The Metal Files

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Loudness Concert Review, San Antonio, TX, November 6, 2015

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posteruseLoudness returned to San Antonio last night touring for the 30th anniversary of Thunder In The East.  I’m really surprised by that based on what happened last time and knowing it was the same promoter.  Seeing that they had slated 8 openers (again) and I’m pretty sure all were ‘pay to play’, I was worried about the show running late into Loudness’ set again.  Lots of people were.  While the last opener was playing, they were getting no respect from the crowd.  People were yelling “pull the plug!”

Loudness was supposed to be in by 1130PM but it was closer to midnight.  Barring anything stupid, they had enough time to play their full set.

They opened with Crazy Nights, Like Hell and Heavy Chains, all three from their most popular album, Thunder In The East.  The band sounded and looked great.  The crowd was very into it as well.  They followed up with the title track of the new album, The Sun Will Rise Again.  It sounded great and I bought the CD prior to their set along with a bandanna and tour shirt.

Their set was mixed up pretty well with 2 songs from the new album and everything else from the classic era, including Street Woman from the first album.  They also played 2 from my favorite album, Lightning Strikes.

It was a great set and the venue looked about half full, which I find odd from the once metal capital of the USA.  For their encore, they re-played Crazy Nights with Riot’s Don Van Stavern on bass and backing vocals.  That was fun but it would have been cool to have had them do a different song with him.  But oh well.  Great night!  There were no lowlights to their show.

I did buy the meet and greet to make sure I could get The Book signed.  I forgot to bring it with me in 2006 like and idiot.  They were all super nice and I wasn’t even too bothered that the new drummer signed the book and my Disillusion CD.  I mentioned to Yoshi and Akira about seeing that NC show and Yoshi said he remembered that one and the poor attendance.  After snapping a quick foto, I was walking away and said, “Arigato Loudness!”  All four of them stopped signing stuff and looked right at me and individually nodded and said, “Arigato!” right back at me.  That was pretty cool.

Written by The Metal Files

November 7, 2015 at 6:04 pm

Loudness – Concert Review – San Antonio, TX – May 28, 2011

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I love Loudness.  That is to say that I love classic era Loudness.  Everything between Birthday Eve(1981)  and the Jealousy EP (1988) and a few songs from Solder of Fortune (1989) and On the Prowl (1991).  After Minoru left and after his replacement (Mike Vescera) left, I was done.  I didn’t care for EZO and having their singer in the band just didn’t work for me.  Even after Minoru’s return to the band in 2001 for the Spiritual Canoe album, I was rather disinterested in their modern sound.  No matter, when they did their small USA tour in 2006, I was there.

When I found out that they were coming to Texas this year, I was pretty excited and got my tickets immediately when they went on sale.  It wasn’t until the day of the show that I found out that there would be 8 opening bands.  You read that correctly.  EIGHT OPENING BANDS (see show poster).  The doors opened at 7 and the first band was to start at 8.  With so many bands opening, it was pretty obvious that Loudness would go on late.  OK, no big deal.  Doug and I pretty much sat in the back of the venue.  We got there around 9PM or so and didn’t know how many of the bands had played.  Apparently not many since it seemed like we sat through 50 bands.  I was told that the openers had to pay to play and it really felt like amateur hour of a

Minoru

battle of the bands competition.  Really, it was brutal.  One band from Sweden, Dirty Passion, was apparently on tour with Loudness (wait, that makes NINE opening bands!).  While they were about 25 years too late for their Bullet Boys/Warrant-ish type of rock, they were at least solid albeit not even remotely my type of rock.  The other bands?  PASS.  I just couldn’t get into it.  There was one group of kids that played who did some 80s metal covers and they were alright.  I just wanted to see Loudness.

Each moment that a band finished in the later hours of the night, we would move up into the crowd only to be disappointed that another band was coming on.  It was getting later and later.  Before I get into Loudness’ actual set, I should describe the venue a bit.  Originally this show was scheduled to be held at Backstage Live, a newer San Antonio venue that has been getting some bigger shows and gathering a terrible reputation with every one.  I had only been there once 2 years ago for Lizzy Borden.  Apparently people had been boycotting shows there.  Destruction/Heathen played there last week to around 100 people…in San Antonio.  I believe had that been anywhere else down there it would have been a lot more.  It was also a Tuesday night but in SA, that generally doesn’t seem to matter.  They love metal there like no other city.  Last night’s show was moved to Randy’s Ballroom on SA’s west side.  The place was huge.  It was an old venue, seemingly built in the 70s.  Apparently the Sex Pistols player there in 1978.  It’s primarily used as a bingo hall now and could easily double as a skating rink.  I did like that it had a large area to sit down in.  We needed it to get through all the opening acts.

Loudness finally hits the stage around 1AM, maybe 12:45AM.  Having seen their recent setlists, it had been about

Akira

13 songs long and getting all those songs in an hour was going to be difficult.  They hit the stage and opened with Fire of Spirit from their 2008 album Metal Mad.  I wasn’t familiar with it but it sounded fine.  The band was tight and the new drummer, while he was no Munetaka Higuchi (RIP), he was solid and very competent.  One would expect no less from Loudness.  They followed up with Hit the Rails, Crazy Nights and Heavy Chains.  Some recent stops on the tour got We Could Be Together instead of Heavy Chains (personally I would have preferred to hear We Could Be Together).  Of course during Crazy Nights the crowd of maybe 350 people went “crazy”.  There were more folks there earlier but it continued to thin out as the night progressed.  Minoru’s voice sounded great.  We were one person back from the barricade until the end of Heavy Chains and I wanted to move back to hear a better mix.   The sound for all of the openers was awful but it sounded great for Loudness.

They had gotten to a couple more songs like In the Mirror, Never Change Your Mind and Shadows of War (Ashes to the Sky) and then something odd happened.  It was 1:45AM and the house lights came on.  The band looked stunned for a moment and were conversing with each other on stage.  The crowd looked perplexed too.  After a

Yoshi

few minutes they started playing again and went into Black Star Oblivion (!!!!!!).  It was totally odd seeing them playing with the lights on.  They discussed a little further and went into a new song, King of Pain and then Crazy Doctor (!!!!!!) and then the shit hit the fan…the club shut down the PA and the band kept playing with just their stage amps.  Then…AND THEN…the club yanked their stage power…MID SONG.  Granted it was a few minutes after 2PM but c’mon.  The band ended up just stopping, never got to play their full set and took it in stride.  They stood at the front of the stage and just smiled to the crowd and shook hands and such.

I was blown away by it.  After wading through hours of sub-par bands to finally get to the headliner whose set got cut because of a piss poor booking job, it really was a disappointment.  The crowd was getting pretty riled up over it all.  I heard several drunkards saying, “There’s only 5 cops and a couple hundred of us, let’s tear this place up!”  Umm, pass.  The show promoter should be bitchslapped over this though.  From my account, Loudness got shorted 3 songs.  It was disappointing to say the least.

I was very happy to see Loudness again and would surely go if they ever tour the USA again.  For a bunch of dudes in their 50s, they were great.  They were equally as good as the 2006 show and I enjoyed the setlist even more this time around.  Akira’s playing is top notch.  He’s one of the best players I have ever seen.  Minoru’s voice was really strong and I don’t think they tuned down any of the old songs to help him sing them more easily.  Yoshi’s bass playing was solid as always.  I love seeing them as they hit the stage looking like tourists…sweat suits, track pants, shorts and sneakers.  Very comfortable and they were all smiles all night.  A very professional band to say the least and so glad I got to see them again.

I don’t go to SA for shows that often and this experience surely doesn’t drive me to go out of my way to see more down there, although I’m sure I will.  Go see them if you get the chance.

Setlist (as I remember it):

  1. Fire of Spirit
  2. Hit the Rails
  3. Crazy Nights
  4. Heavy Chains
  5. In the Mirror
  6. Never Change Your Mind
  7. Shadows of War (Ashes to the Sky)
  8. Black Star Oblivion
  9. King of Pain
  10. 1/2 of Crazy Doctor

Songs missing from the set:  Get Away, Let It Go, SDI.

Loudness

Minoru's shirt...I wish they were selling these!

Tour shirt (front)

Tour shirt (back)

Written by The Metal Files

May 29, 2011 at 10:08 am

Upcoming shows…

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Lots of great shows coming to the area.  So many that I have to pick and choose a little more carefully to be able to afford the ones that I really want to see.

Tomorrow night I am heading to San Antonio to see Loudness.  Saw them back in 2006 and they were great.  RIP Munetaka Higuchi.

Next Friday is Orange Goblin and Naam(!!!).  I’m not a huge OG fan but I’ve never seen them.  Naam, however, has become one of my favorite bands.  This is part of the Chaos in Tejas music festival.

There’s also the M.O.D. reunion show in late June that I am fortunate enough to be a part of as Milano asked my Motorhead tribute band to open up.

I just bought tickets earlier this week to see Armored Saint and Hirax at the Key Club in Hollywood.  Should be a fun show.  I’ve never seen Armored Saint and saw Hirax for the first time 2 years ago.  I’m really excited to see Saint.

Odin is doing a reunion show in August at The Whisky and I’ll be heading out there for that one as well.  I love Odin.  Always have.  Do a search for them on this blog site, you’ll see my inner fanboy.  haha

September sees Return To Forever coming back to Austin.  I got to see the first of their reunion shows a few years ago and it was quite mind-numbing.  Unfortunately Al Di Meola isn’t on the tour, but Frank Gambale is a competent enough player to handle the duties.  We get Jean Luc-Ponty this time as well!

Flashback Loudness Concert Review April 2, 2006

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Flashback to July 1986. I’m 16 years old and decided to use some of the money that I made from bagging groceries during my Summer job to buy a cassette. So I go to Roses department store and am just flipping through their stuff and I see Loudness’ Lightning Strikes tape. I had read about them in Circus magazine a time or two and thought I’d try em out. So I pay $7.99+tax and I am on my way out the door.

Not so fast…A plain clothes police officer grabbed me by the arm and said, “Come with me.” So I called to my older brother who was a few steps ahead of me to come back. So as this police officer was walking me to the back, I am raising hell with her. “What the hell is this all about?! I’ve done nothing wrong!” etc etc. We get to the back room of the store and she starts questioning me about my shoes. “What about them?” She accused me of stealing them from the store. They were a pair of Converse Chuck Taylor high tops off white in color. Apparently someone stole a pair of the same size and color from the store earlier that morning. Oddly enough, I bought this pair that morning but from another store in the same shopping center. She wouldn’t let it go (no pun intended for the Loudness fans in the room). Kept asking me for a receipt. So I told her to call my house, ask my mom to look on my bed and the receipt will be there. So she called, the receipt was there, the Chief of Police got a call shortly thereafter from my mom. That day started my love affair for Loudness.

Fast forward to last night in Fayetteville, NC. This is a huge military town and many parts of it reminded me of Norfolk. The main drag leading into the base was nothing but titty bars and pawn shops. I get to my hotel around 2:30PM and my best friend who lives in Raleigh got there shortly thereafter. So we hang out and decide to go get some food and jibber jabber and catch up. Another friend of mine was supposed to go with me but he got sick the night before. I sold the spare ticket I had to another friend I ran into there.

The venue opened at 7 and the first band was to start at 8. We hung out with a few folks we both knew and I saw Danny Stanton walk in and walk to the merch table. So I go back up and shake hands with him as I have known him for a while. He has been the tour manager for Thin Lizzy, WASP and Twisted Sister and other over the last 5-6 years. He also used to be the singer for NYC metal band Takashi in the mid-80s.

So the first band comes on promptly at 8. HellRazor. I was told that they have only been together for a few months and it showed. Sloppy, horribly sloppy. All original pseudo-thrash. They did a cover of Ozzy’s Breaking All the Rules and it was an absolute train wreck. I was glad their set ended quickly. Frexon Zo was supposed to open but not sure what happened to them. I think they would have been a bit more interesting.

Anyway, Widow played next. I had seen their disc on a few websites and saw they were on the same label as Tim Aymar’s Pharoah. Here’s the CD cover:

Yes, female fronted. And yes, that is the actual album cover. The cover is horrible! Ugh. I’m not a fan of 99% of the female fronted metal acts. To my surprise, she was booted out of the band about a month ago and the 2 guitarists. So they start and I was thinking they would decent from what a few folks have said and judging by the label they are signed to. Needless to say I was not impressed. The one guitarist who sane the clean vocals sounded good voice-wise, but his guitar kept crapping out. The drummer was obviously a huge fan of Robert Sweet and Scott Rockenfield and it showed from his drum set up. He had great backing vocals. The bassist was good. Overall I wasn’t impressed. I mean
they weren’t terrible, but I would not go out of my way to ever see them again.

Up next…Loudness! What a shock it was to see them on stage. I never realized how tiny they were. Minoru and Akira may have been 5’1″ at the most. Masayoshi was about 5’5″ and Munetaka was the tallest at about 5’8″. I have a few DVDs of them playing in the 80s with the over-the-top hair and such and they came out last night just wearing track suits and such, short hair and Akira looked like he was raised in Compton. He bounced around the stage like he was in RUN DMC. They played 16 songs and played them well, but the stuff from the last 5 years is a lot different. They tuned down as most bands from that era have to do to allow for the singer to sing in key to the music. Minoru’s voice still sounded pretty good and he was pretty funny when speaking between songs. “Being from Japan, trying to pronounce some English words can be difficult. I’ve been working on this one all day: North Car-o-lina.” He then went on to say, “I don’t even know what I am saying in Japanese half of the time.” Funny stuff. Masayoshi’s bass playinog was top notch. We were on his side for the evening and he made it a point to give my friend and I a bass pick each when the show ended. Very cool. Munetaka did not look comfortable behind the kit and it appeared that he was in pain. He seemed to play very conservatively.

Now we get to Akira. He’s always been one of my favorite guitarists and last night definitely solidified his place in my rankings. I can’t say I have ever seen anyone who is so comfortable on a guitar and seemingly be able to make it do exactly what he wants. He can be so fast and precise and then switch gears and hit some notes that just ooze with feel. Absolutely incredible. He only used Killer Guitars, which I believe are owned by EPS now.

After the show, some of us just hung out in the club as it was still early, only 11:30 or so. The Loudness guys all came out for some drinks and met and signed stuff for folks. I got to have some good conversation with all of them and they were so very gracious.

The downside to the show was that only about 90 people showed up. Fayettevile is not the most central location and this club does no real promotion. It would hold about 400 on a full night. They sold out Jaxx the night before.

There were about a dozen Japanese folks there who were behind us singing all of the Japanese parts along with Minoru, which was pretty cool.

All in all, it was a great time and well worth the 20 year wait to see them.

Photos from the show can be viewed here.

Written by The Metal Files

December 7, 2010 at 10:51 am

RIP Munetaka Higuchi

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When I met him in April 2006, I thought he looked and acted a little lethargic. He was a phenomenal drummer and I am truly saddened by the loss. He was a great influence on my playing.

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Fucking cancer.

Written by The Metal Files

December 1, 2008 at 12:01 pm

I’ll throw the ashes to the sky…

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So it was the summer of ’86 and I was working at Farm Fresh grocery store in Suffolk, VA as a bagger and stockboy making $3.25/hr which I believe was minimum wage at the time. The was the summer before my junior year. I was getting about 30-35 hours a week in for the summer because both of my managers liked me a lot. After taxes I was getting roughly $70-$75 a week. Not too shabby for a 16 year old. Gas was about $0.90/gallon and cassettes were generally $7.99.

So, after picking up my paycheck one morning I went to the A&N shoe store in the same shopping center and bought a pair of hi-top Chuck Taylor’s in the beige/off-white color. I went home, put em on and went about my day. Later that same day my older brother and I went out to bum around town and ended up back at the same shopping center to go to Roses department store. I’m not sure what he was looking for but I went straight to the tapes.

Just browsing through I saw Loudness’ Lightning Strikes. I read a review of it a few weeks earlier and it got a good rating. I didn’t really know anything about them except that they were Japanese. So I bought it. $7.99+tax. After being rung up, my brother and I were walking out (he was a few steps in front of me) and a woman grabs my arm and says “Come with me.” I said, “Say what? Robert! Check this out!” So my brother turns around and we’re both arguing with the lady, a plain clothes police officer. I’m getting pretty belligerent at this point saying “What the fuck is this about? Let me go bitch” etc etc. We go to some back room and the first thing she asks me is “Where did you get those shoes?” So I belligerently tell her that I bought them that morning from A&N. “I don’t believe you.” This is where it gets fun. “Oh yeah? The receipt is on my bed at home. Call my mom and she’ll read it to you.” Before she called my mom the cop was asking me where I got the money to buy the cassette and was accusing me of stealing those shoes from their store. “Look bitch, I work right next store. I don’t bust my ass bagging groceries and stocking eggs for nothing. I work for money so I can buy shoes and tapes and whatever else I want. I don’t need to steal. And if I did, do you think that I’d be stupid enough to wear them back to the store?” What was really funny looking back at all this is that I think my brother had stolen something and had it in his pants. What a doofus. Typical.

So anyway, the cop proceeds to finally call my mom. “Ms. W., we have your son Sean here and we think he stole some shoes from our store. He said the receipt was on his bed. Can you check for it?” A few seconds lapse and I hear mom say, “Yes, I have it. He bought them this morning.” Then the conversation changed. Most of you don’t know my mom but she’s not one to mince words. She ripped that cop a new one. My brother and I could hear it and we were laughing out loud. Mom demanded to know her boss’ name and phone number at the police station. That dude got an earful too. The cop tried telling my mom that I had a foul mouth and I heard mom tell her “Wouldn’t you be raising hell too? Now let him go.”

So they hang up. The cop apologized to me about a dozen times. I told her to piss off. I was pretty upset and shaken up about the whole thing. I don’t steal. period. I saw her around town for several years after that and she even apologized to me again a few years after the non-incident. All was forgiven.

So what does all this have to do with Loudness’ Lightning Strikes? Because of the happenings of that day, this album always held a special memory to me. While it’s not their heaviest or best album, it is certainly my favorite. 1000 eyes, Ashes to the Sky, Dark Desire and Street Life Dream are my favorites but the whole thing is good.

Akira is a shredder and Higuchi’s drumming is insane. He never needed double bass to get a full sound out of his kit. He had the chops.

There is another version of this album called Shadows of War which was the original Japanese pressing. It has a different mix in production and much of the vocals and guitar solos are different. I heard it for the first time a few years ago and was blown away by the differences. I love both versions.

A few years ago, Kelz and I got to see them live in Fayetteville, NC with about 40 other people. Pathetic turnout but it was a cool show. Not enough old stuff and only one half of one song from Lightning Strikes. They were really nice guys and Akira was phenomenal.

Dig the video for let It Go:

Written by The Metal Files

October 15, 2008 at 4:16 pm

So bang ’em…

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Bang them till they bleed!

Take the context of that any way you want. :)

If you read the Megadeth post below then you saw me mention Obsession’s “Scarred For Life”. This was a very unique band and another one that I found via a former friend from high school. They had such a unique sound and style. Total fist banging type stuff, mostly upbeat and a lot of cymbal catch type stuff. I don’t know a better way to put it.

Anyhoo, it was 1986 and there was a small group of us in our area that were really into these guys. Kelz and I were all about them but I don’t remember Danile really being into them so much. My other crew of friends loved Obsession.

“Scarred for Life” was just one of those albums for me. I spun it incessantly. Practiced drums to it as much as possible and tried to get all the cymbal catches in the right spots. Easier said than done, they had a lot!

When their second full length album came out, they were starting to get some MTV exposure and a few of their videos were getting played which gave them the opportunity to tour the USA with Paul Dianno’s Battlezone and this tour rolled through Norfolk at The Boathouse.

Now realize that were we all under 21 and for some shows at the Boathouse, they’d put up a barricade that kept us kids from being able to get right in front of the stage. This show was set up like that.  My old friend and I made some banners on cardboard and were freaking out during every song. I think we were the only people there who even knew who Obsession was. His banner had “Bang Them Till They Bleed!” written on it and halfway through the set, the singer told the crowd that they were going to play it even though it wasn’t on the setlist just because he had it on his banner. How freaking cool was that? I have my original autographed copy of that setlist and that song was definitely not listed.

Before their set ended, a few of the guys ran backstage really quickly and came out with cameras in their hands. They took a few pictures of the 4 of us, their true fans. We flipped out. I’ve never seen a band do that. After their set, they came out into the crowd and found us and we ended up hanging out with them the whole time Battlezone was on the stage. They were the nicest guys and very grateful that they had some fans. It was an awesome night all the way around and one of my fondest concert memories.

A few years later, Obsession’s singer Mike Vescera ended up singing for Yngwie on 2 albums. When that tour rolled through, I got to the venue early and saw the tour bus. It was mid afternoon at the oceanfront and no one was hanging around…I think it was early winter/late fall. I knocked on the tour bus door and johnny toolbag opens the door and says in an assholish manner, “Yngwie’s not seeing anyone today!” I told the guy I was there to see Vescera. “He’s not seeing anyone either, now go away.” I started yelling out “Obsession! Loudness!” as Mike sang for both bands. Next thing I know Mike pushes the dude out of the way saying, “Get the fuck out of here, I’ll talk to this guy.”

So Mikey comes off of the bus and we chit chat for a bit. He signs my Obsession records (yes, records) and my Loudness stuff and I tell him I saw Obsession back in the day at the Boathouse and how me and my group of friends made banners for them. He started getting all excited and said, “Dude, we took pictures of you guys! That was our favorite stop on the whole tour because someone actually knew who we were!” You could really see and hear his sincerity. It was awesome and he was thankful for my fanboyness. They rocked that night too.

I was in touch with Obsessions drummer, Jay Mezias, for a while but haven’t spoken to him in about a year. Not sure what happened to the rest of them. I think one was in jail in the late 80s for drugs. No matter, those Obsession albums stand the test of time. The latest one is pretty good too, but without the original 2 guitarists, it just didn’t sound like Obsession to me.

Good times.

Written by The Metal Files

September 5, 2008 at 1:38 pm