Ultimate Interviews

Ultimate Interviews

Monday, July 6, 2015

Hell N Back at the Rockpile

There's nothing better than a night out of great music with great friends. We decided to take a trip to Toronto's Rockpile for a triple bill show, that included 'Flux 440', 'Strictly Sabbath' and our friends in 'Hell N Back'.

Kicking off the night was Flux 440. A Toronto based quartet that successfully balanced a setlist of original material as well as some covers, including impressive versions of Led Zeppelin's 'The Wanton Song' and 'Nobody's Fault But Mine'. 'Flux 440' consists of: Danny Vee (Vocals/Bass), Frank Nicoletti (Guitar/Vocals), Tom Alexiou (Guitar/Vocals) and Phil Tantsidis (Drums). 

Photo Courtesy of James Alcock
Their laconic performance was quite enjoyable and was a great start to the night. By the end of their set, the momentum had already began to grow and the crowd was eagerly awaiting the next band to begin playing.

Watch video: 'Hunger

Watch video: 'Heaven and Hell'

You can hear more selections off their new Ep on their: 

Official Reverbnation - Flux 440

Next up was one of the best AC/DC tribute bands that I've been honoured to have seen on previous occasions.'Hell N Back' has proved time and time again that they really are one of the best in their field. The intensity that they play with seems to come naturally out of respect and admiration for the band that they are paying tribute to. Tonight however, didn't come without its challenges. 

Firstly, it would be vocalist James Alcock's return to the stage after suffering an injury that had sidelined him for a few weeks. Watching him during their set, it was hard to tell that there was any prior injury. 
He did an amazing job concealing any lingering pain that he may have been in. Between belting out the demanding lyrics from both the Bon Scott and Brian Johnson eras, James interacted with the audience and proved once again while he's the consummate professional and perfect frontman for 'Hell N Back'. 

Also noticeably missing, was their original drummer Garry Lennox. Due to a prior commitment, Garry was unavailable for the gig. 

Fortunately, they were able to recruit Andre C. Mendes.

Andre recently won Q107's Rock 'n' Roll Fantasy Camp with Joe Perry contest. Andre has also played with the Aerosmith tribute band 'Mama Kin'. 

Rounding off the list of challenges, the boys had to stick to an allotted time slot. With such an extensive catalog of songs to choose from, it must have been difficult to decide which numbers had to be on the setlist. Of course, they had to include the fan favourites, namely 'Hell's Bells', 'Highway to Hell', 'Back in Black'. Additionally, they also had to work within Andre's knowledge of the material. In the weeks prior to the gig, they managed to hold a couple rehearsals. There they went over some of the material and created a setlist that they all would feel comfortable playing.

Without any trepidation they took to the stage. Once the ominous sound of the bell began to echo throughout the Rockpile, which was closely followed by Kyle Cyr's recognizable guitar intro, the crowd instantly took to the dance floor in front of the stage. It was a great way to kick off their set.

For the next hour, the boys kept the energy high, delivering straight up, balls-to-the-wall rock and roll. There was a seamless progression from song to song. They made sure to include many of the big hits and the crowd was loving it. The energy from both the band and audience could be felt throughout the Rockpile. The excitement was definitely contagious. 

Not lacking in the energy department, Kyle embraces the role of Angus Young. Once he dons his schoolboy outfit, the transformation begins. He remains in character until the last note is played and he walks off the stage. Not wanting to be restricted just to a stage, Kyle occasionally wanders down to the dance floor among the crowd. 

Individually, Marty Portier and Jeff Collins, bass and guitar respectively, are both outstanding musicians and all around great guys. Collectively they command attention and they do infact receive it. Rhythmically speaking, they're a force to be reckoned with.

Not to mention, when needed, they approach the microphone and provide backing vocals for James. 

They're fun, easy going personalities make it all the more enjoyable to watch them. 

Objectively speaking, there were a couple minor inaccuracies, but from a spectator's point of view, it didn't take away from their performance.  

If anything, the sheer rawness elevated their set to a greater level. It was quite wondrous how the  band demonstrated professionalism and continued to play even during some little technical difficulties. During the last song of the night, 'Let There be Rock', the lead guitar accidentally came unplugged just before a solo. Cyr's bandmates, Jeff and James, came to his rescue to hook him back up. Once power was restored, he remarkably picked up where he left off and continued the song. 

Unfortunately, he wasn't the only one to have a guitar problem. At the end of the same song, thanks to a faulty jack, Jeff's guitar was rendered inoperable. It's little mishaps like that and how they are handled, that demonstrate the quality of musicianship and professionalism that these guys possess. 'Hell N Back' are an authentic group of talented men. No egos or attitudes. Just five guys who enjoy the music and getting on stage to entertain fellow AC/DC fans. 

As usual, it was fantastic to see that despite little issues, they still managed to put on one heck of an amazing performance. I have the highest respect and admiration for each of them.

The boys are currently looking into booking future gigs. I highly recommend you check them out when you can. After all they are the 'Ultimate Canadian AC/DC Tribute'.

Special thanks to 'Hell N Back' for always being very welcoming and friendly. It's an honour to call you all friends and I wish you all the success that you all so genuinely deserve.

Let There Be Rock!!

Be sure to 'Like' Hell N Back on Facebook.
Official Hell N Back Facebook Page

Kyle has also created a great AC/DC group.
Whole Lotta AC/DC Facebook Group

Hell N Back photos on Flickr HERE

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