BRUCE KULICK, Live Music Review – The Bridgeway Hotel March, 2015

In the 40th anniversary year of KISS, Adelaide (indeed, Australia) is being flooded with KISS legends. And not just the current lineup itself, but also past members Ace Frehley and, the weekend just past, Bruce Kulick.

Kulick is no stranger to Adelaide. He’s played here several times. This tour, Adelaide is one of the lucky cities; Kulick is only playing Sydney, Melbourne and Adelaide – with the other two major music cities skipped over.

20150321_225302Melbourne, of course, pairs in with the almighty KISS Convention. So if you missed the Kulick show here, get your arse to Melbourne next week for the masterclass, Kulick show, AND the KISS Convention itself. (KISS Army members will already be there, I’m sure.)

Anyway, it had been a hundred years since I’ve been to the Bridgeway. After gigs stopped being booked there, the venue fell into disuse. Like, actual disuse. As is told, the venue was filled with webs and was literally dead space.

Then, some enterprising locals started running regular gigs there – Thursday nights, if you’re keen! – and are progressively booking bigger and bigger acts.

If they’re all as successful as this Kulick tour, hopefully the Bridgeway will again take its rightful place on the map.

Kicking off around 7.30 pm, young band (in terms of band age, not member age) band Speedmachine took the stage. Looking as much like a female-fronted German classic metal act as it’s likely to be, your humble reviewer was initially impressed. Great vocals, driving rock beat. I may have even tweeted that they’ll be a band to look out for.

Call it the initial gloss, that pretty soon wore off. Given the band is only 7 months old, it’s not surprising. It’s awesome that they’re out there giving it a go and gigging hard, but not so awesome that every song has the same beat, and same bass riffs. It didn’t help their cause in the slightest that the sound wasn’t ideal: It was bottom-heavy, the guitarist wasn’t loud enough to stand his place in the sludge, and it was all rather sluggish.

The set was too long, and even though exhorting people to come down the front is not a bad way to do things, it gets old when you’ve already lost your audience.

The other thing that I hope these guys get away from is the overly sexual nature of the banter. It’s just unnecessary. Women in rock are so far past having to play the sex card that it’s not even a topic of conversation. And it gets old – fast.

Having said that, if you’re looking for straight-forward rock, that won’t challenge you and doesn’t break any boundaries whatsoever – then maybe Speedmachine is your thing.

Then, we waited for what felt like an hour for the second support act to set up. They set up behind a rigged white sheet (hot tip for the venue: Maybe put some drapes across the stage?).

The hour long break was good conversation fodder, but that’s about all.

When the second band hit the stage, with a prelude of announcement, laser show, and swirling spotlights, we were confronted with three young kids.

“Whoa! Young?” you’re asking. Yes, young. One wasn’t 18 yet, the others not much older. They’d be 22 at an absolute stretch – young as hell.

They were dressed in every cliche of glam you can imagine, and were out to put on a real show. They were showmen and not just another band: Their props included fire, smoke stacks, creepy clown painting, candles, skulls, and a banner, and they were called… Sisters Doll.

They leaped and danced, and rocked. And it was good fun. These kids, Sisters Doll, are from Melbourne and by all accounts pretty popular in that city. After Speedmachine, the crowd was all ears and eyes and full attention.

And by now, the Bridgeway was almost full. Turning away from the conversation next to me to go to the bar, I got a bit of a shock to see the crowd behind me. But they weren’t a city-going crowd. And, hate to say it but it’s true, if this show had been in town, it wouldn’t have gotten half the crowd that turned up at the Bridgeway.

Sisters Doll pulled out every cliche of every band from Anvil to Poison, Wednesday13 to Motley Crue, Steel Panther to Aerosmith that you can think of. Their drummer was styled on Nikki Sixx (and called Lips! Disclaimer: Mad Anvil fan here; I laughed so hard.) Their bass player who was young enough to still be scared of girls was called Auzy Foxx. And their vocalist, B.Monroe, had a shock of hair that I was surprised to see wasn’t a wig. Ha!

BUT as much as I want to deride these guys, and as much as I was hating myself for enjoying their set – I did enjoy it. This despite it being put as, “These guys would be good if they played actual music.”

Don’t be confused, Sisters Doll don’t play metal. They play a modern, stylised version of glam. One that, combined with their stage show, took the audience by the face and wouldn’t let go. They were enraptured. They sang when asked to; they clapped when demanded; they yelled and whooped; and didn’t notice (like I did) that the support band played for 63 minutes.

Sixty-three minutes! What the hell, Bridgeway! Even Motorhead only plays for two minutes longer than that when they headline in Adelaide.

And so, after a successful hour-long set, the curtain went up and we waited for the changeover.

When it happened, we got the shock of our lives to see Sisters Doll as the backing band for Bruce Kulick.

Groans went up in our little clique. Time would tell as to whether or not they were any good.

Were they?

Hell YES they were! They did a great job, especially their drummer – he played hard for two hours, and didn’t once let up. Kudos, dude.

Now, if you’re not au fait with Bruce Kulick’s career with KISS, he played with the band from 1984 – 1996. This means that he was around for Asylum, Crazy Nights, Hot in the Shade, Revenge, Carnival of Souls, Alive III, and KISS: Unplugged.

Bruce took us through a short and sweet set of favourites, mostly from Alive III and Revenge. (If you’re a KISS fan, you’ll know that this album is over 20 years old now – it was released in 1993 and went gold in 1994.)

You know the deal: Deuce, I Was Made for Lovin’ You, Lick It Up, Rock and Roll All Nite, Detroit Rock City, God Gave Rock ‘n’ Roll to You, I Love it Loud, Tears are Falling, etc.

To the vocalist, Brandon’s, credit, he managed to hit some notes on songs that are tricky to reach. And he put on a good show for us. Similarly, the young bass player earlier mentioned pulled off bass lines that are absolutely critical to get right, and did so without looking too terrified.

And the axe work? C’mon, it’s Bruce Kulick. It was worth it just to see those leads played by the man himself.

While the set was short, it was peppered with commentary by Kulick as to album and KISStory, his age, his tour, and little golden gems of comedy.

He also talked about pulling the tour together, how Sisters Doll worked hard and, as he put it, “did their homework” to help the show come off properly. And pointed out (unnecessarily, but happily) their talent, and why it’s so important to support young bands.

Right on, dude. As for the audience? We were eating it up.

Kulick also weighed in on the rock-is-not-dead-in-Adelaide thing, by commenting on the crowd, and that this show is proof that Adelaide is a rockin’ city.

Damn right. Bring on Ace Frehley on 6 May, and KISS themselves on 6 October. Celebrating 40 years of KISS has gotten off to a ripping start.

By Leticia Mooney

Photos by Leticia Mooney

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