This was CKY’s first headlining tour in the UK eight years, taking new album The Phoenix on the road. I got to witness them last time they came by Portsmouth Wedgewood Rooms in 2009, and they were terrific. So, what had changed since their last visit?
Obviously, there was the absence of former frontman Deron Miller. It is debatable how much CKY he has taken away with him especially when one looks at the setlist – besides one track written for the Jackass 3D soundtrack (‘Afterworld’, which had dual writing credits between Miller and Ginsberg) CKY didn’t perform anything from before 2002 (so that rules out another from 2005’s An Answer Can Be Found and 2009’s Carver City). One can’t be sure whether those latter albums were influenced most by Miller and were therefore ditched, or whether the CKY of 2017 had more of an agenda to state that the ‘classic’ CKY was back. Even Bam Margera was there to introduce the band, and later join them for a cover of GG Allin’s ‘Bite It You Scum’.
I kind of wish that he hadn’t re-emerged though, because that spot in the set could have been put to better use. I admittedly was a bit disappointed by just how short the show was – only about an hour. I think that the crowd were quite surprised as well considering how the “C-K-Y” chants continued when expecting an encore, only for the lights to come up. I thought leaving the stage at the end of their main set was a bit early, and expected a second encore, but no! This wasn’t helped by the lack of traditional closers. No ‘Close Yet Far’ or ‘Disengage the Simulator’.
Ginsberg’s voice is the killer subject in discussion of 2017 CKY. There is no denying that the vocals harshly affected heavily produced tracks from their Infiltrate Destroy Rebuild album. They are anthemic tracks that really suited Miller’s growl. Chad isn’t bad, but it is an alteration that is difficult to ignore. During the ending of ‘Sporadic Movement’, Miller held a very long note (and I remember being stunned hearing him do it flawlessly in person). Chad came nowhere near. Volume 1 tracks sounded less interfered with, because it has a messy low-fi sound which buries the vocals somewhat. ‘Rio Bravo’ in particular sounded great.
Musically though, the band sounded terrific. Ginsberg’s guitar was incredible during ‘Afterworld’ (this song was the moment at which the crowd took a break, but everyone woke up again during his big solo). The extended intro of ‘Escape From Hellview’ was great as well, though I have to say that it was in a really odd place in the set (the end of the main set!), considering that it seemed custom made to open every show.