The first sign that tonight’s sold out show at the Joiners is something a little bit different comes when looking at the queue to enter. Where there are normally grizzled rock fans, complete with beards, tattoos and scowls, there is lashings of eyeliner, chiselled cheekbones and enough hair spray to choke an elephant. And that’s just on the men. This is not just a rock gig, it’s a window to another time and place. The time and place in question is the LA Sunset Strip circa 1985, and the beautiful people of the Southampton rock scene are here to worship at the temple of hard rock excess.
Local, young rock upstarts Hollywood Trash kick off proceedings with their feisty female-fronted rock. A recent change of singer has vastly improved their sound, and they now sound as professional and polished as the bands they idolize, including tonight’s headliners CrashDiet. Songs such as ‘Honk if You’re Horny’ and ‘Mr Rock n’ Roll’ are cheesy, catchy fun, and a perfect way to get the crowd warmed up for the hard rock marathon ahead.
Second support act Western Sands do not initially enjoy quite the same success. Their vocals are underpowered and the guitars turned up too high and this results in the first few songs blending into one big, vaguely southern rock inspired mess. However, just as the crowd is starting to palpably lose interest in what they have to offer, they break out ‘Dog without a bone’. It’s a really good effort, a true slow building corker of a song underpinned by a solid bluesy stomp. It saves their set and keeps the momentum of the evening going.
Problems setting up the sound system mean that the wait for CrashDiet is longer than it should be, and the crowd are restless and irritable by the time the Swedish sleaze-rock kings finally arrive on stage. This doesn’t stop them receiving a hero’s welcome though, and as lead singer Simon Cruz launches into opening track ‘Circus’, the crowd scream enthusiastically for more. However, when the band begins to play older material the quality of the set takes a noticeable dip; the band seem to be only going through the motions, and deliver a curiously passionless performance. However, they regain their fire and power for final track ‘Cocaine Cowboys’ and it proves to be the highlight of the evening so far, which leaves the crowd on a joyous high as CrashDiet stride offstage.
Jettblack come on stage looking considerably less high maintenance than CrashDiet, and fittingly their sound owes a lot more to early nineties Guns N’ Roses and Skid Row than it does to preening 80s pretty boys such as Motley Crue and Poison. They might look like one of the more low-key offerings of the evening, but as soon as the first chord of ‘2 Hot Girls’ rips through the building there is no doubt who the stars of the show are. Their set is amazing from start to finish, with raw, furious head-banging anthems such as ‘Get Your Hands Dirty’ which send the crowd wild, and incite some frankly terrifying mosh pits. But Jettblack soon show they can perform slower numbers just as well, with epic ballad ‘Black Gold’ holding the entire crowd spellbound as they sing along with every heartfelt word. As the evening draws to a close after a hard rocking cover of ‘Danger Zone’ the crowd are disgorged into St Mary’s street, sweaty, limp haired and with make-up running down their faces, but undoubtedly euphoric. Overall, Jettblack and CrashDiet have certainly achieved their mission to bring a bit of LA sunshine and eighties joy to this rather unremarkable corner of Southampton and are rewarded with an adoring crowd and amazing end to their tour.