Way back in 1992 I bought my very first ever CD, one that helped shape my music palate and that CD was Ugly Kid Joes Americas Least Wanted. I loved that album. I would listen to it often, and still to this day hold the album in high regard. As I stand here at the Manning Bar tonight it seems I was very much not alone in my love for that album. The Manning Bar is packed with fans, the band’s t-shirt are on practically everyone’s backs as they have all come out on a Sunday to hear Ugly Kid Joe play America’s Least Wanted in full, to say I was excited is an understatement.
The room is pumped, the opening acts of Tim McMillan along with the rocking Dallas Fresca have warmed everybody up and as the sound crew make their final checks the new Ugly Kid Joe Logo is in place, a cool mash-up of their signature design and Motörhead’s. When the lights drop, the crowd roars and out walk all the band’s original members from 1994 playing the intro from the album, and when lead singer Whitfield Crane walks out on stage things get turned right up as they open with Neighbour.
Album shows can go a few different ways, tonight’s went the way I enjoy it most and that is opening track to end track. Now if you know the album the you know what track comes next and that is one of my favourite tracks from it which is, Madman, a song about a deranged killer loose in Disneyland. 25 years I have waited to hear that song live and tonight I did and just loved every minute of it, this is what makes album shows so great.
Now if you didn’t know, Sydney is the first stop of the tour and Whitfield takes the time to acknowledge that and just how cool the Sydney crowd is and how only a day ago they were all chilling in California and now they are here in the room sharing this special live music moment with us. Whitfield is still the ever-cool charismatic frontman he was 25 years ago, constantly fist bumping those up front, getting us to wave our hands in the air and then from side to side or leading us in a chant of the guitar techs name so he could come on out and do a killer guitar solo. He and the rest of the band really shined tonight, they just had the look of fun on their face and sounded every bit as sharp as they did back in the day, filling the room with such great energy.
One show highlight came after they finished playing So Damn Cool. Whitfield gives a shout out to fans who are here tonight that had their very first date at an Ugly Kid Joe concert 25 years ago and have been together ever since and gone on to raise a family. So, with that beautiful sentiment in mind, he dedicates their huge hit cover of Harry Chapin’s Cats in The Cradle to them. It is a wonderful thing that live music can bring two souls together, and it was a beautiful part of the show as Whitfield placed the mic in his pocket and let us sing ‘You Know We Will Have a Good Time Then‘. The cd setlist is coming to an end and after the mean metal track Goddam Devil, another track highlight I had longed to hear, lead guitarist and best friend to Whitfield, Klaus Eichstadt takes lead vocals and gives us the albums hidden track Mr Record Man.
Now we know the record setlist is over but no-one is ready to go home, not us, not the band. So, Whitfield leaves it up to us, the louder we cheer and scream the more songs they will stay and play. He makes us work hard for our encore and since it is still December 2nd back in their hometown they thought it only fitting they play the next track Sweet Leaf for their music hero Ozzy Osbourne on his birthday then it is Funky Fresh Country Club. Now if you know the album you would realise they haven’t played the biggest hit from it, the anthem for those who just ‘love to hate’, the one that started it all, Everything About You, it was sensational. Whitfield even at one point handing over the mic duties to a punter in the front barrier and letting him loose on the vocal duties for a part.
Can you believe that an album that is 25 years old could bring us all together tonight? That is a testament to a bands quality of work and the fact that they can be the same band they were when they wrote it, have the same amount of fun travelling to another country to play a show on a Sunday to a packed room with an ageing audience, and have every word sung back to you is incredible. You should not miss out on the opportunity to take a trip down memory lane or, if you’re part of the young metal generation go get exposure to a band who for me started it all.
Review – Chad
Photo Gallery – Christian Ross
Read Our Interview with Whitfield Crane