Archive for the ‘Concert Reviews’ Category

So I made it to the show Friday night, here’s how the night went…..

The Plan:
A few months ago, I received a copy of Testament’s new record, THE FORMATION OF DAMNATION, for review. I listened to the album, wrote the review, and passed the link along to my contact in the band’s promotional camp. I also happened to mention that I was planning on catching the show and that I would send a concert review as well. I received an email back from the promo people that I was invited to see the show as Testament’s guests. Very cool! Now this is back in May so fast forward to the beginning of last week and I email my contact in the Testament organization to confirm that I am all set: two tickets, Testament’s guest list, show my ID, enjoy the show!

The Journey:
I was flying solo to the show but I decided to invite my brother to come along. My brother is five years younger than I am, and he is not a Metalhead, but he knows all the stuff from my brainwashing him as a young child. The plan is for him to take the bus from Port Authority in New York City to the casino and we’ll hook up. Plans changed mid-week and he decided to take the bus all the way to Providence so we could hang a little more on the hour drive to the casino. No problem…..

My brother’s bus was to arrive at 5:15 giving us almost two hours to drive, get the tix, sit in our seats and relax. I get a call from him around 5, the bus is stuck in traffic and it will be a 30 minute delay. No problem. I get another call at 5:30, the bus hasn’t moved, it’s going to be 6. No problem. The third call comes 15 minutes later…..go without me. Now I can’t do that to my own brother (although I did consider it!) so I waited. Around 7pm, my brother’s bus arrives. In the meantime, Testament has just taken the stage! We are an hour away so now I’m just trying to make it in time for Heaven & Hell.

The Tickets:
I made the drive in an hour easily, cars do great things when you put the pedal to the metal! So we park in the garage behind the arena and I can hear Heaven & Hell on stage! So we run through the casino to the call window. I give my name and ID to the girl at the window and she tells me that I AM NOT ON THE TESTAMENT LIST! I give her the name of my contact and she was nice enough to check all of the guest lists, the tickets that hadn’t been picked up, and she even tried to get me a pair of tickets anyway because the show was half over. Unfortunately her boss said no. So we are screwed and Plan B is to pull out the VISA card and drop close to $200 for a pair (tix were $85 & $65). As we were debating the next move to Dio belting out ‘Die Young’, an intoxicated gambler comes over with a pair of tickets to sell. He had gotten comps for gambling so much but his wife didn’t want to go, the offer was $50 for the pair. SOLD!

Heaven & Hell:
We got into the arena just as Ronnie was introducing ‘Heaven & Hell’. We had great seats on the Iommi/Tipton side (stage left for the band, right if you’re facing it) and we were halfway down in the “high-rollers” section. We caught the last two songs of the Heaven & Hell set and they were really good: ‘Heaven & Hell’ & ‘Neon Knights’. Lucky for me I had seen the tour twice last year so I knew what to expect. I’ll say this though, from the two songs I heard, it sounds like Ronnie James Dio has strengthened his voice. The last few years he has sounded like he was straining, especially on the highs. When the band left the stage it was off to the t-shirt stand for a tour shirt. $40 got me my Heaven & Hell shirt with the U.S. dates on the back and the album cover on the front. I flirted with the idea of double dipping and also getting a NOSTRADAMUS tour shirt but another $40 was too much.

Judas Priest:
“Friday night and the Priest is back!” I saw Judas Priest twice on the ANGEL OF RETRIBUTION tour, once here at the Mohegan Sun Arena, so I expected a great show. I had seen the setlist online from the previous tour stops so I knew what was coming:

Dawn Of Creation (intro)
Prophecy
Metal Gods
Eat Me Alive
Between The Hammer And The Anvil
Devil’s Child
Breaking The Law
Hell Patrol
Dissident Aggressor
Angel
The Hellion / Electric Eye
Rock Hard, Ride Free
Painkiller

ENCORE:
Hell Bent For Leather (w/motorcycle)
The Green Manalishi
You’ve Got Another Thing Coming

This was a solid setlist geared towards dieheards like myself. I have to give Priest credit, they could have easily come out and played their most popular songs but they kept it fresh for themselves and threw in some album tracks. ‘Dawn Of Creation’ was a tape straight off the NOSTRADAMUS album but ‘Prophecy’ came off really well live. I was honestly expecting a couple more tunes from the new record but a shorter time slot stopped that even though they were the headliner. What I don’t like is Rob Halford’s staring at the ground during new songs and songs he hasn’t done for a while. My guess is he’s using notes or a teleprompter (like Ozzy!) but it was extremely annoying to have him looking at his boots and clutching the mic with both hands for half the set! He did the same thing on the last tour, especially during the songs from ANGEL OF RETRIBUTION.

‘Metal Gods’ is a classic I never get sick of hearing but getting ‘Eat Me Alive’ off DEFENDERS OF THE FAITH was a treat, DEFENDERS is my favorite Priest record. My brother had forgotten that song and was in hysterics watching me scream the words while all the high rolling gamblers stood motionless and emotional-less. ‘Between The Hammer And The Anvil’ was another welcome addition to the set from the PAINKILLER album and the band was in fine form. ‘Devil’s Child’ was up next and that’s another favorite for me (off SCREAMING FOR VENGEANCE). I tried to match wits with Halford on the high notes but he won easily as my voice cracked and I barely sputtered out the last few lines. I could do without ‘Breaking The Law’ but I understand the band has to play some of their big songs to keep the casual fans happy. Halford needs a new intro for that song because the one he has is easily 25 years old! It was good though, very well done.

By this time I’ve already forgotten the setlists I saw online so when another deep track from PAINKILLER, ‘Hell Patrol’, was announced by Halford, I went ballistic! Most shows I see have the bands play 2 to 4 new songs and a classic set but here we are mid-set of Judas Priest and they are laying waste with songs that haven’t played live in many a year! ‘Hell Patrol’ was blistering even if Rob was looking at his boots/notes/teleprompter the whole time. He came alive again for the ultra-heavy ’70s classic ‘Dissident Aggressor’ (from SIN AFTER SIN) but went back to his position in the middle of Glenn & KK for ‘Angel’. Not sure why ‘Angel’ made the set, especially with a new record out, but I guess they still enjoy playing songs from ANGEL OF RETRIBUTION. It was good. I liked that album a lot so I didn’t mind at all but the crowd overall hit a quiet spot. Up to that point the crowd was rabid, especially the many diehards, so I guess they needed a little break.

The crowd rose again when ‘The Hellion’ came from the P.A. and Priest tore into ‘Electric Eye’. The band opened with this duo on the last tour so it’s always a highlight of the show and one of their more popular songs. DEFENDERS track #2 came with ‘Rock Hard, Ride Free’ and I completely lost my voice! That’s an album track, I’d expect to hear ‘Freewheel Burning’ when they do a DEFENDERS song but I was psyched for ‘Rock Hard’. There was some audience participation initiated from Rob so that took away from the overall performance but that is how 99% of the bands keep the crowds into the show: “Let’s get the crowd singing along.” It’s good that they kept the fans involved because Priest then hit everyone over the head with a killer version of ‘Painkiller’ which destroyed what little voice I had left.

The encore started with Halford riding his Harley on stage in full regalia for ‘Hell Bent For Leather’ and the surprise of ‘The Green Manalishi’. Normally, the second song of the encore is reserved for the hit ‘Living After Midnight’ but they thankfully cut it from the set for the Fleetwood Mac cover from 1978′s HELL BENT FOR LEATHER. The band could have easily just stopped right there because they had put in a masterful performance but they had to play their anthem from SCREAMING FOR VENGEANCE: ‘You’ve Got Another Thing Comin’. There’s nothing I can say bad about this song, it’s like KISS playing ‘Rock And Roll All Nite’ or Iron Maiden playing ‘Run To The Hills’, people expect it and want it. The band didn’t disappoint and there was some audience participation sing-a-long again.

Bottom Line:
With all the bad luck that started at 5pm, everything turned out for the better. We got in and saw Judas Priest play a superb concert geared for diehards. I don’t think you could ask for more variety wise although if they had played ‘Grinder’, ‘Riding On The Wind’, or ‘Sinner’ in place of ‘Breaking The Law’ I would have been much happier. No complaints though. The band was tight: Ian Hill & Scott Travis are a killer rhythm section, Glenn & KK are one of the best guitar tandems in Metal history, and Rob Halford took a page from the Dio playbook and sounded stronger than he did the last tour. Now if he could just look into the crowd instead of at the floor on the less popular songs! All in all, a good show…..too bad we missed Testament and most of Sabbath.

(And just to keep things clear, I don’t like the name Heaven & Hell. It will always be Black Sabbath to me! I don’t know what spell Ozzy has over Tony Iommi (who owns the name Black Sabbath) but I don’t think it’s fair to the music to call it something different than what it is.)

Tonight is the Metal Masters concert at the Mohegan Sun Casino in Connecticut and I’m going! I get to see Judas Priest, Heaven & Hell, and Testament play a full-on Heavy Metal show the day before my 36th birthday…..that’s one hell of a present! The really cool thing about it is that I am on the Testament guest list so there are 2 tickets waiting for me at the call window! I’ve never been on anyone’s guest list before so I’m hoping that there are no problems, my brother is taking the train in from New York City to make the show with me.

Unfortunately, Motorhead is not playing the Mohegan Sun. I’m not sure why but they are playing a headlining gig at The Palladium in Worcester, MA at the same time. It’s too bad because my brother was looking forward to Motorhead but he still gets Testament, Priest, & Dio-era Sabbath…..you can’t go wrong with that!

Stay tuned for a review……

— Steve

My second concert of the year was last night at the Mohegan Sun Arena (at the Mohegan Sun Casino) to see Billy Joel. OK, I know some of you have already said, “Billy Joel is not Metal!”. Yes, I know but he is Rock’n Roll, Classic Rock nowadays, and the man has timeless songs and superior talent. Plus there was a Metal moment in the middle of the show that was pretty cool. Say what you want about non-Metal music, good music is good music. Man cannot live by Metal alone and I always like a little variety and my tastes can run from Billy Joel to Billy Idol to Billy Squier! It’s good to have variety, it makes the Metal that much better!

My wife’s birthday was in April and I was able to score tickets for show #9 of Billy’s 10 date stand at the Mohegan Sun. We packed the kids off to her parents’ house and took the hour drive to the casino. It was my wife’s first visit to Mohegan Sun so we took extra time before the show to explore and have dinner. Mohegan Sun is a nice place to go for a concert, plenty of places to eat, plenty of shops to spend money in, and plenty of gaming if gambling is your thing. The arena is smaller than most arenas in my area, it holds 10,000 seats according to the website but it doesn’t feel like a 10,000 seater. I usually go to the Worcester Centrum, Providence Civic Center, or Boston Garden for big arena shows and those venues range from 12,000 – 20,000, the Mohegan is set up so compact that you feel like you’re in a 7000-8000 seat arena. Honestly, ther’s no bad seat in the house. Unfortunately, we were in the upper deck, three rows from the back (I like to be as close as possible!) but we could see everything and the band didn’t look like ants!

On to the show…..superb performance! I usually have a pad and pen to write the setlist down but I forgot it last night so I have cheated and taken the setlist from the JoelFan.com message board:

Prelude/Angry Young Man
My Life
The Entertainer
Zanzibar
New York State of Mind
Downeaster “Alexa”
Root Beer Rag
Allentown
Don’t Ask Me Why
Room Of Our Own
Movin’ Out
She’s Always A Woman
Captain Jack
River of Dreams
Matter Of Trust
Highway to Hell****
We Didn’t Start The Fire
Its Still Rock ‘n’ Roll To Me
You May Be Right
Scenes From An Italian Restaurant
Piano Man

The running order might be off in a couple of places but these are the songs he played. There were a couple of songs I was hoping he would play and I got my wish: ‘Downeaster Alexa’, ‘Captain Jack’, & ‘New York State Of Mind’. Of course, you could take all of Billy’s albums and create tons of setlists, the man has such a solid catalogue of music with so many hits and album tracks that you are bound to hear something you didn’t expect. Billy pulled out a couple of album tracks (non-hits) for variety with ‘Zanzibar’, ‘Room Of Our Own’, and the instrumental ‘Root Beer Rag’…..I love it when artists pull out obscure songs!

Talk about obscure…..after ‘River Of Dreams’, the Piano Man donned his guitar and the band played ‘A Matter Of Trust’. Billy introduced the next song as not one of his and he pulled the guitar tech up onstage to sing. Joel’s lead guitarist (forgot his name) then started into AC/DC’s ‘Highway To Hell’ and the band performed the entire song with this guitar tech on vocals. Didn’t expect that at all and I didn’t expect it to sound so good! After the song was over the roar from the crowd was a bit louder to say the least.

It was a great show by a classic performer, Billy Joel gave the audience a 110% performance and played many of his big hits and a few lost nuggets for the diehards. What more can anyone ask for from a concert? I saw Billy Joel live back in ’93 in Hartford, CT and I would say he was better last night than he was 15 years ago. I know that my wife had a good time last night because three songs in and she was in tears, she cried through the entire show. Isn’t that great? Music has such a powerful effect on people that they cry…..it happened to me when I saw KISS back in ’87 on the Crazy Nights Tour and again on the KISS Reunion Tour in Boston 1996. No matter what style it is, no matter what artist/band is performing, Music is what bonds people together and to see that emotion, that love, made the night even better…..

My first concert of 2008 was last Friday night…..IRON MAIDEN!!!!

Not a bad way to start the concert season. I had been planning to go to the show for months but I never picked up a ticket. Money has been tight lately so a $75+ ticket for Maiden seemed excessive so I waited until the week before the show to grab my seat. I had been checking Ticketmaster weekly to see what kind of seats were still available, mostly grass lawn. The view from the lawn has been awful since the Comcast Center (formerly Tweeter Center and Great Woods before that) put actual seats on the lawn area, now the general admission section is just a waste of time. So about a week before the show I hit up Ticketmaster and found a single seat in Section 1, Row S, Seat 18 for around $75 total…..done!

I went up to the Comcast a little early because I knew the show sold well (Maiden always do in New England) and I didn’t know if there would be a long wait at the call window. No line, no waiting…..got my ticket and went over to the merchandise stand for a shirt. Most of the tour shirts were $35 but I need the fat size (2XL) because I’m a little out of shape so that cost $40. Nice tour shirt, has the front cover of the new greatest hits and all the countries on the back. There were some really nice trinkets there: Maiden soccer scarves, soccer jerseys for $125, a couple of pricey shirts over $50 and the usual assortment of tourbooks, keychains, and posters. I’m a KISS fan and they hit the fans with a wide array of goods that are not always of good quality and use. I’ve been a Maiden fan since the early days and I’m only now realizing what a true marketing goldmine the band has with the Iron Maiden logo, Eddie, and quality products…..people were buying 1, 2, even 3 shirts at a time because of the different Eddies.

Next on the pre-show agenda was to meet up with Justin and the crew from Raise Your Fists!.  Found the guys easily and I joined them for some beer and BBQ in the parking lot. Very nice to meet everyone, forgive me for not remembering all the names! These four guys are hardcore Maiden fans: two of the gents flew in for the show (one from Texas, one from California) and the foursome made their way from Boston an hour away. Obviously seasoned veterans at travelling to Maiden shows, the itinerary for this tour included some of the guys attending shows in L.A., New Jersey, Texas, & Mexico! Now that’s cool! Makes my trips around the Northeast following KISS look like a walk in the park! So after having a good time outside the arena, everyone went in. The Raise Your Fists! crew were in the pit in front of the stage (lucky bastards!) but I wasn’t more than 4 rows behind them, good seats all around.

First up was Lauren Harris, Steve Harris’ daughter. She opened with a cover of UFO’s ‘Natural Thing’…..very nice. The music was basically female fronted Hard Rock and Lauren gave a spirited performance. Aside from the UFO cover, I didn’t know any of the material but if I find her debut disc for a cheap price, I’ll check it out. One thing about Lauren Harris…..she’s hot! Clad in a black tanktop, painted on black leather pants, and barefoot…..this chick was smokin’ hot! She could have sang the telephone book and I wouldn’t have taken my eyes off her! High energy, good effort, on to dad’s band…..

Iron Maiden took the stage after their usual intro – UFO’s ‘Doctor Doctor’. The stage set was Powerslave themed with rotating backdrops (depending on the album), a moving lighting truss, and Eddie in his Powerslave & Somewhere In Time themes. My seat was on the right side of the stage in front of the riser/ramp that Bruce runs around on, I’d say I was about 25 feet from the stage with a perfect close view. Here’s the setlist:

  1. Intro – Churchill’s Speech
  2. Aces High
  3. 2 Minutes To Midnight
  4. Revelations
  5. The Trooper
  6. Waysted Years
  7. Number Of The Beast
  8. Can I Play With Madness
  9. Rime Of The Ancient Mariner
  10. Powerslave
  11. Heaven Can Wait
  12. Run To The Hills
  13. Fear Of The Dark
  14. Iron Maiden
  15. Moonchild
  16. The Clairvoyant
  17. Hallowed Be Thy Name

Now it goes without saying that the band played flawlessly, even if they made a mistake or their performance was off, I would have never known because I was having such a great time. Take a look at that setlist, now that is some great music. Getting ‘Moonchild’ was a huge bonus and a definite highlight, my favorites of the set were ‘Fear Of the Dark’, ‘Aces High’, ’2 Minutes To Midnight’, ‘Powerslave’. Every song they played was a classic and, like everyone else, there were a couple of songs I wished they had played (‘Die With Your Boots On’ & ‘Flight Of Icarus’) but you just can’t complain with a set like this.

I was sitting five seats in from the aisle so there was a group of four to my left. The girl sitting next to me was somewhere in her mid-20s and a pure Maiden diehard…..and also some sort of dancer I assume because this chick moved like she worked with a pole. I’m not being mean or anything but this girl was dancing it up like a stripper, bumping and grinding to the pre-Maiden P.A. setlist, and she was also extremely good looking and very talkative. I always make friends at concerts so she ended up being my concert buddy for the night even with her man a seat away. As soon as the band hit the stage and launched into ‘Aces High’, we both lost our minds! Two complete strangers, arms around each other’s shoulders, metal horns up and screaming every word! This was the whole night until I blew my voice halfway through ‘Can I Play With Madness’! After I took ‘Rime’ off, the two of us launched into the rest of the set with Bruce…..we had a pretty good harmony thing going there for a while. Seriously, nothing is better than enjoying great Heavy Metal with complete strangers. Metal is something that binds us all together and creates a comraderie among strangers, I think my concert experience was that much better because I had a cool time with my new Metal friend. The two of us got some strange looks from the other three people she was with but it was all good fun!

Back to the band…..obviously they played great. Bruce Dickinson was in fine voice and it’s amazing really because this was the last North American tour stop and Bruce sounded like it was the first. I sat on the Janick Gers side of the stage so I got to see all of his flamboyant playing, as well as, a roaming Steve Harris. Unfortunately, Adrian Smith & Dave Murray kept to the other side of the stage most of the night. Too bad because I always like watching Dave Murray play, it’s always so effortless and the way he stands sometimes reminds me of Ace Frehley. (Note — I’m not saying Ace is better than Dave, obviously Dave is better.) Of course the maniac behind the kit, Mr. Nicko McBrain, was in fine form again…..he even broke part of his kit early in the set and we had a couple minute delay while they switched it out. Back to Bruce…..high energy, running all over the stage, hitting all the high notes and screams…..I felt like I was watching Bruce from back in 1988. Solid performance by the band all around, if anyone is planning on seeing the band on the European Tour, go for it! I can’t wait for another Maiden tour, they never disappoint.

 

I’m taking Heavy Metal Addiction on the road tonight to the Iron Maiden concert in Mansfield, Massachusetts at the Comcast Center. I took a personal day from work a while ago but I only just picked up my ticket last week from Ticketmaster: Sec 1, Row S, Seat 18…..that’s about 15 rows back because there’s a little pit area in front. I’m too old for that.

I may be flying solo tonight but I’m supposed to meet up with some Metal brothers from Raise Your Fists! Hopefully, I’ll find them in the parking lot! Expect a review up this weekend but it’s Iron Maiden, how can the show be anything but excellent?

Holy smoke! Where the hell have I been? Normally I’m right on when it comes to the concert scene in the New England area but I had no idea that GWAR was headlining Lupo’s Heartbreak Hotel in Providence, RI this coming Friday. The opener is 3 Inches Of Blood! I just got into 3 Inches Of Blood and they are damn good.

Tickets are $20…..I have one Sick Day left at work…..and I haven’t been to a live show since the Summer…..guess where I’m going Friday night!

I wasn’t going to go to this show because of the high ticket prices and fees but the free tickets I got from Live Nation made the decision easier. My buddy and I went to the Tweeter Center in Mansfield, MA around 6pm knowing that Queensryche would take the stage around 7pm, as most three band lineups usually start.

Let me explain the Locofest:

107.3 WAAF in Boston, MA is the best FM radio station in Massachusetts that plays Hard Rock and Heavy Metal. They play the more popular bands like Godsmack, Shadows Fall, System Of A Down, etc. but at least they are playing this form of music. Every year for the last 16 years, they have put on a festival featuring national, international, and local bands…..very similar to the Ozzfest. This festival started at 1pm, had 5 stages, and 50 bands (including the 3 headliners). Looking over the lineup, there were some familiar names on the smaller stages: Meliah Rage, Godhead, Waltham, Shadows Fall, Leaving Eden, Bang Camaro. The problem was that most bands only got 20 minutes onstage and many of the bands crossed into each other’s times…..bands like Bang Camaro and Roadsteamer were playing during the Queensryche and Alice Cooper sets! This makes for a hectic day and my buddy was only there to see Alice so I didn’t bother with the other stages.

The parking situation is usually a pain for big shows but we were able to park really close to the arena…..a bad omen! Walked in no problem and noticed that half the souveneir and concession stands were closed…..bad omen #2! We went to the main area to get onto the grass lawn and the entire lawn area (seats and grass) is non-accessible…..bad omen #3! No ushers were present except for the lower area under the roof, seems that they didn’t sell enough reserved seating and everyone with a $90 reserved ticket was moved down to the first 15 rows. The majority of the crowd was Lawn seats and they were all moved under the roof as general admission seating. This was good because the forecast had rain coming and my friend and I were able to get really good seats.

Queesryche took the stage at 6:30pm and played until 7pm.

  1. The Whisper
  2. Damaged
  3. Speak
  4. I’m American
  5. NM 156
  6. Screaming In Digital
  7. Empire
  8. Welcome To The Machine (Pink Floyd cover)
  9. Take Hold Of The Flame

As usual, the band played great and their Pink Floyd cover really won the crowd over. For an opener, Queensryche had a packed house under the roof.

Alice Cooper took the stage around 7:20pm and brought as many special effects he could fit into his 70 minute time slot.

  1. It’s Hot Tonight
  2. No More Mr Nice Guy
  3. Under My Wheels
  4. I’m Eighteen
  5. Is It My Body?
  6. Billion Dollar Babies
  7. Halo Of Flies (incl. Drum Solo by Eric Singer)
  8. Welcome To My Nightmare
  9. Only Women Bleed
  10. Steven
  11. Dead Babies
  12. Medley: Devils Food – Killer – I Love The Dead
  13. School’s Out
  14. Poison
  15. Elected

Alice Cooper always puts on a great show, true Hard Rock theatre at it’s finest. He had all the props, staging, and effects. Usually he uses the guillotine but he’s hanging himself this tour so that was a nice surprise. The seats under the pavilion were the most crowded during Alice’s performance and he didn’t disappoint anyone and may have actually stole the show! Surprise of the set was opening with ‘It’s Hot Tonight’, a really great deep track off LACE & WHISKEY (1977). What really made the performance for me was the family of five sitting in front of us. Mom & Dad brought their kids with them, all around 8-10 yrs old. These kids knew all the songs word for word and I had a good time singing right along with them…..literally. They were right in front of me and the four of us belted out ‘Only Women Bleed’, ‘Dead Babies’, etc. and high-fived all night. Always great to see young kids enjoying REAL music.

Heaven & Hell came on around 9:15 and they inherited the packed house that Alice Cooper generated. As disturbed as I was about the lack of ticket sales for this festival, my reservations had been dashed by Queensryche and Alice Cooper putting on solid performances, I expected no less from Heaven & Hell. I honestly don’t remember the setlist order but I do know the songs:

  • E5150
  • After All (The Dead)
  • Mob Rules
  • Children Of The Sea
  • I
  • The Sign Of The Southern Cross
  • Voodoo
  • drum solo
  • Computer God
  • Falling Off The Edge Of The World
  • Shadow Of The Wind
  • Die Young
  • Heaven And Hell (with guitar solo)
  • Neon Knights

The problem with the Heaven & Hell set wasn’t the performance, it was spectacular like the one I saw in May, it was the crowd. About five songs into the set, people started to leave. As the set went on, more people left. By the time the band got to the last song (‘Neon Knights’), there were a lot of seats empty in the general admission seating. I was disappointed in the crowd leaving and I noticed that the band might have been as well because Ronnie and Tony were talking to each other during ‘Heaven & Hell’ and they may have decided to cut the set short. In fact, two songs were missing from the setlist that have been played at most of the shows: ‘Lady Evil’ and ‘The Devil Cried’. I’m not saying that they cut the set due to a smaller crowd, it could have been due to time constraints. The Tweeter Center has a strict curfew of 11pm, as of the ‘Neon Knights’ encore it was 10:45pm. A lot of time was taken up by ‘Children Of The Sea’, ‘Falling Off The Edge Of The World’, and ‘The Sign Of The Southern Cross’ (my friend timed this one as almost 10 minutes long!)as well. Personally, I didn’t complain about the setlist or the performance, my only complaint was that the band is putting on a great show and people are leaving!

For me, a great time: free seats, awesome bands, and great music. I recommend everyone go see this tour before Heaven & Hell ends their run and Alice Cooper heads to the studio. Also, that Queensryche cover of ‘Welcome To The Machine’ was so good that I am actually interested in buying their new covers album when it’s released, breaking my own rules and distaste for covers albums.

I went to the Def Leppard/Styx/Foreigner show last night at the Tweeter Center in Mansfield, MA. I was flying solo again because all of my friends have “retired” from the concert scene, they only go to the “important” shows (KISS, Ozzy, Maiden, Priest, etc). Their loss is my gain because it’s always easier to get a good seat when you are only buying one. I had 10th row for the show so I was really looking forward to it.

The Tweeter Center is an outdoor arena with 10,000 seats under the roof, a seated lawn, and a grass lawn. Capacity is around 18,000-20,000 so it’s a decent size. It’s a good place to see a concert and I have seen many over the years. It’s also about 15 minutes from home so that helps. Usually when there are three bands on the bill, the seated area under the roof is sparse for the opener. It was packed for Foreigner…..

Foreigner setlist (45mins):

  1. Double Vision
  2. Head Games
  3. Cold As Ice
  4. Dirty White Boy
  5. Feels Like The First Time
  6. Urgent
  7. Jukebox Hero/Whole Lotta Love
  8. Hot Blooded

Let me tell you, Mick Jones looks OLD! I was on his side of the stage and he just looked his age, he can still play though! Jason Bonham was behind the drum kit and Jeff Pilson (ex-Dokken) was on bass. Obviously a tight rhythm section. The highlight of the performance was lead singer Kelly Hansen (ex-Hurricane). Kelly performed each song extremely well and sounded very close to the great Lou Gramm at times. The band played to a packed house and didn’t disappoint. Best song of the set: ‘Dirty White Boy’…..but they were really great live so all the songs were tops, I’d see them if they came headlining.

Styx setlist (45 mins):

  1. Blue Collar Man
  2. Grand Illusion
  3. Too Much Time On My Hands
  4. Fooling Yourself
  5. Miss America
  6. Come Sail Away
  7. Renegade

Styx only got 45 mins and I was a little disappointed, I was hoping they would play at least an hour. With Foreigner on promptly at 7:00pm and a 25 minute set change between bands, Styx got the short end of the stick. What they lacked in time, they made up in performance. Lawrence Gowan (vocals/keyboards) really shined on ‘Grand Illusion’ and ‘Come Sail Away’ and sounds very much like former singer Dennis DeYoung. James Young got on the mic for ‘Miss America’ and the rest were for Tommy Shaw, who has become a driving force in the post-DeYoung era. Best song of the set: ‘Fooling Yourself’…..but, like Foreigner, all the songs were great live. Aside from the time constraints, the only problem I had with the performance was Gowan’s antics. He dances, he prances, he turns the keyboard around and plays with his back to the crowd, he seemed down right silly at times on stage. But he had energy and that may be what a classic band like Styx needed when he joined in 1999.

(30 minute set change for Def Leppard)

Def Leppard setlist (90 mins):

  1. Rocket
  2. Animal
  3. Excitable
  4. Foolin’
  5. Mirror, Mirror (Look Into My Eyes)
  6. Another Hit And Run
  7. Love Bites
  8. Rock On

(acoustic set)

  1. More Than A Feelling/Teen Spirit (quick intros of both)
  2. Two Steps Behind
  3. Bringin’ On The Heartbreak

(back to electric to finish ‘Bringin’ On The Heartbreak’)

  1. Switch 625 
  2. Hysteria
  3. Armageddon It
  4. Photograph
  5. Pour Some Sugar On Me
  6. Rock Of Ages

Sixteen songs in 90 mins, not a bad setlist. Anytime you can get two songs from HIGH ‘N’ DRY (1981) and ‘Mirror, Mirror’ was a total surprise. Now imagine my plight: I’m alone surrounded by screaming women of all ages. There is one guy next to me and he is obviously only there for his girlfriend. The first four songs roll by, every woman in the place is going bananas and then Def Lep does two songs that weren’t MTV anthems. I’m going nuts, singing word for word, and all these ladies are asking “Is this a new song?”…..I love “diehard” fans! Nothing would please me more if the band came back next year and played non-hits from the first three albums or play EUPHORIA (1999) or X (2002) in their entirety.

The band played well but Joe Elliot’s voice isn’t what it used to be. At times he struggled but he did get better as the night wore on. If they had gone two hours, he would have sounded great. I also noticed that Joe’s gotten a bit larger over the years…..haven’t we all? Seriously, I think the Leps get a bad rap for their commercial side but they really played well, with a ton of energy, and they sounded great. My only complaint was that they didn’t do the same encore as last year. Actually, there was no encore this year, they quickly ran off, changed guitars and played ‘Rock Of Ages’. If they stayed true to their M.O., they should have played ‘Pour Some Sugar On Me’ to end the show…..and I could have gotten a head start to the car! Nothing is worse than ‘Sugar’, especially with every woman, casual fan, and non-fan singing the words. If I had to hear another woman say she wanted <insert band member here> to pour sugar on her, I would have killed! Best song of the set: ‘Mirror, Mirror’ & ‘Another Hit And Run’.

Bottom Line:
Great seat + good bands + good music = excellent concert

It’s true, I’m considering not attending concerts anymore. I still love the music and the thrill of seeing good bands live, it’s just that the state of the concert industry is leaving a sour taste in my mouth.

I started going to shows in 1986 at age 13. My first concert was Aerosmith, with Ted Nugent opening, at the Providence Civic Center. My friend’s older brother cut school to call Ticketmaster so six of us could see the big Aerosmith reunion. (For those who forgot, Aerosmith reunited in 1985 and released DONE WITH MIRRORS.) The tickets were bought in ’85 but the concert wasn’t until March 1986, they cost $15 ($13.50 + $1.50 Ticketmaster charge). The night of the show I had $50: $15 for the ticket, $15 for a t-shirt, $10 for a program, $5 for Burger King and the last fiver was chipped in for gas and the beer we drank afterward. We thought we were kings that night!

Those days are gone. Not the good times, they are still there. The problem is the PRICES, FEES, and the QUALITY!

Throughout my teenage years, I went to all the big shows: KISS, Bon Jovi, Motley Crue, Van Halen, and countless others. As I grew older, I started venturing to the theaters, clubs and bars. It was very rare to be disappointed by a band live and wish you hadn’t paid the money.

I saw the KISS Reunion Tour in 1996 at the Fleet Center in Boston, MA for $50. We had four seats a couple rows above the floor, one section over from the V.I.P. area. Members of Aerosmith, Extreme, Cheap Trick and Boston were all in the V.I.P. area…..it was a cool experience. At that time, $50 for a ticket was big money. Add all the souveneirs I bought and beer I drank and I spent close to $250 but it was something special! This was a once in a lifetime experience…..at the time. I could justify the price because I got the best show I ever saw, I justified those prices three more times that tour!

In the following years, I’ve paid as high as $100 for a single ticket to a show. It’s crazy to some people but Music is my hobby and live shows have always been a part of it. I’ve seen almost every band I’ve ever liked live in concert. Each show was an enjoyable experience and a good memory.

So where am I going with this?

Next Saturday (June 30) is the almost annual Poison tour stop (with Ratt & Vains Of Jenna) in Mansfield, MA at the Tweeter Center. I’ve seen Poison every summer since the reunited back in 1999, I even travelled with a buddy to Pittsburgh to see the show weeks before it came to my area. The problem is that I’ve been disappointed with the show every year since 1999. Not with the openers, but with Poison. There set is usually the same with very few surprises every year and it has seemed like they have gone through the motions while co-headliners like Cinderella brought the house down and openers like Quiet Riot had a hungry attitude. Poison purists may not like to hear this but they have been blown away by opening bands the last few summers.

Every year, I bitch that the show didn’t justify the ticket price. This year the prices are: $45, $35, & $25. Not bad, very affordable, but a look at the setlists so far for Poison are less than stellar and the major reason for going is to hear Ratt and check out Vains Of Jenna. Now you may be asking: “Why are you complaining about a ticket for $25?” The reason is that $25 ticket turns into a $45 ticket when the Ticketmaster convenience fee and facility fee is added. Now I don’t mind the three bucks for the facility fee, I average ten visits to the Tweeter Center a year, if the fee helps with the upkeep and customer service, I’ll pay it. A $17 Ticketmaster fee is just crazy! So I’m not going because Poison has disappointed and the fees make the tickets too pricey.

It doesn’t stop with Poison. I got the LiveNation email regarding the second leg of the Heaven & Hell North American Tour. It had the presale information and password so I logged on this past Thursday to score a single seat. Highest price was $65. Now that’s a justifiable price considering 1) I saw an excellent show when they played Mohegan Sun Casino and 2) Alice Cooper and Queensryche are the openers. So I pull up a ticket, very good seat, and I proceed to checkout: $65 ticket, $3 facility fee, and a $19 Ticketmaster convenience fee = $87. I cancelled the order. I want to really see this show but I can’t justify the Ticketmaster fee being almost a third of the ticket price! I just saw the Heaven & Hell show last month so it’s still fresh in my mind, I go to see Alice every year around Halloween at Foxwoods Casino in Connecticut and I’ve seen Queensryche at least six times. I’m trying to find reasons to warrant not buying the ticket. I’m finally frustrated with a system that is obviously overcharging and inflating ticket prices.

But there are more questions:

I’ve seen all these bands before, am I going to miss anything? It’s a great bill, can the price be justified by the talent? Will that extra twenty dollars make or break my financial well being? Will I cave in and buy a ticket?

These are all questions I can’t answer…..yet.

I just got home from the Heaven & Hell concert at Mohegan Sun Casino in Connecticut, what a show! I flew solo again because nothing was going to stop me from seeing the Dio-era Black Sabbath live again. The last time I saw them perform together was Summer ’92 in Boston, MA at the Orpheum Theater for the Dehumanizer Tour. Mohegan Sun is an hour drive from my house but it was 45 minutes longer due to construction. I ended up backtracking 20 minutes to get there without traffic.

The arena was sold-out and the crowd was a mix of old diehards (like myself) and young kids that are probably skipping school in the morning. Actually, there were a lot of young kids at the show. It just seemed odd to see that many underage fans at an arena inside a major casino. There’s not a bad seat in the house at Mohegan so I was pleased to be just above floor level and first seat on the aisle.

On to the show…..

First up was Machine Head. I’ll be honest, I’ve never heard a Machine Head song until the show tonight, so I had no idea what to expect. I got 30 minutes of hard driving Thrash! Not a bad thing at all. The vocals put me off a little because I’m not a fan of the “growl” but I thought the band was pretty good. Good enough for me to track down a CD or two.

Thunderous applause greeted Dave Mustaine and company when Megadeth hit the stage. Another set of Thrash, can’t beat that! I don’t have the full set but some of the highlights were: ‘Peace Sells’, ‘Symphony Of Destruction’, ‘Holy Wars’, and a couple of new songs from the newly released UNITED ABOMINATIONS. Unfortunately, I’m not as familiar with the entire Megadeth catalog as I had thought because there were a few songs I didn’t recognize. Either way, the band played an hour and played great. The crowd’s reaction to ‘Peace Sells’ was just an explosion of energy, one that wasn’t seen throughout Heaven & Hell’s set.

My only reason for going was to see Sabbath. No matter what they have changed the name to, it is still Black Sabbath. Here’s the setlist:

  1. E5150
  2. After All (The Dead)
  3. Mob Rules
  4. Children Of The Sea
  5. Lady Evil
  6. I
  7. The Sign Of The Southern Cross
  8. Voodoo
  9. The Devil Cried
  10. drum solo
  11. Computer God
  12. Falling Off The Edge Of The World
  13. Shadow Of The Wind
  14. Die Young
  15. Heaven And Hell (with guitar solo)
  16. Neon Knights

This is a pretty straight forward set for the band, my only criticism being that ‘Turn Up The Night’ was excluded. A minor detail because the show was fabulous. The band was tight and RJD was in fine voice. The real treat was the three songs from DEHUMANIZER. I knew that they would do at least two songs but to get ‘Computer God’ as well was fantastic. I’ve always enjoyed DEHUMANIZER and I tend to rate it higher than most Sabbath fans do. The two new songs from BLACK SABBATH – THE DIO YEARS went over well live but they were the low point of the night, the crowd wasn’t as into those songs as the classics. Understandable.

Dio was in fine form but I did notice that he was singing lower. If you’ve seen the Dio band live in the last few years, or you watched the HOLY DIVER LIVE DVD, then you know what I’m talking about. RJD gets a pass though because the man is 65 years old and he still sings better than singers half his age or younger. He might not be able to sing in his upper register all night long but he did when it counted (‘Heaven And Hell’, ‘Neon Knights’). Geezer Butler and Vinny Appice were extremely tight on the back end but it was Tony Iommi that stole the show. Iommi is the master of Heavy Metal guitar and he put on an absolute clinic onstage tonight. I don’t think he missed a single lick and he improvised a few details into his solos that added more to the songs. What impressed me was the ease in which he performed. The man is pounding out on his guitar and he is smiling the whole time, walking back and forth a little, and not using any “guitar acrobatics”. The man just stood there and played, not needing any extras to capture the crowd.

After the show, the band was setup at a table in the middle of the casino shopping area and they were having a “meet & greet”. The line was so long that the estimated time to actually get up to he stage was around 90 minutes. I figured that by the time my turn rolled around, the band would call it a night. I decided to skip it and head to the parking garage. All in all, I witnessed another excellent concert and added another Heavy Metal memory. If you get the chance to see this tour, go!

I flew solo to the Def Leppard & Journey co-headline tour this past Saturday night, had a great time. Gone are all my concert buddies, either they are too busy or have decided that they are too old to go to concerts, except for the really BIG shows. Even my wife won’t go anymore, unless it’s a really big concert by a big name act. I don’t mind flying solo to shows, I’ve been doing it for years. It’s actually a really good time: no hassle, I can get in and out faster, and I can enjoy the show and get lost in my own little world.

The show at the Tweeter Center in Mansfield, MA was sold-out! That includes the lawn! I was surprised to say the least when I found out that they were turning people away in droves at the ticket windows. I saw Journey in 2001 on the Arrival Tour, they sold well but not sell-out. I saw Def Leppard on the Euphoria Tour in 1999 at the Tweeter, sold-out show. Saw them again on the X Tour at the Providence Civic Center and the barely got 2000 in attendance. I didn’t expect a sell-out, maybe the seats would be full but definitely not the lawn area. It was a great atmosphere, it reminded me of the excitement of the ’80s when almost every show that came to town was a sell-out.

The opener was Stoll Vaughan , a singer/songwriter from Kentucky. Not bad, reminded me of a more Country-ish John Cougar Mellencamp. The guy came out with an acoustic guitar, backed by Ross Vallory and Jonathan Cain from Journey, and did 5 songs. Off in 20-25 minutes.

Journey came out and absolutely ROCKED! If you use Google, you’ll find the setlists for the tour but it was all the hits you’d expect. After all the problems the band had with lead singer Steve Augeri losing his voice early in the tour, the band righted the wrongs by bringing in Jeff Scott Soto on lead vocals. Let me just say this: the band had renewed energy, played their asses off, and fed off JSS’ performance. They crowd was totally into it, songs like ‘Separate Ways’, ‘Chain Reaction’, ‘Ask The Lonely’, and ‘Stone In Love’ just smoked. Neal Schon just shredding the guitar, mesmerizing the crowd. If Journey doesn’t retain Jeff Scott Soto on vocals for the future, then it’s a crime. A total pleasure to watch a band play professionally, enjoy themselves, and leave the crowd screaming for more.

On to the Leps…..

Def Leppard always has a great live show. I saw them a few years ago on the X Tour and they opened the first part of their set by playing the whole High’n Dry album! Now THAT was an awesome show! The show I saw following Journey’s awesome opening left a lot to be desired. I’m a big Def Leppard guy, I was there since Pyromania and I am devout in worshipping the pre-Hysteria and post-Retroactive eras. What I heard and saw was boring.

First, Joe Elliot’s voice is either shot or strained from the rigors of touring. He didn’t sound like Joe Elliot. I realize age and lifestyle may have something to do with it, we all can’t be in our mid-20s forever! He gets a pass.

Second, the setlist was too predictable. I remember this one (not in order but by album):

  • Let It Go
  • Bringin’ On The Heartbreak
  • Let’s Get Rocked
  • Rock On (from Yeah!)
  • 20th Century Boy (from Yeah!)
  • Foolin’
  • Rock Of Ages
  • Photograph
  • Women
  • Rocket
  • Animal
  • Hysteria
  • Armageddon It
  • Love Bites (encore)
  • Pour Some Sugar On Me (encore)

A setlist full of surprises! Yeah right! I like the hits just like anyone else but I could use a couple of curveballs in there to freshen it up. Nice to hear ‘Let It Go’ again, best song of the set. I saw some people singing along but most of the crowd just stood there. I sang right along and I think I annoyed the young ladies to my left. They got revenge by spilling their beer on me more than a couple of times. Nothing is more annoying than spilled beer on your jeans so I decided my Pepsi just had to be spilled into their merchandise bag. It was an accident, I swear! At least they were dry and didn’t smell like Bud Lite!

Back to the show…..I didn’t like Yeah! when it was released but the 2 songs played from it live were pretty good. They pulled it off and they were a pleasant diversion from the Hysteria-filled set. I still like Hysteria but do we really need to seven songs from the album? Why not throw in a track from Slang, Euphoria, or X? I understand the crowd wants to hear familiar songs but the diehards keep the flames going when the masses don’t buy the new albums (see the last two studio albums), why not throw them a bone and play a tune from On Through The Night? When a band like Def Leppard goes out of their way to denounce their Heavy Metal/Hard Rock roots in the press, why can’t they back it up live and play newer material? Def Leppard isn’t the only band guilty of pandering the hits, KISS does it all the time and I rip them too. The covers count but they really don’t, play some of your OWN material, please!

Overall, I enjoyed the hits, I just hoped for more, I expected more variety. I’ve seen this set before basically, it was no surprise. I left at the encore to beat the crowd. By that time they hadn’t played ‘Love Bites’ or ‘Sugar’, not their best songs and I really didn’t need the chicks next to me spilling more drinks. It was all too predictable.

Funny story – Between Journey and Def Leppard, I met a guy around my age (34) that claimed to be Def Lep’s biggest fan. He had the old Pyromania tour shirt on, he bought EVERY piece of merchandise at the stand, and told me of his shrine to the Leps at his house. Sounded like a KISS fan! He waxed poetic on the glory days, how good Slang was and how unappreciated the X album and tour was. So the guy asks me what my favorite Def Lep album is…..I answer Pyromania…..his answer was Hysteria. I ask him if he thinks that Hysteria was too much of a departure from their Metal roots on OTTN and HND. His answer: “Which albums are those?” So I remind him of the band’s awesome first two albums, his answer: “Def Leppard made two albums BEFORE Pyromania?” My reply, “Are you serious?” That ended my conversation with Def Leppard’s biggest fan.

Extreme – Bank of America Pavilion (Boston, MA) – 6/30/06

To start my week’s vacation, I drove the hour to Boston for the Extreme reunion show at the BOA Pavilion (formerly the FleetBoston Pavilion). Located directly on the South Boston waterfront, the amphitheater is the perfect spot for a Summer concert.

Before I get into Extreme, let me talk a bit about the opener, Charlie Farren (former Joe Perry Project & ex-Farrenheit). Charlie came out alone, with his guitar, and treated the crowd to some solo tunes, a couple covers, and a few selections from local favorites Farrenheit. I didn’t know any songs he played, except the covers, and I was impressed. Add a mix of AOR, Rock, Blues and Jazz and you get the Charlie Farren sound. He has his solo and Farrenheit CDs for sale via his website, worth checking out.

On to Extreme…..

I know people think of the ballad ‘More Than Words’ when you mention Extreme but this Boston band can rock. Being part of the local scene in Rhode Island back in the day, Boston bands like Extreme would come down and play clubs like The Living Room or JR’s Fastlane regularly. We got to know the band and the songs well. The debut album in 1989 became a favorite in the circles I ran in back in my high school days. Since those days, I have always been a supporter of the band, Gary solo and in Van Halen, and Nuno’s solo work.

Last night’s show was spectacular, definitely a warm homecoming for a band that hasn’t played out in 12 years! The Boston crowd was treated to a 2 hour 15 min set representing all four studio albums and a surprise encore with some very special local guests.

I can’t remember the exact order but the setlist included:

  • Decadence Dance
  • When I’m President
  • Get The Funk Out
  • More Than Words
  • It (‘s A Monster)
  • Play With Me
  • Rest In Peace
  • Cupid’s Dead
  • Tragic Comic
  • Our Father
  • Am I Ever Gonna Change
  • Tell Me Something I Don’t Know (with Mike Mangini on drums)
  • Leave Me Alone (with Mike Mangini on drums)
  • Medley: Kid Ego/Little Girls/Teacher’s Pet/Mutha (Don’t Wanna Go To School Today)

Encore:

  • Hole Hearted
  • Rock’n’Roll Band (with Barry Goudreau & Brad Delp of Boston)
  • Rock’n’Roll (Zep cover/with Barry Goudreau & Brad Delp)

I could be missing a couple of tunes but you get the idea. The band was in fine form, top notch playing and a TON of energy. Nice to see them having a good time onstage: smiling, cracking jokes with each other, enjoying the show. They also acknowledged Mike Mangini (drums from 1994-1996) by having him do a couple tunes, something other bands might not do. Having Brad and Barry from Boston come out for the encores absolutely blew the roof off. Brad Delp can still sing at 50+ like he did on Boston’s debut record 30 years ago, simply amazing.

The morning after…..

I’m sitting here listening to the debut record and reminiscing back to high school weekends spent hanging out in parking lots playing different tapes and drinking beers until the police kicked us out and the party would move to another spot. We used to have tons of people around a single boombox listening to something new and guzzling brews. Those memories made me realize how truly great music was back in the ’80s, and is now…..how so many people really got into the music and it influenced their lives. Watching Extreme last night gave me a slice of my youth back for 2 hours, it was 1989 all over again!