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Sacred Rite & Tragic Nancy Concert Review, Phoenix, AZ, May 25, 2018

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I’m still trying to catch my breath after the events of Friday, May 25, 2018 in a small club in Phoenix, AZ.  It was something that I never thought I’d see in my lifetime.  But there I was…there we were, to witness a reunion show 30+ years in the making.  Now let’s go back in time a bit.

In 1987 I was browsing the used cassettes at Skinnies Records in Norfolk, VA and saw Sacred Rite’s third release titled Is Nothing Sacred? for $3.99.  The Michael Whelan cover drew me in as well as the band’s name.  Oooooo spooky.  The minute I popped the cassette in the shitty tape deck of my ’66 Nova 4dr, I was initially taken aback by the vocals.  Clean, melodic, great vocal harmonies, guitar hooks.  They were perfect.  I listened to that tape a lot and they became one of my favorite bands.  Shortly after I found their The Ritual on cassette and subsequently a CD pressing of it.  It took a few years to finally hear their self-titled debut.  I didn’t even know it existed until I found the second pressing on vinyl in the early 90s.  All three of their 80s albums are awesome.  Period.  Unfortunately, they were basically done by the time I got into them and they also never toured.  That was hard to do being in Hawaii and ultimately moving the band to Tulsa of all places, where they found their ultimate demise as a band.

Flash forward to my February 27, 2001, my 31st birthday.  I was browsing around on my WebTV unit (remember those?) and an email popped up from Peter Crane, Sacred Rite’s bassist who had found my Geocities page which was called Is Nothing Sacred? and used the album cover as my background.  We started emailing back and forth and I asked him about having the original recordings and if they’d be interested in releasing them on CD.  He seemed surprised that people remembered Sacred Rite and were even interested in hearing them again.  I offered my services to shop their stuff to a few labels that do classic reissues and we/they settled on going with Denis Gulbey from Sentinel Steel.  The band submitted demos, write-ups, photos etc and in 2002 Rites of Passage Vols I & II were released.  I’ve always been honored to have been a part of those releases.  Since then, I’ve stayed in touch with Pete and Jimmy.

A couple of months ago, Pete sent me a message on Facebook letting me know that Sacred Rite (Pete, Jimmy & Mark!) and Tragic Nancy (post-Sacred Rite) were doing a reunion for Jimmy’s mom’s 80th birthday.  I booked my trip immediately for Phoenix.  I’ve been beyond excited for this show since Pete let me know about it.

I flew out the morning of the show on an easy 2 hour trip.  I was originally invited to the noon rehearsal but that fell through so I checked into my hotel in Scottsdale and went out record shopping.  After hitting a few convenient shops, I went back to the hotel and to my surprise I saw that there was a Portillo’s (Chicago) across the street, so I grabbed an Italian beef sandwich and took it back to my room.  A quick nap, a shower and getting the book and my CD covers together I headed out to a small club called The Blooze as Pete said he’d be there around 8.  I was really looking forward to meeting him and the rest of the band.  Jimmy was there when I arrived and I introduced myself.  His cover band was opening so he was getting stuff set up.  Pete showed up right after that and it was great to finally meet face to face.  Mark arrived shortly after and I hadn’t realized that it had been 30 years since they had all seen each other.  I could feel a little tension in the air but it was great seeing the three of them together.  There were a lot of people there from “the olden days.”  Some folks traveled in from Hawaii, Oklahoma, Denver, California and all around who were friends and family of the band.  That was really very special to see and to meet almost all of them.  I was the outsider, just a fan, but felt very welcomed by everyone.

Jimmy’s cover band, Hair Raiser(?), opened with a solid set of covers of Whitesnake, Journey, Sabbath and some others.

After a quick drum set change up, Tragic Nancy took the stage.  Quick history, Kevin left the band and was replaced by Scott Dickerson and Jeff Begley replaced Mark a year later.  The band changed their name briefly to Beauty Knows Pain, then when Tim Hewitt replaced Begley, they became Tragic Nancy.  This night’s lineup featured Pete, Jimmy, Tim and Scott who had played a reunion show a few years back in Oklahoma.  They ran through four songs with Tim strictly on vocals and during the fifth song, The Sidewalk, Mark took the stage with Tim and exchanged verses as this was originally a Sacred Rite song.  They sounded great and to be honest, I was blown away most by Pete’s backing vocals.  What a range he has not to mention his superb bass playing.  With this transitional song complete, Tim made his exit and it was time for Sacred Rite’s set.

They kicked it off by singing happy birthday to Jimmy’s mom, Connie.  This reunion show happened for her 80th birthday.  She’s a pretty awesome and spry 80 year old and you could tell she was definitely the band mom.  They all love her dearly and she loves them.  From there it was right into I’ve Seen the Wizard from Is Nothing Sacred?  With them not having played with Mark in 30 years and not having rehearsed with him for this gig, I didn’t know quite what to expect.  Then he started singing and all fears and doubts that anyone had of what this would sound like left the room immediately.  They were on fire and I stood there blown away by the energy.  I’d say that any tension of the last 30 years, perceived or otherwise, didn’t exist.  They fell right back into being Sacred Rite.

Next they paid a tribute to their original drummer, Kevin Lum, who died in 2002.  It was obvious how much he meant to them, especially since they were so young when they wrote and recorded those 3 LPs in the 80s.  From there they rolled through I will Survive, Eleanor Rigby, Resurrection, Angels Never Die, As It Was Told and Revelation.  Seven songs that were finished in the blink of an eye.  I didn’t want it to end.  But it was over and I was standing there in shock and disbelief that this show even happened at all.  It was a bucket list reunion show for the ages and I can only hope it happens again.  The whole band was great.  Jimmy and Mark trading up solos, the vocal harmonies, the bass and drums.  It was all incredible, even if it was a little loose.  I am pretty sure it exceeded everyone’s expectations.

After the show, and again, it was great seeing them all catch up together telling stories from Hawaii and Tulsa.  I just took it all in.  Before leaving, Jimmy gave me his address and said they were having a gathering at his house on Saturday for his mom’s birthday.  I said my goodbyes to the band and all of the new friends made and headed back to my hotel.  I could feel the 2 hour time difference catching up to me and needed to get some sleep.  It still took me about an hour to wind down and fall asleep once back at the hotel.

Saturday morning I got showered up, ate the hotel breakfast and started making my rounds around Phoenix and the surrounding towns doing some record shopping.  The first store I went to, Asylum Records, had a good selection of metal but much of it a bit overpriced for common titles.  Nothing worth buying that I could flip!  In the last row of LPs I looked in, there was a pristine copy of Sacred Rite’s first LP, so I bought it.  I stopped at a couple of other places that morning then went back to the hotel to drop off the records.  It was hot out and I didn’t dare chance leaving them in the car.  From there I headed to Jimmy’s and brought the album cover with me to get signed.  I arrived and many of the folks from the show were there and a few of which I didn’t get a chance to meet the night before.  I was amazed at how many folks came in from Hawaii for this.  Shortly after I arrived, some more friends showed up with several large containers of Hawaiian food from a local restaurant.  It was delicious.  It was great being able to talk to Mark a little more in a more casual setting.  He really is one of my favorite singers and I was blown away by his vocals and his guitar playing.  Like the others, he’s kept his chops up.

After staying for a couple of hours, I decided to make my exit to let them all continue catching up with each other.  We did a few photos and then I headed back out to do some more record shopping.  That evening, I went to a nearby casino and got into a poker game with a $100 buy in.  I’m sure they appreciated my donation!  haha.  The cigarette smoke in there was killing me, so I didn’t stick around.  I popped into the Scottsdale Beer Company for a late dinner and a couple of local beers then took myself to bed.

I had a lot of time to kill on Sunday so I packed up my stuff and drove a little north of Scottsdale to the Carefree/Cave Creek area.  Gordon Lightfoot has a song called Carefree Highway inspired, in title, by this stretch of road.  I drove it, drove around in the desert a bit and saw some beautiful cacti, prairie dogs and quail.  I headed back down into Mesa and Phoenix to hit a couple more record stores and found some real rarities, so that was cool.  One of my best friends that I met in Austin used to live in the area and her brother had recently moved back, so I met him at the Tempe Tavern for a few beers and some street tacos before heading back to the airport.  It was good catching up with him.

Once on the plane, I just put on my headphones, jammed some music and reflected on an incredible weekend.  I can’t thank Peter Crane enough for his initial contact in 2001 and for letting me know about this show.  Also many thanks to the rest of the band, Jimmy, Mark, Scott and Tragic Tim for their fine hospitality.  It was a true honor and pleasure to meet them and all and even more so to see them play finally.  I’m still in a bit of disbelief.

Maybe we’ll get Sacred Rite at one of the metal festivals in 2019?  I’m going to work on that as well as a possible vinyl re-release of their 3 80’s LPs.  One of the guys that came in from the Bay area is sending me some of the Sabre (pre-SR) demos.  Maybe there’s an opportunity to release some of that, quality depending.

Sacred Rite forever.

Sacred Rite Setlist

Tragic Nancy Setlist

Written by The Metal Files

May 28, 2018 at 4:06 pm

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Flotsam and Jetsam Concert Review, Austin, TX, May 14, 2018

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This could also be titled:  “NEEEEEEEERRRRRD!”  I guess most of my posts could be called that.

Last night was pretty huge for me in general.  Since first hearing Chastain’s Ruler of the Wasteland in high school, I’ve been a huge fan of drummer Ken Mary’s work.  Most folks know about his time in Chastain, Fifth Angel, Alice Cooper, House of Lords, TKO and a slew of others and there’s no need to go too in depth on his discography as that info is all out there for anyone to look up.

In recent years and thanks to the internet I’ve been able to connect with Ken and always had hopes to meet and see him play.  A year or so ago Fifth Angel did a reunion and I considered flying out for that but saw that Ken had some shoulder issues and had to bow out of the shows.  Recently he stepped in with Flotsam and Jetsam after Jason Bittner left to join Overkill.  He ended up doing the Keep It True show in Germany a couple of weeks ago and is on Flotsam’s upcoming album.  He’s also doing the current tour with them and that’s where this story gets us to yesterday.

Doors for last night’s show were at 7PM and I arrived around 6:30 in hopes to catch the band, do some metal nerd stuff and whatever.  As I pulled up, Erik AK was outside the bus while the trailer was getting some welding done to the ramp gate.  We started talking and I asked if they had dinner plans and if not, I’d be glad to take them to dinner.  He rounded up the troops, did a quick round of introductions and we walked over to the Jackalope for some burgers and beers.  Of course I was stoked to hang out with Ken and jibber jabber on the walk over.  Once at the Jackalope, the guys took pictures on the giant rabbit and I ordered up drinks and food for everyone.  It was great talking with them about the old shows at the Boathouse in Norfolk, VA where I had seen them several times in the 80s and 90s and talking with Ken about his time in Chastain, Cooper etc.  The guys really enjoyed the food and the restaurant in general.  As we walked back I mentioned having some stuff to get signed and was invited on the bus to get that taken care of.

Once there, the first thing I had Ken sign was The Book.  Obviously he’s got numerous entries in there but I wanted to have him sign on the Chastain band photo.  I already head Leather, David and Mike sign it in recent years and Ken was the final piece.  Michael Gilbert, the only other original member with Eric AK, signed my Doomsday and Flotsam (2016) LPs.   I had gotten his and Eric’s signatures in The Book a few years back.   Added bonus was Michael Spencer being back in the band on bass.  I had him sign in the Sentinel Beast section.  Score!  Of course I had a stack of LP covers for Ken.  It was really cool having him tell stories about each of the bands.  I had the rest of the band sign the 2016 F&J LP as well and then I made my exit off of the bus to let them rest up before their show.  Added bonus, I got to hear 3 rough mixes from their upcoming album while we were on the bus.  “Want to hear some of the new album?”  “Is that a real question?”  It sounded killer and Ken’s on drums for that one, too.  I also asked if they were playing Der Fuhrer from the debut LP.  Eric said they sound checked with it but didn’t plan to play it.  “We’ll add it for you.  Thanks for dinner.”  SWEET.

After putting my nerd stuff back in the car, I needed to just chill out for a bit before their set and hung out on the patio and caught up with some friends.

Flotsam was scheduled to go on at 10:20PM.  Love early shows!  They ended up going on closer to 10:30 and opened with Monkey Wrench from their 2016 LP then went into Hammerhead.  The already small crowd thinned out a little but the ones who stayed let Flotsam know they were appreciated.  The setlist mixed up a lot of stuff from Doomsday, No Place, the 2016 LP and one from Drift.  The band was solid and Eric’s voice sounded good.  This was the first show of the latest leg of their Forbidden Territories of the World Tour and we were lucky to have them as a headliner as they end up in the opening slot with Hammerfall for much of the tour.  That tour rolls back around in June in San Antonio and I’ll likely hit that show as well.  Michael Spencer is a beast of a bassist, very impressive.  Michael Gilbert and Steve Conley (F5) shred well together and of course the highlight for me was watching Ken play.  He’s not an overly busy drummer but adds the right amount of flash and technique when needed and had some nifty stick tricks here and there.  After the encore song, Doomsday for the Deceiver, Ken handed me a stick and Steve gave me his pick.  They were done just before midnight.  PERFECT.

What an incredible evening all around with a killer band and some good friends.  Super thankful to Ken and Flotsam for letting me intrude on their time for a bit.


Click photos to see comments.

Judas Priest, Saxon & Black Star Riders, San Antonio, TX, May 1, 2018

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While I’m a pretty big Priest fan and was fortunate enough to have been introduced to their music by an older brother in the late 70s, I didn’t see them until 1998 on the Jugulator tour. The only times with Halford have been since 2014.  With them getting a lot older and probably not touring much after this current Firepower tour, I figured I’d go one last time and make it count.  I got in on the presale and scored 7th row center seats which was a good spot.  Ten minutes later I get a message from a friend in Nashville whose close friends with a ticket broker in LA that had front row seats.  I asked how much over face value.  $25 more.  DONE.  I sold my 7th row seats to a friend and Victor and I were set for front row.

Day of show, we all meet at a friend’s house outside of San Antonio and roll down together to the older and smallish venue Freeman Coliseum. Walking the inner ring we see tons of friends and everyone is excited for the show, which I read this morning ended up selling out.

Opening the show was Black Star Riders which features Scott Gorham from Thin Lizzy. They played a solid set and a second Thin Lizzy song would have been welcome but oh well.  We were stage right and Gorham never left his spot on stage left, but they were good.  Cool seeing Robbie Crane and Damon Johnson again.

How do my friends here in Texas know that I’m not from Texas? When I mention that I’m not a Saxon fan, that’s how.  Texas LOVES Saxon, especially San Antonio thanks to former DJ Joe Anthony who basically gave Saxon their first break in the US.  Saxon started 10 minutes earlier than scheduled to squeeze in a couple of extra songs.  While I only like a handful of Saxon songs, they are a good live band.  In general though, the band never clicked with me.  I enjoyed them enough and they closed with my favorite, Princess of the Night.  Saxon made no bones about how much they love San Antonio and San Antonio showed their love for Saxon.

But I was there for Priest. The last two times I saw them, Rob sounded pretty good but wasn’t very mobile.  Glenn was still playing with them the other two times.  Last night, however, it was Andy Sneap who played in Sabbat (UK), a band I love.  Both he and Faulkner are fine musicians, but there’s no replacing KK and Glenn.  Make no mistake, Faulkner makes his presence known in the band stalking the front of the stage the whole show.  Andy stayed stage left and didn’t move around much but played his ass off.  Ian hung in the back like he’s always done and laid down his solid JP bass lines perfectly.  Scott Travis looked bored, but he has that look in general, always has.  You know what you’re going to get with Scott behind the drums.  Solid player, a bit robotic, mistake free.

And then there was Halford. Tall.  Dressed in silver and black.  Sunglasses.  Trenchcoat.  Gloves.  Hunched over the center stage monitor for the first song, Firepower, from the new album.  Then they went into Running Wild and he started stalking the stage.  He pretty much did that for the rest of the show.  The glasses were off, he was engaging the crowd, had several coat changes, but was really just owning that stage and the crowd at the same time.  They pretty much played the same exact set as they had for the whole tour and then right after Some Heads Are Gonna Roll (one of my all-time faves), Rob starts talking about Joe Anthony and how much San Antonio means to the band.  SA was once the metal capital of the USA and broke so many bands thanks to Mr. Anthony.  And then Rob says, “We’re going to play a song that we haven’t done live in 37 years from the Sad Wings album and we’re doing it just for San Antonio…This is Tyrant!” (paraphrased).  Holy hell.  You could tell the band hadn’t played it in a while as it was way more loose than any other song that night.  Even with Rob missing a vocal cue and Scott botching a drum part, it was pretty phenomenal and I am glad to have witnessed it.  (Fact:  it has only been 35 years since they plast played it live according to  Overall, Rob sounded better than the other 2 times I had seen JP live.  His voice was just great, especially in Saint in Hell.  Some Heads gave him a little trouble, but that’s a tough song in general.  No complaints at all.  Rob was awesome.  It was also awesome being able to watch Rob sing the fast, multi-lyric parts in Freewheel Burning.  He didn’t “David Lee Roth” them at all!

Priest was pretty much on fire the whole night. The Harley came out for Hell Bent for Leather and they closed the set with Painkiller.  Still not a fan of that song or album. The only noticeable difference in most of the songs throughout the night was that they were played just a tad slow.  Painkiller seemed to crawl but I’m sure it just has to do with them keeping a good pace for Rob to stay in.  No bother.

Then the encore. Glenn had been playing the encore for selected shows throughout the tour and for the recent Texas dates, so no surprise he was there last night for the finale of this leg of the tour.  While it was special to see him, it was also a little heartbreaking.  You could surely see that he was not in great shape, but you could also see that his spirits were high.  Not a lot of moving around for him but he played solidly and nailed his solos.  He played Metal Gods, Breaking the Law and Living After Midnight.  The crowd was ecstatic and Rob stayed near him for much of the encore.  After all, Rob, Glenn and Ian have been playing together longer than many of those reading this have been alive.  Lots of history.  At the very end, the band was throwing picks and sticks to the crowd and Ian tossed one my way.

It was a fantastic night filled with great music and good friends. Long live Priest.

Judas Priest Setlist
Saxon Setlist
Black Star Riders Setlist



Written by The Metal Files

May 2, 2018 at 10:47 am

Posted in Uncategorized