Monday, July 7, 2003 @ 9:44 AM
Stephen Peacy and Near Life Ex
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Okay, I admit it. I was one of the detractors that was a little more than pissed off when he ditched his bandmates a few years back and left them high and dry. Add to that his egotistical attitude and years of partying and you have a monster-sized rock star prick. So when he rolled into town with his band of rat bastards for a show at The 19th Hole in The Woodlands, Texas as part of his 2003 ‘Social Intercourse’ tour, my curiosity was peaked. I have been following his tour this year, which has been going on since February and one of the first things I noticed was that he supposedly had sobered up and was more 'personable.' And having always been a huge Ratt fan, I decided to give him the benefit of the doubt. I am talking about the original Ratt bastard himself: Stephen Pearcy.
Opening the show the previous night in Baton Rouge, Louisiana as well as the one in Houston was Near Life Experience, a band that features two members of Lillian Axe, Sam Poitevant and virtuoso Steve Blaze. (For information on this band, see my review of their new CD Day of Silver Sun.) This was my first time to see NLE live and I was definitely NOT disappointed! This band absolutely rocks live, showing lots of enthusiasm and energy. Of course, with Steve Blaze fronting this unit it's hard not to be energetic. The band blasted through their set with original material such as set opener “I am Beyond,” while dedicating a good portion of the show to the above-mentioned new CD with songs like “Mother,” “Eden” and “New World Spirit.” They even performed a completely stunning version of “Aqualung” that was supercharged enough to make even Ian Anderson envious. A great performance from these guys.
At last it was time for Mr. Pearcy to make his entrance. The only thing left to be answered was which Pearcy would show up? The out of shape, arrogant substance abuser, or the clean and sober new Pearcy Light? That question was answered quickly as Stephen and his band came out to hit the stage with “Ya Talkin’ to Me” from his latest CD. With barely enough time to catch your breath he jumped right into “Wanted Man” and “I'm Insane,” which started to alleviate the need for a Ratt fix I had been having for some time now.
His band, appropriately called the 'rat bastards,' was mostly unknown musicians with the exception of guitarist Frankie Wilsex, who had played with Stephen back in his days with Arcade. Frankie was dressed in his best Joe Perry impersonation outfit, and for a moment there I actually thought that Joe was there. The only problem was that Joe, Jr., as I'll call him, seemed to have his feet nailed down to the stage where he stood. I'll bet he barely moved 2 feet all night. Now it may have been because of the size of the stage they played or maybe he just found a comfortable spot and didn't want to lose it. But the band knew the material and played it quite well.
Stephen really was looking fit and trim, his voice sounded really good, and he only drank bottled water for the duration of the show. And he certainly was MUCH more personable, taking a camera from one of the ladies in front and taking a picture of her while he was performing and even taking a fan's cell phone to sing parts of “Lay It Down” to the unsuspecting human on the other end of the call. Now even though this tour was to promote his Social Intercourse CD, the overwhelming majority of the show consisted of Ratt tunes, a fact that suited me just fine.
The set list was as follows (in order):
Ya Talkin’ to Me
You Think You're Tough
Lack of Communication
Lay It Down
You're In Love
Lovin You is a Dirty Job
Back For More
Slip of the Lip
In Like Pink
Walkin the Dog
You've Got Another Thing Comin’
Round and Round
All in all, I thought it was a great show and Stephen even came out with the rest of his band and signed autographs, chatted with fans and took pics for all that wanted. I was most impressed with his change of heart, whatever the reasons may have been for his doing so. Whether you love him or hate him or whether you like the Jizzy-fronted Ratt over the original Ratt, in my opinion there is one undeniable fact that remains: There will only be one person who is remembered as the voice of Ratt and his name is Stephen Pearcy.
(Photos by Larry Petro)