On this date in history I saw Great White in 1993. They performed at The Vogue, a nightclub probably not all that different from the club that caught fire during one of their shows a decade later.
More than a hundred people died at that show and many more suffered horrible injuries. By the time of that incident, the band was actually called Jack Russell’s Great White, but the media latched onto the more well known version for their reporting.
I don’t recall them using any pyrotechnics at our show, but it does make one think about the potential dangers at any live event. Tragedy occurs from time to time in the music world, but more often it is celebration and good feelings that are remembered. These are the reasons I have never stopped attending shows.
It is sad that Great White is mostly associated with the disastrous fire, because they were an amazing band in their day. Jack Russell had an insane vocal range and the looks and personality of a born frontman. Mark Kendall played solid lead guitar, preferring melodic bluesy lines over the “million notes per second” style that everyone else seemed to be going for at the time. They had some really good songs, too. Even though they had their best success with a cover song, they were wise enough to pick one that was just obscure enough that most people thought they wrote it. The song I’m referring to is “Once Bitten, Twice Shy” by Ian Hunter, and Great White used it to propel themselves into a pretty good run for awhile.
The band Asphalt Ballet opened for them at The Vogue and I enjoyed their set, too. My heart goes out to the victims of the fire that scarred Great White’s career (including Ty Longley, who played guitar in the band that night), but I remain grateful that I saw them when the only fire was the heat of their music.
Written By Braddon S. Williams AKA The Concert Critic
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