The Metal Files

My Life. My Music. Your Voyeurism.

Paula Abdul Concert Review, Las Vegas, NV, November 10, 2018

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paula-abdul_promo

To say I love Paula Abdul would be an understatement.  I finally met her last year and when the opportunity arose this year, I jumped on it!

Paula announced her Straight Up Paula tour a few months back and the most convenient show with a meet and greet was in Las Vegas, a place I had never been but seemed like as good of a place as any to go, especially with my frequent poker playing.  What could go wrong?  The answer to that is NOTHING.  Nothing went wrong.

I bought the VIP meet and greet passes and invited my Sarah Kay to come along.  I know her from Austin but she and her husband live in Vegas now.  She’s a good friend and the perfect person to take to the show with me.

I arrived in Vegas Friday night around 10PM, got checked in and Sarah Kay and her husband Mark met me at the Hard Rock for some dinner and drinks and we just hung out for a bit.  Then we went over to The Double Down.  Cool punk bar but the cigarette smoke was horrible, so we left and they dropped me off at my hotel.

The following morning I started going around to some record stores but didn’t really find anything.  Ended up meeting up with my San Antonio friend Gordon who was in town with his wife and they were doing some record shopping.  Competition!  haha.  He didn’t find much on this trip either.  Sarah and Mark picked me up and we went back to their place for a bit to chill before the show.  We had to be at the meet and greet by 430 and the hotel/casino (Red Rock) was up near their condo.  We then went to Red Rock, grabbed a quick meal and checked in with Paula’s on site VIP host.  We got our swag bags and such and got with our group of ten folks.  We all had the “Ultimate” passes so we got to watch soundcheck before getting to meet and talk with her.  As they sat us down, Promise of a New Day kicked in and we were all just watching the stage and then out of the corner of my eye, there’s Paula standing right in front of us greeting everyone with her hand as she was singing.  I was taken by surprise and almost lost it.  haha.  There she was.  So pretty, perfect and oh so tiny.  She then went to the stage and they ran through Crazy Cool.  Immediately after we were lined up for the autograph and photo ops.

I purposely put myself at the end of the group of ten people. When it was my turn to meet her, I showed her my arm and it went something like this.
“We met in Austin last year.”  She gave me a hug a huge smile and said, “oh my god, you really did get that tattooed!?”  I asked if she’d add to it and she replied, “what should I write?” I told her to write whatever she wants and she went to work on my arm.  “You’re awesome,” she said. She wrote, I’m Always & “Forever Your Girl”.  Don’t mind the big guy who just died in front of her, that was me.  I told her to call me when she gets to San Antonio and we could do dinner since there’s no meet and greet for that show. With her sly pirate smile she just said, “I’ll see what I can do.” Even though it’ll never happen, I’m glad she played along.

She was incredibly sweet and I’m still in awe of just being able to see her, say hello, have her remember me and to have gotten some sweet hugs!  Immediately after, Sarah and I went to a tattoo shop to get the work done.  We had 2+ hours until the show started.  We got back with about 30 minutes to spare, grabbed a drink and went to our seats…front row center, of course.  We were talking to the others in our row who were asking if I had gotten the tattoo and I showed them.  Good fun all around.  Then the lights went down…

There was a short overture video playing and she opened up with The Way that You Love Me then into Knocked Out.  Throughout the set, which was similar to last year’s with a few additions, she changed costumes a lot, had some videos run while she talked about her history and such.  Obviously she lip sync’d in the songs where she was dancing a lot (most of them), but some of the slower numbers she was singing.  She can still move incredibly well and obviously trusts her dancers as they were throwing her around and she even close the show jumping off of a ladder into their arms.

Suffice to say she looked incredibly gorgeous up there and a couple of times she made eye contact with me and gave a little smile.  Dead again!  haha.  It was a fun show all around.  Afterwards we bounced down to the casino area.  I wanted to get into a poker game and Sarah had her husband and his brother on the way.  I jumped into a cash game for a $200 buy-in and an hour or so later I walked away with about $430.  Not too shabby.  It was the night of the queens for me…Paula and the queens that kept me winning hands at the poker table!  My first and last hands at the table were pocket queens.  It all seemed like it was meant to be.  We played some keno after and Mark was hitting pretty well and knew when to walk away.  We went back to their condo and I got a ride back to my hotel from there.  I was pretty wiped out.  I grabbed a slice of pizza at the hotel and went to my room.  Elated and worn out all the same.

The next morning I got up after getting some good sleep, packed, showered and checked out.  Still had some time to kill so I got on the video roulette machine, dropped in $100 and walked away with $205.  In Vegas, I am a winner.  Everywhere else, not so much.  haha

I’m still undecided on the San Antonio show.  We’ll see.

Already looking forward to another tour!

See the setlist here.

Written by The Metal Files

November 13, 2018 at 1:55 pm

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Arsis (Bloodletting North America Tour XII) Concert Review, Austin, TX, October 17, 2018

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Last night marked probably the 15th time I’ve seen Arsis since their early days back in Virginia where I first became pals with mainman James Malone and the band.  I’m impressed more and more by the band every time I see them.

When the Bloodletting Tour got announced I was super stoked as Arsis doesn’t tour that often.  There were no other bands on the bill I cared about but that wasn’t going to keep me from going.  Generally I’m not into any of the bands they tour with.  haha.

Decrepit Birth was to be the headliner but apparently their singer broke his leg when stagediving and no one caught him.  So at least for the next few shows, Arsis is taking that spot.

It was an early show and upon arrival to the venue, I could already see that it would be grossly under-attended.  Unfortunate.  I met up with James and Noah from Arsis and caught up with them for a bit before they prepped for their set.  Pyrexia was just going on and Internal Bleeding followed right behind them.  I’ll just say that I’m not into that east coast NYHC bro metal stuff.  0%.

By the time Arsis went on, which was right around 9-915PM, the already small crowd had thinned out quite a bit but they still came out and played a killer set, opening the set with a Tricking the Gods from their upcoming LP Visitant which will be released November 2.  Too bad they’re touring without it in hand.  They also played Hell Sworn from the new LP.    Most of the set, however, weighed heavily from 2004’s Celebration of Guilt, which is an awesome album.  James kindly dedicated Seven Whispers Fell Silent to me whilst mentioning how far we go back.  That was pretty sweet.

Their full set consisted of 11 tracks and left the crowd and me wanting more, especially since it was still so early.  But their stuff is pretty intricate and intensive, so I get it.  A friend I met 2 weeks ago at the Satan show at The Whisky was in town for a conference and she showed up, too. So that was cool.

Long live Arsis and I can’t wait to get the latest album in hand!

Setlist.

 

Written by The Metal Files

October 18, 2018 at 9:18 am

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Vicious Rumors and Cloven Hoof Concert Review, Austin, TX, October 15, 2018

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For the second time in a week I got to watch Vicious Rumors play my favorite album of theirs, Digital Dictator.  They’re on a 40+ date tour for the 30th anniversary of that album.  After rolling through the LP tracks with precision, we got a few extra tracks from the other Carl Albert era albums.  The band sounded great, but sadly the crowd was weak.  20 people?  Maybe 30 at its peak?  That sucks.  No matter, I stayed up front and the band was great.  I bought a tour shirt and an original still sealed copy of Digital Dictator.  Some great friends were there which made it even better.

NWOBHM veteran band Cloven Hoof was direct support.  The band only features one original member, the bassist.  I was never a fan then or now.  I watched the first three songs and waited outside and hung with some friends.  They were solid, but they just don’t connect with me.

Vicious Rumors Setlist

Written by The Metal Files

October 15, 2018 at 7:21 pm

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Satan Concert Review, Hollywood, CA, October 7, 2018

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With little to no sleep from staying up till almost dawn with Satan after their Frost and Fire IV concert the night before, Kelz and I scooped up one of my Austin friends and headed down to Hollywood to see them again at the famed Whisky A-Go-Go.  We dropped my friend off and headed to Pinches Tacos, which I love, and chowed down.  From there we headed straight to our hotel.  I was completely wiped out.  We checked in and slept for a couple of hours which still didn’t seem to be enough.

Alarm goes off and we get cleaned up and take a ride up to the Rainbow for some of my favorite pizza ever.  After checking in with Lemmy in the back and seeing some friends on the patio, we grabbed a booth and ordered a Jack and Coke (respect!) and a pizza.  Russ and Cindy from Tanith walked in and joined us for a pleasurable dinner.  Towards the end, new friend from Chile, Chris, joined as well.  The pizza was fantastic!

After dinner, I spent a few minutes with Steve Hopgood who drummed with NWOBHM band Persian Risk.  I had met him twice in the States when Di’Anno’s Battlezone toured with Obsession and Di’Anno’s Killers toured with Solitude Aeturnus.  It was great to chat for a bit.

From there I went straight to the Whisky for Satan.  The direct support band, Gravedanger, was playing.  I wasn’t much into it but saw some potential.  I went upstairs with a Coke and hung with some friends.  I figured a pit would happen during Satan and I wasn’t in the mood for it.

The show started and the pit broke out.  Kelz lasted down there for most of the show.  It was fun watching him take the abuse.  Satan’s 16 song set was a good mix of old and new material, including 5 from the new album, Cruel Magic.  The sound in the room was perfect and the band played effortlessly and seemingly flawlessly.  Brian’s interaction with the crowd was great.  Out of the 9 times I had seen them since 2014, the Whisky show might be my favorite.

Unfortunately, some drunk asses upstairs wouldn’t shut the fuck up for much of the set, but oh well.

After the show we said our goodbyes to the Satan and Tanith crews and some other friends and hit the sack.  Kelz had an earlier flight than mine so I just went to the airport early and hung out until my 1230PM flight.

Originally we were planning to follow them up to San Francisco and Seattle but it started getting a bit pricey and logistically dumb.

Hail Satan!

 

Written by The Metal Files

October 10, 2018 at 4:06 pm

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Frost and Fire IV Festival Review, Ventura, CA, October 4-6, 2018

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FROST AND TIRED

That’s how I feel today.  Worn out, yet refreshed.  Work has been a bit stressful lately and getting out of town for a few days was just what I needed; even better that it was for the fourth (and final?) installment of the Frost and Fire fest.  This was also my fourth time attending and it’s easily my favorite of the USA metal fests.

As has happened on many travels around the USA for shows, one of my lifelong best friends, Kelz, attended as well.  Here’s how it all played out.  TL;DR?  Understood.  haha

Thursday Oct. 4
I landed at LAX around 1030AM and scooped up Kelz in the terminal.  My friend Soledad had arrived at a similar time but needed to get through customs.  We went ahead and got the rental car and ended up having to wait almost 2 hours for her, which was fine.  Unfortunately she didn’t have a signal in the customs line and couldn’t tell us about the delay.  Once through we picked her up at the terminal and headed up to Ventura.  Doors were at 4PM and the first band was slated for 430PM.  We grabbed a quick meal, checked in then headed to the Ventura Theater to get things going.

This year was completely at the Ventura Theater which meant two things, expensive drinks and no ins/outs of the venue without an all access wristband.  Fortunately a friend in one of the bands granted us a pair of wristbands for the weekend, so that was sweet.  For the record, I didn’t have one alcoholic drink in the venue at all, only a couple of Cokes and Red Bulls over the weekend.

But whatever, here’s the band run down for Thursday:

Haunt – They were a known commodity to me already as I had the EP and LP for a while and had already seen them twice.  Definitely one of my current favorite bands and I hope their success continues.  They sounded great as the fest opener, as expected and I can’t recommend them enough.  I got some good chatting time with mainman Trevor over the weekend.  Solid dude.  Looking forward to hearing more from them.

Lady Beast – I had seen them previously in Chicago and Cleveland and enjoy them live.  Thursday was no different.  They delivered a solid set for sure.

Screamer – I only heard them from the lobby, to be honest, and I thought they sounded fine, but didn’t really get a good perspective of them.

Tanith – This band features Russ Tippins from Satan.  I had already seen them a couple of times and they are certainly one of my favorite newer bands as well.  The vocal work of Russ and Cindy is just perfect for their sound, which as stated before, reminds me of Wishbone Ash and Uriah Heep with a touch of NWOBHM thrown in.  Their set was good and we got a couple of new songs.  Unfortunately there were some sound issues.  Didn’t matter, Tanith ruled and the band is full of great people.

Gygax – I saw their Frost and Fire and enjoyed them a lot then, especially with Armand (now in Night Demon) on guitar.  They are certainly influenced, somewhat overly influenced by Thin Lizzy.  I didn’t really see/hear their set as Kelz and I headed out of the venue for a beer and some quick dinner.

Slough Feg – Missed their set, but in general I’m not a fan.

Cirith Ungol – Tim Baker and company delivered a fine set for the masses.  They also debuted their new song, Witch’s Game.  It sounded great live.  The whole band did.

Afterward, we hit Dargan’s Irish Pub for a drink or two then to a quickie mart/liquor store for some room snacks and waters and walked back to our hotel to crash out.  We were both pretty wiped out.  Our waitress there was super cool and had a beer with us after she finished her shift.

Friday Oct. 5

After hitting some breakfast at the hotel and chilling for a bit, we decided to ride up to Santa Barbara to check out a record store.  It was weird how dead that town was at the noon hour on a Friday.  Last year on the Saturday we were there is was quite busy, mostly tourists I guess.  Afterwards we headed back to Ventura, in the most perfect weather ever, and chilled at the hotel a bit.  I got a short nap, got cleaned up and we headed over to Barrelhouse 101 for burgers and drinks before heading back to the fest.  My friends from Mexico, Soledad, Sarah and Jaime joined us and it was a great time to eat, drink and catch up with friends.  Unfortunately we missed Vandallus, Thrust and Cloven Hoof.  I had seen the first two before and they put on solid sets.  I’ve never been a Cloven Hoof fan and really had no interest seeing them.  Here’s what I did see:

Destructor – Cleveland legends.  We caught the second half of their set and Dave Just and the band were solid and sounded great.

Night Demon – They’re Ventura locals and are the body and brains behind the fest.  They are also road dogs and consistently put on one of the best and most energetic live shows ever.  Easily one of my favorite bands to see live…EVER.  Jarvis, Armand and Dustin are a well-oiled machine and know how to work a crowd.  Jarvis is a great frontman.  They delivered their set with precision as expected.  That was my 17th time seeing them!  That’s crazy in an of itself.  Not to mention I consider them close friends.  Definitely connected beyond the music and I thankful for that.

Warbringer – I’ve seen them before and didn’t watch them during their set.  Not my thing.

Midnight – The Cleveland based dark metallers hit the stage with the energy and fury that Athenar and company always deliver.  This was the first time I had seen them since they added a second guitarist.  It certainly beefed up their sound a bit, not that they needed it.  Always an enjoyable set.

The after party was at San Souci across the street and I got in there right as it was getting filled up to see my friends in Blood Star.  Kelz and I chugged our Billys (local drink) and rocked out to their awesome set in that tiny room.  They sounded great!  From there I was wiped out and headed back to the hotel to crash out.  Another band, NovaReign, was about to play but I was disinterested.

Saturday Oct. 6

Same breakfast routine, but did sleep in a little longer.  After chilling for most of the morning and into the noon hour, we finally got cleaned up to go find lunch.  We met up on the street with my Detroit friend Megan and hit a Thai place.  After that?  Nap time, or at least that was the plan.  Our room faced the park area and there was an arts festival going with some shitty DJ music blasting the bass.  I maybe have fallen out for a little bit, but it wasn’t enough.  But we soldiered on!  Off to the Ventura!  While there, I saw the Eternal Champion guys roll in to set up merch and such.  I am a founding member of the band but have now been out of the band longer than I was in it!  I buried a hatchet (perceived or otherwise) prior to their set.

Sacred Few – I only knew their one song from the old Cleveland Metal compilation so they were pretty much an unknown.  Their singer, Sandy, is the only original member and Midnight was the backing band.  It was quite an enjoyable set which started at 330PM.  Sandy sounded great and you could tell that she was having a great time.  She was really sweet to talk to as well.

Vicious Rumors – On tour for their Digital Dictator re-boot, VR delivered a solid set and the current singer sounded great.  I’ll see them again in Austin soon.

Attacker – They sounded killer and it’s always a pleasure to talk with Mike, Michael and Brian.  Great dudes and funny as hell.

Eternal Champion – This was my first time seeing them since my departure from the band.  It was a bit weird.  I watched about half of it then went back out to the lobby to hang with some friends.

Visigoth – Jake, Jamison and company did what they always do…THEY OWNED THE STAGE AND CROWD.  Jake is one of the best standalone frontmen in the business and the band overall sounded great.  I wish I could see them more often.  It was made even more special with Manilla Road’s Bryan “Hellroadie” Patrick on vocals for Necropolis in honor of the passing of Mark Shelton.  RIP.

Ashbury – Prior to their set, Rob from Ashbury gave me a copy of their new CD and a steel pin for my vest.  “Love and Respect, Sean.”  Just hearing those words from him means the world.  He said he wanted my review of the album, good, bad or indifferent.  I’ll get working on that soon.  They delivered another fine set and they are the perfect band for this fest.  Most everyone loves them.  They were great.  They always are.

Satan – Hail Satan!  What more can really be said about them?  Plenty!  They were slated to play all of Court in the Act and it was great to hear the full album played live, especially Hunt You Down, which they rarely play live.  They were absolutely great and played a couple from their new album, Cruel Magic, along with some other early songs and some from their more recent catalog.  The whole band is so energetic and Brian Ross’ vocals are still top notch.  They were the perfect end to a perfect festival.

After the show, we were all saying our goodbyes before getting thrown out of the venue.  Neither Kelz nor I care to go back to Sans Souci for the after party bands as it was already packed in there.  So we headed back to the Irish pub with Christian (Venomous Maximus, ex-Eternal Champion [there are a lot of us!]) and had a shot and a couple of beers before they closed it down.  As we walked back up to the hotel, Satan was there unloading gear and beers and invited us to hang out with them.  Didn’t have to ask us twice!  Brian Ross’ drink of choice is called a Firemeister which is a combo of 1 full shot of Jager and 1 full show of Fireball.  Sounds awful, right?  It is.  But if Brian is serving them up, I’ll generally not say no.  Fortunately he didn’t have much left, so I feel like we dodged a bullet.  haha.  We also had a couple of beers.  It was Kelz, Heather from Graveshadow, Brian/Graeme/Steve from Satan and Charlie/Cindy/Shauna from Tanith and me.  Time flew by quickly and all of a sudden it was 5AM (7AM Texas time and 8AM NC time for Kelz).  I threw in the towel.  We had to be out of the hotel by noon to head to Hollywood to see Satan again Sunday night.

That’s the wrap for the fest, this wonderful perfect fest in one of the most beautiful cities in the USA with the best weather we could have ever wanted.  Jarvis has wavered on whether or not this will be the last one or not.  I personally hope not.  It’s really a great fest, well-run and I thoroughly enjoy seeing a lot of friends that I don’t see regularly and meeting new friends.  Getting to spend time with the bands, my friends from Germany (thanks for the scarf, Kiri!), Soledad, Jaime y Sara from Mexico, Stephan from Switzerland, Kit Ekman, Christian from Venomous, Ollie from KIT, Thilo, Henri, Rodney, and all of the USA friends.

See all setlists here.

Written by The Metal Files

October 10, 2018 at 11:56 am

Posted in Uncategorized

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

Posted in Uncategorized