metal + hardcore
pop punk + alt-rock
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Fuel running on empty – Review

The Pennsylvania-based foursome Fuel records songs that sound fairly good on rock radio – the band has an impressive three-year string of hits lifted from its two major-label albums. In concert, though, it runs out of gas.

Fuel tries very hard to kick everyone’s ass ’70s style but comes across as little more than an eager garage band with very little originality to offer. There was much headbanging style in effect at the House of Blues with little musical or lyrical substance to back any of it up.

The band was led Saturday, the first of two sold-out shows, by singer-guitarist Brett Scallions, a sweating and spitting long-haired front man in the mold of Axl Rose and a young Ozzy Osbourne. The cocksure Scallions walked the walk in his well-worn Harley Davidson T-shirt, but his talk was never very convincing.

Newer songs, like the generic “Empty Spaces” and the sloppily rendered “Down,” taken from Fuel’s 2000 release “Something Like Human” (Epic), featured too many cliched lyrics (written for Scallions by guitarist Carl Bell), stage moves and guitar riffs to be taken seriously. “I know you’re tripping, while I kick you to the curb,” sang Scallions during the latter song.

The 90-minute show’s three-song encore was actually the evening’s most inspired segment. The semi-acoustic lover’s quarrel “Bad Day,” a recent single, was an engaging exercise in restraint from the band, while the smash radio hit “Hemorrhage (in My Hands),” with its less-than-subtle Elton John lyrical tease, closed the evening in housepleasing fashion.

Fuel will also perform Nov. 7 at the Anaheim House of Blues and Dec. 1 at Gotham’s Hammerstein Ballroom.

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