Concert Review – RIOT – San Antonio – 6/2/09
So let’s go back in time…
I remember somewhere around 1984ish and I was over at Daniel’s house for a bit and we would go into his brother’s room and check out his records and cool Kramer Baretta guitars. I remember seeing Riot’s Fire Down Under (probably on cassette) and we listened to some of it. I think we only listened to Swords and Tequila as his brother’s band used to cover that song. I thought it was cool but never really explored them any further.
Flash forward to sometime in 1988. I was over at Kelz’ house and we stepped outside into Thomas’ car, the 4dr Chevy Cavalier, beige/crème color. He pulled out Riot’s Thundersteel tape and said “You have to hear this.” I was reluctant and explained to him that I saw the record at Skinnie’s recently and that the album cover looked too silly to even give them a chance, not to mention their photo on the back. WTF? In perfect Thomas fashion he cut me off and said, “Just shut the fuck up and listen to it asshole.”
Thank you Thomas.
I was blown away by it, mainly by the drums. The only other drummer that I heard play similar styles to this was Deen Castronovo. It was shortly after getting into this era of riot that I met Deen and asked if Bobby Jarzombek was his pupil. Deen just replied with, “I wish I could lay claim to that. That kid is good.” Yes, Deen, very good. Back to Thundersteel, this album has great hooks and melodies, not to mention the insane drumming by Bobby, Tony Moore’s almost-out-of-control vocals and Mark Reale’s great solos. I should mention Mark Edward’s competent drumming on the LP as well. Nothing too flashy, but solid. The only song I never cared about was Run For Your Life. It just seemed too stiff. Since 1988 this album has stayed in steady listening rotation. I also picked up the follow-up album Privilege of Power. There are some blazing songs on there and Bobby J just simply owns that record.
Flash forward again to early May 2009. I saw online that Riot was performing a one-off show in their native San Antonio and expected it to sell out as they don’t play very often and especially with this line-up, the reunited Thundersteel era band. So I bought 2 tickets the morning they went on sale, one for THE Doug Morrison and one for me.
So I go to Doug’s after work yesterday and we have some dinner at his house. The doors were at 7pm and we had about an hour of drive time each way. Since it was only about 6pm at this point, I went down into our studio and took a 45 minute nap as I was super tired from being up in the middle of the night with a sick cat. After my little nap, we hop in the car and head to SA. I was happy of the fact that Jason McMaster’s Broken Teeth were added to the bill but we assumed that they would be the opener of the 4 bands and we figured we would miss them. Jason is one of my best friends and it’s no biggie for him if we missed the show. Both he and Doug are in the Motorhead tribute band with me, so we see each other plenty.
We arrived at the show around 8:15pm and I noticed that the crowd was very light in attendance. I figured since it was still early that people were waiting to come out. We saw the Broken Teeth guys when we walked in and gave our usual pleasantries and they said they were moved into the slot right before Riot. Great news! It meant that we would have on less shitty band to sit through until seeing a band that we liked. A local band called Eden Burning opened the show and we missed them completely. From what I was it was no loss. Top Dead Center played next. Apparently their singer has another band with Riot’s Don van Stavern called Pitbull Daycare. Whatever. TDC wasn’t very good in general. The highlight of their performance was their drummer. That guy was rock solid. I was glad when they were done. Broken Teeth took the stage and did what they do best, they rocked. Jason has got to be one of the most underrated front men in rock and roll. He knows how to grab a crowd’s attention and keep it. Before they went on, it was cool seeing people who have known him since the Watchtower days. I am not sure he has ever made an enemy. The crowd got into Broken Teeth and I am sure most of the folks there had never seen them. It was a bit ironic that the club uses Dangerous Toys’ old roadcases for side stage monitor stands.
By the time that Broken Teeth finished, there may have been 250 people there, certainly no more than that. I was shocked. The legendary Riot. At Home. Thundersteel lineup. Sure it was a Tuesday night but c’mon. The ONLY American show! WTF?!
So Riot is setting up, erm…their roadies are setting up. They put this projector on a stand on the stage and Doug and I were trying to figure out if they were going to keep that on stage for the whole show. Luckily is was just there for their intro and promptly removed.
So the lights go down and the band sans Tony Moore get on stage and play an instrumental assumedly from one of their older albums. I’m not that familiar with the pre-Thundersteel stuff…yet.
After the instrumental, Moore comes out and they go into Fight or Fall. His voice is still strong after all these years but he was struggling in some parts and understandably so. His vocals on that old stuff are pretty high ranged in places. But in general he sounded fine for the night. Mark Reale played great and does good backing vocals. Mike Flynt’s playing was good too. He did a few solos and he’s a really solid player. His vocals harmonies were really really good. I didn’t care for Van Stavern’s tone in the least. He was playing what looked like a higher end Ibanez bass through an Ampeg rig (ugh). It sounded like ass. Seriously.
But most impressively the highlight of the night for me was Bobby Jarzombek’s drumming. Sure, I’ve known for 20+ years that he was a phenomenal player but you really can’t grasp it until you see him play live. I saw him with Halford in 2000 in Brooklyn @ Lamour’s Rock Club and he was awesome there too…but not as awesome as he was last night. His performance was seemingly flawless. He can do anything. He really reminds me a lot of how I think Stewart Copeland would play if he was in a metal band and could play double bass. The handwork is incredible. I really think Bobby is the best drummer in metal nowadays. That is difficult for me to say as a HUGE Gene Hoglan fan. Hoglan and Van Williams (Nevermore) are probably the only guys who can play this style and retain a feel in their playing. Guys like Mike Portnoy can play it, but have no feel. Boring.
We ran into Ron Jarzombek after the show and I just shook his hand and said hello. Doug met him 25+ years ago when he took Dave McClain (SA Slayer/Sacred Reich/Machinehead) out of San Antonio to come play with him in LA in Neil Turbin’s post-Anthrax band. It took Ron a second to remember then he said, “Oh yeah, I do remember now. Wow. Been a long time.” Then we left. We drove through one of the scariest lightning storms I have ever seen. It’s not very often that I get nervous in a storm but I was nervous last night. Doug was too but we made it back to his place safely and subsequently I was home safely shortly thereafter.
Overall the night was great. I needed a night like that. June 2 is a day that lives in infamy for me and in the week leading up to it every year I tend to get a little down. But there was no time for such feelings last night. It was a positive night and we had fun. The only real drawback about the show was that Riot had no merch to sell and I really wanted a shirt. Oh well.
I shot some video and snapped a few pics. I’ll try and post them later. Unfortuinately my camera ran out of battery right as I was ready to film Johnny’s Back. Keep an eye on Youtube as I am sure there will be a lot of footage from the show.
Here’s the setlist in order:
Narita (Instrumental intro)
Fight or Fall
On Your Knees
Swords and Tequila
Wings are for Angels (from their forthcoming album)
Tokyo Rose/Rock City
Flight of the Warrior
Storming the Gates of Hell/Race with the Devil/Storming the Gates of Hell
Road Racin’/Killer(no lyrics)/Road Racin’
Dance of Death
Written by The Metal Files
June 3, 2009 at 2:24 pm
Tagged with 1988, 2009, anthrax, bobby jarzombek, broken teeth, concert review, daniel, dave mcclain, doug morrison, jason mcmaster, jon, kelz, machinehead, marke reale, neil turbin, riot, ron jarzombek, SA Slayer, san antonio, scout bar, the metal files, thomas, thundertseel, watchtower, www.themetalfiles.com
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