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Quiet Riot

with King Norris
B. B. King's Blues Club
New York, NY
September 12, 2002

Review by Julie Wiskirchen
Photos by Jon Konrath


When Quiet Riot burst onto my 5th grade radar, they became the first metal band to tempt me and my friends away from the relative safety of Duran Duran and Michael Jackson. "Cum on Feel the Noize" and "Bang Your Head" dominated the MTV airwaves. My friend Katie bought the album Metal Health and I remember staring at the album cover with the scary looking guy in the metal hockey mask, thinking it looked rather out of place next to her copy of the Footloose soundtrack. But just as quickly as Quiet Riot rose to the top of the charts, they fell back down again. Maybe it was because the band's most talented member, Randy Rhoads, defected to Ozzy's band and died in a plane crash before the band ever made it big. Maybe it was because people realized they didn't have much original stuff to offer, given that 2 of their 3 hits were Slade covers. Maybe their hair wasn't big enough to allow them to compete for pin up space next to White Lion and Warrant. Quiet Riot may have disappeared from the charts, but they've never gone away. Lead singer Kevin Dubrow has kept the dream alive, trotting around the country with various incarnations of the band. A Behind the Music episode helped. And they even recorded a new album in 2001--the aptly named Guilty Pleasures. When I saw they were coming to town with the Metal Health lineup and cheap ticket prices, I decided to check them out.

The show took place at B. B. King's Blues Club, which I had not visited before. Upon arrival we were seated at a table toward the front with some serious Quiet Riot fans from New Jersey. Our waitress informed us of the two-drink minimum. I didn't think the table seating would contribute to a metal mayhem atmosphere, but then this was a mostly older crowd who probably wanted to sit more than they wanted to rock. Our tablemates showed off items the band had autographed for them when they arrived at the club. They also informed us there would be a meet n' greet after the show.

King Norris opened the show. The band features Fred Norris of the Howard Stern crew on guitar and lead vocals, Frank Fallon on drums, and Robert Boyd on bass. They were better than I expected, given the semi-celebrity pedigree, but didn't go beyond being a typical bar band. Their set consisted of a few originals and covers of songs by The Who and Jimi Hendrix.

Fred played the entire show with his eyes shut. I wondered if it was past his bedtime or if he had stage fright. The crowd was polite but mostly indifferent, and the loudest applause came when Fred mentioned he was on the Stern show. Maybe a chorus line featuring Beetlejuice, High Pitched Eric, and Angry Black would spice up the show. Or some porn stars.

After a break, the club went dark and the Peter Gunn theme played to herald the arrival of Quiet Riot. The band took the stage with a lot of energy, mixing newer songs with older material. As I wasn't familiar with any of their music beyond their hits, it was pretty much all new to me.

Kevin Dubrow impressed me with energy and showmanship, still twirling around that black and white candy-striped microphone stand after all these years. I spent a lot of the show studying Kevin's hair, trying to figure out if his curly black mane was a weave, wig, or the miracle of Rogaine. Kevin had thin, receding hair in the band's heyday (see then and now photos below), so he must realize he's not kidding anyone. I have to admit that whatever he's got on his head these days looks better than the wig he wore for the Behind the Music, which looked like something a member of the first continental congress might have sported. Who can blame Kevin for trying--after all, what's a hair band without hair?

The other band members played well, but seemed less excited to be there than Kevin. Carlos Cavazo no longer sports that cute spiky haircut from back in the day. He didn't look at the crowd much, just focused on his guitar. Frankie Banali pounded the skins and looked the most worst for the wear. I was excited to see Rudy Sarzo, because he once played in Ozzy's band (as well as Whitesnake). He was wearing some strange floral pants.

The band played for about 90 minutes, plugging their most recent album Guilty Pleasures by playing some of the new songs such as "Rock the House," which sounded a lot like the old songs. But the crowd really went nuts for their classics like "Slick Black Cadillac" and "Mama, We're All Crazee Now." Nobody could go too crazee because we were confined by our tables, but a few people tried. A guy in front kept holding up his Metal Health album, hoping the band would stop mid-song and autograph it for him. He waved it in their faces constantly, forcing them to look at their old haircuts (you can see him in the picture to the right - the mullethead in the red muscle shirt). When the band played a tribute song to Randy Rhoads, "Thunderbird," another fan emerged from the back of the club to stand in front and jump around and yell about how great Randy was, acting like the song was a rock song instead of a ballad. People seated behind him tried to get him to sit down but he was unmovable. Another fan joined him and they swayed together. It was a moment.

Kevin seemed to be really having a good time and kept assuring us we were a fucking great crowd. He informed us that the band would soon be recording a live DVD so they were trying out some older material they hadn't played in a while in preparation for the DVD. Who will buy the DVD, I wondered?

Quiet Riot brought the crowd to their feet as they concluded their set with "Cum on Feel the Noize." They came back for an encore and played "Bang Your Head" and everyone sang along, just like we did at the roller rink in 5th grade. I left feeling like I'd seen a good rock show, gotten my $17 worth of entertainment, and felt the noize.

Hair Club for Men

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