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Chrissie Hynde Concert Review, Austin, TX, November 19, 2014

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usestockholmChrissie Hynde rolled through Austin, TX last night at my favorite venue, ACL Live at The Moody Theater.  I was able to score front row balcony tickets and brought a friend who was back in town visiting her friends and family.  The show was dubbed as “A Night With Chrissie Hynde”, which would make one think there was no opener.  Ultimately, The Rails, which features her guitarist, opened up.  We decided to skip them and just be there for the 9PM start of her show.

I’m a moderate Pretenders fan but have always liked her voice.  I’m that guy who is basically only familiar with whatever I heard on the radio over the years, all of which I liked but not enough to buy the records.

Walking in and right before she hit the stage, they were announcing that no photos we allowed, which was fine by me.  It’s nice not to look at a bunch of phone screens during a show.

She went on promptly at 9PM and right into the first song, someone in the front row pulled their camera out and she walked to the edge of the stage and wagged her finger in disapproval.  That seemed to end it.  She opened with 2 Pretenders songs, Don’t Lose Faith In Me and Biker, neither of which I was familiar with.  Her voice sounded great and her backing band, as expected, was very good.  She played 8 songs from her new album, Stockholm, 13 Pretenders songs and a Kinks cover of I Go To Sleep.

They played some of the radio hits like My City Was Gone, Back On The Chain Gang and Don’t Get Me Wrong (a favorite of mine), but left off Brass In Pocket and Show Me (my favorite of theirs).  There wasn’t a lot of talking between songs and she played rhythm guitar most of the night.  Early in the set there was a guy in the front row with a tambourine and she finally said to the guy, “Is there a story to go with this?”  She waved the guy to the end of the stage and he told her that she had given that to him during a show 31 years ago.  She said, “I don’t believe you!”, laughed and signed it and handed it back to him.  About a song or 2 later, he was playing it along with the band and she motioned for him to stop.  haha.

It was a fun show and about 3/4 through the set, the floor crowd ended up just rushing the stage and she was cool with it.  Before the first encore, some woman jumped up on stage to get one of her guitar picks that had been dropped and tried to peel the setlist off of the stage.  Security grabbed her quickly and rolled her off the stage.  Before the second encore started, some other woman crawled on stage and tried to get a pick from the guitarist’s stand and quickly got rolled off of the stage.  WTF, people?  STAY OFF OF THE FUCKING STAGE!

Anyways, it was a good show and worth seeing if you’re even mildly a Pretenders fan.

Goodnight!

 

Slayer Concert Review, Austin, TX, November 18, 2014

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usetitleIMG_6819Whew!  What a whirlwind it’s been the last month with all of the shows and there’s no sign of it slowing down yet!  Last night was not slow.  Exodus, Suicidal Tendencies and Slayer were in town to play a sold out show at the Moody Theater (aka ACL Live).  I still can’t believe a show like this got booked at such a classy venue, but I’m glad it did and hope that it opens the door for more metal there.  Let’s get right into this…

Exodus hit the stage promptly at 7:30PM with Black 13 and Blood In, Blood out from their latest release of the same name.  They were fast, tight and Steve Souza sounded great.  They only got 30 minutes for their set which is by far too short for a band with such a back catalog.  They rolled right into Blacklist from Tempo of the Damned then gave the crowd what they wanted in the form of Bonded By Blood, Toxic Waltz and Strike of the Beast.  I’m in the minority when I say I don’t like the Bonded By Blood album.  I’ve bought it several times over the years and it just never caught on to me.  However, I do love Fabulous Disaster and Pleasures of the Flesh.  Gary Holt is doing double duty with Exodus and Slayer and he and the whole band sounded great.  Tom Hunting is always the highlight for me in seeing Exodus live. He’s got such a unique style and watching him play last night was certainly a treat.

I’m not the biggest Suicidal Tendencies fan but do love that late 80s pre-funk ST stuff.  Last night I became a bigger fan, at least in a live setting.  Mike Muir hit the stage looking healthy and just sounded clear and coherent all night.  The show I saw a few years back was pretty awful.  The backing band last night was totally kickass too.  Especially the drummer.  Holy shit that guy was a beast.  They opened with an extended version of You Can’t Bring Me Down and went right into Freedumb from their 1999 release of the same name.  They mixed the set up with songs from Join the Army, the self-titled LP, Lights Camera Revolution, How Will I Laugh and 13.  The crowd was completely into it and there was a decent pit most of the time they were playing.  Highlights for me were War Inside My Head and How Will I Laugh Tomorrow .  Again, Suicidal brought their best game last night and blew me away.

Up next…SLAYER!  I’ve been a big fan since Reign In Blood, main reason being Dave Lombardo’s drumming.  Well, Dave’s not in the band anymore and it’s completely obvious, at least to me it is.  More on that later.  Slayer opened up with World Painted Blood and flowed right into Post Mortem.  They only played 5 post -Seasons era songs and that was fine by me.  They sounded great early in the set but it seemed to deteriorate ever so slightly as the set progressed.  They are an intense band and I can’t imagine playing night after night with that intensity, but if it was my job, I’m sure I’d make it work.  Araya’s voice sounded great and was actually better than when I saw the Seasons anniversary tour.  For me what was brought the show down a notch or two was the lack of Lombardo behind the kit.  He brings a certain intensity (I know I’m using that word a lot but it fits) to Slayer and it was missing last night.  This is no slight to Paul Bostaph who is a damn fine drummer in his own right, but he’s no Lombardo.  Few are.  Slayer is like the Rush of thrash metal.  Rush fans want to hear all of Peart’s fills and Slayer fans, especially yours truly, wants to hear Lombardo’s stuff played properly.  Bostaph did a good job and that’s why he’s in the band.  But there were just some little things that made it hard for me to totally enjoy him and the band last night.  His double bass work in some songs wasn’t very consistent.  Maybe he was having an off night, I don’t know.  I remember when I was gigging regularly as a drummer that off nights happen.  Sometimes you’re just not in “the pocket.”  None of this is to say Slayer put on a bad show, I’m not sure that they could, I’m just saying that I miss Dave behind the kit and the band just seemed out of sorts last night.  I went so far as to rename them “Slower”, but that’s probably not too fair.  I do need to mention that Kerry King was as solid as ever and I loved his Raiders/Biletnikoff jersey.  Gary Holt did fine playing Hanneman’s parts.  Holt is a good guitarist all the way around.

In the unlikely even that he comes back to the band again, last night was probably my last Slayer show (that I’d pay for).  The setlist was good and I’m really glad I got to hear At Dawn They Sleep, Chemical Warfare, Hell Awaits and Die By The Sword.

Long live Slayer and RIP Jeff Hannemann.  It was a good night.

Heart Concert Review, Austin, TX, November 16, 2014

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heart_dreambutt_fannie_front_coverHeart was great last night.  I’ve been a fan since the 70s and it started in Ellwood City, PA in my grandma’s basement.  My awesome aunts Dianne and Debbie were big fans and I have good memories of spinning Dreamboat Annie, Dog and Butterfly and Little Queen down there.  The limited time I spent up there yearly was filled with music in the basement with my cousins and aunts.

Oddly, I never went to see them until last night.  I especially love the 80s MTV-era stuff.

Heart opened with a slow-ish version of Barracuda and rolled right into Heartless and Magic Man.  Ann’s voice was stellar.  She’s 64.  She sounded so damned incredible and I was completely blown away by the power she still possesses in her voice.  Nancy is 60 and neither of them looked their ages at all.  They are still both beautiful.  I was amazed as to how tiny/short the sisters are.  I don’t know why I thought they’d be taller.  I would have hugged both of them if I had been given the chance.

The whole band was tight as expected.  The setlist was a decent cross section of the 70s and 80s hits.  I will admit to getting all choked up during Dreamboat Annie.  A few tears rolled down.  Not sure why.  I love that song and all, but it just moved me a bit last night.  We were 5th row center for the show.  Right after Dreamboat was played, the lights were turned on the crowd for a moment and I had the horns up in the air.  Standing at the edge of the stage, Ann caught my glance, gave me a wink and a thumbs up.  I was already smiling and that just made me smile even harder.

I will say that the show was damn near perfect except for one thing…the abundance of cover tunes.  I know they’ve been playing Zeppelin covers for years, but for the entire three song encore?  I’m not a Zep fan at all, but Heart does it well.  They also did a Wings cover.  I went to the bathroom on that one.  I’m no McCartney fan in the least.  They did, however, cover Robin Trower’s Day of the Eagle and that sounded cool.  But when you’re already playing what I thought was a short set, fill it with originals.

But overall, it was a great show and I wish I hadn’t waited so long to see them.

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courtesy of the Austin American Statesman

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courtesy of the Austin American Statesman

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courtesy of the Austin American Statesman

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courtesy of Heart’s soundwoman

Kat, Wendy, Monkey Boy, Alysha.  Photo courtesy of "The Austin 360 A List"

Kat, Wendy, Monkey Boy, Alysha. Photo courtesy of “The Austin 360 A List”

Devo Concert Review, Austin Tx, July 2, 2014

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Admittedly I’m not a big DEVO fan, but I’m not an un-fan.  I had Freedom of Choice and Are We Not Men on vinyl but they never got much play.  That being said, friends said that the last few shows here in Austin were great so I decided to get tickets and go.

After a few songs I realized some of the quirky genius behind what they were doing.  This tour was touted as the Hardcore DEVO Tour 74′-77′.  The early stuff they were playing was noisy but still very much controlled chaos.  The band was entertaining and everything was pretty scripted, but we had a blast.

The donned blue jumpsuits and hardhats early in the set and bounced and danced around a lot for guys in their early to mid 60s.  The lineup consists of original members Mark and Bob Mothersbaugh and Gerald Casale and drummer Josh Freese who has been in the band in 1996.  They were solid and a lot of fun and just what I needed this week.

One cool thing was seeing Mark jump off the stage into the photo/security pit during Jocko Homo and half jump into the crowd to have people sing “We are Devo!” with him.

All of my iPhone pictures look like crap, so nothing really to share.  Once of these days I’ll buy another decent small camera.

 

Alice In Chains Concert Review, Austin, TX 04/28/2014

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In 1990 the record store I used to frequent and ultimately worked in for a while gave me an advanced copy of  a cassette called Facelift by Alice In Chains.  The owner said something to the effect of, “Check out this new metal band and let me know what you think.”  I had never heard of them and my buddy and I got in the car and immediately popped it in on our way back home.  We heard that voice and just started laughing hysterically.  I think we may have gotten all the way through the album once,  It was wretched.  A week or so later I gave the cassette back to Dave (the owner of the store) and said, “This is awful.  These guys will never amount to anything!”

DERP.

Alrighty then.  I guess they did OK for themselves.  A year later in 1991 I had tickets to see Van Halen on the F.U.C.K. Tour and AIC was the opener.  The day of the show I went to the record store to pick up my paycheck and as I am about to leave, I see a tour bus pull up outside.  It was AIC.  They looked pretty rough…in that I mean like they hadn’t bathed for a while.  Layne Staley was on crutches.  I stopped them and asked if they were AIC and they were nice enough to speak to me for a few minutes.  They asked if I was coming to the show and I said I was.  “Do you have tickets already?”  “Yes, but a backstage pass would be cool.”  “Uh, no.  Good luck with that.”  Cantrell said that laughingly.

That night they came out and blew Van Halen away.  Even if I wasn’t a fan of that album in the least, the band was great live.  Shortly after Dirt came out, the band I was in covered Would? and I bought the cassette and enjoyed it.  It’s a good album but it’s the only one of theirs that I can stomach to this day.

Flash forward 20+ years and both Layne Stayley and Mike Starr are no longer part of this world.  RIP.   When the listing for AIC at The Moody Theater comes out, I buy 2 general admission floor tickets more out of curiosity than anything.  I almost sold my tickets a few days before the show to go see George Clinton.  Glad I kept them.

Last night’s show was sold out but it didn’t feel like it.  My friend and I we just off of the corner on stage right with some other friends that I ran into.  AIC hits the stage with Them Bones and that new singer pretty much owned the show.  He’s a likeable frontman and worked the crowd pretty good.  I guess it’s easier when you have a captive audience full of fans, eh?  But whatever.  The guy could sing (like Layne) and had a good range.  He played guitar quite a bit and even had one solo.  The harmonies provided by Cantrell are still spot on.  I’m sure he feels like the lucky one and/or a survivor since two of his bandmates had died of drugs.

Last night’s set was quite different than what I saw in 1991.  AIC is a well-oiled machine nowadays although there was one false start on Last of My Kind.  I am not sure who was at fault, the drummer or Cantrell.  Seemed that one of the two was confused about which song they were supposed to play.  It made for a funny moment as the band joked about it and moved on.  They were tight and while I still can’t call myself a fan, I enjoyed their set for the most part.  I only knew the “hits” that they played and whatever tracks were on Dirt.  A lot of their stuff sounds the same to me and drones on a little too much, but that’s their sound.

I wondered how many people were there that didn’t realize that Layne Stayley was gone.  I bet there was at least one!  It was also a good show for people watching.

 

Alice in Chains Setlist The Moody Theater, Austin, TX, USA, Spring Tour 2014

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I guess the sign worked.  There were no incidents to report!

I guess the sign worked. There were no incidents to report!

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What? That’s not Layne Stayley!