Ace Frehley in concert at the Mohegan Sun Wolf Den (Uncasville, CT) – 3/19/10

Nothing is better than a concert by one of your favorite bands…..and it’s even better when it’s FREE! I went to the Mohegan Sun Casino Friday night to catch Ace Frehley live in concert at the Wolf Den. For those of you who haven’t been, the Wolf Den is an intimate club that sits right in the heart of the casino surrounded by the sounds of slot machines and gaming tables. The Wolf Den holds about 400 people and it usually brings in some of the better known Hard Rock acts. Earlier in the month, Kix played there and Helix is coming in April! A lot of tribute acts get on that stage and play for the casino patrons as well.

Being a KISS fan, I knew that an Ace Frehley solo show would bring tons of New England KISS fans to the casino so my friend and I got there for 3:30 in the afternoon (showtime was 8pm), had a nice meal at one of the buffets, and got in line around 5pm. As predicted, the KISS Army came out in force. We counted and we were within the first 50 people but the line stretched to over the 400 capacity. The cool thing about the Wolf Den is that it is primarily open so you can see the show from the casino floor, there were people three deep around the arena and many fans took over slot machines close by to take in the show. We had a great table inside, very close to the stage with a perfect view, so I didn’t run down to the front when Ace and the band came on. Ace was joined by Scot Coogan (drums/vocals) and Anthony Esposito (bass/vocals), who both played on his new record, ANOMALY, as well as, new guitarist Todd Youth.

Ace Frehley setlist:

Intro – Fractured Mirror
Rocket Ride
Parasite
Snow Blind
Sister
Pain In The Neck
Into The Void
Speedin’ Back To My Baby
Rock Soldiers
Love Her All I Can
Talk To Me
2000 Man
Strange Ways
New York Groove
Rip It Out
Hard Times
Shock Me
Ace guitar solo (w/smoking guitar)
Let Me Know outro
Shout It Out Loud

Encore:
Deuce
Love Gun
Cold Gin

This was a great concert…..a KISS diehard’s dream! Ace and his band came out and put on an energetic show full of Ace solo and KISS classics. Not surprisingly, Ace and the band focused on most KISS material that featured Ace either as lead singer or primary songwriter. It was extremely cool to hear deep tracks like ‘Rocket Ride’, ‘Strange Ways’, ‘Hard Times’ and ‘Talk To Me’, songs that were rarely played live by KISS during their ’70s heyday. Ace also pulled out 4 songs from his 1978 KISS solo record (‘New York Groove’, ‘Rip It Out’, ‘Speedin’ Back To My Baby’, ‘Snow Blind’) and 2 brand new songs off ANOMALY (‘Sister’ & ‘Pain In The Neck’) but one of the most gratifying songs of the set for me was ‘Rock Soldiers’ from the first Frehley’s Comet album…..to this day, Frehley’s Comet is one of my all-time favorite bands. The ’78 solo album songs were great also, the Ace album was my favorite by the four members and it was so cool to finally hear ‘Rip It Out’ and ‘Snow Blind’ live. I thought ‘Sister’ came out great live and Ace announced that this was the first performance of ‘Pain In The Neck’ ever so we got a little extra KISStory at the show. The audience was mostly KISS fans so all the KISS classics got huge ovations, as did the entire set. ‘Parasite’, ‘Shock Me’ and ‘Shout It Out Loud’ were all great but the encore really brought the house down with cool versions of ‘Deuce’, ‘Love Gun’ and ‘Cold Gin’. Ace also managed to get in a great guitar solo complete with his signature smoking guitar and then he was joined by the band to complete the ‘Let Me Know’ outro solo with the signature KISS moves…..something that got the crowd really going! What a show! Ace and the band played 20 songs in an hour and 45 minutes, including an extended guitar solo and the opening into tape of ‘Fractured Mirror’ from the ’78 solo record…..so it was really 22 songs worth of time! You can’t ask for much more! It was a great show at a great venue for a great price…..FREE!

Definitely catch Ace on tour if you can…..check out Ace Frehley.com for tour dates.

Hammerfall (with Infinite Descent, Frozen and Powerglove) in concert at The Palladium (Worcester, MA) – 3/6/10

On Saturday night I made the 45 minute drive up to The Palladium in Worcester, MA to catch one of my favorite bands from the last 15 years…..Hammerfall!

I got into Hammerfall in late 1997 when I saw the GLORY TO THE BRAVE CD in the Import Section of my favorite record store and I took a chance. 13 years later…..I have bought every Hammerfall album (except 2008’s MASTERPIECES) and have hoped I would get the chance to see them in concert. Back in 2005, Hammerfall toured the U.S. including a stop at The Palladium but I missed it. At the time I was working at a new job and I hadn’t been there long so I probably didn’t go because I didn’t want to make waves asking for a night off to see a Metal show. This time around I took the day off way in advance! I hadn’t been to a show at The Palladium in years so I forgot what it was like…..it’s a great old theater with a general admission floor and it definitely gets all the good Metal shows regularly including the annual New England Metal & Hardcore Festival. I was flying solo so my plan was to get in, get a drink, grab my Hammerfall tour shirt and find a stool in the bar area to watch the opening acts from.

All the opening bands were local Massachusetts Metal bands and this was my first time seeing any of them so I was hoping to hear some cool music and maybe check out a CD or two. First band on was Infinite Descent and they played close to 30 minutes of some really good Progressive/Thrash/Death Metal that all I could immeadiately compare them to was Arch Enemy. A lot of that has to do with lead vocalist Olivia Berka being similar to Angela Gossow with her aggressive vocals but it was her mixing of the clean vocals that hooked me right away. The other cool thing was the band gave away inflatable swords that the kids on the floor used during their moshing battle. I was going to hit the band’s merchandise stand for a copy of their demo but guitarist Rob Gil was handing them out to the crowd after the band’s set…..a good way to meet some of the fans.

Next up was Frozen, another Progressive/Thrash/Death Metal band from Massachusetts that was very aggressive but also very eclectic. There were a ton of different styles the band threw out including modern heavy Rock and musical themes from ’80s Nintendo games so it was an interesting set. I was going to pick up a CD (the band has two releases) but I never made it over to their merch stand because I didn’t want to lose my prime viewing spot.

Last opener was Powerglove and they got the biggest ovation from the crowd. Powerglove is from the Boston area and they play “video game Metal”: the band takes video game music and creates a metallic version. (You may recognize their band name, taken from the old Nintendo glove controller, the Power Glove.) Songs based on Mario, Dr. Robotnik (from Sonic the Hedgehog), Power Rangers, Mortal Kombat, Tetris and Final Fantasy were featured through their set that also included stage props, full costumes and foam swords that they sold and threw into the pit so the fans could “do battle”. You would think that the previous two aggressive bands would get the crowd whipped to a frenzy but these guys were obvious favorites and they had a full floor area moshing, battling and banging their heads. I was completely taken off guard by how good the band was so I went over to their booth on the way out and paid only $17 to get both the band’s CDs. Definitely the most interesting and entertaining of all the openers but I’d say this was one of the better local lineups I’ve seen in a long time.

Hammerfall setlist:

Punish & Enslave
Crimson Thunder
Renegade
Hallowed Be Thy Name
Last Man Standing
Blood Bound
Life Is Now
Heeding The Call
Rebel Inside
The Dragon Lies Bleeding
Between Two Worlds
Any Means Necessary
Stronger Than All

Encore:
Riders Of The Storm
Secrets
Let The Hammer Fall
Hearts On Fire

Like I said before, Hammerfall played The Palladium back in 2005 and I didn’t get to the show, there was no way I was missing the band this time around! Who knows if it will take another 5 years for them to return? My favorite Hammerfall album is their second, LEGACY OF KINGS (1998), so I was hoping to hear a few songs from that, as well as, some new songs. Old school Hammerfall (the first 3 records) is what I like best and I haven’t really focused heavily on a new Hammerfall record since their third with RENEGADE in 200, the subsequent releases were bought and listened to but I put them down quickly. On the ride up to Worcester, I listened to the new album, NO SACRIFICE, NO VICTORY (2009) and CRIMSON THUNDER (2004)…..the new album gets better everytime I hear it and I had forgotten just how good CRIMSON THUNDER was!

The venue was packed and the band came out to the heavy as hell ‘Punish & Enslave’ from the latest album…..from there it was full speed ahead! Every Hammerfall album was represented by at least one song in the 17 song set with the NO SACRIFICE album getting five played live. All the new songs fit into the set well around all the classic material and the highlights for me were all of them but the standout songs were ‘Between Two Worlds’ and ‘Hallowed Be Thy Name’. The band played some classic songs from their earlier era, especially from the LEGACY album, and that had me completely psyched. I finally got to hear ‘The Dragon Lies Bleeding’, ‘Renegade’ and ‘Let The Hammer Fall’ live! Another 5 songs came from the 2004-2005 era, when the band last played the U.S., off CRIMSON THUNDER and CHAPTER V: UNBENT, UNBOWED, UNBROKEN (2005). I never really got into CHAPTER V but I had given it a re-listen a few days before the show and I was surprised at how good it sounded now so it was cool to get the first two songs off that album (‘Secrets’ & ‘Blood Bound’) live. The crowd went nuts the entire time, especially for the classics off the first three albums, but the intensity was at it’s highest for the CRIMSON THUNDER songs ‘Crimson Thunder’, ‘Riders Of The Storm and the set ending ‘Hearts On Fire’.

The band looked like they were having a great time on stage and they were full of energy, Worcester was the second show of the tour so they were probably pumped way up to be back in the U.S. Joacim Cans sounded so great live, his vocals were so good that he sounded almost exactly like the albums…..he has definitely moved up on my favorite singers list! Fredrik Larrson (who played bass on the first record) was back and teamed up superbly with drummer Anders Johannson while guitarist Oscar Drojnak had a blistering guitar and seemed to be having more fun than the crowd! Even though each band member was excellent I have to say that the newest member, guitarist Pontus Norgren, stood out the most aside from Joacim Cans. Many of you may have heard of Pontus through his solo work, his work with Jeff Scott Soto on his solo stuff and in Humanimal or through his various studio & production work. Needless to say, Pontus is a seriously talented musician…..he plays great guitar (very melodic) and his vocal harmonies are a perfect fit for the Hammerfall sound. I found myself watching him for most of the set to see how he would handle the older material vs. the new songs, I say he did an excellent job.

The band was so good, so passionate about Metal and the fans, that I left the show on a huge high note. You couldn’t help it after the band tore into ‘Hearts On Fire’ to end the set, they had the crowd so frenzied that they could have easily pulled out another 2 or 3 songs and it would have been even better. We got 17 songs that represented all their albums with perfect playing and respect for the fans…..that’s about all you can ask from a concert. If anyone has the chance to check out the Hammerfall tour, I fully recommend buying a ticket! The band kicked my ass back into gear and now I am ready for the next big concert and I’ve been listening to all sorts of Metal non-stop: no TV, no sports talk radio, no video games…..just Heavy Metal!

Twisted Sister w/Chain Drive, Woodland Creatures & View Of A Burning City in concert at the Plymouth Memorial Hall (Plymouth, MA) – 11/6/09

Twisted Sister - 11-6-09

Twisted Fucking Sister!!!

Last night I took my daughter to Plymouth, MA to see her favorite band, and one of mine from back in the day…..Twisted Sister. I found out about the concert back in May and bought the tickets immeadiately because Twisted Sister really doesn’t play that many gigs each year. The show was originally scheduled for September 12 but a postponement due to injury brought us to last night at the Plymouth Memorial Hall.

There were three local opening bands before the main event: Chain Drive, Woodland Creatures and View Of A Burning City. I knew nothing about any of the openers but I kind of figured that they would all be Rock bands. Chain Drive was the first band to play and they were pretty good…..melodic Hard Rock played with a lot of energy and obvious talent. I was so impressed by their set that I meant to go to their merch table and pick up a CD if they had them…..unfortunately, I left right after Twisted Sister so I never got a CD. Good solid Hard Rock though, I can’t say enough about them. I noticed a DJ turntable onstage when we made it to our seats initially so I was a little worried that one of the bands was Rap-Rock or Nu-Metal and I was right. Woodland Creatures was like a bad Linkin Park/Papa Roach/Limp Bizkit imitation. I don’t like Rap-Metal so I didn’t care for any of the Rap music these guys pulled off. The shining moment of their set was when my section jointly gave them the finger…..the band was completely out of it’s element. Last band was View Of A Burning City and they were one of those screaming Hardcore/Metal bands that you couldn’t understand at all. They had the craziest bassist, who played in his black socks, that always looked like he was going to fall over! At least they were Metal of some sort and I did pick up their CD & T-shirt combo for $5…..yes, I said $5! Of all the openers the clear winner was Chain Drive.

Twisted Sister setlist:

Stay Hungry
We’re Not Gonna Take It
Burn In Hell
Horror-terria (The Beginning):
a) Captain Howdy
b) Street Justice
I Wanna Rock
The Price
Don’t Let Me Down
The Beast (w/drum solo)
S.M.F.

Encore:
Come Out And Play
30
Under The Blade
You Can’t Stop Rock ‘n’ Roll

Twisted Sister is celebrating the 25th Anniversary of STAY HUNGRY and they are doing what bands like Judas Priest and Motley Crue are doing by playing their iconic album in it’s entirety. What a show to see! Dee Snider said that, after this show in Plymouth, some of these songs would never be played again so it was a great performance to see. My daughter’s favorite album is STAY HUNGRY, and she knows it word for word, so singing along with Dee and my daughter was pretty cool. I forgot a few of the words but my daughter put on a flawless performance! So did the band! Twisted Sister ripped through all 10 songs off the album as if they were playing them back in 1984. The whole album was a highlight for me but finally hearing ‘Burn In Hell’, ‘The Price’ and ‘Stay Hungry’ live along with the Hard Rock anthems ‘I Wanna Rock’, ‘S.M.F.’ and ‘We’re Not Gonna Take It’ was mind blowing. Of course the band had the audience in the palm of their hands, there was a ton of energy coming from the audience. There were families, diehard SMFs, Metal fans, Goth rockers, Rappers and people that looked like they were out for dinner and a movie…..all these people were raising their fists and shouting “I wanna rock!” at the tops of their lungs.

The band left the stage after they finished the STAY HUNGRY seet but came back quickly for an awesome encore of three album title tracks and their new song ’30’ (off the new STAY HUNGRY 25th Anniversary reissue), that Dee said had never been played live before. Very cool! My daughter was on edge when she knew Twisted Sister had a new song so she made sure I bought my STAY HUNGRY reissue and burned it into her iPod…..she knew the song better than anyone else besides Dee himself! I knew they would play ‘You Can’t Stop Rock ‘n’ Roll’ for the final song but it was a treat to get ‘Come Out And Play’ and ‘Under The Blade’. My daughter and I had our hopes up for some other classics like ‘Bad Boys (of Rock ‘n’ Roll)’ and ‘Destroyer’ from UNDER THE BLADE (1982) and ‘Be Chrool To Your Scuel’ from COME OUT AND PLAY (1985) but the band played a short set (14 songs) but a powerful one. I can’t complain about the set at all because it was like travelling back in time for me and it was a dream come true for my daughter. I left the arena last night with a new respect for a things Twisted Sister and became a bigger fan than I already was. If anyone has the chance to catch any of their shows, go for it! It may sound like I’m gushing about the show but it was seriously that great, probably one of the best shows I’ve seen in the last 10 years!

KISS and Buckcherry in concert at TD Garden (Boston, MA) – 10/5/09

Nothing is better than seeing your favorite band in concert and that was surely the case Monday night as I went to the KISS concert up in Boston at TD Garden (formerly the Boston Garden). There were a few factors that made this concert special:

  1. This was the first time KISS has properly toured the U.S. since 2004.
  2. It had been 11 years since KISS’ last appearance at the Garden, the last was the 2 opening shows on the PSYCHO CIRCUS tour in November 1998.
  3. The first tour featuring new material since PSYCHO CIRCUS in 1998.
  4. My 11 yr. old daughter was finally going to see the band, the spectacle, that her daddy had been telling her about since birth.

Armed with tickets, cash for t-shirts, and a love for all things KISS, My best friend, my daughter and I made our way to Boston for the KISS show on the eve of the release of the band’s new studio album SONIC BOOM.

First thing I noticed was that this was going to be a diehards’ show. The last time the band played the Garden, they sold out 2 nights with the original lineup including Ace Frehley and Peter Criss. The band had just come off a 2 year world tour for their reunion so interest in KISS was still at a high. 11 years and 3 more tours later and interest in the band is slightly waning. There wasn’t the usual huge crowd roaming the sidewalks on Boston or the concourses in the arena, it was a big crowd but you could tell it wasn’t going to be a sellout. The second thing I noticed was the souveneirs or lack there of. Usually, the KISS machine has a ton of good and different choices for shirts, hats, posters, etc. I was a little disappointed by the selection and I was hoping for a little more SONIC BOOM representation, most of the merchandise was for the ALIVE 35 Tour. It is the 35th anniversary of KISS and they’ve toured on that platform in other parts of the world so they are continuing it on this leg of the tour, I’m expecting a SONIC BOOM tour when the band announces their second U.S. leg in the Spring and/or Summer. The good news is that we had awesome seats on the Gene side of the stage and my daughter was extremely excited.

Buckcherry setlist:

Tired Of You
Next 2 You
Lit Up
Out Of Line
Talk To Me
Rescue Me
Highway Star
Everything
Sorry
Crazy Bitch

I’ve seen Buckcherry in concert back when they opened for AC/DC on the STIFF UPPER LIP Tour back in 2001 and they were very good. I have been a Buckcherry fan before most people even knew who they were. I remember reading a review in a ‘zine back in 1997 on their self-titled debut and I picked it up right away. This is before ‘Lit Up’ went to radio and they became the “next big thing”. The band was complete high energy and had the crowd going but I could have done with a more diverse setlist. Half the set was from their 2006 release, 15, and three tunes came from the current BLACK BUTTERFLY. That only leaves two songs for older material and everyone knew they were playing ‘Lit Up’, I was a little disappointed by the cover of Deep Purple’s ‘Highway Star’ but I understand they have to promote their affiliation with NASCAR. The best part of ‘Highway Star’ was when the 20-somethings in front of us were raving about how cool this “new” Buckcherry song was and my 11 yr. old daughter  told them it was a Deep Purple song. I’m a proud father! I kind of expected a few more from BLACK BUTTERFLY, especially ‘Too Drunk’, but you have to capitalize on success any way you can and 15 was a great (self-released) comeback for the band.

KISS setlist:

King Of The Night Time World
Deuce
Got To Choose
Modern Day Delilah
Hotter Than Hell (w/fire breathing)
I Stole Your Love
C’mon And Love Me
Parasite
She (w/guitar solo & rockets)
Watchin’ You
100,000 Years (w/drum solo)
I Love It Loud (w/bass solo, blood spitting & Gene flying)
Black Diamond (w/’Stairway To Heaven’ intro & Eric Singer on lead vocals)
Rock And Roll All Nite

Encore:
Shout It Out Loud
Lick It Up
Let Me Go, Rock ‘N’ Roll
Love Gun (w/Paul Stanley flying)
Detroit Rock City

Like I said, nothing is better than seeing your favorite band in concert. The problem is that your enjoyment can cloud your opinion of the overall performance. There were plenty of people after the show saying it was the best KISS show they had seen…..this was my 16th KISS show and I can honestly say that this wasn’t their best performance. It wasn’t terrible but this concert didn’t live up to the standards the band has set since the Reunion Tour.

Paul Stanley billed the show as “a night of KISS Klassics” and the setlist was a combination of ALIVE & ALIVE II. Unfortunately there weren’t any surprises in the set, all the songs they played with the exception of ‘Modern Day Delilah’ have been rotated in and out of the set since 1996. The diehards like myself love hearing ‘Parasite’, ‘She’, and ‘Got To Choose’ but a truly special night would have been if they pulled out a couple tracks they never play, something they did back in 2004. The other thing I didn’t like was that they basically ignore the ’80s material except for ‘I Love It Loud’ and ‘Lick It Up’…..let’s hear something else from the ’80s and not ignore a pivotal and successful era of KISS! All complaints aside, I sang every word and cheered for every song. I’m a KISS fan and I still enjoyed the show. At least they pulled ‘Calling Dr. Love’ from the set, I can’t stand that song!

The stage was massive as was the giant video screen. The fireworks, bombs and fire all worked with perfection as did all the stunts and gimmicks. My problem was with the stage moves. Tommy Thayer is a talented guitarist and a good fit for the band but does he have to try and imitate all of Ace Frehley’s moves? I understand he has to play like Ace but does he have to do the staggering and off-balance walking too? Ace Frehley actually walked like that in the platform boots in real life and Tommy is doing an imitation, it’s not a character trait or stage move. The stage moves with the band up front swinging their guitars or having Tommy/Ace on his knees playing in front of Gene & Paul all seemed forced. Even Paul’s dance moves looked forced but he gets a pass due to his new hip. Like a true KISS fan, I cheered for all these things anyway. The sound was very good. Musically the band sounded tight and energized but the vocals were a little rough. Most KISS fans know Gene Simmons lost his vocal range back on the 2003 tour but his vocals were pretty good, it was Paul Stanley’s voice that concerned me, it sounded like he was straining and was hoarse. It’s possible that at age 58 he has lost some of his vocal range but he sounded good in 2006 at age 56 on his solo album and tour. My concerns were backed up when I saw the performance the next night on TV during the David Letterman Show. Maybe Paul needed to warm up because he sounded better as the set went on after ‘Modern Day Delilah’ but some of the higher notes were rough. Still, it’s something to worry about when the major person of talent in the band doesn’t perform well. Eric Singer did a solid job singing lead on ‘Black Diamond’ and it was good to hear the new ‘Modern Day Delilah’ live.

Despite my criticism of the performance, I really enjoyed myself. When the band was playing I was pumping my fist and having a great time singing along. My excitement was built up by my daughter’s wide-eyed and jaw dropped reaction to seeing everything happen right before her eyes. She screamed, sang, danced and cheered louder than some of the adults around us…..and that was just for Buckcherry! Everytime KISS did a stunt or lit off their pyro all she could say was “Wow!” My daughter was awestruck and it took me back to when I was a kid and my reaction to seeing KISS for the first time. That alone made the show a whole lot better. This is the first leg of the U.S. tour and I’m sure now that SONIC BOOM is released KISS will do another leg of shows over the Summer. If so, I will be there and I will still enjoy myself. They may be getting older, they may be losing some of their luster, but there is no denying that even an average KISS show is still a great concert.

Heaven & Hell and Coheed & Cambria in concert at the Bank of America Pavilion (Boston, MA) – 8/28/09

I bought my ticket to the Heaven & Hell show back in early May but I wasn’t sure if I was going to make it last night with all the stuff I’ve had going on physically. About 5pm I decided to drag myself behind the wheel and make the hour drive up to Boston for the show. This was going to be my 4th time seeing Heaven & Hell since they reunited back in 2006 and I had 11th row! Can’t pass that up!

Coheed & Cambria setlist:

I’m going to be extremely honest here: I have no idea who these guys are! I’ve seen the albums in the stores, seen the ads in magazines but I’ve never heard one tune by this band. I figured they were a new band but they’ve actually been around since 2002. The band played 50 mins and was a big hit with the younger crowd that was in attendance…..I would say that everyone ages 12-25 new who these guys were. They got a great response from the crowd and I saw a ton of Coheed & Cambria shirts being bought. Maybe these guys are worth checking out?

Heaven & Hell setlist:

E5150
The Mob Rules
Children Of The Sea
I
Bible Black
Time Machine
(Vinny Appice drum solo)
Fear
Falling Off The Edge Of The World
Follow The Tears
(Tony Iommi guitar solo intro)
Die Young
Heaven & Hell (with extended solo)

Encore:
Country Girl
Neon Knights

Like I mentioned, this was the 4th time I was seeing Heaven & Hell since the reformed back in 2006…..I’ve always been a huge Black Sabbath fan, especially post-Ozzy, so hearing the classic Dio-era of the band in concert is a special thing. Call it what you want, it will always be Black Sabbath to me! So I got to my seat right after the Coheed & Cambria set: 11th row and dead center! I was so close I could see Iommi’s fake fingertips! Great seats!

The band started out with ‘The Mob Rules’, an absolute classic, and never stopped. One thing I have to say for the band, they deliver a high powered set that a lot of younger bands could learn from: Ronnie James Dio sounded the best I had heard of all four shows, Tony Iommi played brilliantly and effortlessly, Geezer Butler’s fingers flew up and down his bass and Vinny  Appice is one heavy hitter. You could tell the guys were enjoying themselves, a lot of smiles on the stage last night! Not a lot of talking in between songs, just quick song intros,  just pure Heavy Metal.

The setlist was pretty good but a little short. The band played the mandatory classics like ‘Heaven & Hell’, ‘Children Of The Sea’, and ‘Die Young’ along with three new songs off THE DEVIL YOU KNOW (2009): ‘Bible Black’, ‘Fear’ and ‘Follow The Tears’. I’ve had the new album since it came out and I really like it so it was good to get a few new songs in the set although I was surprised that they didn’t play any of the three songs off the LIVE AT RADIO CITY (2006) album. I figured they would play two tracks from the latest album and give us ‘The Devil Cried’ or ‘Shadow Of the Wind’. The new songs came off well live with great crowd response…..I did notice a run on the CDs at the merchandise stand after the show, a lot of young kids picking up the album!

The only complaint I have in an otherwise flawless performance is that it was too short. I think I say that about every show I go to because I enjoy the music so much but this one was short despite the 95 minute set. Heaven & Hell have some long songs and ‘Children Of The Sea’, ‘Falling Off The Edge Of The World’ and ‘Heaven & Hell’ take up close to a half an hour on their own, especially when you add in some extended soloing from Iommi. The new songs are also on the slower/longer side of things so you got a more quality than quantity…..I’ll definitely take that. Sometimes newer bands try to cram in a ton of songs and they suck performance wise. The encore had a abbreviated ‘Country Girl’ that was almost like a quick intro to the speedy ‘Neon Knights’ but it got a great response. A lot of old school Sabbath fans were commenting after the show that it was a pleasant surprise to hear ‘Country Girl’ live.

I enjoyed the entire show but there is always something that stands out and for me it was the two tracks that the band played from the underrated DEHUMANIZER (1992) album: ‘I’ and ‘Time Machine’. It’s great to see the band embrace their entire catalog and DEHUMANIZER is a great album. I saw Sabbath on that tour also so that album holds a special place in my Metal world alongside HEAVEN & HELL and MOB RULES. ‘I’ has been in the setlist since the reunion in 2006 and the band has seen fit to perform ‘Computer God’ and ‘After All (The Dead)’ at the other shows I’ve seen so getting ‘Time Machine was a complete surprise! Great songs! Great show! RJD mentioned that this show in Boston was the next to last show of the tour so it looks like I’ll have to wait until 2010 or early 2011 to see the band again.

AC/DC, Anvil & The Answer in concert at Gillette Stadium (Foxboro, MA) – 7/28/09

The AC/DC show was the third Heavy Metal concert of the season and fourth show this summer (I went to Billy Joel/Elton John 2 weeks ago at Gillette Stadium). Originally, I wasn’t going to go, I saw AC/DC on the STIFF UPPER LIP Tour years ago and I didn’t really want to pay the $100+ for a decent seat. I ended up getting the fever for the concert when Anvil was added to the bill and ticket deals started popping up on Ticketmaster. I grabbed 2 tickets at $50 each and went with my father-in-law to the show. Great seats: Section 102, Row 18, Seats 14 & 15 (on the aisle)…..2 sections over from my endzone Patriots season tickets!

The Answer setlist:

The tickets said the show started at 6pm so we were in the arena for 5:45pm and I showed my father-in-law the stadium. Around 6:30, The Answer came on…..they played about 30 minutes and there were definitely 6 songs. There was a small crowd and they got a decent reaction. Unfortunately, the two Answer CDs I own are sitting on my desk in a pile of discs I haven’t really listened to yet so I wasn’t familiar with any of the songs. The Answer has an AC/DC-ish sound so they are definitely a good fit for the opening slot on the tour.

Anvil setlist:

March Of The Crabs
This Is Thirteen
666
School Love
Winged Assassins
Race Against Time
White Rhino
Metal On Metal

I have been an Anvil fan for a long time. A lot of people say that nowadays because of the buzz the Anvil movie has created and the backing by VH-1 Classic but I remember listening to FORGED IN FIRE on a record store turntable back in 1983 and I’ve had some of the early albums since they were released. The latest album, THIS IS THIRTEEN (2007), is a great record and it’s getting a re-release this Fall and the band is gaining momentum with heavyweights like AC/DC in their corner. Rumor is that Angus Young himself wanted Anvil added to part of the tour because he thought the Anvil story was incredible! No matter the reasons, Anvil took the stage and I went mental! I missed the band this past April when they played a small venue outside Boston on their movie promotional tour so this was my glory moment.

Lips, Robbo and Glenn 5 tore into the instrumental ‘March Of The Crabs’ and then gave up ‘This Is Thirteen’. I sang every word to the title track and the people behind me thought I was some weirdo. Actually, I sang every word to the entire set! The highlights for me were ‘This Is Thirteen’, ‘Winged Assassins’, ‘School Love’ and ‘Metal On Metal’. I could have done without a second instrumental but ‘White Rhino’ was a Robb Reiner drum solo showcase. I had looked up the band’s Castle Donnington set earlier in the day and they played a few classics that I hoped they would play at this show (‘Jackhammer’, ‘Mothra’ & ‘Forged In Fire’) but time was a factor and AC/DC was the main attraction. The band had a great response from the growing crowd and there were a few old school metalheads out there besides me who knew the songs. I was able to hopefully convert a few teenagers and turn them on to Anvil with my encyclopedic Metal mind and enthusiasm for the set. Anvil were my conquering heroes of the night and I went up right after their set and proudly bought my $35 Anvil tour shirt!

AC/DC setlist:

Rock ‘N Roll Train
Hell Ain’t A Bad Place To Be
Back In Black
Big Jack
Shot Down In Flames
Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap
Thunderstruck
Black Ice
The Jack
Hells Bells
Shoot To Thrill
War Machine
Dog Eat Dog
Anything Goes
You Shook Me All Night Long
TNT
Whole Lotta Rosie
Let There Be Rock (with extended Angus solo)

Encore:
Highway To Hell
For Those About To Rock (We Salute You)

The band everyone came to see…..AC/DC came on about 30 minutes after Anvil as the sun was setting on the stadium and the band absolutely kicked ass! AC/DC’s music is timeless, everyone knows the songs and the crowd was singing along to almost every word. It was a high energy set of 20 songs, 5 came from the new album BLACK ICE (2008), 4 from LET THERE BE ROCK (1977) and 4 off the classic BACK IN BLACK (1980). The set had a few predictable songs along with the BACK IN BLACK tunes like ‘Whole Lotta Rosie’,  ‘Dirty Deeds’ and ‘TNT’ but there were a few songs for the diehards like ‘Dog Eat Dog’, ‘Let There Be Rock’ and ‘Hell Ain’t A Bad Place To Be’.

The show started out with a quick cartoon on the big screens to get the crowd pumped up…..nothing like seeing a devilish Angus, fighting some women and an out of control train to get the crowd cheering! The band roared into ‘Rock ‘N Roll Train’, complete with a big train engine on stage above Phil Rudd’s drums, and then into the deep track of ‘Hell Ain’t A Bad Place To Be’. I was psyched right away but the crowd picked up a lot more when they heard the opening riff to ‘Back In Black’. With the exception of the new songs and a couple of oldies, most of the set was songs everyone knew, AC/DC gets a ton of airplay in New England. I thought all of the new songs went over pretty well live but the highlights for me were ‘Rock ‘N Roll Train’, the heavy ‘War Machine’ and ‘Anything Goes’. That’s not to say that ‘Big Jack’ and ‘Black Ice’ were bad, I just like the others better. The good news is that there was a lot of sing-a-long to the new songs so the BLACK ICE record has reached a lot of people.

The other 15 songs were all AC/DC classics from both the Bon Scott years and Brian Johnson’s tenure. Obviously, the more popular songs were crowd favorites but I was excited when they played the songs off LET THERE BE ROCK. ‘Dog Eat Dog’ and ‘Hell Ain’t A Bad Place To Be’ were surprises for me. ‘Whole Lotta Rosie’ had the band’s trademark “Rosie” balloon riding the big train above the drums and the set closer, ‘Let There Be Rock’, clocked in close to 15 minutes with an extended Angus guitar solo. The cool thing was the catwalk the band had from the main stage to a small stage in the middle of the floor…..this is where the majority of Angus’ solo was played, complete with pyro, confetti and smoke! A couple of other crowd favorites were ‘The Jack’ and ‘Thunderstruck’. Gillette Stadium is the home of the New England Patriots and ‘Thunderstruck’ has been a staple at the games since the mid-’90s to get the crowd pumped up for kickoffs. It’s almost a team anthem! The crowd went nuts for that song. During ‘The Jack’ the cameras focused on a lot of pretty girls in the crowd and put them on the big screen. Two people the camera caught (not women) were actors David Spade and Chris Rock…..Spade was clear as day singing along and fistpounding but Chris Rock was shown just as the camera started to pan away. It was cool though and the crowd threw up a big cheer, maybe bigger than some of the girls on the screen!

The band closed with the classic ‘Highway To Hell’ and the full cannon blast of ‘For Those About To Rock’…..both expertly done. As the band left the stage there was a nice fireworks display that delayed the bulk of the crowd, this helped my father-in-law and I get out of our section and up the ramps to leave before the bulk of the crowd created a massive jam to get out. Overall, AC/DC was in top form and had a great sound. Say what you want about all the songs sounding the same or the band getting older (Brian Johnson is 62!), the band can Rock and they blew apart the Foxboro crowd. Definitely a great concert and I’m glad I went. If the rumors are true and this is the band’s final tour, I’m glad I got to experience them live one more time.

Judas Priest, Whitesnake & Pop Evil live in concert at Comcast Center (Mansfield, MA) – 7/7/09

Second concert of the season and it was a good one…..Judas Priest & Whitesnake! Same venue that I saw the Def Leppard/Poison show last week but what a difference in the crowd! Def Leppard and Poison packed the seats under the roof and the seats on the lawn for about a 10,000+ audience…..Judas Priest and Whitesnake didn’t even sell out the seats under the roof, I’d say anywhere from 5000 – 7000 in attendance last night. I was sitting center stage 20 rows back so I had a perfect seat for a night of BRITISH STEEL and an ’80s greatest hits set from Whitesnake.

Pop Evil setlist:

I have no idea who Pop Evil are and what songs they played. All I know is that they are from Michigan and they sound like Nickelback, Creed, Puddle Of Mudd and Godsmack all rolled into one. I’m not a big fan of those bands but Pop Evil weren’t that bad, I’ve seen worse openers, and they only played for 30 minutes.

Whitesnake setlist:

Bad Boys
Fool For Your Loving
Love Ain’t No Stranger
Slow An’ Easy
Lay Down Your Love (includes double guitar solo from Reb Beach & Doug Aldrich)
Cryin’ In The Rain (includes a quick drum solo mid-song)
Is This Love
Give Me All Your Love
Is This Love
Here I Go Again
Still Of The Night

No big surprises here and it’s pretty much what I expected from David Coverdale and company. The band sounded tight and Coverdale had good voice but I could do without some of the over the top screaming he does. He still has a good voice but he likes to scream a lot live I guess. I could have done without the solos and gotten an extra song especially with ‘Slide It In’ missing from the set. Good to hear ‘Lay Down Your Love’ from GOOD TO BE BAD (2008), it came off well live and David’s intro mentioned that their label (SPV) went bankrupt. I’m not surprised the band kept it to their three most popular albums from the ’80s, unless of course you’re a diehard and recognize that ‘Fool For Your Loving’ (from 1980’s READY AN’ WILLING) and ‘Here I Go Again’ (from 1982’s SAINTS & SINNERS) were earlier tracks the band re-recorded. It was a good set and a solid performance that the crowd really got into.

Judas Priest setlist:

Rapid Fire
Metal Gods
Breaking The Law
Grinder
United
You Don’t Have To Be Old To Be Wise
Living After Midnight
The Rage
Steeler
The Ripper
Prophecy
Hell Patrol
Victim Of Changes
Freewheel Burning
Diamonds & Rust
You’ve Got Another Thing Comin’

This was the 30th anniversary of BRITISH STEEL (1980) and the band is playing the entire album (a trend I am enjoying from a lot of bands lately) from start to finish. Good to hear the band play the album with the original tracklisting, most of the crowd thought that they would open with ‘Breaking The Law’ but I educated more than a few people that the record company had changed the running order so ‘Breaking The Law’ & ‘Living After Midnight’ would be the first songs to start each side of the album and that ‘Rapid Fire’ was the true first song. Then I had a kid in his late teens ask me what I meant by a “side”. I gave up!

Priest rammed right through the entire album almost without pause: Halford did his usual ‘Breaking The Law’ intro (“Breaking the what?”) and he spoke about the band’s biggest “hit” before ‘Living After Midnight’ but it was pretty much non-stop. Highlights from the BRITISH STEEL set were everything but the hits I’ve heard before at a Priest show except for ‘Metal Gods’, one of my favorites. I got to hear ‘Grinder’ and ‘The Rage’ and they went over HUGE with the crowd but the best was yet to come…..

‘The Ripper’ and ‘Victim Of Changes’ are classics from SAD WINGS OF DESTINY (1976) and I got to hear ‘Freewheel Burning’ from my favorite Priest record DEFENDERS OF THE FAITH (1984) that has to be one of the fastest they’ve done. Even the new NOSTRADAMUS song ‘Prophecy’ came out good live and there were a lot of people singing it word for word so I guess I’m not the only one out there who liked that album! The band sounded great as usual and Rob’s voice sounded stronger, he was also a little more animated on stage rather than his “stand in one place and look at my boots” phase he’s been in since 2006. Overall a great show and a diehard’s dream of a setlist…..maybe next year they can do a 20th anniversary of PAINKILLER (1990)!

Def Leppard, Poison & Cheap Trick in concert at Comcast Center (Mansfield, MA) – 6/30/09

The summer concert season is in full swing but I haven’t been to a show since March! The good news is that I have tickets to a few shows coming up but the first on the list was the Def Leppard/Poison/Cheap Trick show last night at the Comcast Center (formerly Tweeter Center……formerly Great Woods) in Mansfield, Massachusetts. I got together with a couple of buddies from work and we bought tickets back in April so it was a planned day off of tailgating in the parking lot and good music in the arena.

Cheap Trick setlist (abbreviated):

Don’t Be Cruel
Dream Police
The Flame
Surrender

Usually I’m in the arena and in my seat 30 mins before the show starts and I always catch all of the bands on the bill because that’s what I paid for. The guys I was with had no interest in seeing Cheap Trick, and the party in the parking lot was going strong, so we ended up getting in halfway through the band’s set. I got to hear ‘Dream Police’, always a fave of mine so I was happy. Cheap Trick had a great sound and a lot of fire to the performance. Does Robin Zander age? I ask this because he sounded the best out of all three singers performing.

Poison setlist:

Look What The Cat Dragged In
I Want Action
Ride The Wind
Fallen Angel
Something To Believe In
Your Mama Don’t Dance
Unskinny Bop
Every Rose Has It’s Thorn
Talk Dirty To Me
Nothin’ But A Good Time

I forgot the pen and pad in the car so I couldn’t write the setlist down as I usually do but these are the tunes they played and I’m almost positive this was the running order. First thing that has to be said, the sound was terrible and Bret Michaels acknowledged it. The mic kept screeching and he was barely audible during the first couple of songs. The sound got better as the show went on but you could tell that this wasn’t a gimmick and Bret was visibly annoyed by the technical problems. The band had a lot of energy and played well but the setlist needs to be mixed up a bit. I’ve seen Poison just about every summer since 1999 and they never really change things up.  I had read online that the opening night set in Camden, NJ featured ‘I Won’t Forget You’ instead of ‘Something To Believe In’ and an extra song ‘Stand’ but we didn’t get either in Mansfield. ‘Stand’ would have been awesome to hear live and I am sick to death of ‘Something To Believe In’ but what are you going to do? The only thing I would change would be the solos by C.C., Rikki, & Bobby…..when you’re an opener, you don’t do solos, you add in as many songs as possible. The crowd was huge into Poison, especially the ladies.

Def Leppard setlist:

Rock Rock Till You Drop
Rocket
Animal
Too Late For Love
Nine Lives
Love Bites
Rock On
Two Steps Behind (acoustic)
Bringin’ On The Heartbreak (acoustic…..until the end)
Switch 625
Hysteria
Armageddon It
Photograph
Pour Some Sugar On Me
Rock Of Ages
Let’s Get Rocked

I went to the show to see Def Leppard. I’ve been a fan of the band since HIGH ‘N DRY and I always go in with the hope that the band will pull out a few nuggets from the first two records. It was a PYROMANIA/HYSTERIA heavy set again with 10 songs out of 16 from those two albums…..the band knows where their success lies. Nice to see ‘Rock Rock Till You Drop’ added for the opener but I was disappointed that ‘Foolin’ was dropped from this year’s tour. The acoustic performances of ‘Two Steps Behind’ and ‘Bringin’ On The Heartbreak’ were solid and Joe Elliot sounded pretty good. I’ve been critical of Joe’s vocals the last couple of times I’ve seen the band live but he had a decent voice going this time around. Better than Bret Michaels but no where close to Robin Zander! I thought the band was strong live…..Rick Allen and Rick Savage are really tight and the guitar duo of Vivian Campbell and Phil Collen are a solid tag team. Everytime I see Def Lep play, I always come away impressed with Phil Collen’s playing, he is so smooth but technical. The cool thing was that there was a mini camera at the top on the nut so you could see Phil’s fingers flying up and down the frets with ease…..a cool way to see the solos. I enjoyed the Leps’ show but I was hoping for a little more variety in the setlist but they played their biggest hits and the crowd loved it…..including myself!

Next concert: Judas Priest & Whitesnake next Tuesday!

Anvil – ‘The Story Of Anvil’ movie review – 5/30/09

The Story Of Anvil movie pic

Anvil – ‘The Story Of Anvil’

Back in April, Anvil made their appearance in Worcester, MA at The Palladium as part of The New England Metal & Hardcore Festival. The band was part of the Thursday night pre-show that included the New England premiere of the documentary and their concert immeadiately after. I was set to go but the problem was that my wife’s birthday was the same day as the show! I was told to go, my wife is understanding when it comes to Metal, but there are some lines you don’t cross and missing my wife’s birthday party was one I wasn’t prepared to try. So I never went. The good news was that the movie has been enjoying a long run at a theater in Cambridge, MA but the hour plus drive into the Boston metro area is something I like to avoid.

So I’m sitting at my computer after work early Saturday morning and I’m searching for info online for the inevitable DVD release in the U.S. and I found a local link to the Avon Cinema in Providence, RI. The Anvil movie started a run there Thursday and the theater is only 15 mins from home! Armed with my iPod blaring Anvil’s latest album, THIS IS THIRTEEN, and the hardcover book of The Story Of Anvil, I made my way down to Thayer Street (near Brown University) for the matinee show.

Thayer Street used to be one of my hangouts in the early ’90s when I was in college, there were plenty of bars and record shops to go along with all the college girls from Brown University. It was a cool place to hang and party back in the day but as I finished school, and the record shops started closing, I stopped going down that way. I probably haven’t been down that area in a good 10 years so I decided to get there early and take in some of the shops. Nothing…..I couldn’t find any of them, there were none left! Turns out the shop I was looking for, In Your Ear Records, moved to Warren, RI so I had nothing to do but buy my movie ticket, listen to some Anvil and wait.

Waiting in the tiny lobby of the old school theater, I found a lot of kindred spirits. There were a few older Metalheads like me bringing their kids to see the movie but what really made the day were the kids/teens that made their way to the movie on their own to discover some Metal. I ended up talking to a group of 5 kids, all within the ages of 13-17, and they were like sponges for Metal information. They saw my Heaven & Hell tour shirt and we started talking. It’s nice to see the younger generation embracing Heavy Metal and it’s history. It’s sounds a bit corny to say something like that but kids nowadays don’t have as many independent record shops or flea markets like I did. There isn’t radio airplay and MTV is a joke, the only way these kids learn is from the Internet and their parents’ music collections. There were about 20 of us in the lobby talking Metal, talking Anvil, and there was just a great vibe almost like going to a concert.

So the doors open, we all file in the theater, and we endure 10 mins of previews! Those things should be outlawed! The movie starts off with some classic Anvil footage of the Japan SuperRock show in ’84…..exactly like the trailer. There was a lot of applause seeing the old footage and a lot of laughter seeing Lips using his trademark dildo to play his guitar!

I’m not going to ruin the movie for everyone by going through the entire story, I’ll save that for the eventual DVD review when VH-1 Classic Records sets a U.S. release date for the soundtrack and DVD, I just want to give some thoughts and highlights. Basically, the documentary centers around the history of Anvil, the highs and lows of being in a legendary band that never quite achieved success, and the journey of making THIS IS THIRTEEN. I was a young kid when I discovered Anvil so I’m an old time fan, it was really cool to see one of the bands I grew up with on the big screen. There was enough claasic footage to satisfy my old school cravings and there was plenty of recent tour footage (circa 2006/2007 before THIS IS THIRTEEN) to give me an idea of where Anvil is. The comparisons to Spinal Tap are inevitable and obvious, there is definitely some comedy to Anvil’s journey: how can so much bad shit happen to one band? Especially one that is so influential to a lot of Metal heavyweights (Metallica, Anthrax, Megadeth, Slash, Slayer, etc.)? There was a bit of laughter when some of the lower points of the tour were showed like the band missing a few trains, band fights, venues that hold 10,000 and less than 200 show up…..definitely Spinal Tap! I took it seriously and, even though I laughed a bit too, I couldn’t help but ask the same question that the movie asks over and over: How did Anvil not become stars?

The answers come from the book, something I recommend people read because you get so much more information and insight to the band’s history and the film. I’m 2/3 of the way through the book but I was able to fill in parts of the movie with the information I had read, it made everything more enjoyable. Like I said, I took the documentary seriously because I really love Metal and a band like Anvil, that I grew up with, is close to my heart. Not trying to get all sentimental here but when you love something, you pursue it and that’s one of the main themes of Lips’ and Robbo’s career, it’s the reason they keep going. One of the scenes in the film shows Lips’ 50th birthday party at a club with Anvil playing a set. There are some longtime Anvil diehards there singing all the words right into the camera in the drunken Metal splendor and, even though they were funny, I identified with them, I identified with the band. I’m going to be 37 this year, I’ve put in 29 years of Metal fandom in and I can’t see that stopping as I go forward to the 40s and 50s.

Back to Anvil…..another part of the movie I really got into was the making of THIS IS THIRTEEN with legendary Metal producer Chris Tsangarides. I really thought the album was one of the best of 2007 and it was really cool to see everything from the band sending a demo to Tsangarides, to raising the money, to the studio performances, and the decision to release the album themselves. It gave an insight to the creative process but also the personal journey the band invested in culminating in a triumphant sold-out appearance at a Metal festival in Tokyo, Japan.

When the movie ended, there was some applause from the audience because it was a really great film. I ended up talking to some people outside the theater and gave them some links to some cool Metal websites so they could check out some Anvil and other bands from the early ’80s that these people remembered but lost touch with. All in all, a great film and a great band. I will definitely be going back for another show sometime this week and I’m going to take my 10 yr old daughter with me so she can add Anvil to her Heavy Metal discovery.

Go see this film! Metal On Metal!

Livenation.com presale for Heaven & Hell tour

The presale is up at LiveNation.com for the U.S. Heaven & Hell tour and it’s only for today. You need the special password, and after some searching, I found it: devil. Remember that the password is case sensitive so type it in with small letters.

I’ll see everyone at the show in Boston at the Bank Of America Pavilion on August 28.

My Top 5 Concerts

I’m starting to gear up for the Summer 2009 concert season, I already have my Def Leppard/Poison and Judas Priest/Whitesnake tix. I went online today to see who else is coming to the New England area and it got me thinking about all the concerts I’ve been to and which ones were my favorites. So I pulled out all of my ticket stubs and I realized I’m missing a few of the early tours I saw when I was a kid but I remember the shows like it was yesterday! So here we go, my Top 5 Concerts…..make sure you check out some of the ticket prices!

1. KISS – Reunion Tour (Boston, MA) – 7/30/1996 – $50: Wouldn’t it figure that a diehard KISS fan would put KISS at the top of the list?! But it’s true, the Reunion show in Boston is the best concert I’ve ever seen. I never got the chance to see the band in makeup but I had seen them several times without it…..but it was the reunion with Ace & Peter and it was the “holy grail” for KISS fans. Two nights went on sale for the show at the Fleet Center but we got shut out…..this was back in the days of actually CALLING Ticketmaster! So we got shut out. The good news was that my best friend’s father had the right connections at the Fleet Center and we were able to get reserved seats on the Ace side of the stage, one section from the exact side, in the lower arena. We were so close that you could see the facial expressions! The section in front of us was the V.I.P. section and members of Boston, Aerosmith, and Extreme were in attendance. I forget who opened (didn’t matter), and the actual show is still a blur, but I screamed so loud and sang every word at the top of my lungs that I ended up damaging my vocal chords and I lost my voice for a month! All in the name of Rock ‘N’ Roll! This was the first of four shows I would catch on this tour.

2. Saxon & U.D.O. – Metalhead & Holy Tour (Warwick, RI) – 10/31/2000 – $40: This show was at The Station Nightclub…..yes the same Station that had the tragic fire during the Great White concert. The Station was a nice small bar that got all the Metal bands for our area. What a great place to watch a show! Anyway, I was online now so I knew the show was coming and I bought my ticket at the local Strawberries Records. Getting U.D.O. in as an opener was a huge bonus. It was Halloween night so I headed over to the venue around 6pm and had a beer, at the bar was Biff Byford and Doug Scarratt from Saxon and Fitty Weinhold from U.D.O., so I was able to meet the guys and get autographs. No cameras were allowed in and I couldn’t get the guys to leave the bar and come outside while I got the camera from the car. All nice guys, a pleasure to talk to, they all autographed my show flyer. The show was awesome, I was right at the front in front of Biff’s mic stand and Saxon played two solid hours! Unfortunately U.D.O.’s set was cut short (7 songs) because the local band they had open ran late taking down their gear. I ended up with a Metalhead Tour shirt, a Holy Tour shirt, and a Wheels Of Steel long sleeve shirt…..the guy running the merch booth was Udo’s brother, Peter Dirkschneider, who was in Vanize. I ended up hanging around after the show and got a guitar pick from Nibbs Carter from Saxon and another flyer.

3. KISS w/Ted Nugent – Crazy Nights Tour (Providence, RI) – 12/12/1987 – $16.50: This was the first time I saw KISS live, I was 15 years old, and it was at my home arena the Providence Civic Center. I missed the Lick It Up, Animalize & Asylum tours when they came through because my parents thought I was too young but I started going to concerts shortly after I missed the Asylum tour. By December ’87 I was a concert veteran! I remember my friend smuggled in a tape recorder to bootleg the show and I still have that old cassette somewhere. I lived and died KISS so when the band took the stage after their intro, I was in hysterics! Great show, they played a lot of older tunes and six off CRAZY NIGHTS. As for Terrible Ted…..he was solid but I had already seen him open for Aerosmith in ’86 so I was glad to hear him play but just wanted KISS…..nothing beats the first time I heard the KISS intro with my own ears.

4. UFO & Blue Oyster Cult – You Are Here Tour (Hampton Beach, NH) – 9/25/2004 – $26: I’m a big UFO fan and when this stop on the tour was announced I grabbed a ticket and took a vacation day at work! The problem was that the tour got delayed, it was orginally supposed to be on 5/1 but there was a problem with Pete Way’s visa, etc. The Hampton Beach Casino Ballroom is about a two hour drive from my home in Pawtucket, RI so I packed a lunch and hooked up the CD player and jammed all the way there! There was an opening act but I forget who they were (Healing Sixes maybe?). UFO and BOC were trading headline positions that tour so UFO came on first and played all the classics and a bunch off YOU ARE HERE in around two hours. I was camped in my usual spot in front of the stage but near Vinnie Moore’s side. Towards the end of the encore, I made my way more towards the side of the stage where the band entered and exited from. When the show was done, the band came off stage and by the barrier I was near and I was able to high five Vinnie Moore, Paul Raymond, and Barry Sparks. I ended up buying a shirt and hat, I where the hat all the time (I need a replacement, come back again guys!). As for BOC…..I ended up watching most of their show from the bar and I cut out early before the encore so I could get a move on home.

5. Aerosmith – Nine Lives Tour (Boston, MA) – 12/31/1997 – $39.25: Aerosmith & New Year’s Eve = a huge party! This show was at the Fleet Center in Boston and, if you live in New England, you know not to drive into downtown Boston on New Year’s Eve! This was the 2nd show of a two night stand at the Fleet Center and it was a 21 song party complete with a countdown to 1998 in the middle of the show with balloons, confetti, etc. By ’97, I’d seen Aerosmith on every tour since the Done With Mirrors tour in early ’86 so I knew it would be a good show. It turned out to be a great show because the band went over the top to give their hometown fans a New Year’s Eve to remember. The opening acts were The Upper Crust (a local Boston Hard Rock band that dressed in French renaissance gear with powdered wigs) and Days Of The New (who sucked). The original opening band was supposed to be Talk Show (Stone Temple Pilots without Scott Weiland) and I remember my best friend getting all upset when Talk Show pulled out but he loved Days Of The New too. I watched The Upper Crust, took a nap during Days Of the New (we had been doing some drinking during the day in some Irish pubs) and was refreshed for a 2 hour Aerosmith show. My 1o yr old daughter wears my Nine Lives tour shirt now!

Motley Crue in concert at Mohegan Sun Arena (Uncasville, CT) – 3/13/09

It’s Friday the 13th and Motley Crue is playing the Mohegan Sun Arena at Mohegan Sun Casino in Connecticut and I’ve got tickets! Took the night off work, met a couple of my buddies and we went to the casino. After a nice dinner at one of the casino’s buffets, we headed into the arena. There was a band playing when we got in around 7pm and I have no idea who they were, by the time I bought a Crue t-shirt and we got a beer, the opening band was gone! We took our seats in the upper arena on the exact side of the stage (the Nikki Sixx side) and waited patiently for some kick ass Hard Rock.

Up first was Theory Of A Deadman. I’ve heard of the band but never any of the music, I don’t usually go for those Hot Topic styled bands that all the kiddies like. I went in with an open mind and, after a 30 minute set, I decided that Theory Of A Deadman suck. Second band on was Hinder…..another band I have heard of before but never heard any of their music. After an hour set, I was impressed. The songs had hooks for miles and a very melodic base, I almost could compare them to a more ’80s styled Buckcherry. Hinder made such an impression that I went online and sampled some of their music when I finally got home but I was there for only one reason…..Motley Crue!

Motley Crue setlist:

Kickstart My Heart
Wild Side
Shout At The Devil
Saints Of Los Angeles (with the singers from the opening acts)
Live Wire (with guitar solo intro from Mick Mars)
Too Fast For Love/On With the Show
Mutherfucker Of The Year (with an intro from Tommy Lee)
Don’t Go Away Mad (Just Go Away)
Same Ol’ Situation
White Trash Circus
White Trash Circus (2nd performance for Jimmy Kimmel Live)
Primal Scream (with a quick bass intro from Nikki Sixx)
Looks that Kill
Girls, Girls, Girls
Dr. Feelgood

ENCORE:
Home Sweet Home

Basically your standard Motley Crue setlist with a couple of new numbers from SAINTS OF LOS ANGELES (2008). I knew about ‘Saints Of Los Angeles’ & ‘Mutherfucker Of The Year’ but ‘White Trash Circus’ was definitely a surprise, especially getting it twice. The band announced that they were taping the song for Jimmy Kimmel Live so they gave us two performances of the new single. If you’ve seen the Crue in concert before then you’ve heard all the hits before, not much of a surprise. What I liked was hearing the two songs from TOO FAST FOR LOVE, especially ‘Too Fast For Love’ with a quick ending of ‘On With The Show’…..what I would have given to hear ‘Starry Eyes’ or ‘Public Enemy #1′ but I’ll take it. Another couple of highlights for me were ‘Primal Scream’, ‘Same Ol’ Situation’ and ‘Looks That Kill’. Missing from the set were ‘Red Hot’ and ‘Louder Than Hell’, thankfully we didn’t have to put up with ‘Anarchy In The UK’ either, but the new songs fit in well in their place. I thought ending with ‘Home Sweet Home’ was kind of a “downer” even though it’s a great ballad…..I just kind of expected one more rocker to end the set.

The overall performance was really good: Tommy still hits the skins hard, Nikki pounds the bass, and Vince actually sang most of the words this time! He was in fine voice at this show but the performance of the night had to go to Mick Mars. I’ve never thought of Mick Mars as an influential guitar player and he’s never been one of my personal favorites but seeing this shrunken, almost cripple, skeleton of a man just wail all over the stage was what made the show so much fun. He was shredding, soloing, and keeping true to all of the classic riffs. From my vantage point, he seemed to be enjoying every moment on stage with the crowd. I’ve seen every tour that the Crue has done since the ’87/’88 GIRLS Tour (except for last summer’s Cruefest) and I think this was one of the better shows I’ve seen by the band. The only drawback was that they had 3 opening acts, I would have preferred 3 more Crue songs in the setlist. After the show in the casino, I was talking with some people that were involved with the tour production and I’ve heard that the setlist that they played tonight is going to be the set they play on Cruefest 2 this summer.