Published Aug 11, 2009Ask anyone to describe Fred and Toody Cole of Portland, OR's Pierced Arrows and you will likely get some variation of the following: "They're old, man. Like, really old. Kind of gnarly looking, but still totally rock." Indeed, with a music career beginning in the mid-'60s, Fred Cole is entering Rolling Stones territory, and Toody's been with him most of the way, most notably in the monumental Dead Moon, which played their last gig in 2006.
Having formed Pierced Arrows with new drummer Kelly Halliburton shortly after Dead Moon's demise, there's no denying that the Coles show their age. Fred's voice sounds as if he's been gargling with Drano for years, and Toody, while her singing is startlingly clear, fainted during a performance earlier this year at Vancouver's Railway Club.
So are Pierced Arrows little more than some novelty act, to be gawked at by a hipster culture that values youth above all else? The answer is emphatically no. These guys still bring it — hard. Their age may add something intangible to what is otherwise fairly straightforward hard rock, but at this Biltmore show, nobody cared.
As Pierced Arrows confidently strode through tracks from their 2008 debut full-length Straight to the Heart, as well as a hefty amount of new material, the trio were both weathered and youthful, riding the visceral rush that only heavier music can provide. A crowd that had been fairly indifferent to the R&B-inflected garage rock of local Vancouver openers Thee Manipulators and to the Runaways-worshipping punk of Vapid, slowly shuddered into motion like an old diesel engine as Pierced Arrows hit their stride.
Lined up side by side with Halliburton's kit directly at the front of the stage, Pierced Arrows helped everyone in attendance forget the spectre of age for awhile, especially those of us who may be getting on in years. After all, if the Coles are still rocking out, we have lots of time, right?