Ratt Live in Poughkeepsie, NY
By Mick Stingley, Contributor
Monday, August 5, 2002 @ 10:05 AM
“...I’m Jizzy Pearl, and we are Ratt, 2002! Thank you!
We’ll see you soon!”
This is who Ratt is these days. I have seen the “old” Ratt, and I have seen the “new” Ratt. I like the new Ratt better. I have never been to Poughkeepsie, New York. But within five minutes of driving down Main Street, I see the blight of a once-thriving city, hip-deep in urban decay. It is like this in many places across America; evidence of some industry now antiquated or moved South of The Border, or West of The Sun. all that’s left is a “Main Street,” a lot of “For Rent” signs in the empty storefronts, and a collection of heavy-set girls gathering dust under a streetlight and watching the traffic. And a rock club in an old vaudeville theater, a place that perhaps, many years ago, was festooned with men and women in black ties and bustles, cooing about Prohibition. This is “The Chance.” I can’t tell you the precise history of this magnificent venue, but I can tell you that they are about three blocks down the street from The Mid-Hudson Civic and there is free parking at night in the municipal lot behind the club. “The Chance” is also well air-conditioned. As you walk through the door, there is a bar to the left, rather like an altar, and to the right is a lower mezzanine, and “the pit” in front of the stage. The stage is enormous, an old proscenium theater, and sight-lines are unbelievable. There isn’t a place to stand in the club that you can’t see perfectly. There is a balcony, but that seems to be closed off tonight. I make my way to the bar and try not to gawk at the super-sexy wholesome brunette who is slinging booze. I hear the hoarse growls of the bloated men who order beers and Southern Comfort shots. A round for three comes to about $15, and I think The Chance is a great place. I am so tired of paying cover or shelling out for tickets and getting fleeced at the bars wherever I go: I make a note to see more concerts at The Chance. There are two opening acts. I have missed the first one on my four-hour drive up from Newport; but I am in time to see Rock Alley. Imagine a Sebastian Bach-look-alike who sounds like Roger Daltrey fronting Extreme. They have such an “Antiques Roadshow” Museum-Quality ‘80s rock sound, I think there must be a DeLorean parked out back and a mad professor in a white lab coat anxiously checking his watch.. If only they could go back to 1991 and stop Kurt Cobain. I will go back to The Chance just to see this band, as they are such unexpected fun. Ratt comes out with no fanfare, save the old theater curtain, which is raised to reveal the stage. The band takes their places on stage as the crowd cheers. Jizzy Pearl calls out a short greeting to the crowd, “What’s up Poughkeepsie?” and Warren and Co. enter into the first song of the evening, “Wanted Man.” Warren DeMartini wears blue jeans and a brown leather vest over a shirt, and plays a Telecaster though a 4-stack of Marshalls. Rastafari-dreaded John Corabi, in a black CBGB’s shirt and black jeans with an iron cross on the front pant leg, plays a Les Paul, and takes backing vocals to Jizzy, while Robbie Crane pounds and jumps around with his bass in front of his Ampeg cabinet. Bobby Blotzer, keep things tight on his Yamaha kit, and Warren hammers in “Way Cool, Jr.” The band sounds terrific, and the crowd shows it’s appreciation: interestingly, there are three children in front of John Corabi at stage left: boys, maybe about 10 or 12. Someone is bringing their kids to see Ratt tonight, maybe someone who saw Ratt when they were younger, and want to share that with their children. I think this is awesome; I remember seeing Johnny Thunders when I was 12, and wonder if these kids will someday talk about having seen John Corabi in 20 years time. Jizzy addresses the crowd: “It’s great to be here, a night off from The Rockfest, which you know we’re playing this summer with so many bands you know and love. It’s nice not to have Don Dokken breathing down my neck…” (Ratt is currently on a package tour with Dokken, Warrant, Firehouse and L.A. Guns). There is some laughter in the crowd, which I am starting to notice is amok with Slayer t-shirts. Jizzy calls in “City To City.” Warren changes out guitars to a snakeskin Strat, and Jizzy continues his rap, “We’ve had some fun for a couple of days here in Poughkeepsie… let’s see what’s next.” Corabi chimes in: “Maybe we should play ‘Cuts Like A Knife’!” Jizzy shoots him a look, half laughing and there is some head-scratching in the audience. Turns out, I find out later, the guitar tech from Ratt was in a bar the night before, got into some argument and got stabbed. Evidently, he is recovering nicely, but Jizzy tells the crowd, “Don’t worry, I’m sure you’ll read all about it tomorrow. Right now, let’s do a little ‘Shame, Shame, Shame’!” I think Jizzy directs this to Corabi, but the band gets underway, and rocks it out. “Lack of Communication” comes in next, and this is where it all clicks. John Corabi has a gravelly tenor, and Jizzy Pearl has an upper-register tenor. When JC takes the “Questions asking why” part of the bridge and JP finishes with the chorus, you hear the magic of this yin and yang give and take odd-couple of rock. Whatever the backstories and soap operas of this band and it’s members, past and present, the shaping of the music takes place onstage with these two, finely rounded out with DeMartini, Crane and Blotzer. This may not be the Ratt you saw in the ‘80s, but this decidedly darker, leaner, hungrier line-up has balls. Also, it’s a nice change to see a band that is categorized as part of an era rising up to meet the challenge of winning over an audience on it’s own terms. They are also quite possibly the skinniest band I have ever seen, which is also a treat, if you are tired of seeing your rock-heros go to seed. Although, between Corabi’s thousand-yard military stare, and Jizzy Pearl’s Spaghetti-Western gunfighter squint, you might think these guys are the ones out stabbing people in bars. Robbie Crane almost looks too happy to be up there playing… Blotzer has his own thing going on behind the kit, and it’s easy to forget that this guy is a monster by himself. He keeps it down on the flourish, but this why is we are bobbing our heads to “Back For More,” “Lovin’ You’s A Dirty Job” and “Nobody Rides For Free.” There is a moment of grace when Warren DeMartini crunches out the chords to “Lay It Down,” because the Slayer shirts next to me get ecstatic. They are “throwin’ metal,” hands high and horns in the air. This segues nicely into “You’re In Love,” and they finish the set with “Body Talk,” a Blotzer bass-drum stunner. As Ratt exits, the crowd chants loudly and seems happy. I have changed my position to scope the two girls in the balcony who -- honest to God -- one of them has on an orange tiger-strip pantsuit, and the two girls smile sway listlessly like the girls in the Great White video for “Once Bitten.” White-girl style, side to side and all smiles. Nice. Total eye-candy, and when the band comes back out, I can see them all sneaking peaks at the balcony. “You knew we’d be back…” Jizzy smirks. Of course we did, and we know why -- because they haven’t done “Round And Round.” It is almost too easy, I think for the Ratt singer, because the crowd takes the mantle from him on the chorus. He just starts pointing the mike out at the crowd as they are near to drowning him out. Even the burly security guy in the red shirt at stage left is “rockin’ out.” Why not? This is a great fun song. And that’s what a Ratt show is: Great fun.
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