THE RODS – Reunion tour
Friday July 18th, 2008
The Haunt, Ithaca, New York
by Todd K Smith

It’s a hot, humid summer day and I’m riding in the back or Carl Canedy’s 2003 Chrysler 300 M with his business partner Patti Dunning at the wheel. The three of us are making our way through the winding hills of northern Pennsylvania on our way to one of the few warm up gigs the reunited Rods are doing before their eagerly anticipated European festival show. Canedy is testing half a dozen Vic Firth drumstick pairs for weight and balance, tapping away on the dashboard while talking on his cell to his drum tech. His endorsement deal with the drumstick company is 18 years old and compliments his 1972 Fibes drum kit with Ziljian symbols. He’s even polyurethaned the inside of each drum so they’re like glass, a handy trick he read Billy Cobham did. The monolith drum set has been building for 30 years and is such a monstrous affair it requires meticulous arranging and a two-hour set up time. Sound check is only an hour away and Canedy is anxious.

Between phone calls and the rat-a-tat-tat on the dash he gives me a brief history of the reunion. The Rods, whose heyday was twenty years ago opening for Iron Maiden and Metallica, are starting to get intriguing offers in Europe injecting new life into the New York three piece. Tonight’s show is one in a string of rehearsal dates before making their way to Norway and the Metal Rock festival. It’s my first time seeing the titanic threesome of Canedy, guitarist David “Rock” Feinstein and bassist Garry Bordonaro in years. The anticipation is building when suddenly I break into a cold sweat. The curving road and stifling heat starts to make me light-headed. I interrupt the storytelling and ask Peggy to pull over - my head is reeling. I stumble several steps and violently vomit. It’s never a good party until somebody pukes!

The Rods started out in the late ‘70s as a blue-collar hard rock outfit based in central New York. Slang for muscle cars, the band took the name that most fit their sound - tough guitar chords, rumbling bass lines and thunderous drums played so loud that even when the power failed they could be heard in the next county. Forged from the ashes of boogie bar band Elf (featuring Ronnie James Dio), guitarist David “Rock” Feinstein joined bassist Garry Bordonaro and drummer Carl Canedy to combined influences that included Blue Cheer, The Godz and Ted Nugent. They released four records to critical acclaim including The Rods (1981), Wild Dogs (1982), In the Raw (1983), Let Them Eat Metal (1984) and a live disc in ’84. They toured the UK extensively and opened for heavyweights like the above-mentioned Metallica, Iron Maiden and Judas Priest.

Canedy explained that after nearly twenty years the band have spent the past couple mending old wounds and learning to trust again. In 2005 they officially re-grouped and played several sold-out shows along the upstate college circuit. They also started writing and now have a fist-full of stunning compositions ready for release. However, tonight’s show will be a powerhouse run through many of their crowd favorites that pull mainly from their first two albums. This is their home turf and they are fired up on all cylinders. As the lights dim only the gargantuan drum set looms under the spotlight’s glow. A pounding rumble brings the band on stage to the signature riffing of “Born to Rock.”

My attention focused on Feinstein’s flame Gibson SG as he wailed away on landmark Wild Dogs classics “Burned by Love,” “Violation” and “The Night Lives To Rock.” His chain-saw action chewed through a roaring version of In the Raw’s “Hurricane" and the chugging “Too Hot to Stop.” With a gravel voice that matches his playing he revels in being loud, crass and perfectly metal while injecting stinging solos that leave a welt. Bassist Bordonaro swapped lead vocals on the higher registered songs like “Devil’s Child,” “Burned by Love” and “Waiting for Tomorrow.” What I love about a three piece is musically, there’s no place to hide. Each must carry their own weight and with The Rods, they do so effortlessly, plowing through each song like a raging locomotive. Their energy is boundless and has the crowd punching the air with every downbeat. One of the funnier moments was in Rock’s introduction to the teenage nightmare “Violation.” “This is a true story,” he says from the stage. “I’m not going to go into all the details ‘cause the lyrics say it all.”

From the Rods debut they lifted four songs including “Get Ready to Rock,” and “Nothing Going On” with hit singles “Crank It Up” and their tribute to the vibrator “Power Lover” in close succession. The last two had the audience in full hysteria almost knocking Rock from the stage. Canedy and Bordonaro make as tight a rhythm section as heard in head banging history. The bassist moves in time with his strutting groove while the drummer pummels the first five rows. Even the drum solo was entertaining ranging from the clobbering bass kick to textured fills loaded with cowbell. A couple surprises in the set include a reworking of “Hot City” called “Rock This City” and the thrilling encore of “Hold on for Your Life” where Rock and Bordonaro switch vocal leads.

The show was recorded for a future DVD with several cameras capturing different angles. [ed. - A raw snippet has already made it on YouTube, click here.] A must have when it’s released. Underrated in the past, the Rods prove they can still kick your teeth in, steal your girl friend and get you to buy a t-shirt just to remember the night they played your town. After the show I watched the band gather around a fan that had lost his sight. I over heard him say, “I don’t need to see you guys, what I feel when the three of you are on stage is enough.”

SET LIST: Born To Rock, Hurricane, Devil’s Child, Get Ready to Rock, Burned by Love, Too Hot To Stop, drum solo, Violation, Wait For Tomorrow, Nothing Going On, Rock This City, blues intro, Crank It Up, The Night Lives To Rock, Power Lover, Encore: Hold On For Your Life.

Website: The Rods