Sometimes when a rock troupe plays up the imagery of a particular genre, stereotypes can’t help but surface. But put the band onstage and what is truly real about its performance persona ultimately wins out.
A case in point came when Buckcherry played Rupp Arena in March 2009 as part of a double bill with Avenged Sevenfold. Decked out in assorted patterns of black and tattoos, the California rockers looked like your everyday quasi-metal troupe, suggesting that a properly aggressive post-grunge, arena rock sound was in the offing. But after a show-opening combo of Tired of You and Next to You asserted a commanding guitar-savvy crunch, the sounds began to loosen and separate. Ridin’ evolved into bluesy roadhouse rock, while Talk to Me reflected dirty soul grooves that sounded as if they were forged in the mid-1970s.
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The charge was surprisingly organic, with singer and frontman Josh Todd more than matching his band’s broad-minded sense of rock and soul cool.
Buckcherry has been a frequent visitor to the region over the years. Todd and company returned to Rupp in October 2010, then downsized to play Buster’s two years later. The band is back in the latter room, now dubbed the Manchester Music Hall, Friday night with a few more stylistic surprises that, on the surface, might seem like contradictions.
Specifically, there is the matter of the band’s most recent album, a taught, anthemic work called Rock ’N’ Roll. The title says it all, right? Not quite. The record’s second single, The Feeling Never Dies, is a duet with an unlikely partner: country star Gretchen Wilson.
Don’t expect much of a Nashville sound from the song, though. The mood is all dark and desperate, with a power-ballad feel that sounds as if it was fashioned for MTV during the ’80s, with Todd’s singing sidekick sounding eerily like another Wilson: Ann Wilson of Heart.
Expect Friday night’s program to cover the full scope of Buckcherry’s 21-year career, with music from such heralded early albums as the band’s gold-selling, self-titled debut recording from 1999 and mid-career hits like 2006’s platinum-selling 15 balancing recent fare from 2013’s Confessions and the recent Rock ’N’ Roll.
“We got everything we wanted a platinum record, a catalog of music, arena rock shows and a great, great career,” Todd said before Buckcherry’s 2009 Rupp show. “And then we get to go onstage and see everyone react to our music. I mean, this is what you dream about.”
Thoughts on the Fourth
It seems as if major outdoor concerts on Fourth of July weekend are now a thing of the past in Lexington. The annual Red, White and Boom celebration, which last year was presented in late June, has now grown into a three-day music festival with a triple-digit price tag and placement on Labor Day weekend.
That’s fine. That country music’s popularity has grown so dramatically to make a three-day holiday weekend festival possible is great for Lexington’s potential to attract other concert events. But it’s also a little disconcerting that the holiday weekend at hand has no comparable replacement designed to hold on to patrons already downtown for daytime entertainment. Early on, Red, White and Boom was the crowning touch of the day’s festivities — excluding the fireworks, which also have moved out of downtown.
Maybe in the next year or two, another Fourth of July event akin to Red, White and Boom might return to downtown. It wouldn’t need to be as large as what the former event turned into in recent years. It wouldn’t necessarily need to be country. All it would need need is a name national act, two or three strong local artists for support, and a corporate sponsor generous enough that the music could be as free as the themes of the Fourth itself. Lexington deserves it.
Guns N’ Roses in Cincinnati
Guns N’ Roses was only partly joking when it came up with a title for its current summer trek: the Not in This Lifetime Tour.
With a July 6 stop at Paul Brown Stadium in Cincinnati, the tour reunites three of the band’s founding members — singer Axl Rose, guitarist Slash and bassist Duff McKagan. The absence of the last two in any GnR lineup from of the past two decades undoubtedly accounts for what the band considers a “lifetime.”
But Rose and company don’t seem to be joking now that GnR is up and running. Rolling Stone magazine referred to the tour’s 2 1/2 -hour opening-night performance last week in Detroit as “the thing we’d all been waiting for: the triumphant return of one of the most important bands to cross rock music history.” We’ll see.