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Lillian Axe Live In Houston, TX

By Larry Petro, News Monkey
Thursday, June 6, 2002 @ 3:33 PM

Lillian Axe at the 19th Hole i

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Yeah, I know, this review is a little late. But what can I say? After all, I was so enthralled by their performance that night that it left me speechless for the past 3 weeks! Seriously though, the Lillian Axe show in The Woodlands on May 4th marked the 6th time I have seen them at the 19th Hole in the past 18 months. I truly believe that the most hardcore Lillian Axe fans live right here in H-town, as the band plays here about once every 3 months or so. I have seen them all since December of 2000 and have never been disappointed. But this particular show was special. This show was recorded for what will become the band’s first ever live CD in their entire career spanning almost 20 years.

Now in my last article (Lizzy Borden), I blasted the Houston area club owners for their lack of promotion of shows that they book. However, Lillian Axe needs no advertisement. Once word gets out that a show has been scheduled, the news spreads like wildfire across the various Lillian Axe message boards, websites and the like and there is always a great turnout. This night was no exception. As a matter of fact, there were numerous people in attendance from the Dallas area, some from Louisiana, and even some from as far away as Washington, D.C… Now how is that for fan loyalty? Lillian Axe was and always will be one of a handful of bands that truly do everything for their fans, not just give a bunch of lip service to keep them happy. And given the fact that most if not all of their prior releases are now out of print, the band wanted to give the fans something they could acquire without too much trouble or paying an arm and a leg for it on Ebay (See how much the band’s CD Love and War goes for on Ebay sometime). The end result of this band’s fan dedication is a 2 disc live CD and also a new studio CD which is in the works.

Houston band Ugly Wanda opened the night’s festivities. I have seen them also quite a few times and they have never failed to put on a killer show of their own. They played a strong set of original material from their 2 studio releases along with just a few select cover tunes such as set closer cover of Iron Maiden’s “Can I Play With Madness?” The lead guitarist also sported a custom-painted guitar emblazoned with Iron Maiden’s mascot Eddie from the Brave New World CD cover. Very cool and a great opener for Lillian. One side note, however, is that this past week I received word that this band has broken up after 9 years and 2 CDs. My thanks to them for some great years of music in the Houston area. RIP Ugly Wanda.

Now it was Lillian Axe’s turn. As I mentioned before, this show had been announced months in advance and we knew even them what their intentions were. Not only were we going to see them perform again, but we would be fortunate enough to get an extended set. Originally, the idea was for them to play the extended set and then pick the best songs from it for the CD. Well, the plan may have changed. It now appears that the CD will be a 2-disc set, but will be priced as a single disc. Wow! What more could a Lillian fan ask for? How about the most blistering performance I have ever seen from these guys? Well, that is exactly what we got! Lillian Axe hit the stage around 11:40. At first, guitarist Steve Blaze came onstage and reminded everyone that the show was being recorded and that they wanted us to start chanting ‘Lillian Axe’ once the lights went down. When the band thought we were loud enough, then they would take the stage. No sooner had he left the stage that the lights went out. The chant starts and grows louder. It’s amazing how much noise we made that night. The show wasn’t sold out by any means, but it was certainly louder than any previous show I had attended there. We wanted to make sure that we were heard on the CD, and we were.

Finally, we were loud enough for the band and they hit the stage opening with Axe favorite, and probably their most popular tune, “Misery Loves Company.” The band was in absolutely top form for this show. Lead vocalist Ron Taylor was his usual active, playful self, but the thing I noticed right away was that since New Year’s when I saw them last, he must have lost 20 lbs.! He was looking as fit as ever and his vocals during the set were nothing short of phenomenal! Steve Blaze was a madman playing his heart out, squeezing out every additional note possible during the show. The band played for over 2 hours, including just about every tune a fan could ask for. One notable addition to the set was the tune “Dream of a Lifetime” which I had never seen them do before and was told that they hadn’t done it in quite some time. The setlist was an incredible 23 songs in length and they played right up to 2 a.m. They did repeat “Misery Loves Company” because, according to Ron, drummer Ken Koudelka messed up the beginning of it the first time around. So, we got to do the opening chant sequence again. There were no screw-ups this time. The setlist was as follows:

Misery Loves Company
Love and War
World Stopped Turning
Letters in the Rain
Waiting in the Dark
Pullin the Rats Out
Ghost of Winter
Fool’s Paradise
Nobody Knows
Sign of the Times
Show a Little Love
Voices in My Walls
The Day I Met You
Those Who Prey
Dream of a Lifetime

True Believer
Become a Monster
Misery Loves Company (Redo)
My Number

By the time they finished, the band was left completely exhausted. They had given everything they had and then some. The CD, which I understand will be titled Lillian Axe Live (go figure) is scheduled for release in August of this year. The band made a return trip to Houston the following weekend to do the mixing and the bands website, lillianaxecentral.com, has been accepting pictures from fans for inclusion in the CD’s booklet. Now the band has already received copies of the CD for review and a few choice friends have had the great fortune of listening to it early, and the reports so far say that this CD is an absolute winner. If you are a Lillian Axe fan and have ever owned or thought about owning one of their cds, then this one is a must have!

Fellow Pure Rock Patroller Steve Sumner, who had never seen them live, attended the show with me. Now, I know he didn’t know what to expect from them because he knows that I’m a big ‘80s metal kinda guy. He left the show a Lillian fan and has already obtained a few of their previous releases. He was most impressed with the band’s stage presence and their talent level, and he doesn’t impress easily. Ah, another satisfied customer!

Photos by Larry Petro

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