Archive for the ‘concerts’ Category
Steely Dan was in town last night at the Bass Concert Hall on the campus of the University of Texas. I got tickets during the presale and scored stage left balcony, 7th row. The rows were angles and the view was absolutely incredible.
I’ve been a big Steely Dan fan since I was a little kid. That primarily came from my brother Robert (RIP) and Mom who were both big fans. Their work in the 70s is absolutely incredible. Lots of folks dub them a lounge rock band, and that’s not really far from the truth. But the musicianship this band has displayed since day one is something to note, not to mention the hotshots that have been part of the band throughout the years.
In tow with me for the show were my best friend Amelia, her brother and Billy Milano. Yes, THAT Billy Milano. I met Billy shortly after moving to Austin and we’ve been pals ever since. He’s a good dude and absolutely hilarious. He’s also a huge Steely Dan fan. When he saw that I had one spare ticket, he said to me in his still thick NY/Nj accent, “Sean…you better hold that fuckin’ Steely Dan ticket for me!” Yes sir!
I got to the venue first and while hanging out talking with some folks who were looking for tickets, one of the guys said, “Hey, that dude was Christopher Cross.” I said ‘sure enough’ and just walked up and said that I was a big fan and asked if we could do a quick photo. “I’d love to.” Click! He asked if I had ever seen the band before and I said no, but have wanted to since I was a kid. “You’ll love it.” He’s originally from San Antonio and has been doing a lot of stuff around Austin in the last few years. I need to go check one of the shows out for sure. I truly am a fan of his first few albums and the “yacht rock” genre in general.
My friends arrived right after that, we walked in, grabbed a drink and found our seats. There was a little jazz blues trio called the Deep Blue Organ Trio and they were solid, primarily playing covers as instrumentals. They closed with a fantastic version of Sinatra’s The Way You Look Tonight.
After a quick set change, Steely Dan’s backup band dubbed The Bipolar All-stars opened up with an instrumental then Donald Fagen and Walter Becker walked out and they went right into “Your Gold Teeth” from Countdown to Ecstasy. They played a good cross section of their hits and deeper cuts as you’ll see in the setlist below. It was a great show and Fagen’s vocals still sounded pretty good for age 65. Becker wasn’t doing a lot of soloing but when he did he sounded good. They had another kick ass player on most leads. But I have to say what took the cake for me was the drummer, Keith Carlock. That dude was absolutely incredible and to be honest stole the show.
If I had to say I was a little disappointed it would be that they didn’t play Deacon Blues. Mom always said that song reminded her of Robert and it does that for me, too. Not just in the last year after his death but throughout my whole life. If the song came on the radio she’d say, “There’s Robert’s song.” It’s probably good that they skipped that song for the Austin show as I don’t know how well I would have kept my emotions in check. They also didn’t play “Do It Again”, which is one Billy really wanted to hear. Finally, if I was able to pick the setlist, Green Earrings would have been in there. That’s my #1 by them. “Don’t Take Me Alive” would have been awesome to hear as well.
Overall, the show was 10/10 and the Bass Concert Hall is a phenomenal place to see a show. The sound in there is absolutely stellar. Another great concert in a great town with great friends.
Militia is back! If you weren’t at Multiply Infest (the former Antone’s) last night, you missed a speed metal/thrasher’s dream show. The Texas metal legends played their first show in about 4 years to a crowd of 100 or so metalheads.
Militia released Strength and Honor last year and I think it was a killer release. The band had suffered a slight personnel change with Phil Achee’s departure. Mike Soliz handled drum duties on the album and did a fine job. For last night and hopefully on a permanent basis, Mike Botello is handling drum duties. Botello and Soliz have some quality Texas metal history as they were both in Assalant together.
When I last saw Militia, 2009, they were great and I expected last night to be the same. To be honest, they were better. This was my favorite of the 4 shows I’ve seen since 2008. Mike’s vocals were stellar. He recently turned 50 and I am amazed that he can still hit those insane high notes. The whole band was tight and Botello’s drumming was a perfect fit. Tony and Jesse’s guitar work and Robert’s bass work was as badass as it has ever been. I really enjoy watching him play.
Militia mixed the setlist up with 7 classic songs and 7 from Strength and Honor. They were solid and the crowd was totally into it. It was great seeing some other Texas metal legends from Devastation and Solitude Aeturnus come to town to see the show.
I’m looking forward to more shows from them. Long live classic Texas metal, I only wish I would have been here in the 80s to have experienced it first hand.
And make no mistake about it, no matter how many great metal bands there are in Texas these days, Militia is ruling the roost once again.
Pentagram came to town yesterday to play Emo’s East. No need to rehash my love for them, it’s all written here somewhere.
I’ll just say that the band was solid and Bobby sounded great. New guitarist, Matt, did a great job. No, he’s not Victor Griffin, but no one is. This kid did a fine job. New drummer, Sean, was rock solid as well. And of course Greg Turley killed it on bass. I got to spend some time with Greg for a few hours before show along with Jeff, the band’s biographer. Jeff and Greg know more about Pentagram than Bobby. Their history with the band is quite interesting. It was a great time talking with them again.
The Saint James Society opened the show and quite frankly I couldn’t have been more bored.
My friends Ancient VVisdom were on next and played a fine set. Their singer now plays acoustic guitar and it changes the vibe quite a bit.
Overall it was a great night.
I’ve been a fan of Black Sabbath since the mid-70s when one of my my older brothers, Robert (RIP), brought home Paranoid. Somewhere around 78 or 79 he gave me their debut album for Christmas and it was one of the first pieces of vinyl that I ever owned. I’ve spoken many times before about his influence on me musically and and his love for Sabbath was certainly passed on to me. I f’n LOVE Sabbath…Ozzy, Dio, Gillan and Martina eras. But my love for them doesn’t give them a pass. In fact, it may make me more critical.
I’d never seen Sabbath (by name) but I did see Heaven & Hell twice. I saw Ozzy live in 1988 and to be honest he was horrible. At that point he was a shell of his former self. Last night I would have called him a shell of a shell of his former self.
Lots of cards were in play with the recent Sabbath reunion. No Bill Ward on the album because of a contract dispute (read: $$ and Sharon). Iommi’s lymphoma which was caught early but is still being treated for every 6 weeks. No Ward on the tour. A new album that I think is boring, autotuned vocally and severely over-processed. Bill couldn’t have saved the album.
Sabbath opened the recent leg of the tour in Houston the night before and the reviews of Ozzy were pretty awful.
The show was opened with Andrew WK doing a DJ of the same songs that most venues would have played prior to a concert…DIO, Slayer, AC/DC etc. Sharon must have gotten him on the cheap! I would have preferred an opening band.
Sabbath opened up with War Pigs then went into Into the Void(!). By the second song Ozzy had pulled out his inner ear monitors. He was motioning during War Pigs that his inner ear sound was jacked up. The band sounded great the whole show. Tony and Geezer were just incredible to watch and listen to. Touring drummer Tommy Clufetos (Alice Cooper, John 5, Ted Nugent) did a fine job on everything except for the song Black Sabbath. He played most of the songs pretty spot on but was doing something weird on that one that just didn’t seem to work. He also did a drum solo and even as me being a drummer (retired), I really don’t like most drum solos, especially from metal bands. But Ozzy said it best last night, “Rat Salad…I need to take a fucking break!” So I can easily see why there was a solo. Ozzy looked worn out. Metal band drum solos are typically just a bunch of double bass, quads and triplets. zzzz. I’d prefer to not have a solo or to watch one where a drummer is showing me their chops. But that’s just my opinion. The crowd loved it and that’s what mattered. And let’s be honest here, does anyone think Ward would have been good live at this point? From what I have seen on Youtube and read in reviews of the reunion tour, dude had a tough enough time keeping up as it was.
I will say that I thought Ozzy was better than I expected him to be, but he wasn’t great by any means. Strapped to his teleprompter, still not getting words right (same in 88 actually) and being flat for a majority of the show. Sure his drug use is that of legend and in general the guy probably doesn’t know where he is half of the time. His wife, who did save his life, seems to be money hungry and continues to prop him up like a puppet.
He sounded best on God Is Dead? and the other new songs which makes sense as they were written more about how he is able to sing now. I was happy to see Dirty Women in the set, unfortunately he couldn’t keep up in it. Snowblind was another highlight.
I know my opinion on this is a minority opinion, but I’d respect Ozzy more if he’d just say, “That’s all, folks. I just can’t do it any more.” I have a list of performers that fall into that category for me.
But all the above taken into account, I had a really good time and have zero regrets about going or about the high ticket price ($115+fees). I felt it was the last time I’d have a chance to see Iommi and watching Geezer is always a treat. He’s still a beast on the bass. And Ozzy sounded better than what I had expected, so there’s that.
I did hear someone say before the show that they loved “Tommy Iommi.” That one always cracks me up.
As we were walking out after Children of the Grave (Yes, I left before the Paranoid encore), I heard Ozzy say, “Thank you, Houston!” He must have walked away from his teleprompter again.
Nektar was in town last night at a little place on the east side of Austin called Cheer Up Charlies. Little is the understatement of the century. This place was tiny. 20 people inside and you’re uncomfortable, I kid you not. No matter, they were playing there and I had to see them. And it was FREE! There was a suggested donation at the door and I dropped in $5.
I was introduced to Nektar’s music through Iron Maiden. They covered King of Twilight as the B-side of the Aces High single. Because of that I picked up their albums A Tab In The Ocean and Remember The Future. While not my favorite prog rock stuff from that era, it was enjoyable. And if Maiden liked them, that was good enough for me back in those days.
Prior to the band hitting the stage, I met their current bassist, Lux, and merch guy, Nicky. A friend had conversed with Nicky earlier and discovered that he was in the seminal British punk band UK Subs. An original member even. Weird world, eh?
Any way, Nektar takes the “stage” (read: the floor) and the room was filled with quite a few folks who were there specifically to see them. I was pleasantly surprised by that. The band seemed a little annoyed by the venue and understandably so. It was a Wednesday night in Austin and this show could have been booked easily at a more suitable venue. Again, no matter. They sounded really good. The band features original signer/guitarist and drummer Roy Albrighton and Ron Howden, respectively. The keyboardist was a German named Klaus Henatsch and on bass was Lux Vibratus, an American. He was a fantastic bassist.
I stayed for just under half of the set as there was another show that I had already paid admission to see. Not to mention that it was completely uncomfortable in there. Glad I got to see some legends last night.