HEAVENS EDGE – Giving Thanks, An ‘80s Flashback!
November 28, 2023, 3 months ago
Talk about some other place, at some other time.... After overeating the annual turkey dinner and a bout of shop till you drop, on Black Friday, a contingent of East Coast fans (and some from further away) stopped by Brooklyn Bowl, a Philly venue (and bowling alley!) to keep the long weekend vibe going, with local faves Heavens Edge, supported by Baltimore area Child's Play. Fitting, since the Eighties metal scene was all about excess. Thankfully, most of the attendees are "older, but wiser," having outgrown the party 'til you puke mentality.
With all the click-bait headlines about musicians suing current/former bandmates, it's nice to see a group of guys who like each other and (still) enjoy playing together. Unlike so many of their contemporaries, they're all fit and look/dress like rockers. Better yet, they still sound like they did, back in the day! 4/5 of the classic line-up remains intact, bassist George “G.G.” Guidotti lost his battle with cancer in 2019. In his memory, each guy sported a patch, with the letters GG on it. First time seeing his replacement, Jaron Gulino, who moonlights in Lynch Mob (as well as Philly locals Tantric, with Sebastian "son of Cinderella's Jeff" LaBar). Hard to believe these guys are pushing (or exceed) 60, as frontman Mark Evans (shirt unbuttoned to the sternum, full head of hair, albeit not teased to the heavens, as in a bygone era) and guitarist Reggie Wu jump, kick, stretch about the stage, like men half that age.
Might be a bowling alley, but the large stage featured plenty of lights, smoke, even a barricaded photo pit, luxuries missing from many "rock clubs." Heavens Edge offered a 14 song set, of which exactly half were culled from the debut. They came in bunches of two or three, alternating throughout the running order.
Kicked off with newbie "9 Lives (My Immortal Life)". Evans is a frontman who knows how to use the mic stand as a prop. He works his way around the room, while Wu and guitar partner Steve Parry occupy opposite sides of the stage. Occasionally they get together, center stage. By Wu's facial expressions (pursed lips, screams, etc.), one might think he was having difficulty, but no, it's just an extension of his excitement, especially as it comes to the hard driving numbers, like "Skin 2 Skin", the first oldie aired. It's followed by "Come Play The Game". Volcanic eruption of stage fog rise from several spots, across the stage, during "Had Enough" and Mark brings out a 12 string acoustic guitar for purple/blue tinged "When The Lights Go Down".
Returning to the eponymous CBS disc, it's "Daddy's Little Girl", a chance for Reggie to show off musically, and Mark to unleash a high karate kick, then comes "Bad Reputation", with pink and purple searchlights scanning the stage. Great to see "Up Against The Wall" is still on the setlist, in this overreaction, politically correct day and age. Doesn't hurt that it's a fast, aggressive song too!
Tonight's final pair off this year's Get It Right CD include "What Could've Been" an ode about the band's unfortunate twist of fate in the music industry, first time around. Then again, they might not still be friends/playing together, had they enjoyed a more successful music career. Just look at their Philly compatriots: Cinderella and Britny Fox... As if to drive that point home, it's a closing trio off the original (for a long time, their only) record. "Don't Stop" gives way to "Play Dirty", with Evans, and the wind milling Wu, playing off one another. As has become something of a tradition, a blue lit "Find Another Way" closes the show,
Damn shame there aren't more opportunities for this band to play (as well as life commitments getting in the way), as Heavens Edge delivers the same high energy experience as their younger selves. Hopefully they'll continue, for a while yet. Don't Stop, Don't Go.