the stage, one cannot help notice the huge back drop, the official Rock ‘n’ Roll album cover. When vocalist Josh Todd joined up with Keith Nelson and Buckcherry back in 1999, they probably never dreamed of becoming Rockstars. They probably did not imagine that within sixteen years, their band would have released seven albums, one EP, one live album, toured the world and accumulated industry accolades. Despite a few lineup changes and a three year hiatus that could have led to the end of Buckcherry, Todd and Nelson saw it through and added bandmates Stevie D. on guitar , Xavier Muriel on drums, and lastly Kelly LeMieux on bass. If you ask Buckcherry, it is not about being Rockstars or meeting women, it is about the music. That is why fans continue to support them each and every time they hit local venues, and The Webster was ready to rock.
As the house lights turn to red, Stevie D. and Nelson appeared on stage, quickly hugging and showing the playful spirit in the Buckcherry camp on this night. As Muriel and LeMieux entered, the beginning of “Lit Up” started and, lastly, Todd emerged dancing around snake like, in a slow sexy way. Think Mick Jagger, only Todd’s own rendition, perfected over the years. Moving into“Rescue Me,” it was followed by “Bring It On Back” off their latest album. Taking the audience back to 2006’s breakout album 15, they went into “Next to You,” followed by “Everything” and “Sorry.” Beautiful songs very strategically placed one after another on the set list due to the nature of their meaning.
Bringing the room back even further, “Dirty Mind” was a blast from the past as the deviously raunchy song saw Todd own it. LeMieux was headbanging and playing the bass while Muriel is keeping the tempo with fury. Nelson singing back-up was on point while Stevie D. played in the background almost with a swagger. Then “Slammin’,” from 2001’s Time Bomb, was a crowd favorite, followed by newbie “Tight Pants” where Todd asks surprise guest, saxophonist Jesse Keys, to come and jam onstage. It was a jolt of fun to see Keys on stage and adding another dynamic to Buckcherry’s stage show.
As Todd spoke in-between songs, all ears and eyes were on him. Speaking with years of experience, in the eyes of fans, Todd has perfected the art of being a frontman. With that said, his ability to engage the crowd was highlighted more by the overall performance of the band as they went into “Gluttony” and “Greed” from Confessions. Both powerful songs, the audience devoured them and cheered in appreciation to hear the tunes mixed into the set. Thereafter, they went into their most notorious song to date, “Crazy Bitch” to which the crowd went wild and was a sing along free for all. Todd took advantage of the moment to slow it down and introduce each member of the band, complete with solos. This is when each member shines, and it was truly astounding to watch how each member play their instrument with equal talent, yet very unique to one another. Appearing to be the final song of the evening, the house lights went out and darkness fell over the crowd. The crowd roars for more and their wish was granted as they went into their own take on Icona Pop’s “I Love It,” but renamed “Say Fuck it.” This led into the final song of the night, and it would not be right if it was not off their latest record as they played with “Sex Appeal.”
What can be said about a Buckcherry show? It is never predictable or anything less than what a true Rock-n-Roll should be. It was no mistake when Buckcherry decided to bring out Saving Abel and Full Devil Jacket as supporting acts. All three bands in their own right are seasoned veteran musicians, who have toured the world and been in the industry long enough to gain the respect and admiration from not only fans but their peers as well. It was clear to see while each band was on stage as a few members and crew from other bands watched their sets. It did not matter who the audience came to see, they would walk away truly satisfied. What made it even nicer was that each band are truly gracious people and music lovers at heart. That was what this tour and show in Hartford was all about. Three bands passionate about the music they perform, how they preform and deliver, and how much the fans mean to them. While 2015’s Rock ‘N’ Roll tour ends, it is more than likely Buckcherry will be back sooner rather than later next year.