Archive for August 2015
Last night was filled with a bunch of bad ass musicians playing great rock and progressive music. I could end the review right there, but we’ll keep going. I scored the VIP/meet and greet when it was first announced because I’ve always wanted to meet Chris Squire and Steve Howe. Unfortunately shortly after I got my ticket, Chris announced he wasn’t doing the tour due to health issues and subsequently died. Terrible.
Since they didn’t offer a refund and the pass was non transferable, I went through with the show.
Toto was the opener and while I respect them and love their hits, I’m not a huge fan. Having never seen them before, I was a bit excited to see them. Toto is a band, like Yes, who has seen some real loss. RIP Porcaro brothers. A big plus is having Steve Lukather in the band. I was tempted to buy their meet and great instead of Yes’ just to have Lukather sign my Alice Cooper From The Inside CD.
Toto’s set started promptly at 7:30 consisted of their biggest hits Hold the Line, Rosanna, Pamela and Africa. I was pretty much lost on the rest of their set, although they sounded amazing. I was impressed with Steve Porcaro’s vocals more than anything. His range is still amazing. Lukather’s vocals sounded good, too. His playing was solid. His solo at the end of Little Wing was pretty amazing.
One thing that was really cool was that they had the legendary Lenny Castro on percussion. What a treat!
The whole band sounded great and they had their original bassist back in the band as well. David Paich only sang Africa, and he was having some issues. I don’t think it’s an easy song for anyone to sing in general. They were good but I doubt I’d go out of my way to see them again unless they were part of another great bill like last night’s. The played a full 90 minute set and I was really hoping to hear 99 and Georgy Porgy, but oh well.
After a 30 minute changeover, Yes came on at exactly 9PM with a tribute video to Chris Squire with his signature Rickenbacker bass lit up in the middle of the stage.
They opened with Don’t Kill the Whale and followed up with Tempus Fugit from the Drama album, probably my favorite album by them. They went through America and Time and a Word, which I had never seen them do. It sounded great. Jon Davison does a great job on lead vocals. Billy Sherwood is handling bass duties and holds his own, but there’s only one Squire. The band is certainly older and a bit slower, but they sounded great. I love watching Steve Howe’s facial expressions and cues making sure that Alan White was ready for a break or whatever. Just like last time, it’s obvious that Alan has lost a few steps in his delivery, but he still played fine.
Seeing Steve play Owner of a Lonely Heart was quite weird. You could see that he didn’t care for it. They extend the end, though, and he gets to rock out with his own solo which was quite awesome. The whole show was except for the drunk girl next to me. We were on the front row. She and her boyfriend showed up with 2 songs left with Toto and she had a purse full of airport liquor bottles of vodka. Towards the end of Yes’ set, she was wasted and kept flipping off the band while they were playing complaining that they should be closer to her near the end of the stage. She looked over at me during the encore, Starship Trooper, and said, “Sorry. Am I bothering you?” I looked at her and her boyfriend, shook my head and just said, “You’re an idiot.” After the band finally walked off stage she turned to me again and said, “You should add me on Facebook.” I just said, “Not interested.”
They stumbled out and we went side stage for the meet and greet. I was shocked that they had about 70 people. Tour manager rambled off some procedural stuff and a few rules about how you can shake hands with anybody except Steve Howe. “No hand shakes, fist bumps, hugs, pats on the back etc.” I asked of we were at least allowed to look him in the eye and he and the crowd laughed.
They were cycling everyone through the line twice. First time for your picture with the band and the second to get stuff signed, 2 items only. As I got in front of them for the photo, Geoff Downes says, “Cool jacket, but I don’t know any of those bands except for Judas Priest.” Jon Davison stated that he loves their metalhead fans.
I was near the end of the line and when we got to the signing part, I was going to have them signed the poster given to us as part of the VIP swag and have Howe, Downes and White sign my Drama CD. All of the guys were very laid back and signed the poster. Everyone got to spend a few moments at the table. When I got to the 3 that were on Drama, I mentioned to Steve and Geoff that I had seen their Asia reunion show a few years back and that I had the CD cover with me. Steve said, “That was a fun tour. Where’s the cover?” I mentioned the 2 item limit and he smiled and just said, “I’m running this show right now, let me have it.” haha. Sweet! I finally got in my truck at 12:15AM for the 75 mile drive home.
I liked how the show was set up with two bands both playing full 90 minute sets. If Yes comes around again, I’ll go for sure.
Lots of stuff coming up. It’s going to be a whirlwind few months.
YES/Toto (San Antonio)
Rick Springfield/Romantics/Loverboy (Austin)
Peter Cetera (San Antonio)
Frost and Fire Fest with Manilla Road, Ashbury, Visigoth, Night Demon, Steel Prophet, BAT, Savage Master and more (Ventura, CA)
Loudness (San Antonio)
Cheap Trick (San Antonio)
King Diamond (Houston)
The Cult (Austin)
The last time I saw Kansas was 2000 in Virginia Beach, VA when they were opening for YES. We had lawn seats at the amphitheater and it was started raining cats and dogs during Kansas’ set. It made the show less enjoyable. When YES came on, they moved us in seats at the back of the covered area as the show was lightly attended. I can’t say I enjoyed the show that much getting soaked like we did.
I got home from work yesterday around 5:30 and felt like I needed to get out and do something. I went to the ShowListAustin website to see if there was anything to spark my interest. The last 2 things on their list for yesterday were Weird Al and Kansas. I’m no big fan of Weird Al so I looked up the Kansas show and there were plenty of tickets available. I ended up in a box section all by myself which was just fine.
I’ve never been to the Long Center before and it was an average sized place with good sound. The venue doesn’t allows bottles, cans or food inside, so they pour your drinks in a cup with a lid and a straw. Seemed odd.
The band started promptly at 8PM with People of the South Wind and then when into Point of Know Return. Let’s be clear, Kansas are not young folks. Neither am I and their fan base surely isn’t young. I was certainly in the top percentage of “younger” folks and I’m 45!
The band sounded great albeit slower than the recordings. No surprise and no problem. The new singer, Ronnie Platt, sounded great taking over after Steve Walsh’s 2014 retirement.
The setlist consisted mainly of songs from “The Best of Kansas” compilation with some additions. Being in the box and not blocking any views, I stood up the whole show.
The highlights for me were Play the Game Tonight, Belexes, People of the South Wind and Hold On. I love that song and it has always elicited an emotional response and last night’s version was no different. Great song. Enjoyable show over all and was over before 9:30 so us older folk can get to bed at a decent hour. haha
A while back, former MTV host, Riki Rachtman, announced a one day festival celebrating the now defunct (and purely dysfunctional) Cathouse in Hollywood. Let’s be clear, back in that era of the 80s, I was not down with hair bands, silly ballads and much of the stuff associated with that hairspray and makeup. There were a few acts, however, that I did at least like a few songs from. But whatever.
This show was set up with a limited number of VIP passes and I was able to score one for the main purpose of the meet and greets to get my Book signed. Supposedly all bands that were performing were suppose to appear. More on that later.
I got into LAX around noon on Friday the 14th and got my rental car (1.5 hour wait) and headed down to Irvine to get checked in to the hotel. I unpack, grab some dinner and head to a club in Anaheim called Chain Reaction. It’s an all age club that didn’t serve alcohol so no beers for me. I caught the last 3 bands which in order were Tower Guard, Toronto’s Crimson Shadows and Nekrogoblikon. I really liked Tower Guard. Younger power thrash with some good potential. The singer could stand to do less talking between songs, though. Crimson Shadows, while technically proficient musically, were about as boring as I could have wanted. Tight Gothenburg style metal with cookie monster-esque vocals intermingles with clean vocal harmonies from the two shredder guitarists. Nekrogoblikon came on and had a large band and some dude dressed as a “goblin” that runs around on stage. I was totally annoyed less than a minute into the first song and left.
The next day I slept in a bit to save up some energy for the long day ahead. Parking lot opened at noon and I went to get my VIP swag which included the meet and greet wristband. I ran into some friends of friends and hung with them until 2PM when the gate was opened. It was pretty damned hot and I was in jeans, black SA Slayer shirt, denim vest and the shoulder bag that I carry the book. It was hot, but not quite Texas hot. Opening band, Swamphammer, was playing as I walked into the venue. I made a bee line right into the VIP tent and downed 2 bottles of water. I was drying out quickly.
The meet and greets were set at 2 different times to have the later playing bands come out early to meet the fans and vice versa for the early playing bands to come out later. In the early one, I got Stephen Pearcy, Tom Keifer and Steve Riley to sign the book. Riley had been an elusive one for me over the years. Phil Lewis recognized the book and said, “I remember this. You’re carrying this around all day?” Ugh. Yes. Faster Pussycat came out and it was good seeing those guys. Good friends, Dangerous Toys came out and as always when I see any of them around town, it’s just friends hanging out together. Great guys. During this meet and greet, Bullet Boys, Enuff Z’Nuff, Trixter, Autograph, Black N Blue all played. I only got to hear them play and all of them sounded great, Especially Black N Blue and Autograph. I was hoping that Don Dokken, Mark Boals and Mick Brown would come out but they never did. Bummer.
After this, I went down into the VIP pit and watched part of Junkyard’s awesome set and the beginning of Saigon Kick, which bored me as much now as back in the day. I went to the merch/food area to grab a taco and caught some of Pretty Boy Floyd’s set on the side stage. Kristy Krash Majors was back in the band and they sounded pretty good. I moved back to the pit and caught LA Guns, Dangerous Toys and the beginning of Pussycat’s set. They had a bunch of original members join them on stage which was cool.
By this point it was time to hit the other meet and greet. At this one we got Autograph, Black N Blue, Junkyard, Extreme, Sebastian Bach, Bullet Boys, Jetboy and Trixter. I got the 2 guys from Autograph, 2 from Black N Blue and Bach. I didn’t know Extreme had come out until they had already left, so no sigs. I hung with David Roach from Junkyard for quite a while and with my old pal, Rowan Robertson (DIO). Guys from Trixter, Jetboy and others that I had no idea what band they were in signed my VIP pass. I really hated bands like Trixter, Jetboy, Little Caesar, Bullet Boys, Cinderella and Extreme back in the old days. Modern day, I do at least like the old Cinderella.
So let’s get to the band performances that I saw/heard.
- Bullet Boys – I only heard them but they sounded good. I’ve seen them several times in the last year and when their singer saw me he jumped up and gave me a big hug. Nice guy. I got to see their drummer, Shawn Duncan (Odin) briefly and his wife, which is always a pleasure.
- Trixter – Heard them only. They were solid but I just couldn’t care.
- Black N Blue – Heard only but they may be my faves of the day. They were solid, great vocals and heavy. Chains Around Heaven!
- Autograph – Sounded great and I wish I would have seen them to watch Steve Lynch play. He’s a great guitarist. It was cool hanging out with him as we have a good friend in common.
- Junkyard – ROCK AND FUCKING ROLL. They were great. It was hot as hell up there and they rocked their set.
- Saigon Kick – zzzzz
- LA Guns – As solid as ever
- Dangerous Toys – Jason McMaster and company sounded great and the crowd was really into them. Always fun to see live, especially seeing “hometown” boys away from home.
- Faster Pussycat – Sounded great and cool having the originals on stage again
- Stephen Pearcy – Only heard him. It was about like it was last year. He’s having a tough time these days.
- Sebastian Bach – He sounded great as did his band. Great show.
- Dokken – Only heard but they sounded much better than I expected. Having Boals on backing vocals is a good idea.
- Tom Keifer – He sounded great. Utterly impressed.
- Pretty Boy Floyd – Solid. Nothing different than what I expected.
I didn’t catch any of the other bands. I tweaked my back somehow during Dangerous Toys and it got progressively worse throughout the evening, so bad that I left before Extreme came on. That meant that I missed the Gilby Clarke all star jam with Ace Frehley. I was in incredible pain. Absolutely horrible. It was better by morning, thankfully, but not great.
All in all this show was fun and well organized. The bands on the main stage were on a rotating stage and no set times were missed. It was impressive seeing all bands start and finish on time. The only negative thing I can say is that it sucked not getting to meet a few of the bands, but oh well, herding rockstars is like herding cats. I had a blast.