Rock Star Supernova, the Panic Channel / Jan. 24, 2007 / Toronto (Massey Hall)
After some initial hiccups with its name and then an injury to bassist Jason Newsted, Rock Star Supernova began its current North American tour with a New Year's Eve gig in Las Vegas. Some critics werAfter some initial hiccups with its name and then an injury to bassist Jason Newsted, Rock Star Supernova began its current North American tour with a New Year's Eve gig in Las Vegas. Some critics were less than kind with the show itself, panning lead singer and "Rock Star: Supernova" winner Lukas Rossi for his over-the-top stage antics. Now, with a few weeks of the road under its belt, the quartet is starting to iron out the kinks. And while it wasn't entirely fabulous, Toronto's sold-out Massey Hall certainly provided a warm homecoming for the new lead singer.
With a bass line that caused jeans to vibrate and a loudness Motorhead would praise, the band began its roughly 75-minute set with "Underdog," a steady opener that featured Rossi unloading some of his pent-up energy while drummer Tommy Lee worked his mammoth bass drum. Rossi later toned things down when strapping on a guitar for "It's All Love." The group also decided to change things up somewhat with a blazing, punk-ish cover of Don Henley's "Boys of Summer" which resembled the Ataris' version of a few years ago.
Although there were a few lackluster moments, particularly a mediocre attempt at the Verve's "Bittersweet Symphony," generally bassist Johnny Colt, guitarist Gilby Clarke and Lee were very strong. This was especially evident during the groove-oriented "The Dead Parade" and the ballsy, roadhouse-sounding "Leave the Light On." But this momentum was stifled after introductions and a photo op for label executives who presented the band with plaques for platinum sales of the "Rock Star: Supernova" album in Canada.
There was another odd moment when Lee yelled at fans in the upper level for sitting down during the homestretch. "You're not watching television! You're at a rock concert!" he said, perhaps oblivious to the fact the band was created from a television show. Regardless, Rock Star Supernova concluded with a rowdy, up-tempo cover of the Rolling Stones' "Let's Spend the Night Together" as confetti shot up from the stage, ending a set that was generally good but scarce on highlights.
As high-strung and frantic as Lukas Rossi was, the Panic Channel's Steve Isaacs was the exemplary frontman during a set that essentially upstaged the headliners. With Isaacs' controlled demeanor, guitarist Dave Navarro's solos and drummer Stephen Perkins keeping it all together, the group shone on hard rock efforts such as "Left To Lose," the deliberate "Teahouse of the Spirits" and the darker "Awaken." When not delivering guitar solos, Navarro constantly glad-handed with those at the lip of the stage, even stopping the show to bring a young girl up.
The set did have some drawbacks, including a rather meandering "Bloody Mary" and "Blue Bruises." But the highlight was the rock-meets-metal nugget "Night One," which found bassist Siggy Sjursen stomping around a la Les Claypool. The band closed the set with a cover of AC/DC's "Highway To Hell," with Isaacs sharing lead vocals with opener and "Rock Star: Supernova" contestant Dilana.