[published]: 1986, January 3
[in]: Calgary Herald, p. D2
[article]: Kick Axe a tiresome heavy metal band
[by]: Martin Morrow

KICK AXE in concert, with White Wolf opening, at the Jubilee Auditorium Thursday evening.

Just what the world has been waiting for. A heavy metal rendition of With a Little Help From My Friends.

As it happened, Kick Axe's new cover version of the Beatles classic was the highlight of the Canadian band's Thursday night concert at the Jubilee. Actually, the Kick Axe performance of the Lennon-McCartney song is merely a pretty good imitation of Joe Cocker's bluesy interpretation from the late '60s. All that's missing is Cocker's great rasping, unhinged vocal. Instead, we have the undistinguished screaming of Kick Axe lead singer George Criston - one in a long line of Robert Plant clones, from the vocal chords to the blond curls.

However, Criston and the rest of the five-man group don't seem to be too interested in originality. They're too busy being the typical heavy metal band, and their bag of tricks is tiresomely familiar. When a bare-footed Criston wasn't tossing his unruly mane he was doing the well-worn pep rally bit, leading the audience in a shouting competition. Lead guitarist Raymond Arthur Harvey and drummer Brian Gillstrom contributed the standard solos, and to make up for the lack of musical pyrotechnics there were fireworks and blinding explosions.

Not that Kick Axe has pretensions of brilliance. They are a pragmatic bunch of musicians, who readily admit their purpose is to entertain the kids and make lots of money doing it. On their new song Too Loud...Too Old they exhult the power of the power chord: "Ears will bleed, it's guaranteed/We deal in volume sales". While Kick Axe's Thursday night show didn't exactly raze the Jubilee, it provided enough noise to please a small but rowdy audience of heavy metal devotees.

However, next to opening act White Wolf, Kick Axe almost seemed like musical geniuses. The five-men heavy metal outfit from Edmonton attempted to warm-up the crowd with a ponderous and undistinguished set that lasted an hour but seemed to go on forever. White Wolf's lead singer/keybordist came across like a bargain basement Rick Springfield, complete with ankle-length coat and fingerless glove, and his cohorts were even less impressive. Oh, they made a lot of noise, all right. But the singer's T-shirt adorned with a picture of the cartoon feline Sylvester, said it all. When it comes to hard rock, these guys aren't white wolves, they're just pussycats.