The Metal Files

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The Eagles Concert Review, San Antonio, TX, October 15, 2014

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eaglesThroughout the 70s, the Eagles were everywhere. You couldn’t get away from them at all. They were played on the country and rock stations. They made millions. Snorted and drank away millions as well. To say I was a huge fan back then would be a big exaggeration. I’d easily say I like them more now than I did back then. My oldest brother, Mark, was more into country and southern rock than the heavier stuff that Robert and I were in to. In 79 or 80, I remember him bringing home The Long Run LP. Something about that album caught me. It’s easily my favorite by the band and I spun Mark’s copy dozens of times over the years. I Can’t Tell You Why is my favorite Eagles song of all time with King of Hollywood, In The City and Take It To The Limit rounding out the top list. I knew In The City from The Warriors movie which I saw in a drive in theater a year or so prior to this album coming out.

I never saw them live before and when they toured in 94-96 for Hell Freezes Over, I was pretty much disinterested in seeing anything non-metal related.

Then The History Of The Eagles documentary started airing on Showtime. I watched it a good 10 times. I love band documentaries and this is one of the best I’d ever seen. It rekindled my interested in the band and I went back through and started listening to the back catalog again, pre-Long Run as that one is always in rotation with me.

When they announced the “History” tour, I missed getting tickets to the Dallas show and was a bit disappointed until the second leg of the tour got announced and they scheduled a date at the AT&T Center in San Antonio. Sweet! I got tickets a little later in the day that they went on sale and didn’t get good seats at all, but I didn’t care that much; I just wanted to be there. So I got 4 tickets for my friend Gordon, his wife and whatever friend I decided to take. For this show it was Margarita. She’s a good concert companion and lives on the way to the venue.

We get to the venue around 7:15 but it took us almost 40 minutes to just get into the parking lot. It was a pain in the ass but we got in the venue, hit the bathrooms, grabbed a beer and went up to our seats, side stage damn near the top of the venue. I’m not afraid of heights, but these seat locations were a bit up there. One wrong move standing up and losing balance and you could easily roll down some rows over people. I wonder how often it happens during Spurs games there. The seats up there weren’t comfortable in the least. We were right on top of each other with zero leg room. I’ve sat in lower sections there and it’s much better. Lesson learned.

Then the lights go down and there’s Glen Frey on stage with an acoustic guitar. He goes right in Saturday from the first album. Bernie Leadon comes out and sings Train Leave Here Tomorrow Morning and little by little the other remaining members come out…Don Henley, Timothy B Schmidt and Joe Walsh.

They played 12 songs to start with ending that set with Take It To The Limit with Frey on vocals as Randy Meisner is obviously not in the band now. The entire band sounded 100x better than I expected a bunch 65+ year old guys to sound. I was utterly blown away by that. Guitar playing was spot on as well. During the break I decided to grab a tshirt. They had 2 designs that I liked so I bought them both. Expensive but whatever, I love black concert shirts with tour dates on the back. BUT WAIT. Where’s San Antonio on this list? I got back in line to get a refund as SA was not on there. The lady looked through all of the other shirts and couldn’t believe SA wasn’t listed. Then she refunded my cash. Unfortunately during that time, they played I Can’t Tell You Why. NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO! Khaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaan! Schmidt sounded incredible; I just wish I had seen it. *sigh* My buddy was working one of the other merch booths and apparently some of the shirts did have SA listed. I think he grabbed one for me.

Best as I could tell, the band didn’t sound tuned down at all to help with the vocals. Even if they were a half step down, it was still impressive. Timothy, Don and Joe all sounded like they hadn’t lost anything. Glen’s voice was a little hoarse when they started and he even mentioned it at the beginning, but he still sounded fine. If there was a high note he knew he couldn’t hit, he just didn’t try. Respectable. But the other guys were nailing the high harmonies.

I never realized how big Joe Walsh’s hands were. I swear they looked like gorilla hands and they just swallowed the guitars he was playing. He’s listed online as 5’10” but looks a lot bigger. They played Pretty Maids All In A Row, In The City, Life’s Been Good and Funk 49 in the 2nd set and it was impressive. First encore was Hotel California and we took the decision that in the 2nd encore (after looking at the setlist online) to leave. They started Take It Easy and we bailed. We missed Rocky Mountain Way (blech!) and Desperado (the reprise was played earlier, so we got a taste of it). It was a good decision. We got out and onto the highway home fast.

Side note: walking in, security staff said no pictures or video allowed and it was announced a few times before the show started. It was nice not staring into everyone’s cellphones all night.

Another great show with great friends.

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Written by The Metal Files

October 16, 2014 at 2:37 pm

On this day in 1985…Scream for me, Long Beach!

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LaDI remember going to the Music Man at Military Circle Mall in 1985 to buy this.  It was a rare trip in that I was out with both of my older brothers who were 21 and 23 (I was 15).  Neither of them were living at home at the time and I don’t even really remember why we all went out together, but glad we did.  The Music Man was a great locally owned shop in a mall in Norfolk, VA.  I bought lots of stuff there over the years and even worked there 1991-1992.  That was pretty special.  RIP.

When Powerslave came out, it quickly became and still remains my favorite album of all time.  Interviews from the tour kept saying that there would be a subsequent live album and that made me happy.  What a live album it was!

Aside from hearing many of my favorite Maiden tracks, the liner notes were jammed packed with tour stats…all of the dates, drumsticks used, guitar strings used, etc.

Tonight I’ll watch the DVD…again.  UP THE IRONS!

Written by The Metal Files

October 14, 2014 at 7:26 am

Lizzy Borden Concert Review, San Antonio, TX, August 16, 2014

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Last night marked the third time since 2001 that I’ve seen Lizzy Borden.  I’ve been a fan since being introduced to them via their first EP.  They’re currently touring on the “30 Years of American Metal Tour” and last night was the 3rd of three shows in Texas.  One of my lifelong friends lives in San Antonio so I picked him up before the show and we headed to Fitzgerald’s after grabbing some Thai food.  We missed the first band and stayed outside on the patio during the second band.  Not my thing.

James Rivera’s Metal Asylum came on next playing songs from many of the bands that’s been involved in over his career as well as some of his favorite cover songs.  The sound in this venue was horrible and I’m not sure that it was equipment issues.  Beyond the huge shows at the AT&T Center and Alamo Dome, every bar gig that I see in San Antonio sounds like shit.  Last night was no different.  Rivera sounded good through most of his set, but it did seem that he was having trouble hearing himself.  Between going in and out during most of his set, it was enjoyable.

While on the patio during the second band, I saw Lizzy and his bassist, Marten, by their RV and spoke to them for a minute.  Lizzy asked how the crowd was and I told him, “Maybe 100, probably a little less.”  He looked disappointed.  By the time that they came on stage, a lot of the crowd had already left.  I figured that would happen as a lot of the crowd was there to see Rivera as he’s still very popular in Texas.

Lizzy came on and the sound issues continued through his set.  I stood up front for much of the show but moved around to gauge the mix and it was just awful.   Nonetheless, the band was solid although I was surprised to see them with only one guitarist which happened to be Ira Black who has notably played with Metal Church and Vicious Rumors as well as being on the last Lizzy album.  He played well but some of the guitar harmony stuff was noticeably absent.  Lizzy did costume and mask changes between every song which got a little tedious.  I’d love to see him just do a tour with no makeup.  Maybe I’m just getting old but I don’t need the theatrics to keep me interested in a band or their show.  His music stands on its own for me.  But that’s his thing, so be it. It was good to see them again and I really liked watching Marten’s bass work.  He’s good.

It was a fun show and a great night with one of my best friends.  And for the record, Lizzy and drummer Joey Scott (Lizzy’s brother) signed The Book in 2001 back in Norfolk.

Ragnarokkr Metal Apocalypse 2015 Update

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Plain and simple, this is the best true metal festival in the USA.  The list of bands so far for the 2015 festival is killer.  It’s already nearly sold out, so if you plan on going, get your tickets now.  This will be Warlord’s first ever USA show!  This also marks the return of my band, Eternal Champion, to Chicago to play the main stage this year.  Other highlights for me will be Attacker and High Spirits.  If you haven’t heard them yet, you’re doing yourself a real disservice.  Great straight up hard rock/metal.

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Firefall Concert Review, Austin, TX, July 25, 2014

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I’ve been a Firefall fan since the 70s.  AM Gold from Mom’s car radio or in the house.  I love a lot of this 70s rock and obviously Firefall is no exception.  I’ve never seen them although I’ve had plenty of opportunities over the years.  It needs to be stated that Strange Way is one of my favorite songs ever.  The simple keyboard part in the chorus just makes that song intense for me.

Last night’s show was at the One World Theatre on the outskirts of Austin.  It’s a small venue (400ish?), all seated and not a bad seat in there.  It’s a non-profit venue and I love seeing shows there, although they are always a bit more expensive.   I didn’t make the decision to go last night until just a few hours before the show started.  After doing some quick research of the band members, I saw that their bassist, Mark Andes, was in Heart during the 80s, and Spirit and Canned Heat in the 70s.  I looked him up in The Book and he’s listed with Randy California, so that solidified my decision to go to the show.

The band hits the stage and I was a curious as to how they’d sound vocally with all of them being in their 60s.  That curiosity was quickly satisfied.  Those dudes can still sing.  Non-original guitarist/singer, Steven Weinmeister, nailed the high vocal singing duties.  He’s been in the band since 93.  Original members Jock Bartley, David Muse and Mark Andes all sounded great vocally and Jock’s guitar solos were killer.  Solid drummer, Sandy Ficca, has been in the band since 85.   The band just nails it.

I was happy to finally hear Strange Way live, but also Cinderella and Mexico.  They told cool stories about playing Austin in the 70s as well as playing on Austin City Limits.  I had a huge smile on my face the whole show, albeit it was a short set.  At the end, they said to hang out and they’d meet everyone afterwards.  Everyone came out except for David Muse.  I did speak to him at the stage right after.  That guy is a killer saxophonist and flutist.  Sitting in on percussion with Firefall was One World Theatre executive director, Hartt Stearns.  That was obviously not his first time playing percussion and was quite impressive.

After the show I met Mark Andes and as usual I get, “What book is this?”  and “Why am I listed in here?”  haha.  I showed him the Randy California page and he smiled and said, “Wow, that was a long time ago.”  He signed the book, we spoke for a minute about his years with Heart and I moved on.  The rest of the band was sitting at a table signing autographs and taking pics and I had the rest of them, sans Muse, sign my ticket.  Cool dudes and they were all in good spirits.

 

Motley Crue & Alice Cooper Concert Review, Cedar Park, TX, July 15, 2014

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Last night marked the second time I’ve seen Motley Crue (1989) and Alice Cooper (1996).  Crue was OK that night…better to say that the band was just fine, but Vince Neil wasn’t.  He’s been awful the 2 times since then that I’ve seen him with his solo band.  Cooper’s show back then was awesome as expected.  I’m not the biggest Crue fan and really only like the first 2 albums, but they do put on a decent show.  I pretty much love all Alice Cooper.

Crue announced recently that they were calling it quits for good and that they signed some sort of silly contract stating that there would be no more Crue shows after this tour.  We’ll see.  I probably wouldn’t have gone to see this had it not been announced that Alice Cooper was opening.  DONE AND DONE.  I got the presale code from Alice’s website and scored decent seats in the front center section of the relatively new Cedar Park Center.

My close friend, Trans Am (TA), and I arrived around 6PM and I was surprised at how small the venue was from the outside.  It’s pretty small inside, too.  But it’s really cool.  Not really many bad seats in the place.  We hung out in the parking lot for a few then made our way in.  We both ran into a ton of folks we know, of course.  This is the type of show that you’d see pretty much everyone you know.  We found out last minute that there was an opening band.  They weren’t worth mentioning.  zzzzzzzz.

Cooper’s front curtain goes up and his intro music begins.  We rush back into the venue, the curtain drops and they open with Hello Hooray.  Alice sounded great.  He’s not young but he still moves around like he is and his voice is still quite strong.  Since he was the opener, his set wasn’t that long but he played some of my faves like Billion Dollar Babies and Ballad of Dwight Fry.  Killer and I love the Dead were only partials which is unfortunate.  With From the Inside being my favorite Cooper album, of course I wanted some songs from that, but such is life.  His band was solid and his drummer, Glen Sobel, was awesome.  That’s no surprise since Alice never hires any slouches for his band.  They close with School’s Out and that was that.  The crowd was into it and Cooper just sounded so good.  I really hope he does another headlining tour.  I’ll travel for it if I have to.

Crue hits the stage and opens with Saints of Los Angeles.  Lots of lights for this show.  They move right into Wild Side and Primal Scream.  I will admit that Vince sounded better than I had heard in recent years…at least for the first 3/4 of the show.  The band sounded solid although I thought their mix was a little muddy.  I think that may have been on purpose.  Mick was relatively mobile, surprisingly.  The show was obviously done with backing tracks as I heard lots of rhythm guitars that weren’t being played by Mick.  Lots of additional vocal tracks beyond Vince and Nikki and the newer version of the old Nasty Habits backing singers.  On With the Show, Too Young To Fall In Love and Too Fast for Love were highlights for me.  By the time they started playing Shout at the Devil, Vince’s voice started to give out.  He’s always been good at letting the crowd sing a lot for him and last night was no different.

They had lots of pyro which was pretty cool.  Nikki had a flamethrower bass set up that was fun…and hot.

Overall the show was good and we had a blast.  What a great venue, too.  Next month I’m seeing Chicago and REO Speedwagon there.

 

 

KISS & Def Leppard Concert Review, Austin, TX, July 12, 2014

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Last night I saw KISS and Def Leppard for the first time.  I still have to process that in my head.  I still really can’t think of a legitimate reason on why I didn’t go see KISS in the 80s.  They were the first band I ever loved.  No matter.  I saw them last night.  Not seeing Def Leppard before is easy to explain.  Hysteria came out and I hated what they became.  I first heard them when Pyromania came out when Stephanie S. had the cassette on my middle school bus and let me borrow it.  I liked that album a lot.  Shortly after I heard the first two and thought those were even better.  But Hysteria just didn’t do it for me.  I will say, however, that I have the utmost respect for Rick Allen for coming back after losing his arm. It was also cool to finally see Vivian Campbell live, even though he wasn’t playing any of his own stuff.

As I have stated many times, my brother, Robert, was a huge influence musically on me at a very young age and when he brought home Dressed to Kill, I was hooked.  But with KISS, everyone loved them.  My oldest brother, Mark, was also a big fan.  I can remember the three of us sitting around listing to Rock and Roll Over in the 70s and those times will always remain special to me.

KISS played the Frank Erwin just a couple of years ago and I still didn’t go.  I think in recent years the fact that they have Tommy and Eric in Ace’s and Peter’s makeup bothers me.  When the show at the Austin360 Amphitheater got announced, my friend and coworker “G” and I decided to go ahead and pull the trigger and get tickets.  We’ve known each other since I moved to Texas as he was my first boss here.  He switched companies and after 7 years, we ended up working together on a current project.  It’s great for both of us most of the folks on this project aren’t cool.  haha.  We get along well and and have become good friends over the last 14 months.  He brought his wife, Ms. G, to the show and I brought my friend Lauren who accepted my offer to go just the day before the show when my original date fell through at the last minute.

Canada’s Kobra and the Lotus were on when we were walking in so I never actually got to see them play but they sounded fine from a distance.

We grabbed drinks and found our seats right in time for Def Leppard to hit the stage.  The Who’s Won’t Get Fooled Again was playing when the curtain dropped and DefLep played it live to end the song.  They promptly went into Let It Go and I was happy.  Great song.  They mixed the set up with a decent mix of High N Dry, Pyromania and Hysteria and one from Adrenalize (gross).  The whole band sounded excellent and Joe Elliot’s voice sounded good.  He made no effort to hit the notes he knew he couldn’t hit and that was cool.  Their set overall was enjoyable, even with many of the songs being from Hysteria.  I only liked the title track on that one.

You wanted the best, You got the best!

KISS came out opening with Psycho Circus and I was glad to see that one get out of the way early.  They went into Deuce, Shout It Out Loud and War Machine and I have no problem admitting to being a little choked up.  KISS means a lot to me historically.  They sounded great.  Sure, Gene and Paul’s voices aren’t what they used to be, but those dudes are in their 60s and still sound strong.  Paul looked in great shape.  He’s obviously working out these days as his arms are quite muscular.  Gene’s playing was fine and of course Eric and Tommy were spot on.  Consummate pros.

Towards the end of the set, they go into Love Gun and Paul flies up to a platform that was about 15′-20′ from our seats.  It was quite amazing to be that close.  He was about to go into Black Diamond and there was a quick lull in his speaking and I screamed out, “We love you, Paul!”  He looked right over at me and said, “I love you, but you gotta represent!” and then went right into Black Diamond.  It was quite awesome.  Right at the 8 minute mark of this video.  You can’t hear me but you can hear Paul respond.

During KISS’ set, G tapped my shoulder and said look up.  We saw 2 lights moving fast that were close together in the sky that split apart and then just disappeared.  Granted, the venue is right next to the airport, but it was a little odd.  Definitely not a commercial liner and with the lights just disappearing on a clear  night, it was a bit odd.

The whole show was quite special and I couldn’t be much happier right now.  It was another great night with great friends and great music.

KISS FOREVER

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