The Metal Files

My Life. My Music. Your Voyeurism.

Omen Concert Review, Laredo, TX, September 8, 2018

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Omen in Laredo?  OK, why not?  My friend Lisa and I drove in to Laredo late night after the Scorpions show (see previous post) to meet up with her husband and his family for the weekend.  I was pretty wiped out by the time we got there and fell asleep pretty quickly.  We got up the next morning, did some running around town and some sightseeing since I had never been there and saw a lot of the places where the two of them were familiar with as they grew up there.  That was cool getting some of their history mixed in.  We met up with our friend, Mina, at El Popo for some torta type sammiches then went and had a couple of drinks before heading back to the house to chill before the evening’s festivities.

We met up with Mina again at a bar and had a couple of drinks then went to the venue.  It wasn’t a big place but was about what I expected.  There were three death metal bands opening.  None of them were my thing but the crowd dig them.  Two were from Monterrey, MX and the other, Severance, were from the valley, I believe.  They’ve apparently been around for a long time.  I was there for Omen exclusively.

I saw Kenny Powell from Omen for a quick minute before the show and met the new singer.  The bands were all sharing a backline, so there was no real set up time.  I moved straight to the front.  I LOVE OMEN.  The JD Kimball era (RIP) falls within my top 15ish bands of all time.  I also liked the Kevin Goocher stuff and thought Hammer Damage was a strong album.  Omen had released 2 songs online with Nikos who is their new singer from Crete.  All I can say is that he pretty much nails the JD sound, be it contrived or naturally.  He’s also a super nice guy.

They opened with Termination and rolled through the classics until playing Alive from the new EP.  They also played Evil Seductress from that as well.  The set was killer and other than the 2 new songs, I was singing along with everything.  I was fully energized by the show and the band was great overall minus a couple of technical issues with Kenny’s effect pedal board.  He’s got such a unique sound and it was great to hear most of my favorite Omen songs, especially Torture Me and Teeth of the Hydra.

I look forward to seeing them again…and again.

Omen setlist

Written by The Metal Files

September 12, 2018 at 12:54 pm

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Scorpions and Queensryche Concert Review, San Antonio, TX, September 7, 2018

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Scorpions came back through on a make-up date for the show they canceled last year because of some health issues with Klause.  I ended up with a pair of great seats and no date.  I was heading to Laredo after the show with my friends Lisa and Logan and offered one of the tickets to them.  Have one of them go with me to the show and we’ll meet the other in Laredo.  Logan isn’t much of a Scorpions fan so he let his wife come with me.  We got in a little late and missed half of Queenryche’s set.  What we heard sounded great.  Todd nails it on vocals.  Unfortunately the number of original members in the band has dwindled down to 2 with Rockenfield no longer on drums.

Scorpions came up next and our seats were right on the rail at the catwalk.  I told Lisa that we should just move up to the rail during the break and maintain our spots.  Security had moved a few people off of the rail but the closest guard to us recognized me from the Priest show and told us to stay there.  We were also right next to our seats, so no biggie.  Scorpions opened with a newer song, Going Out With A Bang.  It’s an OK song.  The rolled through most of their 80s hits, played a medley of the Uli-era and then did something really cool, which they had been doing since Mikkey Dee joined the band…They played Motorhead’s Overkill.  It was a good enough version.  TO be honest, my main reason for seeing the show was to see Mikkey as he’s one of my all time faves.  Klaus’ voice sounded really good and the band was solid as expected.  There was one blunder by the bassist at the beginning of No One Like You where he obviously didn’t hear the count into the song and wasn’t playing in the right post.  He figured it out quickly and they rolled on.  The set could have been a bit better and it was weird that they didn’t play Still Loving You, but oh well.

It was a fun show and we had a long drive in the darkness and rain to Laredo, so we didn’t waste any time and got on the road.

Scorpions setlist

Queensryche setlist

Written by The Metal Files

September 12, 2018 at 12:32 pm

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Armored Saint Concert Reviews, Chicago, IL & Milwaukee, WI, July 21-22, 2018

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What a whirlwind weekend.

I’ve no deep connection with Armored Saint beyond always liking them and never thought they did a truly bad album.  They are currently playing Symbol of Salvation in its entirety and that’s one of my faves.  The short tour wasn’t coming to Texas so Rodney and I decided to head north and catch 2 shows, Chicago and Milwaukee (Saturday and Sunday shows, respectively).

We were flying out of San Antonio on Saturday morning so I decided to stay with him Friday night.  After a quick dinner we went back to the house and I had a minor kidney stone pain come on.  This is the 20th one since 1989 so I wasn’t too freaked out.  I went to bed and pain got worse for the next couple hours so I grabbed my bag and drove to the nearest emergency room.  A quick cat scan and some morphine and it was confirmed that I had a biggish sized stone but the doc felt it would pass eventually.  I messaged Rodney that I was at the hospital in case I couldn’t get out in time to catch our flight.  I was discharged around 3AM.  Luckily he saw my message and was able to let me back in the house.  So that was that.

We dropped into Chicago, ate at Portillo’s and went record shopping.  Didn’t find much and headed to the hotel to chill for a bit.  We took a ride to Reggie’s to get Wrath, Acr of Defiance and Armored Saint.  I’ve been to Chicago several times in recent years for shows at Reggie’s and this was the first time that I didn’t really know anyone there besides Rodney and one other friend, Michael.  I know a lot of metalheads in Chicago and none of them were there.  Weird.  But no matter, the show was packed.  I had never seen Wrath and while I’m not much of a fan beyond a couple of songs on Fit of Anger, they were solid live.  Don’t think I’d ever need to see them again on purpose.  Next up was Act of Defiance which features ex-Megadeth guitarist Chris Broderick and drummer Shawn Drover along with Shadows Fall guitarist (on bass) Matt Bachand and some singer I didn’t recognize.  They were awful.  The most generic thrash-ish stuff I have ever heard.  It just wasn’t cohesive at all.  Then came Armored Saint.  The opened with March of the Saint, Long Before I Die and Chemical Euphoria.  I hung near the back of the venue for the set.  I was a bit tired from the hospital visit but Saint had me pumped up.  They were stellar, beginning to end.  Back to the hotel.

Woke up Sunday feeling great and we got in the car for the short drive up to Milwaukee which included another Portillo’s run.  We hit some shops along the way and found a few things, but nothing major.  We grabbed dinner at a local pub and were both a bit tired and crashed out in the car for a bit.  Saw our buddy Randy at the show.  Then around the block for the early show.  No local openers and I endured Act of Defiance again.  I did get to say hi to pal Jeff Duncan for a moment right as AoD was playing.  Always good to see him.  After a quick stage change, I got up front for the first 1/3 of the set.  Another stellar show, albeit it lightly attended.  It ended at 11.  We had an 8AM flight and still had to drive back to Chicago, painful.

With a few hours sleep and another kidney stone attack, we were back the the airport and on our way home.  Again…whirlwind! And worth every moment.

Written by The Metal Files

July 23, 2018 at 5:58 pm

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Slayer, Lamb of God, Anthrax, Behemoth & Testament Concert Review, Austin, TX, June 20, 2018

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Slayer said they were calling it quits and that this would be their final tour, so why not go?  No need to get too misty-eyed with Slayer memories, but I first saw them on the Seasons tour with Testament on the Souls of Black tour.  My nose got slightly rearranged in a pit that night.  Good times.

Personally this was too many bands on the bill but whatever.  The show was at the Austin360 Amphitheater which isn’t my favorite place to see shows.  It’s not far from where I live but it’s historically a pain in the ass to get in and out of.  The parking lots opened at 3, gates at 4 and the first band started at 5.  We left my house at 330 and were in the parking lot by 345 and I had a VIP parking pass from the fan club presale, so we were right at the gate.  Easy peasy!  We walked in, met up with some other friends, grabbed a drink and a quick bite of crappy food and went to our seats.  On with the show.

This was my 8th time seeing Testament since 1987 and while I really only like the first two albums and The Gathering, I do enjoy them live, especially with Gene Hoglan on drums.  He makes it look easy.  Last night’s list was rather boring, though, and obviously too short since they were the opener.  At this point they’re just going through the motions…a theme for the whole night.

Before Behemoth came on, we grabbed another drink, found more friends and then went back for their set.  I thought I had seen them before but my Setlist.fm page says otherwise.  They were solid and enjoyable even though the whole satan thing makes me laugh.  Hoglan played one track with them.

Same between-set action before Anthrax.  I saw a lot of folks I hadn’t seen in a while last night, which was great.  This was also my 8th Anthrax show since 87 (with Testament coincidentally).  I know Anthrax loves playing covers and they do a good job at it, but why make them a part of your set, especially when it’s a short set?  Why not some deep cuts?  Anthrax is another band just going through the motions, really.  Yes, they are tight and played perfectly, but everything is just completely controlled.  Like most older bands, they have no fire beneath their feet.  Energetic, but it seemed feigned.  Benante had missed some shows on the tour for health reasons and Hoglan filled in as needed, but he played last night and he was on his game.  Beast drummer.  It was cool that Anthrax used the drum intro from Slayer’s Criminally Insane to intro a song.  Not sure how many people caught that.

Lamb of God was up next.  I can’t care about this band.  I detest metal-core.  I hung out with friends through most of their set.

Slayer came out and opened with Repentless.  Assuredly the crowd was there to primarily see Slayer.  While the band has slowed down a little over the years, they are still viable in a live setting.  I could have done without all of the post-Seasons era songs, but whatever.  Hell Awaits, Chemical Warfare, Black Magic, South of Heaven and Mandatory Suicide were definitely my highlight tracks for the night.  Sure, Reign In Blood is a beast of an album but they usually play the same ones.  The pyros were pretty insane.  The heat from the flames where we were sitting was intense at times, I can’t imagine how it was on stage.  The band was solid, albeit a little slower as I mentioned.  Holt is a killer player and does Hanneman justice.  I really do miss Lombardo behind the kit, though.  He’s got an intensity about his playing that Bostaph can’t capture, and that’s no slag against him, but it’s just not there.

At the end of the show, Kerry and Gary stood at the edge of the stage and threw a ton of picks out after the band had already exited.  It was nice seeing Kerry “hang out” a bit with the fans.

Overall it was a great night filled with great friends.  It had been raining (not blood) most of the week and while there were some ominous clouds hanging over the venue for a while, it never rained.  The humidity was outrageous though.  I felt like I was back in Virginia for an outdoor summer show.  We were front row of section 102, just up from the pit area and it was great not having to stare into everyone’s cellphones for the whole concert.  After the show we went to the Al Pastor taco trailer and it was awesome as always.  Lots of other show attendees were there as well.

Long live Slayer.

 

Written by The Metal Files

June 21, 2018 at 9:13 am

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Hammerfall & Flotsam and Jetsam Concert Review, San Antonio, June 19, 2018

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At the last minute, my buddy and I decided to head down to San Antonio to catch Flotsam and Hammerfall.  It was a relatively early show so we grabbed Rodney and headed into town after a quick dinner.

I had just seen Flotsam on their tour opener as headline a few weeks back but was stoked to see them live again and especially to see Ken Mary on drums again.  Since they were the opener they didn’t have the full set but still laid it down hard and heavy and were super solid.  They’ve only got a handful of dates left on the tour, one more with Hammerfall then the rest with them as headliners again.

After a quick amp and minor drum change out, Hammerfall came on and played a solid set.  At least solid for what I stayed to see.  I really only like the first 2 albums and they weren’t playing anything from the debut and only a medley from the second.  So that was a killer for me.  During much of their set, I hung outside with Ken and heard some of the stories from this current tour.

Fun night overall and worth the trip and late drive home.  Slayer tonight!

Written by The Metal Files

June 20, 2018 at 10:27 am

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Dennis DeYoung & Night Ranger Concert Review, Austin, TX, June 1, 2018

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For many of us, Styx has been unavoidable since the mid-70s.  Their music was everywhere…radio, roller rink, pool parties etc.  But they seem to always have 2 sides, you like ’em or you don’t.  Never saw much middle ground and it seems most people can’t stand Dennis DeYoung’s voice.  I’m in the “like ’em” camp although I’m not a fanatic and I’ve never seen them play with Dennis in the band, so I decided to go see the voice that was a huge part of my youth, good or bad.

I had sort of forgotten about the show until just a few days prior and invited a friend at the last minute to go.

Night Ranger was the opener and I hadn’t seen them before, either.  They rolled through their greatest hits with ease and with pure energy.  To be precise, they were completely badass.  I was really blown away by 2 main things, Jack Blades’ voice and Brad Gillis’ guitar playing.  Jack’s voice was sharp and he had no problem getting high in the vocal range.  Kelly Keagy and Gillis were no slouches in the vocal department either.  Overall it was a killer set and good to see Keri Kelli again.  Highlights were Don’t Tell Me You Love Me and When You Close Your Eyes.

Dennis DeYoung had recently been playing 2 sets containing all of the Grand Illusion album but last night it was just one set of basically Styx’s greatest hits.  As expected, the whole band was on point, musically and vocally including Dennis.  He’s a very spry 71 but his voice is still strong.  Lots of memories from middle school flooded in.  It was quite an enjoyable show and the highlights for me were Best of Times, Lorelei and Suite Madame Blue.

Dennis DeYoung Setlist

Night Ranger Setlist

Written by The Metal Files

June 2, 2018 at 3:22 pm

Sacred Rite & Tragic Nancy Concert Review, Phoenix, AZ, May 25, 2018

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I’m still trying to catch my breath after the events of Friday, May 25, 2018 in a small club in Phoenix, AZ.  It was something that I never thought I’d see in my lifetime.  But there I was…there we were, to witness a reunion show 30+ years in the making.  Now let’s go back in time a bit.

In 1987 I was browsing the used cassettes at a local record store and saw Sacred Rite’s third release titled Is Nothing Sacred? for $3.99.  The Michael Whelan cover drew me in as well as the band’s name.  Oooooo spooky.  The minute I popped the cassette in the shitty tape deck of my ’66 Nova 4dr, I was initially taken aback by the vocals.  Clean, melodic, great vocal harmonies, guitar hooks.  They were perfect.  I listened to that tape a lot and they became one of my favorite bands.  Shortly after I found their The Ritual on cassette and subsequently a CD pressing of it.  It took a few years to finally hear their self-titled debut.  I didn’t even know it existed until I found the second pressing on vinyl in the early 90s.  All three of their 80s albums are awesome.  Period.  Unfortunately, they were basically done by the time I got into them and they also never toured.  That was hard to do being in Hawaii and ultimately moving the band to Tulsa of all places, where they found their ultimate demise as a band.

Flash forward to my February 27, 2001, my 31st birthday.  I was browsing around on my WebTV unit (remember those?) and an email popped up from Peter Crane, Sacred Rite’s bassist who had found my Geocities page which was called Is Nothing Sacred? and used the album cover as my background.  We started emailing back and forth and I asked him about having the original recordings and if they’d be interested in releasing them on CD.  He seemed surprised that people remembered Sacred Rite and were even interested in hearing them again.  I offered my services to shop their stuff to a few labels that do classic reissues and we/they settled on going with Denis Gulbey from Sentinel Steel.  The band submitted demos, write-ups, photos etc and in 2002 Rites of Passage Vols I & II were released.  I’ve always been honored to have been a part of those releases.  Since then, I’ve stayed in touch with Pete and Jimmy.

A couple of months ago, Pete sent me a message on Facebook letting me know that Sacred Rite (Pete, Jimmy & Mark!) and Tragic Nancy (post-Sacred Rite) were doing a reunion for Jimmy’s mom’s 80th birthday.  I booked my trip immediately for Phoenix.  I’ve been beyond excited for this show since Pete let me know about it.

I flew out the morning of the show on an easy 2 hour trip.  I was originally invited to the noon rehearsal but that fell through so I checked into my hotel in Scottsdale and went out record shopping.  After hitting a few convenient shops, I went back to the hotel and to my surprise I saw that there was a Portillo’s (Chicago) across the street, so I grabbed an Italian beef sandwich and took it back to my room.  A quick nap, a shower and getting the book and my CD covers together I headed out to a small club called The Blooze as Pete said he’d be there around 8.  I was really looking forward to meeting him and the rest of the band.  Jimmy was there when I arrived and I introduced myself.  His cover band was opening so he was getting stuff set up.  Pete showed up right after that and it was great to finally meet face to face.  Shortly after Mark got there and I hadn’t realized that it had been 30 years since they had all seen each other.  I could feel a little tension in the air but it was great seeing the three of them together.  There were a lot of people there from “the olden days.”  Some folks traveled in from Hawaii, Oklahoma, Denver, California and all around who were friends and family of the band.  That was really very special to see and to meet almost all of them.  I was the outsider, just a fan, but felt very welcomed by everyone.

Jimmy’s cover band, Hair Raiser(?), opened with a solid set of covers of Whitesnake, Journey, Sabbath and some others.

After a quick drum set change up, Tragic Nancy took the stage.  Quick history, Kevin left the band and was replaced by Scott Dickerson and Jeff Begley replaced Mark a year later.  The band changed their name briefly to Beauty Knows Pain then when Tim Hewitt replaced Begley, they became Tragic Nancy.  This night’s lineup featured Pete, Jimmy, Tim and Scott who had played a reunion show a few years back in Oklahoma.  They ran through four songs with Tim strictly on vocals and during the fifth song, The Sidewalk, Mark took the stage with Tim and exchanged verses as this was originally a Sacred Rite song.  They sounded great and to be honest, I was blown away most by Pete’s backing vocals.  What a range he has not to mention his superb bass playing.  With this transitional song complete, Tim made his exit and it was time for Sacred Rite’s set.

They kicked it off by singing happy birthday to Jimmy’s mom, Connie.  This reunion show happened for her 80th birthday.  She’s a pretty awesome and spry 80 year old and you could tell she was definitely the band mom.  They all love her dearly and she loves them.  From there it was right into I’ve Seen the Wizard from Is Nothing Sacred?  With them not having played with Mark in 30 years and not having rehearsed with him for this gig, I didn’t know quite what to expect.  Then he started singing and all fears and doubts that anyone had of what this would sound like left the room immediately.  They were on fire and I stood there blown away by the energy.  I’d say that any tension of the last 30 years, perceived or otherwise, didn’t exist.  They fell right back into being Sacred Rite.

Next they paid a tribute to their original drummer, Kevin Lum, who died in 2002.  It was obvious how much he meant to them, especially since they were so young when they wrote and recorded those 3 LPs in the 80s.  From there they rolled through I will Survive, Eleanor Rigby, Resurrection, Angels Never Die, As It Was Told and Revelation.  Seven songs that were finished in the blink of an eye.  I didn’t want it to end.  But it was over and I was standing there in shock and disbelief that this show even happened at all.  It was a bucket list reunion show for the ages and I can only hope it happens again.  The whole band was great.  Jimmy and Mark trading up solos, the vocal harmonies, the bass and drums.  It was all incredible, even if it was a little loose.  I am pretty sure it exceeded everyone’s expectations.

After the show, and again, it was great seeing them all catch up together telling stories from Hawaii and Tulsa.  I just took it all in.  Before leaving, Jimmy gave me his address and said they were having a gathering at his house on Saturday for his mom’s birthday.  I said my goodbyes to the band and all of the new friends made and headed back to my hotel.  I could feel the 2 hour time difference catching up to me and needed to get some sleep.  It still took me about an hour to wind down and fall asleep once back at the hotel.

Saturday morning I got showered up, ate the hotel breakfast and started making my rounds around Phoenix and the surrounding towns doing some record shopping.  The first store I went to, Asylum Records, had a good selection metal but much of it a bit overpriced for common titles.  Nothing worth buying that I could flip!  In the last row of LPs I looked in, there was a pristine copy of Sacred Rite’s first LP, so I bought it.  I stopped at a couple of other places that morning then went back to the hotel to drop off the records.  It was hot out and I didn’t dare chance leaving them in the car.  From there I headed to Jimmy’s and brought the album cover with me to get signed.  I arrived and many of the folks from the show were there and a few of which I didn’t get a chance to meet the night before.  I was amazed at how many folks came in from Hawaii for this.  Shortly after I arrived, some more friends showed up with several large containers of Hawaiian food from a local restaurant.  It was delicious.  It was great being able to talk to Mark a little more in a more casual setting.  He really is one of my favorite singers and I was blown away by his vocals and his guitar playing.  Like the others, he’s kept his chops up.

After staying for a couple of hours, I decided to make my exit to let them all continue catching up with each other.  We did a few photos and then I headed back out to do some more record shopping.  That evening, I went to a nearby casino and got into a poker game with a $100 buy in.  I’m sure they appreciated my donation!  haha.  The cigarette smoke in there was killing me, so I didn’t stick around.  I popped into the Scottsdale Beer Company for a late dinner and a couple of local beers then took myself to bed.

I had a lot of time to kill on Sunday so I packed up my stuff and drove a little north of Scottsdale to the Carefree/Cave Creek area.  Gordon Lightfoot has a song called Carefree Highway inspired, in title, by this stretch of road.  I drove it, drove around in the desert a bit and saw some beautiful cacti, prairie dogs and quail.  I headed back down into Mesa and Phoenix to hit a couple more record stores and found some real rarities, so that was cool.  One of my best friends that I met in Austin used to live in the area and her brother had recently moved back, so I met him at the Tempe Tavern for a few beers and some street tacos before heading back to the airport.  It was good catching up with him.

Once on the plane, I just put on my headphones, jammed some music and reflected on an incredible weekend.  I can’t thank Peter Crane enough for his initial contact in 2001 and for letting me know about this show.  Also many thanks to the rest of the band, Jimmy, Mark, Scott and Tragic Tim for their fine hospitality.  It was a true honor and pleasure to meet them and all and even more so to see them play finally.  I’m still in a bit of disbelief.

Maybe we’ll get Sacred Rite at one of the metal festivals in 2019?  I’m going to work on that as well as a possible vinyl re-release of their 3 80’s LPs.  One of the guys that came in from the Bay area is sending me some of the Sabre (pre-SR) demos.  Maybe there’s an opportunity to release some of that, quality depending.

Sacred Rite forever.

Sacred Rite Setlist

Tragic Nancy Setlist

 

 

Written by The Metal Files

May 28, 2018 at 4:06 pm

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