Girl School, Lillian Axe, and Alcatrazz – Pittsburgh, PA – 4/4/2024

The triple bill of Girl School, Lillian Axe and Alcatrazz picked a unique day to visit Pittsburgh.  While spring had sprung early, winter weather decided to creep back in as we saw rain, hail, and even snow on the day of the Pittsburgh Pirate’s home opener at PNC Park.  While the flooding along our North Shore was what grabbed our attention, the bands couldn’t help but notice our beautiful stadiums as they made their way to Mr. Small’s Funhouse in Millvale.  In fact, the ladies even grabbed themselves an official Terrible Towel.

Alcatrazz took the stage first, and is now fronted by Warlord vocalist Giles Lavery given the recent departure of Scottish vocalist, Doogie White, who exited the band prior to the start of the tour and after the completion of his second album with AlcatrazzTake No Prisoners.

With Jimmy Waldo, one of the writers behind the band’s biggest hit “Island in the Sun,”  behind the keys, and guitarist Joe Stump drawing in the crowd’s attention with his mesmerizing fretwork, we felt the room get smaller as the growing crowd pushed forward towards the stage giving us a birds-eye view of the immense pedal board and the gleaming metal “Sword of Deliverance.”

The evening continued with a longtime favorite of ours, Lillian Axe.  It’s hard to believe that our first interview with Steve Blaze was about 25 year ago back in the days of landlines and tape recorders.  While much has changed in the industry and the band has evolved, classic songs from the band like “All’s Fair in Love & War” and “Ghosts of Winter” still made the list.

Original members Steve Blaze and bassist Michael “Maxx” Darby are joined by Brent Graham on lead vocals, Sam Poitevent on guitar, and Wayne Stokely on drums. Lillian Axe have been hard at work on the band’s highly anticipated new album, which is due later this year.  Meanwhile, fans can also dig into the catalog with multi-volume box sets that have unearthed previously unreleased recordings from the band’s early career and of course pick up the band’s last album From Womb to Tomb as well.

And to close the evening off, we were treated to the long-awaited return of the British-born Girl School band featuring the charismatic Kim McAuliffe on Rhythm guitar and lead vocals and the hard-hitting Denise Dufort on drums, who’ve been leading the charge since the 70s, the high-kicking Tracey Lamb on bass who’s been in and out of the band since the 80s and Jackie Chambers who has been tearing it up on lead guitar since the late 90s.

Talk about a legacy!  Taking the audience back to the new wave of British heavy metal, the diverse crowd which included everyone from young punk rock chicks to old metal dudes yielding canes, all came to agreement that these ladies rocked.  I enjoyed bringing my daughter to see them again as a teenager where she could really take in the enormity of the trail these girls blazed for other female artists.

As Kim recalled a memory of the late guitarist Jeff Beck, who dismissed the possibility that women could be playing those instruments as their song hit the airwaves, it really did give me pause. Maybe by the time my daughters are taking their teenagers to shows, the phrase, you’re really good “for a girl,” will finally be squashed.  But for now, I’ll take it as a win that when the girls headlined last night and tried to leave the stage after they blew us away with “Emergency,” the loud and very enthusiastic audience wasn’t going to let them leave…they wanted an encore and weren’t taking no for an answer.

And more we shall get. While the tour is wrapping up the current run in Detroit tomorrow night, there are plans to head West next.  So look out North America, you are due for another British Invasion very soon.  Cheers!

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So, watch for continued coverage from this month’s Monsters of Rock Cruise as well as local shows and regional shows with Alestorm, Elvenking and Glyph; Budderside and 69 EyesJoe Satriani and Steve Vai; Firewind; and Queensryche and Armored Saint shows coming next month.  And in May, you’ll find us at the M3 Rock Festival in Baltimore.

Coverage by Editor and founder Kara Marie Uhrlen posted on 4/5/2024.  All event photos are property of photographer Kara Uhrlen and The Pure Rock Shop.