A couple years ago, I saw Blue Cheer at Sneaky Dee’s, in what turned out to be Dickie Peterson’s last performance in Toronto. (May he rest in peace.) Few musicians worshiped Blue Cheer as much as Bobby Liebling, the Pentagram singer who turns 60 this summer. In what could be another “last chance” gig, I’ve made the decision to catch Liebling and company on their January tour as it stops within driving distance of The Big Smoke next weekend.
Needless to say, Bobby’s not crossing the border with his lengthy rap sheet, but the band is hitting the Northeast with gigs in Cleveland on Thursday, Detroit on Friday and the grand finale in Chicago on Saturday. Chi-town would be cool to see, but considering the heightened security measures brought on by intense paranoia from U.S.-bound airlines, it’s not worth the wait or the hassle. Detroit’s within driving distance, but I’ve deemed it too dangerous–and that has nothing to do with any Nigerian terrorist. I’ve got enough friends who live or have lived in the Windsor/Detroit area to know that it’s not the place to be, especially in the evening–and I don’t drive, so the “well-lit parking” of Blondies Nightclub doesn’t do much to reassure me.
So it’s off to Cleveland I go. There are a couple hotels within walking distance of the venue (Peabody’s), and the local bus terminal isn’t too far away. Plus, there’s the added bonus of the Rock ‘n Roll Hall of Fame, which I plan on visiting the next day. In a further stroke of luck, the Toronto Marlies are in town the following evening to take on the Lake Erie Monsters. Not that I’m a Marlies or a Leafs fan, for that matter–GO FLAMES GO!–but it’s still an added bonus.
What really swayed my decision to come to Cleveland (and take an extra day off work) were the solid opening acts on this particular date. Local math/prog/heavy rockers Keelhaul, who graced us with their presence back in May, and recently released their comeback album, have been added to the bill–along with Pittsburgh trad doomsters Argus, a band I deeply regret missing at the Born Too Late II doom festival back in August. Of course, touring support act The Gates of Slumber aren’t too shabby, either…
But I wouldn’t be spending seven hours on a Greyhound bus if it wasn’t for Pentagram. Word has it that Bobby has cleaned his act up, and his voice sounds better than ever. Unfortunately, none of the musicians who defined the Penta-sound in the 70’s and 80’s are still along for the ride–although the 80’s lineup recently played a festival gig with Eric Wagner under the Death Row moniker. Not that Joe Hasselvander and Victor Griffin (or Geof O’Keefe and Vince McAllister, for that matter) are easily replaceable, but it’s expected that the veterans of the Maryland scene who’ve been tapped to replace them can do a decent job. It all comes down to whether Bobby can deliver the goods. One does not make the pilgrimage to a Pentagram show to see an amazing display of drumming or bass playing, but rather to witness the man, the voice, the legend. I just hope he’s on form when I get my chance to see him.
After all, this could be the last time that Pentagram goes on tour. Not that I’d wish any bad luck on Bobby, or any musician not named Chad Kroeger, but you gotta figure that sex, drugs and doom metal aren’t keys to a long, prosperous life. In any case, I expect that my first time seeing ’em will also be my last. So, let’s Show ‘Em How boys, alright?
P.S.: Tune into Smokin’ Green tonite as I celebrate another Maryland icon, Scott “Wino” Weinrich. The doom begins at 1 am at 88.1 fm on yer radio, channel 947 on yer TV and http://www.ckln.fm on yer computer!