HEAVENS EDGE, BRITNY FOX - Sold Out Show in Philly: What Year Is It?

November 17, 2015, 2 years ago

Mark Gromen

gallery hard rock heavens edge britny fox

Thirty years ago, the metal scene was vibrant, but beginning to schism into two factions, emerging thrash bands and those continuing the traditional path, albeit with a bit more importance on the visual, both look and presentation. At some point, it all got crazy, like a Hollywood special effect that went horribly wrong. Hair piled to the ceiling, bands looking like the Cowardly Lion on Rogaine, enough "fur" to outfit a Broadway production of Cats! Was there ever a more towering mop than Heavens Edge frontman, Mark Evans? Along the way, some good, Aerosmith/Stones inspired, high energy hard rock went ignored. Shame. Compared to usual metal shows, lots of hard liquor was being served. Old habits die hard, many in the crowd voicing the fact they rarely get out much anymore. There were a few youngsters in the crowd, one sporting a Steel Panther t-shirt, thinking he'd somehow relive the ‘80s. Step aside junior! Clueless, short haired (now with male pattern baldness), gold chin wearing South Philly guys still try to pick up rocker chicks. Some things never change.

To this day, in the south Jersey/Philly area, if you say the word "Britny" to individuals of a certain age, it doesn't conjure up a female image (unless mentioning their "Girlschool" video), but rather the four-piece assembled from the major label decision to jettison former members of Cinderella, aka Britny Fox. Lots has changed since, with the Bite Down Hard line-up substituting newly found Chris Sanders for original guitarist Michael Kelly Smith. Global metalheads should recognize the man behind the kit (even with "stylish" German porno mustache) Johnny Dee, who has kept the time behind Doro Pesch, for more than two decades. No giant drum riser tonight, his kit situated on the stage floor, Dee is outfitted with a vocal mic, to aid singer/guitarist Tommy Paris and bassist Billy Childs.

Opening, appropriately, with “In Motion”, their second album, Boys In Heat, figured prominently in the just-short-of-an-hour set this evening. “She's So Lonely” was followed by “Rock Revolution” and “Long way To Love”. The stage was bathed in pinks and blues throughout the show, with Paris and Childs working off each other, new boy Sanders left to fend for himself, especially when they all left the stage, for his short solo, prior to “Shot From My Gun”. Their version of Nazareth's “Hair Of The Dog” was up fourth. “Hold On” segues into “Lonely Too Long”, prior to the aforementioned Sanders spotlight. Guys still plugged into amps via chords, which restricts their movement, even on a smaller stage. “Living On A Dream” gives way to “Dream On”, where Paris switches guitar on the fly. Pre-recorded Dirty Harry intro, culminating in "Do you feel lucky? Punk!" preceded “Six Guns Loaded”, where the shirtless Dee is given a solo. “Louder” sees the crowd doing just that, adding their voices to the trio of mics onstage, before ending with the video/single “Girlschool”. The stage was a deep blue, as Paris thanks everyone and the bell rings, launching into the song. Enjoyable trip to yesteryear.

Heavens Edge came out onstage with all the amenities, like it was 1980-something, complete with jump kicks, snippets of synchronized moves, Evans dropping to his knees, as the others moved around the stage. These aren't spring chickens, so the effort was noticed and applauded, especially given the fact they're not a regular band anymore, putting on sporadic shows (on a seemingly annual basis), with this a warm-up, prior to the Monsters Of Rock cruise. Ladies, fret not, as Evans still has long blond curls and stunning good looks. The same intro that began their eponymous debut heralded their arrival onstage and right into “Play Dirty”, which also kicked off said album. "Up Against The Wall” and “Daddy's Little Girl” showed no sign of the energy waning, either side of the barricade. “Jacky” sees Evans add acoustic guitar to the mix. Guitarist Reggie Wu may be a short haired father now, but he was screaming and tearing around the stage, while tattooed and pierced bassist George Guidotti (aka GG) wore a sleeveless Black Veil Brides t-shirt. Each end of the stage had a two trios of lights, one on the floor, behind the band and one mounted vertically. There were also a pair of smoke machines, periodically erupting a belch of fog. 

A purple lit “Rock Steady” was up for audience participation (although many were singing throughout, minus any cues from the stage). At one point, the singer joked, "This makes me feel young again. Not sure how we'll feel tomorrow morning!" More seriously, he referenced GG getting shot outside the Empire Rock Club and what happened in France, the day before. “Is That All You Want” sees the return of the acoustic guitar, at least prior to it revving into a full bore rocker: GG and Mark on their knees. Whether planned, or just being onstage again overtaking him, as the song ends, GG slings the still strapped on bass over the shoulder and around his body, old school video style! “Backseat Driver” and “Bad Reputation” are up next, more high octane fun. “Just Another Fire” was a bit of a surprise, but the concluding trio, almost as strong as the opening salvo, certainly wasn't, beginning with “Skin 2 Skin”. “Come Play The Game” and spinning introduced “Find Another Way” brought the set to a close, but not the evening, as everyone came back onstage: members of the two local openers, the Britny guys and singer/local legend Bill Mattson (Dead End Kids/Tangier) for a rendition of the Sensation Alex Harvey Band's “Midnight Moses”, complete with stage moves (windmilling and kicks). Like a deliciously decadent dessert, after a fine meal. Here's hoping it's not another year before I can see heavens Edge again, they really deserve to play more often.

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