After yours truly was unceremoniously tossed out of the makeshift basement that passed for a rock venue before getting to see RAVEN this past Monday for simply the act of existing, or according to the inbred buffoon who tossed me, not meeting certain ideological benchmarks and being too much of a heterosexual male, I needed my weekly gig fix. After all, as Biff Byford once sang, “I’ve gotta rock to stay alive!”

That Saturday, there was either the $6 KISS tribute show at a slightly classier makeshift basement that passed for a rock venue, where some of the same urban hipsters in denim vests and bullet belts who were at the Raven gig would be LARPing like it’s 1985, or there was the free VIXEN show in the parking lot of an Irish pub in downtown Detroit set up by our local classic rock station 94.7 WCSX, which would be attended by overweight blue collar rockers who were actually there in 1985. The choice was obvious. And, before you say that there would probably be more cute drunk chicks at the Kiss tribute show, keep in mind these are urban hipster chicks who pretend that “MeToo” also existed in 1985.

I actually had to do some homework before writing this up, because, believe it or not, I’m not the Vixen aficionado I appear to be. So, who is actually in Vixen, you ask? There’s the lovely Britt Lightning, who is one year younger than me and obviously not the original guitarist. That was Jan Kuehnemund, who sadly died from cancer nine years ago. There’s singer Lorraine Lewis, who is definitely not younger than me but is also not an original member, taking the place of Janet Gardner, who appears to be alive and well, and has actually released a couple of solo albums in the past few years. And there’s bassist/vocalist Share Ross and drummer Roxi Petrucci from the classic lineup.

In spite of having a gargantuan discography of four studio albums to play songs from, it would appear that Vixen chose to stick with material from the first two,
Vixen (1988) and Rev It Up (1990); probably because their third, Tangerine (1998), was an obvious 90s alternative rock cash-in, and their fourth album, Live & Learn (2006), was done by an entirely different Vixen lineup with original guitarist Jan Kuehnemund and nobody who is currently in the band right now. They also didn’t do any of their songs from the 1984 teen sex comedy Hardbodies, where they appeared as a GO-GO’s inspired pop band called Diaper Rash; but that was probably assumed.

Vixen was lively and energetic during their 80 or so minute set. I’m not really familiar with their material, but I know for a fact they played their pop-metal hit “Edge of a Broken Heart”, which is one of many songs from their first album that was written by outside writers. Not surprisingly, the lesser known deeper cuts were definitely more rockin’ and less poppy; much of their material isn’t the pop-metal which gave them the unfortunate nickname of the “female BON JOVI.” If my ears didn’t deceive me, they played “Cruisin’” and “Love Is a Killer”, and bassist Share Ross sang one song as well. They also covered the TED NUGENT classic “Stranglehold”; and in these days of stifling political correctness, I’ll always applaud a band of broads who jam the Nuge!

After the set was done, I moseyed on down to the merch table under the naïve impression that perhaps Vixen would have some new album or something that they’re out promoting; after all I didn’t know their material enough to know they were only playing old songs. Instead, they just had a bunch of $30 t-shirts with photographs of them from the 80s. Ah well. But what I find truly puzzling about Vixen is that, if they formed in 1980, played a whole lot of gigs before getting signed, and then put out their first album, the majority of which was written by outside songwriters rather than band members, in 1988, wouldn’t they have amassed a fairly robust collection of original material? Why do they have so few albums out?  Why aren’t they more active? Why do they pretend to be an active band when they haven’t released a studio album in fifteen years? I dunno, it’s too much to think about.

If you want more, this vid is pretty informative, if a little tedious on the "feminist" angle.

Edwin Oslan
Revenge of Riff Raff
5th November, 2021
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