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Archive for October 2017

Helloween Concert Review, Mexico City, Mexico, October 21, 2017

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Friday morning as I was sitting at work I started seeing vids posted from the Helloween concert in Monterrey, Mexico from their sold out Thursday night show.  I thought they sounded great and I decided to just f’n go.  I had been hemming and hawing about it for a few months anyhow.  So I booked my trip.

I had never seen any version of the band and to be honest, I only like the Kiske era, but the setlist from Monterrey had just enough songs from that era to push my decision to a YES.  The flight I booked had only gone up a little from when I looked a few months ago and I got a good hotel at a decent rate.  I immediately took the decision of not bringing any luggage with me, just the clothes I was wearing.

Saturday Oct 21
The flight to Houston is only 30 minutes and was as smooth as could be.  When we boarded for Mexico, we had just pulled from the gate and then the plane stopped.  The pilot came on and said a warning light had come on and wanted to get it checked out.  Back at the gate, a couple of Southwest maintenance folks boarded and a few minutes later we were asked to de-board the plane.  The lady sitting next to me was an elderly lady who lived in Puebla, Mexico and was heading home from seeing her son who lives in Houston.  She didn’t speak any English and didn’t understand what was going on so I explained it to her in Spanish.  She asked if I would help her once back inside the airport and I of course obliged.  Gloria became my adopted grandma/abuela for the trip.  Southwest had a spare plane and we were delayed only an hour, but that hour obviously gave me less time to get to my hotel and to the show.  No problem.  Gloria stayed by my side at the gate and we sat together again on the new plane.  When they were passing out the customs and immigrations forms, she let the flight attendant know that she could neither read nor write.  I told her as long as she had her passport with her, I could fill out her form for her.  “Muy amable.  Gracias,” she said.  While in the air I got my forms filled out and then hers.  I said, “Gloria, usted necesita firmar aqui.”  She took the pen and placed an “X” in the space and that was that.  “Gracias, gracias.”  Once we landed in Mexico City, we were getting off of the plane and one of the airport attendants had a sign with her name on it for a wheelchair to assist her in the airport.  She didn’t see the sign and I said, “Gloria, tienen una silla para usted.  Fue un placer de conocerle.  Que tenga un buen dia!”  She was all smiles and she reached up and asked for a hug.  “Gracias por todo y para ser tan amable conmigo.”  I gave her a hug and said, “Por supuesto pequena.”  She was still all smiles.  I’ll never forget Gloria.

Once through customs, I got some pesos from the ATM and headed to the subway.  Last time I came, my friend Soledad was there to help but this time it was all me.  Once figuring out the ticketing for the metro train and purchasing ($0.50), I was on the yellow line north to the stop closest to my airport.  The train was pretty packed and I stood the whole ride.  It was that long but I was pretty tired from the trip.  Once off the train, I needed to get my bearings straight and started walking to the hotel.  While it was just under a mile, it felt like forever.  Once checked in, I laid down and grabbed a 20 minute pseudo-nap.  That gave me just enough energy to make it through the evening.

I called for an Uber ride and was off to the arena shortly thereafter.  Once dropped off, it was pretty crazy.  Much like the King Diamond show down there earlier this year, there were about 100 canopies set up selling bootleg band merch.  I didn’t buy any and went to the entrance to wait for Soledad.  I was going to try for some official merch but the line was insane and I didn’t want to miss any of the show.  So I got nothing.

I had other friends coming as well but ended up never catching up with any of them besides Diego from the band Voltax.  Great dude.  Once inside with Soledad, I needed to find some food.  This venue was huge.  We had tickets for the section down by the stage and headed down that way.  We had a food and beverage area which only served hot dogs, burgers, pizza and corn dogs.  I was famished and grabbed a corn dog and a Heineken.  That was my dinner…in Mexico City…a fucking corn dog.  haha.  I womped that down and we headed to our area.  We had to squeeze through a sea of people to get into the tiny gated entrance to the floor.  We realized pretty quickly that once we got in there, we weren’t getting out until the end of the show.

A few minutes after we were inside, Soledad’s boyfriend Alonso showed up.  And then boom.  The lights started to go down and Robbie Williams’ Let Me Entertain You came over the speakers.  Then a short pumpkin video came on the screens and BOOM, they open up with Halloween and go right into Dr. Stein.  Both Michael Kiske and Andi Deris split vocal duties in those two.  Then with just a short break and Kiske saying hello to the crowd, he went solo on I’m Alive and Kids of the Century.  I though both of them sounded great, especially Deris.  He’s still got quite a range.  Oddly enough, Kiske seem to be having a little difficulty in singing the lower parts in some spots but still sounded great.  Deris came back out and did 2 songs from his era with the band, If I Could Fly and Are You Metal?  Plain and simple, I never got into his era of the band.  His voice never did anything for me.  But man, he sounded great live.

After a few more songs from each of the 2 singers, it was Kai Hansen’s turn on the mic.  He didn’t get quite the same full song courtesy as the other 2 guys but did a medley of Starlight / Ride the Sky / Judas / Heavy Metal (Is the Law).  While I’m not even much of a fan of the Kai era either, he sounded great and I knew the songs well.  They did about 18 songs ending the main set with How Many Tears with vocals shared by Deris and Kai.  At the Monterrey show, Deris and Kiske handled the vocals.  Kiske seemed to be struggling in some spots but still got through most of the set fine.

The first encore consisted of Eagle Fly Free (Kiske only) and Keeper of the Seven Keys (Deris and Kiske but zzz).  The second encore was Future World (Kiske only) and I Want Out (Kiske and Deris) and that was that.  Show over.

Observations:  I think there were about 12,000 people there and it was sold out by show time.  Just like at the King Diamond show, it was pretty incredible being in a crowd of superfans like that.  Everyone was singing every word and I was surprised and impressed that everyone seemingly loved the Deris era stuff.  Everyone I met at the show was super friendly.  On Facebook the day before the show, people were saying that Kiske was lip syncing at the Monterrey show.  In one video I saw, I heard what I thought was a backing vocal track that you could hear but not see his mouth moving.  It was in the chorus to I Want Out.  Saturday, backing vocals were handled by Deris, Kai or the third guitarist (Sascha Gershner exFreedom Call) who was able to almost mimic Kiske’s vocals perfectly.  He seemed to be able to help as needed.  While Kiske sounded great and hit some sweet notes, the other three were definitely there to support in the endeavor.  I neither saw nor heard any evidence of any canned vocals at all.  Period.  The whole band was awesome.  It was so cool to have Kai, Michael Wiekath and Markus Groskopf together with Kiske again.  Weikath didn’t come out to the front catwalk very often, but Markus had no problem coming out there.  Also, drummer Daniel Lobel was incredible and no issue playing Ingo’s parts perfectly.  RIP Ingo.  Just an incredible show and I’m so glad I went.  Between some songs, they showed some silly pumpkin cartoons.  That wasn’t surprising really.  The crowd seemed to enjoy them.  I was impressed that Deris spoke pretty good Spanish.  It was really apparent that like myself, he spoke Castilian Spanish, and used some terms that are primarily only used in Spain.  But he did well.  Orale! I wish they had played Twilight of the Gods, but oh well. I also realized how little I care for the Keeper 2 LP.

After the show, you get assaulted by taxi drivers. Both Alonso and I called for Uber rides and they took about 20-30 minutes to arrive.  Traffic was nuts.  They left and a few minutes later my car arrived.  Riding around Mexico City during busy times will stress you out.  I couldn’t believe we didn’t get into an accident the way that everyone cuts in and out of traffic.  Seemingly it’s the norm.  Once back at the hotel, I asked the clerk if their bar/restaurant were still open.  Nope.  Does anyone deliver?  Not at this hour.  So I was relegated to a pack of chocolate Emperador cookies and a Pepsi for dinner in the room.  Then off to sleep.

Sunday Oct 22
Woke up and went downstairs for breakfast.  Eggs, bacon, hash browns, fresh orange juice, fresh guava juice and chilaquiles con salsa verde y crema.  The chilaquiles were pretty tasty.  I went back to the room and took a nice long shower.  I rested for a while and looked up record stores that would be open during the free hours I had before my afternoon flight.  I may have dozed off for a little bit.  I needed that.  I was wiped out and my knees and back were killing me from the night before.  I checked out and called for a ride to Retroactivo Records which was opening the earliest at 11AM. I got there at 11:05 and the doors weren’t open yet but people were mulling around the streets eating and drinking at the food stands an open air cafes.  It was nice to see.  A few moments later the owner showed up and I started digging.  Didn’t find much to speak of and headed off to Dejalo Ser Records (aka Let It Be Records).  They had 4 huge crates of metal.  Lots of cool stuff but not much stuff that I wanted for my own collection.  I still spent quite a bit and got a good cash discount.  Much of the stuff I bought is to flip.  Great store and they lady who runs it was really sweet.  I met two guys from Puerto Rico there as well.  They both live in Mexico City now but are headed back to PR next week to help in relief efforts.  They said they had been once since the hurricane and it was surreal.

From there it was time to head to the airport.  Uber is so cheap there.  My almost 30 minute ride to the airport with Jorge cost $8.  He was jamming Dream Theater the whole way.

I got checked in and through security quickly and waited at a café for a little while drinking Cubanas.  Delicious.  And then off to Houston for a 3 hour layover.  I got through customs quickly although I was questioned about my lack of luggage.  No biggie.  That long wait was a bit brutal as I was really tired and treated myself to some seafood.  I was back home and in bed by 11:30PM, wiped out.  I’m still tired today but also energized from another great trip to Mexico.  Time to explore Monterrey and some beach destinations next.

I don’t know that this tour will come to the States.  I don’t see them doing well outside of LA, San Antonio, Chicago, NYC.  Those places might get 500-1000.

 


 

Written by The Metal Files

October 23, 2017 at 2:26 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Frost and Fire III Review October 5-8, 2017

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I’ve been lazy with reviews lately, surely you’ve noticed.  haha

What a long, wonderful and exhausting weekend and was about as perfect as it could get.

Kelz and I met up for yet another Mitchfest (our term) and it was, as usual, filled with mom jokes, ritual verbal abuse in general, jokes, tacos and all around camaraderie.  You might remember him from such reviews as Frost and Fire II, Ragnarokkr 2014-17, Arch/Matheos and ProgPower 2016.

Thursday, Oct 5
We both had super early travel times and got to LA early Thursday morning.  I arrived a couple of hours before him and got the car sorted out and such.  Once picking him up, we headed up to Ventura making a few record store stops along the way.  We got checked into the ClockTower Inn and walked to Main St for some grub.  A quick nap and a shirt change and we were off to the Ventura Theater for the pre-party concert.  The Ventura allows no in/outs so once you’re in, you’re in.  Also, beers are $10.  I hadn’t been drinking for a couple of weeks and held off for that night as well.  Also it would have put me to sleep pretty quickly.  So let’s get to the bands.

Glare – Kind of a thrashy thing.  Solid.  All of these dudes were in other bands and it was kind of a throw together but they pulled it off well.

Pounder – This band features my pal, Tom Draper, on guitar.  I met Tom at the first Frost and Fire (FF).  He’s an English lad with great guitar skills and did some time in the recent touring version of Angel Witch.  Pounder were solid and Tom’s solos were fucking great.  He’s a great player and look forward to seeing/hearing more from them.

Ruthless – They’ve been around since the 80s but I care as much now as I did back then, which isn’t much.  While they laid down a heavy set, I’m just not much into them.  I met the singer and the bassist after their set to sign The Book.  Great guys.  The bassist also played in Bloodlust, so that was cool.  Nice guys.

Cage – zzzzz.  I’m not into Sean Peck’s vocals at all and the band does nothing for me.  Seems like a nice enough guy, though.  He made sure to interact with his fans before and after their set, which is good.

Night Demon – Well-oiled machine.  Jarvis and co. have it down.  They played a killer set, the crowd was into it and I can’t see them enough.  I will say that I prefer seeing them on smaller, more intimate stages, but Jarvis and Armand make good use of the space.  Getting pictures of them standing in one spot is difficult.  They rule.  If for some reason you’ve not checked them out, do it.  The new album is fantastic and after getting to know these guys over the last several years either from Night Demon or Armand and Dustin’s previous band, it’s really nice seeing them do well as friends.  Lots more good things on the horizon for them for sure.

Tyrant – I saw Tyrant at Spring Bash in Wisconsin this past April and I couldn’t tell if they were bad because of technical difficulties or if it was just because they’re an awful band.  Thursday’s show pretty much nailed them to the “awful band” wall forever for me.  Just a week or so prior to the fest they announced that Robert Lowe (Solitude Aerturnus/Candlemass) had joined the band…and that they would be playing only new songs for FFIII.  What?  It would be one thing if they were supporting a new album that was out but that was not the case.  While it was a ballsy move to do their first show with their legendary new singer this way, it also should have been a dose of reality for them.  Especially since after their 2nd song or so, 90% of the people at the venue left.  Yes, they were that bad.  I wanted to think that maybe it was because they were getting used to the new songs and singer, but again, I think they may just be an awful band.  I left after 4-5 songs but wanted see how Lowe sounded with them.  I got what I thought I’d get, and that’s the Candlemass Lowe.  I didn’t like his releases with them either.  It wasn’t even worth sticking around after their set to meet Robert again for the first time since seeing Solitude in the early 90s.  The band is a bit delusional and I heard some horror stories about their “importance” while chatting with some folks over the weekend.  As most bands would, they touted their performance on Facebook as being great but showed a full stage shot of the band with a whole 8 people watching.  What a disappointment.  I’m done with them.

Friday, Oct 6
After getting up and grubbing at the mini breakfast buffet with Raven, we headed off to Thousand Oaks to do more record shopping.  Let me tell you, Breakfast with Mark and John Gallagher is awesome and intense.  I’d met both of them in 2000 and got to spend the day with them and a mutual friend in the DC area prior to their show that night with UDO.  When I had mentioned that to Mark, he stated without even batting an eyelash, “We ate that a nice Asian place, right?”  Fuck, I had even forgotten that detail.  It was great listening to them talking about the bands they had seen in the UK in the 70s.

So off to buy records.  Found a few things, mostly stuff to flip but a few cool pieces for myself.  Once back at the hotel, we opted for a nap (I’m old), then got cleaned up and headed over to The Bombay for the fest.  It was great seeing friends from festivals past and meeting a ton of new folks.  So, to the bands!

We missed the two openers, Gate Krashor and Bewitcher.  Bewitcher got rave reviews though.

Riot City – I had seen these guys in Chicago previously and they delivered an awesome set.  Can’t wait for some new recordings.

Substratum – It was great to see Amy on stage finally.  She commands your attention and she and her band delivered a well-received set.  Hope to catch them again.

Walpyrgus – This is a band that I should love.  It has members of Twisted Tower Dire and probably some others, but they just don’t catch my ear.  Everyone in the band is skilled and the vocalist can wail, but I’m just not into it.  I watched their first 2 songs then went outside and hung with friends.

It was about this time that I went to dinner with Oliver from Keep It True, Jim from Cirith Ungol and a couple of others to a fancy-ish Mexican place.  It was quite tasty.  Because of dinner, I missed Spell, Volture and Cauldron.  No biggie.  Not a fan of any of them.

Jaguar (Jarvuar?) – Garry Pepperd is the only original member left in the band and recent shows have featured Jarvis from Night Demon on vocals.  HE NAILS IT.  While it’s odd seeing him front a band without a bass strapped to him, he did a great job and the crowd loved the set.  Gary’s guitar playing is spot on.

Savage Master – It’s always great to see my friends in Savage Master live.  Friday night was no different.  Luckily for me I get to see them again this week.

Raven – Most folks that know me know I’m not a Raven fan, but I do like seeing them live.  They are putting out 100% at all times on the stage and it’s great seeing them and the crowd interact.

Back to the hotel for some rest.

Saturday, Oct 7

Another quick breakfast and we headed up to Santa Barbara for more records.  That was a bust in the one store we stopped in.  I didn’t realize until after we left that there was another store right around the corner from the one we went to that apparently had a better selection and prices.  Oh well.  Back down to Ventura for some grub and another nap.  Kelz went to the club early.  I needed to rest my back and knees some.  I missed Hellfire and Ovvl completely.  I don’t think I missed much that I would have cared about.

Skelator – Jason and company delivered a killer set and I’m always impressed with his insane vocal range.  One funny thing happened when he was calling out the next song.  “This next one is about a samurai!”  Someone screamed out, “Cultural appropriation!”  I was rolling.  Great set, dudes.

Venomous Maximus – My friends in VM were up next and delivered a great set.  I adore their new album.  Minus a few technical issues, they were great and were well-received.  A little history, their guitarists and drummer were the original guys that recorded the first Eternal Champion 7″ with Jason and me.

Iron Thor – I skipped them.  Thor sucks and I don’t expect a tribute to Thor to be any better.

Twisted Tower Dire – I’m not a huge fan but they’re killer live and the crowd was going nuts during their set.

Mythra – I’m relatively new to them and have only just recently started listening to their classic NWOBHM stuff.  It’s pretty damned good.  They delivered a killer set to the packed backroom.  It was a pleasure talking classic rock with their singer, Vince High.  He’s one of the nicest guys you’ll meet in the business.

Amulet – Skipped.  zzzzz

Cirith Ungol – The back room was so packed and hot that I didn’t actually get in there but watched a couple of songs through the side door and heard the rest through the window.  I’m still blown away that Tim can still sing like that.  They sounded great.

Manilla Road – They packed out the front room and played their asses off as they always do.  The crowd was singing along the whole set.  I’ll see them again this week.

Sunday, Oct 8

This was going to be a slow day.  I ended up meeting with some Texas friends, Rodney and Rob, and Jamie from Midnight to watch the Steelers game at 10AM.  That game sucked and I just went back to the hotel to chill while Kelz was out doing some sightseeing.  Ashbury and Bitch had early sets and I wanted to have the energy to make it through.

Ashbury – PERFECT.  Always.  I can’t recommend them enough.  Great guys, great band and eternal thanks to Dennis at Rockadrome Records for his initial re-release of their  Endless Skies LP.  They played for nearly two hours and it was great.  Mixed up originals with some covers by bands that they were inspired by (Who, Tull, BOC).  Always a pleasure.

Bitch – Betsy and I first started corresponding a little in the early 2000s and I still need to type up the handwritten history that she sent me back then.  I’ve been a fan forever and had never seen them live.  I wanted to see them in NYC a few months ago at Defenders of the Old but just couldn’t swing it.  No biggie, FFIII for the win.  The band went on and just rocked it.  I stayed right up near the front for the whole set and was just blown away by Betsy’s voice and performance.  She was awesome.  The 30+ year wait to see her live was well worth it and I hope to see them again.  Live for the Whip!

After the Bitch set, it was time to start saying goodbyes to those who remained for the Sunday show.  Always bittersweet.  We went to Dargan’s Irish Pub for a bite to eat and a beer then ended up at Sans Souci for another drink (or several).  That was fun and just what we needed to end the weekend’s festivities.

If I had any negatives, it would be about stumbling drunk asses.  I wanted to beat one guy down at the pre-party.  The next few nights he seemed to have it under control.  There was also a dude during the Bitch set that was about to get pounded, but Larry from Savage Master and I got him out of the crowd.  That stuff is to be expected, but it still sucks.  And it’s at no fault of the festival.

Monday, Oct 9

I’m not dead yet, but was a little slow and my back was not doing me any favors.  Nevertheless, Kelz and I packed up and headed down to LA to bum around for a bit since we both had late flights.  We stopped at a couple of record stores around Hollywood but the best part was stopping at Forest Lawn Cemetery to see the graves of Lemmy and Dio.  While standing at Lemmy’s, I could still hear him say about my back tattoo, “You should have picked a better album cover.”  His marker was small and quite unassuming.  He wouldn’t have cared.  Dio’s was grandiose and larger than life.  I doubt he would have cared either.  Also while riding around, we stopped at Pinches Tacos, my favorites in LA.  As always, they were delicious.

After all the running around in LA, it was time to drop off the rental car and head to the airport.  Kelz and I travel a lot together so I’m always happy to send him off because it’ll be too soon to see his bitch ass again.  haha.  Always a great time with him, though.

I’ve already received hints of FFIV and it will be another great time, I’m sure.  Great job to Jarvis, Dustin and Armand of Night Demon and all of their helpers to keep this festival running smoothly.  Things at Bombay were perfect especially with the Metal Market overflow area.  I love that bar.  And always great to see friends from festivals past…too many folks to name.

Click here for festival setlists.

 

Written by The Metal Files

October 11, 2017 at 8:55 am

Posted in Uncategorized