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Uriah Heep Concert Review, San Antonio, TX, April 6, 2017

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I’ve liked Uriah Heep since I was a kid thanks to my older brother Robert’s love for them and really prefer the David Byron era.  We listened to those early records quite a bit and they’re forever ingrained in my musical muscle memory.

I saw them in 1986 at our local city fair called the Suffolk Peanut Fest.  I really just remember it being a very small crowd there, but I was rocking out with my brother and I think that was the only concert we ever went to together.  Unfortunate.

Last night’s show wasn’t promoted very well online and even the venue still had Michael Schenker on the marquee, which was from last week.  At the height of attendance,  there may have been 200 people there but it thinned out.  No bother.  After 3 of the same openers we always see in San Antonio, Uriah Heep came on and flat out blew away the everyone.

The band was incredibly tight, especially the drummer and bassist.  Phenomenal players.  Mick Box’s guitar playing was just fine and long time keyboardist, Phil Lanzon, was perfect.  But the star of the show was Bernie Shaw who’s been in the band since 1989.  Besides being a good frontman, his vocals were stellar.  His range was was incredible and I was quite surprised at the high notes he could hit.  The whole band, minus the drummer, provided great backing vocals.

They primarily stuck to the first 5 or 6 albums, 2 songs from their latest (which were good!) and one from 1998’s Sonic Origami.  I pretty much got everything I needed to hear sans Rainbow Demon.

Just a stellar show overall.


Written by The Metal Files

April 7, 2018 at 2:02 pm

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Doubling Down with Tanith in Philly and Cleveland, February 8 & 9, 2018

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I love Satan!

Now, getting that out of the way, Russ Tippins from the legendary NWOBHM band Satan has a new side project called Tanith which released a few songs recently and announced that they had some upcoming shows in Philly, Cleveland and NYC, so of course I had to check my calendar and book a trip.  This also included coordination with Kelz and Rodney, both friends that I travel with to shows.  After some conversations, Philly and Cleveland (Thursday/Friday respectively) best suited our schedules and the trip was booked.  The NYC show was on Sunday and I didn’t need to miss another day of work and driving all the way back to NYC from Cleveland wasn’t very appealing.

The band released 2 songs on their Bandcamp page from their7″ called Citadel that are quite perfect in my opinion, an opinion you can’t care about I’m sure.  If you’ve seen Satan live or heard Russ’ Electric Band, you know he’s got a great higher-pitched voice.  Tanith’s music has him sharing vocal duties with NYC’s Cindy Maynard who also plays bass.  It’s a perfect pairing.

An early morning departure got me to Philly around 130PM.  Unfortunately the Eagles parade was rescheduled for the same day and after meeting up with Kelz who flew in from Raleigh, we couldn’t get to any of the record stores I wanted to hit, but not without trying first.  Everything was shut down.

Fortunately/Unfortunately, we did find a cheesesteak place just up the street from the hotel.  It was delicious.  We went back to the hotel and crashed for a bit.  I had been up all night and just needed to re-energize a bit.

Awake and refreshed we got up with Rodney who was staying in the same hotel and used Uber to get us to our destination downtown to the Boot and Saddle.  This is the same spot we saw Satan in 2016.  Nice little venue.  The front part bar area was pretty busy with Eagles fans still partying after the parade.  The bar had 90s rock playing the whole time and it was painful.  We hung out near the back with some other friends there until the doors opened.  Once inside, Tanith, BAT and Crazy Bull were getting their merch set up.  I grabbed a Crazy Bull 7″ and a couple of Tanith 7″s, a shirt and a cassette from Shauna, girlfriend of Tanith guitarist Charlie.  She was pretty fucking cool.  Lots of merch got sold as well.  Ryan Waste from BAT was hanging out and it’s always good to catch up with him.

This was an early show overall and Crazy Bull went on a little after 9.  They’re good solid hard rock and played a good set.  It was the bassist’s first show with the band and he seemingly did fine.  Enjoyable and worth catching again when convenient.

Tanith had the middle slot and Kelz and I moved up to the front.  I was pretty excited to see them and love the three songs they’ve released so far.  They opened with Cassini’s Deadly Plunge which is the 3rd song they’ve released online.  Keep in mind this was the band’s first ever show.  They played wonderfully.  Russ’ and Cindy’s vocals mix together perfectly and the whole band was solid, although Charlie’s guitar needed to be a little bit louder.  They double guitar work and the solid drumming rounded their sound out perfectly.  I kept thinking to myself that they reminded me a lot of Wishbone Ash, Uriah Heep and a touch of Satan.  Very British sounding rock.  I was taken aback a bit when they covered Heep’s Lady in Black.  I’ve always loved that one and it was my brother’s favorite Heep song.  Brought back great memories of listening to that album with him and Tanith nailed it perfectly.  They also played a song that Russ said he wrote for Satan and was only played lived a time or 2 in 1982 called The Rock Stands Tall.  It was a killer song and was never studio recorded, although he stated that a live version has popped up online recently.  I haven’t found it yet.  Again, Tanith was great and very gracious to all who attended.  Their drummer, Keith, spent many years in Austin and we had some acquaintances in common.  Nice guy.

BAT was up next and it was notable that Felix wasn’t on drums…but notable only in the visual sense.  Chris Marshall, the (temporary?) replacement was a perfect fit.  Big shoes to fill and he did a great job.  The whole band was solid as always.  They’re a 3 piece band that always sounds bigger.  ‘Twas a good set overall and it’s always a pleasure seeing them live.

Setlists from Philly:
Crazy Bull

After the set was the normal mingling with friends and the bands and another drink or two before heading back to the hotel to crash.  We had planned on leaving at 9AM for the long drive to Cleveland.

Friday morning we did breakfast at the hotel and piled in my rental and drove off to Cleveland.  It was a long trip filled with the normal abuse between friends, metal concert stories, horrible food and tons of laughs.  We stopped at a couple of record stores in Youngstown, OH and didn’t really find anything.  We dropped Rodney off at a friend’s and headed on the final short stretch to our hotel.  I was able to get a 20 minute snooze which was just enough.  I had planned on eating at Maple Grove Tavern as they had food when I was there a couple of months ago for another show.  Things changed for whatever reason and their kitchen wasn’t open.  So a bag of chips, then?  Done.

My friend Teresa Kay from Austin now lives in Cleveland and she came out for the show.  It was great to see her and catch up a bit as well as catching up with some other Cleveland friends at the show.

Vandallus opened the show to a set of 80s style metal.  Enjoyable enough to buy the LP.  They didn’t seem very well-rehearsed though and only played maybe 5 songs.  Oh well.

Vulgar Devils were on next which features Dave Just from Destructor.  They laid down a solid set of upbeat hard rock.

Unfortunately the crowd of about 60 people dwindled down a bit after the local bands finished, but no bother, a good 30 of us stuck around to catch Tanith play their full set.  It was pretty much the same set with the addition Zeppelin’s The Battle of Evermore and an acoustic version of Under the Stars.  It was also pretty much the same awesomeness as the Philly show.  They’re so good and seemingly so well-rehearsed although Cindy said they had only practiced together about 5 times.  Total pros.

Setlists from Cleveland:
Vulgar Devils

After some photos, a final drink and some goodbyes, we headed back to the hotel.  Since Kelz and I hadn’t really had dinner, we ordered some late night pizza.  The clerk at the hotel called it “drunk pizza” and “it’s not that good.”  He was right, but it was at least  better than nothing.  There were also some Munchkins donuts, so there’s that.

Saturday morning started with breakfast, showers then heading out around Cleveland to hit some record stores.  Found a few odds and ends but nothing spectacular.  It was cold and gloomy and snowed a sleeted a bit.  I didn’t mind it too much as I knew I didn’t have to stay there.  Off to the airport to drop off the rental, grab some lunch before our respective flights and talk a little more smack before leaving.

It was a worthwhile trip.  Good friends.  Great music.  Be sure to check out Tanith!


Written by The Metal Files

February 13, 2018 at 10:02 am

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Hair Metal Holiday Concert Review, San Antonio, TX, December 15, 2017

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KISS was the first band I ever loved and it all started when one of my brothers brought home Dressed to Kill around 1977.  I was hooked and was into heavier music ever since.  Oddly enough, I’ve never seen any version of Ace live be it with KISS, Frehley’s Comet or solo until last night.  I was pretty stoked and bought tix day of show.  Seems to be happening a lot lately.  A work colleague hit me up about going and said he’d drive, so I was in.  We swung by an grabbed Rodney and off we went to the Vibes Music Center/Rock Box in San Antonio.

The first band we saw was The Graham Bonnet Band who played on the smaller stage inside of the Rock Box side of the combined venue.  I had seen them within the last year but didn’t mind seeing them again.  They laid down a solid set that featured mostly Alcatrazz songs as well as a little Rainbow, MSG, Impellitteri and Graham’s solo material.  He still had Jimmy Waldo on keys from the old Alcatrazz days.  He had a shredder of a guitarist as well who nailed all solos damn near perfectly.  They put on a great set.

Up next on the Vibes Center main stage was LA Guns who I’ve seen several times and every time I see them they kick ass.  This is the second time this year that I’ve seen the reunited Phil/Tracii version and as expected they were killer.  Phil’s voice sounds great and Tracii’s playing was top notch.  Michael Grant go to do a couple of solos as well, which is good because that guy is such a bad ass.  No surprises in their set although it would have been nice to hear Show No Mercy.  No biggie.  They kicked ass.

Enuff z’Nuff was starting on the smaller stage and I went over for a bit.  About 15 years ago, my old band opened for them, Faster Pussycat and Pretty Boy Floyd.  Enuff was really good that night but last night I was rather bored.  Chip is the only left out of that lineup that I played with (RIP Ricky Parent).  I was never a fan although their early 2000s release (Welcome to the Blue Island?) has some really good songs on it.  Chip was known for playing 8 string basses but was only using a 4 string last night.  I asked him after the show about it and he said, “Tough to keep up with an 8 string bass when I don’t have a bass tech to take on tour with me.”  Fair enough.  I mentioned that show that we played with them and he recalled, “That shitty little bar in Va Beach?  Yeah, I remember.”  He gave me a shirt without me asking after we talked about his old drummer who was a really sweet guy.  Again, RIP.

Dokken was up next and I hadn’t seen him live since his solo tour in 1991, which is still one of my favorite concerts of all time.  Last night’s version featured Don, Mick, Ira Black on guitar and Chris McCarvill on bass.  There are enough videos out of of Don singing in the last 10 years to know what to expect.  There are some really horrid shows out there.  Don isn’t young by any stretch so I wasn’t expecting 1988 Dokken vocals.  They opened with Kiss of Death and his voice sounded pretty OK.  They rolled through a total only 7 songs and his voice was hit and miss, but I wasn’t really bothered by it.  He was better than I thought he’d be and the band was really good.

While waiting for Ace to come on I ran into Bonnet’s guitarist, Joey.  We got in a conversation about Yngwie and he mentioned sitting in some rehearsals for Yng’s first album.  Whoa.  That must’ve been massive.  So I asked him if he had played on anything from back in the day and he replied with, “I’ve done a few albums with Jag Panzer.”  My brain clipped and I said, “what’s your last name?”  “Tafolla.”  I mentioned seeing them in Chicago last year and how much they kicked everyone’s ass.  Nice guy.

Time for Ace.  The crowd had thinned a bit after Dokken.  Ace came on played through a barrage of KISS songs and a few solo album songs.  He sounded good when he sang and the whole band was solid but something was missing.  Ace really seemed like he was just going through the motions for one.  While getting a drink, a friend asked what I thought.  They had just finished Parasite and I said, “Everyone in the band is awesome.  Perfect even.  And that’s the problem.”  Parasite had no bounce to it.  That song should be a little frenetic, a touch sloppy even.  But last night it was a bit slow and the drummer, who is obviously a killer player, plays perfectly behind the beat.  In my opinion that just doesn’t work in KISS songs.  Strange Ways had that same quality.  Peter had a swing to his playing and it worked perfectly in KISS.  All that being said, I had a good time and zero regrets about going.  I don’t know that I’d ever go see him again, though.

It was a fun night overall.  Got to see a few friends I hadn’t seen in a while.

Written by The Metal Files

December 16, 2017 at 8:55 pm

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Cleveland Metal Holiday Food Drive Concert Review, Cleveland, OH, December 2, 2017

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A great weekend was had in Cleveland.  I booked my trip last minute (Nov 30!) on Allegiant Air, flew up on Dec 1 and came home on Dec 4.  Allegiant only flies to/from Cleveland on Mondays and Fridays, so I went by the subtle urging of my buddy Steve.  I wanted to go anyway because a lot of bands I liked were playing, notably Night Demon who were to record a live album.

The relatively quick and painless flight landed in Cleveland and Steve and I got our respective rental cars and parted ways for a bit.  I went straight out to start record shopping and found some cool stuff pretty quickly.  After a few hours of shopping I headed to our hotel and got settled in.  We grabbed some dinner then headed over to a club called Maple Grove to watch an Iron Maiden tribute band.  This was the pre-party to the Saturday concert.  Now, Maiden is my favorite band of all time and I am hyper-critical about their cover/tribute bands.  Maiden isn’t that easy to cover, especially vocally, bass-ically and drum-ically(?).  This band, who I have forgotten their name, pretty much nailed it on guitars and bass.  The singer was OK.  The drummer is what killed them for me.  Nicko isn’t that easy to cover, Clive neither for that matter, but there are certain licks that have to be there and many weren’t.  The worst part is that HE USED DOUBLE BASS.  Just NO.  NOPE.  NO!  Fake it until you make it, but don’t use double bass when playing Maiden.  I ended up in the downstairs bar just hanging with Night Demon and some other new pals more most of the set.  Had a great time over all.

Saturday morning I got up early and headed around the outskirts of Cleveland to do some record shopping.  Cuyahoga Falls, Akron, Kent and a few other little towns.  Found some great stuff deals and LPs.  Then back to the hotel.  Was hoping to grab a quick nap before the evening’s festivities but it didn’t happen.  Quick dinner with Steve then off to the famed Beachland Ballroom for this food drive benefit show.  I donated cash and went on it.  Had some other friends there who traveled in for the show as well.  The show was split between two stages in two different rooms.  I didn’t really catch any of the bands in the smaller room except when visiting the bar for a drink.  That was such a slow pain in the ass that I just didn’t really drink hardly at all, which was fine.

In the main room I ran into Athenar from Midnight and hung with him for a bit.  Pittsburgh’s Lady Beast took the stage and delivered a quality set, much better than when I saw them in Chicago a few years ago.  I think I was in a different mindframe at the Chicago show because I was about to play with my ex-band that day.  No matter, they rocked it and I bought their new album.

Shok Paris was up next.  I had never seen them but like stuff from all 3 albums, especially Steel and Starlight.  The singer was having a little trouble in the first 2 songs then his voice kicked in.  They were damn good, too.  Glad to finally see them.

I was tipped off that Jeff Hatrix from Purgatory (my favorite Auburn Records band) was there.  I spotted him between bands and made a quick introduction.  Super nice guy.  He said the unreleased second album was in the works to come out.  Sweet!  He ended up in Mushroomhead, which I can’t care about. :)

Breaker was next and it was their original lineup, which was a big deal.  By this point, the venue was at capacity, stuffy and uncomfortable.  I ended up behind Night Demon’s merch table for the set just to have some space.  Breaker was great!  Hometown heroes.  Everyone in the band nailed it.  Singer sounded great.

After Breaker, a small portion of the crowd left, which made the room just a tad more comfortable.  Night Demon was up and they have a really big Cleveland following thanks to the legendary Bill Peters (Auburn Records) playing them on his 30+ year long radio metal show.  ND’s merch guy had to go run lights so I handled merch during their set.  Night Demon is a well-oiled machine and this show proved it even more.  They moved through their set, which as mentioned before was being recorded for an upcoming live album.  They rolled through 24 songs!  It was killer and I got to hear a few songs that rarely get to see them do live.  This was also my 14th time seeing them.  Love those guys, as a band and as people.

Sunday was a little more record shopping, then off to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame with Night Demon.  Bill Peters graciously had some VIP passes waiting for us and we had a few drinks and milled around the Hall.  Pretty cool place as far as being a music museum.  After that, Steve and Night Demon went to dinner and I headed to Chagrin Falls to see an old dear friend that I’ve known since 1991 and hadn’t seen since 2000ish.  I met her and hew new husband for dinner and spent a couple of hours with them.  It was quite refreshing and so good to see her.  Afterwards I went to Athenar’s den of evil and listened to Detente demos and just hung out for a few hours.  That was fun.  Back to the hotel.

Monday morning meant a couple more record stops then back to the airport for the flight home.  I slept half the way.  We were back here early enough in the day that I was able to run some errands and such.

The benefit show brought in record amounts of food and cash donation for the food bank.  That was great news.  This was a great trip overall.  Met lots of great people, found some great records, and spent quality time with some great friends.

Setlists here.

Written by The Metal Files

December 16, 2017 at 2:35 pm

Helloween Concert Review, Mexico City, Mexico, October 21, 2017

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Friday morning as I was sitting at work I started seeing vids posted from the Helloween concert in Monterrey, Mexico from their sold out Thursday night show.  I thought they sounded great and I decided to just f’n go.  I had been hemming and hawing about it for a few months anyhow.  So I booked my trip.

I had never seen any version of the band and to be honest, I only like the Kiske era, but the setlist from Monterrey had just enough songs from that era to push my decision to a YES.  The flight I booked had only gone up a little from when I looked a few months ago and I got a good hotel at a decent rate.  I immediately took the decision of not bringing any luggage with me, just the clothes I was wearing.

Saturday Oct 21
The flight to Houston is only 30 minutes and was as smooth as could be.  When we boarded for Mexico, we had just pulled from the gate and then the plane stopped.  The pilot came on and said a warning light had come on and wanted to get it checked out.  Back at the gate, a couple of Southwest maintenance folks boarded and a few minutes later we were asked to de-board the plane.  The lady sitting next to me was an elderly lady who lived in Puebla, Mexico and was heading home from seeing her son who lives in Houston.  She didn’t speak any English and didn’t understand what was going on so I explained it to her in Spanish.  She asked if I would help her once back inside the airport and I of course obliged.  Gloria became my adopted grandma/abuela for the trip.  Southwest had a spare plane and we were delayed only an hour, but that hour obviously gave me less time to get to my hotel and to the show.  No problem.  Gloria stayed by my side at the gate and we sat together again on the new plane.  When they were passing out the customs and immigrations forms, she let the flight attendant know that she could neither read nor write.  I told her as long as she had her passport with her, I could fill out her form for her.  “Muy amable.  Gracias,” she said.  While in the air I got my forms filled out and then hers.  I said, “Gloria, usted necesita firmar aqui.”  She took the pen and placed an “X” in the space and that was that.  “Gracias, gracias.”  Once we landed in Mexico City, we were getting off of the plane and one of the airport attendants had a sign with her name on it for a wheelchair to assist her in the airport.  She didn’t see the sign and I said, “Gloria, tienen una silla para usted.  Fue un placer de conocerle.  Que tenga un buen dia!”  She was all smiles and she reached up and asked for a hug.  “Gracias por todo y para ser tan amable conmigo.”  I gave her a hug and said, “Por supuesto pequena.”  She was still all smiles.  I’ll never forget Gloria.

Once through customs, I got some pesos from the ATM and headed to the subway.  Last time I came, my friend Soledad was there to help but this time it was all me.  Once figuring out the ticketing for the metro train and purchasing ($0.50), I was on the yellow line north to the stop closest to my airport.  The train was pretty packed and I stood the whole ride.  It was that long but I was pretty tired from the trip.  Once off the train, I needed to get my bearings straight and started walking to the hotel.  While it was just under a mile, it felt like forever.  Once checked in, I laid down and grabbed a 20 minute pseudo-nap.  That gave me just enough energy to make it through the evening.

I called for an Uber ride and was off to the arena shortly thereafter.  Once dropped off, it was pretty crazy.  Much like the King Diamond show down there earlier this year, there were about 100 canopies set up selling bootleg band merch.  I didn’t buy any and went to the entrance to wait for Soledad.  I was going to try for some official merch but the line was insane and I didn’t want to miss any of the show.  So I got nothing.

I had other friends coming as well but ended up never catching up with any of them besides Diego from the band Voltax.  Great dude.  Once inside with Soledad, I needed to find some food.  This venue was huge.  We had tickets for the section down by the stage and headed down that way.  We had a food and beverage area which only served hot dogs, burgers, pizza and corn dogs.  I was famished and grabbed a corn dog and a Heineken.  That was my dinner…in Mexico City…a fucking corn dog.  haha.  I womped that down and we headed to our area.  We had to squeeze through a sea of people to get into the tiny gated entrance to the floor.  We realized pretty quickly that once we got in there, we weren’t getting out until the end of the show.

A few minutes after we were inside, Soledad’s boyfriend Alonso showed up.  And then boom.  The lights started to go down and Robbie Williams’ Let Me Entertain You came over the speakers.  Then a short pumpkin video came on the screens and BOOM, they open up with Halloween and go right into Dr. Stein.  Both Michael Kiske and Andi Deris split vocal duties in those two.  Then with just a short break and Kiske saying hello to the crowd, he went solo on I’m Alive and Kids of the Century.  I though both of them sounded great, especially Deris.  He’s still got quite a range.  Oddly enough, Kiske seem to be having a little difficulty in singing the lower parts in some spots but still sounded great.  Deris came back out and did 2 songs from his era with the band, If I Could Fly and Are You Metal?  Plain and simple, I never got into his era of the band.  His voice never did anything for me.  But man, he sounded great live.

After a few more songs from each of the 2 singers, it was Kai Hansen’s turn on the mic.  He didn’t get quite the same full song courtesy as the other 2 guys but did a medley of Starlight / Ride the Sky / Judas / Heavy Metal (Is the Law).  While I’m not even much of a fan of the Kai era either, he sounded great and I knew the songs well.  They did about 18 songs ending the main set with How Many Tears with vocals shared by Deris and Kai.  At the Monterrey show, Deris and Kiske handled the vocals.  Kiske seemed to be struggling in some spots but still got through most of the set fine.

The first encore consisted of Eagle Fly Free (Kiske only) and Keeper of the Seven Keys (Deris and Kiske but zzz).  The second encore was Future World (Kiske only) and I Want Out (Kiske and Deris) and that was that.  Show over.

Observations:  I think there were about 12,000 people there and it was sold out by show time.  Just like at the King Diamond show, it was pretty incredible being in a crowd of superfans like that.  Everyone was singing every word and I was surprised and impressed that everyone seemingly loved the Deris era stuff.  Everyone I met at the show was super friendly.  On Facebook the day before the show, people were saying that Kiske was lip syncing at the Monterrey show.  In one video I saw, I heard what I thought was a backing vocal track that you could hear but not see his mouth moving.  It was in the chorus to I Want Out.  Saturday, backing vocals were handled by Deris, Kai or the third guitarist (Sascha Gershner exFreedom Call) who was able to almost mimic Kiske’s vocals perfectly.  He seemed to be able to help as needed.  While Kiske sounded great and hit some sweet notes, the other three were definitely there to support in the endeavor.  I neither saw nor heard any evidence of any canned vocals at all.  Period.  The whole band was awesome.  It was so cool to have Kai, Michael Wiekath and Markus Groskopf together with Kiske again.  Weikath didn’t come out to the front catwalk very often, but Markus had no problem coming out there.  Also, drummer Daniel Lobel was incredible and no issue playing Ingo’s parts perfectly.  RIP Ingo.  Just an incredible show and I’m so glad I went.  Between some songs, they showed some silly pumpkin cartoons.  That wasn’t surprising really.  The crowd seemed to enjoy them.  I was impressed that Deris spoke pretty good Spanish.  It was really apparent that like myself, he spoke Castilian Spanish, and used some terms that are primarily only used in Spain.  But he did well.  Orale! I wish they had played Twilight of the Gods, but oh well. I also realized how little I care for the Keeper 2 LP.

After the show, you get assaulted by taxi drivers. Both Alonso and I called for Uber rides and they took about 20-30 minutes to arrive.  Traffic was nuts.  They left and a few minutes later my car arrived.  Riding around Mexico City during busy times will stress you out.  I couldn’t believe we didn’t get into an accident the way that everyone cuts in and out of traffic.  Seemingly it’s the norm.  Once back at the hotel, I asked the clerk if their bar/restaurant were still open.  Nope.  Does anyone deliver?  Not at this hour.  So I was relegated to a pack of chocolate Emperador cookies and a Pepsi for dinner in the room.  Then off to sleep.

Sunday Oct 22
Woke up and went downstairs for breakfast.  Eggs, bacon, hash browns, fresh orange juice, fresh guava juice and chilaquiles con salsa verde y crema.  The chilaquiles were pretty tasty.  I went back to the room and took a nice long shower.  I rested for a while and looked up record stores that would be open during the free hours I had before my afternoon flight.  I may have dozed off for a little bit.  I needed that.  I was wiped out and my knees and back were killing me from the night before.  I checked out and called for a ride to Retroactivo Records which was opening the earliest at 11AM. I got there at 11:05 and the doors weren’t open yet but people were mulling around the streets eating and drinking at the food stands an open air cafes.  It was nice to see.  A few moments later the owner showed up and I started digging.  Didn’t find much to speak of and headed off to Dejalo Ser Records (aka Let It Be Records).  They had 4 huge crates of metal.  Lots of cool stuff but not much stuff that I wanted for my own collection.  I still spent quite a bit and got a good cash discount.  Much of the stuff I bought is to flip.  Great store and they lady who runs it was really sweet.  I met two guys from Puerto Rico there as well.  They both live in Mexico City now but are headed back to PR next week to help in relief efforts.  They said they had been once since the hurricane and it was surreal.

From there it was time to head to the airport.  Uber is so cheap there.  My almost 30 minute ride to the airport with Jorge cost $8.  He was jamming Dream Theater the whole way.

I got checked in and through security quickly and waited at a café for a little while drinking Cubanas.  Delicious.  And then off to Houston for a 3 hour layover.  I got through customs quickly although I was questioned about my lack of luggage.  No biggie.  That long wait was a bit brutal as I was really tired and treated myself to some seafood.  I was back home and in bed by 11:30PM, wiped out.  I’m still tired today but also energized from another great trip to Mexico.  Time to explore Monterrey and some beach destinations next.

I don’t know that this tour will come to the States.  I don’t see them doing well outside of LA, San Antonio, Chicago, NYC.  Those places might get 500-1000.



Written by The Metal Files

October 23, 2017 at 2:26 pm

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Frost and Fire III Review October 5-8, 2017

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I’ve been lazy with reviews lately, surely you’ve noticed.  haha

What a long, wonderful and exhausting weekend and was about as perfect as it could get.

Kelz and I met up for yet another Mitchfest (our term) and it was, as usual, filled with mom jokes, ritual verbal abuse in general, jokes, tacos and all around camaraderie.  You might remember him from such reviews as Frost and Fire II, Ragnarokkr 2014-17, Arch/Matheos and ProgPower 2016.

Thursday, Oct 5
We both had super early travel times and got to LA early Thursday morning.  I arrived a couple of hours before him and got the car sorted out and such.  Once picking him up, we headed up to Ventura making a few record store stops along the way.  We got checked into the ClockTower Inn and walked to Main St for some grub.  A quick nap and a shirt change and we were off to the Ventura Theater for the pre-party concert.  The Ventura allows no in/outs so once you’re in, you’re in.  Also, beers are $10.  I hadn’t been drinking for a couple of weeks and held off for that night as well.  Also it would have put me to sleep pretty quickly.  So let’s get to the bands.

Glare – Kind of a thrashy thing.  Solid.  All of these dudes were in other bands and it was kind of a throw together but they pulled it off well.

Pounder – This band features my pal, Tom Draper, on guitar.  I met Tom at the first Frost and Fire (FF).  He’s an English lad with great guitar skills and did some time in the recent touring version of Angel Witch.  Pounder were solid and Tom’s solos were fucking great.  He’s a great player and look forward to seeing/hearing more from them.

Ruthless – They’ve been around since the 80s but I care as much now as I did back then, which isn’t much.  While they laid down a heavy set, I’m just not much into them.  I met the singer and the bassist after their set to sign The Book.  Great guys.  The bassist also played in Bloodlust, so that was cool.  Nice guys.

Cage – zzzzz.  I’m not into Sean Peck’s vocals at all and the band does nothing for me.  Seems like a nice enough guy, though.  He made sure to interact with his fans before and after their set, which is good.

Night Demon – Well-oiled machine.  Jarvis and co. have it down.  They played a killer set, the crowd was into it and I can’t see them enough.  I will say that I prefer seeing them on smaller, more intimate stages, but Jarvis and Armand make good use of the space.  Getting pictures of them standing in one spot is difficult.  They rule.  If for some reason you’ve not checked them out, do it.  The new album is fantastic and after getting to know these guys over the last several years either from Night Demon or Armand and Dustin’s previous band, it’s really nice seeing them do well as friends.  Lots more good things on the horizon for them for sure.

Tyrant – I saw Tyrant at Spring Bash in Wisconsin this past April and I couldn’t tell if they were bad because of technical difficulties or if it was just because they’re an awful band.  Thursday’s show pretty much nailed them to the “awful band” wall forever for me.  Just a week or so prior to the fest they announced that Robert Lowe (Solitude Aerturnus/Candlemass) had joined the band…and that they would be playing only new songs for FFIII.  What?  It would be one thing if they were supporting a new album that was out but that was not the case.  While it was a ballsy move to do their first show with their legendary new singer this way, it also should have been a dose of reality for them.  Especially since after their 2nd song or so, 90% of the people at the venue left.  Yes, they were that bad.  I wanted to think that maybe it was because they were getting used to the new songs and singer, but again, I think they may just be an awful band.  I left after 4-5 songs but wanted see how Lowe sounded with them.  I got what I thought I’d get, and that’s the Candlemass Lowe.  I didn’t like his releases with them either.  It wasn’t even worth sticking around after their set to meet Robert again for the first time since seeing Solitude in the early 90s.  The band is a bit delusional and I heard some horror stories about their “importance” while chatting with some folks over the weekend.  As most bands would, they touted their performance on Facebook as being great but showed a full stage shot of the band with a whole 8 people watching.  What a disappointment.  I’m done with them.

Friday, Oct 6
After getting up and grubbing at the mini breakfast buffet with Raven, we headed off to Thousand Oaks to do more record shopping.  Let me tell you, Breakfast with Mark and John Gallagher is awesome and intense.  I’d met both of them in 2000 and got to spend the day with them and a mutual friend in the DC area prior to their show that night with UDO.  When I had mentioned that to Mark, he stated without even batting an eyelash, “We ate that a nice Asian place, right?”  Fuck, I had even forgotten that detail.  It was great listening to them talking about the bands they had seen in the UK in the 70s.

So off to buy records.  Found a few things, mostly stuff to flip but a few cool pieces for myself.  Once back at the hotel, we opted for a nap (I’m old), then got cleaned up and headed over to The Bombay for the fest.  It was great seeing friends from festivals past and meeting a ton of new folks.  So, to the bands!

We missed the two openers, Gate Krashor and Bewitcher.  Bewitcher got rave reviews though.

Riot City – I had seen these guys in Chicago previously and they delivered an awesome set.  Can’t wait for some new recordings.

Substratum – It was great to see Amy on stage finally.  She commands your attention and she and her band delivered a well-received set.  Hope to catch them again.

Walpyrgus – This is a band that I should love.  It has members of Twisted Tower Dire and probably some others, but they just don’t catch my ear.  Everyone in the band is skilled and the vocalist can wail, but I’m just not into it.  I watched their first 2 songs then went outside and hung with friends.

It was about this time that I went to dinner with Oliver from Keep It True, Jim from Cirith Ungol and a couple of others to a fancy-ish Mexican place.  It was quite tasty.  Because of dinner, I missed Spell, Volture and Cauldron.  No biggie.  Not a fan of any of them.

Jaguar (Jarvuar?) – Garry Pepperd is the only original member left in the band and recent shows have featured Jarvis from Night Demon on vocals.  HE NAILS IT.  While it’s odd seeing him front a band without a bass strapped to him, he did a great job and the crowd loved the set.  Gary’s guitar playing is spot on.

Savage Master – It’s always great to see my friends in Savage Master live.  Friday night was no different.  Luckily for me I get to see them again this week.

Raven – Most folks that know me know I’m not a Raven fan, but I do like seeing them live.  They are putting out 100% at all times on the stage and it’s great seeing them and the crowd interact.

Back to the hotel for some rest.

Saturday, Oct 7

Another quick breakfast and we headed up to Santa Barbara for more records.  That was a bust in the one store we stopped in.  I didn’t realize until after we left that there was another store right around the corner from the one we went to that apparently had a better selection and prices.  Oh well.  Back down to Ventura for some grub and another nap.  Kelz went to the club early.  I needed to rest my back and knees some.  I missed Hellfire and Ovvl completely.  I don’t think I missed much that I would have cared about.

Skelator – Jason and company delivered a killer set and I’m always impressed with his insane vocal range.  One funny thing happened when he was calling out the next song.  “This next one is about a samurai!”  Someone screamed out, “Cultural appropriation!”  I was rolling.  Great set, dudes.

Venomous Maximus – My friends in VM were up next and delivered a great set.  I adore their new album.  Minus a few technical issues, they were great and were well-received.  A little history, their guitarists and drummer were the original guys that recorded the first Eternal Champion 7″ with Jason and me.

Iron Thor – I skipped them.  Thor sucks and I don’t expect a tribute to Thor to be any better.

Twisted Tower Dire – I’m not a huge fan but they’re killer live and the crowd was going nuts during their set.

Mythra – I’m relatively new to them and have only just recently started listening to their classic NWOBHM stuff.  It’s pretty damned good.  They delivered a killer set to the packed backroom.  It was a pleasure talking classic rock with their singer, Vince High.  He’s one of the nicest guys you’ll meet in the business.

Amulet – Skipped.  zzzzz

Cirith Ungol – The back room was so packed and hot that I didn’t actually get in there but watched a couple of songs through the side door and heard the rest through the window.  I’m still blown away that Tim can still sing like that.  They sounded great.

Manilla Road – They packed out the front room and played their asses off as they always do.  The crowd was singing along the whole set.  I’ll see them again this week.

Sunday, Oct 8

This was going to be a slow day.  I ended up meeting with some Texas friends, Rodney and Rob, and Jamie from Midnight to watch the Steelers game at 10AM.  That game sucked and I just went back to the hotel to chill while Kelz was out doing some sightseeing.  Ashbury and Bitch had early sets and I wanted to have the energy to make it through.

Ashbury – PERFECT.  Always.  I can’t recommend them enough.  Great guys, great band and eternal thanks to Dennis at Rockadrome Records for his initial re-release of their  Endless Skies LP.  They played for nearly two hours and it was great.  Mixed up originals with some covers by bands that they were inspired by (Who, Tull, BOC).  Always a pleasure.

Bitch – Betsy and I first started corresponding a little in the early 2000s and I still need to type up the handwritten history that she sent me back then.  I’ve been a fan forever and had never seen them live.  I wanted to see them in NYC a few months ago at Defenders of the Old but just couldn’t swing it.  No biggie, FFIII for the win.  The band went on and just rocked it.  I stayed right up near the front for the whole set and was just blown away by Betsy’s voice and performance.  She was awesome.  The 30+ year wait to see her live was well worth it and I hope to see them again.  Live for the Whip!

After the Bitch set, it was time to start saying goodbyes to those who remained for the Sunday show.  Always bittersweet.  We went to Dargan’s Irish Pub for a bite to eat and a beer then ended up at Sans Souci for another drink (or several).  That was fun and just what we needed to end the weekend’s festivities.

If I had any negatives, it would be about stumbling drunk asses.  I wanted to beat one guy down at the pre-party.  The next few nights he seemed to have it under control.  There was also a dude during the Bitch set that was about to get pounded, but Larry from Savage Master and I got him out of the crowd.  That stuff is to be expected, but it still sucks.  And it’s at no fault of the festival.

Monday, Oct 9

I’m not dead yet, but was a little slow and my back was not doing me any favors.  Nevertheless, Kelz and I packed up and headed down to LA to bum around for a bit since we both had late flights.  We stopped at a couple of record stores around Hollywood but the best part was stopping at Forest Lawn Cemetery to see the graves of Lemmy and Dio.  While standing at Lemmy’s, I could still hear him say about my back tattoo, “You should have picked a better album cover.”  His marker was small and quite unassuming.  He wouldn’t have cared.  Dio’s was grandiose and larger than life.  I doubt he would have cared either.  Also while riding around, we stopped at Pinches Tacos, my favorites in LA.  As always, they were delicious.

After all the running around in LA, it was time to drop off the rental car and head to the airport.  Kelz and I travel a lot together so I’m always happy to send him off because it’ll be too soon to see his bitch ass again.  haha.  Always a great time with him, though.

I’ve already received hints of FFIV and it will be another great time, I’m sure.  Great job to Jarvis, Dustin and Armand of Night Demon and all of their helpers to keep this festival running smoothly.  Things at Bombay were perfect especially with the Metal Market overflow area.  I love that bar.  And always great to see friends from festivals past…too many folks to name.

Click here for festival setlists.


Written by The Metal Files

October 11, 2017 at 8:55 am

Posted in Uncategorized

L.A. Guns Concert Review, June 16, 2017, Austin, TX

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Newsflash, Tracii Guns and Phil Lewis are back together playing rock and roll again.  The current reunion tour rolled through Austin last Friday night and yours truly (me) was there.  I’m going to do this one a bit differently with a Pros and Cons review.

1. Tracii and Phil are back together
2. They sounded great
3. Phil Lewis doesn’t age
4. Tracii is a killer guitarist
5. They played everything I wanted to hear plus a couple of new ones
6. I got so see some friends that I hadn’t seen in a while
7. $20 show

1. The show was at Texas Mist which means horrible sound and horrible lighting.  Cut the grass on your patio, too.
2. I saw 3 of the 4 opening bands.  Bummer, although the guitarist in Litzbomb is really fucking good
3. Vodka
4. I hate that Michael Grant is in the band and not playing solos.  That guy is an insane talent.

Written by The Metal Files

June 19, 2017 at 11:32 am

Posted in Uncategorized