May 15, 2011
It's been over twenty years since Kix flirted with chart success and arena stages, but the Maryland band proved that less can be more with a Saturday night return to Mohegan Sun. Their in-your-face style of barroom rock and roll might have been eclipsed by the enormity of those arena audiences when they were riding a Top 20 single back in 1989, but Kix has always been best at packing arena excitement into the bursting at the seams confines of smaller rooms like the Wolf Den.
Nearly 35 years since guitarist Ronnie Younkins and bassist Donnie Purnell formed the band as The Shooze, Kix seemed to have lost none of their enthusiasm for the stage. Purnell, their chief songwriter, never returned after an eight year hiatus ended in 2003. But Younkins and the rest of the principal players — Steve Whiteman [vocals], Brian Forsythe [guitar] and Jimmy Chalfant [drums] — worked the Wolf Den stage with the same boundless energy that first endeared them to the mid-Atlantic region as teenagers.
Little surprise that a third of the 15-song set was anchored by their lone platinum-selling album, Blow My Fuse. But songs drawn from earlier, lesser known albums suffered no worse reaction for lack of familiarity. The tried-and-tested formula of loud guitars over a hard-hitting beat, coupled with eager vocals sung by a frontman who knows how to sell the songs, earned a spirited response for everything from “Atomic Bombs” to “Girl Money.” Their cohesion as an extremely tight band, something that only comes from years of weeknights played in half-filled bars, hasn't diminished with time or age. Kix proved themselves to be still ingrained with the working band ethic of playing well and being entertaining.
The sight of one passionate couple, grinding each other to the anti-suicide message of “Don't Close Your Eyes,” was unusual. It also sounded odd to hear the profanity-laced encore of “Yeah, Yeah, Yeah” toned down for patrons gambling on the adjacent casino floor. Still, Kix succeeded in bringing rock and roll back to its essence of Saturday night rambunctious fun.
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