The Metal Files

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Archive for the ‘concerts’ Category

The Doobie Brothers Concert Review, Austin, TX, November 5, 2013

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The Doobie Brothers are yet another band that has been around in my family for as long as I can remember.  More than anyone, Mom was a fan.  The only album I remember us owning was The Captain and Me.  Not sure why the Michael McDonald era albums weren’t around, probably because buying and owning music wasn’t a priority in my family.  That could be why it became important to me, who knows?

I was able to catch them last night in Austin’s Paramount Theatre.  I bought tickets late and ended up near the top of the venue, but that was OK.  Not a show that I necessarily need to be close to the front for.

No cameras were allowed and I was able to get a quick shot right as they hit he stage.  The volunteers that work the venue were pretty hardcore about making people put their phones away.  It was nice not having those lit rectangles sticking up all over the place for the night.

I brought my best friend, Amelia, with me as I hadn’t seen her much lately.  She’s my “go to” for shows when I can’t find anyone else to go with me.  She said, “We see all of the old people shows together!”  There’s some truth to that.  She’s good kid.  Late 20s but loves the Doobies, Hall and Oates, Chicago etc.  Perfect show date as always.

We climb the stairs and got to our seats, the lights go down and they come out with Jesus is Just Alright, straight in to Rockin’ Down the Highway and then in to Take Me In Your Arms.  The Doobies are still fronted by Patrick Simmons, Tom Johnston and John McPhee, all original members and all in their mid-60s.  But let me tell you, those guys can still sing and harmonize.  They didn’t sound like most rockers in their 60s.  Simmons sounded the best of the 3 and his guitar playing was quite incredible to watch.  The guy is a damn fine guitarist.

They rolled through a string of hits and one or 2 off of their latest album.  I was quite pleased that they played Clear As The Driven Snow from The Captain and Me.  Easily one of my faves by them and was never a radio hit.

Something was missing, though.  Oh!  The lack of Michael McDonald songs!  Beyond Takin’ It To The Streets, there were no other songs from that era.  Looking back at setlist.fm, it seems they have been neglecting that era since about 2000.  That seems strange to me.  Apparently there must be a rift between them.  Too bad as I really wanted to hear What a Fool Believes, my favorite by them.

But no matter, it was another fun show and I’m really glad I got to see them.  If I had a real complaint, it’s the 2 drummer thing.  Other than wanting to try it once with some friends in the mid-80s, I’ve always found it silly.  It’s impressive as they 2 have to be spot on with each other, and both of the drummers last night were super tight, I just find it unnecessary.  Oh well.

Great show!  And I couldn’t help but think about the episode of What’s Happening the whole night.  Most of you readers under 40 or from outside the USA probably won’t remember or even know of that show and/or episode.

Elton John Concert Review, Austin, TX October 17, 2013

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I’ve gone on and on about how one of my brothers was such a huge influence on me in the ways of hard rock and metal, but he also influenced me in some non-heavy stuff, the main one being Elton John.  As a kid I can remember sitting with him listening to the Goodbye Yellow Brick Road album as much as we did KISS and Jethro Tull or Sabbath.  The music has stayed a part of my life to this day and still listen to Elton quite regularly, sticking mostly to his late 60s/70s stuff.

Elton has been to Austin at least one other time since I have lived here and I am not sure why I missed that show.  Bummer.  When I saw this show announced, I knew I had to go…and I knew I’d pay a hefty price for it.  The show was part of a benefit for the Andy Roddick Foundation and they were only selling show seats for the upper balcony.  I logged in on sale day and couldn’t get a ticket anywhere in the theater.  It sold out so fast and I’m sure that most went to ticket brokers/scalpers.  Not once have I not been able to get a ticket to a show there through normal ticketing.  Then again, this was a big show.  I ended up getting a 2nd row balcony ticket through StubHub for almost double face value and I didn’t care.  This was a show I just had to see.

I got to the venue a little after 9 when they opened the doors for us little people, the ones not in suits and gowns who were there to bid on auction items to benefit the Foundation.  They had the balcony curtained off during the auction until the last few minutes of it.  People were throwing around 1000s of dollars on items like it was nothing.  Good for them.

Andy comes on stage and talks for a minute, plays a 3 minute video about his charity then intros Elton.  They hug, he leaves the stage, Elton bows, sits behind the piano and says, “Hello again, Austin!” and goes right into Don’t Let The Sun Go Down On Me.  It was just him and a piano and it was perfect.  He followed it up with Your Song, another favorite of mine.

I’ll admit to getting choked up when Goodbye Yellow Brick Road started.  Lots of emotions and had me missing my brother once again.

With only having less than 90s minutes to play, his set wasn’t that long but it was a decent cross section of his career.  I would have been fine without Circle of Life and would love to have heard Madman Across the Water, Seen That Movie Too, The One, but oh well.

Elton’s voice sounded great.  A little deeper but still very powerful.  He certainly can’t hit those falsettos nowadays, but hell, he’s 66.  His piano playing was immaculate.  He’s a master.  he played a new song called Home Again from the latest album and it sounded great.  It was cool to hear I’m Still Standing.  I’ve always liked that one a lot.

Before the show I was sitting with some friends at a bar and we were discussing the biggest bands we had ever seen.  Elton would be #2 behind the Stones for me.  Metallica probably #3.

I hate that I waited so long to see him live, but will not hesitate to go again.

ZZ Top Concert Review, Austin, TX 10/9/2013

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ZZ Top is one of those bands that I can’t say I love or dislike.  They’ve always just been there.  If you were around in the 80s, you couldn’t get away from them because of MTV and radio play of megahits Gimme All Your Lovin’, Sharp Dressed Man and Legs.  Eliminator was a huge album for them.  HUGE.  Their 70s stuff was prominent as well but that MTV era blew them up and they changed with the times by writing straight forward bluesy rock and roll pop hits, quite different from he previous decade.  I’m not telling you anything new here.

I’d never seen them and when the show was announced for Austin’s ACL Live/Moody Theater, I decided to go and get them struck off the list of legendary bands that I hadn’t seen yet.  ZZ Top and Austin have a long history, especially with them being from Houston.  A guy sitting next to me last night was talking about seeing them in for the first time in 1971(?) at the now-defunct Armadillo.

As I generally do, I bought 2 tickets on the presale and got my favorite spot in the venue, which is front row, center balcony.  The show sold out quickly.  My friend Mariana quickly accepted the offer to join me when I asked a few weeks before the show. When we arrived at the show I liked the shirts that ZZ had and decided to buy one for myself and Mariana.  We ended up with the same styled shirt and I swear that it was brown and not black.  The vendor said it was black and compared to the black shirts on either side of it, it wasn’t…seriously.  I ended up trading it in for a truly black one as seen below.

I didn’t realize there was an opening act until we sat down.  When I saw a washtub and washboard, I wasn’t too excited.  It was Joppa, MO’s Ben Miller Band.  Americana/bluegrassish/hipsterish music.  In general they weren’t that bad.  I’d never heard a washboard played with a wah pedal and flange before, so that was interesting.  Everyone in the band was multi-instrumental and that was impressive.  That type of music, for me, is better heard and not seen.

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Jason K’s message to me before the show. haha

ZZ Top came on a little after 9PM opening with Got Me Under Pressure.  They smoothly ran through most of their hits and really threw out no surprises.  Like a lot of older bands are doing these days, the setlist is set and very coordinated and ZZ’s performance was no different.  They were obviously playing along to synched up tracks and that’s fine.  It made their show a well-oiled machine.

Billy Gibbons made the statement that these 3 guys have been playing together for 4 decades…and the “same 3 chords.”  Pretty funny.  He’s been a huge influence on a lot of guitarists and the guy still has it.  Get beyond the beards, hats, choreographed stage motions etc, and you’ve got one bad ass guitarist.  Minimalist style that is about as flawless as you could want.  Dusty’s solid bass lines provided the perfect bottom for the show.  Frank played his steady styled beats while it was pretty obvious that his drums were triggered.  He didn’t need to hit hard at all.  The sound went out on the drums for a few seconds in one song and while I could see him hitting drums, you couldn’t hear any of it.  He seemed to be the one most worn from the years of touring, but he played fine.

It was a fun show and while I wanted to heard Beer Drinkers and Heard It On The X, I’ve got no real complaints at all.

Iron Maiden & Megadeth Concert Review, Austin, TX 9/10/2013

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Last night Iron Maiden made their presence known in Austin the only way they know how…by getting on stage and destroying anything in their path and still being one of the greatest live bands ever.

They played at the Austin360 Amphitheater which is part of the new Circuit of the Americas racetrack on the outskirts of Austin. Megadeth has been the opener for this leg of the tour. What an incredible venue. No real covering over the pit or the seats and gives it a really awesome feel. The setup was really good overall.

I just saw this tour a week ago in Raleigh, NC and knew what to expect. But it didn’t matter. I love the band and would go see them every week if I could. Last week’s show was pretty special mostly because of the non-concert stuff that happened around the concert weekend. Last night’s show was special in its own way as well because again I got to see my favorite band with more of my closest friends.

Automatically when the show got announced I decided to join the Iron Maiden fan club just to get presale tickets. We were only allowed 4 tickets on the presale and I had my 3 spares easily picked out. Don, Pablo and Marco. Three of my closest friends in the area.

We met up at my house to each have a bottle of the Trooper Ale that I had picked up last week. I’m liking the beer a little more each time I have it.

We then took the quick ride to the venue and parked in the premium parking as I had prepaid for a pass. We scooted passed the line of cars and easily parked. We brought some extra Trooper beers with us to have a little parking lot celebration while waiting for my friends Jason and Morgan. Upon their arrival we went in.

I didn’t get an event shirt in Raleigh as they had sold out of my size. I decided to wait in the merch line during Megadeth and got the shirt I wanted. We were able to catch the last few ‘Deth songs and them mulled around the venue talking with other friends. Everybody was there it seemed. Maiden brings everyone out.

Maiden comes out and plays the same set they’ve been riding for the last year plus. I still wish they’d leave out Afraid to Shoot Strangers and Fear of the Dark and bring back Infinite Dreams and Still Life. Jannick Gers was slightly less annoying last night than in last week’s show.

I can’t state enough how great and energetic this band still is. Bruce Bruce sounded awesome and the band still fires off all cylinders. Nicko’s right foot is still that of legend. It was high in the mix last night, too. Guitar solos were still a bit buried as they were last week.

I hope we get to see them again and I’d gladly see them again at this venue. Well done, COTA.

Up the Irons.

 

Iron Maiden and Megadeth Concert Review, Raleigh, NC 9/03/2013

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Iron Maiden announced a few months back that they were going to add an additional short run of dates to play some cities in the USA that they rarely played, if ever. Opening night of this leg was Raleigh, NC. After discussing with Kelz who lives in Raleigh we decided to set up another “MitchFest”.

What is MitchFest? It’s what Kelz and I call our meet ups to see shows. We’ve done several over the years…Foetus, Sabbat, Loudness and a few others. We tried to get some other friends from our home state of Virginia to come in but not everyone could do it. I joined the Iron Maiden fan club to get presage tix for next week’s Austin show and realized I could get 4 tix for each of the other USA shows. I have Kelz a club code for Megadeth and we got 8 seats all together. The final group was Kelz, his wife and 2 kids, Petey, Wade and Baird. Kelz, Petey and I all met 30+ years ago and have been close since. I was in a band with Wade in the early 90s. Baird is Wade’s nephew who I hadn’t seen since he was a toddler. That kid is all grown up now.

Through Facebook I saw that some other old friends were going to be there and I was pretty excited to be able to see them.

But we’re not done with MitchFest. For what ever reason Kelz and I have called each other bitch monkey for years. That morphed into Mitch Bunkey and ultimately into just Mitch. Hence MitchFest. Got it?  While we were walking around looking for the record store, we walked by Mitch’s Tavern.  Really?  On the way back to Kelz’ house we went by Bunkey’s car wash.  No, really. You can’t make this stuff up.

My trip started with flying to Virginia to see my dear Mom and brother and to hopefully catch up with some folks in Virginia that I hadn’t seen since I left in 2006. Success! It was a quick trip but a good one.

I drove from Norfolk to Raleigh on Monday and got to Kelz’ place around 3. We’re in touch pretty regularly so there’s not much to catch up on. We hung out with his wife and kids and went to get some grub. I needed some NC style pork BBQ and got my fill. After some more jibber jabber and a beer or 2, we all crashed out. His kids had school the next morning.

On the day of the show, Petey was driving in from Richmond and Kelz and I went into town to hit a record store or 2 and grab some food. After finding the record store we wanted to see, we were going to head back to the house as Petey was 30 minutes away. Walking out if the store Kelz points across the street and it took me a second to see what he was talking about. Maiden Lane! What a coincidence. So if course we nerd out and take pics. As we’re driving back, see Smallwood Drive. What? Really? For those not in the know, Rod Smallwood has been Iron Maiden’s manager forever. Another weird coincidence.

Petey arrives, we nerd out some more and hang out with Kelz’ family until show time. After a quick bite to eat we get to the venue and meet up with Wade and Baird. We all go in and I run into some old pals that I had known since middle school. I also ran into a guy, Ben, that lived a few miles down the road from me when we were kids. I hadn’t seen him since around 1991. Mid show I ran into Ben Hogg who sang with Beaten Back to Pure, a band that My old band did several gigs with in the early 2000s.

Megadeth hit the stage promptly at 730 and went through their set pretty fluidly. I’ve seen Dave and company a few times in recent years and was neither blown away or bored by the set. Of course I only want to hear songs from the first three albums, but such is life. My main complaint is that their current drummer just isn’t that good. I’m still not sure why Dave keeps him around. I mean seriously, the double bass at the end of peace sells is that that difficult. GET IT RIGHT ALREADY!

After about a 30 minute set change, UFO’s Doctor Doctor starts playing and that’s the cue that Maiden is coming up next. We’re all excited even knowing that the setlist hasn’t changed in 2 years. It’s Maiden. The favorite band of Petey, Kelz and myself. We were there together and that’s what mattered.

Now, the three of us all saw Maiden together for our first time in 1988 so that made this reunion even more special. Maiden hits the stage with Moonchild and run through their set with ease. Bruce was as energetic as ever and the band sounded great. The mix could’ve been better as Dave and Adrian’s solos seemed low in the mix. We were just off of center not far from the soundboard. Steve was low as well. I’m still amazed that Nicko can play like he does. His right foot is just as awesome as it ever was. Adrian’s solo were great but Dave’s seemed a little off. Seems like he’s decided to change some things up over the last few years. Of course Jannick Gers is still in the band much to my dismay. I’ll say it again that I can’t stand that guy. Whatever. Bruce’s vocals were really strong and clear. The only time I saw him struggle was at the scream in the end if Aces High. He knew he couldn’t hit the note and just winged it. No bother. The dude has still got an incredible set of pipes unlike most if my other favorite older singers. Bruce still can do it live.  No surprises in the show.  It’s the same setlist as before, which is a bit unfortunate.  I understand that their set changes are choreographed, but hell, just throw in some odd numbers and not worry about the big corresponding backdrops.

But the show was incredible. Yes, we got to see our favorite band again but all of us being together made the night and the whole trip even better.

I’m seeing the band again in Austin next week with some more great friends and already excited about it.

One thing about the show, and most shows in general these days, is seeing the people who go to these shows and just get obliterated. I saw so many people on the verge of passing out, puking and just acting like utter bumbling idiots. Don’t get me wrong, I like to party and get some beers in me seeing shows, but I also like to remember the show. Especially when spending $100 on a ticket, ya know? Maybe I’m just getting old and curmudgeony. It just doesn’t make sense to me.

Again, whatever. It was awesome and I can’t wait for the next show and the next MitchFest!

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