Dorian Grey's Rasťo Šulc on acoustic and Vadim Bušovský on lead guitar (supported by bass player Peťo Fórus and Boris Brna on skins) played to a packed pub on February 15. In this shot the boys are rocking out to Stairway to Heaven.
photo: Chris Togneri
Next shows: February 22, 29
Tickets: Free admission
Starts at: 19:00
Venue:Aligator Pub, Bratislava
Rock is not dead. In fact, it's alive and kicking in Slovakia thanks to a group of four mainly long-haired throwbacks to the 70's who refuse to let Deep Purple, Black Sabbath, AC DC and Yes (their main influence) be forgotten.
Dorian Grey is a Bratislava-based cover band that has been entertaining long-haired crowds of head-bangers in Nazareth and Black Sabbath T-shirts - the same crowd which descended upon Montana's Grizzly Bar in Bratislava to see the band on February 12 - for some seven years. The band has seen a number of changes through its history with the one constant being lead-guitarist Vadim Bušovský. But the addition of lead singer Rasťo Šulc five months ago may end up putting Dorian Grey on the local music scene map.
With Bušovský and Šulc, the band has all the earmarks of a real hard rock band. Šulc was likely accepted into the group because of his ability (and desire) to hit the higher and tougher notes in songs like Rock n' Roll by Led Zeppelin and AC DC's Highway to Hell. Although he occasionally has to feel his way through the English lyrics, the sheer power and range of his voice is the lasting impression.
Bušovský, meanwhile, appears to be the perfect aspiring hard-rocker. He has long, black hair and long thin arms covered with big tattoos. His wardrobe - jeans and an unbuttoned black vest with no shirt underneath - also fits the role to a tee.
But image aside, the real question was whether he could play - and the answer was a resounding yes. Confident of his skills, he was thankfully not shy about cutting loose on many long solos. The highlight of the show, and of the band for that matter, was Bušovský.
The evening began with an acoustic set, the first song being Wild World by Cat Stevens - not your typical lead by a hard rock cover band, but enjoyable nevertheless. Then Bušovský reeled off three straight Clapton guitar songs, White Room, Cocaine, and Before You Accuse Me. The acoustic solos were excellent, and refreshing in that few Slovak cover bands play acoustic sets.
But the real test came in the band's fourth and final set: Jimi Hendrix's version of Red House. Fearing Bušovský would shy away from the extended solo in the middle of the song, I was proven wrong when he launched into a smooth and long (but still too short for my liking) guitar groove which was greeted with howling applause.
The rock-hungry crowd was served a steady diet of the classics as well as a few newer tunes. Cream, Zeppelin, ACDC, Deep Purple and Sabbath were all frequently covered as were the likes of ZZ Top and Lenny Kravitz. The crowd favourite of the night was Speed King, which was so well received the band played it twice.
And what about the band's name? Dorian Grey, the evil hero of Oscar Wilde's The Picture of Dorian Grey, was a dissolute young man who kept a painting of himself hidden in his house; while the image in the painting aged and showed the scars of life, Dorian himself never changed.
So does the name Dorian Grey symbolise the music the band covers? Or does it capture the ephemeral nature of life, the idea that cover bands come and go but rock will always persevere? "No, no, it just shows that we have two faces," said lead singer Šulc. "All night we play hard rock and then during the day we sleep." A very Spinal Tap answer.
Dorian Grey is scheduled to play the Aligator Bar in Bratislava on February 22 and 29 at 19:00, as well as a gig at Steps Pub in Trenčín on February 24.
21. Feb 2000 at 0:00 | Chris Togneri