GIRLSCHOOL / LILLIAN AXE / ALCATRAZZ - Final Tour Brewery Stop, In Philly!

March 30, 2024, 3 weeks ago

By Mark Gromen

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The British ladies are bowing out (or should that be curtsy?), on what they claim will be their final US tour (albeit labeled, "Part 1"). Microbreweries know their clientele enjoys music too, so Broken Goblet (who are an annual sponsor of the Philly Metal & Beer fest) have begun to open their doors to touring bands. One of the first, high profile collaborations sees this tour set down in their Bensalem headquarters (outskirts of Philadelphia). Some of the old-timers in attendance were stunned, unsure what to order, as their mass produced (cheaper?), usual quaffs, like Bud, PBR or Miller were unavailable. Just the venue's (often high powered) home brews. 

On the road, Alcatrazz may have been reduced to just one original member (keyboardist Jimmy Waldo, as bassist Gary Shea is present for recording only), but they still have some major players in guitar wizard Joe Stump and singer Giles Lavery (Warlord). The set was predominately from the ‘80s Graham Bonnet/Yngwie Malmsteen era, much to the delight of the early arriving fans. "Little Viper" kicks things off, with Stump, who is the visual presence/calling card these days, stepping center stage to wail away a greeting. "Too Young to Die, Too Drunk to Live" sees the man in black (yes, with a cream colored Strat, to boot) whipping the strings with his guitar cord. 

Classics "Hiroshima Mon Amour" and "Kree Nakoorie" sandwich "Turn Of The Wheel", which was the single off the V album. Stump drops to one knee, and keeps playing, during "Jet To Jet", throwing in a few measures of headbanging and guitar histrionics, as the instrument rotates around his frame. It ends, with him piledriving the headstock into the stage floor. Giles walks out with the namesake prop, for "Sword Of Deliverance", keeping the blade for the entirety of the song. Waldo's keys introduce the purple lit "Island In The Sun", while "Don't Get Mad, Get Even" utilizes 3-part backing harmonies, with Stump commandeering center stage. Much more enjoyable than I initially thought it would be.

Spent much of the Lillian Axe set, speaking to Joe Stump, but did see/hear a few old gems, including "All's Fair In Love And War", mainstay guitarist Steve Blaze, with black shorts over leggings, helping on vocals throughout the night. A little more guitar oriented, "True Believer" is a pop hit that never happened and closer "Show A Little Love" (most in the crowd did that, and then some) is accented by bands of purple lights sweeping the stage.

Jackie Chambers in the first (only) Girl onstage, churning out some solo power chords, to start "Demolition Boys". It was her birthday and after "C'mon Let's Go" many of the opening bands' member produced a sheet cake, onstage, and sang to her. A little early, if you ask me, just a couple of songs in. Former Rock Goddess Tracey Lamb is on bass, but Chambers is the most active, around the stage. Once more decked in all black, Kim McAuliffe (guitar/vocals), who has been there since the beginning (as has drummer Denise Dufort) intimated, in introducing "Guilty As Sin" that while this might be the end of the road, she won't necessarily stop recording new music/albums. Let's hope. Jackie and Tracey try to get the crowd to clap along, before the former takes a solo, as McAuliffe and Lamb move to the opposite side of the stage.

"Out To Get You" sees the ladies, all in their sixties (Chambers joining "the club" tonight), in (p)leather pants, or spandex, jumping around the stage. "Kick It Down" makes quite a racket, as searchlights sweep the stage. Another old chestnut, "Nothing To Lose", is close on its heels. Jackie gets the crowd into a call & response bit and Kim urges the fans to go mad. A couple of new ones, off the new album: "It Is What It Is" and Lamb sung (with backing from Kim) "Up To No Good". Complaining that brains have gone haywire, Kim doesn't know whether "Race With The Devil" was their 2nd single. She told the tale when Jeff Beck was reviewing singles and claimed the musicianship behind the track couldn't have possibly been women. Guess who's had the last laugh?

A rendition of "Bomber" (Motörhead) follows, Lemmy was supportive of Girlschool from the start. Wonder how he's like their extended version. Speaking of the early days, "Emergency" was announced as the final number. Urgency, more like it, as many sang along. As it winds down, Chambers plays her white guitar vertically. During the encore changeover, there's jokes about getting older and then "Screaming Blue Murder." Fun evening at the "old age home"!

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