GIGS GUIDE

[venue]: Centre of the Arts, 200A Lakeshore Drive
[city/province]: Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada
[date/time]: 1986 January 11, Saturday, 8:00 PM
[info]: opener White Wolf, Welcome to the Club tour

Saturday night saw approximately 1,400 leather, denim and spandex-clad fans greet their rock raison d'etre - Kick Axe, hometown boys who have Regina's number-two selling album and are wowing them across Canada.

Kick Axe's show, geared more to a cavernous arena rather than the comfy confines of the Centre of the Arts, opened with pyrotechnics, a suspended Kick Axe signboard and lighting effects that made Brian Gillstrom's custom drum kit look like a Hades shrine.

The excellent light and sound systems proved these hard-rock boys had plenty of toys to play with on stage and off.

The audience, many of them teenage males who perpetually had their fists in the air doing the standard heavy metal salute, gobbled up Kick Axe's aural and visual bombardments.

It didn't matter that Kick Axe's material had guitarists Raymond Harvey and Larry Gillstrom play the standard rock chords or that bassist Victor Langen, coupled with the other Gillstrom brother Brian, pounded and strummed heavy, rollicking beats. The simplicity of the music was buried in a high-decibel environment. Lead singer George Criston complemented the hard tone with his screech-till-you-reach-them singing.

Criston does, surprisingly, possess some range, as evidenced on Kick Axe's spurious rendition of the Beatles' With a Little Help Frtom My Friends. Unfortunately, many of the other songs, from their two albums Vices and just-released Welcome to the Club, churn out the same chords and permutations of them, with the addition of lyrics that would seduce the motley crews of the world or make the idea of quiet riot attractive.

There are bright moments. Some of the ballads contained refined music that haplessly dissolved into a banshee song. Other pieces got your legs moving but didn't go as far as getting your tongue wagging. It was music to play air guitar to and to cut loose to and since the majority of the crowd was under 20 it could be safely said that it was also music that it loses its appeal after a certain age. The reason for that being the lack of stimulation, so that's why there was all the sight treats - a guitar in the shape of an axe, a stainless steel axe prop Criston hoisted around, risers for the band to prance about, dry ice mists, and plenty of stage maneuverings from the Led Zeppelin book of pelvic thrusts, guitar and drum solos, rocking heads and sustained screams that are called vocals.

Kick Axe does know what its audience wants so it gives them a full 70 minutes of hard, redundant rock and sex appeal delivered by local heroes.

As for White Wolf, where are the Toronto zookeepers when you need them? This five-piece, Edmonton-based band was fronted by Don Wilk, who worked harder at accentuating his resemblance to the unmasked Gene Simmons of Kiss than trying to make White Wolf something more than ordinary.

True, opening bands don't get all stage benefits of headliners, thus their sound quality wasn't very good, often ending up a mass of sludge.

White Wolf's music did have fragments of interesting melodies that turned into cold war fare; the band seemed miles apart with each member on his own and the whole never cohesing.