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Whitesnake and The Dead Daisies Concert Review, Austin, TX, August 9, 2015

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The Dead Daisies opened the show and I had not heard of them until right before showtime.  They are sort of an all star lineup featuring John Corabi, Marco Mendoza, Dizzy Reed, Richard Fortis, Brian Tichy and Damon Johnson.  They came out and got the crowd warmed up pretty easily and were a good fit to open for Whitesnake.  Musically I was pretty bored.  Too much hand clapping and “Hey!” type rock for me.  The crowd seemed into it though and that’s what mattered.  They were solid and Corabi’s voice sounded great.  They did a quick free meet and greet immediately after their set which was cool.  I spoke to Marco for a moment recalling the times I saw him with Thin Lizzy in Virginia and Maryland.  He’s got a good memory, “Phil Lynott tattoo on your arm, right?”

I saw Whitesnake for the first time about 10 years ago to the day (August 7, 2005) in Norfolk, VA and they were good.  Good enough, anyway.  Coverdale, who’s no spring chicken and should not be expected to sound like he did in the 70s and 80s, sounded good.  Last night was no different.

They had a taped opening of The Who’s My Generation then went right into Burn by Deep Purple, Slide It In and Love Ain’t No Stranger.  Great way to open a show!  They played some more Deep Purple songs (this is dubbed the Purple Tour) and some other Whitesnake tracks including Bad Boys from the 1987 S/T album.  I was a little surprised that they’re not playing Stormbringer on this tour, but oh well.

The band was super solid and their backing vocals helped Coverdale sound better for sure.  He’s got Reb Beach, Joel Hoekstra, Tommy Aldridge, Michael Devin and a keyboard player that I’m too lazy to look up.  Both Reb and Joel were tearing it up on guitar and Aldridge bored me to tears like he always has.  I could never get into his playing.

The show didn’t sell out, not even close.  It was a great time with great friends during and after the show and I’ve got a little rock and roll pneumonia today to show for it!

 

 

Saxon, Armored Saint & Evil United Concert Review, San Antonio, TX, May, 23, 2015

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posterThree things in San Antonio have stood the test of time:  Saxon, Armored Saint and Jason McMaster.  Let’s just face facts, Saxon’s biggest USA fanbase is in Texas with the majority in the San Antonio area.  Last night proved that.

The weather was bad all day but I drove down and arrived at the venue pretty early to meet up Armored Saint/DC4/Odin guitarist, Jeff Duncan, who I hadn’t seen since the Odin reunion show in LA a few years back.  We met when his band DC4 was in town for SxSW about 5 years ago.  His brother, Shawn, and I have been friends for a few years prior and I helped them out when they were in town.  Jeff and Jason met me at the back door of 210 Kapone’s and walked me in.  While sound checking Armored Saint, I got to meet John Bush and the Sandoval brothers.  I had previously met Joey Vera at the Arch/Matheos show a few years back.

The Saint guys went back to their hotel after signing The Book (thanks, Jeff!) to rest and clean up and Jason and I hung out while some of the local openers were playing on the second stage.  The crowd was starting to build around 730 and lots of friends were showing up.  Jason’s thrash band, Evil United was scheduled to go on at 8PM.  Thanks to Jeff, Jason and Saint’s manager I got an all access pass that was good though the end of the Saint set.

Evil United hit the stage and opened with Dead Can See from their new album, Honored By Fire, followed up by three more from that album.  They went back to their self-titled debut for Dawn of Armageddon.  The 30ish minute set was capped by a brutal cover of Judas Priest’s Tyrant.  The crowd was into the set from the first note to the last.  Jason is highly regarded in San Antonio because of his work with Watchtower and Dangerous Toys.  He’s consistently flown the metal flag in Texas for 30+ years.  Evil United sounded great.  Don Van Stavern’s bass was crushing through the mains.  I especially like EU’s drummer.  That dude is pretty much a badass.  The band was tight and the set was too short, but such is life.  Jason has a long history with Armored Saint dating back to the early 80s and had remained friends with them since then.  It was great seeing them hang out together.

Armored Saint was using EU’s backline so there wasn’t much of a changeover between bands beyond changing cymbals out and switching guitar pedal boards.  They hit the stage around 855 with the title track from their new album, Win Hands Down.  I like this song a lot and have listened to it several times since the single was released.  They totally got the crowd going with March of the Saint and Nervous Man.  Bush’s vocals were spot on and Jeff’s backing vocals sounded great.    The guitar tandem of Jeff and Phil Sandoval is pretty crushing.  The whole band was extremely tight and their setlist spanned every album.  Symbol of Salvation is my favorite album and their played Reign of Fire and Last Train Home.  The increasingly growing crowd was totally into their 11 song set that closed with Mad House from March of the Saint.  Of course Can U Deliver elicited the greatest response.  I had never seen Saint before and last night’s show was great.  Just what I needed!  After their set I went back to Saint’s dressing room for a bit to hang with Jeff and Jason.  I didn’t want to be all up in their business as it was pretty humid in there last night and those guys put on an intense set so I knew they were a bit worn out.  Bobby Jarzombek was up there and was having a discussion with John Bush about whose Mexican food was better, LA or San Antonio.  It was pretty humorous.

Saxon was up next and it’s well known around here that I am not a fan beyond 3 songs or so.  I just could never get into Biff’s voice, their lyrics and their riffs.  Believe me, I have owned several of their album to no avail.  They hit the stage to a seemingly capacity crowd opening with Motorcycle Man.  They ran through what most would consider their most popular songs.  I watched one song and went back to the room where the second stage was to sit for a while as it was vacant and I sit down.  Ran into other friends out there and listened to the remainder of the show from a distance.  I heard Dallas 1PM, Princess of the Night and the closers Strong Arm of the Law and Denim and Leather, and that was plenty for me.  I was just bored and couldn’t wait for the show to end so that my friends and I could grab a late meal and hang out for a while at one of their houses.  Saxon, however, did sound tight and the crowd was completely into it from beginning to end.  That will likely be my first and last Saxon show.

Ragnarokkr Metal Apocalypse 2015 Concert Review, Chicago, IL, May 1 & 2, 2015

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posteruseWow.  What another great weekend in Chicago.  This was my second year attending this festival and it was a lot of fun, albeit tiring.

Like last year, Kelz flew in from NC and met me at the airport on Thursday.  Local friends Rodney and Brent also flew along and we all rode together to the hotel.  We chilled out for a bit at the hotel then headed over to a pizza place to meet with some fest regulars prior to the pre-party.  I wasn’t so into my pizza but the Peroni on tap was right on.  After eating we headed over to a great dive called The Mutiny and rocked out some great old metal.  There were a few merch vendors as well.  I was pretty worn out and so were Chris and Rodney so we headed back to the hotel.  We had a long day ahead.

Early Friday consisted of going to Portillo’s for lunch and inhaling their incredible Italian beef sandwich.  So incredibly awesome.  Afterwards I napped.  I wanted to get to Reggie’s for the fest as the doors were opening, mainly to catch Satan’s Hallow in which a good friend plays guitar.  They’re a newer band and have only released 2 songs, but those songs are great.  They were great!  I really love Mandy’s vocal delivery and the riffs are good.  New pal, Poncho, was filling in on bass and was absolutely badass.  I see good things ahead for this band.

Twisted Tower Dire was up next and I had last seen them in 1999 with the old singer.  Their power metal set was solid and they now share singer and a guitarist with Walpyrgus.

Cleveland’s Vatican came on next and I caught most of their set.  Vince and company laid it down playing most of their Metalmorphosis re-release.  They were fun to watch and their singer has some serious pipes.  Added bonus getting those guys added to The Book!

With the fest having two stages, bands overlap and during Vatican’s set, Hessian started on the smaller stage and I wanted to catch a little of their set.  While they were solid, they weren’t my thing.

Back to the main stage for my friends, Dantesco.  I met them in Puerto Rico last year and was excited to see them.  They were great.  Powerful, heavy and Erico’s vocals were right on point.  The crowd dug them a lot.

Back to the smaller stage for Kantation which featured Martin Debourge who fronted a more recent version of Damien Thorne.  His vocals sounded great and the band was solid.  Martin’s a good dude.

Salem’s Wych was up next and their set was a little loose.  This was their first show since the 80s.  Pretty legendary though.

I saw just a little of Beyond Fallen but wanted to catch Q5 on the main stage.  They sounded really good.  They were one of the biggest surprises to me.  I had listened to them back in the old days but it didn’t catch on with me.  I got to meet them in the green room before the show and they were super cool.  Three original members got added to The Book.

I caught most of Ostrogoth’s set and they were pretty good.  Their drummer is the only original member left and he’s an awesome guy.  I caught a little bit of Iron Finger and they were ok, solid, but not my thing.

Then…LIEGE LORD.  I’ve been a fan since randomly buying Burn to My Touch based on having an album cover by Ioannis (Fates Warning, Warlord, Obsession).  Let’s make no mistake about it, I prefer the Andy Michaud era.  Master Control never did anything for me but I was still stoked to see them live.  They were another band I got to meet prior to them hitting the stage and they were all cool dudes.  When showing Joe Comeau The Book, he said, “Ah cool.  I have one of these” and continued to tell me a story about the promo shoot that the photo (see below) was taken from.  Only original member, Tony Truglio, was also very nice.  They opened with 2 from Master Control then Dark Take from Freedom’s Rise.  Cast Out from Burn to My Touch was next and it sounded awesome.  The band was tight and the crowd was loving it.  They rolled through Rainbow’s Kill The King, a couple more from Master then went into Speed of Sound.  I nearly lost my shit on that one.  One of my favorites from Burn.  Their whole set was good and I was so glad I finally got to see them.  Then back to the hotel for the typical late night jibber jabber and sleep.

Saturday, Kelz and I went to a taqueria and had some awesome food.  Afterwards we drove over to Cabrini-Green, the site that the TV show Good Times was based on.  That used to be a very rough area.  “The projects”.  Now it’s all condos and heavily gentrified.  Was hoping for some sort of historical monument to JJ and the family but it was nowhere to be found.

Saturday’s show started a little earlier at 4:30 and got started with Kentucky’s Savage Master.  They were solid but not completely my thing.  There’s a buzz about them and I think it’s mainly because of the scantily clad singer.  I’m not much of a fan of her vocal delivery and I think she could work on her stage presence a little.  The rest of the band is dressed in black hoods and the whole thing reminded me of the band Bitch being backed up by The Mentors.  I think a little tweaking could get their live show more exciting.  Nice folks, though.

Crumble came on the small stage and I caught a little of it.  By “a little” I mean less than one song.

Züül was up next on the main stage and the singer announced that it was their last show ever.  I had seen them a time or two before in Austin and enjoyed them.  They sounded good in Chicago as well but the singer seemed to be having a few vocal issues.  He was lacking some of the power he normally has.  Still sounded good.

Skelator was up next and delivered their sword-wielding metal the masses that were really just starting to roll in.  They sounded great but I only caught about half of their set as I needed to catch Moros Nyx on the small stage.

Moros Nyx has the drummer for Satan’s Hallow on bass.  This was their first show and they did a great job.  Looking forward to more from these guys.  Their drummer is a bad ass.

Back to the big room for the return of Skullview.  I’ve always liked their debut quite a bit and it was good seeing them finally.  Especially good to finally meet their guitarist, Dean.  We’ve known each other from online forums for a long time.  Their singer has an enormous range, but antics I saw before and after the show pretty much let me know that I can’t care to see him again.  I stayed for half of the set and went back to the small stage.

Hrom was up next and they were powerful with yet another singer with a great high range.  Nice kids, too.

I went back to the main room to catch a little of Chicago’s reunited Aftermath.  They were good straight up thrash and super nice guys.

I went back to the small room and waited for Walpyrgus to come on.  This band features members of Twisted Tower Dire as mentioned above.  They put on a great set.  Would like to see them again.

As soon as they were done I rushed back over to catch High Spirits.  I really enjoy this band.  Good, straight up hard rock and I really like Chris’ vocal delivery.  “Without Zuul, there would be be no High Spirits,” Chris said.  He’s good at working the crowd too.  When I saw them in San Antonio, he was on bass but had a full backing band for this show.

I caught a little of Coven 13 but it wasn’t my thing.

Coming up next…ATTACKER!  Another band I’ve loved since their debut, Battle At Helms Deep.  That album rules.  I’ve no problem admitting that I didn’t care much for the follow up, Second Coming.  But no matter.  I was finally getting to see them live.  They opened with The Hermit from their debut and the crowd went nuts.  The band was tight and most recent singer, Bobby Lucas, sounded great.  Original drummer, Mike Sabatini, and guitarist, Pat Marinelli were great as well as the rest of the band.  Their set was great and very tight.

Wretch played the small stage and they were another band who was solid, but I didn’t get to see enough to really form an opinion.  We were so hungry we went next door to grab a burger.

Upon returning, The Rods were already playing the main stage.  I’ve seen them before and I am 0.0% a fan of them.  Their brand of hard rock just never caught on with me.

Nuclear Assault was on next, but again, I’m not really a fan.  I had met and seen them live in 2003 in Norfolk, VA and got Dan and John to sign The Book.  Glenn signed in the green room earlier that evening.  The room was packed and there was a big pit going.  I saw about 1.5 songs and retreated to the small room where all bands had finished for the night.  Kelz and I got to sit and hang out with Sabatini and just talk about stuff.  We talked with him for a long time and he was very cordial.  “Playing festivals like this is great, but we all have jobs.”  It was great hanging out with him and the rest of the band.

What a great night and fun festival.  After Nuclear Assault, we were all dog tired and went out to the street to say goodbyes to all of our friends.  I hope they continue to get quality bands for next future fests.  My band, Eternal Champion, was originally slated to play but had to back out a few months ago.  Warlord was also originally booked but backed out.  That was a crushing blow for me.

Click here to see the setlists from the festival.

Mouse over or click photos to see captions.

Doro Concert Review, Houston, TX, March 8, 2015

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IMG_8950useFirst and foremost, I need to get this out of the way…“apology accepted”.  Those were the words Doro said to me last night after I apologized for my Butthead moment with her back in 1988.  She thought it was very funny actually.  It had always been in the back of my mind anytime I’d think of Warlock or her, so I’m glad I finally got to get that off my conscience.

When I saw that Doro was coming to Texas again (last time was 2007 in San Antonio but I couldn’t make it), I got a ticket ASAP.  I absolutely love Warlock.  The drive to Houston yesterday and the return home today were tough as it was a heavy rain both days.

Upon arrival to my hotel, I was relaxing a bit after a nice hot shower and looking at Instagram and saw that Johnny Dee, Doro’s drummer, ate at the ramen place next to the venue.  I was very hungry and this sounded like a good idea on such a cold and rainy night.  It was an incredible pork broth, noodle, ground pork, chopped pork, hot sauce, bok choy concoction that set me just right.

After the meal I go to the venue and run into some friends and hung with them for most of the night.  There were 4 opening bands, 3 of which were local and one from Santa Cruz called Archer.  I missed the first opener and couldn’t really get into the other 2 local bands at all.  Archer was a decent 3 piece of heavy rock band that is touring with Doro.

The crowd had thinned out some.  It wasn’t packed in there by any stretch but by the time Doro came on, I’m guessing about 150 were still around.  The band hits the stage and opens up with I Rule the Ruins and plowed right into Earthshaker Rock.  The band sounded awesome and I couldn’t believe how great her voice was.  She looked and sounded like it was still 1988 and she is very appreciative of her fans.  You could tell how much she loved being up there and seeing familiar faces in the crowd.  Some people had traveled from Luxembourg to be there as well as other parts of the USA and Mexico.  I love that.

The setlist was filled with songs from all four Warlock albums.  It was awesome hearing Out of Control and I freaked when they played Evil from the Fight for Rock 12″.  She played a handful of songs from the solo career as well including 2 from her new album, Raise Your Fist In the Air.  Hearing Metal Racer just blew me away.  They performed the cover of Dio’s Egypt (The Chains Are On) and it was just perfect.  I’ve always loved her cover of that.

It was just a wonderful set, which of course I wanted more Warlock songs.  Just play all night, ok?  After the show I got to spend a little time with Johnny Dee which was cool.  I’ve always liked that self-titled Britny Fox album, even though I despise most of that hair band stuff.  That riff on Long Way to Love is killer.  After talking with Johnny, I was afforded a moment to get on the bus with Doro.  It was a cool few minutes.  She signed The Book and my Triumph and Agony CD.  The tour manager was rushing me off the bus so I didn’t get the other Warlock CDs signed, but he did call me “assman”.  I didn’t take but a couple of photos as I really just wanted to stand there and take it all in.

Stay hard, true as steel!

Alice Cooper Concert Review, San Antonio, TX, February 11, 2015

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IMG_7633useTo be honest, I don’t think I’ve ever met anyone who has said, “I don’t like Alice Cooper.”  Sure, you may not be into his music, his politics, his religion, but how can you not just like the guy?  He’s a class act.  Intelligent.  Funny.  Consummate front man.

I’ve been a fan since as long as I can remember thanks to one of my older brothers.  One of my favorite Cooper moments ever was his appearance on the Muppet Show in the 70s.  I met Alice last year in Dallas and those few moments talking together will forever be special to me.  A few months later I saw him with Motley Crue and it was great.  Shortly after that show, it was announced that he was doing a solo tour, an evening with Alice Cooper.  I bought tickets for the Austin show as soon as they went on sale and got one for the San Antonio show and scored second row 2 weeks after they had gone on sale, which I thought was odd.

I rolled down to San Antonio right after work and picked up my friend, Rodney, who had a close seat in the section next to mine.  I had never been to the Majestic Theatre before but wow, what a beautiful venue.

Alice was scheduled to come on at 8PM but didn’t hit the stage until about 8:15.  The lights went down and The Underture started.  The open up with Hello, Hooray and roll right into House of Fire and No More Mr. Nice Guy.  The crowd was going crazy and I was smiling ear to ear.  Alice and the band, as expected, sounded great.  He is pretty active on stage, especially for a guy who is 67 years old.

He played most of what I expected to hear.  Of course I want to hear songs from From The Inside but he’s been ignoring that album for quite some time.  I was a little surprised he didn’t go deeper into the catalog since he was doing the longer set but he decided to play 4 covers which apparently he’s been doing often when he’s headlining.

His band is always top notch and last night was no different.  Everyone is extremely talented and are each a show within the show.  Drummer Glen Sobel is a beast of a drummer.  Veteran guitarist, Ryan Roxie and bassist, Chuck Garric, were positioned on my side for most of the night.  Ryan slapped 2 picks in my hand throughout the course of the night.  While I started out in the second row, the security girl motioned for me to come right up front and there I was stationed for more than half of the show.  I didn’t realize until after the show that guitarist, Tommy Hendriksen, was the bassist for Warlock, who I had seen in 1988.  He and third guitarist, Nita Strauss, also handed picks to me during the show.  Score!

Alice threw out 2 of his plastic canes, a ton of Cooper dollar bills and some plastic bead necklaces (during Dirty Diamonds).  At the end of the show during the School’s Out encore, tissue paper feathers and streamers fell from the ceiling and the crew threw large balloons filled with confetti out on the stage and into the crowd.  The ones that got near Alice were pierced with his sword.

It was a great show and I can’t wait to see it again tonight!

Tesla Concert Review, Austin, TX, January 28, 2015

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TESLA_3x5_logoHappy 2015 everybody.  Seems like it’s been forever since I’ve written.  There just haven’t been that many touring shows since December but that all changed starting last night.

Tesla.  To be honest, and I’ve stated it before, I’m not a fan.  While I like Modern Day Cowboy and Heaven’s Trail, I just don’t get into them at all.  A big part of it are the vocals.  Just a bit too whiny for me.  So why did I go?  Free tickets!  Good enough reason to go and to hang out with some friends who were going.

A little history.  Back around 1990, the metal band I was in wanted to play Love Song.  I was completely against it.  NO BALLADS!  I was happy sticking with the heavier covers we were doing and not pussing out to wimp rock, and this song qualifies as wimp rock.  I’m pretty sure it was because of the bassist we had who had a new girlfriend and he was all goo-goo over her.  The rest of the band didn’t seem to mind playing that song but I was adamant about not playing it.  I had to maintain some integrity after all, yes?  After the second or third practice of them trying to introduce the song and me bucking against it, someone stated that it was time to find another drummer.  DONE AND DONE.  I packed up my gear and rolled on.  No muss, no fuss, no hard feelings.

We got there right as the opening band was going on and quickly went out to the patio.  We stayed out there for most of the second band, too.  To be honest, they weren’t memorable enough for me to care about their names, but hey, they were up there and I wasn’t, so good on ’em, eh?

Tesla comes on and opens with a song from their latest album, Simplicity.  They ran through most of their catalog and the crowd responded accordingly.  They played pretty much everything you’d expect to hear.  We stayed near the back of the venue and I was quite surprised as to how many people were there.  The venue holds about 1700 and there were roughly 1200 in attendance.

The band was tight and Jeff Keith’s vocals were hanging tough (sorry, I had to).  Frank Hannon is a beast of a guitarist.  Brian Wheat’s bangs were in full effect, too.  Holy cow!

This was a great show for people watching, too.  Saw some sights that I’ll never un-see, that’s for sure.  Overall it was a good time and it felt great to catch another live show and to spend some time with good friends.  It’s also nice when a show ends earlyish (1130PM) since I have to get up early for work.

Lots of things in the hopper in the coming months like Uli Roth, Doro, Krokus, Alice Cooper, The Who and Bob Seger.

Firefall Concert Review, Austin, TX, July 25, 2014

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I’ve been a Firefall fan since the 70s.  AM Gold from Mom’s car radio or in the house.  I love a lot of this 70s rock and obviously Firefall is no exception.  I’ve never seen them although I’ve had plenty of opportunities over the years.  It needs to be stated that Strange Way is one of my favorite songs ever.  The simple keyboard part in the chorus just makes that song intense for me.

Last night’s show was at the One World Theatre on the outskirts of Austin.  It’s a small venue (400ish?), all seated and not a bad seat in there.  It’s a non-profit venue and I love seeing shows there, although they are always a bit more expensive.   I didn’t make the decision to go last night until just a few hours before the show started.  After doing some quick research of the band members, I saw that their bassist, Mark Andes, was in Heart during the 80s, and Spirit and Canned Heat in the 70s.  I looked him up in The Book and he’s listed with Randy California, so that solidified my decision to go to the show.

The band hits the stage and I was a curious as to how they’d sound vocally with all of them being in their 60s.  That curiosity was quickly satisfied.  Those dudes can still sing.  Non-original guitarist/singer, Steven Weinmeister, nailed the high vocal singing duties.  He’s been in the band since 93.  Original members Jock Bartley, David Muse and Mark Andes all sounded great vocally and Jock’s guitar solos were killer.  Solid drummer, Sandy Ficca, has been in the band since 85.   The band just nails it.

I was happy to finally hear Strange Way live, but also Cinderella and Mexico.  They told cool stories about playing Austin in the 70s as well as playing on Austin City Limits.  I had a huge smile on my face the whole show, albeit it was a short set.  At the end, they said to hang out and they’d meet everyone afterwards.  Everyone came out except for David Muse.  I did speak to him at the stage right after.  That guy is a killer saxophonist and flutist.  Sitting in on percussion with Firefall was One World Theatre executive director, Hartt Stearns.  That was obviously not his first time playing percussion and was quite impressive.

After the show I met Mark Andes and as usual I get, “What book is this?”  and “Why am I listed in here?”  haha.  I showed him the Randy California page and he smiled and said, “Wow, that was a long time ago.”  He signed the book, we spoke for a minute about his years with Heart and I moved on.  The rest of the band was sitting at a table signing autographs and taking pics and I had the rest of them, sans Muse, sign my ticket.  Cool dudes and they were all in good spirits.