On the rock 'n' roll road to ruin, you'll pass by plenty of bands that came close. Bands that tasted the sorbet but never made it to the big kids' table. Bands whose legacy is prefixed with an "almost" or suffixed with a "so close."
Rochester hard-rock outfit Hard Rain is a prime example of a group that made it -- as far as I'm concerned -- when the band came together to play its brand of incendiary hard rock in the early 90's. And the band made it again Saturday night to a packed, borderline frenzied crowd at Nola's BBQ on Lake Avenue. It was the first time in almost 20 years that Hard Rain -- John Akers, Paul Akers, Erik Welsh, and the now-living-in-Deutschland Rudy Valentino -- had stood on stage together.
Despite the icy conditions and the, well, hard rain outside, the place was a sardine tin, nut-to-butt, floor to the ceiling, jammed up by the stage and swinging from the balcony. The band came out blazing and played as ferociously fun as ever, the only difference being the radical change in the amount of hair on stage. Back in the band's initial launch onto the scene, it was hirsute Hard Rain that banged its head under wavy locks. Those waves of hair have since waved goodbye, replaced by three shaved-clean chrome domes up front. Honestly I thought the new look gave the band an ominous presence even more suited to the music.
The band played virtually everything off "Peace is not a Fashion," and vocalist John Akers never had to sing alone as everyone in the joint (bartenders and bouncers included) knew all the words. The band was in fine form, never missed a beat, and came on big and loud. There was a hint of nostalgia and a collective reminiscent tear shed when a toast was made to the late, great champion of local music, Unkle Roger. I can't believe it has been 10 years without Unk. What a fantastic show, what a wonderful night.