Since bursting onto the scene 25 years ago as the frontman of the seminal New York metal outfit White Zombie, Rob Zombie has established himself as one of the last great rock and roll monsters - worthy of mention alongside legends like Alice Cooper and Ozzy Osbourne. Now, 10 years after becoming a highly successful solo artist with the multi-platinum Hellbilly Deluxe, the rock monster/horror film director is embarking on a world tour in support of his upcoming fourth solo release, the highly-anticipated Hellbilly Deluxe 2.
To some, it may seem a bit pretentious to name an upcoming album after your most successful work, but if Zombie & co.'s performance at Louisville's Broadbent Arena is any indication, the album should live up to the hype surrounding it. Storming onto a stage adorned by two large banners featuring a giant skull against a background of stars and stripes on either side of a large video screen, the band tore through classic cuts like "What Lurks on Channel X?," "Superbeast," "Never Gonna Stop," "Living Dead Girl," and "American Witch" against a backdrop of animation and vintage horror, television, and burlesque erotica. Showing up from the White Zombie back-catalog were the grinding numbers "Super-Charger Heaven," "More Human Than Human," and "Thunderkiss '65" - the latter of which was split by a lengthy solo break by guitarist John 5, who left the crowd awestruck with a note-perfect rendition of Van Halen's "Eruption" before placing his guitar pick in his mouth and playing the national anthem with his teeth. Thrown in for good measure were new tracks "What?!" and "Sick Bubble-Gum," and a three-punch encore of "Demonoid Phenomenon," "Dragula", and "Lords of Salem" that still left a rabid crowd begging for more.
Opening the show were Captain Clegg & the Night Creatures, a Texas psychobilly band that has appeared in or contributed music to several of Zombie's films. Although the audience was first confused by the band's stand-up bass and addition of a steel guitar, the band soon won them over and left them ready for the Nekromantix, another psychobilly band (complete with pompadors) whose furious cover of the Misfits' "Hollywood Babylon" worked the audience into the night's first frenzy.
Try as the openers might to own this November night, it was clear who the night truly belonged to once the Nekromantix left the stage and the chants of "Zombie" began. Twenty-five years into a musical career known for shows that deliver a shock to the senses, Rob Zombie is showing no signs of slowing down anytime soon - and gods forbid he ever does.