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.

Setlist.

Click photos to see comments.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

Written by The Metal Files

August 22, 2016 at 11:02 am

Alice Cooper Concert Review, Austin, TX, February, 12, 2015

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No real review that would be any different than the San Antonio show.  It was a blast again!  I did get Chuck’s pick, an Alice $100 bill and the necklace, too.

Enjoy the pics!

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Motley Crue & Alice Cooper Concert Review, Cedar Park, TX, July 15, 2014

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Last night marked the second time I’ve seen Motley Crue (1989) and Alice Cooper (1996).  Crue was OK that night…better to say that the band was just fine, but Vince Neil wasn’t.  He’s been awful the 2 times since then that I’ve seen him with his solo band.  Cooper’s show back then was awesome as expected.  I’m not the biggest Crue fan and really only like the first 2 albums, but they do put on a decent show.  I pretty much love all Alice Cooper.

Crue announced recently that they were calling it quits for good and that they signed some sort of silly contract stating that there would be no more Crue shows after this tour.  We’ll see.  I probably wouldn’t have gone to see this had it not been announced that Alice Cooper was opening.  DONE AND DONE.  I got the presale code from Alice’s website and scored decent seats in the front center section of the relatively new Cedar Park Center.

My close friend, Trans Am (TA), and I arrived around 6PM and I was surprised at how small the venue was from the outside.  It’s pretty small inside, too.  But it’s really cool.  Not really many bad seats in the place.  We hung out in the parking lot for a few then made our way in.  We both ran into a ton of folks we know, of course.  This is the type of show that you’d see pretty much everyone you know.  We found out last minute that there was an opening band.  They weren’t worth mentioning.  zzzzzzzz.

Cooper’s front curtain goes up and his intro music begins.  We rush back into the venue, the curtain drops and they open with Hello Hooray.  Alice sounded great.  He’s not young but he still moves around like he is and his voice is still quite strong.  Since he was the opener, his set wasn’t that long but he played some of my faves like Billion Dollar Babies and Ballad of Dwight Fry.  Killer and I love the Dead were only partials which is unfortunate.  With From the Inside being my favorite Cooper album, of course I wanted some songs from that, but such is life.  His band was solid and his drummer, Glen Sobel, was awesome.  That’s no surprise since Alice never hires any slouches for his band.  They close with School’s Out and that was that.  The crowd was into it and Cooper just sounded so good.  I really hope he does another headlining tour.  I’ll travel for it if I have to.

Crue hits the stage and opens with Saints of Los Angeles.  Lots of lights for this show.  They move right into Wild Side and Primal Scream.  I will admit that Vince sounded better than I had heard in recent years…at least for the first 3/4 of the show.  The band sounded solid although I thought their mix was a little muddy.  I think that may have been on purpose.  Mick was relatively mobile, surprisingly.  The show was obviously done with backing tracks as I heard lots of rhythm guitars that weren’t being played by Mick.  Lots of additional vocal tracks beyond Vince and Nikki and the newer version of the old Nasty Habits backing singers.  On With the Show, Too Young To Fall In Love and Too Fast for Love were highlights for me.  By the time they started playing Shout at the Devil, Vince’s voice started to give out.  He’s always been good at letting the crowd sing a lot for him and last night was no different.

They had lots of pyro which was pretty cool.  Nikki had a flamethrower bass set up that was fun…and hot.

Overall the show was good and we had a blast.  What a great venue, too.  Next month I’m seeing Chicago and REO Speedwagon there.

 

 

On Meeting Alice Cooper, Dallas, TX, May 17, 2014

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Unbelievable.  I got to meet Alice Cooper today in Dallas at the ComicCon.  Completely surreal.

About a week or so ago, Jason K. hits me up about going to Dallas with him to meet Alice Cooper and of course I accepted.  What a wonderful signature to get in The Book!  We made the 3 hour trek to Dallas around noon, got parked, got our tix and made our way through the convention center.  There were thousands of people in lines to see the casts of The Walking Dead and Firefly.  Insane!  We get to Cooper’s booth and there was virtually no one in line.  Lines for movie and TV personalities were long, but not many there for Alice.  That proved beneficial for Jason and me.

I paid my fee to get 2 items signed and walk right up to the table where Alice is sitting.  I open the book and put the CD cover for From the Inside in front of him and he signs them both.  He didn’t sign on his photo unfortunately, but no biggie.

Backstory…a guy I work with found Cooper’s golf club ID on a course in Florida in the late 80s and turned it in to the club.  I asked Alice if he remembered any of that and he said, “I vaguely remember that ID thing and definitely remember that club.  Thank your friend for being a good citizen.”  We both laughed.

No one was behind me in line so I stayed there and talked to him for a few minutes.  He wasn’t trying to move me along at all.  I tell him about the death of my brother 2 years ago and how much he loved Alice and got me into him at an early age, and especially our love for From the Inside.  The conversation got personal and in depth in discussing my brother and Alice says, “Sounds like you had an awesome older brother who influenced who you are.”  Alice got it.  He’s been there.  It was a personal moment and one that I’ll never forget.  I shook his hand and thanked him for talking and for his musical influence on me.  He’s got such an infectious smile, still very childlike.  It was a pleasure and totally worth the trip.

Alice!

Alice!

The hands of Alice Cooper signing my book and CD cover

The hands of Alice Cooper signing my book and CD cover

Deep discussions.

Deep discussions.

My favorite album by Alice

My favorite album by Alice

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Written by The Metal Files

May 17, 2014 at 9:12 pm

Dokken – Up From The Ashes

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I remember it like it was yesterday.  I was living in Western Branch off of Taylor Rd with my cousin.  I don’t remember album-up-from-the-ashesexactly what day it was on but it was Jan/Feb 1991 only weeks before my 21st birthday.  I believe it was a Saturday and I was driving home from somewhere listening to Z-Rock and the local affiliate comes on the air to interview Don Dokken and Mikkey Dee about their concert that night at the Boathouse in Norfolk, VA.  A former friend from high school and I had tickets and were pretty excited about the show.  I had been listening to Up From The Ashes since it came out a few months prior.

So as I am listening to them interview Don and Mikkey, I pull over to a gas station a few miles from my house and try to call the station to see if I could talk to them.  I was so damned excited that I kept fat fingering push buttons on the pay phone.  After about 3 or 4 tries I got through off air and got to talk to Don and Mikkey.  I asked if there was a way to meet Mikkey prior to the show and he told me what time to be at the Boathouse (super early).  I told him that I was a huge fan of his from the King Diamond days.  He said make sure I don’t have more than one person with me and everything would be cool.

So at this point I am flipping out (of course not on the phone but internally).  I get home a few minutes later and told my buddy what the plan was and that he had better be ready when I came by to get him.  He was notoriously slow at everything.  I told him if he wasn’t ready when I got there that I was leaving his ass behind.  Fortunately he was ready when I got there and we headed to Norfolk to the Boathouse.

We’re the first people in the lot along with the staff cars and Dokken’s bus.  Some dude came to the door of the bus and said they were coming from the hotel in a few minutes and to wait.  So we waited only a short amount of time and a minivan with Don, Mikkey Dee, John Norum and Billy White in it.  Mikkey gets out of the van and asks, “Are you Sean?”  I acknowledged and we were instantly escorted onto the bus.  So Don hands me a band photo which was already signed by Baltes (who was inside the Boathouse already).  So Don and the rest of the band sign it along with some other stuff like cassette covers and such (I hadn’t gotten into CDs yet).  He stood with us for a few minutes then hightailed it to the back of the bus to take care of stuff.  At this point I am freaking out because one of my all time favorite drummers and musical influences and standing next to me.  I don’t get start struck easily as I’ve met a lot of musicians over the years but this one was different.  This was Mikkey Dee…the guy who played drums on King Diamond’s Abigail.

We hung out for what seemed like an hour but was likely a lot less.  Talking with John Norum and Billy White was pretty neat.  Unfortunately in my giddy starstruck state I had forgotten that Billy White played on Watchtower’s debut.  To this day in my head I still hear my inner voice say, “You’re an idiot.”  Kelz reminds me of this regularly and he pointed out after the show, “Dude, how was it to meet Billy from Watchtower?”  Ummm…D’oh!  I am a Watchtower fanatic as well.  What a doofus.

But all in all, I was there to hang out with Mikkey which was the first of 3 times that I got to spend time with him, the other 2 being with Motorhead in 1993 and 2000.  Will post about those meetings some other time.

In my conversation with Mikkey, I noticed he was wearing an Abigail backstage pass.  It had one of the heavenly aura’s around it.  haha.  So being the fanboy that I was that night, we talked about drums and about some certain aspects of his playing that I tried to emulate.  I asked him if he was going to do a drum solo and he said there would be one.  I asked him if he could incorporate the intro to Welcome Home from the Them album.  He said, “That’s a good idea, we’ll see.”

So the opening act was on the stage at this point and it was time for us to get off the bus so they could get ready.  I can’t overstate how accommodating these guys were.  I honestly didn’t even need to see the show after that!  But we went in and caught the 2nd half of the set by The Blonz.  Wow.  They were just awful.  One of the worst bands I have ever seen.

So we make our way towards the front of the stage and got on the barricade at stage left which ultimately was in plain view of Mikkey when he was on the kit.  Perfect!

So out comes the band and they rip into their set.  They were absolutely incredible and it was one of the tightest sets I have ever seen by any band.  Watching Mikkey slay the drums and both Norum and White manhandling their guitars with such precision was pretty incredible.  Definitely one of the best shows I have ever seen.  Don’s vocals were clean and clear and he was an excellent frontman.

So I guess this blog is really about an album review, eh?  I’ve seen this one get trashed in many a metal review and I could never understand why.  It’s easily Don’s second best album behind Tooth and Nail and pretty much the last album that he actually sounded really good on.  Initially the main reason I bought the album was because I had read that Mikkey Dee was drumming on it.

Even with some of the slightly cheesier songs like Mirror Mirror and Stay, it’s an album of which I don’t ever feel the need to skip any of the tracks.  Good production as well.

This one gets 10/10.