HEAVEN'S EDGE - Same Place, Some Other Time

March 26, 2018, a year ago

Mark Gromen

gallery hard rock heaven's edge

Late to the Philly area hair metal signing parade (Cinderella, Britny Fox, Teaze/Roughhouse, etc.), Heaven's Edge never really got a fair shake. Sure, singer Mark Evans owned one of the biggest Aqua Net 'dos and the eponymous, 1990 debut had the requisite power ballads of the day, but material like "Up Against The Wall", "Can't Catch Me", the innuendo of "Daddy's Little Girl", speedy "Is That All You Want?" and even single "Play Dirty" walked a line closer to the aggression of Skid Row than the rest of the so-called glam contemporaries. While they did eventually get around to issuing a second album, it's those original audacious tales from a bygone era, regaling over-indulgent exploits of, excess and cavorting with underaged girls, that packed a now late-middle age crowd (including many of those same targets of affection, themselves now mothers of teenagers) into the Trocadero for an unofficial headbangers' reunion.

While the band has recently been part of some big "hair band" events, on land and sea, it's been a couple of years since a hometown gig. This was a big deal, with full production, including ubiquitous fog machine, even cloth sticky passes (some touring bands don't even use those), for VIP guests and photographers. Not many bands from that era are fully intact, fewer still look as physically fit as Heaven's Edge. That said, it's hard to sustain a full show w/ just one album (although I think most would have been cool with a complete run-through of the debut). The initial run, of "Play Dirty", "Up Against The Wall" and "Come Play The Game" threatened to do just that. Guitarist Reggie Wu was more animated than ever, attempting scaled down versions of an Eddie Van Halen jump split (albeit with limited success), his hair might be short, but was bouncing and his aggressively stalked the front of the stage. Wu has grown into the ‘80s guitar god he's now revered. Over the last three decades, he's way more comfortable being a face of the band, than back in the day.

From outward appearances, Mark Evans (does this guy ever age?) exhibits no symptoms of Lead Singer Disease, as he's jovial, enjoyable and not arrogant. Scarf dangling around his neck, there's a seemingly perpetual smile on Evans' face as he runs about the stage. At some point during the 16 songs, he flings his arm around each musician, while he sings (apart from drummer Dave Rath, whom he did visit, behind the kit). Left alone, Evans spins and karate kicks, center stage, or visits the crowd, jumping into the photo pit. Between songs he related stories and reflected on the past, including a previous night at the Troc, many moons ago. GG Guidotti still has a rock star look (not the same as the 80s though) and was active alongside second guitarist Steve Parry, stage right. Newbie "Raise Em Up" gives way to "Daddy's Little Girl". 

Evans brought out a 12-string acoustic guitar, which was used prominently, during the middle portion of the set. "Jacky", written about the birth of his son, was next. Family was a major theme throughout the night. Once the female accompanied "Take Me By The Hand" concluded (also from the more sedate second album), another unreleased track "Beautiful Goodbye" was greeted like an old friend. Power of the Internet, I guess. A red bathed "Skin To Skin" got the place jumping again. The band even dusted off some synchronized lateral stage moves. With Evans perched at the barricade, the crowd shouted the titular chorus. 

At one point, Evans mockingly warned the crowd, "If you don't get it right, we'll stop and start practicing again." Then he won local cred points with an "E-A-G-L-E-S" chant. Back to the Some Other Place - Some Other Time disc, for a pair. "Rock Steady" sees the band in chorus line mode, with synched kick-to-the-right. A cloud from one of the four carbon dioxide cannons caught Evans right in the face, as the three musicians swayed back and forth, center stage. "Just Another Fire" sees Parry's son, from the opening band, don an acoustic (with Evans', that's four guitars!) and join in. At one point, the singer leads the crowd through an a cappella rendition.

The acoustics packed away, the rest of the set rocked out, beginning with "U Got It", one of the demo bonus tracks from the re-release of the debut. Under purple and yellow lights, the song starts with the four non-drummers rushing forward, in unison, swinging their arms like crazed softball pitchers, as smoke clouds erupt from both ends of the stage. Damn the time constraints of vinyl, as this would have been a worthy addition to the eponymous album. "Don't Stop, Don't Go" is met with aqua lighting and a storm of strobes, Wu out front, soloing, to start, but is Parry who takes the rare lead. Wu's introductory tapping of the fretboard starts the crowd singing a pink/purple hued "Find Another Way", even before the proper song has begun. Haven't heard some touring bands get that sort of response. As the song kicks in, all onstage jump spin to the right. Red lit speedster "Can't Catch Me" sees Evans back in the pit. Claiming they had no intention of playing it" Hold On To The Night", leads off with Reggie Wu on keyboards, to an otherwise empty stage. Doesn't take long for the crowd to drown out the guys, on this nearly a cappella, aptly entitled send-off. Please don't wait two more years, we're not getting any younger!

Opening the show was "naughty" Ted Poley, formerly of Danger Danger. Quickly he demonstrated the difference between today's bands and yesteryear. ‘80s bands were like the Energizer Bunny, got onstage and kept moving. Despite his age, the singer repeatedly dropped to his knees, in just the first song, and throughout the night. Shame on the current climate of shoe gazers, entertain the fans. That would include hitting them with a dose of oldies, including "Don't Walk Away", "Shot Of Love", a cover of Kiss' "Rock n Roll All Nite" and "I Still Think About You" closer, while working in a brand new, unreleased song (believed it was called) "Shoot Me Down". Tossed out unfilled balloons that were soon inflated and ping ponging atop the audience. Sure a few soccer moms would disagree, but in the all-ages family section, even "Naughty Naughty" lost some of its oomph, those old timers willing to navigate the Troc stairs, to balcony bar (and the sardines roped off in a downstairs drinking area) seemed to be having more fun. Celebrate! 

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