Tigertailz/Dressed To Kill/Circle of One/The Harrowing Live @ St David's Hall, Cardiff (UK) - 10th February 2007

It's a wet and drab February Saturday evening, preceded by two days of artic-like conditions. Yet the streets of Cardiff are full of glammed up bodies in fur coats, fishnets, and makeup. And that's just the men! What can have brought about such a glamifestation in these adverse conditions?

Billed as 'The St. Valentine's Metal Massacre', tonight is Tigertailz's second home-turf gig in less than a year, and the simple fact that such a dedicated following has made its way from all corners of the United Kingdom and beyond, gives out early vibes that this a very special evening indeed.

St. David's Hall itself is something of an iconic venue. Even though it is more attuned to opera and concertos, over the years it has seen rock bands as diverse as Faster Pussycat, Thin Lizzy and Metallica play to packed out audiences of Welsh rock fans. And not only that, but the Level 3 bar area was once the ritualistic meeting place for local musicians on a Saturday afternoon, ahead of a hard night's drinking and dancing at long-lost rock club 'Bogiez'.

As you can imagine, Tigertailz themselves were very much at the forefront of this whole culture and scene, back in the day. For the venue to again play host to a band who last appeared here sixteen years ago, this is not a nostalgia trip but a welcome shot of metal for a venue long-starved of its lifeblood.

Arriving at the venue at around seven o'clock, the crowds were already descending as local school band competition winners The Harrowing got things off to a thrashy start with their all too short, one song set, followed by 'Circle Of One', a power-pop / glam / punk hybrid that features within its number two former members of cult UK glam act 'City Kidds'.

Circle Of One specialise in tight, catchy songs, written on a razor sharp hook line and delivered by vocalist / guitarist Julian Gardner, in his best satanic 'Dave Grohl' like way. This was no doubt the largest stage the 'Circle…' had played on, and that did tell, but the experience of these seasoned musicians shone through and their twenty-odd minute set certainly left the audience wanting more.

So, to the UK's longest serving Kiss tribute act; Dressed To Kill. Their arrival at around 8.30 signalled the time for the party to really get underway. Grown men were seen in gay abandon head banging away to the likes of 'Deuce' and 'God Of Thunder', apparently without concern for the fact that this was only four guys playing covers in 'Kiss' make-up. Me, I just don't get tribute bands.

After an absence of sixteen years, returning to the St. David's Hall stage was always going to be an emotional occasion for Tigertailz and their legion of fans that had journeyed through the winter's worst snowstorms to be there. The absence of bass guitarist and mainstay of the band, Pepsi Tate, due to (at the time) unspecified health issues, only added to the tension as the crowd awaited the remaining band members' arrival - complimented by stand-in bassist Glenn 'Nailz' Quinn.

As the lights dimmed and the dry ice billowed from the stage, the now familiar 'Bezerk', from the band's current 'Bezerk 2.0' CD announced the arrival onstage of…

'Jo's Heatwave' - an all-girl cheerleading squad from Cardiff's 'Academy Of Cheer and Dance'! Choreographed to perfection, these dozen or so young girls threw themselves (and each other!) in all directions, taking up the entire stage, and leaving the assembled crowd in awe of this surprising addition to the Tigertailz live show.

Almost before it had started though, the girls' routine was over, and the stage cleared to make way for Tigertailz, who emerged from the darkness to the orchestrated introduction to 'Sick Sex', from 1990's 'Bezerk' opus.

This was a glam-metal show like none you will have seen before!

What was immediately apparent from the second the band hit the stage, was the almost totally de-glammed image. Sure, vocalist Kim Hooker and guitarist Jay Pepper still have the hair, and Jay's face was painted almost entirely white, but both Jay and 'Nailz' were dressed almost entirely in black - jeans and button-down shirts, finished off with white ties! Another first for Tigertailz was the presence onstage of a keyboard player. Tim 'The Rotter' Ranson hails from Kim Hooker's pre-'Tailz band 'Rankelson', and adds a dimension of reality to a band that has often been accused of over-using samples and programming during their live show. Not tonight baby! This is all real, all live Tigertailz, and the sound is bigger and better than ever before!

As the band storms through 'Bezerk'-era classics such as 'Love Overload' and 'I Can Fight Dirty Too', two huge video screens compliment the onstage pandemonium with images of Tigertailz throughout the years, cyber-'Tailz and - during the 'Wazbones' / 'Bezerk 2.0' favourite - the 'lost' 'Dirty Needlez' video, recorded during the 'wilderness' years when the band ditched the Tigertailz moniker in favour of the short-lived 'Wazbones'.

Crowd-pleasing b-side 'Murderess' was followed by a rare outing for the Steevi Jaimz / 'Young & Crazy'-era 'Shoot to Kill', plus of course the staple 'Livin' Without You' from the same period.

Kim Hooker then invited Tigertailz uber fan 'Danilo' to join him onstage. Having made the trip from Italy, via Romania, to see his idols play tonight, the young Italian was presented with the very costume that Kim wore in the 'Love Bomb Baby' video and invited to try it on for size. Both band and crowd were suitably impressed when, moments later, a cowboy-hatted Danilo reappeared onstage decked out head-to-foot in white lycra, and joined the band for a rendition of 'Noize Level Critical'.

All the while, the respectably busy St. David's Hall crowd was going suitably mental, pausing for breath only during an emotional dedication from Kim Hooker to his absent friend, which preceded the enormous ballad that is 'I Believe'. This song is Tigertailz at their very best, and with the added poignancy of tonight's proceedings there was barely a dry eye amongst this crowd of hardened heavy metallers.

Normal service is soon resumed though, and heads roll to the sheer metal power of 'TYFHO', the thorny 'For Hate's Sake', and the awesome tribal chanting of 'Falling Down', before the set-closing staple that is 'Call Of The Wild'. And with that, Tigertailz leave the stage, and a cheering crowd, significantly the worse for wear!

But you know they're coming back, don't you? They haven't played 'Love Bomb Baby' yet! And true to form, only the briefest of calls from the still-hungry crowd is all it takes to bring their heroes back to the stage. This time, Kim Hooker has the Welsh flag tied to his back, and the band launches into the familiar opening chords of… 'Creeping Death'! This rare outing for the Metallica cover catches the audience completely off-guard, just as it did when Tigertailz recorded it as a b-side for the 'Heaven' single some fifteen years ago. But these days the songs fits so well alongside the bands own material that it is greeted as if it were a bona-fide Tigertailz classic!

Genuinely elated by the crowd's response to this 'home-coming' performance, Kim Hooker can now only thank the audience, his band, and the support bands, before finally inviting 'Dressed To Kill' on-stage to close the gig in true style. The spectacle of Tigertailz and Kiss (albeit a tribute in full make-up and stage-gear) onstage together, blasting through the 'Tailz-classic 'Love Bomb Baby' is truly surreal, and one that will live with this crowd for a long time to come.

And with that, Tigertailz finally exit the stage, leaving an exhausted, yet ecstatic crowd in their wake. Those lucky enough to get in to the after-show party at the local 'Fuel Rock Club' were able to hang out with the band and drink the small (and not so small) hours of the morning away. The advanced stage of intoxication achieved through the repeated consumption of fermented vegetable extracts prevents this reviewer from giving any further commentary, but it was noted the following morning that a large, satisfied grin was irremovable from his face!

by Johnny H (your local news reporter) and Danzai! (cultural attaché to the glam)

Visit the Tigertailz Website