If Bruce Springsteen retired, Bryan Adams never came back and John Cougar Mellencamp went techno-pop, then Johnny Diesel & the Injectors, who headlined the Whisky on Tuesday, might really have a chance.
Diesel and his trio originated in Australia, but his Middle-American heartland rock is closer to Peoria than Perth. With a sax man wailing on the side, Diesel stormed through every Keith Richards chord and screaming guitar lead in the rock 'n' roll handbook as he wailed about the torments of love. But the most tension in the set was created by the 22-year-old Diesel's constantly breaking strings and switching guitars. This kid is really heavy-handed.
In a sense, Diesel and the Injectors are a classic case of rock 'n' roll journeyman ambition. It's an ambition that believes in a mythology whose real adventure and challenge were sucked out of it when it became a cliched symbol of rebellion. For bands of this ilk, it's not a matter of how predictable the approach is, but how much energy they can infuse into those tired old formats. In that respect, the energetic Diesel has fuel to burn. But if you're looking for challenging twists or a sense of adventure, then this rock 'n' roll status-quo show was running on empty.
Originality and innovation weren't the major concerns here. What really matters is that Diesel is young and cute and resembles Johnny Depp. And who knows? Even if he never quite reaches the heights of Bryan Cougar Springsteen, he could always become as big as Charlie Sexton.