My first recollection of hearing Krokus was from buying a tape in the early 80s of their 1978 album, Pay It In Metal. I’m pretty sure that hearing Screaming In The Night and Bedside Radio on the radio in those years prompted me to buy that tape. Plus it was only $1. That album is quite different than their 80s stuff and doesn’t include Storace. I bought The Blitz when it came out in ’84 and loved it. People slag Midnight Maniac but I think it’s a killer tune. I pretty love all of their 80s stuff but never got to see them back then. I remember in the late 90s or early 2000s that they were scheduled to play Jaxx in Springfield, VA (RIP) but something happened and they never made it over to the USA.
When I saw they were going to do to a small US tour, I knew I had to go. They scheduled dates in Houston, San Antonio and Dallas and I promptly bought tix for Houston and SA.
I got to Houston early in the day to beat the rush hour traffic, checked into my hotel and went to the venue to see if any of the guys were hanging out and to try and get The Book signed. Score. I got to meet Mandy Meier and Chris Von Rohr (only original and founding member) after their sound check. Chris was pretty funny. As he’s signing the book, he just looks up at me and says, “Can you find me a toothpick, please?” He handed the book back to me and I said I would. There were some folks there with stacks of vinyl and CDs and I could see in his face that he was getting punished by a few of those guys, especially this one dude that I have seen at a few Houston shows. The guy just wouldn’t move on after getting his stuff signed. Von Rohr just stopped paying attention to this dude’s inane ramblings. I came back a few minutes later with some toothpicks and handed them to Chris who stood up as the punisher was mid-sentence and said, “THANK YOU! You’re now my new tour manager.” I think it gave him a reason to just get up and diss that dude.
I ran into some friends right before the first band went on and hung with them most of the night. The opening band is touring with Krokus (same US mgmt). They were called The Chimpz and it was some sort of hip hop metal thing. I stayed outside. Horrible. Puerto Rico’s Red Tiger came up next and they were decent. The drummer and one of the guitarists both handled lead vocal duties and I preferred the drummer’s vocals. They’re pretty young and their sound is all over the hard rock/metal map, but I think they can likely dial it in. Love and War was up next and they’ve got a good Houston following. They’re super solid hard rock and the singer has a great vocal range. This was my second or third time seeing them.
Finally around 1130, it was time for Krokus. The show looked about 3/4 full. I was down in front on the rail for most of the set and it was hot down there. They come out and open with Long Stick Goes Boom and go right into their cover of American Woman. Blech. Never liked the original and never got into Krokus’ version. But the band was tight and Marc’s vocals sounded great. They mixed the short set up with some newer and older stuff, completely avoiding The Blitz album. There were a few older gems in there like Winning Man and Easy rocker but I’m still a bit surprised that in your first US show in 25 years, you don’t play Bedside Radio, Our Love, Fire, Midnight Maniac or even some of their other famous covers of Stayed Awake all Night, School’s Out and Ballroom Blitz. Don’t get me wrong, I say avoid covers when you have such a huge back catalog but oh well. They’ve been pretty good about putting albums out every 5 years or so. Lots of lineup changes.
Right after Screaming In The Night, I got out of the pit and listened to the rest of the show on the patio. They had the doors open and I could see and hear everything perfectly. It was hot inside and I needed some air and a cold beverage.
After the show, they did do a quick meet and greet and I got Marc to sign the book. There were a lot of people in line to meet them and I just shook hands, said thanks and moved on.
The show was great. I went to San Antonio to catch them on the second night, but because of their Fiesta traffic, I never made it in.
Click photos to enlarge.
To be honest, I was a latecomer to the works of Schenker and even the Uli era of the Scorpions. I never got exposed to it. It wasn’t until the mid-90s when a friend gave me his record collection that was filled with pristine copies of UFO, Scorpions and MSG that I was floored by the greatness of these bands. I had seen Schenker and Roth together in 2004 and was simply blown away. I do prefer the MSG stuff a little more than UFO just for its heaviness, but hearing someone play like that in the 70s was pretty groundbreaking.
The current lineup features Francis Buchholz and Herman Rarebell from the Scorpions along with Doogie White (Yngwie, Rainbow) and Wayne Findlay.
I opted for the pre-show meet and greet because I am a huge fan of Francis and Herman. What a solid rhythm section. The 7 of us got to sit in on soundcheck. Before getting the PA and everything in order, Schenker was just in front of his amp shredding at a low volume for about 45 minutes straight until the whole band was ready to check. Half of that time he was just doing hammer on/pull offs with no picking in between whatsoever. It was pretty impressive. He’s 60. Also a lot thinner than he was in 2004. It was interesting watching Michael, Wayne and Francis fixing a “mistake” that they were doing live. Michael asks Francis what note he’s playing in a certain part, Wayne disagrees, Michael agrees, they play it between themselves a few times and fix it. After the 4 song soundcheck, we got to hang out with the band, nerd out, get our stuff signed etc. There was a young couple who had just gotten married earlier in the day then came to the meet and greet. Pretty cool seeing such young fans of quality music. I was really mostly excited to meet Francis. When I picked up the bass in 2000, the Scorpions were one of the bands that helped me learn how to play. I had a great conversation about his red Fender bass and if he brings it on tour still. “It’s better left back home these days. It’s a ’66,” he said. He went on to tell me about his current Warwick endorsement and how they custom built 2 for him. He’s such a big guy that the Warwick looked tiny strapped to him. Herman was a pleasure to talk to as well. Before soundcheck, Doogie came over to where I was sitting and just started chatting. He must have been pretty bored. haha. I asked him about his first band, La Paz, and gave me a cool quick history. Unfortunately they weren’t listed in the book. I did have Francis and Herman sign on their photo.
Y&T were playing in the club next door and went on before Schenker, but I didn’t get back to the club in time to catch them. We purposely missed the openers but I caught a glimpse of the band that was on right before and saw the bassist all over the stage with crazy antics and thought that he looked like the former Schenker bassist, Rev Jones (Fort’e). It was him. He’s a bit annoying to watch but the guy can play. Too much over the top though.
Schenker and the band come on and open with Doctor Doctor. They sound great. I think Doogie is a good fit with them. They rolled into a new song called Live and Let Live then into Lights Out. The crowd was very into it. Schenker and UFO are huge in San Antonio. The set was filled with UFO, MSG and Scorpions songs. Michael’s playing was just stellar. His rhythm guitarist/keyboardist, Wayne Findlay, also provided great backing vocals. The whole band looked like they were having fun. It was a killer show. Now I need to see Y&T next time they’re around.
I also got a bonus signature in the book from original Devastation bassist, Alex Dominguez. Score!
Click images to enlarge.
It’s funny. Whenever I mention Bob Seger around friends, it’s always a reaction of love or hate. I really like most of everything I’ve heard by him sans a few songs, mainly Katmandu, Old Time Rock and Roll and Like a Rock. Even before Chevy picked that song up it annoyed me for some reason. I could stand never hearing Turn the Page again just because it’s a good song that’s been overplayed, not to mention the bastardized version that Metallica recorded. Horrid.
Upon getting to our floor seats, I noticed two drum sets on the stage which meant there was an opener. BUMMER. I didn’t sleep much the night before and even though I had a nap earlier at the hotel, I was still wiped out and the last thing I wanted to do was sit through an opener. It was Austin’s Heartless Bastards and were about as boring as I could imagine. Good on ’em for picking some shows on such a huge tour, but they just weren’t my thing at all.
Bob Hits the stage just a little after 9PM and opens with Roll Me Away from The Distance album and went right into the Otis Clay cover of Tryin’ to Live My Life Without You. I wasn’t familiar with either of them but the majority of the crowd was singng along to both. That crowd averaged in age about 50 years or more.
Fire Down Below came up next and that got the crowd even more energized. It was followed by a Steve Earle cover tune called The Devil’s Right Hand from his new album entitled Ride out. That album is Bob’s last according to him. He also played a John Hiatt tune from Ride out called Detroit Made.
They ran through most of the hits you’d expect and thankfully skipped Katmandu. I’ve always been a big fan of Against the Wind, Come to Poppa, Beautiful Loser, Night Moves and Especially Hollywood Nights. Bob’s songs sometimes tell great stories. Against the Wind and Hollywood Nights certainly evoked some great childhood memories and even some memories of good loves gone bad or bad loves gone worse. haha. I was really hoping to hear Still the Same, Even Now, You’ll Accomp’ny Me, Shame on the Moon and even more so Fire Lake. I adore that song.
Bob will be 70 this year but you’d never know it. He was all over the stage and his voice was in excellent shape. I was really surprised. Overall it was a great show minus two drunk couples in front of us that wouldn’t shut up the whole show.
Thanks for the memories and great songs, Bob.
When I saw that the Extreme Guitar Tour was coming through Houston, on a weekend night no less, I had to make arrangements to go. It was a tough drive since the Alice Cooper after party from the night before gave me a bad case of rock and roll pneumonia. haha
Opening the show was a Canadian band called Old James.I couldn’t quite get a bead on them. While I could tell that they were all proficient musicians, nothing sounded congruent. No hooks. They covered Thin Lizzy’s Cold Sweat but I couldn’t tell what it was until the chorus. I heard a few other folks say the same thing.
Black Knights Rising (BKR) is a bit of a supergroup featuring Tim “Ripper” Owens (Winter’s Bane, Judas Priest, Iced Earth, Yngwie Malmsteen, Dio Disciples and many more), Craig Goldy (DIO, Giuffria, Rough Cutt), Vinny Appice (Black Sabbath, DIO, Rick Derringer), Elliott Rubison (Uli Roth, MSG, CEO of Dean Guitars) and sometimes John West (Uli Roth, Royal Hunt, Artension). Based on the BKR Facebook page, Bobby Rondinelli was slated to take over drums after February 9th. That didn’t happen. Either way, both Bobby and Vinny are both in The Book, so I was set either way. The band comes out and opens with Death Alley Driver by Rainbow and they sound great. This show was the final night of he tour. Everything played was either by Deep Purple, Rainbow, Black Sabbath or DIO. John West came out and went back and forth vocally with Owens on Burn. They both sounded great! Highlight for me, though, was Stand Up and Shout. Vinny’s insane snare work always blew me away in that song and watching him that close live gave me a new appreciation for his playing. He’s still a beast. Goldy’s playing was spot on as well. Effortless player and I’m glad I finally got to see him live. Last time I saw Ripper live was on the Jugulator tour in Norfolk, VA.
Half of the crowd left after BKR. Seriously. Uli was up next and half of those folks left. I’m still shaking my head over that. His band is made up of John West, Elliott Rubison, Kofi Baker (son of Ginger Baker), David Klosinski (guitarist from one of the Sky Academy classes) and Allesandro Bertoni on keys. Uli opens with All Night Long then in to Sails of Charon. Holy crap. To finally see him playing these Scorpions classics live was a dream come true. His playing style is so fluid and relaxed. He almost looks bored up there. But even watching the old vids of Scorpions, he always has that look. Klosinski played rhythm guitar and did some harmony soloing with Uli and was spot on with it. How cool it must be to have Uli as a mentor. John West sounded great. There’s only one Klaus, and West wasn’t trying to imitate him. He was a great fit. Kofi’s drumming was great and you could tell that he and the band followed Uli’s every move. He directed some jams with the wave of a hand, a nod or just some quick eye contact. Seeing them play We’ll Burn the Sky and In Trance gave me goosebumps. Maybe even a little verklempt during Burn the Sky. I absolutely love that song. The final 3 songs were all Hendrix covers, which is not surprising. I’m not a Hendrix fan but respect his influence. He’s obviously very important to Uli. It was a great show.
After the show I got to meet Vinny and Goldy. They were both very inquisitive about the book. They signed on the DIO group photo that features both of them, so it was great that Vinny was there. I also broke my own “no selfie 2015″ rule. Uli was available, too, but I had met him in 2000 and he signed the book back then. It was also getting late and I was dog tired. Great seeing some friends there as well.