Kick Axe kicks ass at the Commodore in Vancouver, classic lineup or not

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN THE GEORGIA STRAIGHT, NOV. 25, 1988

By Steve Newton

It was billed as a Kick Axe reunion at the Commodore last Thursday (November 17), but according to original guitarist Larry Gillstrom, it was more of a “new-union”. Kick Axe coguitarist Ray Harvey and bassist Victor Langen were off with their respective bands, Kirsten Nash and Giant, so the only real Kick Axers were Gillstrom, vocalist George Criston, and Larry’s bro Brian Gillstrom on drums. To supplement the lineup they brought in bassist Marco Tambasco (formerly with Guy Jones), keyboardist Jim Chabros (ex-Boy’s Room), and guitarist Scot Buchanan from Alberta’s Blade Runner. (All of the extra players were members of a new, as-yet-unnamed band being put together by Brian Gillstrom.)

Even without all the same musicians that performed on the group’s three Epic Records releases, it was clear from the first tune, “Alive and Kickin'”, that the core of the band is still worthy of the title Godfathers of Vancouver Metal. “Bandito”, a song from the band’s gold-selling debut Vices, showcased Criston’s volcanic vocal range, while a crunching arrangement of Fleetwood Mac’s 1977 hit “The Chain” showed that the band is far from your typical one-dimensional headbangers.

By the time “Kick Axe & Friends” raged into their best known song, “On the Road to Rock”–surely one of the top-10 metal anthems of the ’80s–it was obvious that Gillstrom and company are a force to be reckoned with in today’s hard-rock/metal scene. If a full-fledged reunion ever happens, Kick Axe would surely have the ability to make its past successes seem tiny.

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