Skid Row, Enuff Z’Nuff and The Treatment, Live at O2 Manchester Ritz, 27th October 2022

They finished as you might expect with the song that put them on the map, Youth Gone Wild. Perhaps they should rename that song and just call it Erik!

Words and Pictures: Ange Cobham (C) Cobspix Photography

It doesn’t matter who you speak to, since 1996, the millstone hanging around the necks of Skid Row has been the question of when they will reunite with former singer Sebastian Bach putting him front and centre once more.
 
To their credit, they’ve stuck to their (big) guns and forged their own path as has Bach who has also fronted his own band and delivered multiple albums in the intervening years. The singers that replaced him however, have always remained in Bach’s shadow preventing the band from moving forward without the constant barrage of questions from journalists around the world. 
 
The late Johnny Solinger helped get the band back on their feet and stuck with them for multiple releases across 16 years, longer in fact by some margin than his predecessor. After Solinger came TNT’s Tony Harnell albeit for a very brief period before Dragonforce’s ZP Theart stepped up to the plate. With ZP, whilst the live shows were note worthy, no new music appeared. As such he departed after some six years with the band. If it felt like the stars needed to align for Skid Row to return triumphant, then the mother of all alignments must have taken place for we not only get former H.E.A.T. singer Erik Grönwall but almost immediately Skid Row release a new album that harks back to the style and impact of their debut and Slave to the Grind classics. 
 
All of a sudden, the reunion questions are being put on hold. There’s a fire in the bellies of Skid Row and the fans are eager to hear the new music and catch them live once more. As such, we duly dispatched our resident rock tog to Manchester to ensure there was no monkey business and that our dreams and desires were indeed being met. 
 
Another school night gig… this time to see the mighty Skid Row! From seeing them back in the 90s, then 2019 with ZP at the helm, I hear [from me Ange, from me… – Ed] they’re on fire with new singer Erik Grownall. I’m looking forward to this and arrive early to make sure I see both support bands, Enuff Z’nuff and Brit rockers The Treatment. If you’d been to some of the earlier shows on the tour, you’d have also seen Kent’s local heroes Collateral opening each night with their particular brand of hard rock also going down a treat. Sadly no Collateral in Manchester but we do get Illinois’ answer to The Beatles, Enuff Z’nuff. 

Enuff Z’Nuff

Fronted by “Chip Z’Nuff” this is a first for me seeing these guys, and he’s looking dapper in his white captain’s style jacket and black hat. As expected, having been on the circuit for a fair few years, with their original vocalist Donnie Vie (No relation to Virgin Vie) also no longer in the band, it falls these days to Chip to carry the torch and keep the band in front of willing and eager crowds. First time seeing them and they didn’t disappoint. It was a really great set and I even managed to get a kick action shot from guitarist Tony Fennell.
 
The Beatles comparisons are never too far away from the band and opening the show with a Magicial Mystery Tour was the perfect way to draw the crowd in, especially when they may have a few in the audience who don’t know the material. Of course for those of us who know the band’s music (even though I’ve never seen them live), ‘Fly High Michelle’ was always going to be a huge tune and the impact of the song hasn’t diminished in the 30 years since it was released. 
 
Suitably warmed up, having dodged a boot to the head from Tony, I then waited for one of my favourites, The Treatment to come on stage. 

The Treatment

Another band where the lead singer needed to change a few times before they landed with current front man Tom Rampton. Whilst the band has been around since 2008, they released 3 albums before Tom with both Matt Jones and Mitchell Emms on the mic. With ‘Power Crazy’ allowing Tom to find his feet in 2019, it’s the latest, prophetic ‘Waiting For Good Luck’ that saw him really fit into the Treatment Suit that seems to have been tailored perfectly to fit his particular vocal style. 
 
Tom’s presence in the band has given the band something of a southern rock edge and with acts like Black Stone Cherry going down a treat, the lads from Cambridge will do well to capitalise on the line up and style that they bring to the table at the moment. I first saw the band at Firestorm Festival this year and then at the Academy in Manchester so there’s no denying that they’ll put in the effort to play and tour to get in front of as many people as possible. These guys have loads of energy flying all over the stage from the get go. They are probably an average age of 25 so they’ve more than enough energy to keep on going for years to come.
 
If the band have indeed been waiting for good luck as their album title suggests, then a little of it rubbed off on me and as their superb set concluded I managed to sneak a quick chat with Tom as they left stage. As you might expect, here’s an artist living his own dream who more than super pleased to be touring with Skid Row! I can imagine it’s bucket list stuff, it certainly explains the energy and passion displayed on stage!
 

Skid Row

By the time the new and improved Skid Row hit the stage, The Ritz was buzzing. Opener Slave to the Grind is a huge fan favourite and Skid Row ‘could’ have blown their load after the first few minutes leaving the fans unfulfilled for the rest of the night if not for the fact that the set list contained the perfect mix of old and new songs, with more than enough hits to keep everyone on a permanent high for some 90 minutes. 
 
They are helped in no small amount by the aforementioned Erik. Holy shit… what is this boy on and can I have some please!! He never, and I mean never, stops moving. His reputation for being an energetic frontman for H.E.A.T. precedes him but having never seen him perform before, I genuinely left the venue that night in a state of awe. If ever there was another artist that could do justice to the songs made famous in the early 90s then it’s Erik Grönwall. Fans were going wild and Erik had them in the palm of his hand. As you might imagine, with all of his interactions and jumping about with mic in hand, he’s hard to track with a camera trust me!
 
It’s almost too easy to forget about the rest of the band as you watch the Swedish (meat)ball of energy fly around the stage with vocals threatening to bring the ceiling down on us. But the band are there and these guys look and sound great. It’s like a new life has been injected into them! Some classics were played such as 18 and Life, I Remember You, plus some new ones off the latest album including title track The Gangs All Here. Erik took time to speak to the crowd telling them how lucky he feels to be waking up as frontman of Skid Row following his career with H.E.A.T. The cheers suggested much love was shared between band and crowd. He also announced that the main reason Snake Sabo did not appear that night was that he has Covid. But in recognition of the old adage, the show must go on, so Snake’s guitar tech stood in for him. A piece of cake you might think? Not so! He had 3 hours to learn all the songs!! Kudos to Casey, he smashed it!!
 
The crowd went nuts for Monkey Business and finished as you might expect with the song that put them on the map, Youth Gone Wild. Perhaps they should rename that song and just call it Erik! What an awesome show and a trip down memory lane from a band who certainly proved that they are back.
 
Definitely one to watch, go see them. Don’t just take my word for it. 
 

SETLIST

Slave to the Grind
The Threat
Big Guns
18 and Life
Piece of Me
Livin’ on a Chain Gang
Psycho Therapy (Ramones cover)
Makin’ a Mess
The Gang’s All Here
Riot Act
Tear It Down
Monkey Business
Encore:
I Remember You
Time Bomb
Youth Gone Wild

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