The Metal Files

My Life. My Music. Your Voyeurism.

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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Lionel Richie Concert Review, Austin TX, July 10, 2014

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Lionel Richie came back to Austin last night to play the Austin360 Amphitheater at the Circuit of the America’s racetrack.  Last time I saw him was during SxSW 2012 at the Moody Theater.  Last night’s show blew it away even though the SxSW show as a bit more intimate.

CeeLo Green opened up and put on a good set with a great mostly female back up band.  The drummer was incredible.  He did a lot of covers, but only seemingly doing parts of them.  He did Rod Stewart’s Do Ya Think I’m Sexy but not the whole thing.  Mid set, he tells the band to just jam on something and everyone looked a bit confused and just started jamming.  We could see CeeLo side stage sitting down and he looked sick.  You could tell something wasn’t right.  After a few minutes, he came back out, put on his game face and finished the set.  It was enjoyable, I was surprised.

Then came Lionel.  He’s still got it.  His voice sounds amazing and he’s in physically good shape.  Running and jumping around.  Add to it his between song banter, obviously scripted, but still effective.  He’s a pretty funny guy.  They were about to go into Endless Love and he said he had invited Diana Ross to come sing it with him.  The band motion towards side stage and started clapping and had everyone duped that she was coming out.  He stated that the two of them had actually never performed the song live together but I found a vid or 2 of it on YouTube.  They played the song, but only the first verse and chorus with the crowd doing Ross’ parts.   And while the whole set was great, highlights for me were Truly and Sail On.  They closed with We are The World and I’m pretty sure there was a typo on the lyric banner overhead (see pic below).

It was a fun show with a gorgeous friend.  Can’t wait to see him again!

 

Pentagram Concert Review, Austin, TX July 4, 2014

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This past weekend American Icon Records (AIR) put on their inaugural 2 day music festival at The Mohawk in downtown Austin.  AIR is run by my pal, Johnny Gaylon, and by all looks, this was a successful thing for him.  My main reason for wanting to go, friendship aside, was to see my pals in Pentagram play again.  Victor Griffin has rejoined the band and it’s always a treat to see him play.  He’s a damn good player and has written some of my favorite metal riffs.

Pentagram was scheduled to play on July 4th and I planned my day around that.  I befriended the band in 2010 when I ran into them on the street before their show at Emo’s.  Added bonus for that day show was to finally see War Master live as well as seeing my friends in The Bulemics and Venomous Maximus.

I arrived at the venue around load in time and got to hang out with Bobby for quite a while in the green room.  It’s always an interesting conversation with him in 1000 different directions.  He reminds me of my brother (RIP) a bit.  I sit through sound check and they sounded great.  We head back up to the green room and they take off to go rest up before the show.

Brothers Collateral opened up the show and they sounded great.  Instrumental stonerish 4 piece band that had some really cool guitar harmony parts setting them a little differently than most of the stuff in the genre.  Venomous Maximus laid it down solidly as always.  I was really looking forward to seeing War Master, mainly because their bassist is a very good friend of mine.  I’ll be honest when I say I’m not the biggest fan of death and black metal.  I’m very limited to what I like in those genres.  But War Master was great.  If I can understand your singer, you’re halfway there with me and I could get most of what he was yelling at us.  The guitars were good and solid and thankfully JT plays solos.  I see some death and thrash and black metal bands with 2 guitarists but no one plays solos.  That’s not very metal!  Add in that TA on bass is always solid and fun to watch.  Then that drummer.  What a beast!  Seriously, this guys is awesome.  I really hope something good happens to this band.  They’re back on the road again for the next 2-3 weeks I believe.  Go see them.  I caught part of Ditch Witch and they were good.

Then Pentagram hits the stage.  It’s amazing to watch Bobby perform after all he’s done to himself.  His between song banter is basically indiscernible and was also a little hoarse, but while singing he was clear and powerful.  His stage moves are awesome.  I love that guy.  For most of their set I was up on the top deck with good friends.  It was a good night and Pentagram sounded great.  I was a little surprised that they only did one song from Last Rites, which I think is a fantastic record.  Most of the set was from Relentless and I was happy to get 3 songs from my favorite, Day of Reckoning (no Burning Saviour of course).  After the show, I hung with them for a little bit before heading home.  I was wiped out.  Great to see those guys.

I went back to Mohawk Saturday for day 2 of the fest.  I’m not a fan of anyone on the bill but was guestlisted so I went again as I had no other plans that night.  American Sharks were a pleasant suprise.  I’d like to catch them again sometime.  I’ll be the first to say that I’m not a fan of The Sword in the least but seeing them Saturday was enjoyable.  Not sure what was different this time, but whatever.  I missed everyone else on the bill.

Johnny is already working on the fest for next year.  Good job on this one!

 

 

Devo Concert Review, Austin Tx, July 2, 2014

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Admittedly I’m not a big DEVO fan, but I’m not an un-fan.  I had Freedom of Choice and Are We Not Men on vinyl but they never got much play.  That being said, friends said that the last few shows here in Austin were great so I decided to get tickets and go.

After a few songs I realized some of the quirky genius behind what they were doing.  This tour was touted as the Hardcore DEVO Tour 74′-77′.  The early stuff they were playing was noisy but still very much controlled chaos.  The band was entertaining and everything was pretty scripted, but we had a blast.

The donned blue jumpsuits and hardhats early in the set and bounced and danced around a lot for guys in their early to mid 60s.  The lineup consists of original members Mark and Bob Mothersbaugh and Gerald Casale and drummer Josh Freese who has been in the band in 1996.  They were solid and a lot of fun and just what I needed this week.

One cool thing was seeing Mark jump off the stage into the photo/security pit during Jocko Homo and half jump into the crowd to have people sing “We are Devo!” with him.

All of my iPhone pictures look like crap, so nothing really to share.  Once of these days I’ll buy another decent small camera.

 

Winger Concert Review, June 6, 2014, Houston, TX

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It’s cool. Go ahead and make the jokes. I’ve heard them all. Whatever. Winger is a great live band. I first saw them in 1991 with Tangier and Extreme. To this day I still can’t remember why I went to that show, but it was probably to watch Rod Morgenstein play drums. I’ve been a big fan ever since seeing his drum clinic in 90/91. He was also a partial reason why I bought a Premier drum kit in the early 90s, although I didn’t get a white one. That 91 show was great and I was shown that everyone in that band were top notch musicians. Kip caught a lot of grief over the years for being “pretty”, but that dude can play bass and piano very well. He played on 2 Alice Cooper records in the 80s, that speaks volumes about his abilities. I saw them years later with some other hair bands and again, they were great. Oddly I’ve never owned any of their albums, it’s just a live thing for me.

When I saw that they were playing the Concert Pub North in Houston on a Friday, I decided to go. I had no plans that night anyway. I listened to some of the stuff from the new album and was quite impressed. After looking at the band lineup I saw that John Roth was in the band. His name wasn’t familiar but I check The Book just to see if he was in there. Boom! He played on the Medieval Steel debut EP. That solidified me going and for buying the VIP to make sure I got him in there as well as the other guys in Winger.

I got to the show and ran into my buddy, John, who does security for a lot of shows in the Houston area. I first met John through a mutual friends a few years back when he was working with Motorhead here in Austin. Through that meeting I got to have a few drinks with Mikkey Dee. John walks me right by the lines and gets me to the booth to get my VIP creds. Easy peasy.

I sat at one of the VIP tables with 2 cool girls that I met right when I walked in. One of them had just moved to Austin this week and the other was a Houston local. I sat there through both of the openers but neither band caught my ear. Mid-set of the second band the meet and greet happened and I got in towards the end of the line. The band was very nice and personable with each person that came through the line. They signed whatever anyone put in front of them. Kip was inquisitive about the book as most folks are when they see it. Kip, Rod and Reb signed it and I flipped over to the Medieval Steel page and said to John, “You’re not off the hook. You’re in here, too.” “Really?!” He said he was surprised that anyone remembered that band. I didn’t realize that Roth has been a part of Winger for almost 20 years. Reb looked at Kip and said, “What’s Paul (Young) doing now?”

I then pulled out a photo of Rod and me from 1990/91 taken at a drum clinic. He laughed and just said, “Wow! Long time ago.” He signed the photo. For the photo op, I chose to stand next to Rod to try and create the then and now photo below. All of the guys thanked me more coming and that was that. So very worth it. Off to the car to put the book away and enjoy the show.

Shortly after, the band comes on and opens with a new song called “Midnight Driver of a Love Machine.” They were tight and pretty much played all the hits. I’ve always liked Heading for a Heartbreak. Watching Rod play was enjoyable. He’s so damned good. The whole band was great. Kip’s voice sounded great and he had no problem hitting the high notes. Roth and Beach also had great backing vocals.

One cool thing happened at the end of the show. Kip asked if there were any bass players in the crowd and they brought some dude up on stage. “It’s 2 notes, you can do it. Unless you suck. Do you suck?” They closed with Van Halen’s Ain’t Talkin’ ‘Bout Love. It was pretty damned cool to do that. The guy was OK, I could have done better. ;)

Journey & Steve Miller Band Concert Review, May 22, 2014, San Antonio, TX

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Let’s just get this straight.  I do not like The Steve Miller Band.  I never have.  I think it was because of high school and everyone played the greatest hits album incessantly.  That being said, I can tolerate Livin’ in the USA, Wild Mountain Honey and Space Cowboy.  To say I was disappointed to see that they were on the bill with Journey is an understatement.

But I bought tickets anyway.  I’ve only seen Journey one other time and that was in 2001 with Frampton and John Waite.  Great show.

Last night’s show crept up on me and the person originally supposed to go with me forgot as well and had other plans.  I asked a few others and with it being last minute, most were busy.  Wait.  A female too busy for Journey?  Certainly their vaginas were not working properly when they said that.  hahaha.  So I called up Margarita in New Braunfels, a friend that I hadn’t seen in a while and she jumped at the chance.  Perfect.  She’s cool, lives on the way and is gorgeous.  Great combo.

On our way down, there’s a bad accident on IH35 on the north side of San Antonio so after sitting in traffic forever, we were finally able to get off of 35 and take an alternate route.  That made us miss Tower of Power who were the first opener.  I wanted to see them just because.  Miller is already on stage when we walk in and is on Space Cowboy.  She likes Miller so we grab a beer and something to eat really quickly and go in for the rest of their set.  Our seats were kind of eprfect in that that our row only had those 2 seats in it.  No worries of having people coming in and out and having to move around a lot.  I’ll admit to not hating them as much in a live setting, mainly because his drummer was kickass.

Then Journey comes on opening with Be Good To Yourself and go right in to Separate Ways (Worlds Apart).  Great 1-2 punch for sure.  They sound great and I expected no less.  Arnel sounds great and he’s all over the stage.  Kid’s got a ton of energy and you can tell how happy he is to be there.  I had seen in previous setlists that Mother, Father was being played on this tour and it’s one of my favorite songs from Escape.  What made this even better was that Deen Castronovo sang lead on it.  MY GOD.  He sounded incredible and that dude’s range is insane.  Add to it that he’s an incredible drummer.  He could easily front that band.  That’s no slight to Arnel.

Journey played pretty much everything you’d expect them to play and added 2 songs from their last album.  I really wanted to hear When You Love A Woman as I love Neal’s guitar solo in that one, but no dice.

Great show and a great companion and worth every penny of the ticket price.  So…when are they coming back?

 

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