Tuesday, June 28, 2022

Why Enuff Z'Nuff Is THE Band to See Live

Photo by Alex Ruffini

It ain’t always easy being one of the best bands in Rock ‘n’ Roll.

As seen in this website’s coverage of Enuff Z’Nuff in recent years (links below), this long-running band is still out there releasing stellar albums decades after their late-’80s commercial heyday. Fronted for nearly a decade now by bassist/singer and sole original member Chip Z’Nuff, the quartet (completed by former Ultravox frontman Tony Fennell on guitar, drummer Daniel Hill and guitarist Tory Stoffregen) recently hit Laconia, NH on the Glam Slam Metal Jam Tour with Pretty Boy Floyd and The Midnight Devils. Thirty years ago, Enuff Z’ Nuff was on Arista Records and playing on Late Night with David Letterman. Now, the fellas are signed to an indie label in Italy and just played in the Granite State for about 30 people on a rainy (and surprisingly cold) June night. Now, there are plenty of still-running bands from the ’80s Glam Metal scene whose lack of substance deserves such a cruel fate, but Enuff Z’Nuff isn’t one of them.

While some releases in the band’s 20-plus album discography are stronger than others, these guys – regardless of the lineup – have never once written a bad song. And these aren’t just disposable Glam/Hair Metal songs, folks. At its best, Enuff Z’Nuff gives its Illinois brethren Cheap Trick a run for its money. Take a close listen to 1991’s Strength, a masterclass in Powerpop songwriting and an album that stands up to – and, in terms of quality, often eclipses – the most celebrated records of the decade. (There’s a reason why Rolling Stone named Enuff Z’Nuff “The Hot Band of 1991.”) Hell, if Nirvana hadn’t dropped Nevermind about six month after Strength’s release, there’s a very strong chance Enuff Z’Nuff would have ended up filling arenas instead of playing mostly to the bar staff in Nowhere, New England in 2022. Enuff Z’Nuff’s lack of long-lasting mainstream success is one of the biggest crimes in music history.

Fortunately, the small crowd size didn’t seem to matter in the slightest to Chip and Co., who delivered a flawless headline set that leaned heavily on Strength, 1989’s Enuff Z’Nuff and last year’s Beatles tribute album Hardrock Night with a couple of deep cuts (including “The Love Train” off 1993’s Animals with Human Intelligence) thrown in for good measure. Musically, the band was in top form. (Full marks to Hill, whose solid, meat-and-potatoes drumming kept the energy flowing throughout the set. Any band would be lucky to have him.)

Image has always been a blessing and a curse for Enuff Z’Nuff. The dayglo Glam of the classic video for 1989’s “New Thing” earned the group plenty of attention, but it also stuck the guys in time. Unfortunately, most music fans listen with their eyes first, which has made everything this band has done in the past 30-plus years an uphill climb. Interestingly, today’s Enuff Z’Nuff looks almost nothing like it did way back in the ’80s. Sure, Chip still dons the big sunglasses and dresses like an acid trip in corporeal form (and I love him for that!), but the rest of the band’s look is decidedly low-key. If anything, they look like any other bunch of nondescript musicians you’d find at a local club on a Saturday night – and this is actually a great thing. With the pomp and poses stripped away, the current incarnation of Enuff Z’Nuff has only the quality of its material to win over a crowd – and that is and has always been more than (ahem) enough.

Do yourself a favor and see this band live at your earliest opportunity. This is as real as music gets.

More on Chip Z'Nuff/Enuff Z'Nuff on This Site:

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