I can’t remember when I first saw 7 Seconds. I can tell you it was in the later part of the 80’s and I can tell you it was at the Phantasy Nite Club in Lakewood. Outside of that I got nothing. I can tell you about the first time I heard one of their records. I was dating this punk rock girl who lived in Rocky River and she put on a record called Walk Together Rock Together. I think her name was Sue or Susan or some form of Sue. I am pretty sure at the time the most punk rock I got as a 15 year old boy was listening to the Sex Pistols, Public Image and Billy Idol’s Generation X. She had a crappy yellow turntable, that matched her dyed near florescent hair. It sounded pretty shitty but the coolest thing I had ever heard in my life up to that point came on blaring through that mini speaker. It was song 3 on side A. It was a cover of Nena’s popular hit “99 Red Balloons”. My life changed. We played the fuck out of that record. She turned me on to all kinds of punk and hardcore music during our 3 month summer teenage relationship that consisted of making out, riding our bikes to the record shop, and listening to records. 7 Seconds, was my first. They remain a favorite.
Over the course of the next almost 30 years I would continue to follow the band musically. I would see them on a couple more occasions then the albums started getting more and more sporadic. In 1986 they released New Wind. I saw them on that tour, I think at the Phantasy. I had friends that named their band “The Inside” after one of the tracks on that record. That record was another life changer for me. I had seen some rock and roll concerts before that, but seeing the energy they had on that tour was nothing short of amazing. It made me want to listen to music. It made me want to be up on a stage making that beautiful noise.
So fast forward to 2014, July 30th. 7 Seconds came back to Cleveland and played at the Grog Shop. I missed the first band. I think I saw the end of locals Fuck You Pay Me which was pretty entertaining. The Copyrights from outside of Chicago opened up. They weren’t really my thing. A pop punk 4 piece that the younger crowd was really into. I could see me liking these guys in my teens. I get the sound, but that pop punk stuff just doesn’t do much for me anymore.
7 Seconds took to the stage around 11pm and broke right into “Still Believe”. Fronted by Kevin Seconds on vocals, Steve Youth on Bass, Troy Mowat on drums and and Bobby Adams on guitar these guys can still fucking bring it. We are talking about some 50 year old rockers here that brought more energy than kids half their age to the Grog that night. The set list was damn close to or more than 25 songs that covered a 30 year career. Did they play my favorite song? No, that’s okay though I heard about 10 other songs I hadn’t heard live in over 10 years. The crowd was absolutely loving every single note that they played.
Seconds would break throughout the set to reminisce on previous Cleveland shows, getting multiple teeth knocked out in our city for some reason. If he was breaking to get some air you never would have known because the fucker has more energy than I do. His voice was as good as ever, and unlike many “aging” touring acts they still sound the same. The bass pumps, the guitar is fast, and Mowat is an absolute machine on the drums. I can’t tell you my disappointment seeing some other touring acts that might as well go to the lounge circuit because their shit sounds dated and ready for the retirement home. I remember seeing the Jesus and Mary Chain not too long ago and I felt like I was in a nursing home somewhere on the outskirts of Boca in Florida. When you phone it in it shows. This concert took me back to the 80’s. I’m older, they are older but the music and the message remain the same. 7 Seconds still can put on one hell of a show. They never gave up, never sold out and continue to spread a positive hardcore message to generations.
The new album Leave a Light On is a testament to the fact 7 Seconds still has staying power. The first couple singles, “slogan on a Shirt”, and “My Aim is You” are pretty incredible and note for note this album is just as good as anything they put out in the last 30 years. The sound is more adult, still takes the perquisite jab at authority, and the establishment and comes across in the end with the message that they have been singing about for years that it is cool to be yourself. I am not sure if they can go another 30 but I’ll keep buying the records and going to the shows. I intend to be Young Till I Die, this music helps.
On a side note the photos here are from the talented Ken Blaze. He is one of the best live concert photographers in the area. Scratch that, he’s just one of the best photographers in the area. You can check out the whole set over at http://kenblaze.4ormat.com/ I made a deal, I played mosh pit blocker so he could take some good snaps. In exchange I have some killer shots from the show.