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The Who and Joan Jett & The Blackhearts Concert Review, Austin, TX, April 27, 2015

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The_who_face_dances_albumMy brother, Robert (RIP), had one favorite band and that was The Who.  While he was the one who got me in to KISS, Alice Cooper, RUSH etc in the 70s, The Who was always top of his list.  Through the constant record spinning in the 70s and 80s, I became and remained a fan.  Anytime I hear one of their songs, it just punches me in the gut with his memory more so than any of the other bands that he influenced me with.  He absolutely loved them and I am pretty sure he never got to see them.  I had never seen them before last night either.

Typically when a ticketed show comes to town, I’ll buy 2 as seeing a show with a friend is typically a fun thing to do, but for this show, I wanted to see it alone.

In 10th grade we had to do a book report, written and oral presentation, and I had chosen Full Moon: The Amazing Rock and Roll Life of Keith Moon as a I was a big fan of his frenetic drumming.  During the oral presentation, I hung my brother’s Live at Leeds poster behind me and had the tape of that show playing in the background.  At the end of the report I quoted one of the last lines in the book which said (paraphrased), “To sum up Keith’s life, he basically upped and fucking died.”  Take into consideration that this was a Catholic high school.  Ms. Collins, who only lasted on year there, was pretty mousey and was appalled that I had “used such language” and sent me to the principal’s office.  I didn’t go.  I went to the library and listened to a cassette until the bell rang.  The next day I ran into the principal, Sister Ethelreda, in the hall and she immediately had me follow her to her office.  I took a pretty good tongue lashing from her about foul language in the classroom etc.  I didn’t care.  I hated that place and Ms. Collins, who pretty much only spoke to me when she had to for the rest of that year.  haha.  I ran into her at a mall a few years after high school and spoke to her for a few minutes.  I think she was terrified of me.

I’m a pretty big Who fan and prefer their 70s and 80s material more than the 60s stuff.  Face Dances, Who’s Next, By Numbers and It’s Hard are my faves.

4378So here we are at show day.  After work I get a ride downtown, grab a happy hour beer then make my way to the venue.  I had a pretty decent seat with a side view of the stage, which was perfect as I really wanted to watch their drummer, Zak Starkey.  Zak is the son of Ringo Starr, but I couldn’t care less about that and I’m not a Beatles fan at all.  BUT…Zak played drums on ASAP’s Silver and Gold album.  ASAP stands for Adrian Smith and Project.  Yes, THAT Adrian Smith.  This is the album he released after leaving Iron Maiden and I think it’s an amazing record from front to back.  Great rock album with Adrian on vocals and Zak’s incredible drum work.  I highly recommend it.

Joan Jett & The Blackhearts were the openers and while I’m not much of a fan, she put on a really good show and opened with my favorite song of hers, Bad Reputation.  She pretty much played everything you’d expect to hear plus a couple of new songs.  Her voice sounded great and her band was solid.  And before last night, I never noticed how gorgeous her eyes are.  Looking at the closeups on the big screen monitors just had me captivated for a bit.

After about a 40 minute set change, The Who come on stage and open with I Can’t Explain and The Seeker.  Either before or after the next song, Who Are You, they have to change out one of Pete’s amps.  While they’re doing that, he mentions that Jeff Beck was in attendance.  He quipped that there was at least one guitar player at the show better than him.  It was pretty funny and his delivery was right on.  They carried on with their playing through mostly familiar hits sprinkling in a few deeper ones like I’m One, Amazing Journey and Sparks.  Eminence Front is one of my fave songs by them and they played it.  It was great.

The whole show was great in general.  Roger’s and Pete’s voices are still very clear and full of range and I was pleasantly surprised by that.  They rolled through 22 songs in about 2 hours and no encore.  Impressive for a band of their age.  Pino Palladino was on bass.  He’s a monster player overall but didn’t do all of The Ox’s runs which I thought was odd.  Zak’s drumming was solid.  Beastly even.  He did a lot of cool stuff but I was surprised and maybe a little let down that he didn’t really do any of Moon’s signature licks.  It was most noticeable to me in My Generation.  Moon plays a mean shuffle on the ride cymbal in that song but it was nowhere to be found last night.  But just getting to finally watch him play was a treat.  He did do a few buzz rolls reminiscent of that ASAP album that were awesome.

I’ll admit to getting emotional a few times during the set thinking about my brother.  I probably missed him more last night than I have since he died.

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Krokus Concert Review, Houston, TX, April 24, 2015

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My first recollection of hearing Krokus was from buying a tape in the early 80s of their Paymetal_cover11978 album, Pay It In Metal.  I’m pretty sure that hearing Screaming In The Night and Bedside Radio on the radio in those years prompted me to buy that tape.  Plus it was only $1.  That album is quite different than their 80s stuff and doesn’t include Storace.  I bought The Blitz when it came out in ’84 and loved it.  People slag Midnight Maniac but I think it’s a killer tune.  I pretty love all of their 80s stuff but never got to see them back then.  I remember in the late 90s or early 2000s that they were scheduled to play Jaxx in Springfield, VA (RIP) but something happened and they never made it over to the USA.

When I saw they were going to do to a small US tour, I knew I had to go.  They scheduled dates in Houston, San Antonio and Dallas and I promptly bought tix for Houston and SA.

I got to Houston early in the day to beat the rush hour traffic, checked into my hotel and went to the venue to see if any of the guys were hanging out and to try and get The Book signed.  Score.  I got to meet Mandy Meier and Chris Von Rohr (only original and founding member) after their sound check.  Chris was pretty funny.  As he’s signing the book, he just looks up at me and says, “Can you find me a toothpick, please?”  He handed the book back to me and I said I would.  There were some folks there with stacks of vinyl and CDs and I could see in his face that he was getting punished by a few of those guys, especially this one dude that I have seen at a few Houston shows.  The guy just wouldn’t move on after getting his stuff signed.  Von Rohr just stopped paying attention to this dude’s inane ramblings.  I came back a few minutes later with some toothpicks and handed them to Chris who stood up as the punisher was mid-sentence and said, “THANK YOU!  You’re now my new tour manager.”  I think it gave him a reason to just get up and diss that dude.

I ran into some friends right before the first band went on and hung with them most of the night.  The opening band is touring with Krokus (same US mgmt).  They were called The Chimpz and it was some sort of hip hop metal thing.  I stayed outside.  Horrible.  Puerto Rico’s Red Tiger came up next and they were decent.  The drummer and one of the guitarists both handled lead vocal duties and I preferred the drummer’s vocals.  They’re pretty young and their sound is all over the hard rock/metal map, but I think they can likely dial it in.  Love and War was up next and they’ve got a good Houston following.  They’re super solid hard rock and the singer has a great vocal range.  This was my second or third time seeing them.

Finally around 1130, it was time for Krokus.  The show looked about 3/4 full.  I was down in front on the rail for most of the set and it was hot down there.  They come out and open with Long Stick Goes Boom and go right into their cover of  American Woman.  Blech.  Never liked the original and never got into Krokus’ version.  But the band was tight and Marc’s vocals sounded great.  They mixed the short set up with some newer and older stuff, completely avoiding The Blitz album.  There were a few older gems in there like Winning Man and Easy rocker but I’m still a bit surprised that in your first US show in 25 years, you don’t play Bedside Radio, Our Love, Fire, Midnight Maniac or even some of their other famous covers of Stayed Awake all Night, School’s Out and Ballroom Blitz.  Don’t get me wrong, I say avoid covers when you have such a huge back catalog but oh well.  They’ve been pretty good about putting albums out every 5 years or so.  Lots of lineup changes.

Right after Screaming In The Night, I got out of the pit and listened to the rest of the show on the patio.  They had the doors open and I could see and hear everything perfectly.  It was hot inside and I needed some air and a cold beverage.

After the show, they did do a quick meet and greet and I got Marc to sign the book.  There were a lot of people in line to meet them and I just shook hands, said thanks and moved on.

The show was great.  I went to San Antonio to catch them on the second night, but because of their Fiesta traffic, I never made it in.

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Michael Schenker Concert Review, San Antonio, TX, April 11, 2015

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To be honest, I was a latecomer to the works of Schenker and even the Uli era of the Scorpions.  I never got exposed to it.  It wasn’t until the mid-90s when a friend gave me his record collection that was filled with pristine copies of UFO, Scorpions and MSG that I was floored by the greatness of these bands.  I had seen Schenker and Roth together in 2004 and was simply blown away.  I do prefer the MSG stuff a little more than UFO just for its heaviness, but hearing someone play like that in the 70s was pretty groundbreaking.

The current lineup features Francis Buchholz and Herman Rarebell from the Scorpions along with Doogie White (Yngwie, Rainbow) and Wayne Findlay.

I opted for the pre-show meet and greet because I am a huge fan of Francis and Herman.  What a solid rhythm section.  The 7 of us got to sit in on soundcheck.  Before getting the PA and everything in order, Schenker was just in front of his amp shredding at a low volume for about 45 minutes straight until the whole band was ready to check.  Half of that time he was just doing hammer on/pull offs with no picking in between whatsoever.  It was pretty impressive.  He’s 60.  Also a lot thinner than he was in 2004.  It was interesting watching Michael, Wayne and Francis fixing a “mistake” that they were doing live.  Michael asks Francis what note he’s playing in a certain part, Wayne disagrees, Michael agrees, they play it between themselves a few times and fix it.  After the 4 song soundcheck, we got to hang out with the band, nerd out, get our stuff signed etc.  There was a young couple who had just gotten married earlier in the day then came to the meet and greet.  Pretty cool seeing such young fans of quality music.  I was really mostly excited to meet Francis.  When I picked up the bass in 2000, the Scorpions were one of the bands that helped me learn how to play.  I had a great conversation about his red Fender bass and if he brings it on tour still.  “It’s better left back home these days.  It’s a ’66,” he said.  He went on to tell me about his current Warwick endorsement and how they custom built 2 for him.  He’s such a big guy that the Warwick looked tiny strapped to him.  Herman was a pleasure to talk to as well.  Before soundcheck, Doogie came over to where I was sitting and just started chatting.  He must have been pretty bored.  haha.  I asked him about his first band, La Paz, and gave me a cool quick history.  Unfortunately they weren’t listed in the book.  I did have Francis and Herman sign on their photo.

Y&T were playing in the club next door and went on before Schenker, but I didn’t get back to the club in time to catch them.  We purposely missed the openers but I caught a glimpse of the band that was on right before and saw the bassist all over the stage with crazy antics and thought that he looked like the former Schenker bassist, Rev Jones (Fort’e).  It was him.  He’s a bit annoying to watch but the guy can play.  Too much over the top though.

Schenker and the band come on and open with Doctor Doctor.  They sound great.  I think Doogie is a good fit with them.  They rolled into a new song called Live and Let Live then into Lights Out.  The crowd was very into it.  Schenker and UFO are huge in San Antonio.  The set was filled with UFO, MSG and Scorpions songs.  Michael’s playing was just stellar.  His rhythm guitarist/keyboardist, Wayne Findlay, also provided great backing vocals.  The whole band looked like they were having fun.  It was a killer show.  Now I need to see Y&T next time they’re around.

I also got a bonus signature in the book from original Devastation bassist, Alex Dominguez.  Score!

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Doro Concert Review, Houston, TX, March 8, 2015

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IMG_8950useFirst and foremost, I need to get this out of the way…“apology accepted”.  Those were the words Doro said to me last night after I apologized for my Butthead moment with her back in 1988.  She thought it was very funny actually.  It had always been in the back of my mind anytime I’d think of Warlock or her, so I’m glad I finally got to get that off my conscience.

When I saw that Doro was coming to Texas again (last time was 2007 in San Antonio but I couldn’t make it), I got a ticket ASAP.  I absolutely love Warlock.  The drive to Houston yesterday and the return home today were tough as it was a heavy rain both days.

Upon arrival to my hotel, I was relaxing a bit after a nice hot shower and looking at Instagram and saw that Johnny Dee, Doro’s drummer, ate at the ramen place next to the venue.  I was very hungry and this sounded like a good idea on such a cold and rainy night.  It was an incredible pork broth, noodle, ground pork, chopped pork, hot sauce, bok choy concoction that set me just right.

After the meal I go to the venue and run into some friends and hung with them for most of the night.  There were 4 opening bands, 3 of which were local and one from Santa Cruz called Archer.  I missed the first opener and couldn’t really get into the other 2 local bands at all.  Archer was a decent 3 piece of heavy rock band that is touring with Doro.

The crowd had thinned out some.  It wasn’t packed in there by any stretch but by the time Doro came on, I’m guessing about 150 were still around.  The band hits the stage and opens up with I Rule the Ruins and plowed right into Earthshaker Rock.  The band sounded awesome and I couldn’t believe how great her voice was.  She looked and sounded like it was still 1988 and she is very appreciative of her fans.  You could tell how much she loved being up there and seeing familiar faces in the crowd.  Some people had traveled from Luxembourg to be there as well as other parts of the USA and Mexico.  I love that.

The setlist was filled with songs from all four Warlock albums.  It was awesome hearing Out of Control and I freaked when they played Evil from the Fight for Rock 12″.  She played a handful of songs from the solo career as well including 2 from her new album, Raise Your Fist In the Air.  Hearing Metal Racer just blew me away.  They performed the cover of Dio’s Egypt (The Chains Are On) and it was just perfect.  I’ve always loved her cover of that.

It was just a wonderful set, which of course I wanted more Warlock songs.  Just play all night, ok?  After the show I got to spend a little time with Johnny Dee which was cool.  I’ve always liked that self-titled Britny Fox album, even though I despise most of that hair band stuff.  That riff on Long Way to Love is killer.  After talking with Johnny, I was afforded a moment to get on the bus with Doro.  It was a cool few minutes.  She signed The Book and my Triumph and Agony CD.  The tour manager was rushing me off the bus so I didn’t get the other Warlock CDs signed, but he did call me “assman”.  I didn’t take but a couple of photos as I really just wanted to stand there and take it all in.

Stay hard, true as steel!

Bob Seger Concert Review, Houston, TX, February 14, 2015

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It’s funny.  Whenever I mention Bob Seger around friends, it’s always a reaction of love or hate.  I really like most of everything I’ve heard by him sans a few songs, mainly Katmandu, Old Time Rock and Roll and Like a Rock.  Even before Chevy picked that song up it annoyed me for some reason.  I could stand never hearing Turn the Page again just because it’s a good song that’s been overplayed, not to mention the bastardized version that Metallica recorded.  Horrid.

Upon getting to our floor seats, I noticed two drum sets on the stage which meant there was an opener.  BUMMER.  I didn’t sleep much the night before and even though I had a nap earlier at the hotel, I was still wiped out and the last thing I wanted to do was sit through an opener.  It was Austin’s Heartless Bastards and were about as boring as I could imagine.  Good on ’em for picking some shows on such a huge tour, but they just weren’t my thing at all.

Bob Hits the stage just a little after 9PM and opens with Roll Me Away from The Distance album and went right into the Otis Clay cover of Tryin’ to Live My Life Without You.  I wasn’t familiar with either of them but the majority of the crowd was singng along to both.  That crowd averaged in age about 50 years or more.

Fire Down Below came up next and that got the crowd even more energized.  It was followed by a Steve Earle cover tune called The Devil’s Right Hand from his new album entitled Ride out.  That album is Bob’s last according to him.  He also played a John Hiatt tune from Ride out called Detroit Made.

They ran through most of the hits you’d expect and thankfully skipped Katmandu.  I’ve always been a big fan of Against the Wind, Come to Poppa, Beautiful Loser, Night Moves and Especially Hollywood Nights.    Bob’s songs sometimes tell great stories.  Against the Wind and Hollywood Nights certainly evoked some great childhood memories and even some memories of good loves gone bad or bad loves gone worse.  haha.  I was really hoping to hear Still the Same, Even Now, You’ll Accomp’ny Me, Shame on the Moon and even more so Fire Lake.  I adore that song.

Bob will be 70 this year but you’d never know it.  He was all over the stage and his voice was in excellent shape.  I was really surprised.  Overall it was a great show minus two drunk couples in front of us that wouldn’t shut up the whole show.

Thanks for the memories and great songs, Bob.

 

Uli Roth and Black Knights Rising Concert Review, Houston, TX, February, 13, 2015

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When I saw that the Extreme Guitar Tour was coming through Houston, on a weekend night no less, I had to make arrangements to go.  It was a tough drive since the Alice Cooper after party from the night before gave me a bad case of rock and roll pneumonia.  haha

Opening the show was a Canadian band called Old James.I couldn’t quite get a bead on them.  While I could tell that they were all proficient musicians, nothing sounded congruent.  No hooks.  They covered Thin Lizzy’s Cold Sweat but I couldn’t tell what it was until the chorus.  I heard a few other folks say the same thing.

Black Knights Rising (BKR) is a bit of a supergroup featuring Tim “Ripper” Owens (Winter’s Bane, Judas Priest, Iced Earth, Yngwie Malmsteen, Dio Disciples and many more), Craig Goldy (DIO, Giuffria, Rough Cutt), Vinny Appice (Black Sabbath, DIO, Rick Derringer), Elliott Rubison (Uli Roth, MSG, CEO of Dean Guitars) and sometimes John West (Uli Roth, Royal Hunt, Artension). Based on the BKR Facebook page, Bobby Rondinelli was slated to take over drums after February 9th. That didn’t happen. Either way, both Bobby and Vinny are both in The Book, so I was set either way.  The band comes out and opens with Death Alley Driver by Rainbow and they sound great.  This show was the final night of he tour.  Everything played was either by Deep Purple, Rainbow, Black Sabbath or DIO.  John West came out and went back and forth vocally with Owens on Burn.  They both sounded great!  Highlight for me, though, was Stand Up and Shout.  Vinny’s insane snare work always blew me away in that song and watching him that close live gave me a new appreciation for his playing.  He’s still a beast.  Goldy’s playing was spot on as well.  Effortless player and I’m glad I finally got to see him live.  Last time I saw Ripper live was on the Jugulator tour in Norfolk, VA.

Half of the crowd left after BKR.  Seriously.  Uli was up next and half of those folks left.  I’m still shaking my head over that.  His band is made up of John West, Elliott Rubison, Kofi Baker (son of Ginger Baker), David Klosinski (guitarist from one of the Sky Academy classes) and Allesandro Bertoni on keys.  Uli opens with All Night Long then in to Sails of Charon.  Holy crap.  To finally see him playing these Scorpions classics live was a dream come true.  His playing style is so fluid and relaxed.  He almost looks bored up there.  But even watching the old vids of Scorpions, he always has that look.   Klosinski played rhythm guitar and did some harmony soloing with Uli and was spot on with it.  How cool it must be to have Uli as a mentor.  John West sounded great.  There’s only one Klaus, and West wasn’t trying to imitate him.  He was a great fit.  Kofi’s drumming was great and you could tell that he and the band followed Uli’s every move.  He directed some jams with the wave of a hand, a nod or just some quick eye contact.  Seeing them play We’ll Burn the Sky and In Trance gave me goosebumps.  Maybe even a little verklempt during Burn the Sky.  I absolutely love that song.  The final 3 songs were all Hendrix covers, which is not surprising.  I’m not a Hendrix fan but respect his influence.  He’s obviously very important to Uli.  It was a great show.

After the show I got to meet Vinny and Goldy.  They were both very inquisitive about the book.  They signed on the DIO group photo that features both of them, so it was great that Vinny was there.  I also broke my own “no selfie 2015″ rule.  Uli was available, too, but I had met him in 2000 and he signed the book back then.  It was also getting late and I was dog tired.  Great seeing some friends there as well.

Alice Cooper Concert Review, Austin, TX, February, 12, 2015

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No real review that would be any different than the San Antonio show.  It was a blast again!  I did get Chuck’s pick, an Alice $100 bill and the necklace, too.

Enjoy the pics!

 

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