Thursday, June 21, 2012

CONCERT REVIEW: Jack Russell's Great White at Sculley's Shooters (6/19/12)

On June 19, 2012, North Platte, NE was the scene of a modern day pirate sighting as Jack Russell's Great White rolled into town on their tour bus and then proceeded to rock the house at Sculley's Shooters.  This show was a rare Great White-only show as the band is currently out on the America Rocks Tour for the summer and, after enduring some sound problems, Jack and Company rocked the house with spot-on renditions of classic Great White favorites that left the hot and sweaty crowd yelling for more!

Earlier in the day, I met up with the band at their hotel and hopped on the bus to say a quick hello.  I had my two sons with me at the time; Jaxon, who is just 4 months old, slept through the whole thing, while Jaydon, who is nearly five, just wanted to know why the band lived on a bus.  Then, at the club before the show, I got the chance to chat with Derrick Pontier, the drummer for Jack Russell's Great White.  We reminisced about a Great White show from about ten years ago in Kearney, NE, where it was equally as hot as it was in North Platte on this day. Derrick told me that the Kearney show was where the band met Dario, who was playing for Firehouse on the same bill (which also featured LA Guns), and that the foundation for the band playing tonight was really built at that Kearney show. 

Things got started about an hour late as problems with the mixing board and monitors pushed back the opening band's set.  Once these problems were alleviated, local band Preferred Method took the stage at about 9:20 PM, warming up an already hot crowd (temperatures had soared to 100 degrees earlier in the day) with a set of mostly original material.  I don't know/recall any of the original songs, but I do know that one rather obscure cover song was played, as Preferred Method ripped into a pretty good rendition of "Loco P.D." by midwestern rockers, Zwarte.  The crowd really picked up steam at this point, more than happy to sing along to a song that they were familiar with.  All in all, Preferred Method did a plausible job of opening up for a band of Great White's stature and status.

A little over an hour later, Jack Russell's Great White took the stage, immediately launching into "Call It Rock & Roll", much to the pleasure of the more than 400 people in attendance.  A quick greeting by Jack propelled the band into their next song, "Desert Moon", with Jack sounding like he had turned back the clock on his voice as he was nearly note-perfect on this track, reaching all the higher parts with seemingly little effort. 

At this point, Jack introduced his band, consisting of Great White veterans (from before the original band reunited), Matt Johnson on guitar and Derrick Pontier on drums.  Dario Seixas, formerly of Firehouse, is the bass player in the band, and Robby Lochner rounds things out, also on guitar. 

Unfortunately, problems with the mixing board (not the band's equipment, mind you...) again reared their ugly head just as the band was kicking into "Rolling Stoned".  Guitar player, Matt Johnson, had his microphone go out and there were some feedback problems at this point, but Jack and the rest of the band maintained their professionalism throughout the 10 to 15 minute debacle, with Jack asking the crowd if they knew any good jokes.  The band broke into a little, spontaneous jam session for about five minutes while Johnson's mic issues were being solved.  Jack then went on to explain to the crowd the situation between his band, Jack Russell's Great White, and his former bandmates and their version of Great White.  Jack quipped that there had been a divorce "and we're still fighting over who gets the kid (the band name)".

Matt riffing away as Jack holds court during "Mista Bone".
With the sound issues solved, the band skipped over the abandoned "Rolling Stoned" and jumped into the oldest song in the set, "Down On Your Knees", which got the crowd rocking once again.  At this point, Jack again addressed the crowd, discussing his recent health issues, including being in a coma at one point, before launcing into the first ballad of the night, "Save Your Love".  "Mista Bone" ramped things back up, with Dario's bass thumping away at the bottom end of things and the dual axe attack of Johnson and Robby Lochner bringing the track to life.  From here, Lochner broke into his guitar solo, wowing he crowd with some flashy fret work before bringing the band back together into "House Of Broken Love", which again found Jack absolutely nailing this powerhose of a ballad, not missing a note. 

(L to R) Robby Lochner, Derrick Pontier, Jack Russell, Matt
Johnson (above), me, Dario Seixas, on the tour bus after show.
Matt Johnson got his time to shine next, although he didn't settle for just a solo, as the entire band (minus Jack) performed Johnson's very bluesy number, "Saved Me".  Despite the fact that no one in the crowd knew the song, this very good song was well received and the fans showed their appreciation with whistles and cheers.  Jack came back on stage for "Can't Shake It", and then a heavy rendition of "Rock Me", before wishing the crowd a teasing "good night".  Of course, the band returned to the stage to tear up their biggest hit, "Once Bitten, Twice Shy", which had the crowd singing along as Jack taunted them with the microphone, then left them yelling and screaming for more by the time the song drew to a close. 

The band stuck around and posed for pictures, signed autographs, shook hands, and generally let the crowd know they appreciated their attending the rare Tuesday night show (Sculley's Shooters is not usually open on Tuesdays).  I got a chance to see the original set lists and it appears that two, maybe three songs, were sacrificed due to the sound issues that pushed back the start of their set and then interrupted the set later on.  While unfortunate, there were no major complaints from the crowd which was really into the show from the first note of "Call It Rock & Roll".  The band did ask me for the chance to come back "and do things the right way to make up for the problems", which I hope to make happen in the not-too-distant-future, possibly after Jack Russell's Great White has a chance to record their new album.

If there are any questions as to Jack's vocal abilities, or the talents of this band, they need to be laid to rest.  There is no doubt that Jack Russell is back and that Jack Russell's Great White is the real deal, regardless of who owns the band name.  If these rock n roll pirates are rolling into your town, or anywhere close by, do yourself a favor and make sure not to miss the show!  These guys are fully prepared to bring it live every night as they embark on the America Rocks Tour, which also features Pretty Boy Floyd, Lillian Axe, Faster Pussycat, and Bulletboys.

1 comment:

  1. I'm a major fan of Great White from way back in the day. They are a hometown band, since I'm originally from the L.A. area. But, sorry, the "real deal" is Jack Russell & Mark Kendall. Just as you can't have Van Halen without Eddie Van Halen & David Lee Roth, The Rolling Stones without Keith & Mick, or The Who without Roger Daltrey & Pete Townshend, this version of Great White isn't complete without Mark & Jack side-by-side. I've seen Great White live many times over the years, from the U.S. to Okinawa, and I've seen numerous videos of Jack Russell's Great White, and comparing JRGW to GW is like comparing ground beef to steak. It'll satisfy you, but in the end you want the steak because THAT'S the real deal.