JUNKYARD / WARRIOR SOUL - Cinco de Mayo: Strange Bedfellows!

May 10, 2018, a year ago

Mark Gromen

gallery hard rock junkyard warrior soul

Couldn't really imagine, back at the dawn of the Nineties, these two bands amicably sharing the same stage. Even stranger, the eclectic Circus Of Power (who bear no resemblance to either the aforementioned acts) was also part of the late afternoon /early evening show. Sad sign of the times, but ‘80s rockers had to be done by 10 PM, as there was a DJ coming in. Two days earlier, contemporaries Bon Jovi headlined the Wells Fargo (hockey) arena, across town. Talk about the fickle fortunes of fate. 

Beneath a backdrop depicting Donald Trump as the devil, complete with pitchfork and horns protruding from his forehead, Kory Clarke and a trio of international musicians (Swede, Brit) relaunched Warrior Soul. Although the time is right, politically, the caustic witted frontman played it straight (no commentary), delivering high energy, occasionally punk tinged rock ‘n’ roll. The career spanning set started with a heavy dose of the recently released Back On The Lash CD. Clarke, with shirt unbuttoned to his sternum looked fit and healthy, jumping around, thrusting a peace sign overhead and clapping, like an ADHD cheerleader. Opening with his two middle fingered salute to "American Idol". Clarke flipped the bird enough that if they were $1 each, I could have stepped up from Kung Fu Necktie's infamous $2 Shelf of Shame (actually partook in $3 drafts of Rolling Rock, thank you very much). Although a little disconcerting, as a speaking voice, Clarke's sandpapered vocal chords fit the music. In addition to pantomiming the autobiographical vices of "I Get Fucked Up", the singer playfully "strangles" his bass player. Following the current title track, it's red, blue, green minimalist lit "Burning Bridges", Kory looks happy simply delivering rock, rather than preaching anti-establishment rhetoric. That said, he still is fighting the power. Case in point, "Bad News (Rock 'N' Roll Boyfriend)" which sports the line, "In my neighborhood there were two kinds of dudes. Ones that were rich and ones that were screwed." Onstage, glimpses of the mega-rock star that could have been (if ideological battles and substances hadn't clouded the narrative) shine through. "Generation Graveyard" offers an ominous, repeated "Bombs away" lyric. "Ass Kickin'” gives way to "The Wasteland". The tail end of the set offering the oldest material, including "Punk And Belligerent" (which segues seamlessly into "Rotten Soul" and set closing "The Losers". Odd, nearly 30 years later and nothing has changed, in the vision of Warrior Soul/Kory Clarke.


On the opposite side of the aisle, there's the countrified punk of Junkyard. Won't find David Roach, the bleach blond twig of a frontman most (wrongly) associate with Sunset Strip glam glory days. The middle aged, spikey haired Meatloaf look-alike leads this dressed down, jeans and denim vest brigade, who are probably playing the same sized venues, to similar die-hards only audiences as they did when first starting out, almost thirty years ago. Early on, Roach acknowledged being on the outskirts of Philly last year, now playing downtown. "Back On The Streets" is over in a blur. Some fan's Cinco de Mayo sombrero, complete with Junkyard sticker, ended up atop bassist Todd Muscat. Newbie "Cut From The Same Cloth" easily slot next to classic cuts like "Hot Rod". By the rollicking "Misery Loves Company", Roach has worked up a sweat, ditching the denim vest. "Simple Man" offers the crowd a chance to sing along, ending virtually acoustically, with fan voices. Know GnR received all the pops for aggro on the Strip, but "Blooze" might be THE anthem of the era: "Not talking about no lightweight, candy ass weekend warrior, I'm talkin' bout drinkin'! When you got two bucks left, you don't want nothin' to eat, you just gotta keep drinkin'. Talkin' about when you get home at three, but don't make it til four cause you can't find the door." If you weren't there, you won't understand!

Roach, typically stalking the postage stamp sized stage from side-to side, ventures into the crowd for "Blooze". "Clean The Dirt" offers the advice, "If you really love me, you'd just go away". The punky "Lost In The City" sees Roach shake, almost spasmodically. Tim Mosher, to the singer's left, seems content to rapidly run his fingers up and down the frets, occasionally adding backing vocals. "Hands Off" is another sing-along, the crowd accentuating the "Baby, you gave him head" line. Mosher and bushy mutton chopped and handlebar mustache guitar partner Jimmy James finally get together, stage left. "W.F.L.W.F." (aka "We Fuck Like We Fight") adds to the raucous vibe, threaded right into "Hollywood", which ends the proper set. For an encore, a quick run through "Beer Drinkers & Hell Raisers", Mosher starting on vocals. Despite the virtual bum's rush out the door (wouldn't want to upset the DJ crowd with the aforementioned ZZ Top song, come-to-life) a great evening. Damn shame it was just three dates together.

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