Thursday, May 2, 2013

Concert Review: Love/Hate Treats Pittsburgh to a Sweaty Good Time

I'll be the first to admit that, with the constant flow of great music that has been coming out in the last few years, I don't often make playlists with my favorite bands from yesteryear.  Sometimes, this makes me feel a little bit disloyal, but there are only so many hours in the day to listen to music.

That being said, there is one band from the '90's that draws me back to their catalog more than others.  That band is Love/Hate.

Despite the fact that I've seen singer Jizzy Pearl perform countless times when he took over the vocal reigns in LA Guns and, later, Ratt, I've never seen the on-again, off-again Love/Hate live.  So, when the Deadhorse Cantina and Music Hall brought them into Pittsburgh on May 1, there was no way in Hell, California I was going to miss it!

Pittsburgh's shredtastic Xander Demos Band - named after their guitarist well-known locally for his fleet fretwork - opened the show.  The band ripped through a short set of classic power/progressive metal, punctuated by some spot-on operatic vocals.

After the short intermission, the members of the current incarnation of Love/Hate - Pearl, Robbie Crane (Ratt) on bass, Keri Kelli (Alice Cooper, Vince Neil) on guitar, and Matt Starr (Ace Frehley) on drums - unassumingly took the stage and began prepping their gear for their set.  I was a little concerned about how the band would treat the show, as during this set-up process, Pearl said "This is like a big party." After this proclamation drew a roar from the couple of dozen fans in attendance, Pearl tried to clarify his comment by saying "No, I mean this is like a big party," implying that attendance wouldn't warrant a moniker like "concert" or "show."

I wondered:  Would this be a show where the band would put forth less than a decent effort for a crowd that fell short of their expectations?

My concerns were quickly dispelled, however.  Once the band broke into their opening song, "Why Do You Think They Call It Dope?" the energy of the music took over and the band performed like they were visualizing themselves at the M3 festival, which they were playing a few days later.

As a die-hard Love/Hate fan, I was hoping for some of the more obscure tunes, particularly from their third (and perhaps quirkiest) release, Let's Rumble.  Alas, they stuck to the more mainstream material from their first two albums, though they did play "Spinning Wheel" from Rumble.  But sticking to what the crowd knew best wasn't a problem:  "Fuel To Run," "Wasted In America," "Tranquilizer," and a fantastic cross-section of their other early songs had the tightly packed area by the stage rocking hard and dripping with sweat.

Pearl and company pulled out a surprise near the end of their set, doing an interesting cover of "Ace of Spades" by Motorhead.  It was a bit of a mental adjustment to process Pearl singing with a Lemmy Kilmister affect but, once I got my brain wrapped around that, it ended up being a pretty bangin' version of that classic tune.  Love/Hate wrapped up the night with their anthem, "Black Out In The Red Room," which put a big, sweat-drenched exclamation mark on Love/Hate's awesome - and long-awaited - return to Pittsburgh!