Archive for the ‘Concert Reviews’ Category

One of my teenage daughter’s favorite bands in the Black Veil Brides and I took her up to Worcester, MA to the Palladium for their show about a week and a half ago, billed as The Church Of The Wild Ones Tour. We had the tickets since November as they were a birthday gift for turning 14 so she was pretty excited. I, on the other hand, was not at all. Don’t get me wrong, I always love going to live shows but this wasn’t one of my bands so I was there to support my kid. I do have the band’s first two albums on my iPod but I’ve never given them much attention save for a couple of songs so I didn’t really know what to expect. What I didn’t expect was the extremely long line we had to wait in to get into the venue! It stretched down the side of the building for the better of three blocks and turned right another block getting close to the major concert hall, the DCU Center. I’ve been to my fair shre of shows at The Palladium and I’d never seen a crowd like this, it was almost old school like when I was 14 back in 1984 so I knew that there would be some serious energy in there. The crowd was mostly young kids, ages 12 to 20, a ton of parents with them (like me!), and some older metalheads sprinkled throughout. Once we got in, it was off to the merchandise booth to hook my daughter up and the t-shirts were flying off the tables. The place was jam packed for the openers and the kids were getting rowdy…..the lights went down for Silent Season and the place went mental!

Silent Season setlist:

I have no idea what Silent Season played but I do know they were on for a good half hour or so and played 5 or 6 songs. We were in line at the merch booth when the band came on so I was a little busy buying shirts for my daughter to pay attention but, when we were done, I got to catch some of their set. They are a local Massachusetts band and they play a heavy brand of current modern Metal, I liked them enough to check the merch tables for a CD but the band had nothing out. I like picking up CDs from opening acts I’ve never heard of so I decided to check the band’s website when I got home. They put on a solid performance so I suggest checking them out at….. http://www.silentseasonmusic.com/ or http://www.reverbnation.com/silentseason

William Control setlist:

Again, I have no idea. I’ve never heard of William Control before and, from what my daughter told me, the band was like a Goth and Dance hybrid. I knew it was going to be interesting when I heard ’80s hits from Billy Ocean playing over the P.A. system as the crew tore down Silent Season’s gear and set up William Control’s…..extremely odd to hear ‘Caribbean Queen’ at a Metal show! Once the band started playing, the crowd down front went wild. When I mean band, I mean 2 guys (the singer and bass player) playing to a backing track of music and samples. The overall music sounded Goth,  dance, electronica and 80s synth pop, almost like a cross between Frankie Goes To Hollywood, Depeche Mode and the Pet Shop Boys mixed modern metal. It was very ’80s New Wave but called Dark Wave by the younger crowd. I’ll give the band credit, they had the crowd going and the house was still packed. They played about 6 or 7 songs which all sounded similar, kind of like a bastardised ’80s soundtrack to a Jon Hughes film. Aside from the dance moves and mic twirling the singer did, there wasn’t much to the performance but it was interesting, definitely a different take on Metal that I hadn’t heard before! You can check out William Control at http://williamcontrol.com/

Black Veil Brides setlist:

Exordium (intro)
I Am Bulletproof
New Religion
Wretched And Divine
All Your Hate
God Bless You
Children Surrender
Rebel Yell (Billy Idol cover)
Love Isn’t Always Fair
Overture
Shadows Die
Nobody’s Hero
Youth And Whiskey
Rebel Love Song
Resurrect the Sun
Perfect Weapon
Knives And Pens
The Legacy

Encore
Fallen Angels
In The End

So the lights go down and the banner goes up for Black Veil Brides and the crowd goes completely insane…..my daughter is screaming and holding back tears and I’m just in awe of what’s happening. Is this how it was back in the day when I started going to shows? Was I crying at the KISS reunion show in Boston in 1996? I guess the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree! From the opening music of the ‘Exordium’ intro into the opening song ‘I Am Bulletproof’, the 2000+ in attendance were jumping up and down, screaming and singing…..there was so much energy I couldn’t believe it.

Before I get into the setlist, let me describe the stage setup and show. The palladium is small so this wasn’t an all out production show but the band had a small drum riser flanked by eight rotating lights on stage that really added to the show. A bit of fog and decent lighting from the above rig, there were no fireworks or screens so basically it was the lights and the band’s own merits to carry the performance. For a young band, it’s better to stand on your performance, that way you can win over some new fans and keep the respect of your current fanbase. I’m sure if BVB makes it to larger arenas, they will enhance their show. now because this is a general admission arena, I was glad to see the band had a stage length riser up front that the band could stand on so everyone could see them, this way the floor gets what the raised floor and balcony got. There was also a simple Black Veil Brides banner that went the length of the back drum riser, a simple backdrop and the band had their costumes on that reminded of Motley Crue circa 1984.

On to the show…..

The band was completely energetic and held the crowd in the palm of their hand. It did remind me of the Crue in ’84 or Guns ‘N Roses in 1987, they had that kind of command at the throngs of teenagers screaming every word. Thank god for Setlist.fm or I wouldn’t have known most of the songs. The crowd did and they sang every single word, at one point I tried to interrupt my daughter’s emotional screaming to ask what song it was and she abruptly ignored me! I’ll be honest, I didn’t expect much from the band but they play so well and so tight that I became a fan by the end of the show. For a bunch of guys in their early 20s, they played like seasoned veterans, absolutely great musicianship, that’s what won me over. I did know a few songs from my sporadic listens to their first two records (‘Knives And Pens’, ‘Fallen Angels’ and ‘Youth And Whiskey’) and I also new a couple new tunes from the new album, Wretched And Divine: The Story of The Wild Ones (‘I Am Bulletproof’ and ‘Resurrect The Sun’) so they were all highlights. I was surprised to hear the band do a cover of ‘Rebel Yell’ by Billy Idol but they did a really good job staying true to the original while beefing it up just a bit to the modern Metal standards. After the band left the stage, the crowd continued to go nuts and BVB came out to play a two song encore: ‘Fallen Angels’ and ‘In the End’. The venue exploded for ‘Fallen Angels’, which I assume is there signature hit, and it was the song of the night for me and there was a quick guest vocal from the singer of William Control (who I just figured out is named William Control).

All in all, a solid concert. All the bands played really well, it’s good to see a new generation of bands grabbing the Metal torch and giving the fans some high energy music. I’ll be checking out Silent Season’s CD and I’ll be giving the Black Veil Brides a little more time…..not sure about William Control, not my thing but they were a good alternative for an opener. It’s always good to open up to something new and I’ve got my daughter to thank for my discovery of two new bands.

You can check out the Black Veil Brides at http://www.blackveilbrides.net or http://www.officialbvb.com

I went to Connecticut last week to the Mohegan Sun Casino to see the Scorpions, with special guests Tesla, on the last leg of their farewell/retirement tour: The Final Sting World Tour. Nothing is worse than hearing that one of your favorite bands is calling it a career but I’ve learned that most bands can’t stay away for long (KISS comes to mind!). Unfortunately, the Scorpions are calling it a career and have been touring the world for the last three years to give fans all over a final taste of their great live show.

Is this really the end for the Scorpions? It’s anyone’s guess really. With both founding members Rudolf Schenker (guitars) and Klaus Meine (lead vocals) reaching age 64, and putting in 40 years into the band, I can see the point. Even long time guitarist Matthias Jabs (who joined in 1979) is in his mid-50s so maybe retirement is well deserved. Maybe this is the end of touring and perhaps the band will continue to record new music? No one knows except the band but I wasn’t risking my chance to see the Scorpions live one last time. Last summer they came to New Hampshire but the drive was close to 4 hours so I didn’t bother…..this time around it was only a 45 minute drive to Connecticut. I waited until a couple of days before the show to buy tickets and my friend and I got great seats (for only $44 each!) for what was one of three concerts left on the tour’s U.S. itinerary.

Tesla setlist:

Cumin’ Atcha Live
Edison’s Medicine
Hang Tough
Heaven’s Trail (No Way Out)
Mama’s Fool
Signs (cover of the Five Man Electrical Band)
Love Song
Modern Day Cowboy
Little Suzi (cover of Ph.D.)

You aren’t going to get a better opening band than Tesla and, to be honest, I expected a third band to open before Tesla. Tesla is still a headline act in small arenas and theaters so this was a great way to start. The band came out and just played, not a lot of bullshit talk between songs (KISS again!), just flat out, well-played Hard Rock. The setlist is your basic shortened hits package but it was cool to hear ‘Mama’s Fool’ off 1994′s BUST A NUT record…..that album always gets forgotten by many fans. You can’t really go wrong with big hits like ‘Love Song’, ‘Modern Day Cowboy’ and Hang Tough’ but I could have done without ‘Signs’. I know it’s the band’s second biggest hit (‘Love Song’ is #1) but it’s a cover and I never liked the original either…..I’ve hated that song since 1990 when the band released FIVE MAN ACOUSTICAL JAM and the single was all over the radio. Good to hear ‘Edison’s Medicine’ because I was kind of expecting either ‘What You Give’ or ‘Gettin’ Better’ but I was glad to hear the PSYCHOTIC SUPPER (1991) track. Of course the band ended with my favorite tune, ‘Little Suzi’, complete with the full acoustic intro like on the album. I know, I know…..it’s a cover song too but I never knew that until a few years ago so I’m going to give it a pass. The band was tight, they sounded great and they just plain kicked ass! nothing is better than a band coming out and just playing without all the gimmicks and fanfare (sorry, KISS reference again!). One last thought, for being the oldest guy in the band, Jeff Keith looks and sounds just like he did back in 1986.

Scorpions setlist:

Sting In The Tail
Make It Real
Is There Anybody There?
The Zoo
Coast To Coast (instrumental)
Loving You Sunday Morning
Rhythm Of Love
Wind Of Change
Holiday
Raised On Rock
Tease Me Please Me
Hit Between The Eyes
Kottak Attack (drum solo)
Blackout
Six String Sting (Matthias Jabs guitar solo)
Big City Nights

Encore
Still Loving You
No One Like You
Rock You Like A Hurricane

Now if you’re going to see the Scorpions in the U.S. then THIS is the setlist you want to hear! The band played hit after hit effortlessly and they sounded perfect. ‘Rhythm Of Love’, ‘Wind Of Change’, ‘Tease Me Please Me’, ‘Hit Between The Eyes’, ‘Big City Nights’ and the entire encore…..that was as long as Tesla’s set and it was MTV video and radio hit time as if we were back in 1991 and the band was touring then. The cool thing is that they had just as much energy now as they did then! The band did throw in a few older songs (but nothing before 1979!) with ‘Make It Real’, ‘Loving You Sunday Morning’, the ‘Coast To Coast’ instrumental and the signature song ‘The Zoo’ so it felt like I was witnessing the WORLD WIDE LIVE album from 1985 right in my face. The big surprise for me was that they played ‘Is There Anybody There?’ from LOVEDRIVE (1979)…..a great track but I figured the band would play either ‘Lovedrive’ or ‘Another Piece of Meat’. Actually, I was a little disappointed that they didn’t play either but you can only fit so much into two hours and they might have omitted the two newer songs ‘Sting In The Tail’ and ‘Raised On Rock’. Even though they are retiring, it was good to see the Scorpions playing new material and promoting the STING IN THE TAIL album. Even though the record is a couple of years old now, this Final Sting World Tour is also about promoting that album and that makes the band more legit in my eyes rather than a straight up nostalgia act.

Now the stage show was minimal because it’s all about the music but the band did have an amazing light show with plenty of big screens to see all the action but what set the band apart is the runway down the center of the floor that put the band right in the middle of the crowd. Everyone was up and down that part of the stage bringing the concert right in your face! There was no pyro which was fine because the lighting was really great, probably one of the best stage lighting programs I’ve seen in my 30+ year concert career. The band had a cool historical intro on the video screens with some big historical moments in Scorpions history like the US Festival in 1983 and the Berlin Wall coming down in the early ’90s but the best part of the on screen entertainment was during James Kottak’s drum solo. The Kottak Attack was your basic drum solo, complete with drum riser that mimicked the Peter Criss drum riser during his days with KISS, but what made it cool was Kottak was filmed re-enacting some of the band’s most famous album covers: LOVE AT FIRST STING, FLY TO THE RAINBOW, LOVEDRIVE, ANIMAL MAGNETISM, PURE INSTINCT, CRAZY WORLD, BLACKOUT and more. To see Kottak in the limo with a woman and then is be a mannequin that his hand was stuck to with bubblegum…..that was a priceless rendition of the LOVEDRIVE cover! Add the antics to his powerful drumming and it’s a hard combination to beat. His rhythm partner Pavel Macidowa helped him keep the beat and added some youthful (and I mean 40′s youthful!) energy to the show. The older guard of Schenker, Meine and Jabs weren’t to be out done because they were running around the stage and they sounded perfect. Schenker and Jabs sounded flawless and I seriously mean that. Schenker rocked back and forth maiming that Flying V while Matthias effortlessy made his Gibson Explorer sing…..two totally underrated guitar players and definitely overshadowed by two other famous Scorpions alums Uli Jon Roth and Rudolf’s brother Michael Schenker. I personally think Klaus Meine stole the show because I expected a slight drop off vocally but the man can sing as well as he did back in the day and it seemed effortless. You’ve got guys like Paul Stanley, Don Dokken, even Geoff Tate, who have had great singing voices throughout their careers but now have trouble in concert…..not Klaus though, the guy was a 64 year old singing machine that didn’t sound a day over 30!

All in all…..a great show. Both bands rocked hard and proved that good Rock music stands the test of time. It’s a shame that bands have to get older and eventually retire, the Scorpions proved that after 40 years they are still masters of the arena. If this is the end, I’m glad I was able to catch them one last time.

I went to go see Iron Maiden and Alice Cooper last night at the Tweeter Center in Mansfield…..it’s been a long time since I caught a live show (almost 4 months!) so it was great to catch these two Heavy Metal icons at one show. Iron Maiden was the headliner and they always draw a good crowd at this outdoor arena and the seats were all packed under the roof and on the lawn for an announced 14,000 fans! Not a bad way to start the summer: Iron Maiden, Alice Cooper and 14,000 Metal friends!

Alice Cooper setlist:

Vincent Price intro
The Black Widow
Brutal Planet
I’m Eighteen
No More Mr. Nice Guy
Hey Stoopid
Billion Dollar Babies
Feed My Frankenstein
Poison
Wicked Young Man
I Love The Dead (outro)
School’s Out (Pink Floyd – ‘Another Brick In The Wall (Pt.2)’ medley included)

I’ve caught Alice Cooper live many times in the last 10 years and he never disappoints. Alice and the band always puts on a top notch show both musically and theatrically so it’s no doubt that Alice could have done a full set with full production and had the crowd eating out of his evil hand. Unfortunately, Alice was an opening act and he had to play an abbreviated set…..but what a show! After the intro tape of Vincent Price introducing ‘The Black Widow’, Alice and the band played an 11 song set with a scaled down, but still high quality, production. An Alice Cooper concert is always about the theatrics then the music but a shorter set puts the focus on the songs.  The bulk of the setlist are Alice Cooper staples but it was very cool to hear a couple of songs make it back into the set. The entire set was awesome but the highlights for me were the return of ‘Brutal Planet’, ‘Wicked Young Man’ and ‘Hey Stoopid’ back to the setlist. The last time I caught Alice live with Rob Zombie, he played a full set as a co-headliner but these three songs weren’t played. Actually, ‘Wicked Young Man’ was done but in a medley. Both albums (2000′s BRUTAL PLANET and 1991′s HEY STOOPID) are really great and totally underrated albums because Alice has so many classic records and songs. For an older performer, Alice didn’t disappoint, he had tons of energy for the performance and he sounds as good as he did when I saw him on the BRUTAL PLANET tour 12 years ago. The band was tight and sounded great, you could tell that half a set was just a warm up and they could have kept it up for another hour easily. Alice Cooper is a true Rock legend and he proved it live once again!

Iron Maiden setlist:

Intro song (‘Doctor, Doctor’ by UFO)

Moonchild
Can I Play With Madness
The Prisoner
2 Minutes To Midnight
Afraid To Shoot Strangers
The Trooper
The Number Of The Beast
The Phantom Of The Opera
Run To The Hills
Wasted Years
Seventh Son Of A Seventh Son
The Clairvoyant
Fear Of The Dark
Iron Maiden

Encore
Churchill’s Speech into
Aces High
The Evil That Men Do
Running Free

It’s been 4 years since I’ve seen Iron Maiden in concert, the last time I saw them was at the Tweeter Center in the summer of 2008 and they were playing a greatest hits set billed as “Somewhere On Tour 2008″. That was one of the best times I’ve seen Iron Maiden live but do they ever put on a bad show? This time around, the band was focusing on songs from the SEVENTH SON OF A SEVENTH SON (1988) album and they played a solid 5 songs from it including ‘Moonchild’, ‘Can I Play With Madness’, ‘Seventh Son Of A Seventh Son’, ‘The Clairvoyant’ and ‘The Evil That Men Do’. The show production was centered around the SEVENTH SON album as well with plenty of different Eddie’s popping up and a solid stage show but, as always, the concert comes down to one thing…..the band.

Iron Maiden doesn’t disappoint…..ever! This concert was another superb performance by the band, who I consider the #1 Metal band in the world, with solid musicianship and excellent vocals. Maiden just came out and played…..not a lot of talking in between songs, not a lot of rehearsed intros like some bands I love, just flat out Metal songs one after the other. The setlist was solid, not a bad song in the bunch and, as I mentioned, the SEVENTH SON songs were the focus. When I saw Maiden in 2008, they played ‘Moonchild’, ‘Can I Play With Madness’ and ‘The Clairvoyant’ but they aren’t always in the set so it was good to hear them again but hearing ‘Seventh Son Of A Seventh Son’ and ‘The Evil That Men Do’ was simply awesome. Good to also hear ‘The Prisoner’ and ‘Phantom Of The Opera’ make the set instead of more popular songs from PIECE OF MIND (1983) and the debut record and it’s always cool to hear another song from FEAR OF THE DARK (1993) with ‘Afriad To Shoot Strangers’. As always, my favorite song of the night was ‘Fear Of The Dark’, it just sends chills up my spine everytime I hear it! Just a couple of words on the band themselves…..as I mentioned, the band played and sounded great which is no surprise but, aside from Bruce Dickinson, they weren’t as animated as they have been in the past. Maybe it’s because this was like the 2nd or 3rd show of the U.S. tour or maybe it was because they were focusing on the playing but it seemed like they didn’t move around a ton as they have in the past. Not complaining at all…..I’d prefer a flawless performance to an action packed show anytime! Solid performance, great show, I wish the band was coming back again soon.

 

It’s been a little while since I posted anything here at Heavy Metal Addiction but nothing gets the writing juices flowing like a good concert! I had my ticket in advance for Michael Schenker’s return to the New England area this past Thursday night, this time promoting his new album TEMPLE OF ROCK (2011) and featuring another former frontman, Robin McAuley. I caught MSG on the last tour in 2010 at Showcase Live to promote MSG’s 30th anniversary and the last two albums featuring original frontman Gary Barden and it was excellent, I expected the same this time around. Michael’s latest album, TEMPLE OF ROCK, is a great album and ‘Lover’s Sinfony’ is my favorite song on the album and features Robin McAuley. I saw the classic early ’80s Gary Barden led MSG last year, now I get to see the McAuley Schenker Group (the late ’80s/early ’90s lineup) live! What’s next? Will Michael bring Graham Bonnet out next? Wishful thinking…..

I arrived at the club about an hour before the 8pm start time, picked up my ticket at the box office, grabbed a real nice shirt for $30 and went inside. Another great crowd for another great show, capacity is about 1000 people so I guesstimate that there was at least 500, maybe more. No opening band this time around which was good news because everyone I spoke with wanted a nice long set from the band…..considering that the tickets were only $25 each, I expected a spectacular show. I got as close to Michael’s side of the stage as I could and ended up about 4 feet away from the master and between him and McAuley the entire show.

Michael Schenker Group setlist:

Into The Arena
Armed And Ready
Love Drive
Another Piece Of Meat
Lover’s Sinfony
Save Yourself
Let Sleeping Dogs Lie
Rock My Nights Away
Shoot Shoot
Love To Love
Too Hot To Handle
Let It Roll
Natural Thing
Lights Out

Encore:
On And On
Rock Bottom

2nd Encore:
Doctor Doctor

Honestly, that was like going to see UFO! Almost the second half of the set was classic Schenker-era UFO and the crowd was EXTREMELY receptive to hearing almost all of the STRANGERS IN THE NIGHT record. There’s no denying Michael’s guitar genius when he’s effortlessly soloing through ‘Rock Botton’, ‘Doctor Doctor’ and ‘Lights Out’ but the UFO highlight for me was ‘Love To Love’ with Robin giving a powerful performance of one of the most underrated and underappreciated ballads of all-time! While I’m on the subject of Mr. McAuley, let me just say that the man is a spectacular performer with great vocal range and energy, he looked genuinely happy to be on stage with Michael (and vice versa for the guitar maestro!) and he just looks like a rock star. Seriously, has Robin aged at all? The guy looked awesome for a 59 yr.old rocker. As for the rest of the band…..Wayne Findlay is Michael’s jack-of-all-trades on stage performing that Paul Raymond role perfectly, Elliot “Dean” Rubinson (CEO of Dean Guitars) proved to be a great addition on bass and Pete Holmes (from Black ‘N Blue) hit the drums like a madman…..you can’t ask for more if you’re a guitar legend.

Back to the set…..the show kicked off with Michael’s showcase ‘Into The Arena’ and promptly went into crowd favorite ‘Armed and Ready’. If that wasn’t enough to get the crowd pumped immeadiately, the band kicked the show into high gear with back to back Scorpions songs ‘Love Drive’ and ‘Another Piece Of Meat’. The applause alone for those two songs was so great that you would have thought that Klaus Meine and Rudolf Schenker had joined the band on stage! A great moment of the night to see Michael soloing away on those two classics and Robin really nailed each song…..vocally I can hear some similarities to Klaus Meine. My favorite part of the set was the next two songs: ‘Lover’s Sinfony’ and ‘Save Yourself’. Now I realize that the setlist was full of classic Schenker tunes but hearing ‘Lover’s Sinfony’ (my favorite song off the new album) and ‘Save Yourself’ (the title cut from the 1989 record) were awesome! I never got to see the McAuley Schenker Group back in the day and SAVE YOURSELF is an underrated album from the late ’80s, actually the whole McAuley-Schenker era is completely underrated. It was cool to have Robin acknowledge many of us fans up front who sang all the words to ‘Save Yourself’ but I did notice a couple of looks towards a couple of us singing every word to ‘Lover’s Sinfony’…..honestly, that would be the highlight of the set if MSG played more recent material from the last 15 years. It was great to hear ‘Let Sleeping Dogs Lie’, ‘Rock My Nights Away’ and ‘On and On’ from early MSG albums but I have to admit that I was a little disappointed that more MSG songs weren’t done. Of course that means you would have to cut a UFO or Scorpions song for proper MSG but it was good to hear the band run through Michael’s career and ending the second half of the show with almost all UFO classics. The band played close to two hours and the fans all had a blast, the band could have easily played a few more songs and the club would have exploded! Hopefully Michael and the band will come back again soon to the Showcase Live, judging by the crowd’s response I have no doubt they will.

Here’s a few videos I found on Youtube from the Foxboro show on 3/8/12…..

I’m a little late in posting the review but I caught Cinderella on their 25th Anniversary Tour at Showcase Live in Foxboro, MA on August 3rd. A solid show overall with a surprise opener, melodic metal band Mass, who you may remember from back in the ’80s. The Showcase Live is located at Patriot Place, in the Foxboro Stadium complex (home of the New England Patriots), and it’s only about 20 minutes from my house. A lot of shows have come to the club like Michael Schenker Group, UFO (saw the show in May and never reviewed it!), Jackyl, Uriah Heep, Kip Winger and the Mr. Big show next week. It’s a great place to see a show and it accommodates about 1000 – 1500 fans for a standing room only concert. It’s a state of the art venue and a great place to see a show! Tickets weren’t bad, $35 for a ticket…..a very reasonable price for two solid bands.

Mass opened the show and played about eight songs, four being off their 2010 album SEA OF BLACK. Unfortunately, I was unable to write the setlist down but it was high energy and a great performance. I was able to sing a long to the newer songs but I forgot which ones they were two weeks later! I did recognize a couple of the older songs but I had no idea about the song titles or which albums they came from, they just sounded familiar. Foxboro is 30 minutes outside Boston so this was a home gig for Mass and they had a lot of faithful fans in the packed house…..and it was just as packed for Mass as it was the headliners. If SEA OF BLACK didn’t open my mind to Mass, their performance did and I’ll be acquiring the rest of their releases through the band’s official website soon. Nice guys all around, even hung around their merchandise booth to shake hands, sign autographs and take pictures.

Cinderella setlist:

Once Around The Ride
Shake Me
Heartbreak Station
Somebody Save Me
Night Songs
The More Things Change
Coming Home
Second Wind
Don’t Know What You Got (‘Til It’s Gone)
Nobody’s Fool
Gypsy Road

Encore:
Long Cold Winter
Shelter Me

I’ve been a Cinderella fan since the beginning with NIGHT SONGS (1986) and I saw them open for Bon Jovi on the Slippery When Wet Tour back in 1986 in Providence, RI. I caught them again on a couple of summer tours with Poison and they had the crowd going just as much as Poison so they have a great fanbase and the songs to put on a great show. The original lineup is intact for this 25th Anniversary Tour led by the Steven Tyler influenced Tom Keifer on guitars, piano, sax & lead vocals, Eric Brittingham on bass & vocals, Fred Coury on drums & vocals and the underrated Jeff Labar on guitars & vocals…..rounding out the band on keyboards is longtime touring member Gary Corbett. The band had the great venue, great crowd, great sound so I expected an awesome setlist. Basically, all the hits were played from the first three albums with the most notable exception of  ‘The Last Mile’ from LONG COLD WINTER (1988) and ‘Hot And Bothered’ from STILL CLIMBING (1994). I couldn’t believe that they ignored the fourth album, STILL CLIMBING, because I remember ‘Hot And Bothered’ getting plenty of airplay in 1992 because of it’s inclusion on the Wayne’s World movie soundtrack. Adding those two songs to the set would have put this show over the top for me but it was a solid show anyway with five songs off the debut NIGHT SONGS, five from 1988′s LONG COLD WINTER (my personal favorite!) and three from HEARTBREAK STATION (1990). I figured that the first two albums would get a ton of songs but I was glad to see the band focus on HEARTBREAK STATION because it’s an underrated record even though it was a Top 20 album and went platinum. The band was tight and played great with all the big vocal harmonies you hear on the records. Tom Keifer is heavily influenced by Aerosmith’s Steven Tyler not only in his look but his vocal style with that gritty blues styled voice that sounds like he gargles with Drano at times. I personally think Tom got stronger vocally as the show went on and he was easily in classic form a couple songs in. I was on the Jeff Labar side of the stage so I watched him closely…..definitely an underrated guitar player with a cool style and swagger. You would never be able to tell that Cinderella hadn’t released an album in 17 years and has only done a few summer tours in the last decade because they sounded great. Surprises of the setlist? Definitely ‘Second Wind’ (that ended Side 1 of LONG COLD WINTER) and opener ‘Once Around The Ride’ (from NIGHT SONGS)…..’Second Wind’ was always one of my favorite tracks on LONG COLD WINTER but I was surprised with ‘Once Around The Ride’ because I would have bet that the band would have played long time concert staple ‘Push Push’ from the same record. All in all, another good concert with two solid performances at a good price. Mass will get a closer look and the hope Cinderella will put a new record out is burning brighter with me.

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.

Went up to Mohegan Sun Casino in Connecticut again last night for another awesome concert, this time it was the Halloween Hootenanny featuring Rob Zombie and Alice Cooper with special guests, Murderdolls. I’m a huge fan of Alice Cooper, I’ve seen him live a bunch of times, so the main reason for my going was the Alice show but I’ve also seen Rob Zombie three times and he always put on a big show. Halloween time + Alice Cooper + Rob Zombie = must attend.

Murderdolls setlist

Chapel Of Blood
Slit My Wrist
Die My Bride
My Dark Place Alone
Drug Me To Hell
Nowhere
Hybrid Moments (Misfits cover)
Motherfucker, I Don’t Care

I have never heard any Murderdolls songs so their being the opening band really made no difference to me, the way I looked at it was I was either going to discover a new band to listen to or be bored out of my mind. The only thing I really new about the Murderdolls was that Wednesday 13 and Joey Jordison are in the band and they have a new record that came out a few weeks ago. I almost bought the CD when it came out but I didn’t want to chance it. The band wasn’t that bad, obviously a good fit with their combination of Cooper and Zombie and they appealed to the younger crowd, especially when they swore. I can’t remember but maybe I got just as wild at concerts back in the day when a band member onstage would yell “Fuck!”…..the kiddies ate it up with the Murderdolls. Like I said, decent performance and they made enough of an impression that I will try and check out their two albums soon. As far as the setlist goes, I didn’t know any songs so i had to look it up online.

Alice Cooper setlist

School’s Out (partial)
No More Mr. Nice Guy
Wicked Young Man
Ballad Of Dwight Fry
Go To Hell
Cold Ethyl
Poison
From The Inside
Nurse Rozetta
Be My Lover
Only Women Bleed
I Never Cry
Black Widow Jam
Vengeance Is Mine
Dirty Diamonds
Billion Dollar Babies
Killer
I Love The Dead
Feed My Frankenstein
Under My Wheels

Encore
I’m Eighteen
School’s Out (reprise)

Much to my surprise, Alice Cooper opened for Rob Zombie! I was under the impression that Alice would headline considering the pedigree and bigger setlist compared to Rob Zombie but either they are trading off the headline slot or they are appealling to the younger crowd and having Zombie headline. Didn’t matter because I’ve seen Alice seven other times and even an opening set is just as good as a headline slot. Alice always puts on a solid show, true Shock Rock theater, so his 75-80 mins was jammed with non-stop music and theatrics. Nice to see a lot of my favorite classics like ‘Ballad of Dwight Fry’, ‘Billion Dollar Babies’ and ‘Go To Hell’ with a few newer songs like ‘Vengeance Is Mine’, ‘Dirty Diamonds’ and ‘Wicked Young Man’. Actually, ‘Wicked Young Man is kind of old now since it’s release 10 years ago on BRUTAL PLANET! Alice had the full compliment of props, as well as, getting killed four times by guillotine, hanging, hypodermic needle and being put in a box and having spikes pushed through. The show was really good but my only complaint is that some of the songs were shortened and some of the performance seemed rushed. I have seen Alice put on shows that go from 90 mins to 2 hours and the longer he goes the more elaborate, the more exciting the performance is. The setlist and stage show go hand in hand so great music made up for a shortened set and i always like the way Alice incorporates the new songs to fit the plot. A true legend and a great performer.

Rob Zombie setlist

Sawdust In Blood (intro)
Jesus Frankenstein
Superbeast
Scum of The Earth
Living Dead Girl
More Human Than Human (White Zombie cover)
Sick Bubble Gum
Demon Speeding  
(drum solo)
Mars Needs Woman
Pussy Liquor
Never Gonna Stop
Thunder Kiss ’65 (White Zombie cover)
(guitar solo with Munsters Theme and Star Spangled Banner)

Encore
Werewolf Women Of The SS
Dragula
House of 1000 Corpses

Alice Cooper is a hard man to follow but I expected Rob Zombie to put on a very visual show just like the last three times I’ve seen him live. I will admit that I’m not the biggest Rob Zombie fan in the world…..I like White Zombie and his solo stuff but I never seem to get around to buying them, even the new album, HELLBILLY DELUXE 2, I just bought last week and have given only one spin. I knew I would recognize the White Zombie and HELLBILLY DELUXE (1998) songs but I wasn’t sure about the rest of the set. As expected, very visual show with flamepots going the entire time and plenty of props and dry ice fog but what surprised me was just how good the band sounded, it was almost like hearing it straight off the record. Zombie is popular with the younger crowd and they knew all the words to every song but what surprised me most was that I knew a lot of the songs that were post-1998, especially off the new album. Every song just killed live and the newer songs like ‘Jesus Frankenstein’, ‘Sick Bubble Gum’, ‘Mars Needs Women’ and ‘Werewolf Women Of The SS’ were really great…..so much so in fact that I have been playing HELLBILLY DELUXE 2 all day today! Of course, hearing ‘More Human Than Human’ and ‘Thunder Kiss ’65′ was awesome because White Zombie is one of those bands that we all listened to in the early to mid-90s. Overall, Zombie and his band did a solid job of following the legendary Alice Cooper (I still prefer Alice!) and he made a new believer out of me…..now I am going to go out of my way to pick up some of his previous solo albums and I may catch him live again next time around.

I went to Ozzfest a few weeks ago at the Comcast Center on 8/24…..I’m just getting around to reviewing it now because there really wasn’t much to review. Let me explain…..

I am an Ozzfest veteran, I have been to the 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001 and 2002 shows at the same venue. Each time I was in as soon as the gates opened and I caught as many Metal bands as possible. When the 2003 Ozzfest lineup was announced, I made the concious decision NOT to attend because of the ticket prices vs. what I thought was a poor lineup. Since that missed show, I didn’t attend another Ozzfest until this year. Maybe it was the small run of tour dates (six U.S. shows) or maybe it was because I was going with a group of friends, either way I put down the $100 for a ticket. None of my friends were interested in the smaller bands so the whole point of going was to see Black Label Society, Halford, Motley Crue and Ozzy. I wouldn’t have minded seeing Kataklysm, Skeletonwitch or Kingdom Of Sorrow but they weren’t top priority. So we get to the parking lot and the sky opens up with a steady drizzle that made the tailgate BBQ nice and soggy but I put up the tent and we had a decent feast. The plan was to head in around 4:15pm for the BLS set at 4:30 on the second stage…..we got to the gate about 4:25pm and found out the entire second stage schedule was cancelled due to inclement weather! Now I have been to Ozzfest many times, and I have been to a ton of outdoor shows in rain worse than what was coming down so I was shocked that a full cancellation was in effect. With nothing left to do it was off to the covered pavilion to our seats so we could dry off a little and wait for the main attractions.

Nonpoint & Devildriver

I don’t like either band but, I’ll be honest, I also never really heard their music. Actually, I saw Nonpoint at Ozzfest 2001 and I gave the first song off their new album, MIRACLE (2010), a spin when I got a free promo copy from their label. Like I said, not a fan of either band and both performances didn’t help the cause. All I heard was noise and unintelligible shouting and there was nothing extraordinary about Nonpoint or Devildriver for me. That said, I can tell you both bands had large followings and got a ton of applause, I assume that they get played on local Boston radio station 107.3 WAAF and Providence, RI’s 94.1 WHJY. I don’t listen to current Rock radio so I don’t get the appeal but I will listen to the new Nonpoint and review it at some point before the end of the year and I will grab a Devildriver CD if I find it used at a really low price.

Halford setlist:

Resurrection
Made In Hell
Locked And Loaded
Nailed To The Gun (Fight song)
Golgotha
Crystal
Drop Out
Made Of Metal (new song)
Cyberworld
Heart Of A Lion (Judas Priest song)
Never Satisfied (Judas Priest song)
Saviour

Like I mentioned before, we were there to see the four headliners but I know I was the only Halford fan. I knew going in that the band was going to play mostly from the Halford band catalogue and maybe we would get a Judas Priest song or two. I am a huge fan of Rob’s solo career so I was psyched to get all the RESURRECTION and CRUCIBLE songs but the highlights for me were the lone Fight track, ‘Nailed To The Gun’, and the new song, ‘Made Of Metal’, from Halford’s upcoming new album of the same name. It wouldn’t be a Rob Halford performance if he didn’t touch upon Judas Priest so he pulled out two deep tracks with ‘Heart Of A Lion’ (a song demoed in 1985 for the TURBO album) and ‘Never Satisfied’ from SAD WINGS OF DESTINY (1976). Those two songs were unbelievable! Turns out that this show was on Rob’s birthday so, at the end of the set, the crew brought out a cake and the crowd sang Happy Birthday to Rob Halford…..a cool moment that ended a flawless performance.

Motley Crue setlist:

Kickstart My Heart
Wild Side
Shout At The Devil
Saints Of Los Angeles
Looks That Kill
Live Wire
Don’t Go Away Mad (Just Go Away)
Same Ol’ Situation
Home Sweet Home
Mutherfucker Of The Year
Helter Skelter (Beatles cover)
Primal Scream
Dr. Feelgood
Girls, Girls, Girls

Of all the headliners, the one band I knew would definitely get the arena rocking was Motley Crue. I’ve seen just about every tour since the GIRLS GIRLS GIRLS tour back in 1988 and they Crue deliver each time. Forget the fact that Vince Neil sings only have the words most of the time, the band has a ton of hits and always plays a deep track or two in their set and the musicianship is usually flawless. The bottom line is that the Crue put on a great show and this one was no exception. The band came out to the high-powered opener ‘Kickstart My Heart’ and put the pedal to the Metal! Look at the setlist…..it’s just hit after hit along with two songs from their last studio album, SAINTS OF LOS ANGELES (2009), and a deep cut from SHOUT AT THE DEVIL (1983) with the Beatles’ tune ‘Helter Skelter’. I’m an old school Crue fan, I was there at the beginning, so I love hearing tracks from the first two recordsso ‘Live Wire’, ‘Looks That Kill’ and ‘Shout At The Devil’ went over huge with me but I would have liked another track or two…..maybe if the set was longer because you can’t cut any of the other hits out! Like I mentioned, Vince Neil still only sings half the words but he sounds better (if that’s possible) and the band was tight and dead on. I would say the performance of the night fell to guitarist Mick Mars…..it’s hard to watch that guy stand up or walk but he played flawlessly! The other three guys may be the faces of Motley Crue but Mick Mars is definitely the backbone. All in all, I’d say this was a solid performance and the band had the crowd looking for more.

Ozzy setlist:

Bark At The Moon
Let Me Hear You Scream
Mr. Crowley
I Don’t Know
Fairies Wear Boots (Black Sabbath cover)
Fire In The Sky
Suicide Solution
Road To Nowhere
Into The Void (Black Sabbath cover)
Shot In the Dark
Rat Salad (Black Sabbath cover)
Iron Man (Black Sabbath cover)
I Don’t Want To Change The World
Crazy Train

Encore:
Mama I’m Coming Home
Paranoid (Black Sabbath cover)

Here’s the thing about Ozzy…..his performances are hit or miss. I’ve seen Ozzy mulitple times on every solo tour since NO MORE TEARS (1991) and he is usually really good, the one exception being the 2001/2002 tour for DOWN TO EARTH. As I mentioned before, I’ve seen Ozzfest from 1998 to 2002 and now this one (that’s 6!) and he has performed solo on four of them, each one hit or miss. The two Ozzfests that I saw with Black Sabbath headlining were really great so is it a case of Ozzy being too comfortable in his own material or that ultimately Black Sabbath is more than just Ozzy? Either way, I was excited to see Ozzy because he finally released a new record that wasn’t a letdown, SCREAM being the best album since 1995′s OZZMOSIS.

First thing I noticed was that Ozzy sounded great…..he opened with the classic ‘Bark At The Moon’ and his vocals were the best I’ve heard since the OZZMOSIS tour. The new band was really powerful, especially new guitarist Gus G. (Firewind, Dream Evil) who added a new edge to the overall sound. Nothing against Zakk Wylde but sometimes a new member can add a new spark. Same thing goes for bassist Blasko, drummer Tommy Clufetos and keyboardist Adam Wakeman…..these guys all had an energy to them that seemed to revive the Prince Of Darkness to put on an inspired show. The Blasko/Clufetos rhythm section is solid, no surprise as they have worked together in Rob Zombie’s band, giving them a modern sound and Adam Wakeman is a solid keyboardist/guitarist much like his father Rick Wakeman of the Progressive Rock band Yes. If I had to pick a standout performance it would definitely be Ozzy because his singing is much improved this time around but Gus G.’s guitar playing was dead on to Randy Rhoads, Jake E. Lee and Zakk Wylde proving that he is a versatile young guitar player.

The setlist was pretty good although a little predictable. All the usual hits were there (‘Bark At The Moon’, ‘I Don’t Know’, ‘Crazy Train’, and ‘Mr. Crowley’) but I was a little surprised by ‘Shot In The Dark’ because usually Ozzy & Sharon dismiss THE ULTIMATE SIN (1986) so much so that it’s the only Ozzy studio album deleted from the available catalog! Ozzy played two deep tracks with ‘Fire In The Sky’ from NO REST FOR THE WICKED (1988) and the excellent ‘Road To Nowhere’ from NO MORE TEARS. As with any Ozzy concert, the setlist had some Black Sabbath songs included…..this time around five but one was a solo section for the rest of the band when they did ‘Rat Salad’ from PARANOID (1970). ‘Fairies Wear Boots’ and ‘Into The Void’ were excellent, so were ‘Iron Man’ and ‘Paranoid’ but I am sick of those two songs after so many years. Bottom line…..one of the best times I’ve seen Ozzy live in a long time!

I went to Mohegan Sun Casino in Connecticut for the second time in a week Thursday night to see my favorite band in concert…..KISS. This was my second show on “The Hottest Show On Earth” Tour, I saw the show in Mansfield, MA two weeks before, and the third in the last year promoting the band’s latest album SONIC BOOM (2009). Overall, this was the 18th time seeing KISS in concert dating back all the way to 1987! This time around I went to the show with a few friends, got a great meal again at Mohegan Sun and saw another awesome show.

Just like the Mansfield concert, KISS had two regular opening bands, The Academy Is and The Envy, and a band that won the Guitar Center contest for that show (that is actually from the Boston are and not Connecticut like I thought!), Tester. Just like the Mansfield concert, we opted not to go in for the opening bands and take our time at dinner. Showtime was 6:30pm and KISS doesn’t hit the stage until at least 8:45pm so there were 2+ hours to kill. After dinner and a walk around the casino, we headed in the arena and straight to the merchandise stand. With no kids this time around, I figured I could get myself another tour shirt but it turned out there were no XXL t-shirts at any of the booths…..I found out that the order for the show didn’t arrive. I wasn’t going to go empty-handed so instead of $45 for a shirt (XXL is $5 more!), I went with the $70 zip hoodie! Why not give Paul & Gene more of my money? I’ve been doing it since I was a kid! We actually got to our seats in time to see the last two songs of The Academy Is, we heard an original and a cover of The Sweet’s ‘Fox On The Run’. Good thing they covered The Sweet because the original I heard wasn’t impressive! We were in the arena a good hour before KISS took the stage and I was a little worried that the arena wasn’t filling up, there were a lot of empty seats. What I didn’t know was that KISS was being inducted into the Mohegan Sun Walk of Fame OUTSIDE the arena and the band made an appearance in the mall area! It figures I would miss something cool like that! By the time KISS took the stage it looked to me like most of the seats were filled…..Mohegan holds about 10,000 people for events but, with the big stage and the back not being sold, I estimate there were around 8000 people in attendance. On to the show…..

KISS setlist:

Modern Day Delilah
Cold Gin
Let Me Go Rock ‘n’ Roll
Firehouse (with Gene Simmons breathing fire)
Say Yeah
Deuce
Crazy Crazy Nights
Calling Dr. Love
Shock Me (Tommy Thayer lead vocal)
(Guitar & Drum solo from Tommy Thayer & Eric Singer)
I’m An Animal
100,000 Years
(Bass solo, blood-spitting and flying from Gene Simmons)
I Love It Loud
Love Gun
(Guitar intro/solo from Paul Stanley featuring ‘Whole Lotta Love’)
Black Diamond (Eric Singer lead vocal)
Detroit Rock City

Encore:
Beth (Eric Singer lead vocal)
(Donation check presentation for supporting our troops followed by the Pledge of Allegiance)
Lick It Up
Shout It Out Loud
I Was Made For Loving You (with Paul flying stunt)
God Gave Rock ‘N Roll To You II
Rock And Roll All Nite

The show at Mohegan was the exact same show as the one in Mansfield and primarily the same show they are doing across North America. There were a couple of things of note: Paul Stanley’s voice was a little raspier compared to the Mansfield show and I thought the solo section by Eric & Tommy was a little less exciting than at Mansfield. I’ve noticed that the rest of the band have handled most, if not all, the backing vocals at the last couple of concerts I’ve seen, maybe that’s a way to conserve some of Paul’s voice? I think Paul is trying too hard with some of the higher shrieks he attempts during his between song raps with the crowd and that could be doing more damage than good. The again, Paul is getting closer to 60 yrs old! Also, I always like an arena show better than an amphitheater show but the crowd at Mohegan Sun wasn’t as loud or wild compared to the outdoor crowd at the Comcast Center. There was also another check presentation on stage to the Wounded Warriors Foundation showing the updated total of $184,743 donated. Outside of those few differences, the show was exactly the same. It was another good performance by the band, and even though I’m in favor of the original four members, I think this lineup with Eric Singer & Tommy Thayer is a solid performing band. Both guys did a great job playing and their vocals were really good for ‘Shock Me’, ‘Black Diamond’ and ‘Beth’. The band performed ‘Beth’ again acoustically with Eric on vocals and I was really impressed again. Gene Simmons also really put on a solid performance, I thought his vocals were really great and he had a ton of energy. With Paul’s voice faltering a bit, it’s good to hear Gene sound so good…..back in 2003 and 2004 it was Paul who was stronger and gene who was weaker.

Like I said before, the concert was great, I don’t ever get sick of seeing KISS perform! I thought the three songs from SONIC BOOM came off well live again and hearing ‘Crazy Crazy Nights’ a second time this tour was awesome. I’m a KISS diehard so the entire setlist was great but there were some KISS klassics that were highlights again: ‘Lick It Up’, ‘Shout It Out Loud’, ‘Detroit Rock City’, ‘Black Diamond’, ‘Cold Gin, ‘Firehouse’ and ‘Rock And Roll All Nite’. It was nice to see another solid performance from the band because this is was the last New England area show on this tour and it could be another couple of years before they come around again, maybe with a new record?

Tuesday night I finally had the opportunity to see one of my favorite bands for the first time…..after 27 years, I finally got to see Night Ranger in concert! I have been a Night Ranger fan since the band’s debut album, DAWN PATROL, was released in 1982 and I caught the first video for ‘Don’t Tell Me You Love Me’. Once the band released their second album, MIDNIGHT MADNESS (1983), I was hooked! I grew up with FM radio and MTV and the three singles from that album were everywhere: ‘(You Can Still) Rock In America’, ‘When You Close Your Eyes’ and ‘Sister Christian’. Add in albums like 7 Wishes (1985) and BIG LIFE (1987) and Night Ranger rocked me through the ’80s…..but I never saw them in concert. Times change and when the ’90s came, I lost touch of Night Ranger until I got back into fanzines, and got connected to the Internet in the Fall of 1998, that’s when I became tuned into their new albums NEVERLAND (1997) and SEVEN (1998) but I still missed opportunities to see the band live. As it turns out, Night Ranger visits Mohegan Sun every year and I have never gone! If it wasn’t for my friend giving me the heads up, and a well timed week’s vacation, I might have missed out again!

Night Ranger setlist:

This Boy Needs To Rock (w/part of Deep Purple’s ‘Highway Star’)
Sing Me Away
You’re Gonna Hear From Me
Rumours In The Air
Coming Of Age (Damn Yankees cover)
Crazy Train (Ozzy Osbourne cover)
The Secret Of My Success

(A quick jam of partial songs from each member’s first concert)
The Doors – ‘Roadhouse Blues’ (Kelly Keagy)
Led Zeppelin – ‘Rock ‘n’ Roll’ (Brad Gillis)
Iron Maiden – ‘The Trooper’ (Joel Hoekstra)
Van Halen – ‘Jump’ (Christian Cullen)
Jimi Hendrix – ‘Purple Haze’ (Jack Blades)

Sentimental Street (w/keyboard solo intro)
Eddie’s Comin’ Out Tonight
High Enough (Damn Yankess cover)
Four In The Morning
When You Close Your Eyes
Don’t Tell Me You Love Me

Encore:
Sister Christian
(You Can Still) Rock In America

This was another free show at the Wolf Den in the middle of the Mohegan Sun Casino, that meant standing in line for few hours if we wanted to actually get inside because capacity is 400. The Wolf Den is more of a lounge than an arena with it’s tables and bar but many people do get up at the front of the stage on the floor. My friend and I got a late start to the casino but we had plenty of time for a great dinner and we got in line with about an hour until showtime. One thing I knew from the Ace Frehley concert in March was, if the Wolf Den was full, people would be standing outside the arena in the open views from the slot machines. We were in line about 15 minutes when I saw an usher start to talk to people at the front…..turns out the Den was full and we were all on standby! That was my cue to take up residence on the outside railing of the arena with full view of the stage. If it wasn’t for the waist high log barrier, we would have been about 10-12 rows back, stage right corner!

The show was great! Night Ranger played a set full of hit singles like ‘Sing Me Away’, ‘Four In The Morning’. ‘Sentimental Street’ and ‘When You Close Your Eyes’ and they threw in a deep track from 7 WISHES, ‘This Boy Needs To Rock’, and a song from their last album HOLE IN THE SUN (1998), ‘You’re Gonna Hear From Me’. All the Night Ranger songs got a ton of applause, it’s amazing to remember just how many hits and radio singles these guys got back in the day, but the two songs that got a HUGE round of cheers were the two Damn Yankees songs: ‘Coming Of Age’ & ‘High Enough’. Going into the show I hadn’t checked the setlist online so I had no idea they played some Damn Yankees. I’m not surprised they pulled those two out, they were big hits for Jack Blades in the early ’90s and they fit perfectly in the Night Ranger set. The band was tight, played great and looked to be having a great time on stage.

The band included a few surprises by doing a few partial covers and a full performance of Ozzy’s ‘Crazy Train’. Opening song ‘This Boy Needs To Rock’ had a quick partial performance of Deep Purple’s ‘Highway Star’ and introduced their cover of ‘Crazy Train’ by reminding everyone that Brad Gillis replaced the late Randy Rhoads on tour and played on the live album SPEAK OF THE DEVIL (1982)…..hearing Gillis’ version of ‘Crazy Train’ was flawless and the band did a solid job. Midway through the set, the band started talking about their first concerts and they went to each member and played a partial cover from each band. This took a few minutes, and I would have preferred another Night Ranger song, but the band were enjoying themselves and the crowd gave good applause for the quick pieces of ‘Roadhouse Blues’, ‘Rock ‘n’Roll’, ‘The Trooper’, ‘Jump’ and ‘Purple Haze’. Normally I would go on about my dislike of covers but Night Ranger only put in partial performances, and the ‘Crazy Train’ cover was really good, so I didn’t mind like I usually do. The encore was perfect…..the band’s biggest hit, ‘Sister Christian’, and their anthem, ‘(You Can Still) Rock In America’…..a great way to end the show!

You couldn’t ask for more, the band played all their hits (although ‘Goodbye’ was missing!) and their more popular album tracks. I thought it was great to include the two Damn Yankees hits and I was psyched to hear a song from the band’s most recent album. I would have easily traded ‘Crazy Train’ and the mid-set covers jam for ‘Goodbye’ or a couple of songs from either NEVERLAND (1997) or SEVEN (1998) but they weren’t as intrusive live as they would be on a new studio album. Fifteen songs and a covers jam packed into a solid 90 minute performance with a good crowd, can’t beat that! All in all, a great concert…..and it was FREE! Too bad I had to wait 27 years to finally see Night Ranger live…..that won’t happen again!

I went to see my favorite band, KISS, in concert Saturday night at the Comcast Center…..this made the 17th time I have seen the band live. What made this concert special was that my wife, my two daughters, my two best friends and my best friend’s son were there to tailgate in the parking lot and enjoy the show. Everyone had a good time in the parking lot, especially my daughters, take a look at a few pictures from our tailgate…..we stopped a few fans that dressed up for some pictures.

The opening bands were The Academy Is and The Envy but there was also a third opener from Boston called Switchblade Suicide that won a Guitar Center contest to open the show. We didn’t bother going in for the openers so the kids wouldn’t get too tired, plus we had no idea who any of these bands were. Normally I am in the arena for all the bands but I’m going to see KISS again on 8/19 at Mohegan Sun so I will see some of them at that show. We got in, got all the tour shirts and got to the seats.

KISS setlist:

Modern Day Delilah
Cold Gin
Let Me Go Rock ‘n’ Roll
Firehouse  (with Gene Simmons breathing fire)
Say Yeah
Deuce
Crazy Crazy Nights
Calling Dr. Love
Shock Me  (Tommy Thayer lead vocal)
(Guitar & Drum solo from Tommy Thayer & Eric Singer)
I’m An Animal
100,000 Years
(Bass solo, blood-spitting and flying from Gene Simmons)
I Love It Loud
Love Gun
(Guitar intro/solo from Paul Stanley featuring ‘Whole Lotta Love’)
Black Diamond (Eric Singer lead vocal)
Detroit Rock City

Encore:
Beth (Eric Singer lead vocal)
(Donation check presentation for supporting our troops followed by the Pledge of Allegiance)
Lick It Up
Shout It Out Loud
I Was Made For Loving You (with Paul flying stunt)
God Gave Rock ‘N Roll To You II
Rock And Roll All Nite

We were about 30 rows from the stage, great seats. My oldest daughter was pumped up because she is now a Rock concert veteran having seen KISS in Boston last October and Twisted Sister last November. My wife hadn’t seen KISS since 2004 when they toured with Poison but the night belonged to my youngest daughter going to her first Rock concert. There was no one more excited than her to see KISS but when the first concussion bomb/firework went off, she was done. That was enough for here…..one song and out! My wife anticipated this so she took her to the grass lawn but by the end of ‘Cold Gin’ they were on their way to the car for a rest. I was a little disappointed because there were younger kids there but you never know how children will react to anything. Unfortunately, they missed a great show (my wife insisted my oldest daughter and I stay) but my youngest daughter was satisfied, she had seen KISS come out on stage and play a song. My wife was lucky because she heard the entire show from the parking lot because we were parked close to the arena. Aside from my daughter’s reaction, all went smooth for the show. My oldest daughter and I had a blast. My best friend and his son were two sections to my right and my other best friend bought his ticket that morning and was in the 9th row! We were six rows behind the soundboard and the mini-stage that Paul Stanley flies to during ‘I Was Made For Loving You’, dead center, so we had awesome seats. As far as the arena went, you could see that the lawn seats and grass lawn were spotty but it looked like the seating under the pavilion was packed, I estimate that they played to about 9000 fans, maybe 10,000…..not a sellout but a solid crowd.

The last tour was the ALIVE 35 Tour but this was THE HOTTEST SHOW ON EARTH Tour so the setlist was changed a little: the band played 21 songs total and only 11 were in the previous tour’s setlist. There were three new songs from their latest record SONIC BOOM (‘Modern Day Delilah’, ‘Say Yeah’ & ‘I’m An Animal’) and they dusted off ‘Crazy Crazy Nights’, ‘Shock Me’ and an acoustic version of ‘Beth’ with both Tommy Thayer and Eric Singer handling the lead vocals very well. I was at the CRAZY NIGHTS show in Providence, RI way back on 12/12/1987 so it was a real treat to hear ‘Crazy Crazy Nights’ after 22+ years and it’s also my daughter’s favorite KISS song so you know how she reacted. The band sounded great and I’m not just saying that because I’m a KISS diehard, I really thought that this lineup with Eric and Tommy put on a solid show musically and visually. I’m a KISS fan that prefers the makeup stay on Ace Frehley and Peter Criss but Tommy and Eric do a solid job, especially on the vocals! I thought that adding ‘Shock Me’ and ‘Beth’ (both Ace & Peter’s signature songs) were a huge mistake and sacrilegious but both members did a good job living up to the standard both Ace and Peter have set. Also, I thought that Eric did a solid job in singing ‘Black Diamond’ and the joint guitar/drum solo was one of the better ones I have heard in all my years of going to see KISS. Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley were right on the money as far as their performances and I thought that they were definitely better and more energized than when I saw them last October. At the ALIVE 35 Boston show, Paul’s voice sounded strained and hoarse but this time around he sounded a lot better. There were a few rough spots on the higher notes but the guy has been one of the better, and underrated, Rock singers for about 36 years…..I hope I move and sound that good when I am 58 years old!

There were a ton of highlights in the set…..I thought the three new songs were great live and it was good to hear people around us singing along. Paul Stanley was able to give the album a funny plug before ‘Say Yeah’ as “being available at Wal-Mart”. There were a lot of KISS klassics like ‘Firehouse’, ‘Deuce’ and ‘Black Diamond’ but the highlight of the show for my daughter and I (aside from ‘Crazy Crazy Nights’) was the triple attack of ‘Lick It Up’, ‘Shout It Out Loud’ and ‘I Was Made For Loving You’. There is something uniquely satisfying about your daughter singing every word louder than you! If my youngest daughter had made it through the show there is no doubt in my mind that the whole family would have sung along together because these are the tunes they know by heart. As I mentioned before, we were 6 rows from the mini-stage that Paul Stanley flies to so when he came out for ‘I Was Made For Loving You’, both my daughter and I got an up close performance…..my wife would have loved that too. You also can’t have a KISS concert without their signature song and ‘Rock And Roll All Nite’ brought the house down with all the confetti, fireworks, lights and special effects…..a truly visual experience! I had a blast, my daughter had a blast and, when we got to the car, we found out that my wife and youngest daughter had fun too. All in all, it was a great night for the family.

Here is some footage I found on Youtube to give you an idea of what the show was like.

It’s been a few months since I caught a live concert but it was definitely worth the wait because, after years of waiting, I finally got to see the Michael Schenker Group in concert! Michael Schenker has been one of my favorite guitarists for years but I always seem to come up short when he comes close to the New England area. I’ve had a couple of opportunities to see him in New York on the last couple of tours but something always came up to stop me from going…..this time around I wasn’t going to miss the show, billed as the MSG 30th Anniversary World Tour. The Showcase Live is about 15 mins from my house so I bought a ticket as soon as the show was announced. The venue is located in the Patriot Place complex that surrounds Gillette Stadium (home of the New England Patriots). I have never been in the Showcase Live but I have heard it was a cool place for a show.

I got to the arena around 7:30pm (showtime was 8pm) and it was nice to see plenty of people hanging around outside with a wide range of MSG and UFO tour shirts. Once I bought my tour shirt ($25 is more than reasonable!) and went in I was a bit shocked to see a real large crowd that got bigger as the night went on! Foxboro, MA is about 20 minutes from Providence, RI, about an hour from Boston, MA  and Hartford, CT so it is an ideal venue smack in the heart of New England. I talked to a lot of people and it turns out that people came from a lot of other states like Maine, New Hamphire, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania…..this was a serious event! The opening band was a newer act from Sweden, Sister Sin. As I would find out later, Sister Sin has been around since 2003 but they got worldwide exposure with the release of their second full-length album SWITCHBLADE SERENADES in 2008. The band opened pretty much on time and ran through a 7 song/30 minute set that was full of energy and plenty of Metal that reminded me of a combination of early Motley Crue with a NWOBHM influence. I was impressed with the performance and it was nice to meet up with the band after the concert at their merchandise table.

Michael Schenker Group setlist:

Armed And Ready
Cry For The Nations
Let Sleeping Dogs Lie
Ready To Rock
I Want You
A Night To Remember
Carmine Appice drum solo
Into The Arena
Lost Horizons
Rock My Nights Away
On And On
Lights Out
Attack Of The Mad Axeman

Encore:
Ride On My Way
Rock Bottom

2nd Encore:
Doctor Doctor

Are you kidding me?! What a setlist! I knew that the band was going to concentrate of the first couple of albums with Gary Barden but I had forgotten just how powerful these songs are…..they have more impact now that I have heard them live. It was great to finally hear classics like ‘Armed And Ready’, ‘On And On’ and ‘Attack Of The Mad Axeman’ in concert but I was also glad to hear the band play a few newer songs from IN THE MIDST OF BEAUTY (2008) like ‘A Night To Remember’ and ‘I Want You’. I thought the newer songs fit right in with the classics and I heard more than a few fans singing right along word for word. It was good to hear the classic Schenker/Barden team on stage and Carmine Appice added a thunderous drum sound to the performance. You could tell that the band were having a good time playing both the old and the new and there was a real good energy coming from the stage. Unfortunately, there was a bit of trouble with the sound because there were times that Gary was completely lost in the mix, couldn’t hear him at all near the bar area, but things got a little better as the show moved on. Of course, the highlights were the classics and the crowd got louder for the UFO songs, especially as Gary Barden introduced “a song that is Michael’s legacy”…..’Lights Out’. I had secured a good spot for Sister Sin in the bar area near the soundboard, a perfect view, but I needed to get closer to see Michael. As the show progressed, I was able to make it up front to Michael’s side of the stage so I could see the man work his magic up close. Truly amazing! I was able to make it up to Michael’s side by ‘Lights Out’ and I was blown away. Same thing for ‘Rock Bottom’ during the first encore, watching Michael play that classic solo was one of the best live moments I’ve seen in 25 years of attending concerts. I honestly thought the night was over but the band returned for one last song, ‘Doctor Doctor’ and that brought the place down! A truly classic show from the arena, to the setlist, to the performance! Definitely worth the wait.

Here’s a video from the show that I found on Youtube of the set opener ‘Armed And Ready’:

Please visit the official Michael Schenker website for more tour dates and information.