Sebastian Bach - Budapest, Wigwam Rock Club - 6 December 2004

"Budapest, I've been waiting fifteen fucking years to say: Here I Am..." Well, so have we. Almost unbelievable but one of the heroes of our high-school days finally made it to town. Much to my pleasant surprise [we all counted with an attendance of about 500] there were about 800 others who have also been waiting for fifteen years meanwhile not forgetting the heydays of Skid Row so the venue was totally packed with people. Due to the amateur security staff (3 gorilla-looking doormen) there was a 60 meters long queue at the door and it took about half an hour to get in.

Those fifteen years left their marks on Bas too, he gained some [nowhere near Jani Lane though:-)], but the stage moves and the energy are still the same. "Wisdom" is not really the first word that comes to your mind when hearing Bach's name but he was wise enough to realize people were longing for some kind of a nostalgia and the majority of the show was centered around the classics of the first two Skid Row albums. And that was just what the audience wanted. When hearing about the new line-up I guess we all knew the show would be more than professional as a solid rhythm section of Steve DiGiorgio and Mark Prator topped with Ralph Santolla on guitars promised a treat and together with a second guitarist the touring band was obviously good enough to pull a good show.

The band took the stage with a steroid- blasted version of "Slave to the Grind" and though they got the crowd moving right away I was a bit afraid Bach's voice was gone for good as he sounded really weak on it, plus the extremely fast version of the song didn't help either as he was chanting really fast trying to keep up with the music. It must have been a mixing problem only as by the following "Big Guns" the vocal performance improved drastically and the audience was more than grateful to hear the classic tune. Judging from their gestures the band was also surprised by the size of the crowd and the intensity of their applause.

It's safe to say that Bas and his band deserved every bit of it. They were putting on a great show with as much enthusiasm as you can only expect from a band fronted by Bach. The rest of the band tried to live up to him; it was DiGiorgio who had a rather spectacular stage presence with lots of headbanging and running around. He even got hit in the chest by an accidental move of Bas during "Piece of Me" which made the two laugh out loud afterwards. The two guitarist's behavior was rather withdrawn compared to Bas and Steve; they seemed to be concentrating on their performance, which didn't lack professionalism. Even though I would have loved to see more contact and more dual guitar-work between the two (as it was the case with Scotti and Snake in Skid Row) I accepted that it takes time till the new line-up grows together, so they did the "compulsory" pulling the tunes off well and sticking to the original, well-known melodies of the solos (making us grateful for not touching those wonderful melodies of "18 & Life" or "I Remember You").

The new track from the DVD "Always and Never the Same" put the feeling down a bit, but "Piece of Me" and "Here I Am" restored things and the classics were topped by short, simple yet .heartening little "speeches" by Bach that kept the enthusiasm of the crowd growing till the first climax of the show: "18 & Life". Bas graciously handed the first verse over to the crowd and as I looked around I didn't see a single person who wasn't singing along during the entire song. I guess we ALL really have been waiting for 15 years for this. Much to another pleasant surprise of mine "The Threat" was also included from the second Skid Row album and it hit really big live, making it another highlight of the show. "In a Darkened Room" from the same record was another pleasant surprise, it started out really well but Bas lost his voice during the song so it didn't turn out as well as it could have. Another surprise: he got it back incredibly fast and a strange version of "Monkey Business" with some extra warming-up singing upfront and a few extra instrumental passages helped his throat to recover. He cleverly included a few extra oh-oh, huh-uh warming-up/finding the key lines before every vocally difficult ballad anyway which made me mumble the word "wise" to myself again, not something you would have said about Sebastian Bach 15 years ago, we all remember the stories about bottles and fights, etc. Well just to make the new Bach image even more sympathetic, Bas stopped the show during "Timewarp" trying to stop a fistfight between a security-guard and a guy with something like "all the people here are my friends and I don't want any of my friends be hurt". Clever, very clever, just what you expect from a grown-up rock n' roll frontman.

The show was built up very well with "I Remember You" (Santolla played the intro almost twice its tempo, and it took Mark Prator to enter to slow things down to a normal pace) being the first song of the encore, sending the audience through the roof. Making use of the right atmosphere Bas made the crowd sing some who-oahs along a bit before the closing "Youth Gone Wild" that had him showing his ass when it came to the line with the words Skid Row included... strange and unfriendly gesture but after all the mudkicking that has been going on between the two parties it wasn't a big surprise.

Speaking of "Mudkicker"... obviously there were a few songs we all would have love to hear and the little over 65 minutes playing time wasn't that long either but all in all the gig was well-rounded with a little bit of everything from Bach's career. A good concert has to leave the audience wanting more and I guess we all left the venue feeling that way. So if Bas keeps his promise and he'll be back next summer, we'll be there again.

Report by Endre 'Bandi' Hübner,
Photos by Photos by Zoltán Bertli and Gábor &Levente Kovács,