The Metal Files

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Archive for December 2017

Hair Metal Holiday Concert Review, San Antonio, TX, December 15, 2017

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KISS was the first band I ever loved and it all started when one of my brothers brought home Dressed to Kill around 1977.  I was hooked and was into heavier music ever since.  Oddly enough, I’ve never seen any version of Ace live be it with KISS, Frehley’s Comet or solo until last night.  I was pretty stoked and bought tix day of show.  Seems to be happening a lot lately.  A work colleague hit me up about going and said he’d drive, so I was in.  We swung by an grabbed Rodney and off we went to the Vibes Music Center/Rock Box in San Antonio.

The first band we saw was The Graham Bonnet Band who played on the smaller stage inside of the Rock Box side of the combined venue.  I had seen them within the last year but didn’t mind seeing them again.  They laid down a solid set that featured mostly Alcatrazz songs as well as a little Rainbow, MSG, Impellitteri and Graham’s solo material.  He still had Jimmy Waldo on keys from the old Alcatrazz days.  He had a shredder of a guitarist as well who nailed all solos damn near perfectly.  They put on a great set.

Up next on the Vibes Center main stage was LA Guns who I’ve seen several times and every time I see them they kick ass.  This is the second time this year that I’ve seen the reunited Phil/Tracii version and as expected they were killer.  Phil’s voice sounds great and Tracii’s playing was top notch.  Michael Grant go to do a couple of solos as well, which is good because that guy is such a bad ass.  No surprises in their set although it would have been nice to hear Show No Mercy.  No biggie.  They kicked ass.

Enuff z’Nuff was starting on the smaller stage and I went over for a bit.  About 15 years ago, my old band opened for them, Faster Pussycat and Pretty Boy Floyd.  Enuff was really good that night but last night I was rather bored.  Chip is the only left out of that lineup that I played with (RIP Ricky Parent).  I was never a fan although their early 2000s release (Welcome to the Blue Island?) has some really good songs on it.  Chip was known for playing 8 string basses but was only using a 4 string last night.  I asked him after the show about it and he said, “Tough to keep up with an 8 string bass when I don’t have a bass tech to take on tour with me.”  Fair enough.  I mentioned that show that we played with them and he recalled, “That shitty little bar in Va Beach?  Yeah, I remember.”  He gave me a shirt without me asking after we talked about his old drummer who was a really sweet guy.  Again, RIP.

Dokken was up next and I hadn’t seen him live since his solo tour in 1991, which is still one of my favorite concerts of all time.  Last night’s version featured Don, Mick, Ira Black on guitar and Chris McCarvill on bass.  There are enough videos out of of Don singing in the last 10 years to know what to expect.  There are some really horrid shows out there.  Don isn’t young by any stretch so I wasn’t expecting 1988 Dokken vocals.  They opened with Kiss of Death and his voice sounded pretty OK.  They rolled through a total only 7 songs and his voice was hit and miss, but I wasn’t really bothered by it.  He was better than I thought he’d be and the band was really good.

While waiting for Ace to come on I ran into Bonnet’s guitarist, Joey.  We got in a conversation about Yngwie and he mentioned sitting in some rehearsals for Yng’s first album.  Whoa.  That must’ve been massive.  So I asked him if he had played on anything from back in the day and he replied with, “I’ve done a few albums with Jag Panzer.”  My brain clipped and I said, “what’s your last name?”  “Tafolla.”  I mentioned seeing them in Chicago last year and how much they kicked everyone’s ass.  Nice guy.

Time for Ace.  The crowd had thinned a bit after Dokken.  Ace came on played through a barrage of KISS songs and a few solo album songs.  He sounded good when he sang and the whole band was solid but something was missing.  Ace really seemed like he was just going through the motions for one.  While getting a drink, a friend asked what I thought.  They had just finished Parasite and I said, “Everyone in the band is awesome.  Perfect even.  And that’s the problem.”  Parasite had no bounce to it.  That song should be a little frenetic, a touch sloppy even.  But last night it was a bit slow and the drummer, who is obviously a killer player, plays perfectly behind the beat.  In my opinion that just doesn’t work in KISS songs.  Strange Ways had that same quality.  Peter had a swing to his playing and it worked perfectly in KISS.  All that being said, I had a good time and zero regrets about going.  I don’t know that I’d ever go see him again, though.

It was a fun night overall.  Got to see a few friends I hadn’t seen in a while.

Written by The Metal Files

December 16, 2017 at 8:55 pm

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Cleveland Metal Holiday Food Drive Concert Review, Cleveland, OH, December 2, 2017

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A great weekend was had in Cleveland.  I booked my trip last minute (Nov 30!) on Allegiant Air, flew up on Dec 1 and came home on Dec 4.  Allegiant only flies to/from Cleveland on Mondays and Fridays, so I went by the subtle urging of my buddy Steve.  I wanted to go anyway because a lot of bands I liked were playing, notably Night Demon who were to record a live album.

The relatively quick and painless flight landed in Cleveland and Steve and I got our respective rental cars and parted ways for a bit.  I went straight out to start record shopping and found some cool stuff pretty quickly.  After a few hours of shopping I headed to our hotel and got settled in.  We grabbed some dinner then headed over to a club called Maple Grove to watch an Iron Maiden tribute band.  This was the pre-party to the Saturday concert.  Now, Maiden is my favorite band of all time and I am hyper-critical about their cover/tribute bands.  Maiden isn’t that easy to cover, especially vocally, bass-ically and drum-ically(?).  This band, who I have forgotten their name, pretty much nailed it on guitars and bass.  The singer was OK.  The drummer is what killed them for me.  Nicko isn’t that easy to cover, Clive neither for that matter, but there are certain licks that have to be there and many weren’t.  The worst part is that HE USED DOUBLE BASS.  Just NO.  NOPE.  NO!  Fake it until you make it, but don’t use double bass when playing Maiden.  I ended up in the downstairs bar just hanging with Night Demon and some other new pals more most of the set.  Had a great time over all.

Saturday morning I got up early and headed around the outskirts of Cleveland to do some record shopping.  Cuyahoga Falls, Akron, Kent and a few other little towns.  Found some great stuff deals and LPs.  Then back to the hotel.  Was hoping to grab a quick nap before the evening’s festivities but it didn’t happen.  Quick dinner with Steve then off to the famed Beachland Ballroom for this food drive benefit show.  I donated cash and went on it.  Had some other friends there who traveled in for the show as well.  The show was split between two stages in two different rooms.  I didn’t really catch any of the bands in the smaller room except when visiting the bar for a drink.  That was such a slow pain in the ass that I just didn’t really drink hardly at all, which was fine.

In the main room I ran into Athenar from Midnight and hung with him for a bit.  Pittsburgh’s Lady Beast took the stage and delivered a quality set, much better than when I saw them in Chicago a few years ago.  I think I was in a different mindframe at the Chicago show because I was about to play with my ex-band that day.  No matter, they rocked it and I bought their new album.

Shok Paris was up next.  I had never seen them but like stuff from all 3 albums, especially Steel and Starlight.  The singer was having a little trouble in the first 2 songs then his voice kicked in.  They were damn good, too.  Glad to finally see them.

I was tipped off that Jeff Hatrix from Purgatory (my favorite Auburn Records band) was there.  I spotted him between bands and made a quick introduction.  Super nice guy.  He said the unreleased second album was in the works to come out.  Sweet!  He ended up in Mushroomhead, which I can’t care about. :)

Breaker was next and it was their original lineup, which was a big deal.  By this point, the venue was at capacity, stuffy and uncomfortable.  I ended up behind Night Demon’s merch table for the set just to have some space.  Breaker was great!  Hometown heroes.  Everyone in the band nailed it.  Singer sounded great.

After Breaker, a small portion of the crowd left, which made the room just a tad more comfortable.  Night Demon was up and they have a really big Cleveland following thanks to the legendary Bill Peters (Auburn Records) playing them on his 30+ year long radio metal show.  ND’s merch guy had to go run lights so I handled merch during their set.  Night Demon is a well-oiled machine and this show proved it even more.  They moved through their set, which as mentioned before was being recorded for an upcoming live album.  They rolled through 24 songs!  It was killer and I got to hear a few songs that rarely get to see them do live.  This was also my 14th time seeing them.  Love those guys, as a band and as people.

Sunday was a little more record shopping, then off to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame with Night Demon.  Bill Peters graciously had some VIP passes waiting for us and we had a few drinks and milled around the Hall.  Pretty cool place as far as being a music museum.  After that, Steve and Night Demon went to dinner and I headed to Chagrin Falls to see an old dear friend that I’ve known since 1991 and hadn’t seen since 2000ish.  I met her and hew new husband for dinner and spent a couple of hours with them.  It was quite refreshing and so good to see her.  Afterwards I went to Athenar’s den of evil and listened to Detente demos and just hung out for a few hours.  That was fun.  Back to the hotel.

Monday morning meant a couple more record stops then back to the airport for the flight home.  I slept half the way.  We were back here early enough in the day that I was able to run some errands and such.

The benefit show brought in record amounts of food and cash donation for the food bank.  That was great news.  This was a great trip overall.  Met lots of great people, found some great records, and spent quality time with some great friends.

Setlists here.

Written by The Metal Files

December 16, 2017 at 2:35 pm