If you’re like me and set the VCR to record Headbanger’s Ball every Saturday night in the late ’80s, you’ve GOT to be excited about some of the bands headed to Columbus (and the surrounding burbs) this summer. Here’s a look at who’s coming and my take on the 2019 version of the band.
July 6 – Alice Cooper – Express Live (Columbus)
It wouldn’t be summer outdoor concert season without a stop by the original shock rocker, Alice Cooper. Fans of his ’70s work are likely clamoring for an original lineup tour but Cooper’s current band does a great job of not only playing the classics (“No More, Mr Nice Guy”, “Under My Wheels”) but ripping through newer tunes like “Fallen in Love” and “Paranoiac Personality” from 2017’s Paranormal. I know I’m in the minority, but I’d love to hear more songs from 1989’s Trash.
July 13 – Dokken / Enuff Z’Nuff – Picktown Palooza (Pickerington)
Both bands may not be on my top 10 from the Metal Edge era, but both bands released albums that are probably in my top 10 (Back for the Attack – Dokken, Strength – Enuff Z’Nuff). Another thing both have in common is one original member. For some, that’s a turnoff (message boards and Facebook comments are full of statements like, “No George Lynch. No Dokken” and “Scabs Z’Nuff”) but as long as they’re playing the familiar hits, I have no problem with new band members. Unfortunately, Don Dokken’s vocals haven’t reached the high notes in at least a decade so while you’ll recognize songs like “In My Dreams” and “Dream Warriors”, the vocals don’t sound like the recordings.
While Enuff Z’Nuff is still pumping out power-pop rockers, they lost lead singer Donnie Vie in 2013 (he’s got a solo album coming out this Friday). Bassist Chip Z’Nuff has been doing a serviceable job as lead singer and has kept the band name alive. The current version of Enuff Z’Nuff includes guitarist Alex Kane who was in the band from ’87 – ’88 and, as the guys from the Dig Me Out podcast might know, was also in Life, Sex and Death.
July 18 – Faster Pussycat / Bang Tango – Ace of Cups (Columbus)
Another show where there is one original member in each band (the lead singer) although, in both cases, most of the “new” guys in the band have been there longer than the guys you saw on MTV and consider to be the classic lineup. I’ve seen both of these bands in strip mall bars over the last 10 years and because neither are pumping out new material, you can count on setlists full of songs that – if you were a regular reader of Metal Edge – you’ll recognize, songs like “House of Pain” and “Bathroom Wall” by Faster Pussycat and “Someone Like You” and “Attack of Life” by Bang Tango.
July 31 – Night Ranger – Ohio State Fair (Columbus)
Like Alice Cooper, you can count on Night Ranger making an annual stop in Columbus, usually as the opening act on an arena bill. This summer they are touring with REO Speedwagon (who I don’t ever remember seeing on Headbanger’s Ball thus their exclusion from this feature). Night Ranger preceded the Hair Metal era but were heavily featured in all the magazines and showed up on Headbanger’s Ball so worthy of inclusion on this list. Did you know Night Ranger has released 3 albums in the last ten years, the most recent being 2017’s Don’t Let Up? Don’t expect to hear any new songs in an opening slot – they’ll likely stick with classics like “(You Can Still) Rock in America”, “When You Close Your Eyes”, “Don’t Tell Me You Love Me” and “Sister Christian” along with a cover or two.
August 9 – Great White – Tomato Festival (Reynoldsburg)
Oh, the tale (or is it “tail”?) of Great White. There’s currently two Great Whites out on tour – lead singer Jack Russell tours as Jack Russell’s Great White and has a gig at JD Legends just outside of Cincinnati on July 13 and then you’ve got three long-time members (guitarist Mark Kendall, keyboardist Michael Lardie, drummer Audie Desbrow) touring as Great White with new-ish lead singer Mitch Malloy (who almost had the Van Halen gig after David Lee Roth left). It’s this version of Great White that is playing the Tomato Festival. Like Dokken and Night Ranger, Great White got their start before the late ’80s but took advantage of the success of bands like Motley Crue and Poison to get airplay on MTV and radio. Great White’s sound is a little bluesier than the lipstick-and-leather bands of the era.
September 3 – Sebastian Bach – Skully’s Music Diner (Columbus)
Not gonna lie, this is my number one pick of all these shows. Sebastian’s split with Skid Row is old news and the singer has continued to release new music since leaving the band in 1996 and while fans have been clamoring for a reunion of the original lineup, pretty sure that ship has sailed. But, to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the release of Skid Row’s self-titled debut, Bach will be performing the classic album in it’s entirety. And while, yes, it’s 2019, it still seems pretty amazing that the enigmatic frontman is going to play a smaller venue like Skully’s.