Were far too old to be having this much fun, but were very grateful for it, Jenkins said with a laugh. I want people to come out there and say You know what? Ive had a really good night. What a great band.
The fans in St. Petersburg wanted a steady stream of non-stop hits, and thats what they heard. In fact, its pretty much all they heard: The only original music performed that night was by openers Hangman Jury, who werent born when most of the evenings tunes were written. The 15-year-olds played an energetic set that was well-received by the sparse gathering of early concertgoers.
But eventually the crowd arrived and it was time for the tribute acts. Jamie Gilroy isnt really Ozzy Osbourne, but he certainly resembles the man or at least Osbournes late-'80s persona. Taking the stage with a crazed look and a generous amount of mascara, Gilroy clapped his hands, encouraged the audience and belted out a set of the British singers best-known solo work, including No More Tears and Crazy Train.
He even threw in an impromptu version of Black Sabbaths War Pigs that had the band scrambling before eventually tearing through the song to great applause. It turned out to be a satisfying experience for both crowd and performer.
I love it. The people are fuckiing great, said Gilroy, who pays frequent tribute to Osbournes trademark swearing as well. Off stage, the native New Yorker explained that the acts managed under Maximum Bands Entertainment, which handles a number of tribute acts, are good friends and support each other.
That support was evident during Carnival of Crues set, which was filled with staples like Home Sweet Home and Looks That Kill performed by musicians that genuinely resembled guitarist Mick Mars, bassist Nikki Sixx and singer Vince Neil. Gilroy and Jenkins were front and center, cheering the band with the rest of the fans. Were like a family, Gilroy explained.
Sometimes the performers are family literally. During Highway to Hells set, the drummer surrendered his sticks so Jenkins 9-year-old son could sit behind the kit for a song. The youngster kept perfect time while anchoring the band through the tune and received a rousing ovation after his performance.
But the family jam didnt slow down the head-banging, and the crowd sang along with Highway to Hell as they played many of AC/DCs classics Thunderstruck, Shoot to Thrill, and Hells Bells among them.
The real AC/DC brings a mammoth stage show, giant screens and a long catwalk when they come to town. Highway to Hell, on the other hand, brings a large banner, energy and a fans perspective that Jenkins said is a key to the tribute bands success.
Youve got five guys in this band who are rabid AC/DC fans, so our attention to detail is there from wearing the right clothes to hitting the right vocals and all the backing vocals. All our instruments are the same as AC/DCs, he explained.
And the audiences are responding. Tribute bands are in demand, and Highway to Hell rarely performs at bars, opting instead for festivals and special events (like Gasparilla) with thousands in attendance. Several acts in the Maximum Bands stable are also slated for dates at the Largo Cultural Center this August.
Gilroy said that while the fans know what (and who) theyre coming to see, they lose any hint of cynicism when the opening notes are played and they start cheering to their favorite classics. They forget that its a tribute band, he said.