When I was young, unwise, and in college, I would invariably stay up way too late engaging in all manner of ill-advised activities. More often than not, this would necessitate a period of rest and recovery that ideally, left unchecked, would extend into the early hours of the afternoon. Tragically, that rejuvenation was rarely possible, given the proclivity of a housemate to rise each morning at the crack of dawn, assisted in his preparations for the day by the dulcet tones of White Zombies’ “Welcome to Planet Motherfucker” cranked up to jet engine decibel levels.. And left on repeat until he managed to get out the front door to whatever godforsaken business he had at that horrid hour.
I hated dawn. I hated that house-mate (at least in the morning.. later in the day he was actually a pretty cool dude..) And by the light of a love for all that is unholy? I fucking hated Rob Zombie.
So it was with no small amount of irony that I found myself at the Portsmouth Pavilion last night to review this avatar of stolen tranquility in the flesh.
Zombie’s stage show has been completely retooled and is frankly, visually stunning. This is a man who knows the value of imagery, having spent a fair bit of time playing around in the oeuvre of self-produced horror films. Artistically, he’s in rare form, backed by a rock solid slate of musicians who leave nothing on the stage. His audience spares little in the way of adoration, and the entirety of the concert was an oddly toned lovefest populated by the living dead, hardcore metal freaks, and any number of other sundry, un-categorical misfits.
The word is that Rob began working on his seventh studio album just two months past, and while I couldn’t name a song under threat of government torture — I’m fairly certain he was road-testing some of that new material last night.
Sadly, what was in every other manner a thoroughly enjoyable evening was marred by the strange decision to feature Zombie’s drummer, Ginger Fish, as a deejay instead of sporting an opening act. Personally, I would be annoyed had I paid for a ticket, to be deprived of the opportunity to see an up and coming group or even a local favorite filling the bill. It’s not as though our area has any shortage of great hardcore bands — Fallout of Fear springs to mind immediately. Even more bizarrely, his set-list was mostly comprised of bands like GnR, Van Halen, and Motley Crue.
Look.. I’m not thrilled at the idea of anyone paying good money to watch a man dressed as a twisted clown push the play button and then jump around the stage like a demented yo-yo. I go to concerts to see live music. But if I’m going to have to suffer that, at least take the opportunity to play some solid hardcore offerings. If nothing else it’s an opportunity to educate the audience on some choice bands. Instead, we were treated to what was basically a hype man. How could you tell when Ginger Fish was finished? The music coming out of the overhead speakers was an improvement on what he was spinning.
All in all, however, the night was riotous fun. Rob was in top-notch form. And the venue, often overlooked as a hot-spot in the 757, delivered in spades. It’s a great place to catch great music, and discerning fans should keep one eye on their schedule whenever possible — even if you have to cross that damnable bridge to get there.
Pro-Tip: Norfolkians can save a lot of trouble by catching the ferry, which saves its last run for after the end of whatever concert is playing on a given night.
That’s all I got for you kids. Till next time?
All photos by Jeff Hewitt. You can check out more of his work at Jeff-Hewitt.com