Whenever Sebastian Bach plays the Alamo City, the original vocalist of Skid Row comes close to being overshadowed, or at least equaled, by his own drummer. And he doesn't mind one bit.
The latest instance came Friday night at The Rock Box, when Bach turned it several times into "The Bach Rox" and entertained fans of his late '80s/early '90s metal outfit with a 1 hour, 26-minute performance.
Not to be outdone, of course, was the return of San Antonio native Bobby Jarzombek, who drummed on the same stage in mid-August with Fates Warning. This time, Jarzombek didn't have to worry about complicated time changes in a progressive metal band. Instead, he returned to his staple of placing and frequently mashing two cymbals behind his head, a setup he doesn't use with Fates Warning, because Bach's band affords him the chance to simply rock out.
As he did during last year's visit next door at Alamo City Music Hall, Bach peculiarly began the show in warmup mode, featuring four songs (as opposed to six last year) in which he toned down the tempo and mood, particularly while opening with the odd choice of Jimi Hendrix's "Little Wing." Also joined by guitarist Brent Woods and UFO bassist Rob De Luca, Bach's frequent references to needing a warmup included a track from the vastly underrated Subhuman Race, the third and final album he recorded with Skid Row in 1995, in "Breaking Down." Two of his most popular tracks from Skid Row's self-titled 1989 debut, "18 and Life" and "I Remember You," rounded out the initial portion of the show, though the latter would've better served as an encore.
Even with the sizable crowd geared up following those two tracks, the concert didn't feel as if it had officially begun until Bach changed jackets and the band took it to another level with arguably Skid Row's heaviest track, the title tune to 1991's Slave to the Grind.
Bach recounted stories of first playing Texas in 1985 in Madam X, a band that not only remains active today but was formed by original and current Vixen drummer Roxy Petrucci and her guitarist sister Maxine Petrucci. He also shared tales of drinking with the late Pantera and Damageplan guitarist "Dimebag" Darrell Abbott -- without mentioning that Pantera opened for Skid Row on a memorable 1992 tour -- as he introduced solo-album headbanger "American Metalhead" (which inexplicably said "Florida Metalhead" on the printed setlist under "San Antonio, Texas) and Skid Row ballad "In A Darkened Room (ATM footage of both below).
"American Metalhead," a track Bach came up with on 2007's Angel Down with Halford guitarist "Metal" Mike Chlasciak, required two takes because Woods' guitar shut down at the start of the tune (ATM footage here), causing a six-minute delay. The other connection is Chlasciak and Jarzombek continue to be members of Judas Priest vocalist Rob Halford's solo band Halford.
The Skid Row hits kept coming (setlist in slideshow) with "Sweet Little Sister," "Piece of Me" and "Monkey Business," which morphed into a dead-on mini-rendition of Rush's "Tom Sawyer" book-ended by the 1991 classic.
Bach introduced his mates at what appeared to be the end of the performance, with the usually reserved Jarzombek becoming even more animated than when he was surprisingly vocal after last year's concert, this time offering: "My good friend Sebastian fucking Bach! San Antonio, he is the original and only voice of Skid Row!"
The four members saluted the crowd and basked in the cheers, before Bach and Co. returned for one more cover in AC/DC's "T.N.T."
Though Bach didn't play anything from his two most recent solo albums, the latest of which was 2014's Give 'em Hell, he isn't exactly touring in support of a new record, book or career milestone.
He's simply on the road to put the fun back in Rock N' Roll. And there's nothing wrong with that. Especially when it provides another chance for San Antonians to recognize one of their own talented musicians to boot.