The Metal Files

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Flotsam and Jetsam Concert Review, Austin, TX, May 14, 2018

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This could also be titled:  “NEEEEEEEERRRRRD!”  I guess most of my posts could be called that.

Last night was pretty huge for me in general.  Since first hearing Chastain’s Ruler of the Wasteland in high school, I’ve been a huge fan of drummer Ken Mary’s work.  Most folks know about his time in Chastain, Fifth Angel, Alice Cooper, House of Lords, TKO and a slew of others and there’s no need to go too in depth on his discography as that info is all out there for anyone to look up.

In recent years and thanks to the internet I’ve been able to connect with Ken and always had hopes to meet and see him play.  A year or so ago Fifth Angel did a reunion and I considered flying out for that but saw that Ken had some shoulder issues and had to bow out of the shows.  Recently he stepped in with Flotsam and Jetsam after Jason Bittner left to join Overkill.  He ended up doing the Keep It True show in Germany a couple of weeks ago and is on Flotsam’s upcoming album.  He’s also doing the current tour with them and that’s where this story gets us to yesterday.

Doors for last night’s show were at 7PM and I arrived around 6:30 in hopes to catch the band, do some metal nerd stuff and whatever.  As I pulled up, Erik AK was outside the bus while the trailer was getting some welding done to the ramp gate.  We started talking and I asked if they had dinner plans and if not, I’d be glad to take them to dinner.  He rounded up the troops, did a quick round of introductions and we walked over to the Jackalope for some burgers and beers.  Of course I was stoked to hang out with Ken and jibber jabber on the walk over.  Once at the Jackalope, the guys took pictures on the giant rabbit and I ordered up drinks and food for everyone.  It was great talking with them about the old shows at the Boathouse in Norfolk, VA where I had seen them several times in the 80s and 90s and talking with Ken about his time in Chastain, Cooper etc.  The guys really enjoyed the food and the restaurant in general.  As we walked back I mentioned having some stuff to get signed and was invited on the bus to get that taken care of.

Once there, the first thing I had Ken sign was The Book.  Obviously he’s got numerous entries in there but I wanted to have him sign on the Chastain band photo.  I already head Leather, David and Mike sign it in recent years and Ken was the final piece.  Michael Gilbert, the only other original member with Eric AK, signed my Doomsday and Flotsam (2016) LPs.   I had gotten his and Eric’s signatures in The Book a few years back.   Added bonus was Michael Spencer being back in the band on bass.  I had him sign in the Sentinel Beast section.  Score!  Of course I had a stack of LP covers for Ken.  It was really cool having him tell stories about each of the bands.  I had the rest of the band sign the 2016 F&J LP as well and then I made my exit off of the bus to let them rest up before their show.  Added bonus, I got to hear 3 rough mixes from their upcoming album while we were on the bus.  “Want to hear some of the new album?”  “Is that a real question?”  It sounded killer and Ken’s on drums for that one, too.  I also asked if they were playing Der Fuhrer from the debut LP.  Eric said they sound checked with it but didn’t plan to play it.  “We’ll add it for you.  Thanks for dinner.”  SWEET.

After putting my nerd stuff back in the car, I needed to just chill out for a bit before their set and hung out on the patio and caught up with some friends.

Flotsam was scheduled to go on at 10:20PM.  Love early shows!  They ended up going on closer to 10:30 and opened with Monkey Wrench from their 2016 LP then went into Hammerhead.  The already small crowd thinned out a little but the ones who stayed let Flotsam know they were appreciated.  The setlist mixed up a lot of stuff from Doomsday, No Place, the 2016 LP and one from Drift.  The band was solid and Eric’s voice sounded good.  This was the first show of the latest leg of their Forbidden Territories of the World Tour and we were lucky to have them as a headliner as they end up in the opening slot with Hammerfall for much of the tour.  That tour rolls back around in June in San Antonio and I’ll likely hit that show as well.  Michael Spencer is a beast of a bassist, very impressive.  Michael Gilbert and Steve Conley (F5) shred well together and of course the highlight for me was watching Ken play.  He’s not an overly busy drummer but adds the right amount of flash and technique when needed and had some nifty stick tricks here and there.  After the encore song, Doomsday for the Deceiver, Ken handed me a stick and Steve gave me his pick.  They were done just before midnight.  PERFECT.

What an incredible evening all around with a killer band and some good friends.  Super thankful to Ken and Flotsam for letting me intrude on their time for a bit.


Click photos to see comments.

Judas Priest, Saxon & Black Star Riders, San Antonio, TX, May 1, 2018

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While I’m a pretty big Priest fan and was fortunate enough to have been introduced to their music by an older brother in the late 70s, I didn’t see them until 1998 on the Jugulator tour. The only times with Halford have been since 2014.  With them getting a lot older and probably not touring much after this current Firepower tour, I figured I’d go one last time and make it count.  I got in on the presale and scored 7th row center seats which was a good spot.  Ten minutes later I get a message from a friend in Nashville whose close friends with a ticket broker in LA that had front row seats.  I asked how much over face value.  $25 more.  DONE.  I sold my 7th row seats to a friend and Victor and I were set for front row.

Day of show, we all meet at a friend’s house outside of San Antonio and roll down together to the older and smallish venue Freeman Coliseum. Walking the inner ring we see tons of friends and everyone is excited for the show, which I read this morning ended up selling out.

Opening the show was Black Star Riders which features Scott Gorham from Thin Lizzy. They played a solid set and a second Thin Lizzy song would have been welcome but oh well.  We were stage right and Gorham never left his spot on stage left, but they were good.  Cool seeing Robbie Crane and Damon Johnson again.

How do my friends here in Texas know that I’m not from Texas? When I mention that I’m not a Saxon fan, that’s how.  Texas LOVES Saxon, especially San Antonio thanks to former DJ Joe Anthony who basically gave Saxon their first break in the US.  Saxon started 10 minutes earlier than scheduled to squeeze in a couple of extra songs.  While I only like a handful of Saxon songs, they are a good live band.  In general though, the band never clicked with me.  I enjoyed them enough and they closed with my favorite, Princess of the Night.  Saxon made no bones about how much they love San Antonio and San Antonio showed their love for Saxon.

But I was there for Priest. The last two times I saw them, Rob sounded pretty good but wasn’t very mobile.  Glenn was still playing with them the other two times.  Last night, however, it was Andy Sneap who played in Sabbat (UK), a band I love.  Both he and Faulkner are fine musicians, but there’s no replacing KK and Glenn.  Make no mistake, Faulkner makes his presence known in the band stalking the front of the stage the whole show.  Andy stayed stage left and didn’t move around much but played his ass off.  Ian hung in the back like he’s always done and laid down his solid JP bass lines perfectly.  Scott Travis looked bored, but he has that look in general, always has.  You know what you’re going to get with Scott behind the drums.  Solid player, a bit robotic, mistake free.

And then there was Halford. Tall.  Dressed in silver and black.  Sunglasses.  Trenchcoat.  Gloves.  Hunched over the center stage monitor for the first song, Firepower, from the new album.  Then they went into Running Wild and he started stalking the stage.  He pretty much did that for the rest of the show.  The glasses were off, he was engaging the crowd, had several coat changes, but was really just owning that stage and the crowd at the same time.  They pretty much played the same exact set as they had for the whole tour and then right after Some Heads Are Gonna Roll (one of my all-time faves), Rob starts talking about Joe Anthony and how much San Antonio means to the band.  SA was once the metal capital of the USA and broke so many bands thanks to Mr. Anthony.  And then Rob says, “We’re going to play a song that we haven’t done live in 37 years from the Sad Wings album and we’re doing it just for San Antonio…This is Tyrant!” (paraphrased).  Holy hell.  You could tell the band hadn’t played it in a while as it was way more loose than any other song that night.  Even with Rob missing a vocal cue and Scott botching a drum part, it was pretty phenomenal and I am glad to have witnessed it.  (Fact:  it has only been 35 years since they plast played it live according to  Overall, Rob sounded better than the other 2 times I had seen JP live.  His voice was just great, especially in Saint in Hell.  Some Heads gave him a little trouble, but that’s a tough song in general.  No complaints at all.  Rob was awesome.  It was also awesome being able to watch Rob sing the fast, multi-lyric parts in Freewheel Burning.  He didn’t “David Lee Roth” them at all!

Priest was pretty much on fire the whole night. The Harley came out for Hell Bent for Leather and they closed the set with Painkiller.  Still not a fan of that song or album. The only noticeable difference in most of the songs throughout the night was that they were played just a tad slow.  Painkiller seemed to crawl but I’m sure it just has to do with them keeping a good pace for Rob to stay in.  No bother.

Then the encore. Glenn had been playing the encore for selected shows throughout the tour and for the recent Texas dates, so no surprise he was there last night for the finale of this leg of the tour.  While it was special to see him, it was also a little heartbreaking.  You could surely see that he was not in great shape, but you could also see that his spirits were high.  Not a lot of moving around for him but he played solidly and nailed his solos.  He played Metal Gods, Breaking the Law and Living After Midnight.  The crowd was ecstatic and Rob stayed near him for much of the encore.  After all, Rob, Glenn and Ian have been playing together longer than many of those reading this have been alive.  Lots of history.  At the very end, the band was throwing picks and sticks to the crowd and Ian tossed one my way.

It was a fantastic night filled with great music and good friends. Long live Priest.

Judas Priest Setlist
Saxon Setlist
Black Star Riders Setlist



Written by The Metal Files

May 2, 2018 at 10:47 am

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Uriah Heep Concert Review, San Antonio, TX, April 6, 2018

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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

Posted in Uncategorized