The Metal Files

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Archive for May 2017

New Kids on the Block, Paula Abdul & Boyz II Men Concert Review, Austin, TX, May 21, 2017

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You read that right.  I went to the above concert.  It was important that I went.

History…

I like to give some personal background on the bands that I see, especially bands that have been integral to my musical life.  As strange as it may seem, Paula Abdul is in that mix.  Her first album came out in the summer of 1988.  I had just graduated from high school, had tickets to the upcoming shows by Yngwie, King Diamond and Iron Maiden.  But I saw a poster or maybe it was on MTV at a friend’s house (I grew up without cable TV), but I saw her face and just like in The Godfather when Michael first sees Apollonia, I was stricken by the thunderbolt.  BOOM.  I was knocked out, some might say.  From that day forward, she has always been the most beautiful woman on the planet that I had never met.  I bought the tape for Forever Your Girl soon after and actually liked it.  Cheesy pop songs, but enjoyable.  I do like some of that stuff as you are likely aware if you’ve been reading this site for a while.  With Paula, I became a fan of her music and bought her next 2 albums as well.  All 3 of them are really good for what they are.  And seeing her in videos throughout those years always made me all gushy.  I will even admit to watching the first couple of seasons of American Idol with the volume turned down just to see her pretty face and that gorgeous smile.  Most any of my friends that I’ve known for a while have known about my obsess…erm, crush on her.

Flash forward to not too long ago and when a friend alerted me to this concert announcement.  I had never seen her live and don’t ever remember her coming around my hometown area in the 90s.  She probably did, but I was a little less apt to see pop shows back then.  Nowadays, I don’t care what someone may think.  I wasn’t thrilled about the other two bands on the bill but it made sense.  I saw that there was a VIP presale for NKOTB and I wanted to be as close to the stage as possible, so I got the best I could get without buying the meet and greet.  Right.  Don’t really care about meeting the grown boy band.  Boyz II Men had announced their VIP package shortly after but nothing about Paula’s mentioned on the venue page or on her website.  Bummer.  A bout a month or so after buying my tickets, the venue announced that her VIP package was forthcoming.  So of course I hyperventilated briefly and checked the site daily for an update.  After about another month, detail finally appeared and the sale was on.  I’ll just say that it was a painful purchase as I bought the top tier pass which included an “intimate Q&A” in her dressing room.  I’m thinking, “A lot of people are going to be in there and it’s going to suck, but whatever…”  *Click*  Done.  I had a brief moment of buyer’s remorse but quickly got over it.

So a few months passed of just getting myself mentally prepared to finally see and meet her and then the actual day arrived.  My friend Sarah Beth accompanied me and we got in before the crowds.  Since I had the NKOTB VIP tix, we got 2 swag bags full of stuff.  I gave them both to her.  It had a hat, socks and some other stuff in there.  I couldn’t care.  I was just getting more and more giddy the longer we had to wait.  Originally the meet was supposed to be after her set but they moved it to before Boyz II Men so that we wouldn’t have to miss any of the show.  Okily Dokily.  So they line us up at the backstage door and asked the three of us with the super access to go last.  There were only 15ish people for the meeting.  Boyz had about the same amount and NKOTB had 140.  That was an interesting crowd of people to see.

They start herding in the first folks for their photograph and it was happening fast.  Her tour manager came out and said to just wait after the last of that group was done.  Then we were all three ushered into the photo room.  It was us 3 guys, Paula, her photog and another tour manager.  The first guy went up, she gave him a hug and they snapped a few pics.  I was second.  I was dying.  The moment was here.  The voice in my head right now as I write this is of the narrator from A Christmas Story.  haha.  So the first guy is done and she puts both of her hands out and says, “Come here.”  Yes ma’am!  She looks at my vest and looks up at me and says, “This is awesome.  You’re precious.  Give me a hug!”  Yes ma’am!  Here’s where things got difficult.  She gives me a huge hug and I gushed hard, almost to the point of shedding tears.  I said in her ear, “I could so easily cry right now.”  She said, “Go ahead!”  I responded quickly with, “I don’t want to mess up your makeup.”  She let go and laughed.  “That’s funny!”  We snap a couple of pictures with her in my arms then she says, “OK, I’m going to kiss your cheek now.”  FUCK.  I bend down a little and wrap my arms around her again and she kissed my cheek and they snapped another picture.”  The world stopped for that moment.  To be honest, I’m still not sure it has started spinning yet.  I said, “May I kiss you back?”  “Of course!”  Sadly the photog didn’t get a pic of that one.  The last guy went next and had her hold a sign for his friend.  He was only in town on business from Belgium and a friend from back home wanted him to hold a sign with his friend’s name on it with Paula.  She was gracious and obliged.  He was a pretty interesting guy.  As we were in line, he showed me pics of his son with Dave Murray and Adrian Smith at a restaurant in Italy from a while back.  Super cool.  After this, the manager said to hold on a moment and then we’d be escorted to her dressing room.

We get in there and there are 2 sofas.  She gives us each a nice little hug again and asks us to sit.  The 3 of us on one sofa and her and her 12yr old Chihuahua with her on the other.  The lights were low, some candles were burning and one of the managers poured each of us a glass of champagne.  She welcomes us and thanked us for coming.  Then asked if we had questions.  I don’t remember what the first guy asked.  She gave him a nice long thoughtful answer and then I asked her about the album that she had supposedly recorded in the late 90s or early 2000s and why it never came out.  She explained about her plane accident and subsequent surgeries and that she wasn’t physically able to tour, so she didn’t want to put anything out if she couldn’t support it on the road and then American Idol happened and took up a lot of time for the next several years.  “I have so much stuff recorded from those sessions and even some newer stuff that I’ve been working on.  You’ll hear new stuff soon.”  The Belgian fella asked a question about Idol and about how she handled seeing the rejection of very talented singers.  Again she gave a nice long answer.  We got to ask another question but the first guy didn’t have anything.  So I asked if we were going to get anything from her third album, Head Over Heels, in the setlist tonight.  She said that Crazy Cool was talked about but that it ended up that nothing from the album was happening.  Bummer.  I really like that album a lot and I told her that.  “What’s your favorite off of that one?”  Loaded question and I had to try not to get all uber nerd, so I just said right off the top of my head, “If I were Your Girl, My Love Is for Real and Missing you.” “Oh wow, that’s sweet.”

We were in there for about 20 minutes and they said it was time for us to go.  She thanked us again and as we were about to walk out, I asked, “Paula, may I ask one more thing?”  She said, “Of course” and I asked if she’d sign my arm.  “Absolutely.”  As she’s walking over to me to sign it, I told her that I was going to have it tattooed in after the show.  She looked me dead in the eyes (me dying again) and said, “That’s incredible.  I will absolutely do this.  May I draw a little heart, too?”  My obvious answer that probably sounded like MushMouth from Fat Albert was, “You may do whatever you’d like, Paula.”  She signed it carefully and the photog snapped a couple more pics.  Again.  Dying.  Well, dead at this point, really.  I snuck in one more little hug and floated out of the room.  We were then ushered back into the photo room where dude was printing out one of the photos and put them in a frame for each of use.  As we’re waiting, a girl comes in with a pro video rig strapped to her and on of the managers said she was filming the tour documentary.  She asked us about being fans etc and then said, “Which one is getting the tattoo?”  I acknowledged and she turn the video camera back on and asked about it.  She filmed me and the sig on my arm and said, “This will most certainly make it to the final footage.  This is so awesome.”  One of her dancers came out and snapped a pic with us.  Cool dude named Gianni(?) from Amsterdam.  And that was that.  We could hear the intro music for Boyz II Men starting as we were walking out of the backstage area.  Some tall guy wearing all white damn near knocked me over running by me and turned quickly and said, “Sorry man!  Didn’t mean to hit you!”  I said, “All good!”  He ended up being of the singers for Boyz II Men.  haha.

Sarah Beth was waiting for me in the lobby area with a beer waiting for me.  She saw the look on my face and understood where my brain was.  I sent a quick text to my buddy Chris Carlton that she signed my arm and I needed his services after the show.  “Done.”  We had discussed previously and he was stoked to do it.  We finally go in and BIIM was on.  They were really good.  I’m not a fan at all but they put on a really good performance.  Two of them played instruments while covering a couple of Lenny Krazitz songs.  We were 6th row center, but were still pretty far back because of a catwalk and NKOTB party pit in front of us.”  BIIM was out near us quite a bit.  Again, they put on a great show.

After a quick set change, Paula was on.  Much of her set was all the way up there at the stage with her dancers so were weren’t really that close.  But it was good.  During her more intense dancing songs, she was obviously lip syncing, but on some of the slower ones, she was definitely singing and she sounded just fine.  For the last 2 songs, she was out on the catwalk in front of us.  I was still just in awe of everything that had just happened and that I was finally seeing her live.  It was just awesome and I’ll admit that during Rush, Rush I got choked up.  Total time and place type of song, ya know?  She closed with Forever Your Girl and that was that.  The show was over.  Her set was shorter than BIIM’s which was a bit of a bummer.  But let me tell you, at 54, she’s still got the moves, in heels even, and she is still absolutely extremely beautiful.  I hated that it was over.

New Kids came on and I don’t really know their stuff beyond The Right Stuff.  The middle aged women in there were loud.  LOUD.  When they were infront of us on the catwalk, their main guy, Jordan(?) looked at my vest and gave a thumbs up.  Whatever holmes, I’m not here for you.  haha.  After about 4 songs, they all came out into the crowd and did some other song I didn’t know.  That was pretty cool.  Then they all donned UT football jerseys and did another song from the rear stage.  As that ended, both Sarah Beth and I had had enough.  We were both tired and hungry so we left mid set and took a pedicab down to Valhalla where Chris was hanging out.  We grabbed a quick bite then walked across the street to the tattoo shop.

Fifteen minutes later, the tattoo was done.  We all went back to Valhalla where I bought a couple of rounds for our group and then I went home.  I was wiped out.  So much of an emotional drain.

Meeting her was special and pretty much a once in a lifetime kind of thing.  It was a great experience reminiscent of meeting John Arch or Adrian Smith.  HUGE.  She was so incredibly kind and sweet.  Hopefully we’ll get a new album eventually.

For the record, I washed my vest a few days before the show.  It was pretty ripe.  I also got a haircut and trimmed my beard.  I needed to look good for her.  Well…as good as I could.

Written by The Metal Files

May 22, 2017 at 8:59 pm

King Diamond, Exodus & Strike Master Concert Review, Mexico City, Mexico, May 6, 2017

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This could also be titled “Monkey Boy Goes to Mexico.”

After a lifetime of being too lazy to get a passport, I finally got it late last year.  Originally my first out of country trip was going to be to Germany to hang out with Marco and see the RockHard Fest but work got in the way.  Right around that time this show got announced for Mexico City and I asked my friend Soledad if she was going and could be my guia (guide) if I came down.  She obliged, I sent her money for my ticket, booked my flight and that was that.  Other than Puerto Rico a couple of years ago with Rodney, I’ve never been off of US soil.  I have several friends in Mexico City (DF) that I’d previously met at metal fests here in the US and was looking forward to seeing them again.  It was going to be a quick trip…fly out Friday morning and come home Sunday night.

My flight was from Austin to Houston, Houston to DF.  The flight to DF was slated to be full and I sat with a nice older lady from Dallas who was headed down to see her dad.  We ended up being the only row with the middle seat left open.  Fortunately I speak pretty good Spanish although I don’t get to use it enough these days.  Having it spoken to me at normal conversational speed is my weakness, especially if there’s a lot of other noise going on, but I did well with the passport agent and final security guy.  Soledad met me outside of the terminal and we walked a ways to get to the subway.  Lots of damned stairs which wouldn’t have been so bad if I didn’t have my suitcase with me.  But I managed it and needed the exercise anyhow.  We hopped on the subway and headed to La Zona Rosa part of DF where my hotel was and where she lives.  All eyes were on the big white guy with the grey beard on the subway, that’s for sure.  But I never felt uncomfortable once.  We arrived at the first hotel, I checked in and we went up to the room.  NOPE.  What a piece of shit, to be honest.  We ended up going back down and she got it refunded minus a small fee.  It wasn’t that expensive to start with, but still.  Her mom suggested another right around the corner and it was perfect.  Inexpensive, clean and secure.  That was that.  Once I got settled for a few minutes, we headed out to grab a bite to eat before meeting up with Sara.  You might remember her from such concert reviews as Spring Bash 2017.  We went to a nice quaint restaurant nearby called Las Chalupitas.    I wasn’t super hungry but we had an appetizer and I just ordered a pibil taco and she got something that was on masa with mole, chicken, and cheese.  I tried one and am still not sure whether I liked it or not.  I’ve had several different types of mole in the last ten years, but this was really different.  My taco was great, too.  With the 4 beers we had, the total was about $15USD.  What?  Orale!

From there we went over to McCarthy’s Irish Pub.  Unfortunately they were out of many of the local beers, so I just went for German beers that they had.  Sara showed up shortly after and started ordering Cubanas, which is sort of like a michelada.  They were pretty good.  I got a message from a friend from Monterrey, Marco, who was in town just doing some recording with a band, not going to the show.  He’s the bassist for the killer band Maligno.  We hit the beers pretty hard then decided to go to El Deposito…for more beer.  I really liked that place a lot.  Another friend, Fernando, from Monterrey was also in town and he met us there for a few minutes before heading to meet up with other friends.  Soledad’s friend, Alonso, showed up as well and we had a great time.  Sara went hope after McCarthy’s.  After we decided that we had had enough to drink, we hit this little taco shop that was really good.  After eating, we said our goodbyes and Soledad and I walked a few blocks back to our respective habitats.  Again, never felt uncomfortable at all.  SLEEP.  I was wiped out.  The bed was hard as a rock and didn’t do so well with my ongoing back problems.  I didn’t sleep that well at all.  The room had shades that blocked all outside light, so one of the times that I woke up, I checked my phone for the time and it was almost 9AM.  I opened the shade and it was sunny out.  I threw on some clothes and went down to and had breakfast in the hotel.  It wasn’t good.  Whatever.  I walked down the street and hit the 7-Eleven for a red bull.  I contacted Soledad to see if she was moving yet.

After a shower and some chilling out, we met up and headed to El Chopo.  This is a huge flea market type thing that is filled with art, bootleg band shirts, CDs, DVDs, food etc…and records.  Very important.  The records.  It was part of the reason I wanted to go to DF.  We got there a little later than I had hoped but no big deal.  Next to El Chopo is the library, which was pretty neat.  We walked in and looked around.  It was set up pretty well.  Once at El Chopo it was a sea of black…meaning a shit ton of metalheads everywhere.  It was awesome.  We met up with friends Peter and Mau who I hadn’t seen in a couple of years.  Great guys.  They introduced me to a lot of their friends, all who were super cool.  I bought 9 records, but could have easily bought 50 more had I taken more time.  I didn’t want to bore Soledad too much but she was great help if I couldn’t understand someone very well.   Next time I go, I will be better prepared to at least try and haggle.  I didn’t try that with anyone but was happy with all of my purchases.  I also ran into my friend Sarai who was hanging out with Olaf from Ambush and his girlfriend.  That was a pleasant surprise.  After El Chopo we went over to El Espanol, which is a bar with no AC that sells 40oz bottles of Leon beer at 100 pesos for 2.  What a deal!  Decent beer, too.  It was great being in the middle of all that.  Soledad’s lovely friend, Alba, met up with us at El Español as well.  After killing that 40oz together, we took the bus back to La Zona Rosa.  I needed to drop off my records and wanted to get a quick siesta.   We stopped for some quick food and I got some al pastor tacos that were absolute perfection.  I got about 25 minutes of sleep which was perfect.

I met them in front of Soledad’s building and we all rode with Alonso to El Palacio del Deportes for the concert.  Riding with anyone on the highways in DF is pretty terrifying but he got us there safely.  It was nice seeing other parts of the city, even if they weren’t the best parts of town.  We get to the venue and park quickly.  Along the sidewalk area there were 20+ vendors selling all bootlegged King Diamond and Mercyful Fate shirts and related stuff.  This show was a bit of a big deal there as it was King’s first appearance ever in Mexico.  I didn’t buy a bootleg shirt in hopes that official merch would be available inside.  They had some official shirts but didn’t have any in my size, which was a bummer.  Oh well.  Once inside the only beer they sold was Corona.  Gross.  I had one and couldn’t stomach a second one.  Luckily I found a bar serving whisky and cokes.  After seeing a few more friends, we ventured inside for the first band.

I didn’t realize until we arrived that locals Strike Master were opening.  I had been wanting to see them so this worked out…sort of.   They got shafted on the sound.  Absolutely horrible, but they played their asses off.  Up next was Exodus.  While I loved the Pleasures and Fabulous albums back in the day, they don’t do anything for me now.  We watched most of the set from the back and ended up back in the lounge area until it was time for King.  Right as Exodus was going on, I sent a message to King’s bassist, Pontus, to see if he had time to say hello.  He said to meet him at the gate at stage left so I did.  I had first met him a couple of years ago when King played Austin.  I got to tag a long for dinner with him and King’s usual sound man, also named Pontus, who I also knew from a few years prior seeing Hammerfall.  It was nice to catch up with him for a few minutes.  He said he had been ill for a few days and I asked if he had drank the water.  The look on his face said everything.  Haha.  Moctezuma 1, Pontus 0.

Exodus played fine, I guess, I just couldn’t get into them at all.  Sound was pretty bad for them, too.  I think the venue is know for its terrible sound.  I recognized much of the set, but really just didn’t care.  If I never heard Toxic Waltz again, that would be ok.  I guess I should be glad they didn’t play Cajun Hell, eh?

A curtain with King’s logo was raised in front of the stage and after a quick removal of Exodus’ gear, the lights go down and Uriah Heep’s The Wizard started.  It sounded like everyone one of us there were singing it together.  It gave me chills a couple of times.  Lots of positive energy.  The curtain came down and then came the intro from the album Them, Out of the Asylum.  Fists and horns were in the air and unfortunately a bunch of camera phones.  The band whips in to Welcome Home, Sleepless Nights and Halloween all sounding superb.  King’s voice sounded great and he doesn’t hide the fact that he uses 2 background singers now.  You could easily hear his voice along with theirs in the higher notes.  He introduced the band and they played Eye of the Witch, Melissa and Come to the Sabbath.  King and the band were excellent and the crowd loved it.  And then Funeral started launching the Abigail part of the set.  It’s my favorite album that King has done, solo or with Mercyful Fate.  It’s perfect front to back.  We were all having a blast.  It was a bit funny though that the band messed up the order of the set and flipped Abigail and The Possession.  King made a little joke about it and moved on.  Then Black Horsemen started, which made me a bit sad all of a sudden.  It meant that the show was almost over.  But it meant the an incredible show was almost over.  I was waiting for the ending solo/reprise part of the song and then finally pulled my phone out to catch the last 45 seconds.  For me that is the greatest and most powerful ending of any album that I have ever heard.  The way it builds up, the solo, the double bass drums and the ride cymbal and the crescendo at the end…then the acoustic outro.  Then a heavy sigh from seemingly everyone there.  That was it.  Done.  El fin.  Joder tio.

After saying goodbye to some folks we piled back into Alonzo’s car, dropped off Alba near her place then went for some late night food.  The wanted Pozole and I just needed a taco or two (hundred).  We went to this very busy 24hr place and I ended up getting a quesadilla which was very different than what you get on this side of the border.  It was fried, but perfect.  The chips with crema and salsas that they give as an appetizer were absolutely incredible. I had never had them with the crema but will ask for it at some local places.  From there it was back to the hotel.  It wasn’t really that late but we were tired.  I slept a lot better this time.

After waking up the next morning, I threw on some clothes and took a walk down to El Angel de la Indepencia.  It was only about a half mile from the hotel and it was a clear, cool and gorgeous morning.  I walked into the 7-Eleven and grabbed a Red Bull and started walking.  Almost every person I met along the way said, “Buenos dias” as I walked by.  The little food stops were cooking and people were eating, reading the paper and just hanging out along the way.  It was very nice to see.  Once I got to the Paseo de la Reforma, it was filled with people skating, running and cycling.  The roundabout at The Angel is huge and was closed off to cars for what appeared to be some sort of marathon.  The whole scene was really nice.  I crossed the roundabout over to the monument and snapped some photos.  It was pretty neat and really pretty.  The sun was shining and there was a nice cool breeze.  I contacted Soledad on my way back to the hotel to see about a late breakfast before leaving.  My flight was at 4pm and it was recommended to be at the airport 3 hours before takeoff.  I went back, packed up, showered, checked out and met her out front.  We went to the little café next to my hotel called Quo and had chilaquiles rojos con crema y queso.  They were delicious and I couldn’t finish them even with her help.  The waitress asked if it was too spicy and Soledad replied to her in Spanish with, “Not at all, he loves spicy food.”  Most food there wasn’t spicy although some of the salsas were perfectly hot.  After closing the check we walked out front and said our goodbyes.  I was feeling really sad, to be honest.  I had the best time in such a short time and just didn’t want it to end.  Soledad was the perfect guia (guide) and just a wonderful persona all around.  I called for an Uber ride to the airport and she waited with me until he arrived.  Then our hugs goodbye and a photo and I was off to the airport.  The driver was super nice and didn’t speak any English.  We had a nice conversation about the City and I told him how much I loved it there and that I wanted to come back soon.

Once at the airport, I breezed through check in and security.  I checked my main bag and kept my records with me just in case something happened to my bag.  Once at the gate, I ran into my new friend from the flight in and we caught up about our weekends.  We ended up sitting together again and kept our middle seat open.  The flight out of DF was delayed about 45 minutes and I almost didn’t make my connection in Houston due to the customs and bag retrieval/re-check process and in the insanely long line through security.  I had an “A” group boarding pass and the “B” group was halfway through when I walked to the front of the line and handed my boarding pass to the agent.  “There you are!”  I grabbed a seat and we were off to Austin shortly after.

I was pretty wiped out when I got home.  Tired and a little sad, too.  But also extremely happy.  This was a perfect trip to make as my first one out of the states.  No problems really to speak minus the first hotel and the delay upon leaving.  Everything worked out just fine.

Tengo que regresar pronto!  Gracias a mis amigos en DF y estoy muy agradecido por mi amiguita Soledad.  Gracias por todo, gueya!  :P

 

Written by The Metal Files

May 9, 2017 at 8:34 pm

Posted in Uncategorized