Empire (UK), September 1996

Most Non-Triumphant...

by Caroline Westbrook

Keanu Reeves brings his long-awaited band Dogstar to the capital. Caroline Westbrook turns squealing teen for the evening...

THE SHEPHERD's BUSH EMPIRE, in West London, is a venue normally home to a mix of grizzled rock stars out for credibility, and precociously talented chart-hoggers. But July 16 was a different story. For appearing tonight was Keanu Reeves' band Dogstar and their not-so-unique brand of moody grunge rock.

Their one-off London gig was, as might be expected, an affair of the sell-out variety, with the venue populated by nigh hysterical teens eager to catch a glimpse of Reeves indulging in the axe-thumping that he selected over a $7 million pay cheque to appear in Speed 2.

However, the show itself proved to be a strangely muted affair. Arriving on stage ten minutes late, with the crowd having been whipped into a frenzy at the anticipation of seeing a real live film star, Reeves's debut was greeted with the sort of ear-splitting shriekery, unison knicker-dampening etc. normally reserved for a Boyzone gig. But any suggestion that he would bound enthusiastically on stage was quickly scotched as the bearded, black-clad, newly-slender would-be rocker briefly acknowledged the audience (i.e. looked up), strapped on his bass and appeared to spend the best part of 50 minutes rooted firmly to one spot.

Leaving all the hard work to singer Bret Domrose, the threesome thwacked their way through a selection of Dogstar's finest - a competent but peculiar hybrid of U2 and soundtrack faves The Gin Blossoms, only nowhere near as good as either. And while Domrose raced about the stage, posed in his leather trousers and shook his blond mop dramatically over his face at regular intervals, his more famous bassist remained rigid, calmly thumping away at his instrument, head bowed and seemingly oblivious to the gargantuan crowd who had turned up just to hang on to his every word, and the ever diminishing squeals as one remarkably similar number merged into another.

In the event, the whole show - encores and all - lasted just under an hour, and the hotly anticipated stage invasion was completely absent, with not one person brave enough to defy the bouncers and hop on stage to plant a smacker on their loved one. Only at the end did Reeves finally step up to the mike to say his piece, but, scuppered by technology, the microphone sputtered a bit and amplified its last, rendering the star's thank-yous inaudible to all but the man tuning the guitars at the side of the stage.

On such evidence, quitting the day job would he a tad inadvisable....

Article Focus:



Dogstar , Speed 2

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