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Cathouse Live Concert Review, Irvine, California, August 15, 2015

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IMG_0409useA while back, former MTV host, Riki Rachtman, announced a one day festival celebrating the now defunct (and purely dysfunctional) Cathouse in Hollywood.  Let’s be clear, back in that era of the 80s, I was not down with hair bands, silly ballads and much of the stuff associated with that hairspray and makeup.  There were a few acts, however, that I did at least like a few songs from.  But whatever.

This show was set up with a limited number of VIP passes and I was able to score one for the main purpose of the meet and greets to get my Book signed.  Supposedly all bands that were performing were suppose to appear.  More on that later.

I got into LAX around noon on Friday the 14th and got my rental car (1.5 hour wait) and headed down to Irvine to get checked in to the hotel.  I unpack, grab some dinner and head to a club in Anaheim called Chain Reaction.  It’s an all age club that didn’t serve alcohol so no beers for me.  I caught the last 3 bands which in order were Tower Guard, Toronto’s Crimson Shadows and Nekrogoblikon.  I really liked Tower Guard.  Younger power thrash with some good potential.  The singer could stand to do less talking between songs, though.  Crimson Shadows, while technically proficient musically, were about as boring as I could have wanted.  Tight Gothenburg style metal with cookie monster-esque vocals intermingles with clean vocal harmonies from the two shredder guitarists.  Nekrogoblikon came on and had a large band and some dude dressed as a “goblin” that runs around on stage.  I was totally annoyed less than a minute into the first song and left.

The next day I slept in a bit to save up some energy for the long day ahead.  Parking lot opened at noon and I went to get my VIP swag which included the meet and greet wristband.  I ran into some friends of friends and hung with them until 2PM when the gate was opened.  It was pretty damned hot and I was in jeans, black SA Slayer shirt, denim vest and the shoulder bag that I carry the book.  It was hot, but not quite Texas hot.  Opening band, Swamphammer, was playing as I walked into the venue.  I made a bee line right into the VIP tent and downed 2 bottles of water.  I was drying out quickly.

The meet and greets were set at 2 different times to have the later playing bands come out early to meet the fans and vice versa for the early playing bands to come out later.  In the early one, I got Stephen Pearcy, Tom Keifer and Steve Riley to sign the book.  Riley had been an elusive one for me over the years.  Phil Lewis recognized the book and said, “I remember this.  You’re carrying this around all day?”  Ugh.  Yes.  Faster Pussycat came out and it was good seeing those guys.  Good friends, Dangerous Toys came out and as always when I see any of them around town, it’s just friends hanging out together.  Great guys.  During this meet and greet, Bullet Boys, Enuff Z’Nuff, Trixter, Autograph, Black N Blue all played.  I only got to hear them play and all of them sounded great, Especially Black N Blue and Autograph.  I was hoping that Don Dokken, Mark Boals and Mick Brown would come out but they never did.  Bummer.

After this, I went down into the VIP pit and watched part of Junkyard’s awesome set and the beginning of Saigon Kick, which bored me as much now as back in the day.  I went to the merch/food area to grab a taco and caught some of Pretty Boy Floyd’s set on the side stage.  Kristy Krash Majors was back in the band and they sounded pretty good.  I moved back to the pit and caught LA Guns, Dangerous Toys and the beginning of Pussycat’s set.  They had a bunch of original members join them on stage which was cool.

By this point it was time to hit the other meet and greet.  At this one we got Autograph, Black N Blue, Junkyard, Extreme, Sebastian Bach, Bullet Boys, Jetboy and Trixter.  I got the 2 guys from Autograph, 2 from Black N Blue and Bach.  I didn’t know Extreme had come out until they had already left, so no sigs.  I hung with David Roach from Junkyard for quite a while and with my old pal, Rowan Robertson (DIO).  Guys from Trixter, Jetboy and others that I had no idea what band they were in signed my VIP pass.  I really hated bands like Trixter, Jetboy, Little Caesar, Bullet Boys, Cinderella and Extreme back in the old days.  Modern day, I do at least like the old Cinderella.

So let’s get to the band performances that I saw/heard.

  • Bullet Boys – I only heard them but they sounded good.  I’ve seen them several times in the last year and when their singer saw me he jumped up and gave me a big hug.  Nice guy.  I got to see their drummer, Shawn Duncan (Odin) briefly and his wife, which is always a pleasure.
  • Trixter – Heard them only.  They were solid but I just couldn’t care.
  • Black N Blue – Heard only but they may be my faves of the day.  They were solid, great vocals and heavy.  Chains Around Heaven!
  • Autograph – Sounded great and I wish I would have seen them to watch Steve Lynch play.  He’s a great guitarist.  It was cool hanging out with him as we have a good friend in common.
  • Junkyard – ROCK AND FUCKING ROLL.  They were great.  It was hot as hell up there and they rocked their set.
  • Saigon Kick – zzzzz
  • LA Guns – As solid as ever
  • Dangerous Toys – Jason McMaster and company sounded great and the crowd was really into them.  Always fun to see live, especially seeing “hometown” boys away from home.
  • Faster Pussycat – Sounded great and cool having the originals on stage again
  • Stephen Pearcy – Only heard him.  It was about like it was last year.  He’s having a tough time these days.
  • Sebastian Bach – He sounded great as did his band.  Great show.
  • Dokken – Only heard but they sounded much better than I expected.  Having Boals on backing vocals is a good idea.
  • Tom Keifer – He sounded great.  Utterly impressed.
  • Pretty Boy Floyd – Solid.  Nothing different than what I expected.

I didn’t catch any of the other bands.  I tweaked my back somehow during Dangerous Toys and it got progressively worse throughout the evening, so bad that I left before Extreme came on.  That meant that I missed the Gilby Clarke all star jam with Ace Frehley.  I was in incredible pain.  Absolutely horrible.  It was better by morning, thankfully, but not great.

All in all this show was fun and well organized.  The bands on the main stage were on a rotating stage and no set times were missed.  It was impressive seeing all bands start and finish on time.  The only negative thing I can say is that it sucked not getting to meet a few of the bands, but oh well, herding rockstars is like herding cats.  I had a blast.

See all setlists here.

Whitesnake and The Dead Daisies Concert Review, Austin, TX, August 9, 2015

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The Dead Daisies opened the show and I had not heard of them until right before showtime.  They are sort of an all star lineup featuring John Corabi, Marco Mendoza, Dizzy Reed, Richard Fortis, Brian Tichy and Damon Johnson.  They came out and got the crowd warmed up pretty easily and were a good fit to open for Whitesnake.  Musically I was pretty bored.  Too much hand clapping and “Hey!” type rock for me.  The crowd seemed into it though and that’s what mattered.  They were solid and Corabi’s voice sounded great.  They did a quick free meet and greet immediately after their set which was cool.  I spoke to Marco for a moment recalling the times I saw him with Thin Lizzy in Virginia and Maryland.  He’s got a good memory, “Phil Lynott tattoo on your arm, right?”

I saw Whitesnake for the first time about 10 years ago to the day (August 7, 2005) in Norfolk, VA and they were good.  Good enough, anyway.  Coverdale, who’s no spring chicken and should not be expected to sound like he did in the 70s and 80s, sounded good.  Last night was no different.

They had a taped opening of The Who’s My Generation then went right into Burn by Deep Purple, Slide It In and Love Ain’t No Stranger.  Great way to open a show!  They played some more Deep Purple songs (this is dubbed the Purple Tour) and some other Whitesnake tracks including Bad Boys from the 1987 S/T album.  I was a little surprised that they’re not playing Stormbringer on this tour, but oh well.

The band was super solid and their backing vocals helped Coverdale sound better for sure.  He’s got Reb Beach, Joel Hoekstra, Tommy Aldridge, Michael Devin and a keyboard player that I’m too lazy to look up.  Both Reb and Joel were tearing it up on guitar and Aldridge bored me to tears like he always has.  I could never get into his playing.

The show didn’t sell out, not even close.  It was a great time with great friends during and after the show and I’ve got a little rock and roll pneumonia today to show for it!



Steve Martin & Martin Short Review, San Antonio, TX, July 10, 2015

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IMG_0040usetitleWhile I like comedy movies, especially older comedies, I’ve never been very fond of watching comedians do standup minus a few exceptions like Eddie Murphy, Mitch Hedberg and Steve Martin.  He is my favorite comedian of all time and I love most of his movies.  Growing up in the 70s, Steve was everywhere and who didn’t love King Tut?

When I saw that he had teamed up with Martin Short to do a small tour and that they were coming to San Antonio, I had to go.  Total bucket list stuff.

Steve comes out after a montage of his and Short’s work on the screen and says, “Thank you for coming to watch me through your cellphones tonight.”  Thankfully cellphone use was kept to a minimum.  After talking and telling some jokes, Martin Short comes out and it was plain to see that those two are very close friends.  They obviously had rehearsed their routine but much of it was ad lib.  There were several times that they cracked each other up.  Martin did his own set which included some sketch comedy and a musical and it was hilarious.  He walked off stage as Steve was coming back on and said, “Top that, mother fucker!”  haha.

Steve had his bluegrass band, Steep Canyon Rangers, with him and they played a set.  It’s no secret that Steve’s an incredible banjo player and he proved that last night.

Steve and Martin then say that they brought a good friend with them and introduce David Letterman.  There was a delay and we all thought they were just pulling a prank…then out walks Letterman.  Totally trippy.  The three of them are standing there talking and Dave whips out a top ten list about Donald Trump preempting it with, “Trump’s running for president and I quit the entertainment business.  I’m the dumbest man on earth.”  Or something to that effect.  Dave stayed out and told some stories with them for a half hour or so.

It was a wonderful night and I’ve not laughed that hard in a long time.  My sides are a little sore this morning.

Sepultura, Destruction, Arsis, Starkill & Headcrusher Concert Review, Austin, TX, June 10, 2015

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posteruseEarly shows on weeknights.  I love ’em.  Last night’s show was done by 10:30 and that was sweet.

To be honest, I was most excited about last night’s show to see Arsis again.  They’re one of my favorites.

Prior to the show I got to meet Sepultura who were really cool.  Got Paolo and Andreas in The Book.  I’ve got no problem saying that if Beneath the Remains was the only album that they ever recorded, they could have been my favorite thrash band ever.   But…

Headcrusher was the local support (originally from Bogota, Colombia) for the show and they played a tight energetic set on a hot stage going on right around 5:25.  They crushed it to an unfortunately small crowd.  Always a pleasure seeing them, even if I’m not the biggest death metal fan.

Chicago’s melodic death metal band, Starkill, was up next and to be honest, I couldn’t care.  I had listened to a few tracks earlier in the day and they just didn’t catch my ear.  They were pretty sloppy, too.  Maybe the heat was too much.  Don’t know.  Can’t care.

Arsis came on next and did what they do best…SHRED.  They played an intense 7 song set opening with Handbook for the Recently Deceased from their latest album, Unwelcome.  Not only do I like their riffs, I really dig the lyrics.  Malone writes some pretty cool stuff that goes outside of the “hey look, we love satan” type lyrics in a lot of death metal.  Great show, but always too short for my tastes.

Destruction came on next and hit the growing crowd right in the face with Curse the Gods.  They were tight but I could tell they were dying from the heat up there.  I missed the middle part of their set as I went to the bar next door to sit down for a few minutes.  My foot has been bothering me lately as well as my back (getting old!) and I needed a place to sit down for a little bit as Empire Garage doesn’t have seats anywhere.  When I came back I caught The Butcher Strikes Back and Bestial Invasion.  Shortly after their set, their tour manager invited me and 2 other guys onto their bus to hang out.  Schmier and  Mike were very welcoming guys.  Schmier had made a comment from the stage about the Germany/USA soccer match from earlier in the day and I commiserated with him about it.  We then got into a great discussion about Thin Lizzy.  Mike is a huge fan.  Good dudes.  They also signed The Book!  Seriously two of the nicest guys, along with their drummer, that I have ever met.

When I left the bus, Sepultura was already on stage.  The crowd had filled in quite a bit.  They sounded super tight, but I just couldn’t invest much time into them last night.  They weren’t playing anything that I really cared to hear, so I went home.

Arsis!  :)

Rolling Stones Concert Review, Arlington, TX, June 6, 2015

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IMG_9688useMake no bones about, I f’n love The Rolling Stones.  I’m not shy about my Stones fanboyness ever.  They are as big of a part of my early rock and roll makeup as KISS.  I saw them 10 years ago for the first time in Charlottesville, VA where a bomb threat interrupted the show.

The Stones are on their 15 date North American Zip Code Tour and booked a show in Arlington, TX and there was really no way I’d miss it.  I was able to score a floor ticket near the back of Cowboys Stadium.  Not the best viewing but not bad and a bit cheaper than most floor tickets.

Pablo and I drove up from Austin, grabbed some dinner in Arlington then made our way to our reserved lot.  We grabbed some merch and made out way to the floor.  He had a seat closer to the front.  Grace Potter was the opener and we spent most of her set in the downstairs lounge.  My foot has been bothering me lately so getting some sitting time was essential.  After her set we just stood in the back of the floor area and people watched for a bit until about ten minutes before the Stones’, then we went to our respective seats.

The stadium roof was open, the lights went down and the Stones hit the stage with Jumpin’ Jack Flash and followed it up with It’s Only Rock and Roll.  The crowd was electric and I was loving it.  Mick sounded great.  No surprise, he was all over the stage the whole night.  I had seen previous setlists from the tour and they had been mixing it up a bit.  The list remained pretty consistent until just after Moonlight Mile where they played a snippet of All My Exes Live In Texas then rolled into Rocks Off from Exile on Main Street marking the first time they’ve played it on this tour.  Honky Tonk Women was next which included band intros.  Mick left the stage after and Keith took over for Before They Make Run and Happy.  He’s got this childish grin that just cracks me up.  His voice sounded pretty good, as good as expected.  For as old as he looks, he still retains some teenage boyishness about him.  Ronnie and Charlie were both great.  Charlie’s unorthodox drumming style is difficult to watch, but he gets it done.

The whole band sounded great, just like I expected them to. Look, The Stones aren’t the tightest band in the world, but they never were.  But they’re great.  They did a heavy rocking version of Miss You that was just great.  The whole show was a blast.  Surprisingly, I don’t think it was sold out though.  It was close.  I hope it’s not the last time I get to see them.  I would love to have seen Monkey Man and a handful of others, but I’m not complaining.  The Stones truly appear to enjoy playing live even after 50+ years of doing it.  I can’t speak highly enough about Mick’s voice.  There were some high notes that he hit that just blew me away.  I honestly didn’t want the show to end.  It was a blast.  The 4 hour ride home was rough, but we made it.

Long live The Stones.

GBH, Krum Bums, Total Chaos Concert Review, Austin, TX, May 30, 2015

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IMG_9643To call me a punk fan would be the overstatement of the decade but there are a few bands in the genre that I’ve always liked including Circle Jerks, Black Flag, JFA, Dead Kennedys, Reagan Youth, some Sex Pistols and GBH…especially GBH.  Not sure how I became a fan but it was probably through a roommate I had in the 90s.  I’ve always wanted to see them and that last few times they came to town I just happened to be out of town.  That changed last night.

Opening the show was L.A.’s Total Chaos.  I had heard a lot of people slagging them prior to the show as being generic.  They didn’t do anything for me but the crowd seemed to enjoy them.  I caught half of their set and went to another bar for a bit.  Local punks Krum Bums came on next and I’ve seen them a few times before.  They were solid and are definitely a local favorite.  I only caught the tail end of their set.

We got back to Red 7 right before GBH went on and I secured my spot with a decent view of the stage and away from the pit.  They came on at full power with original singer Colin Abrahall saying, “We are GBH from Birmingham, England” and went right into their set with a newer song (2010) called Unique then went back to the Leather, Bristles, Studs, And Acne album with Race Against Time.  GBH still has original guitarist Colin “Jock” Blyth and the whole band was killer.  The show was sold out by the time GBH came on and they rolled through their set with only minor banter between songs.  I got to hear all of my favorites and they played most of City Baby Attacked By Rats and the Leather album and a few from the follow up, City Baby’s Revenge.  They were solid and I had a great time.  Glad I finally got to see them live.


Saxon, Armored Saint & Evil United Concert Review, San Antonio, TX, May, 23, 2015

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posterThree things in San Antonio have stood the test of time:  Saxon, Armored Saint and Jason McMaster.  Let’s just face facts, Saxon’s biggest USA fanbase is in Texas with the majority in the San Antonio area.  Last night proved that.

The weather was bad all day but I drove down and arrived at the venue pretty early to meet up Armored Saint/DC4/Odin guitarist, Jeff Duncan, who I hadn’t seen since the Odin reunion show in LA a few years back.  We met when his band DC4 was in town for SxSW about 5 years ago.  His brother, Shawn, and I have been friends for a few years prior and I helped them out when they were in town.  Jeff and Jason met me at the back door of 210 Kapone’s and walked me in.  While sound checking Armored Saint, I got to meet John Bush and the Sandoval brothers.  I had previously met Joey Vera at the Arch/Matheos show a few years back.

The Saint guys went back to their hotel after signing The Book (thanks, Jeff!) to rest and clean up and Jason and I hung out while some of the local openers were playing on the second stage.  The crowd was starting to build around 730 and lots of friends were showing up.  Jason’s thrash band, Evil United was scheduled to go on at 8PM.  Thanks to Jeff, Jason and Saint’s manager I got an all access pass that was good though the end of the Saint set.

Evil United hit the stage and opened with Dead Can See from their new album, Honored By Fire, followed up by three more from that album.  They went back to their self-titled debut for Dawn of Armageddon.  The 30ish minute set was capped by a brutal cover of Judas Priest’s Tyrant.  The crowd was into the set from the first note to the last.  Jason is highly regarded in San Antonio because of his work with Watchtower and Dangerous Toys.  He’s consistently flown the metal flag in Texas for 30+ years.  Evil United sounded great.  Don Van Stavern’s bass was crushing through the mains.  I especially like EU’s drummer.  That dude is pretty much a badass.  The band was tight and the set was too short, but such is life.  Jason has a long history with Armored Saint dating back to the early 80s and had remained friends with them since then.  It was great seeing them hang out together.

Armored Saint was using EU’s backline so there wasn’t much of a changeover between bands beyond changing cymbals out and switching guitar pedal boards.  They hit the stage around 855 with the title track from their new album, Win Hands Down.  I like this song a lot and have listened to it several times since the single was released.  They totally got the crowd going with March of the Saint and Nervous Man.  Bush’s vocals were spot on and Jeff’s backing vocals sounded great.    The guitar tandem of Jeff and Phil Sandoval is pretty crushing.  The whole band was extremely tight and their setlist spanned every album.  Symbol of Salvation is my favorite album and their played Reign of Fire and Last Train Home.  The increasingly growing crowd was totally into their 11 song set that closed with Mad House from March of the Saint.  Of course Can U Deliver elicited the greatest response.  I had never seen Saint before and last night’s show was great.  Just what I needed!  After their set I went back to Saint’s dressing room for a bit to hang with Jeff and Jason.  I didn’t want to be all up in their business as it was pretty humid in there last night and those guys put on an intense set so I knew they were a bit worn out.  Bobby Jarzombek was up there and was having a discussion with John Bush about whose Mexican food was better, LA or San Antonio.  It was pretty humorous.

Saxon was up next and it’s well known around here that I am not a fan beyond 3 songs or so.  I just could never get into Biff’s voice, their lyrics and their riffs.  Believe me, I have owned several of their album to no avail.  They hit the stage to a seemingly capacity crowd opening with Motorcycle Man.  They ran through what most would consider their most popular songs.  I watched one song and went back to the room where the second stage was to sit for a while as it was vacant and I sit down.  Ran into other friends out there and listened to the remainder of the show from a distance.  I heard Dallas 1PM, Princess of the Night and the closers Strong Arm of the Law and Denim and Leather, and that was plenty for me.  I was just bored and couldn’t wait for the show to end so that my friends and I could grab a late meal and hang out for a while at one of their houses.  Saxon, however, did sound tight and the crowd was completely into it from beginning to end.  That will likely be my first and last Saxon show.


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