Rock Star Supernova fails to impress out of the block at Las Vegas opening
Monday, January 01, 2007
LAS VEGAS (CP) - The reality TV show is over for Rock Star Supernova. Now there's just the reality of turning a made-for-TV group into a real rock band.
And judging from the foursome's opening show New Year's Eve, there's plenty of work left to do.
Led by Toronto singer Lukas Rossi, Supernova delivered a wildly uneven show before some 2,000 at The Joint at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino.
Supernova chugged through the show like a car on its last legs, occasionally speeding up only to lose power and fall back. It was one step forward and two back for most of the eighty-minute, 13-song performance that started at 11:20 p.m. after a performance by opening act Luna Halo, a fivesome from Nashville.
The band's musical hiccups weren't helped by a sophomoric Girls Gone Wild mentality throughout the show, with drummer Tommy Lee digging into the Motley Crue vault for the "titty-cam" to encourage women in the audience to bare their breasts for the big screen.
No stranger to using a camcorder, Lee should know better.
And any style points the band received for using a four-woman string section for three songs were lost by the decision to have two dancers in lingerie, denim chaps and boots gyrate on several others. All that was missing was the pole, but it's early days on tour.
Rossi was welcomed by a vocal Canadian contingent, with Maple Leaf flags and at least one Leafs jersey with the name Rossi stitched on the back.
All of them must have cringed when guitarist Gilby Clarke introduced Rossi "from the great state of Toronto, Canada."
Wearing black pants and T-shirt, a white jacket and bushels of bling, Rossi was a bundle of energy bouncing across stage, contorting his body like an escape artist as he sang. There were rock star poses galore, but his character didn't shine through.
Maybe it was his trademark war paint. His heavy eye makeup made it look from a distance like he was wearing a Lone Ranger mask. Combine that with the sweat pouring down his face and the big video screens on either side of the stage made it look like he had greased up to swim the English Channel.
Not helping matters was the fact that his stage banter was all but inaudible, although he clearly dropped plenty of F-bombs.
Still, Rossi had more conviction opening night than fellow Canadian J.D. Fortune did on his debut after winning the Rock Star INXS contest. Fortune babbled between songs and seemed unsure of what he should be doing.
Fortune, however, was saved by INXS' extensive catalogue of hits, something Supernova lacks.
Rossi won the televised audition to front the band featuring Lee, former Guns N' Roses guitarist Clarke, and Metallica bassist Jason Newsted, although Newsted has had to temporarily give way to Black Crowes bassist Johnny Colt after injuring himself trying to catch a falling 90-pound piece of equipment.
While a shirtless Lee battered his drum kit at the Hard Rock, across town ex-wife Pamela Anderson was hosting a New Year's Eve party at the Venetian while soon-to-be-ex-husband Kid Rock was at the Mirage.
Clarke is a solid guitar player, who stepped out more as the set progressed, and Colt proved to be a stylish fill-in. Lee, however, was hidden behind his monster drum kit most of the night, with only the occasional video glimpse.
The band needs to find a way to get the charismatic bad boy out of the shadows. Lee came across as a likeable sort on the TV show, but he was just another heavy-handed drummer Sunday night.
Supernova could also grow up a little.
The band was preceded onstage by a taped message from Rossi on the club's video screens. Call it The World According to Supernova, a testosterone-fuelled bawdy raison d'etre written over a sneering caricature of the singer that included the slogan "What happens at a Supernova show, stays at a Supernova show."
It was the first hint that originality might be in short order during the evening. As did Rossi's initial greeting of "Whassup?"
Sticking mostly to their album, Supernova opened with "Underdog," built around the tried and true riffs from the TV show opening.
The band did well on "It's All Love," "Social Disgrace" and The Verve's "Bittersweet Symphony," which Rossi performed on the TV show.
And the band delivered a fine slower and heavier version of Rossi's self-penned "Headspin," with Clarke's guitar wailing nicely. "Can't Bring Myself to Light This Fuse," another slower number, also stood out.
The uptempo "Leave the Lights On" started well, although a limp ending to the song did little to set the stage for an encore. The band did return to the stage, struggling through the Stones' "Let's Spend the Night Together," another Rossi TV effort.
Rossi actually stopped the song to request a volume fix. It made for a sloppy ending to an evening that went further downhill when Lee did an impromptu rap on stage before saying goodnight.