The Metal Files

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New Kids on the Block, Paula Abdul & Boyz II Men Concert Review, Austin, TX, May 21, 2017

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You read that right.  I went to the above concert.  It was important that I went.

History…

I like to give some personal background on the bands that I see, especially bands that have been integral to my musical life.  As strange as it may seem, Paula Abdul is in that mix.  Her first album came out in the summer of 1988.  I had just graduated from high school, had tickets to the upcoming shows by Yngwie, King Diamond and Iron Maiden.  But I saw a poster or maybe it was on MTV at a friend’s house (I grew up without cable TV), but I saw her face and just like in The Godfather when Michael first sees Apollonia, I was stricken by the thunderbolt.  BOOM.  I was knocked out, some might say.  From that day forward, she has always been the most beautiful woman on the planet that I had never met.  I bought the tape for Forever Your Girl soon after and actually liked it.  Cheesy pop songs, but enjoyable.  I do like some of that stuff as you are likely aware if you’ve been reading this site for a while.  With Paula, I became a fan of her music and bought her next 2 albums as well.  All 3 of them are really good for what they are.  And seeing her in videos throughout those years always made me all gushy.  I will even admit to watching the first couple of seasons of American Idol with the volume turned down just to see her pretty face and that gorgeous smile.  Most any of my friends that I’ve known for a while have known about my obsess…erm, crush on her.

Flash forward to not too long ago and when a friend alerted me to this concert announcement.  I had never seen her live and don’t ever remember her coming around my hometown area in the 90s.  She probably did, but I was a little less apt to see pop shows back then.  Nowadays, I don’t care what someone may think.  I wasn’t thrilled about the other two bands on the bill but it made sense.  I saw that there was a VIP presale for NKOTB and I wanted to be as close to the stage as possible, so I got the best I could get without buying the meet and greet.  Right.  Don’t really care about meeting the grown boy band.  Boyz II Men had announced their VIP package shortly after but nothing about Paula’s mentioned on the venue page or on her website.  Bummer.  A bout a month or so after buying my tickets, the venue announced that her VIP package was forthcoming.  So of course I hyperventilated briefly and checked the site daily for an update.  After about another month, detail finally appeared and the sale was on.  I’ll just say that it was a painful purchase as I bought the top tier pass which included an “intimate Q&A” in her dressing room.  I’m thinking, “A lot of people are going to be in there and it’s going to suck, but whatever…”  *Click*  Done.  I had a brief moment of buyer’s remorse but quickly got over it.

So a few months passed of just getting myself mentally prepared to finally see and meet her and then the actual day arrived.  My friend Sarah Beth accompanied me and we got in before the crowds.  Since I had the NKOTB VIP tix, we got 2 swag bags full of stuff.  I gave them both to her.  It had a hat, socks and some other stuff in there.  I couldn’t care.  I was just getting more and more giddy the longer we had to wait.  Originally the meet was supposed to be after her set but they moved it to before Boyz II Men so that we wouldn’t have to miss any of the show.  Okily Dokily.  So they line us up at the backstage door and asked the three of us with the super access to go last.  There were only 15ish people for the meeting.  Boyz had about the same amount and NKOTB had 140.  That was an interesting crowd of people to see.

They start herding in the first folks for their photograph and it was happening fast.  Her tour manager came out and said to just wait after the last of that group was done.  Then we were all three ushered into the photo room.  It was us 3 guys, Paula, her photog and another tour manager.  The first guy went up, she gave him a hug and they snapped a few pics.  I was second.  I was dying.  The moment was here.  The voice in my head right now as I write this is of the narrator from A Christmas Story.  haha.  So the first guy is done and she puts both of her hands out and says, “Come here.”  Yes ma’am!  She looks at my vest and looks up at me and says, “This is awesome.  You’re precious.  Give me a hug!”  Yes ma’am!  Here’s where things got difficult.  She gives me a huge hug and I gushed hard, almost to the point of shedding tears.  I said in her ear, “I could so easily cry right now.”  She said, “Go ahead!”  I responded quickly with, “I don’t want to mess up your makeup.”  She let go and laughed.  “That’s funny!”  We snap a couple of pictures with her in my arms then she says, “OK, I’m going to kiss your cheek now.”  FUCK.  I bend down a little and wrap my arms around her again and she kissed my cheek and they snapped another picture.”  The world stopped for that moment.  To be honest, I’m still not sure it has started spinning yet.  I said, “May I kiss you back?”  “Of course!”  Sadly the photog didn’t get a pic of that one.  The last guy went next and had her hold a sign for his friend.  He was only in town on business from Belgium and a friend from back home wanted him to hold a sign with his friend’s name on it with Paula.  She was gracious and obliged.  He was a pretty interesting guy.  As we were in line, he showed me pics of his son with Dave Murray and Adrian Smith at a restaurant in Italy from a while back.  Super cool.  After this, the manager said to hold on a moment and then we’d be escorted to her dressing room.

We get in there and there are 2 sofas.  She gives us each a nice little hug again and asks us to sit.  The 3 of us on one sofa and her and her 12yr old Chihuahua with her on the other.  The lights were low, some candles were burning and one of the managers poured each of us a glass of champagne.  She welcomes us and thanked us for coming.  Then asked if we had questions.  I don’t remember what the first guy asked.  She gave him a nice long thoughtful answer and then I asked her about the album that she had supposedly recorded in the late 90s or early 2000s and why it never came out.  She explained about her plane accident and subsequent surgeries and that she wasn’t physically able to tour, so she didn’t want to put anything out if she couldn’t support it on the road and then American Idol happened and took up a lot of time for the next several years.  “I have so much stuff recorded from those sessions and even some newer stuff that I’ve been working on.  You’ll hear new stuff soon.”  The Belgian fella asked a question about Idol and about how she handled seeing the rejection of very talented singers.  Again she gave a nice long answer.  We got to ask another question but the first guy didn’t have anything.  So I asked if we were going to get anything from her third album, Head Over Heels, in the setlist tonight.  She said that Crazy Cool was talked about but that it ended up that nothing from the album was happening.  Bummer.  I really like that album a lot and I told her that.  “What’s your favorite off of that one?”  Loaded question and I had to try not to get all uber nerd, so I just said right off the top of my head, “If I were Your Girl, My Love Is for Real and Missing you.” “Oh wow, that’s sweet.”

We were in there for about 20 minutes and they said it was time for us to go.  She thanked us again and as we were about to walk out, I asked, “Paula, may I ask one more thing?”  She said, “Of course” and I asked if she’d sign my arm.  “Absolutely.”  As she’s walking over to me to sign it, I told her that I was going to have it tattooed in after the show.  She looked me dead in the eyes (me dying again) and said, “That’s incredible.  I will absolutely do this.  May I draw a little heart, too?”  My obvious answer that probably sounded like MushMouth from Fat Albert was, “You may do whatever you’d like, Paula.”  She signed it carefully and the photog snapped a couple more pics.  Again.  Dying.  Well, dead at this point, really.  I snuck in one more little hug and floated out of the room.  We were then ushered back into the photo room where dude was printing out one of the photos and put them in a frame for each of use.  As we’re waiting, a girl comes in with a pro video rig strapped to her and on of the managers said she was filming the tour documentary.  She asked us about being fans etc and then said, “Which one is getting the tattoo?”  I acknowledged and she turn the video camera back on and asked about it.  She filmed me and the sig on my arm and said, “This will most certainly make it to the final footage.  This is so awesome.”  One of her dancers came out and snapped a pic with us.  Cool dude named Gianni(?) from Amsterdam.  And that was that.  We could hear the intro music for Boyz II Men starting as we were walking out of the backstage area.  Some tall guy wearing all white damn near knocked me over running by me and turned quickly and said, “Sorry man!  Didn’t mean to hit you!”  I said, “All good!”  He ended up being of the singers for Boyz II Men.  haha.

Sarah Beth was waiting for me in the lobby area with a beer waiting for me.  She saw the look on my face and understood where my brain was.  I sent a quick text to my buddy Chris Carlton that she signed my arm and I needed his services after the show.  “Done.”  We had discussed previously and he was stoked to do it.  We finally go in and BIIM was on.  They were really good.  I’m not a fan at all but they put on a really good performance.  Two of them played instruments while covering a couple of Lenny Krazitz songs.  We were 6th row center, but were still pretty far back because of a catwalk and NKOTB party pit in front of us.”  BIIM was out near us quite a bit.  Again, they put on a great show.

After a quick set change, Paula was on.  Much of her set was all the way up there at the stage with her dancers so were weren’t really that close.  But it was good.  During her more intense dancing songs, she was obviously lip syncing, but on some of the slower ones, she was definitely singing and she sounded just fine.  For the last 2 songs, she was out on the catwalk in front of us.  I was still just in awe of everything that had just happened and that I was finally seeing her live.  It was just awesome and I’ll admit that during Rush, Rush I got choked up.  Total time and place type of song, ya know?  She closed with Forever Your Girl and that was that.  The show was over.  Her set was shorter than BIIM’s which was a bit of a bummer.  But let me tell you, at 54, she’s still got the moves, in heels even, and she is still absolutely extremely beautiful.  I hated that it was over.

New Kids came on and I don’t really know their stuff beyond The Right Stuff.  The middle aged women in there were loud.  LOUD.  When they were infront of us on the catwalk, their main guy, Jordan(?) looked at my vest and gave a thumbs up.  Whatever holmes, I’m not here for you.  haha.  After about 4 songs, they all came out into the crowd and did some other song I didn’t know.  That was pretty cool.  Then they all donned UT football jerseys and did another song from the rear stage.  As that ended, both Sarah Beth and I had had enough.  We were both tired and hungry so we left mid set and took a pedicab down to Valhalla where Chris was hanging out.  We grabbed a quick bite then walked across the street to the tattoo shop.

Fifteen minutes later, the tattoo was done.  We all went back to Valhalla where I bought a couple of rounds for our group and then I went home.  I was wiped out.  So much of an emotional drain.

Meeting her was special and pretty much a once in a lifetime kind of thing.  It was a great experience reminiscent of meeting John Arch or Adrian Smith.  HUGE.  She was so incredibly kind and sweet.  Hopefully we’ll get a new album eventually.

For the record, I washed my vest a few days before the show.  It was pretty ripe.  I also got a haircut and trimmed my beard.  I needed to look good for her.  Well…as good as I could.

Written by The Metal Files

May 22, 2017 at 8:59 pm

Billy Joel Concert Review, San Antonio, TX, December 9, 2016

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Seems like it’s been forever since I’ve posted a review.  I’ve been busy working out of town and haven’t been able to see as much in the last 2 months.

I had never seen Billy Joel before but have loved him since I was a kid, especially The Stranger album.  Great one from front to back.  I was surprised whe I read up on his current band lineup that he has both Chuck Burgi and David Rosenthal playing drums and keyboards, respectively.  They were both on my favorite Rainbow album, Bent Out of Shape. I sent a message to Chuck a week before the show to see if maybe we could meet and have him sign my Rainbow stuff, but never heard back.  Worth a shot, eh?

We had seats behind the stage and while we had a great view of Billy, I could only see Chuck’s cymbals, which was a bummer.  He sounded great though.  The entire band was great and especially Billy’s vocals.  I didn’t expect him to hit some of the notes he hit and to still sing so clearly.

He was pretty jovial with the crowd and in three spots, the crowd would get to decide on which song would be played next.  He’d offer up 2 songs and the one with the loudest applause got played.  He also played a bunch of snippets of Texas artists like ZZ Top, Buddy Holly and Janis Joplin.  They also did Highway to Hell with one of the roadies on vocals and Billy played rhythm guitar.  He played it in a couple of songs.

Overall the show was great and highlights were all 5 songs from The Stranger (unfortunately he didn’t play the title track), Sometimes a Fantasy which I hadn’t though about in 20 years, Vienna, Miami 2017, and The Ballad of Billy the Kid.

Written by The Metal Files

December 14, 2016 at 2:22 pm

Catching Up With Metal Church’s Craig Wells…Again

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Hard to believe that it’s been 6 years since I did a little email interview with the shredder Craig Wells of Metal Church.  I had seen that he moved to Houston within the last year and we couldn’t make a connection to meet until this week, as I’m working here weekly for a while.  He works nights in the TV engineering business and rarely gets a free evening.  Tonight I got lucky.

We went to a nice little Mexican place called El Tiempo Cantina.  Once inside I was given all kinds of great stories about the history of Metal Church.  One awesome tidbit he gave me was that Mark Baker of Strychnine played live for them on the first 2 tours when Vanderhoof wasn’t in the band.  Also that David Wayne (RIP) recorded the vocals for Highway Star in one take!  It was pretty mind numbing taking it all in and even realizing the fact that I’m sitting across the table from the guitar player that played on some of my all time favorite albums.

After dinner, he graciously signed The Book and some of my CD covers.  I couldn’t find my copy of Human Factor and had forgotten to bring my Operation Rock and Roll CD.  There’s also a foto of us from 1989 that I’d like to get signed.  He assured me that he’d take care of that next time.  Craig is an absolutely awesome guy and I look forward to seeing him again.

This was a perfect Halloween!

Written by The Metal Files

October 31, 2016 at 8:30 pm

Riot V Concert Review, San Antonio, TX, October 1, 2016

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Riot V (Riot) is doing a short string of Texas dates in warmup to their Japan show with Rick Ventura performing all of Fire Down Under.  Last night was San Antonio’s turn and what a great show it was…as always.  There was yet another slight band member change for these shows.  Nick Lee and Lance Barnewold (Nick’s usual replacement) both had prior commitments and couldn’t do this show.  Riot tapped SA local Joey Villalobos to back up Mike Flyntz and he did a fine job.

Riot opened with a taped segment of Flashbacks from FDU then went into Narita as they always do.  They played 5 more songs that have been a part of their set in the last couple of years then brought out guitarist Rick Ventura to play FDU with Flyntz and the band.  It was quite a treat to see him again and to hear that whole album live.  Such an influential album and Mark Reale influenced a lot of guitarists.  After FDU, they kept Rick on stage for Tokyo Rose, Rock City and Road Racin’ and for a cover of Saxon’s Denim and Leather which featured Saxon’s Nigel Glockler on drums.  Pretty cool.  Last night proved once again that Todd Michael Hall is one of the best singers in metal.

Rick left the stage and Joey came back on for 5 more songs and that was it.  It was a great 2 hour set as always and was good to be there with good friends.

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Written by The Metal Files

October 2, 2016 at 6:39 pm

Saint Vitus & The Skull Concert Review, Austin, TX, September 27, 2016

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Saint Vitus, The Skull and Witch Mountain kicked off their latest tour here in Austin, TX Tuesday night to a moderately sized crowd at one of Austin newest venues, Grizzly Hall.  This place has a great setup and sound system.

Newish Austin locals, LadyKiller opened the show with their brand of what I have seen called “Camaro Rock” to a slowly building crowd.  They seemed to start off a little flat but by the middle of their 30 minute set, they were doing their thing smoothly.

Witch Mountain was up next but I missed their entire set hanging outside on the patio with some friends.  I could hear them but wasn’t interested enough to go in.  I had checked them out before and well, pass.

The Skull was up next.  I’m a huge Trouble fan of everything they released up to and including their 1990 S/T classic.  I’ve seen them 4 times now, including Tuesday’s show and really like the stuff they’re doing now.  They’ve gone through some lineup changes since I first saw them in 2014 in Chicago but Eric Wagner, Ron Holzner and Lothar Keller have remained constant.  Lefty Rob Wrong (Witch Mountain) is handling additional guitar duties now and for this tour in Sean Saley’s absence, they have former Poison Idea drummer Steve “Thee Hippy Slayer” Hanford.  They opened the set with Trapped Inside My Mind from their 2014 release entitled For Those Which Are Asleep.  Three of the next 4 songs were also from that album.  They played “The Longing” from their latest EP as well before going into 4 classic Trouble songs including Pray for the Dead from Trouble’s 1985 album The Skull.  The band sounded fantastic and Wagner’s voice was still as shrill as ever.

Saint Vitus were up next and I’m not much of a fan although I’ve seen them several times.  Their drummer, Henry, is a good pal so I go to support.  He took me to the green room prior to The Skull to get Dave, Mark and Scott to sign The Book.  All were really cool guys and Scott was up front with us watching The Skull.  I watched their first 3 or 4 songs and have to admit that I enjoyed them more than ever.  Having Scott on vocals helps quite a bit as I’m no fan of Wino aside from his Hidden Hand stuff.

After the show I was beat.  It was getting pretty late for a work night so I headed home.  The tour bus that they were going to use was stuck in Dallas broke down so instead of them driving back to Dallas after the show, I had offered my place up to The Skull.  They had to drive back to Dallas the next day for a show, but were happy to be able to sleep before making that drive.  It was a bit surreal knowing that Eric and Ron, dudes from a band I’ve loved for 30 years, were just hanging out in my house with my cat, Taco, while I was crashed out.  haha.  Good dudes.  I did come home for lunch and Ron had just woken up.  “Your cat is awesome.”  True.

Through my pal, Felix Griffin (DRI, BAT), I was introduced to former DRI bassist, Josh Pappe.  I got him added to The Book as well.

Alice Cooper Concert Review, Austin, TX, August 21, 2016

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Alice rolled into Austin again for the 3rd time in 2 years…and there’s nothing wrong with that!  I’d go see him every week if I could.

As it was last year, we were served an evening with just Alice Cooper.  I was quite pleased to see that the setlist was different for this tour.  I ended up with 3rd row seats at stage right on Ryan Roxy’s and Chuck Garric’s side.  Ryan pitched a pick perfectly to me towards the end of the show.

Overall it was great and Alice’s voice was in good condition and his backing band was as solid as ever.  One of these days I’ll get Garric and Hendrikson added to The Book.

The only down side to the show was the amount of fucking camera phones being held up the whole show.  Don’t get me wrong, I will snap some shots but I don’t keep my phone out and held up the whole show.  It was really annoying.  But I digress.

Highlights would be Ballad of Dwight Fry, Elected, The World Needs Guts and a good rendition of Ace of Spades.  It was a strong set overall.

I used a couple of my own photos as well as some from Christie O. and John A.  Thanks!

 

 

Written by The Metal Files

August 22, 2016 at 11:02 am

Holy Grail, Exmortus & Spellcaster Concert Review, Austin, TX, August 3, 2016

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The Fellowship of the Strings Tour rolled in to Grizzly Hall yesterday featuring bands full of really good guitar players.  Having seen all 3 bands before, there were no real surprises here.

Spellcaster hit the stage promptly at 815PM.  Yes, you read that right.  An early show on a weeknight.  What a novel concept!  There was no local opener and set times didn’t get announced until about an hour before the show.  Had this show been downtown, it likely would have been a 10PM start time.  For us day job folks, these early shows are great.  Spellcaster’s slot was only 30 minutes and they blew through their set with ease.  The crowd was at about 60 people by my rough count during their set.  They sounded great.  I can’t recommend their latest album, Night Hides the World, enough.

Immediately after the set I hustled next door to grab a couple of al pastor tacos from Taco More.  Delicious I tell ya!  There was only 15 minutes between sets as all 3 bands were sharing the backline.  Exmortus was already on by the time I got back and I enjoyed their set a little more than I did last time.  The growing crowd was really into it and I think they may have had about 80 people.

Holy Grail rolls through Austin on the regular and the crowd had thinned out a little, but was still very much into the show.  To be honest, this may have been the best of the 4 shows I have seen by them.  James Luna’s voice was pretty much flawless.  They finished around 1115ish and all three bands just hung around and drank with the remainder of the crowd.

I bought a Spellcaster shirt, said a few goodbyes to them and some other friends and went home.  It was a fun early night.