Crowd welcomes Lukas Rossi home as Rock Star Supernova hits Toronto
It was a moment to savour for Lukas Rossi.
Alone on stage, bathed in a spotlight and the applause of a soldout Massey Hall, the lead singer of Rock Star Supernova paused and waited for the crowd to stop. And when they kept going, he turned away, seemingly overcome. Here was home-town proof for the reality TV show winner. The former fry cook at a local Hooters really is a rock star. Forget California, Rossi said of his newest address. "I'm coming home."
Rossi returned to the theme as the show wound down, telling the enthusiastic - and in some quarters well-lubricated - crowd: "I just want to say there's no place like home. . . . I love you."
Rossi has come a long way. And so has his band, since a sloppy sophomoric debut Dec. 31 in Las Vegas that had all the charm and grace of a drunken frat boy.
Seven shows and 24 days later, Rossi and Supernova arrived in Toronto tamer and tighter although there is still plenty of room for improvement.
Rossi's opening video address had been severely edited, the "titty-cam" from Vegas was thankfully dropped and the scantily clad dancers were left on the Strip. And the Toronto show finished well before the 11:20 p.m. start of the Vegas New Year's Eve concert.
Supernova stuck to the music Wednesday, admittedly with mixed success. Bottom line, there is little subtle about this band, and its material is decidedly dodgy.
Powered by heavy-handed drummer Tommy Lee, Supernova is blunt force trauma on the ears. This is a band that would take a sledgehammer to a hard-boiled egg. It can be painful, especially when Rossi takes to wailing at high volume.
But the diminutive singer was more focused this time out than Vegas, saying almost nothing for the first few songs. His black pants, shirt and coat, set off with a natty gold scarf and belt, made him look like a funky dark elf with a pompadour mohawk. He paced around the stage but there seemed a little more purpose most of the evening than there had been in Vegas.
Rossi introduced his song Headspin by saying simply "This is for you, Mom." In typical Supernova one-step-forward, two-steps-back fashion, however, that simple statement was quickly forgotten by an edgy falsetto opening to the song before the band started rocking out.
Supernova offered the same song to start as Vegas - Underdog - but mixed up the set list as the evening wore on, throwing in a revved-up version of Don Henley's Boys of Summer for good measure.
It was Rossi's night and the rest of the band let him take centre stage. Apart from the occasional F-bomb, Lee was relatively restrained but showed his appreciation for the moment by telling his singer "this is an awesome day for you."
It may have been a quiet night for Lee, but the tattooed bad boy still managed to come across as one of the more charming charlatans of rock 'n' roll. He happily emerged out for the encore with a bottle, yelling "Who wants a shot of Jagermeister?" The drummer handed the bottle to the crowd and urged those in front to pass it back.
Lee was less approving earlier in the show when he admonished the balcony for not standing up, reminding them they were at a rock concert not back home watching TV. Rossi calmly interceded, telling his drummer: "All you have to do is ask."
Rossi did and the balcony rose as one.
The evening had the feel of a live version of the TV show, with appearances from fellow Rock Star Supernova alumni Dilana, Toby Rand (with his band Juke Kartel) and host Dave Navarro's band The Panic Channel.
The diminutive Dilana was up first, looking like something from Bride of Chucky in a black bustier, flowing white crinoline dress complete with giant black cross, and a crazy colourful hairdo that would have done a pinata proud.
The tattooed, pierced little woman with the big Jack Daniel's voice attacked The Police's Roxanne with a zeal that would have done American Idol proud.
Rand was up next, an energetic Aussie rocker who knows how to work a crowd. When a few women moved to the front of the stage, he promptly jumped into their midst, precipitating a mini-stampede.
Back on stage, Rand scored points by grabbing a fan cameras, and taking shots from up high, in a bid to get both the singer and camera owner in the frame.
As is his want, Navarro arrived shirtless on stage with The Panic Channel wearing a hat and jeans. The slim ex-Jane's Addiction guitarist has the body to carry it off - the only excess weight on his sinewy tattooed torso was a nipple ring.
Navarro, who does exude a certain amount of rock star chic, was remarkably restrained during his band's short set, something that can't be said for lead singer Steve Isaacs who ran the gamut of hackneyed frontman gestures. Isaacs did everything but pretend to mime he was trapped in a box.
As on the album One, the songs Blue Bruises and Bloody Mary worked well. But it was slim pickings after that, making me want to change The Panic Channel.