Archive for March 5, 2011

It’s hard to believe that it’s been four and a half months since I went to a live show but I was able to kick off my 2011 concert season with a trip to Boston to see Bon Jovi in concert this past Tuesday night. I’ll be very honest, I’m not a huge Bon Jovi fan. Back in the ’80s I was, especially from the first album through NEW JERSEY (1988), and I saw them live at the Providence Civic Center on both the SLIPPERY WHEN WET tour (with Cinderella) and the NEW JERSEY tour (with Skid Row). Anything after NEW JERSEY has never been my high priority list although I do have a few of their most recent albums, including THE CIRCLE (2009), and I caught them in concert back on the CRUSH tour in the Summer of 2001. The main reason I went to the concert is because I was taking my wife and Bon Jovi is her favorite Rock band. She has seen the band multiple times over the last few years including seeing the band on their home turf in New Jersey. Bon Jovi is to my wife what KISS is to me and I decided to go with her when tickets went on sale in November 2010…..$177 dollars a piece after all the Ticketmaster fees!

I’ve had the opportunity to see the band on previous tours but I swore off all Bon Jovi shows because of the show I saw in Summer 2001 supporting CRUSH. Nothing kills it for me than cover songs and Bon Jovi ended that concert with a cover of ‘Tequila’ and ‘Twist & Shout’ instead of reaching into their own catalog for something off the first two albums…..’Runaway’ maybe? That show was great until the last two songs and I was so disappointed that I haven’t seen the band live and I’ve been ultra-critical of them since. Eight years is a long time and Bon Jovi is selling out stadiums when many of their contemporaries and peers have trouble selling out theaters so it’s safe to say that they are as popular as they ever have been. My curiosity got the better of me and I got pretty psyched to see the band live after all these years, plus I heard they mix up the setlist from show to show! The concert was billed as “An Evening With Bon Jovi” so there was no opening act but that meant that there could be a possibly longer setlist, maybe a 2 to 3 hour show!

Bon Jovi setlist

Last Man Standing
You Give Love A Bad Name
Born To Be My Baby
We Weren’t Born To Follow
Lost Highway
Love’s The Only Rule
Work For The Working Man (cut short due to technical difficulties)
It’s My Life
Runaway
Just Older
We Got It Going On
Bad Medicine/Pretty Woman cover
Lay Your Hands On Me (Richie Sambora on vocals)
Hallelujah (Leonard Cohen cover)
I’ll Be There For You
Bed Of Roses
Who Says You Can’t Go Home
I’ll Sleep When I’m Dead/Start Me Up cover
Have A Nice Day
Keep The Faith

Encore:
Dry County
Wanted Dead Or Alive
I Love This Town
Livin’ On A Prayer

I have to say, I was pleasantly surprised that I enjoyed myself as much as I did, especially after I didn’t like the THE CIRCLE. The band did play three songs off that album (‘We Weren’t Born To Follow’, ‘Love’s The Only Rule’ & ‘Work For The Working Man’) and got them out of the way quick. The show opened with Jon Bon Jovi on a small stage behind the soundboard at the back of the arena (Paul Stanley style) right in front of us singing ‘Last Man Standing’. After the song, JBJ ran through the crowd (with security) to the stage to kick the frenzy into high gear with the classics ‘You Give Love A Bad Name’ and ‘Born To Be My Baby’. So far, I’m good even though I didn’t know one word to ‘Last Man Standing’. I knew ‘We Weren’t Born To Follow’ and ‘Lost Highway’ but not ‘Love’s The Only Rule’ (from THE CIRCLE) but all three songs sounded pretty good live so I made a mental note to revisit THE CIRCLE to see if I the album might benefit from a fresh listen and a note to find the LOST HIGHWAY (2007) album at a cheap price. The show was basically going along fine, and the band sounded pretty good, until they launched into another CIRCLE song ‘Work For The Working Man’. The band got maybe 15-20 seconds in and you heard a big “pop” and there was no sound. Either the speakers went or something happened at the board but the arena, save for maybe the people up front, heard nothing. Of course the band played on being able to hear themselves through their in-ear monitors but they stopped halfway through and left the stage. After about 5 to 10 minutes, the band returned to massive cheers and kicked the show into high gear with ‘It’s My Life’.

One of my personal highlights was ‘Runaway’, the band could play anything off the first two albums and I’d be happy even though I’d prefer ‘She Don’t Know Me’ from the first record. I also was psyched to hear ‘Just Older’ from CRUSH, an album I really enjoyed when it came out. ‘We Got It Going On’ sounded decent and the crowd seemed to like it (another reason to check out LOST HIGHWAY) and then it was a double shot of NEW JERSEY tracks ‘Bad Medicne’ and ‘Lay Your Hands On Me’. ‘Bad Medicine’ is a trademark Bon Jovi classic so I would have preferred a more rocking performance without the cover of Roy Orbison’s ‘Pretty Woman’ attached. ‘Lay Your Hands On Me’ is one of my favorite Bon Jovi songs so I was psyched to hear it but Richie Sambora took over the lead vocals while Jon went backstage for a quick break. A well-deserved one too because JBJ was all over the stage and sounded great vocally. I was a little disappointed with Richie’s vocal on ‘Lay Your Hands On Me’, maybe it’s age but his voice wasn’t as strong as I’d remembered. Actually, Richie’s trademark background vocals on many of the songs during the show weren’t really that great. The other thing is that the youthful fire that the original songs had seemed a bit dim live this show, maybe it’s because the band has gone on a different direction musically over the years? Mybe it’s because the band has matured a lot more since 1986-1988? It just seemed like the classic songs from SLIPPERY WHEN WET and NEW JERSEY lacked some of that energy and seemed to follow the sound of the newer songs. After Richie was done, Jon returned to sing ‘Hallelujah’, the Leonard Cohen cover that I think was on a live DVD the band released recently. It’s a good song and JBJ does a decent job but all I can think of is Shrek!

I’m not big into Bon Jovi ballads so ‘I’ll Be There For You’ and ‘Bed Of Roses’ were boring for me but the throngs of ladies and Bon Jovi diehards (mostly women) seemed to enjoy them, the songs sounded decent live. Including ‘Bed Of Roses’, the next six songs were from the KEEP THE FAITH (1992) and HAVE A NICE DAY (2005) albums, both of which I don’t own. I always liked ‘Who Says You Can’t Go Home’ and that was one of the “newer” songs I was hoping to hear, ‘I’ll Sleep When I’m Dead’ got the crowd going but I didn’t know it…..I liked the cover of The Rolling Stones’ ‘Start Me Up’ attached to it better than the actual song! ‘Have A Nice Day’ is another “newer” Bon Jovi tune I knew and wanted to hear, very catchy and came off good live, same with the other title track ‘Keep The Faith’. The encore started with the slow ‘Dry County’ off KEEP THE FAITH which I thought was a weird way to kick off an encore but it fit as the band pushed into the classic ‘Wanted Dead Or Alive’, with Rchie’s subpar vocals. ‘I Love This Town’ surprised me and now LOST HIGHWAY is on my Want List because every song I heard live from that album sounded great and , of course no show would be complete with out Bon Jovi’s signature anthem, ‘Livin’ On A Prayer’.

Overall, I had a good time and I kind of feel bad that I’ve given Bon Jovi the cold shoulder when it comes to picking up some of the last few records and seeing them in concert. I enjoyed hearing the classic songs from the ’80s, although some could use some more energy and power like on the records, but I think the “newer” songs were the best of the night. I’m definitely going to have to get out to the record store and try to acquire KEEP THE FAITH, HAVE A NICE DAY and LOST HIGHWAY because every song sounded great. I’m a little surprised the band didn’t take a track from THESE DAYS (1995) or BOUNCE (2002) because the band usually represents every album live…..except for 7800 FAHRENHEIT (1985)! Can anyone tell me why they ignore 7800 FAHRENHEIT every tour? That was a great album and I would guarantee that I would see the band in concert again if they played ‘In And Out Of Love’ or ‘Tokyo Road’. That said, Bon Jovi put on a solid show and I had a surprisingly good time.

Motorhead – The World Is Yours (2011, EMI)

  1. Born To Lose
  2. Know How To Die
  3. Get Back In Line
  4. Devils In My Head
  5. Rock ‘n’ Roll Music
  6. Waiting For The Snake
  7. Brotherhood Of Man
  8. Outlaw
  9. I Know What You Need
  10. Bye Bye Bitch Bye Bye

Bonus DVD: Live At Wacken Open Air 2006

Band Lineup:
Lemmy Kilmister: Bass & Vocals
Philip Campbell – Guitars
Mikkey Dee – Drums

Producer: Cameron Webb

Country: United Kingdom

Total Time = 39:15

Motorhead
Motorhead MySpace page

When a new album is announced by Motorhead, you know exactly what you are going to get: pure Heavy Metal with attitude and balls. Since the band’s inception in 1975, and their self-titled first record in 1977, Motorhead has consistently released 21 studio albums since with countless singles, live albums, greatest hits packages, reissues and DVDs in between. Can you think of a year since 1977 that Motorhead DIDN’T release something/anything? Since 2000 with WE ARE MOTORHEAD, the band has found a solid two year pattern where they release a new studio album, tour, take a break and repeat. The last decade has been a rebirth for Motorhead (not that they ever went away) with now five studio albums, four live albums, and at least six DVDs (that’s more than a career for some bands!) based on consistent world tours…..Motorhead is as popular now as they have ever been in their history. The album was released in late 2010 as part of a special Motorhead commemorative issue of Classic Rock Magazine, and it was released in some countries in late 2010, but this is the North American release for 2011.

Much like AC/DC, Motorhead basically releases the same album over and over. The music is the same Heavy Metal & Punk hybrid that the band had perfected in it’s 35 year history. Most of the songs maintain the same uptempo style but Lemmy, Phil and Mikkey can kick it into overdrive when they want to give the Thrash, Death and Black Metal bands a run for their money. You’ve got the blazing guitar riffs of Phil Campbell, the double kick pounding from Mikkey Dee and the buzzsaw bass and gravel throated vocals of Mr. Kilmister…..right there is the description of the album in a nutshell! The same topics that Lemmy sang about on the last 20 Motorhead albums are back again (sex, religion, Rock ‘n’ Roll, war, history), so how does the band still keep fans interested and critics raving when it’s really the same album over and over? The quality of the material never wavers, the songwriting and performances are always strong and heavy and this core lineup has been together since MARCH OR DIE (1993). Lemmy himself has become as big a Metal icon as his friend Ozzy Osbourne and, in plenty of fan circles, more dedicated to the Metal cause then the Prince of Darkness. At age 65, Lemmy is still found at the Rainbow Bar & Grill, the strip clubs and the stage. How many rockers out there still record and perform as consistently as Lemmy while maintaining the lifestyle that musicians in their 20s would have a hard time keeping up with? Lemmy is Motorhead, Lemmy is Metal…..that’s why Motorhead is so respected with the fans. The band and their music is straightforward and in your face.

THE WORLD IS YOURS follows the same Motorhead formula and fits in perfectly with the last few albums like WE ARE MOTORHEAD (2000), HAMMERED (2002), INFERNO (2004), KISS OF DEATH (2006) and MOTORIZER (2008). Songs like ‘Born To Lose’ (a song I thought the band had already released and re-did here), ‘Get Back In Line’ and ‘Outlaw’ could easily be put alongside Motorhead classics in the live set but the standout tracks for me are the slower sinister ‘Brotherhood Of Man’, the testimonial of ‘Rock ‘n’ Roll Music’ and the perfect Lemmy trademark anthem ‘Bye Bye Bitch Bye Bye’. There really isn’t a bad song on the album and that is always how Motorhead albums are, full of great Metal songs. If you picked up the limited edition digipak like I did then you got the bonus DVD of the band live at the 2006 Wacken Open Air Festival in Germany. It’s not the full set, only six songs worth, but it does give the uninitiated to the Motorhead live assault a taste of what the band is like live. Definitely a cool bonus and well worth the extra couple of bucks you might have to drop.

Bottom Line:
It’s a new Motorhead album…..if you have to be told it’s good, then you obviously don’t understand Heavy Metal. THE WORLD IS YOURS is heavy, fast and rude just the way Metal music is supposed to be, all the songs are solid and the band sounds just as powerful as ever. Definitely a top album of 2011.

Favorite Songs:
I like every song on this album…..bottom line. If I had to pick four standout tracks then I’d say ‘Born To Lose’, ‘Brotherhood Of Man’, Rock ‘n’ Roll Music’ and ‘Bye Bye Bitch Bye Bye’

 AC/DC – High Voltage Rock ‘N’ Roll: The Ultimate Illustrated History (2010, Voyageur Press)

Author: Phil Sutcliffe

Pages: 224

Style: Hardcover

AC/DC
Voyageur Press

There’s nothing I like better than a good album but sometimes I need to get my Metal fix by reading a book about my favorite bands. Actually, all the books I read nowadays are biographies on bands! When AC/DC – High Voltage Rock ‘N’ Roll: The Ultimate Illustrated History crossed my desk in late 2010, I thumbed through it really quick and realized that this could possibly be one of the better books released over the year. The first thing that catches your eyes is the front cover of Angus Young performing one of his famous stage moves while flat on his back on stage…..the fun thing is you can actually spin the circle and make Angus do his thing! Right there, you know you have something different.

When I read a biography or history on a band, I always look for the attention to detail, the research and opinion. It’s fine to have a bunch of pictures in a book but the attention to detail in the captions and credits can make the read even better. Same goes for the actual writing, if there’s no attention to detail and no research then all you have is common knowledge and hearsay bound as a book. Author Phil Sutcliffe really put together one of the best books about AC/DC that I’ve seen in a long time by adding plenty of pictures of the band and memorabilia to his penned AC/DC history that takes us from the band’s humble beginnings straight through the band’s 2008 album, BLACK ICE. I grew up with ’80s AC/DC so it was especially important for me to be able to read about the earlier lineup of the band with the late Bon Scott on the mic. Almost 30 years on as an AC/DC fan, I love the Bon Scott led albums, and I know part of the band’s history, but AC/DC – High Voltage Rock ‘N’ Roll: The Ultimate Illustrated History gets in depth not only about Bon’s time in the band but also each member’s beginnings and AC/DC’s first incarnations including the Dave Evans era and their trip through Australia’s pub circuit.

As the book travels through AC/DC’s past, each album gets there own special review by other Rock journalists to not only lend a fresh perspective on the music made but also how the album related to AC/DC’s overall history. AC/DC’s first few albums had multiple issues depending on the territory it was released (Australia, North America, Europe, Japan) and sometimes an album was didn’t get a release in some countries until years later, this book sorts through these details and provides pictures of the different album artwork for the discerning collector. And that’s another thing that appeals to me, this book feeds a collector’s needs as well. It wouldn’t be an illustrated history without plenty of pictures and there are tons of pictures of merchandise and memorabilia from album covers to backstage passes, from picture discs to 45s, programs, posters, buttons, handbills and also the instruments. Add in all the rare photos of the band playing live across the world and you can just thumb through the book and see the band’s history! Some other cool additions packed in the book’s 224 pages is the attention given to the Young brothers’ gear that they use both in the studio and on stage, details on the working relationship the band had not only with each other but with their various producers, and an Afterword to end it all by Joe Elliot of Def Leppard.

Bottom Line:
If you’re an AC/DC fan (and how many Rock fans out there aren’t), then this is a great book to read up on the band’s complete history but also to get a sense of that history visually with all the band pictures and memorabilia. If you’re a collector, then this book will appeal to you as well with tons of pictures from private collections of the band’s albums, singles, t-shirts, posters, backstage passes, etc…..there’s plenty here to look at for everyone. My favorite part of the book was the album reviews, they were in depth and really not only gave you the information needed but there were definite opinions on each release whether good or bad, something that is rare in a retrospective type book like this. Getting the handle on which version of each album was released when in different countries was especially important to me to fill those holes in my AC/DC collection. If you want to read, or look, at a great Rock book, then AC/DC – High Voltage Rock ‘N’ Roll: The Ultimate Illustrated History is a good one to pickup.

(Copies of this book can be bought at Amazon.com)