It’s a cold Wednesday night at the start of December. You’d think by now people would be winding down for the big, fat man in red to come and empty his… ahem… sack of goodies, but no. Cardiff is alive tonight and ready to rock. For the first time in a long time, there was a long queue outside the venue. I haven’t seen a smaller gig venue with a queue for quite some time.

I got there just as Hollowstar were launching into their final song, which was a shame. I really wanted to catch their set but traffic and the newly extended 50mph zone in Port Talbot aren’t a good mixture when coupled with an early starting gig! After all, there are 4 bands to get through here.

Second on the bill are Swedish sleaze meisters Crashdiet. I’ve got a bit of a soft spot for Crashdiet. I loved their first album with Dave Leppard on vocals. Admittedly, I was never a huge fan of much they put out beyond that, but I’ve caught the band live a few times but never been as blown away as I was at the sound of their first album.

Tonight, they are here promoting their new album Rust with a new singer in tow (Fourth singer in five albums!), but boy, do they deliver. Hard hitting, headbanging, big haired rock and roll is back with a vengeance. Or at least it was for the short time they tore up the stage. The new singer Gabriel has brought a new fire to the band. New songs like ‘Rust’ sounded perfect alongside old favourites like ‘Riot in Everyone’ and ‘Breaking the Chains’.

Main support tonight are the UK’s finest blues rock and roll exports. You know them, you love them, you’ve seen them 10 times already this year because they are the hardest touring band in the world… ladies and gentlemen, The Quireboys.

Can the Quireboys play a bad show? Probably… Have I seen them play a bad show in the 10 or so times I’ve seen them? Not a chance. I saw them perform in Swansea in mid-November to a tiny crowd and they nailed it. Tonight, the room is full, beer cups are in the air and it’s party time and Spike really comes alive. You can see he’s at home on the big stage, and so he should be. They deserve gigs of this size.

Their set is full of all the usual suspects from ‘7 o’Clock’ to ‘Mona Lisa Smiled’ to ‘This is Rock and Roll’. They’ve got so many tracks to get the room bouncing that it’s probably hard to pick a setlist this short. Spike stated at one point that while he loves a good chin wag between songs, tonight he had to be kept on a tight leash as they had to get through as many songs as they could in a short time.

A few new songs made an appearance in the set, after all, they have a new album they are currently promoting. Original ‘Black Eyed Sons’ and ‘Sinners Serenade’ have all the swagger of a Quireboys classic.

9:30pm arrives, the lights go down and The Ramones ‘Blitzkrieg Bop’ comes blaring over the PA. It’s time for the main event. Now, I should admit that Skid Row certainly aren’t my favourite band but tonight they really captivated me. From start to finish the band were firing on all cylinders and having a great time doing it. I’ve actually seen them a few times in recent years and always thought they sounded great but tonight they seemed to have an extra spark under them.

The set was littered with 80s mega hit after 80s mega hit. Opening with Makin’ a Mess was a nice change. I lose track of how many times I’ve seen them open with Slave to the Grind. Big Guns, Piece of Me, Livin’ on a Chain Gang, that’s a pretty hard and heavy first 4. The majority of the set it high octane, high energy with only a few slower moments for the usual suspects 18 and Life and I Remember You.

Skid Row have plenty of albums under their belt and they choose a diverse setlist that covers every era of the band. ZP Theart showing the crowd just why he’s the man for the job. He sings the old songs in vocal ranges unheard since Sebastian Bach fronted the band. ZP is known already for his soaring vocal style from his days with Dragonforce but Skid Row is a different animal and he shows the crowd that rock and roll is alive and well as he pours a bottle of Jack Daniels over himself and the crowd.

For a brief period, Cardiff turned into a dingy rock and roll club in LA. Skid Row took the crowd on a trip back to when the beer was flowing, the rock was loud and the roll was louder.

They may be over 50 now, but these youths can still get wild.

Author: Leigh Fuge