Ugly Kid Joe played their 3rd show in France in 20 years and Alternative Nation was there to see it.
La Cartonnerie, Reims, France
To most rock fans the sheer mention of Ugly Kid Joe evokes memories of some very fine rock tunes from the 1990’s. ‘Everything About You’, ‘Neighbor’ and their hit cover of Harry Chapin’s ‘Cats in the Cradle’ propelled the Californians to stardom but in 1997 after having been together for 10 years the band called it quits.
Six years ago they reunited and so it seems odd watching the band in 2016 that these batch of European shows feel more like a proper coming together. Partly this is because the tour is supporting last year’s first album from the band in 19 years. ‘Uglier Than They Used ta Be’ which broke into the top 100 album charts in the UK.
But the other reason that everything seems so fresh is the fun and chemistry the band have on stage and playing tonight at La Cartonnerie in France is no different. Lead singer Whitfield Crane who dominated MTV airwaves in the early to mid 90’s still has a genuine charm and swagger about him. He wants to entertain, although after playing 11 shows in 13 days it’s no wonder that his voice feels strained at times and in fact it’s something that he mentions.
Ugly Kid Joe took to the stage with a musical intro involving all members but Crane. He was the last to come on complete with roars of delight and the band launched into ‘Neighbor’.
It’s a set list that is chock-a-block full of the old classics such as ‘Jesus Rode a Harley’, ‘Panhandlin’, ‘Milkman’s Son’ and ‘Devil’s Paradise’. The band are happy to talk in between and even cover snippets of Lynyrd Skynyrd’s ‘Free Bird’.
The biggest cheer for a cover song the whole night though belonged to a rousing 100 mph version of Motorhead’s ‘Ace of Spades’. Crane is a huge fan of the band and was a close friend of Lemmy’s. It is a song that has become staple on the set list throughout the years.
Time and again the band reminds the crowd how happy they are to be here in France and playing Europe and it comes across very genuine. After ‘Mr Record man’ the first chords are teased from the bands most successful and commercial hit ‘Everything About You’ and the crowd go into a frenzy as Crane passes the microphone along to help some fans at the front sing.
What lies ahead for a band who have toured with everyone, seen the world and bought the t-shirt remains to be seen. But what is sure is that on this evidence, rock music needs bands like Ugly Kid Joe.