The Metal Files

My Life. My Music. Your Voyeurism.

Posts Tagged ‘2010

Triptykon – Austin, TX 10-29-10

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My history with Celtic Frost goes back to about 1986 as noted here.  I am a fan.  While Monotheist is probably my least favorite album, it’s not bad.  A year or so ago Tom G. announced that Celtic Frost was done and he had a new project called Triptykon…which uses the Frost script in one their logos.  Tom seems to have some deep seeded issues with carrying on as Frost.

No matter.

Triptykon was announced to play Emo’s and I was in.  I mean c’mon.  It’s Tom G!  I bought the meet and greet pass mainly to get his signature in the book.

Per my normal routine I walk to the venue early and happen to catch Tom G. walking the streets.  I talked to him for just a few moments and headed over to the venue.  The pre-sale  on this show was 60.  SIXTY!  I was able to get in early via a friend who worked there and got to catch the soundcheck.  They did Usurper and for whatever reason, Tom was smiling and laughing the whole time.  This was the last show on the tour as they canceled the Houston show.  It is my understanding that the tour attendance had been pretty light.  Last night’s show had Triptykon playing before the headliner.  The tour included Yakuza (Chicago) and 1349 (Norway) on the bill.  Local band Mammoth Grinder opened but I missed them.

At the end of soundcheck Tom G was asked if he needed more monitor.  Tom G responded with, “I can hear myself enough.  Doesn’t matter, we’re just playing Austin.”  Ouch!  C’mon Tom G!  Show a little love!

Tom G signs the book.

After soundcheck I hung outside talking with a few friends before the quick meet and greet.  Only 7 people (including me) bought the pass for it.  Two guys drove up from Monterrey, Mexico for this.  That was cool.  They brought each member of the band some gifts from Mexico which mainly consisted of tequila.  Very cool.  I had Tom G sign the book which got the usual reaction from bands…”What the hell is this?”  He read through the Celtic Frost section and signed it.  We all snapped a few pictures and that was it.

I left there to drop the book off back at the house and went to a bar for a beer.  I missed Mammoth Grinder and caught most of Yakuza’s set.  Not my cup of tea at all.  Sort of avant-garde metal with lots of saxophone.  Their slower mellower stuff was alright as background music but they aren’t something that I would want to listen to regularly.

Triptykon cam on next and I was glad to see the place fill up a little.  There may have been 150 people there but I think that’s pushing it.  They opened up with Frost’s Procreation of the Wicked.  This band is tuned

Eyes as black as his soul! Tom G!

down a bit and it’s weird hearing this song in a lower key.  Overall they were good, solid.  Tom G is no guitar wizard by any stretch of the imagination, but he does write good riffs.  The Triptykon stuff sounds like where the music from Monotheist left off.  Slow, plodding, dark.  I enjoyed the show quite a bit, though.  How many more times are we going to see Tom G in the states, ya know?  They also plays Circle of the Tyrants and Usurper with the singer for 1349 handling vocal duties.

I was tired and didn’t stick around for 1349.  I’m really not that big of a black metal fan.  I saw what I wanted to see.

Setlist:

  1. Crucifixus (Intro)
  2. Procreation of the Wicked
  3. Goetia
  4. Circle of the Tyrants
  5. Abyss Within My Soul
  6. The Usurper
  7. Synagoga Satanae
  8. The Prolonging
  9. Winter (I think they did this)

Ugh!

(all images clickable)

Love the H. R. Giger guitar!

My shitty vids from the show.  The lighting was terrible.

Written by The Metal Files

October 30, 2010 at 8:17 am

Christian Mistress – Agony and Opium EP

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I caught Christian Mistress (Olympia, WA) live last night at Red 7 in Austin.  I saw someone mention that they had a NWOBHM feel about them so I went to YouTube to see if there were any clips and lo and behold, the whole new EP was up there.  I liked it enough to go see ’em.

I’ll be the first to admit that I am not the biggest fan of most metal bands fronted by women, but there are always exceptions and Christian Mistress is one of them.

This band does have a bit of NWOBHM to them and the songs on the EP sounds pretty good and have some good hooks.  Her voice is a bit raspy but it works well.  You can download it from iTunes for $6!  I did.

Their live show left me with a bit to be desired.  I don’t know if it was because of the sound at Red 7 or what, but they were not very tight at all.  They’ve been on the road for a few weeks as well and typically bands that are playing out a lot get tighter live.  But this matched some of the live clips I watched on YouTube.  That being said, I’d certainly go see them live again.

Check ’em out (click fotos to enlarge).

Written by The Metal Files

October 23, 2010 at 4:23 pm

Catching up with Metal Church’s Craig Wells

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I love Metal Church.  Well, I love the David Wayne/Mike Howe eras.  Seeing them in 89 was an awesome experience.  When Mike Howe left the band, only the return of David Wayne could have kept me interested in them.  Well, he rejoined the band and they put out Masterpeace which

Craig Wells, some happy kid (me!) and Mike Howe 1989

unfortunately did not have Craig Wells on it.  Fortunately though, Craig did play on David Wayne’s solo album which was called Metal Church.  It was a good album overall!

Thanks to the internetz, I was able to catch up with Craig and he graciously agreed to answer some questions.

What/who was your main inspiration to pick up a guitar and what was your first guitar?

“When I was about ten my Father bought me a semi hollow body red Sears Silvertone guitar at a pawn shop in Seattle. I asked for it because I listened to records all the time, mostly Beatles songs..I just liked anything really, Smokey Robinson , Temptations, anything on the radio and available on vinyl…”

How did you end up in Metal Church? Did you know those guys beforehand and just decided to put a band together?

“Metal Church coming together is kind of complicated…We were school friends but I had moved away from the home town to Kent, which was not far from Seattle so to get together I had to drive 100 miles to rehearse.  I knew everyone from school bands and after being a band then not being a band a few times, eventually it all came together. I saw Dave Wayne’s phone number on the wall in Guitar Center of Seattle, it was an ad he posted claiming he was the best singer in the North West! It said “I can sing Whole Lotta Love and hold the end note longer than any living being”.

Sounded good to me…. I called Dave and soon met up with him and we began writing some music in my families home. We wanted to get a band going but he was in work release from jail so every weekend he had to go back in or violate his parole so everything took a while to get going….soon Dave’s time was over and I convinced him to go with me to a rehearsal with the rest of the future MC members and it became MC soon after that. That was with David, Duke , Kirk , Kurdt and myself…David and I lived in the Kent area and the band was 100 miles away in Aberdeen so rehearsal was minimal in the beginning till the rest of the band came to the Kent area [or closer] and we then rehearsed in my Grandmothers garage, we rehearsed there for about five years, coming and going on tour …”

What are some of your favorite memories of those early days in the northwest metal scene?

“Many memories but we never had a whole lot of a club scene or metal scene, all of us in the band lived and worked far from the city in the early days, I drove delivery, Duke and Kirk worked in a shake mill, Dave was a nurse, and Kurdt still lived a hundred miles away in Aberdeen. We played our first Seattle gig at the Moore Theater it was the Headbangers Ball and not till after we had toured a couple years did anybody in Seattle even really know us…then we had many friends in our home base of Kent, they all lived close and they were the Kent Bangers, they were awesome friends, and of course we had a great time..We were outsiders all growing up in a logging town on the coast of Washington state called Aberdeen and Hoquiam.. so nobody in Seattle knew us.”

What Metal Church album are you most proud of?

“It is very hard to say I am most proud of one album over the other but I can say that the first album period was the most fun time in MC because we were making music as a band effort with us writing stuff that was inspiring to us and we worked together and everybody had input.  I guess I pick the first MC album…It was recorded in only a couple weeks of overnight sessions.”

How did you end up on Sir Mix*A*Lot’s song Iron Man? (see video below)

“I ended up on playing Iron Man for Sir Mixalot solely because of Terry Date our joint producer…it was his idea and he asked me to track the guitar so I said sure, pay me with a bag of Dicks Cheese Burgers, and he said yes, so we did it! That`s all…nothing more to it than that, just a great time at the studio.”

What led to your departure from the band?

“The main thing that lead to my departure from MC was a lack of vision and the desire to choose to solder on from everybody…my opinion was if we are going to agree to make a new album then we are going to do it and continue making albums and not stop, We agree to make the band again and it be our livelihood, I can not go back and forth…. no matter what happens we are not turning back and we will expect to tour and live it out. Nobody else wanted to see it that way…they wanted to make a test album and just throw something out and see if it gets some bites and maybe do something later…I realized that I was at a cross road it was either music and touring or stay with my family and the band members were not concrete in choosing the band, so I chose to go my own way…”

Did you join another band after?

“I have never been with any other band…why should I?… I did not need anything beyond that…because MC was my blessing, all we had to do was SHOW UP and we could make music and we rocked…who would want anything else?”

Do you miss touring?

“Sure, I miss touring, who wouldn’t? fortunately now I have a life with my family that I value very dearly so I can just look back and smile at the old days..It was great!”

Losing David Wayne was a pretty devastating blow to the fans and especially to his family and former bandmates. What impact did his sudden death have on you?

“Dave’s passing was very sudden as you said…we had some rocky times, we kicked him out of the band and then years later I became friends with him again and he was back with us all again so all I can say is that I am glad that we became friends again prior to him leaving but I am sad I did not get to say good bye.”

Are you still playing music? What’s going on with Craig Wells these days?

“Yes I still play music at home in my free time purely for enjoyment…I work as a broadcast engineer for FOX and that keeps me busy and my plate is full with my family.  Maybe we will jam again sometime and if we don’t, I will always look back on the day with a smile!”

Thanks Craig for taking the time to do this.  Metal Church helped provide the soundtrack to my life and I’ll always regard them as one of the best metal bands ever.   I’ve asked Mike Howe and Kirk Arrington to do interviews, but to date they have not responded to my requests.

Written by The Metal Files

October 22, 2010 at 12:13 pm

Billy Cobham – Concert Review – Austin, TX – October 13, 2010

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I hate printable tickets!

 

 

Sometime in the mid-80s, I think, a friend of mine turned me on to some jazz stuff and the one band that stuck with me was Mahavishnu Orchestra.  Their album Birds of Fire remains the greatest jazz/fusion album I have ever heard.  Part of the reason, a big part really, was because of the drummer, Billy Cobham.  He was a very musical drummer and I loved his work on his first solo album, Spectrum and the Miles Davis albums Bitches Brew and Live-Evil.  He’s just a man-beast of a drummer in his chops, but he plays such a light fluid style.

That Mahavishnu album is very special to me.  When I was still drumming (84-2000), I used to practice along with Birds of Fire quite often.  No, I wasn’t able to play a lot of the stuff he was doing on there, but I tried my damnedest to play along and keep up.  It was good practice.

When I saw that he was playing at the One World Theatre here in Austin, I had to go.  I was able to score second row seats on the center aisle.  Doug Morrison came along.  I’d never been to this place but Doug mentioned several times how small and awesome it is.  He was right.  You almost feel like you’re in your own house watching a band with perfect acoustics.  The place is pretty awesome.  The sound was great.

Billy’s band consists of all foreigners, including Billy.  I never knew he was Panamanian.  The whole band was just great and one would expect no less.  But then there’s Billy.  I’ve never seen such a big drummer with such a soft style.  He proved all night that power drumming has absolutely nothing to do with how hard one hits.  He was so fluid and solid.  He did hit harder for accent in spots, but it wasn’t his main thing.  It was quite awesome to watch how he was conducting things from behind the kit.  Normally he’d play with his eyes closed, but when they were opened, it was usually to give someone a cue as to what was coming next.  In one spot he looked over to the bassist and guitar player and just said, “four” and they just nodded and smiled.  Some of the stuff they played really had that early 70s Mahavishnu feel to it.

He is so musical of a drummer and it really took me back to my playing days.  It made me miss it badly.  Not that I was even remotely a jazz/fusion style drummer, but I did try to be a little musical about it instead of just keeping the beat.  Both Doug and I sat there in awe.  For 64 years old, he is still incredibly awesome.

After the show Billy was doing an autograph signing and I didn’t bring anything as I didn’t expect him to come out and hang out.  I did have him sign my ticket and he was gracious enough to do a photo with me.  They didn’t allow cameras during the show so I have no photos of the band.  Pity.  But I do have the awesome shot below!

If this tour comes anywhere near you and you even remotely like jazz/fusion, you will not be disappointed.  Just go!  I’m even more excited about seeing John McLaughlin, Colin Hay and Al Dimeola there in the coming months.

 

Billy Cobham and yours truly. I'm obviously more excited than he is.

 

 

Nevermore – Concert Review – Austin, TX – October 11, 2010

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I was fortunate, very fortunate to see Sanctuary on the Refuge Denied Tour in May 1987 while they were touring with Megadeth and Warlock.  Sanctuary is definitely one of my favorite bands from that era and were very unique.  Unfortunately I missed them on the Into The Mirror Black Tour with Fates Warning.

When I read that Warrel Dane and Jim Sheppard had formed a new band I was pretty excited.  Nevermore, eh?  OK, I’m in.  I really only cared about hearing that patented screech of Dane’s.  But it wasn’t there.  I didn’t really dig the debut album or follow-up but did enjoy Dreaming Neon Black quite a bit.  The last one that I really gave a chance to was Dead Heart In A Dead World, but still couldn’t get into it.

In 1997 I did go see them at Twisters in Richmond, VA on the Politics of Ecstasy Tour.  They were great live and Jeff Loomis’ and Van Williams’ playing stood out more than anything in the band, even over Warrel’s

Warrel Dane

vocals.  I hung out with them a bit before and after the show and they were very nice laid back dudes.  I went to see them again in June 1999 at the same venue while they were touring for Dreaming Neon Black.  I believe Iced Earth and Destinys End were also on the bill.  It was a really cool night in general.  I had just started Acacia Music (online music store) and both Century media and Metal Blade gave me free access to all of their bands who came through, including interviews and filming of the shows when possible.  I was doing a dorky little cable access show that only aired in my hometown and filmed all 3 bands that night to be included on the show.  I need to find the interview that I did with Warrel as it’s pretty humorous.  I was such a doofus.  haha.

For the next few years, when Nevermore came to the Washington, DC area, I’d film their show and bring them VHS cassettes of the previous shows that I filmed.  We became pretty good pals for a few years and it was always a pleasure seeing them and hanging out.  The last show I did with them was in 2001 at the930 Club in DC (I think) and hadn’t seen them since.  I had lost interest in the band, I closed my music business and was just into other things for a while so I lost contact with those guys.

So now, 400 words later we get to present day.  When I saw that they were playing 2 blocks from my apartment I had to go and reconnect.  I bought the VIP meet and greet pass to ensure that I’d get to say hi.

Jeff Loomis in motion

They had about 20 folks there for the meet and greet.  I was fortunate enough to be able to go into the club early thanks to some folks I know that work there and just hung out at the bar and chatted with some pals.  Once they started signing and stuff, I hung out until the line was done and just sat down with them and reintroduced myself.  Warrel said, “Dude, that was a long time ago.  I’ve still got those tapes.”  and blah blah blah.  So I offered to take the band to dinner before their set and they obliged.  Jim Sheppard was nowhere to be found and they said he was “sick” on the bus.

Dinner ended up being Van Williams, Jeff Loomis, Attila Vörös, their road manager, their 2 roadies and myself.  Warrel had an interview commitment and missed dinner and as stated, Jim was “sick”.  I asked Loomis about the whole Sanctuary reunion and who exactly was a part of it.  He said everyone but Biosl.  Sweet!  But…there will likely be no tour.  So far they are only booked for Power Prog Festival and the 70000 Tons of Metal cruise.  Dinner was a blast and it was the

Inaugural meeting of the Gentlemen's League of Extraordinary Margaritas - G.L.E.M! (pronounced gleem)

first official meeting of the Gentlemen’s League of Extraordinary Margaritas, or G.L.E.M. (pronounced gleem) for short.  It was a funny conversation and the Austin chapter is now taking applications.  haha.  The guys were talking about Jim’s recent antics.  Seems that the dude has gone off the edge a bit and it was apparent during the show.

After dinner and drinks I walked them back to their bus and headed back to Jackalope for a beer with Angela and Laura.  It was Metal Monday and T.A. and Sarah Kay were playing the goods for sure.  Attacker, Agent Steel, Maiden, Mercyful Fate, Krokus etc.  Seeing Laura sing along to Nuns Have No Fun is priceless!

It was drawing near time for Nevermore to go on (1145 start time) and we headed back to Emo’s.  I missed every opening band as I am just not a fan of any of them.  Locals Vesperian Sorrow opened followed by Blackguard, Hatesphere and Warbringer.  Sorry, just not interested.

Nevermore hits the stage and do their thing.  Jim Sheppard looked terrible.  Emaciated, run down, tired, sick, drunk, etc.  I almost didn’t recognize him.  It was sad to see.  Warrel looked pretty worn out as well.  During the set the 2 of them were having words.  It was pretty wacky to see.  A few shoves, middle fingers and words and Jim ended up standing behind the mains for much of the set, just hiding and acting like a little kid.  He was obviously out of his head for the show.  It was sad.  At one point as a song ended he walked off stage and went to the bar after asking people in the crowd to buy him a drink.  It was pretty pathetic to watch,

Jim Sheppard, wasted away again...

especially coming from a band that I always regarded as being pretty professional.  In the final song Jim just stopped playing halfway though, handed his bass to someone in the crowd and walked off stage, out the door and onto the bus.  A few times during the set, Warrel was trying to make nice with him to at least get through the set.  The whole thing was pretty surreal. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Jim out of the band soon if he doesn’t get his act together.  You can’t let stuff like that happen during a show.

As always, Loomis and Williams were on top of their game.  I consider Van Williams to be metal’s best kept drumming secret.  The guy is absolutely incredible and has a unique style to his playing.  The new guy, Attila, did a fine job playing rhythm guitar and the few solos he did were good.  Super nice guy as well, very funny.  Warrel’s voice sounded a little tired to me but not bad.  I will say that I’ve heard him sound better, but again I haven’t seen him live in 9 years.  I’m sure it was difficult for him to perform as well with Jim’s antics.  Jim threatened a few times to push Warrel into the crowd.  Everyone could hear the ridiculous banter between songs.

Seems that most other recent shows got to hear Sanctuary’s Taste Revenge.  We didn’t get it.  Damn!

After the final song finished, they came straight off the stage and onto the bus.  I wouldn’t be surprised if Sheppard got his ass beat last night.  He was certainly asking for it.  The attendance was pretty light.  I figure maybe 100 people were there with the majority of them being under 30 years old.  Lots of minors as well.  But that’s cool.  Everyone seemed to like the show and everyone just shook their heads over the nonsensical stage antics.  Here’s hoping that they got everything worked out.  It would be a shame for it not to.

Attila Voros

Nevermore!

Nevermore posing for me. So evil. ha.

 

Attila...seriously? Even the devil has s funny side. haha

Nevermore Setlist

Written by The Metal Files

October 12, 2010 at 8:45 pm

Pantera – Cowboys From Hell – 20 Years Later

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Twenty years has passed since Pantera’s seminal album Cowboys From Hell was released.  This album is what I like to call a game changer.  Metal got a swift kick in the ass when this came out and it influenced a new wave of metal, appropriately dubbed “nu-metal”.  It even spawned some clones…Fight anyone?

This was the beginning of the chugga-chugga era.  People from around the world started to take notice of this little band from the Dallas/Ft Worth area of Texas.  I remember hearing them several times a day on Z-Rock and even liked it when Diamond Darrell, as he was still called at the time, would come into the Z-Rock studios and let callers try and stump him on metal riffs.  I don’t think I ever heard him get stumped, even when someone called in and asked for Omen and fates Warning riffs.

This album was huge for them and launched them into being the 2nd biggest metal band of the 90s behind Metallica, and rightfully so for the times.

This album deserves every bit of praise that it ever got.  Too bad that I can’t stand this album.  I think it’s awful.  When I first heard Cemetery Gates I wanted to hurl.  That riff in the chorus with the pinch harmonics drives me nuts.  Then Cowboys From Hell?  Blech!

So please allow me to drop back and punt a little.  I had been listening to Pantera since 1986.  Projects in the Jungle was my introduction to them thanks to a former friend from high school.  I love that album, as cheesy as it may be.  I Am the Night is damned good too.  OK, Metal Magic isn’t so good, but it has some gems on it as well.  I remember buying their Power Metal album, with Phil Anselmo on vocals, and thought, “Man, these guys really kick ass!” even with the dumb lyrics.  Phil could wail.  I loved this band a lot.

I can’t iterate enough how coarse CFH was to my ears.  The band wasn’t recognizable to me any longer.  Granted they weren’t even close to being one of my favorite bands at the time but I still enjoyed spinning their albums.

I remember when they were coming to Virginia Beach to play the Peppermint Beach Club.  Some of my friends bought tickets and showed up at the venue early.  The band was hanging out and meeting with people outside the venue.  My buddies showed up with their pre-CFH record covers and Darrell and the rest of the band refused to sign them.  I’ll never forget some friends recounting Diamond Darrell saying, “Get that shit out of here.  That’s not us.  We’re not fucking signing that!”  Absolutely true story.  They were all acting like dicks.  I know a lot of people here in Texas who know/knew them and they are a bit surprised when I tell them the story.  Darrell always struck me as a nice, genuine soul from interviews and such.  Anselmo’s resume’ speaks for itself.  Pity.

One thing I’ve learned over the years is to never diss your fans.  Of course I’ve never had success like Pantera’s, but even in my little world of playing small gigs, garage bands that never even played out, making self-produced and financed records and going on the road for weekend gigs and such, no matter what, I would never talk shit to someone who took the time to come see my band play.  NEVER.  How shitty.  It really killed any future interest I could have ever had in that band after that point.

I listened to this album in its entirety again recently to see if maybe my mind could be changed after all these years.  Epic fail.  While there are a few good riffs here and there and Phil showed a few flashes of still being able to sing, the album still did nothing for me.

I know I’m in the minority on this one and I am OK with that.  A few months ago while at a show, 2 of the girls that were with us turned me on to the word Panterrible.  It’s how I have referred to them since.

RIP Diamond Darrell.  You surely didn’t deserve to go out like that.

Written by The Metal Files

September 15, 2010 at 10:43 am

Asia – Concert Review – Austin, TX – August 21, 2010

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1982. I was in 6th grade at Southwestern Intermediate School in the middle of nowhere Virginia. Heat of the Moment was the number one song dominating the charts. Asia was huge already and everyone knew them. We were in some class and someone had a boom box with this song playing and one of my classmates, Kevin F., was playing along to the song on his desk. Kevin was a drummer. For as much as I was into music, I never really thought about playing an instrument until that day in class when I asked Kevin t show me what he was doing. Just as simple as that, he showed me what Carl Palmer was doing on the drums. I wanted to be a drummer. Right then. Boom. It took 2 more years before my parents actually bought me a drum set, but I finally got there. And thanks to Kevin taking 10 minutes to show me “how” to play something, a new chapter…a very important chapter of my life had begun.

For all of the following school years after that, I constantly heard, “Sean, stop banging on your desk!” “Sean, stop tapping your feet!” “Sean, stop tapping those pencils!” and so on. The drums became a way of life for me between 1984 and 2000 when I was forced to give them up due to permanent hand injuries due to drumming. I loved playing the drums and still miss it every day. Fortunately I was able to pick up the bass in 2000 and able to continue on as a musician (yes, drummers are musicians too!).

So basically it was because of Asia and Kevin that I ended up playing drums. Sure, something else probably would have happened to get me there, but that was, as I remember it, the catalyst. So…blame them!

It’s also a big reason why the debut Asia album sits so very near and dear to my tiny black heart. It’s one of those albums that I can never grow tired of, no matter how many times I hear it. Their follow-up album, Alpha, wasn’t too bad either, but the debut is the one.

Being that I was also a YES fan, thanks to my older brother, it gave me an interest in Asia. Steve Howe is a great guitarist.

When I found out a month or so ago that Asia was coming here on their Omega Tour with the original lineup, there was almost no way that I could or would miss this show. I bought tix the instant they went on sale and ended up 7th row on the left side. My friend John ended up scoring front row on the same side the day before the show. Curses! Haha. But whatever. I was there and that’s all that mattered. The guy I play bass for, Doug Morrison, also wanted to go so I ended up getting 2 tix.

The show was at the Paramount Theater here in Austin and I had only seen one other show there, Return to Forever, which was quite awesome in its own right. We get to the venue around 7ish and the band was slated to start at 7:45PM. We were both a little tired from playing a gig of our own the night before. I was checking out the merch and ended up buying the shirt for their current tour as it had the tour dates on the back. One thing I noticed after I bought it was that the band’s name was nowhere on the shirt. Odd. No biggie, I know what it is and that is all that matters.

So finally the lights go down and they open up with I Believe from the Omega album. Everyone stands up to applaud them coming on stage and then we all sat for pretty much the remainder of the show. Kind of odd sitting at a rock show, but oh well. The Paramount is an old theater and the seats aren’t very comfortable, but we suffered through it.

Asia plays songs from the debut, Astra, Phoenix and Omega. The overall sound mix wasn’t that great in my opinion. It may have been because we were 7 rows back from the mains on that one side, not sure. The drum mix got better though the night but his snare was still pretty quiet. Wetton’s bass was almost silent. I even put in earplugs to see if it would help but it didn’t.

The band looked good. I mean these guys are all in their 60s now, so you don’t expect too much. Steve Howe looked like he was about 104 years old, almost like a combination of The Cryptkeeper and Dr Jim from Taxi combined. His playing was great. Nice to see those old fingers still doing those fast runs. He was solid as a rock. He wasn’t very animated but then again he never was. He was playing a double cutaway Gibson semi-hollowbody through 2 Line 6 amps. It was cool that the band took a break and he sat down and did an acoustic solo which included Ram, a great little acoustic number of his.

John Wetton was playing an old black Gibson Victory bass through a 1×15 Ampeg combo amp. Like I said before, I never really heard much of what he was doing but saw some flashes of his talent in the runs that he was playing in a few tracks. I liked that he rarely looked at the bass, he knew what to do and where. He was, however, using a teleprompter and relied on it quite often. I’m not the biggest fan of those things in general, but hey, I guess he’s gotta do what he’s gotta do. His voice was stellar. I don’t think they tuned down at all and he was hitting almost every high note with relative ease for a 60-something year old dude.

Geoff Downes really looks the same as he always has, just a little chubbier (I feel his pain!). He had the usual 3 stacks of keyboards surrounding him and his playing was fine. He also handled all of the backing vocals. Some were synthed but most were raw and he sounded great. He’s a fine keyboardist.

Finally…Carl Palmer. In general I’ve never really paid attention to him as a drummer other than what he did on the first album to inspire. It surely wasn’t because of his “badassedness”. My opinion of his playing changed a bit last night. Even as a drummer, I usually didn’t care much for drum solos. I never did them in bands I was in and most of the time would get bored seeing them by other bands. There were always a few exceptions. Carl Palmer became one of those exceptions. His solo was tasteful and entertaining. He did a lot of jazz stuff, which is what I prefer to see in drum solos. Super fast quads and triplets and blistering double bass is just so cliché. Carl played traditional grip on his left hand the whole night and during his solo he threw in some cool Buddy Rich licks, both aurally and visually. It was pretty cool. The dude has some chops. I just wish the drums were mixed a bit better. But…nice work, Carl.  By the way, Carl looks like Richard Mulligan from the TV show “Soap”.  Pretty funny.

One thing I noticed was the interaction (or lack thereof) of the band members. I’d see Wetton and Downes make eye contact a few times and I’d see Palmer and Downes smile at each other a bit. But there was no eye contact between Howe and Wetton, not even once. I sensed a little animosity. It may also be because Howe seems like he is blind nowadays. He was wearing some thick glasses.

We found out before the show that there was a no camera policy for this night. No biggie. People were still snapping shots with their camera phones (me included). By the last 2 songs, everyone seemed to be taking pictures and Howe seemed pretty annoyed by it. He made some funny faces to a few folks who got up and walked to the stage to take pictures and actually took one guy’s camera and acted like he was taking pics of the crowd. People were laughing but I don’t think Steve was doing it to be funny at all.  I was also surprised that the show didn’t sell out.  The venue isn’t that big and there were several empty seats.

Overall the show was better than I had expected. The band took a 15 minute break mid-set and the whole show was over at 9:45PM. I was very glad that I went and it was worth the ticket price for sure.  So…Thanks Kevin.  Thanks Asia.

Here’s the setlist:

  1. I Believe
  2. Only Time Will Tell
  3. Holy War
  4. Never Again
  5. Through My Veins
  6. Don’t Cry
  7. Steve Howe Guitar Solo
  8. The Smile Has Left Your Eyes
  9. Open Your Eyes
  10. Go
  11. Time Again
  12. An Extraordinary Life
  13. End Of The World
  14. The Heat Goes On
  15. Carl Palmer Drum Solo
  16. Sole Survivor
  17. Days Like These (encore)
  18. Heat of the Moment (encore)

Asia 2010 @ The Paramount Theater, Austin, TX