Blast from the Past . . .
Two decades ago a little known metal band emerged from anonymity and shocked the world by demolishing the pop charts with its third studio recording. That band was Quiet Riot and the album was 1983’s Metal Health. Anchored by the raucous cover version of Slade’s “Cum On Feel The Noize”, the album went multi-platinum and garnered Billboard’s top slot, a feat no metal act had previously achieved.
Despite massive record sales and regular MTV video airplay, Quiet Riot was never fully embraced by critics. Often viewed as absurd and cartoonish, as much for their song lyrics as for the antics of front man Kevin DuBrow, the band was ultimately unsuccessful in following up the tremendous success of Metal Health. Personal demons and inter-group acrimony eventually fractured Quiet Riot, and the ensuing years saw various incarnations of the band appear and disappear without much fanfare. The fact remains that Quiet Riot was a damn good band that really never got the respect it deserved. Not nearly as dark as Sabbath, but far ballsier than most of the metal poseurs following in their footsteps, Quiet Riot fell somewhere in between Def Leppard, Judas Priest and Motley Crue. Heavy riffs were incorporated with an overall sense of partying and fun, creating a simple template for some pretty decent music. Now, twenty years after Metal Health‘s release, Quiet Riot is back, showing that they still know how to kick some ass, even in middle age.
Last Thursday, the brick bunker known as Don Hill’s, in conjunction with New York Classic Rock radio station Q104.3 and DJ extraordinaire Eddie Trunk, presented an evening with Quiet Riot. Any doubts that the band still has what it takes to rock were quickly dispelled as fans were treated to seventy-five minutes of favorites and greatest hits. Throughout the set, Kevin DuBrow proved that he can still peel paint with his trademark shriek, while bassist Rudy Sarzo and drummer Frankie Banali laid down a deafening rhythm, and guitarist Carlos Cavazo demonstrated than he remains one of the unsung shredders of the ‘80s by tearing through his guitar parts in vintage form.
The set list culled material primarily from three albums, Metal Health, Condition Critical, and Guilty Pleasures, as the show started with a terrific rendition of “Vicious Circle”. “Slick Black Cadillac” and the title track from Terrified followed, leading into the band’s second most popular Slade cover, “Mama Weer All Crazee Now”. One quarter into the set it was obvious that the boys were having a great time being onstage together once again.
The band missed nary a beat by filling the set with stellar versions of “Feel the Pain”, “Sign of the Times”, “Guilty Pleasures”, and “Born to Rock”. As the show’s energy was peaking, a momentary tempo downshift occurred with the ballad “Thunderbird”, although things picked back up again with “Danger Zone” and “Love’s a Bitch”. Having gotten the crowd sufficiently revved up, DuBrow took a break and let Cavazo steal the show with a blistering metal guitar solo that would have made Randy Rhoads proud.
The final four songs gave fans nothing less than what they had come for: pure unadulterated head banging bliss. A tremendous “Psycho City” segued into “Cum On Feel the Noize” as DuBrow led the crowd sing-a-long. If this was not sufficient to keep the faithful happy, then the surprise of the night surely was: a rollicking cover of the Who’s “My Generation”, followed by show stopper “Bang Your Head”. As the final chords reverberated off the walls, everyone in attendance knew that they’d gotten their money’s worth. Shortly after leaving the stage, the band convened in the rear of the club to greet fans and sign whatever was placed in front of them. The enthusiasm of those in attendance was shared by Quiet Riot themselves; all four band members were as gracious and appreciative as one could imagine. A bit older and wiser, Quiet Riot is without question a class act, and seeing the original Metal Health line-up was a treat for all.
All these years after their moment in the spotlight, the boys in Quiet Riot continue to give the finger to the music establishment by putting on a great live show. Additionally, as the proliferation of lame reunion tours continues by hair band lightweights like Poison, Skid Row and the reconstituted Whitesnake, it’s apparent that Quiet Riot remains one of the few ‘80s metal acts worth seeing. The arena tours and platinum albums may be just a memory now, but Quiet Riot still delivers. What more could anyone ask for?