Girlschool Live in Hollywood

By Tokemaster General, Contributor
Monday, February 7, 2005 @ 9:59 AM

Girlschool Live at the Knittin

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REVIEW BY: Johnny Terris

After over 15 years of waiting, I almost gave up on seeing metal legends Girlschool live on stage. Being from Canada, now living in America, the chances of the girls coming over this way was close to nil. That is of course until the Knitting Factory show on November 17 in Hollywood, California.

Oh yes folks, the driving female force behind the "New Wave of British Heavy Metal" have returned to do gigs in America and to put it bluntly, they blew the roof off the place and set America on its ass!

I would expect nothing less from Girlschool; a tight-knit, powerhouse band that survived well over 20 years in the music industry. Almost unheard of for any band, let alone a female band in the heavy metal arena.

Three of the original lineup took the stage at 11PM: Kim McAuliffe, Denise Dufort and Enid Williams; who by the way, looked and sounded better than she ever did. New axe slinger Jackie Chambers rounded out the quartet. I had a the pleasure of conversing with the girls and shooting some footage for an upcoming project on the band and with no bias, I can honestly say that they are not only exceptional musicians, but outstanding people with no egos present, and if anyone has the right to have one, itís Girlschool. 10 studio albums, gold records, highly respected by their peers and the ability to blast 99% of their male counterparts off the stage. But the girls were nothing but kind, friendly and welcoming to all that were present; a rarity in the music business for someone of their caliber. Now onto the showÖ

The curtain opens and Denise begins hitting the skins for the classic opener "Címon Lets Go." Let me just say this: Denise Dufort is one hell of a drummer! She almost blew my buddies eardrums at soundcheck when he got too close to the kit with the camera.

The crowd goes nuts, particularly the row of headbangers up in the front to the left on Jackieís side. A younger group, dripping with sweat and screaming out every lyric of Girlschoolís tunes, proving that Girlschool never lost it and still have a following in the younger generation.

The girls performed many of their old classic smashes like ďHit & Run," "Screaming Blue Murder" and "Not For Sale," as well as their new stuff from Not That Innocent and Believe. I was particularly surprised and pleased to hear the Stones cover "Live With Me" from the Screaming Blue Murder album. The girls were in pinnacle form playing tracks from their new album; particularly untouchable during "A New Beginning' and "Come On Up."

The highlight of the evening though was when pioneering original guitarist Kelly Johnson (who was present) got up on stage for the encore of "Take It All Away." Kim respectfully hands over her the guitar and Kelly tears the place up with a solo that would make Jeff Beckís mouth drop. There they were, all four original members on stage once again huddled in head banging frenzy. It was surreal, remarkable and probably the greatest moment of my own and any Girlschool fans life that was present. Jackie fit in completely, more so than any other past member of Girlschool. In fact, I cant envision her not being a permanent member in the band. She is a fierce guitarist with incredible on-stage presence.

The crowd was a slickened assortment of young and old. Everyone from the ages of 18 to 40 and looked like they were enjoying the show immensely. Even AC/DCís Simon Wright and Motorheadís Phil Taylor showed up backstage to pay the legends homage. I notice that a lot of the younger generations who listen and follow bands like The Donnas, Kittie or Hole sometimes forget that if it werenít for Girlschool, they may not have these bands. Girlschool, (along with the ground-breaking Runaways), were one of the first all female rock/metal bands and have survived over 20 years in the field and are still going strong as ever. The girls have proved time and time again that women can rock just as hard (or in Girlschoolís case, sometimes even HARDER) than the boys.

This Knitting Factory gig proved that.

Opening acts Blare Bitch Project and Stay at Home Bomb were good too but in all honesty, I donít think anyone took notice. They were too busy preparing themselves for the return of the metal legends to take the stage. Letís hope that we donít need to wait another few years for the girls to return; itís blatantly obvious that they have a huge following in North America and that was very evident at the LA gig by the turnout and the peopleís reaction to the girls. Furthermore, lets hope that Girlschool still dish out album after album and remain the longest running all female metal band in history. Thus far, on a personal level, each album topped the last. Their new one, Believe, is exceptional musicianship but yet still hits the old Girlschool groove; but again, I would expect nothing less from the ladies.

Whoever said women canít play rock and roll really needs to hit a Girlschool gig and be blown away. I assure you, you will be ashamed of yourself and if you donít agree, youíre in complete denial. Even over 20 years later, they are faster, louder and heavier than the majority of bands today. They havenít lost a thing. If anything, they have IMPROVED through the years; and thatís saying something considering I didnít think it was possible for them to BE better than they already were.

Come back to America girls, we already miss you!

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