• Tue. Apr 16th, 2024

ENUFF Z’NUFF/VENREZ/LOST HEARTS concert review

ByTaylor T Carlson

Apr 16, 2023

Enuff Z’Nuff played Count’s Vamp’d on Friday, April 14, 2023, with supporting acts Lost Hearts and Venrez.

Fridays and Saturdays (and occasionally other days of the week) at Count’s Vamp’d are always the ultimate time for live rock and roll in Sin City. Going strong for over a decade, it remains one of my favorite rock venues, and rightfully so. There’s no limit to the amount of talent this place can put on stage. This was another epic night featuring a favorite classic band and some newer talent as support.

Just a brief disclaimer before moving forward with this review that I’d never seen (or even heard of) either of the support acts on the bill for this evening. The first of the two was Lost Hearts, hailing from Nashville. These guys were a long way from home, stating during their between-song words that they’d only played a handful of live shows ever! Fortunately, these youngsters proved they were more than up for the task at hand, delivering a high-energy performance that proved them more than worthy to rock the Vamp’d stage. I’ll definitely be keeping an eye on these ones and seeing what they record in the foreseeable future!

The second of the two support acts was Venrez, who once again, I wasn’t personally familiar with. Easily the most eccentric and divisive band of the evening, it’s hard to pinpoint a sound for these guys, which sounds like it was influenced by 70s stoner rock just as much as it was 90s alternative rock. It’s an odd melting pot of sounds, to say the least, but certainly an intriguing one. With a frontman who looks like Howard Stern impersonating Ozzy Osbourne, they’ve got a unique presence. I will admit this band’s sound is something of an acquired taste (some of the people hanging around me during the set were clearly less into them than I was), but the fact that I’m won over enough to want more should say something. Let’s see what the future holds for Venrez. One thing’s for sure; it most definitely will NOT be boring!

That brings us to the headliner of the evening: Enuff Z’Nuff. Unfairly lumped under the dreaded “hair band” umbrella, these guys have always had more of a power-pop sound that has more in common with groups like The Beatles and Cheap Trick. While their debut at the tail end of the 1980s spawned two megahits and the band has recorded countless records since, so much of it remains sadly underrated and overlooked. That’s a shame, because these guys have done a great deal musically over the years. It seems like they hit up Vamp’d once a year or so, and I’m always eager to hear them doing what they do best. Bassist/backing vocalist Chip Z’Nuff remains the group’s one remaining classic member, and he’s since taken over the lead vocals as well. The band’s most recent album of original material, FINER THAN SIN, was released in 2022. It was preceded by HARDROCK NITE, an album of Beatles and Paul McCartney cover songs, in 2021.

Although Enuff Z’Nuff’s lineup has changed countless times over the years, the core sound has always remained the classic upbeat power pop it’s always been, yet the band isn’t afraid to branch out musically either. They’re adventurous, with a sound all their own, and I’m always looking forward to what they do, whether it’s in the studio or on the stage. Lone original member Z’Nuff is joined by a fantastic group of musicians in the band’s current incarnation, including guitarist Tory Stoffregen.

As Enuff Z’Nuff has a bigger array of back catalogue releases to choose from than their musical contemporaries, them choosing a setlist is no easy task; it seems like there will always be some classics that get omitted along the way. Of course, every setlist from the band has to include the two hits; “Fly High Michelle” and “New Thing,” and needless to say, those made the cut. We even got a pair of deep cuts from the first release with “In the Groove” and “Kiss the Clown.” The underrated sophomore album STRENGTH was represented with a pair of cuts; “Heaven or Hell” and “Baby Loves You,” and we even got “The Love Train” from the group’s oft-forgotten third record, ANIMALS WITH HUMAN INTELLIGENCE. The set also included several of the band’s Beatles covers, including “Jet,” “Live and Let Die,” and “Magical Mystery Tour,” the latter of which made for an epic opener. The standout of the cover tunes was the band’s reinvention of “Eleanor Rigby,” which is quite surprising given the original Beatles’ tune was buried in overdubs to the point that the band never performed it live! Enuff Z’Nuff’s vocal harmonies on this one are, for lack of a better work, enough. The one “odd man out” in the bunch was the cover of “With a Little Help From My Friends,” which was strangely based on the Joe Cocker cover rather than the original Beatles version.

The musicians on stage did justice to these songs and then some, making the stage their own, impressing fans and making new ones. Probably the only real issue I had was with a few of the setlist choices; I love The Beatles. They’re one of my favorite bands of all time, and I’m happy to see Enuff Z’Nuff recording covers of their songs (damn good ones, no less). These are a fun inclusion, but shouldn’t come at the expense of fare like “Rockabye Dreamland” and “The World is a Gutter.” Probably the strangest element here is that absolutely no songs from the band’s last few albums of original material with Chip on lead vocals got played. Hearing nothing from DIAMOND BOY or FINER THAN SIN was truly disappointing, especially considering these records are just as good as anything the band recorded in their glory days. That said, I won’t deny for one second that the band’s performance was amazing, easily one of the best I’ve seen in 2023 so far. Chip and company know how to rock a stage. Immediately after the set, Chip left the stage to sign autographs and take photos with fans, further cementing his nature as one of the best guys in the business.

Enuff Z’Nuff is a great band who has weathered many lineup changes, including Chip taking the mantle of lead vocalist and excelling at it. The support sets from Venrez and Lost Hearts were satisfying as well, and I plan to keep my eye on both bands. Don’t overlook what Enuff Z’Nuff is capable of or write them off as a nostalgia act; they’re anything but.

ADDITIONAL PHOTOS:

All photos (other than event ad) by the author.

By Taylor T Carlson

Taylor T Carlson Assistant Editor/Senior Staff Writer Taylor T. Carlson was born August 17, 1984, and has called the Vegas Valley home his entire life. A die-hard fan of classic rock and metal music, Taylor has been writing album and concert reviews since he was 16 years old, and continues to do so, having done well over 1,000 reviews. He is also a fan of video gaming and cinema, and has reviewed a number of games and films as well, old and new alike. His thorough and honest (some would say brutally honest) reviewing style has won him the respect of hundreds of music fans and musicians alike, both local and abroad, and the ire of just as many others. Despite being one of the youngest attendees at classic hard rock/metal shows around Vegas, he is also one of the most knowledgeable, having gained the unofficial nickname of “The Eddie Trunk of Las Vegas.” In addition to reviews, Taylor has written and self-published three books on classic hard rock bands, and is a regular participant in rock and roll trivia contests. Taylor also holds a masters degree in special education from the University of Nevada Las Vegas (UNLV), and has appeared on the hit History Channel television series Pawn Stars. His dream is to be able to one day make a living from writing music books and reviews.

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