GIGS GUIDE

[venue]: Golden Garter Northlands Park, 116 Avenue & 73 Street
[city/province]: Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
[date/time]: 1984 October 31, Wednesday, 8:00 PM
[info]: Vices Tour, with Helix

"I know damn well it isn't new," said Helix guitarist Brent Doerner after completing his set Wednesday night.

"But we're playing for an audience of 14-to-20-year-olds and it might be the first time they're hearing it."

As naive as that seems to those of us who could cop the riffs in our sleep, Doerner must be right. Why else would 1,200 teenagers brave Siberian cold to watch two Canadian heavy metal bands, circa 1984, imitating heavy metal bands circa 1974, who were imitating what was known in Jimi Hendrix's and Cream's days as progressive rock?

Despite a recent change in in fortune which has seen Helix's new LP, Walkin' The Razor's Edge, whiz by the Kick Axe entry Vices on the Billboard charts (now sitting pretty mid 60s while Kick Axe didn't crack the top 100) Helix opened the show - and sans sound check at that.

With a bass amp hogging, no, obliterating the mix, they put out enough bottom end to have every heart in the joint hammering against its respective chest activity.

This is music to perform surgery by - my insides would've popped out obligingly given half a chance.

Drawing from last year's No Rest For The Wicked, their current album, or songs they wrote for the film First Born (Long Way To Heaven) the quartet scarcely acknowledged the wonderful advances that have been made in melody since the stone age.

Even the bubblegum hit Gimme Good Lovin' and Make Me Do Anything You Want were wrestled to the ground by Brian Vollner's ragged screech.

Just by adjusting the volume Kick Axe improved the show, but in the biggest surprise since Van Halen had a hit with an original song, they also brought musical acumen to the stage.

Their songs had several melodies apiece. Lead singer Goerge Criston's voice compared well with Robert Plant, and his stage presence meant we didn't have to watch him turn somersaults to prove his mettle.

New material such as A Piece of the Rock and Dreaming About You doesn't have the universal appeal that would make the band a smash act, but given their willingness to step out of the mould, they might just have a Stairway to Heaven up their sleeve.