SATURDAY NIGHT IN Crystal, the semi-legendary heavy metal bar The Iron Horse closed its doors for good, ending a 20-year stand. But on Friday night, the Horse mourned in fist-pumping style, with a reunion set by one of the definitive bands of its day, Slave Raider.
Now Slave Raider was not your ordinary 1980s pop-metal glam outfit--Led Zep covers and the chainsaw routine aside. The Raider was a gender-integrated band that made no bones about it, in blatant opposition to metal's tendency to relegate women to the crowds of admiring dancers. In fact, the player who stole the show Friday was unquestionably bassist Laetitia Rae--no Joan Jett, but way better than Lita Ford--whose thumping solos and vocal cameo were at least as imposing as the guitars. The band's old KQ hit, "You, Me, and the Boys," vocals shared by Chainsaw Caine and Rae, could easily have been an anthem of boy-girl inclusiveness.
In the '80s, The Replacements wore eyeliner and hairspray, got drunk on stage, and sang Kiss covers. So did Iron Horse bands. What went wrong? Lots of things, I guess, but for the duration of the Raider's 45-minute set, no one was worrying much about it. All five original members took the stage to an sea of pumping fists, their hair shorter and grayer, makeup diminished, and solos rusty. "WHATTYA SAY?" screamed eye-patched vocalist Caine; "FUCKIN' A!" the crowd invariably responded. It wasn't exactly a battle cry of immortality, but it was filled with a sense of fraternity and nostalgia, if colored slightly with a tinge of defeat.
The set climaxed with Caine leading the audience in a cheesy chorus of "Na, Na, Hey, Hey, Goodbye," upon which he drove his point home: "The Iron Horse is closin' it's doors/Where we gonna go to rock & roll?" The house lights went up at 1 a.m., and nobody had an answer. The crowd of friends and fans, thirtysomething children of Ozzy, slowly filed out, some bidding a teary thanks to owner Phil Eder. And a final farewell to an era that, for the most part, had already ended years ago.
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