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Iron Maiden Concert Review, Denver, CO, April 13, 2016

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What a week this has been.  So many shows.  I’m worn out but invigorated, especially after seeing my favorite band of all time, Iron Maiden.

When Maiden announced their North American tour some months back, no Texas dates were listed.  Bummer.  The closest show was Tulsa, but who wants to go to Tulsa?  ha.  Honestly I looked into the Tulsa show long after tickets had gone on sale, but nothing was available in a spot I’d want to see the show.  So I looked into Denver.  Oddly they still had plenty of GA floor tickets available as well as some decent seats on the side at the Pepsi Center.  I chose the seats, booked an insanely super cheap flight/car/hotel and the plan was set.  Maiden in Denver 2016.

As mentioned in a previous post, Night Demon and Visigoth had been staying with me and after their show in Austin on Tuesday night, I just stayed awake through the night as my flight out to Denver was scheduled to take off at 6AM.  I hadn’t had much sleep all week and I was certainly starting to feel it by the time I boarded the plane.  I couldn’t really fall asleep so I watched Charles Bronson’s Deathwish.  Upon arrival at the Denver airport and getting my car, I headed into town.  It was still really early so I found a cool little breakfast spot and chilled there for a little while.  I went to the hotel around 10AM and my room wasn’t ready yet, so I just asked them to wake me up when it was ready.  I dozed off on the lobby couch until 11 and they woke me up and got me checked in.  I went straight to bed and got about 4 hours more.  I really needed it.

After showering and getting dressed, I called for a Lyft ride to a restaurant near the Pepsi Center and had a good meal prior to walking to the venue.  Austin pals Mike and Erik who came on the same flight had pit tickets and got in line early to be near the front.  Once in the venue I went to the merch booth and got a tour shirt.  Maiden’s shirts aren’t that great and they didn’t have a Denver specific shirt like they normally do in Vegas, LA, NYC and Texas.

Raven Age was the opener.  The band features Steve Harris’ son, George, on guitar.  I didn’t like their music at all but his son is a fine guitarist and the drummer was a bad ass.  Musically it was uninspired hard rock that would sell well to the Hot Topic crowd.  Several in the crowd seemed to like it but I found it hard to stay awake.  After their set, I went back out to the outer hallway to just get some air and to people watch for a bit before Maiden took the stage.

Then through the PA comes UFO’s Doctor Doctor.  My energy level instantly shot up and I made it back to my seat.  The show wasn’t sold out and I had a spare seat on either side of me, so no one was crowded in our row.

Then the lights go down and a short video runs, then there’s Bruce standing in a white robe at the back of the stage and started singing, “Here is the soul of man, here in this place for the taking…”.  He sang the whole intro to If Eternity Should Fail and the band kicked in with flames rising high from the stage.  They sounded great!  Bruce’s voice was on.  They followed up with Speed of Light which Adrian seemed to have forgotten his intro part, so the band started without him and he just caught up.  They were all smiles on stage and it was great seeing them be human.  After the song Bruce teased him a little bit and H just laughed it off.  Next up was Children of the Damned.  Bruce introduced it with something like, “This one came out before most of you were born.”  The crowd went crazy since it was the first of the classics to be played that night.  Their setlist hasn’t varied a bit on this tour, so I know what to expect next which was Tears of a Clown, a tribute to Robin Williams.  The Red and the Black followed and it along with the other songs from the new album all sounded great live.

Then came…The Trooper.  I really can’t stand that song anymore but since they named their beer the same, it will never leave the setlist.  Unfortunate.  I sat through it.

Up next was Powerslave.  Yes!  Very glad to see that on the list again.  So many memories from that album and flashes of listening to Live After Death as a kid ran through my head the whole time.  It was awesome.

Two more new songs and then Hallowed Be Thy Name was up.  Sweet.  So good.  Unfortunately Fear of the Dark was up next.  I saw through that one as well and was subjected to the crowd singing along.  So painful.  That song sucks.  Iron Maiden rounded out their main set and they blazed through it.

For the encore, they did Number of the Beast, Blood Brothers and Wasted Years.  It was a sweet finale and I wish there was more.

Being in Denver, I expected Bruce to make a few statements and he did.  “How many people here aren’t high tonight?”  “What made the Mayan civilization disappear?  Maybe they smoked too much weed?”

Overall the show was awesome.  I wish they could have had a drum cam vid showing Nicko the whole show.  Adrian and Dave’s solos were great and they still seem to enjoy what they do.  Steve and Bruce did their thing, running around the stage full of energy.   But I will still continue to bitch about Jannick Gers.  What a fucking buffoon.  He’s not even playing half the time, just running around the stage doing stupid fucking guitar tricks.  When he did do a solo, it sounded the same as his others.  No substance.  Fuck that guy.

After the show I took a ride to 3 Kings Tavern for a couple of beers.  I didn’t drink at the show.  I ran into a fellow Austinite there and hung out for a bit,  After that I went back to the hotel where the bar had about 15 folks from all over who came in from the show…Wisconsin, San Francisco, Virginia, LA, Jamaica.  One of the guys caught a pick from Adrian and it said “Chapter One” which leads me to believe that there may be second US leg later this year.  It was fun hanging out with them for a bit but the over the top Maiden nerdness started wearing thin and I needed sleep.

My flight out wasn’t until 9PM so I had the day to do some stuff around Denver.  I had lunch with Gwen, a former coworker, they went up into the hills to the Buffalo Bill museum.  Even the altitude there started to get to me a little.  The grave site and museum were cool, though, and the scenery around lookout mountain was gorgeous.  From there I popped into a record store.  Didn’t find anything I needed.  I then headed out east passed the Denver airport just to see the plains a bit.  Pretty out there.

Finally turned my rental car in, shuttled to the airport, ate a nice dinner and had a couple of beers.  It was a great trip.  I watched Rumble Fish on the way home and got back to my house finally around midnight Central Time.  I was wiped out.

UP THE IRONS!

 

 

 

Written by The Metal Files

April 16, 2016 at 12:56 pm

The Who and Joan Jett & The Blackhearts Concert Review, Austin, TX, April 27, 2015

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The_who_face_dances_albumMy brother, Robert (RIP), had one favorite band and that was The Who.  While he was the one who got me in to KISS, Alice Cooper, RUSH etc in the 70s, The Who was always top of his list.  Through the constant record spinning in the 70s and 80s, I became and remained a fan.  Anytime I hear one of their songs, it just punches me in the gut with his memory more so than any of the other bands that he influenced me with.  He absolutely loved them and I am pretty sure he never got to see them.  I had never seen them before last night either.

Typically when a ticketed show comes to town, I’ll buy 2 as seeing a show with a friend is typically a fun thing to do, but for this show, I wanted to see it alone.

In 10th grade we had to do a book report, written and oral presentation, and I had chosen Full Moon: The Amazing Rock and Roll Life of Keith Moon as a I was a big fan of his frenetic drumming.  During the oral presentation, I hung my brother’s Live at Leeds poster behind me and had the tape of that show playing in the background.  At the end of the report I quoted one of the last lines in the book which said (paraphrased), “To sum up Keith’s life, he basically upped and fucking died.”  Take into consideration that this was a Catholic high school.  Ms. Collins, who only lasted on year there, was pretty mousey and was appalled that I had “used such language” and sent me to the principal’s office.  I didn’t go.  I went to the library and listened to a cassette until the bell rang.  The next day I ran into the principal, Sister Ethelreda, in the hall and she immediately had me follow her to her office.  I took a pretty good tongue lashing from her about foul language in the classroom etc.  I didn’t care.  I hated that place and Ms. Collins, who pretty much only spoke to me when she had to for the rest of that year.  haha.  I ran into her at a mall a few years after high school and spoke to her for a few minutes.  I think she was terrified of me.

I’m a pretty big Who fan and prefer their 70s and 80s material more than the 60s stuff.  Face Dances, Who’s Next, By Numbers and It’s Hard are my faves.

4378So here we are at show day.  After work I get a ride downtown, grab a happy hour beer then make my way to the venue.  I had a pretty decent seat with a side view of the stage, which was perfect as I really wanted to watch their drummer, Zak Starkey.  Zak is the son of Ringo Starr, but I couldn’t care less about that and I’m not a Beatles fan at all.  BUT…Zak played drums on ASAP’s Silver and Gold album.  ASAP stands for Adrian Smith and Project.  Yes, THAT Adrian Smith.  This is the album he released after leaving Iron Maiden and I think it’s an amazing record from front to back.  Great rock album with Adrian on vocals and Zak’s incredible drum work.  I highly recommend it.

Joan Jett & The Blackhearts were the openers and while I’m not much of a fan, she put on a really good show and opened with my favorite song of hers, Bad Reputation.  She pretty much played everything you’d expect to hear plus a couple of new songs.  Her voice sounded great and her band was solid.  And before last night, I never noticed how gorgeous her eyes are.  Looking at the closeups on the big screen monitors just had me captivated for a bit.

After about a 40 minute set change, The Who come on stage and open with I Can’t Explain and The Seeker.  Either before or after the next song, Who Are You, they have to change out one of Pete’s amps.  While they’re doing that, he mentions that Jeff Beck was in attendance.  He quipped that there was at least one guitar player at the show better than him.  It was pretty funny and his delivery was right on.  They carried on with their playing through mostly familiar hits sprinkling in a few deeper ones like I’m One, Amazing Journey and Sparks.  Eminence Front is one of my fave songs by them and they played it.  It was great.

The whole show was great in general.  Roger’s and Pete’s voices are still very clear and full of range and I was pleasantly surprised by that.  They rolled through 22 songs in about 2 hours and no encore.  Impressive for a band of their age.  Pino Palladino was on bass.  He’s a monster player overall but didn’t do all of The Ox’s runs which I thought was odd.  Zak’s drumming was solid.  Beastly even.  He did a lot of cool stuff but I was surprised and maybe a little let down that he didn’t really do any of Moon’s signature licks.  It was most noticeable to me in My Generation.  Moon plays a mean shuffle on the ride cymbal in that song but it was nowhere to be found last night.  But just getting to finally watch him play was a treat.  He did do a few buzz rolls reminiscent of that ASAP album that were awesome.

I’ll admit to getting emotional a few times during the set thinking about my brother.  I probably missed him more last night than I have since he died.

Click photos to enlarge.

Blaze Bayley Concert Review, Austin, TX, October 20, 2014

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I found out last minute that former Iron Maiden singer, Blaze Bayley, was coming back to Austin again to play a couple of shows at the Anderson Mill Tavern.  I’m still confused as to why he plays that far away from downtown, but I believe this was the third year in a row that he’s played there.  I saw him last year at another strange place on the outskirts of town.  With even a little bit of minor promotion they could easily have had a crowd at a downtown bar.

My lifelong friend, Kelz, got to town that night for a week long MitchFest and he was down for going to see it.  We left straight from the airport to the bar.  When we got there, the lady at the door said, “You came late but it’s still $20.”  Ouch.  There were maybe 20 people there.  We walked in as he was talking to the audience and they went right in to Man On The Edge followed by The Trooper…and that was it.  Wait.  What?  After a few short minutes, they came back out and played an obviously unrehearsed version of Wasted Years and that was that.  It was similar to the version that they played last year, which was to say that it wasn’t good.  Sorry.  It was horrible.  I’ll give Blaze credit that he works the crowd pretty good, like he’s playing in front of a huge amount of people.

The only real bright spot to the show was that AJ Pero from Twisted Sister was playing drums for these few USA shows.  So of course I had The Book with me as well as the first 3 Twisted Sister CDs.  We got to speak with him after the show and was in good spirits.  We talked about the Sister 2004 show in Richmond, VA at an open air venue when a violent storm came up and they cleared the place.  Sister came back out to about 1/3 of the original crowd and just killed it.  He signed out stuff, took some pics with us and Kelz and I headed downtown for a beer at Jackalope before finally heading home.  We had a busy week ahead.

I doubt I’ll see Blaze again if he comes to town unless he brings someone else that’s in The Book with him.

On this day in 1985…Scream for me, Long Beach!

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LaDI remember going to the Music Man at Military Circle Mall in 1985 to buy this.  It was a rare trip in that I was out with both of my older brothers who were 21 and 23 (I was 15).  Neither of them were living at home at the time and I don’t even really remember why we all went out together, but glad we did.  The Music Man was a great locally owned shop in a mall in Norfolk, VA.  I bought lots of stuff there over the years and even worked there 1991-1992.  That was pretty special.  RIP.

When Powerslave came out, it quickly became and still remains my favorite album of all time.  Interviews from the tour kept saying that there would be a subsequent live album and that made me happy.  What a live album it was!

Aside from hearing many of my favorite Maiden tracks, the liner notes were jammed packed with tour stats…all of the dates, drumsticks used, guitar strings used, etc.

Tonight I’ll watch the DVD…again.  UP THE IRONS!

Written by The Metal Files

October 14, 2014 at 7:26 am

Iron Maiden & Megadeth Concert Review, Austin, TX 9/10/2013

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Last night Iron Maiden made their presence known in Austin the only way they know how…by getting on stage and destroying anything in their path and still being one of the greatest live bands ever.

They played at the Austin360 Amphitheater which is part of the new Circuit of the Americas racetrack on the outskirts of Austin. Megadeth has been the opener for this leg of the tour. What an incredible venue. No real covering over the pit or the seats and gives it a really awesome feel. The setup was really good overall.

I just saw this tour a week ago in Raleigh, NC and knew what to expect. But it didn’t matter. I love the band and would go see them every week if I could. Last week’s show was pretty special mostly because of the non-concert stuff that happened around the concert weekend. Last night’s show was special in its own way as well because again I got to see my favorite band with more of my closest friends.

Automatically when the show got announced I decided to join the Iron Maiden fan club just to get presale tickets. We were only allowed 4 tickets on the presale and I had my 3 spares easily picked out. Don, Pablo and Marco. Three of my closest friends in the area.

We met up at my house to each have a bottle of the Trooper Ale that I had picked up last week. I’m liking the beer a little more each time I have it.

We then took the quick ride to the venue and parked in the premium parking as I had prepaid for a pass. We scooted passed the line of cars and easily parked. We brought some extra Trooper beers with us to have a little parking lot celebration while waiting for my friends Jason and Morgan. Upon their arrival we went in.

I didn’t get an event shirt in Raleigh as they had sold out of my size. I decided to wait in the merch line during Megadeth and got the shirt I wanted. We were able to catch the last few ‘Deth songs and them mulled around the venue talking with other friends. Everybody was there it seemed. Maiden brings everyone out.

Maiden comes out and plays the same set they’ve been riding for the last year plus. I still wish they’d leave out Afraid to Shoot Strangers and Fear of the Dark and bring back Infinite Dreams and Still Life. Jannick Gers was slightly less annoying last night than in last week’s show.

I can’t state enough how great and energetic this band still is. Bruce Bruce sounded awesome and the band still fires off all cylinders. Nicko’s right foot is still that of legend. It was high in the mix last night, too. Guitar solos were still a bit buried as they were last week.

I hope we get to see them again and I’d gladly see them again at this venue. Well done, COTA.

Up the Irons.

 

Iron Maiden and Megadeth Concert Review, Raleigh, NC 9/03/2013

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Iron Maiden announced a few months back that they were going to add an additional short run of dates to play some cities in the USA that they rarely played, if ever. Opening night of this leg was Raleigh, NC. After discussing with Kelz who lives in Raleigh we decided to set up another “MitchFest”.

What is MitchFest? It’s what Kelz and I call our meet ups to see shows. We’ve done several over the years…Foetus, Sabbat, Loudness and a few others. We tried to get some other friends from our home state of Virginia to come in but not everyone could do it. I joined the Iron Maiden fan club to get presage tix for next week’s Austin show and realized I could get 4 tix for each of the other USA shows. I have Kelz a club code for Megadeth and we got 8 seats all together. The final group was Kelz, his wife and 2 kids, Petey, Wade and Baird. Kelz, Petey and I all met 30+ years ago and have been close since. I was in a band with Wade in the early 90s. Baird is Wade’s nephew who I hadn’t seen since he was a toddler. That kid is all grown up now.

Through Facebook I saw that some other old friends were going to be there and I was pretty excited to be able to see them.

But we’re not done with MitchFest. For what ever reason Kelz and I have called each other bitch monkey for years. That morphed into Mitch Bunkey and ultimately into just Mitch. Hence MitchFest. Got it?  While we were walking around looking for the record store, we walked by Mitch’s Tavern.  Really?  On the way back to Kelz’ house we went by Bunkey’s car wash.  No, really. You can’t make this stuff up.

My trip started with flying to Virginia to see my dear Mom and brother and to hopefully catch up with some folks in Virginia that I hadn’t seen since I left in 2006. Success! It was a quick trip but a good one.

I drove from Norfolk to Raleigh on Monday and got to Kelz’ place around 3. We’re in touch pretty regularly so there’s not much to catch up on. We hung out with his wife and kids and went to get some grub. I needed some NC style pork BBQ and got my fill. After some more jibber jabber and a beer or 2, we all crashed out. His kids had school the next morning.

On the day of the show, Petey was driving in from Richmond and Kelz and I went into town to hit a record store or 2 and grab some food. After finding the record store we wanted to see, we were going to head back to the house as Petey was 30 minutes away. Walking out if the store Kelz points across the street and it took me a second to see what he was talking about. Maiden Lane! What a coincidence. So if course we nerd out and take pics. As we’re driving back, see Smallwood Drive. What? Really? For those not in the know, Rod Smallwood has been Iron Maiden’s manager forever. Another weird coincidence.

Petey arrives, we nerd out some more and hang out with Kelz’ family until show time. After a quick bite to eat we get to the venue and meet up with Wade and Baird. We all go in and I run into some old pals that I had known since middle school. I also ran into a guy, Ben, that lived a few miles down the road from me when we were kids. I hadn’t seen him since around 1991. Mid show I ran into Ben Hogg who sang with Beaten Back to Pure, a band that My old band did several gigs with in the early 2000s.

Megadeth hit the stage promptly at 730 and went through their set pretty fluidly. I’ve seen Dave and company a few times in recent years and was neither blown away or bored by the set. Of course I only want to hear songs from the first three albums, but such is life. My main complaint is that their current drummer just isn’t that good. I’m still not sure why Dave keeps him around. I mean seriously, the double bass at the end of peace sells is that that difficult. GET IT RIGHT ALREADY!

After about a 30 minute set change, UFO’s Doctor Doctor starts playing and that’s the cue that Maiden is coming up next. We’re all excited even knowing that the setlist hasn’t changed in 2 years. It’s Maiden. The favorite band of Petey, Kelz and myself. We were there together and that’s what mattered.

Now, the three of us all saw Maiden together for our first time in 1988 so that made this reunion even more special. Maiden hits the stage with Moonchild and run through their set with ease. Bruce was as energetic as ever and the band sounded great. The mix could’ve been better as Dave and Adrian’s solos seemed low in the mix. We were just off of center not far from the soundboard. Steve was low as well. I’m still amazed that Nicko can play like he does. His right foot is just as awesome as it ever was. Adrian’s solo were great but Dave’s seemed a little off. Seems like he’s decided to change some things up over the last few years. Of course Jannick Gers is still in the band much to my dismay. I’ll say it again that I can’t stand that guy. Whatever. Bruce’s vocals were really strong and clear. The only time I saw him struggle was at the scream in the end if Aces High. He knew he couldn’t hit the note and just winged it. No bother. The dude has still got an incredible set of pipes unlike most if my other favorite older singers. Bruce still can do it live.  No surprises in the show.  It’s the same setlist as before, which is a bit unfortunate.  I understand that their set changes are choreographed, but hell, just throw in some odd numbers and not worry about the big corresponding backdrops.

But the show was incredible. Yes, we got to see our favorite band again but all of us being together made the night and the whole trip even better.

I’m seeing the band again in Austin next week with some more great friends and already excited about it.

One thing about the show, and most shows in general these days, is seeing the people who go to these shows and just get obliterated. I saw so many people on the verge of passing out, puking and just acting like utter bumbling idiots. Don’t get me wrong, I like to party and get some beers in me seeing shows, but I also like to remember the show. Especially when spending $100 on a ticket, ya know? Maybe I’m just getting old and curmudgeony. It just doesn’t make sense to me.

Again, whatever. It was awesome and I can’t wait for the next show and the next MitchFest!

Nektar Concert Review, Austin, TX 7/4/2013

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Nektar was in town last night at a little place on the east side of Austin called Cheer Up Charlies.  Little is the understatement of the century.  This place was tiny.  20 people inside and you’re uncomfortable, I kid you not.  No matter, they were playing there and I had to see them.  And it was FREE!  There was a suggested donation at the door and I dropped in $5.

I was introduced to Nektar’s music through Iron Maiden.  They covered King of Twilight as the B-side of the Aces High single.  Because of that I picked up their albums A Tab In The Ocean and Remember The Future.  While not my favorite prog rock stuff from that era, it was enjoyable.  And if Maiden liked them, that was good enough for me back in those days.

Prior to the band hitting the stage, I met their current bassist, Lux, and merch guy, Nicky.  A friend had conversed with Nicky earlier and discovered that he was in the seminal British punk band UK Subs.  An original member even.  Weird world, eh?

Any way, Nektar takes the “stage” (read: the floor) and the room was filled with quite a few folks who were there specifically to see them.  I was pleasantly surprised by that.  The band seemed a little annoyed by the venue and understandably so.  It was a Wednesday night in Austin and this show could have been booked easily at a more suitable venue.  Again, no matter.  They sounded really good.  The band features original signer/guitarist and drummer Roy Albrighton and Ron Howden, respectively.  The keyboardist was a German named Klaus Henatsch and on bass was Lux Vibratus, an American.  He was a fantastic bassist.

I stayed for just under half of the set as there was another show that I had already paid admission to see.  Not to mention that it was completely uncomfortable in there.   Glad I got to see some legends last night.

Written by The Metal Files

July 4, 2013 at 8:25 am