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Sebastian Bach 

Agora Ballroom

Sebastian Bach
Agora Ballroom
February 10

Where do lost '80s acts go when they've lost their luster and appeal? The Agora Ballroom, of course, to offer a second-rate show, living off their past and playing for a packed house of metal-starved thirtysomethings. Case in point: estranged Skid Row member Sebastian Bach, who reminded us why the '80s glam-rock scene ended. Opening with "Slave to the Grind," the tall, long-haired singer (who now sports love handles and a bulging stomach) roared onstage wearing a leather vest and matching pants, all the while swinging his microphone like Roger Daltrey on speed. Unfortunately, Bach forgot his stage space was smaller than a batter's box and whacked a front-and-center, happy-go-lucky concertgoer right in the noodle. Thankfully, the victim smiled, and all was well. Then Bach began to howl.

It's obvious Bach can sing -- he has one of the strongest metal voices around -- so why he proceeded to wail, yell, and scream with a gut-wrenching/ear-tweaking falsetto is a mystery. Throw into the equation a glam-rock band that would have rocked 10 years ago, but showed signs of rust, possibly from inactivity, and the result was a mindless exercise in triviality. Throughout the show, Bach and company were able to cover what seemed like every '80s rock cliché. From the hairy, bare-chested, drumstick-twirling drummer (who had time for a solo) to the Keith Richards-wannabe-looking guitarist (gray streaks on the side of his head made him look like a reverse skunk) and Bach's spitting/spraying water in the air, the only thing missing was Spinal Tap's Nigel Tufnel joining the band onstage.

Musically, it was 1989 all over again. Heavy guitars, bombastic drumbeats, and a scowling Bach shot their way through "Piece of Me," "Frozen," and "Riot Act." As for the big Skid Row hits, "18 and Life" and "Wasted Time" came across as old photographs remembered for reasons that were quickly forgotten after one glimpse. Yes, metal is still alive. It was obvious from the enthusiastic reaction of the crowd that the Northeast Ohio metal fan base is starved for those wailing guitars and howling vocals. It's too bad Bach couldn't deliver that without coming across like a parody of himself 10 years removed. -- John Benson

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