Whenever there’s a anniversary for a classic album there are usually two ways to go. If the band is still around, then play said album in its entirety and if not there’s always some kind of reunion to go with it. When Shotgun Messiah’s now, more or less legendary self titled debut turns 25, a reunion of the classic line-up, featuring lead singer Zinny Zan, guitarist Harry K Cody, bassist Tim Skold and drummer Stixx would be the most obvious choice to celebrate the album’s birthday. Knowing that the band’s split wasn’t exactly on good terms, things would turn out to be more complicated than just a phone call and a “let’s do it, guys”. The fact is that Cody wasn’t the least bit interested and Skold said he would consider doing it, if the price was right. He also stated that no promoter would probably pay up because apparently Skold knows what he’s worth and that his price tag would be too big for anyone to pay. What a douche! It’s not like the guy is Mick Jagger. Reality check and blinders off for Mr Skold, please. So what to do, then? Enter huge Shotgun Messiah-fan and friend and former band mate with Zinny Zan, Chris Laney. Laney managed to talk both Zan and original drummer Stixx to participate and as a guitar replacement for Cody, he brought in his Laney’s Legion band mate, virtuoso Rob Marcello (also with Danger Danger), leaving Laney himself to, for the first time ever, handle bass duties. Of course, calling themselves Shotgun Messiah would have been just wrong, so the name was shortened to Shotgun. 50% of the original members makes for 50% of the name.
As openers for tonight’s show, AOR new comers Diamond Dawn and metal band Sister Sin were chosen. Unfortunately, due to illness, Diamond Dawn had to cancel, which left more time for Sister Sin to kick our asses. And that is exactly what they did. Again! This is the third time I’ve seen them this year, first at Sweden Rock festival and then at Väsby Rock Festival and both times they have managed to prove themselves as a dynamite live act. However, this was the first time I have seen them indoors with a full light show and so on. Of course, a hard rock live gig is always more fun to watch indoors, but the fact is, when it comes to this lot, it really doesn’t matter where or when they play, they always give 300%, no matter how many people they’re playing to. And I can’t help being so impressed by singer and front woman Liv Jagrell every time I witness her in action. She really knows how to work an audience and there’s no doubt what so ever that she’s in this for all the right reasons. And that voice! So much power, never missing a note with so much, pardon my French, balls it’s almost frightening. Someone once compared her to Doro Pesch. Well, the deal is, Doro isn’t even close. The rest of the band might be in Jagrell’s shadow a bit, but the fact is, this band is a unit and musically their constant touring has paid off, they’re tighter than a camel’s arse in a sandstorm and it’s really brave to hire Sister Sin as an opening act. With live killers such as “Beat ’em Down”, “The Chosen Few”, “24/7” (a U.D.O. cover), “End Of The Line”, “Outrage” and “Hearts Of Cold”, you could easily get played off the stage if you’re not careful. I really, really, really would like to see Sister Sin at their own gig sometime soon.
When Sister Sin opened this gig, not many people had shown up, but we were hoping that the place would be full when the headliners entered the stage. Well, that wasn’t the case and I really can’t imagine why. Sure, this wasn’t the original Shotgun Messiah line up that was about to play, but hell, it’s a Saturday night, the place sold beer and this is the closest thing you’ll ever get to a Shotgun Messiah reunion, so why on earth would anyone wanna miss this? Well, the club was half full at least and we who were there would get a real good time anyway. Sister Sin played a killer gig, but when Shotgun took the stage, there was no doubt who the true headliners were. “Squeezin’ Teazin'” opened the gig and it was clear that the guys went for a knock out right away. Zinny Zan might be in his late forties, but he has the energy of someone half his age. The guy might not be 25 anymore, but he still has lots of attitude and charisma and if he could put it in a bottle and sell it, he would be a millionaire. The band went through the entire album and if you closed your eyes, stuff like “Dirt Talk”, “Bop City” and “Nervous” could might as well have been played by the original line up. This was the first time I have seen Rob Marcello play and the guy is really astonishing. His technique is totally brilliant and he plays Cody’s pieces like it’s a piece of cake. To see and hear Laney and Marcello share the lead vocals on the mini rap hit “Shout It Out” looks a bit strange at first, but it works really well. The only song not played tonight is the instrumental “The Explorer”, which is logic as the song really belongs to Harry Cody, but Marcello gave us a little piece of it during his solo. The band finished off with their biggest tune, “Don’t Care ’bout Nothin'” and the crowd went apeshit. But they’re not done there. They come back for an encore and they start to play the ballad “Living Without You” from the Zinny Zan less second album Second Coming, tonight sung by Chris Laney. But after the first chorus, Zan takes the stage with the words “No fucking ballads!” and the band burst into “SexDrugsRock’n’Roll” from Second Coming and the reason for that is that, apparently, the song was written while Zan was still in the band. And hearing it now, I’m sure that, even though I truly love Second Coming, it would have been even better if Zinny would have sung on it. Fact: Tim Skold may be a great songwriter, but he’s not a good singer. For a Shotgun Messiah freak like yours truly, to hear these songs live for the first time was heaven. So Harry and Tim weren’t there – big deal. They sounded, looked and felt like a real band and not just like a 25th anniversary band. I would love them to be. I’m sure they could make the real follow up to the debut album.
Jon Wilmenius (9/10)
I’m Your Love
Shout It Out
Don’t Care ’bout Nothin’
Living Without You