December 28, 2019
The Rail Club Live!
Fort Worth, TX
Review by David Simers
Photos by Michelle Johnson
Zebra Performs A Night Of Timeless Rock And Roll In Cowtown Texas!
Enthusiastic fans began gathering early for a night of rock and roll at the jam-packed Rail Club and enjoyed every minute of it. Loyal listeners of all three bands cheered wildly for their favorites, and also yelled and screamed as the other bands gave it their all.
Local favorite Novakain started the show with an eight-song set of hard rock. They are a well-oiled trio and play to their strengths with excellent musicians. The three-piece band has a good following in the area and treated the crowd to tight music to get them pumped up and ready for more.
The Grant Morrison Band then played a set that jumped genres and entertained everyone. Grant is multi-talented and engages the audience while pumping out lyrical songs with well-layered music. The band was tight and recently-added backup singer Sterling Self added a beautiful voice, and looks, that added another dimension. In talking to them after the show, Grant and others members stated how they want to expand from Ft. Worth to all of Texas and beyond, but will always consider this to be their home base.
After a short changeover, the trio of musicians in Zebra came out to raucous applause. Vocalist Randy Jackson was in fine voice on “As I Said Before” and it sounded as fresh as it did on their eponymous first album in 1983, recorded eight years after they formed as a group in New Orleans. Bassist Felix Hanemann complemented on backing vocals as only a band with many years of experience of playing together can provide.
Jackson's guitar solos punctuated the next two songs, especially “When You Get There.” Their cohesion shined through the song, as it did all night. Continuously playing since 1975, except for a short hiatus in the early 1990s, has made them one of the tightest bands around.
Jackson sang in the lower range for two songs, including “About To Make The Time,” a change-of-pace song he wrote about astronaut Buzz Aldrin. The slower song, with Felix on backing vocals, connected well with the audience. That made the crowd anxious for the next song and they were delighted to hear fan favorite “Arabian Nights” an up tempo tune with a Middle Eastern tone off their 3.V album in 1986. The vocalist showed his range as he sang on the upper end of the scale while showing his still strong musical chops with rapid-fire fingering on the fret. Jackson is underrated as a guitarist, but only by people who have never seen him play live.
Hanemann switched to the keyboard as he and drummer Guy Gelso led the lyric-driven “Don't Walk Away,” a slower-paced song where the musicians complemented each other well and earned a big hand from the crowd. The fans sang along to “The La La Song” as some thrust their arms high in the air while others swayed back and forth to the beat. The audience roared their approval for the music which only got louder as it segued into a drum solo. Gelso pounded the skins for several minutes as fans shouted for more and flashed the I Love Rock 'N' Roll sign.
The other two band members came back to the stage after the tremendous drum solo and immediately dove into “He's Making You The Fool.” Many in the audience couldn't believe Jackson could still sing the extreme high notes, but he hit them all just as he has for the past 40+ years. Hanemann was on keys and shined brightly, showing how having keyboards in a three-piece band requires the musician to provide much more than rhythm as he is essentially filling in for the bass and rhythm guitar.
“Tell Me What You Want” showed off all three members musical skills and the tight song would be as big of a hit today as it was when it was released. It was a great fit for Randy's voice and earned another big hand from the fans. With so many songs to choose from, they couldn't play them all, but everyone was thrilled to hear “One More Chance.” The lyrical song has always been a fan favorite and the rockers enjoyed playing it as much as the audience enjoyed hearing it.
The last song of their set was “Take Your Fingers From My Hair” with Felix and Guy making the rhythm section a prominent part of the song. Difficult key changes and tempo changes sounded seamless as the they played flawlessly. Randy's guitar solo was a highlight as the jam ended the set.
Fans demanded an encore and the band came back out to more applause. The two songs were highlighted by Felix singing “Rock Candy” by Montrose. They played it like the rocking song it is and the crowd jumped, danced and sang.
The show was just short of two hours long, but the time passed quickly as the music never stopped. Be sure to catch Zebra on tour or when the band members play their side projects.
Special thanks to The Rail Club Live! for taking care of us, especially Warren Garza and Larry, the head of security. Look for upcoming concerts there as they have some prominent acts coming in the near future.