Category Archives: Concert Reviews

Concert Review: Stephen Pearcy (04/27/13)

pearcy

newway

Stephen Pearcy

Opening Act: A New Way To Live Forever

Saturday, 4/27/13

Club L.A. in Destin, FL

This was my first concert at Club L.A. out in Destin, Florida. I’m pleasantly surprised that a venue like this exists in a beachtown that likes to project a clean image for the families that visit in the summer. Of course, spring break is an entirely different tale of debauchery but the City of Destin doesn’t want anyone to know about that!

Doors opened at 7:30PM but I didn’t end up getting to the show until a bit after 8PM. I was thinking we’ve might’ve at least missed the start of the opening act but the bartender told us there was an issue with one of their amps so they were going on late. It was probably 8:30 or so when Fort Lauderdale’s A New Way To Live Forever took the stage.

ANWTLF plays in a style that’s grounded in ’90s rock. On their Facebook page, some of the bands they list as being fans of or being influenced by are Sunny Day Real Estate, Nirvana, The Cure, Smashing Pumpkins, Lenny Kravitz, Foo Fighters, Kings of Leon and Muse. Although I didn’t keep tabs on their setlist, they played for a good amount of time. I’d imagine probably 45 minutes or so at least and I think they closed with “California Waiting” by Kings of Leon. It was a decent set. This type of rock music isn’t really my thing but there were a few good songs in the bunch. The music of A New Way To Live Forever is definitely worlds away from Ratt ‘n’ roll! They seemed like a cool group of guys though. They hung out after their set for photos and autographs and to sell their CD. They even stayed around to drink beer, shoot pool and watch Pearcy’s set.

But now to the main event: Stephen Pearcy! I haven’t been able to find any info on who the members of his “Ratt Bastards” solo band are other than guitarist Erik Ferentinos. The show was by no means a sell-out. It’s a decent sized club and I’d bet by the time Pearcy played there was maybe 200 people there. As Pearcy said, “It doesn’t matter whether to me whether it’s 10 people or 10,000 people. It’s all a party!” Most of the crowd was as close to the stage as possible for Stephen’s entire set and they were into the show with fists in the air and singing along to every word.

I remember years ago the internet bashing Stephen Pearcy’s live performances pretty bad, posting them on YouTube and whatnot. I personally thought he gave a good performance on Saturday night. Yeah, his voice isn’t as strong as it once was but when you sing in that gritty nasally style that he does and you’re in your mid-50s, you’re not going to sound like you did on Out of the Cellar! Guys like Pearcy, Bret Michaels and Vince Neil catch a lot of flak for their live performances but considering their age and style of music they play, they do fine. It’s rock ‘n’ roll, not opera! It’s the spirit that matters, I don’t care if they can’t hit every note live.

Stephen Pearcy’s setlist:
Lay It Down
You’re In Love
Lack of Communication
Wanted Man
Slip of the Lip
I’m Insane
You Think You’re Tough
Way Cool Jr.
U Got It
Sweet Cheater
Body Talk
Heading Out to the Highway [Judas Priest cover]
Back For More
Round And Round

As you can see, Pearcy played pretty much all of the hits you’d want if you went to see a Ratt show. I was hoping he’d play “Best of Me”, which was the single from 2010’s Infestation, but I can understand why he didn’t since it’s hard to count that as a “hit” for Ratt. I was actually quite surprised he didn’t throw in any Arcade or solo stuff. His solo material is a bit too industrial & alternative for me but I wouldn’t have minded it at all if he tossed in anything from the first Arcade record. That’s a great album.

For $15, I discovered one decent band and got to see a hair metal legend sing all of his hits from Ratt. Not a bad night at all. Well worth the money if Stephen Pearcy ever comes near your town.

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Concert Review: Poison (7/07/11)

Poison

Opener: Top of the Orange

7/07/11

The Amphitheater at The Wharf in Orange Beach, Alabama

Bret Michaels just doesn’t stop. It seems like he’s constantly touring. When Poison isn’t touring, he’s doing solo shows and even when Poison is on the road, he finds time to schedule solo shows! Poison is in the middle of a big summer tour with Motley Crue and the New York Dolls but the band has scheduled a number of headlining shows as well on off days. Warrant is opening for them on a number of those shows but unfortunately were not present for this Orange Beach concert.

Top of the Orange

I was hoping there would be someone opening the show but it wasn’t until a week before the show that The Wharf’s Facebook page announced that Mobile, Alabama-based band Top of the Orange would be curtain jerking. I checked a few of their songs out online and they seemed like a decent current-sounding hard rock band with songs that fit in with the rest of whatever rock radio decides to play these days.

Apparently they’ve been making quite a name of themselves in the Gulf Coast area and according to their website they’ve opened for 3 Doors Down, Staind, Shinedown, Three Days Grace, Breaking Benjamin and Theory of a Dead Man among others… Now you can add Poison to that list!

While I didn’t expect Poison to do a 2 hour to 2 1/2 hour set, I certainly didn’t expect Top of the Orange to play so long either. I thought 4 or 5 songs and then it’d be time for Poison but The Orange had played a healthy set. While Top of the Orange won’t be drawing any similarities to a band like Poison and their sound owes more to the ’90s rock scene and bands like Theory of a Deadman and Nickelback that’s what made the experience cool — you get to see a young up ‘n’ coming playing a totally different style than the veteran headliners. Variety is the spice of life!

I know I’m going to completely screw up the set list, but here’s what seems familiar (though I think I’m leaving off a song or two and I know the order isn’t right):

Set list
“Let Me In”
“Nowhere”
“Truth Be told”
“Cutting Me Off”
“Immigrant Song” (Led Zeppelin cover)
“Who Turned Off the Sun”
“Sex Kitten”
“Why Can’t”

Poison

Poison is out on the road this summer with a tour they’re calling “Glam-A-Geddon 25” in honor of the band’s 1986 Look What the Cat Dragged In debut. Odd then that some of the band would wear Open Up and Say… Ahh! t-shirts and that album cover was a part of the stage setup. Could it be they are embarrassed by their debut album’s super glammy cover?

I’d seen Poison once before but it was a good show. Much like Def Leppard, I know they don’t change up the set list much from year to year but these guys are still a fun band and certainly the premier glam metal band and are proud of that fact so to me it was worth taking the time and money to see them again.

As I said, there weren’t too many surprises with the set list. They band went through all their signature songs but actually sounded better than when I saw in 2009 (although I think it was more of a technical issue that day). Compared to when I first saw them, they’ve dropped “Something To Believe In”, which has been played on some of the Motley shows, but added “I Want Action” (which I thought was awesome) and “We’re An American Band”.

Poison started off the show in a cool way, or maybe it was just coincidental — the lights went out, the stage started to glow and then AC/DC’s “Highway to Hell” started to play and it played in its entirety as Poison’s skull backdrop was raised on the stage. Seemed like part of the show to me. Both finished about the same time and then a spotlight hits the drum kit and a guy walks out in a jacket, hat and bandanna covering his face and spray paints “Orange” on one kick drum and “Beach” on the other. He takes off the jacket and bandanna and it’s revealed to be none other than Rikki Rockett!

From there the band was on fire — literally! You had green flames, yellow flames, orange flames, pyro, etc. going off at various times throughout the night. Backdrops were changed a couple of times, it was a get stage set up. The entire band was energetic all night long and Bret is really one of the best front men to come out of the ’80s.

I was counting on Setlist.FM to already have the set list up but it’s not there yet. I KNOW these are the songs played but I may have one or two out of order. I’m about 85% sure this is the correct order though!

Set list
“Look What The Cat Dragged In”
“I Want Action”
“We’re An American Band” (Grand Funk Railroad cover)
“Ride The Wind”
“Your Mama Don’t Dance” (Loggins & Messina cover)
C.C.’s Guitar Solo
“Fallen Angel”
“Unskinny Bop”
Rikki’s Drum Solo
“Every Rose Has Its Thorn”
“Talk Dirty To Me”
Encore
“Nothin’ But A Good Time”

Just a fun night all around, the venue was not as full as the Def Leppard show but still close to being packed. Top of the Orange got a good reception, it seemed like about a fourth of the audience knew who they were so that helped add to the enjoyment of watching them. Poison was indeed “nothin’ but a good time”. The band has caught a lot of flak over the years from peers and rock fans but I’ve always enjoyed them. They aren’t the best musicians or the most thoughtful lyricists but they always bring fun and a good time to the table and what more do you really need in a rock band?

Concert Review: Def Leppard & Heart (6/19/11)


Def  Leppard

W/  Special Guests: Heart

Opener: Evan Watson 

6/19/2011

The Amphitheater at The Wharf in Orange Beach, Alabama

First off, I gotta say that The Amphitheater at The Wharf is a pretty cool venue with not a bad seat in the house. I’d never been to it before and it was a much cleaner and nicer facility than I am used to going to. Then again, since it is located just over the Florida state line in a resort/beach town, it’s a given that the place would be pretty nice and well-maintained. Capacity is about 10,000 and though I can testify that it wasn’t a sell out from the five empty seats around us, it had to have been pretty close.

Here are my thoughts…

Evan Watson

Evan Watson is a blues/folk/rock guitarist who I wasn’t familiar with before this show. He wasn’t listed on any of the materials I saw promoting this show. Obviously, being the opening act, the venue wasn’t even half full at this point but those of us that were there appreciated Watson’s work. Great voice that lends a lot of passion and truth to the music he is playing and he came across as very likable during his stage banter.

Pretty interesting set up in that he didn’t have a backing band. Just a man and his guitar (he used some type of pedal setup to keep a beat). From what I can tell by his website, he usually has a backing band called The Headless Horsemen but it looks like he’s going completely solo for this tour.

He played a four or five song set but I can’t remember the name of the first song and in-between “Woodpecker” and “The Giving Tree” he played a song by The Band (the name of that song also escapes me). “Woodpecker” is a pretty cool & lyrically naughty blues rock number but “The Giving Tree” was the set’s highlight for me. I am now a fan and I’m going to check out his album A Town Called Blue and the just-released South EP.

[EDIT: I contacted Evan Watson on his Facebook page and he has informed me of the two songs I was missing.]

Set list
“Latitude”
“Woodpecker”
“Shape I’m In” (The Band cover)
“The Giving Tree”

Heart

When I initially heard about this tour, honestly, Heart wasn’t even a selling point for me. I had seen Def Leppard back in 2009 and wanted to see them again and that’s all there was to it. Yes, I am a fan of Heart but with only two of their albums in my collection, it would be a stretch to say they were a favorite act of mine (although I really enjoy much of their ’70s output). Once they hit the stage though, my mind was totally changed.

Great performance from the entire band with Ann sounding just as good as ever at 62 years of age (it was her birthday and Nancy led the crowd in singing “Happy Birthday” to her). It’s just insane that anyone can still sound this good 30 years on. She has to be the best female rock vocalist of all time. As for Nancy, she was full of energy all night — hopping, skipping and jumping around as she played.

The best part of their set was their classic ’70s material along with “WTF” from 2010’s Red Velvet Car. That song is classic Heart in my opinion and fits in well with their older material. Of course, they had a number of hit rock/pop songs in the ’80s and played those as well. These songs went over well with the crowd (though I think the women were more into those songs than the males). Though they certainly weren’t going through the motions, I got the feeling like they just wanted to get through those commercial numbers as quickly as possible (which is probably why they were lumped altogether) as the sisters would jokingly make references to the songs as “another eighties song” and talk about MTV and big hair styles.

Heart is a fantastic, powerful and graceful live band and “Cook With Fire” was on fire. That was easily the best performance of their set. Such a great way to open their set and my only complaint on their performance is that they did not play “Dog & Butterfly”.

Set list
“Cook With Fire” (w/intro from “In The Evening” by Led Zeppelin)
“Heartless”
“Never”
“What About Love”
“These Dreams”
“You’re the Voice”
“Alone”
“WTF”
“Magic Man”
“Crazy On You”
“Barracuda”
Encore
“What Is and What Should Never Be” (Led Zeppelin cover)

Def Leppard

I was pleasantly surprised to see them open with “Undefeated” (one of three new studio tracks from the newly released live album Mirrorball: Live & More – review coming soon!). Though the song has grown on me since first hearing it, it comes off even better live and was a great choice as an opener that the crowd was into.

The rest of the set was about what you’d expect from Def Leppard these days, at least when it comes to playing in the U.S. (they played a slightly different set over in the UK recently that included “Wasted” from On Through the Night). In comparison to the 2009 show I caught them at, they’ve dropped “Rock Rock (‘Til You Drop)”, “Too Late for Love” and “C’mon C’mon” while adding “Undefeated” and “Foolin'”. Other than that, they changed up the running order a bit.

Though there are very little surprises with this band nowadays, they are a tight touring machine and in addition to their precise musical abilities, they have all the smoke, lights and video screens to back them up. It’s great to see them still going out and giving 100% when it comes to presentation. It really is a grand concert experience to see Def Leppard perform live, they hit all their marks, I just wish they would change up the set list a bit more and dust off a few numbers like “Promises”, “20th Century Boy”, “Make Love Like A Man”, “Women”, “Now” or “Gods of War”.

Set list
“Undefeated”
“Let’s Get Rocked”
“Animal”
“Foolin'”
“Love Bites”
“Rock On” (David Essex cover)
“Rocket”
“Two Steps Behind” (Acoustic)
“Bringin’ on the Heartbreak” (Acoustic/Electric)
“Switch 625”
“Hysteria”
“Armageddon It”
“Photograph”
“Pour Some Sugar on Me”
Encore
“Rock of Ages”

Overall, it was a great night. Def Leppard, Heart and Watson all put in great performances and it was a real treat to see Heart perform live. If they ever came back around as headliners, I would be interested in seeing them. The whole venue had a great atmosphere and the weather was about as nice as you could hope for given it’s the south and summertime (had a good breeze going). This is a show worth seeking out this summer and worth every dollar.

Concert Review: Trans-Siberian Orchestra – 4/27/11

Trans-Siberian Orchestra
4/27/11
Pensacola Civic Center in Pensacola, Florida

My second time seeing TSO and understandably the show was a bit scaled back compared to what they do on their winter tours. Oh, don’t worry, they still have the full orchestra and band, smoke, fire, lazers, video screens, etc. It was just a smaller stage than when I saw them back in 2009 and that’s not because the Civic Center couldn’t handle a full show. As far as I know, the “Beethoven’s Last Night Tour” is the group’s first non-holiday tour so while they can pack ’em in during the holidays, they were probably just being cautious as to how well this tour will be received. I was actually a bit surprised to see them only making use of about a fourth of the arena. It was packed though so I would estimate around 3,000 people were there since the entire arena holds up to 12,000.

Obviously, being called the “Beethoven’s Last Night Tour”, the majority of the evening was devoted to the Beethoven’s Last Night album that was released in 2000 (which was their first non-holiday album). I have never heard that album in its entirety but I think anyone who is a fan of their holiday shows would also enjoy the music here. It’s all done in the same rock/metal/classical style,  it just isn’t about Christmas.

I knew Beethoven’s Last Night probably wasn’t going to be the whole show and luckily it wasn’t. For the encore, things got a bit heavier as the band played a few numbers from Night Castle and also a few Savatage songs as well (“Sleep” and “Chance”). The Beethoven was filled with tons of great songs but I really like all the encore numbers just because they were much heavier and darker. That’s when TSO really showed their heavy metal roots and reminded you that without Savatage, TSO may have never existed.

As for the performances, of course everyone was spot-on all night long. The core of Trans-Siberian Orchestra is Savatage so there was Al Pitrelli & Chris Caffery on guitar, Jeff Plate on drums and Johnny Lee Middleton on bass. I gotta say it was great seeing Pitrelli live, that guy is a monster (as one point during the Beethoven part of the show, he stopped to play a little Hendrix). The last time I saw TSO it was Caffery & Skolnick. Also, another highlight was seeing THE Jeff Scott Soto in person. He played the part of Mephistopheles and what a voice! He also came out for the encore and sang “Another Way You Can Die”. Two other great vocalists I should point out are Rob Evan (who played Beethoven) and Andrew Ross. Narrator Bryan Hicks did a tremendous job as well.

All the other musicians were fantastic like violinist Roddy Chong and all the female vocalists were mind-blowingly good (and sexy!) as well. Everyone is worth mentioning by name but you must forgive me because I can’t seem to find any tour credits at this moment.

While the entire Beethoven album is littered with many great songs, I have to say the encore is what I liked best. I love it when TSO gets fast and furious and heavy and that did definitely that. And it’s a good thing they chose to close the show with a cover of Savatage’s “Chance” because that song is an absolute show-stopper. Everyone came out on stage and it was a great way to cap off the night.

Set List:

Overture
Midnight
Fate
What Good This Deafness
Mephistopheles
What Is Eternal
Mozart and Memories
Vienna
Mozart / Figaro
The Dreams of Candlelight
Requiem (The Fifth)
The Dark
Für Elise
After the Fall
A Last Illusion
This Is Who You Are
Beethoven
Misery
Who Is This Child
A Final Dream

Encore:

Toccata – Carpimus Noctem
The Mountain
Sleep
Better Listen To This
Another Way You Can Die
Carmina Burana
Chance

www.trans-siberian.com

Concert Review: Trans-Siberian Orchestra – 11/02/09

Trans-Siberian Orchestra

11/02/09

Breslin Student Events Center at MSU in East Lansing, Michigan

Though I own a TSO album, I never really got into it, but I sure did try to given the Savatage connection. Trans-Siberian Orchestra has always seemed like a group that would be more fun to see live and after last night’s amazing show, that is 100% confirmed. And what better night to go than on my birthday?

This was probably the best concert experience I’ve ever had. The place was a sellout, but TSO definitely brings in a different demographic than Avenged Sevenfold, KISS or Motley Crue does so I didn’t have to worry about any idiots getting on my nerves.

Sometimes when you go to shows, the sound isn’t so well. I’ve seen plenty of rock bands perform with the guitar way too much in the mix and they’re basically all you can hear but last night everything just about perfect. No screeching guitars, no bass or drums that rattled your ears so much you get vertigo, everything was spot on for the most part, but funny enough — I thought the guitars were a tiny bit low in the mix. Other than that minor quibble, guitarists Chris Caffery and Alex Skolnick were amazing all night.

I know people are going to want to know the set list from me, but I can’t tell you that. I’m not familiar enough with their music and I can’t find any other recent set lists online to get an idea, but the first half of the show focused on Christmas and the majority of the second half featured many songs from their latest album Night Castle.

As much as I loved the Christmas stuff, there were quite a few ballads in that portion that kind of bored me. Most of the second half was amazing though, the show got darker and heavier. After the Christmas portion was finished, a number of people began leaving. I guess those old-timers just wanted Christmas music, but you’re only getting half your money’s worth! For a rock/metal fan, the second half was definitely the best.

The stage production was amazing too, probably the best concert I’ve ever seen. Lasers, smoke, “snow”, tons of video screens, flames (green, orange and blue!). It was a great spectacle. I was surprised by how much they were able to fit into Breslin.

Overall, whether you’re a fan of Christmas, symphonies, hard rock or all of the above — TSO is a great way to spend the holidays and fantastic way to get your fix. Highly recommended. I believe this is at least the third year in a row they’ve come to Breslin, if they come again next year, I’ll be sure to be there.

Concert Review: KISS w/ Buckcherry – 9/25/09

KISS
with Buckcherry

9/25/09

Cobo Arena in Detroit, Michigan

FINALLY! Nine years after trying to see KISS on their “farewell tour” (I couldn’t find anyone who would go with me!) and five years after purchasing tickets to see them on their Rock the Nation tour (my show got canceled), I can now say that I have experienced KISS alive and in person! They’ve been the Holy Grail of concerts for me and it was everything I expected.

Supposedly, tickets were selling so well on the first day for this show that they added a show for 9/26 as well. I’m pretty sure the second date was already set in stone, but I’m also confident the show last night as a sellout, I didn’t see an empty seat in the 12,000+ capacity arena by the time KISS stormed the stage.

The show was scheduled to start at 7:30PM and my fiancee and I (the only rock show partner I have) left Lansing about 5:15 or so. I’ve never been into Detroit before, so I was a little bit anxious, hoping we could be sticking the highway and that’s exactly what we did as the highway feeds right into Cobo. After waiting for about 30-40 minutes in very slow moving line to park in Cobo’s parking complex (which they ripped me off another $10 for), we got to our seats a few minutes past 7:30.

Buckcherry setlist

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

Unfortunately, Buckcherry had already started their set as we were still outside the doors trying to get our seats, but I could hear “Lit Up” playing, so thankfully, we didn’t miss to you. I would’ve love to have heard “Tired of You”, it’s a great live song and one of my favorites from the band. I was able to find out they played “Tired of You” and “Next to You” thanks to a fan from Buckcherry’s message board.

One thing I thought was funny was that sing Josh Todd mentioned he was told not to cuss while talking onstage (that didn’t really stop him, but he did hold back a bit compared to the previous shows I’ve seen them on)… Yet, almost every song Buckcherry played features cussing!

It was cool to hear them play Deep Purple’s “Highway Star”, the band covered it recently as a theme song for NASCAR and it has been placed on the re-issue of 2008’s Black Butterfly.

The band did another great expanded edition of “Crazy Bitch”, taking a brief trip into Billy Squier’s “The Stroke” (as they usually do) and also “Fire”, which I’m guessing is the title. It was a popular funk song, but I can’t remember who sang it originally.

All told, Buckcherry in the studio or live is one of the great rock bands from the last ten years. This was my third time seeing them play and it’s always a great show. As good as they were though, my mind was on KISS and by the time Buckcherry ended their set, I was ready for Gene & Paul!

KISS setlist

Deuce
Strutter
Got to Choose
Hotter Than Hell
Nothin’ to Lose
C’mon and Love Me
Parasite
She
Watchin’ You
100,000 Years
Black Diamond
Cold Gin
Let Me Go, Rock ‘n’ Roll
Rock and Roll All Nite

ENCORE:
Shout It Out Loud
Lick It Up
I Love It Loud
Modern Day Delilah
Love Gun
Detroit Rock City

Paul was especially fun to watch (he’s always been my favorite), he was prancing and dancing and running around all night long. I was also looking forward to his stage raps and I know he’s got a reputation for using the same lines at every show, but this time he mostly spoke about the band’s history with Cobo and Detroit. He mentioned they originally weren’t planning on starting the ALIVE 35 tour in Detroit, but once they heard Cobo was coming down (it’s being demolished and then will be rebuilt to a larger size), they wanted to play there. He also talked about the hard times Detroit has fallen on and said it was a sin for one of America’s greatest cities that’s given the world such great music to have such a high unemployment rate and said he knew Detroit would rise again.

There was a funny part where he was asking us where KISS should play next time they come to Detroit. He asked if they should come back The Palace of Auburn Hills, the crowd booed, so he said “where do you want us to come?”

“No, not in your mouth,” was Paul’s reply to one fan up front. It was pretty funny.

Another humorous moment was when Paul came out to join the crowd during “Love Gun” on his rotating platform. Nearing the end, after his vocal part was done, his microphone stand went down. I’m not sure he knocked it over on purpose or what, I didn’t catch that, but he pointed at it a few times for a crew member to take care of, but no one did. In anger, he kicked it towards the edge of the platform and one of the guys finally got off their butts and took it away so he could keep prancing around.

The band ran through most of Alive!, strangely leaving off “Rock Bottom” and “Firehouse”. I would’ve loved to have heard “Rock Bottom”. It was great to hear “Modern Day Delilah” and “Love Gun” and of course, they couldn’t come to Detroit without closing with “Detroit Rock City”.

I’ve seen enough KISS concert footage to know what to expect from these guys: pyro, flames, smoke, levitating drum kits, rising platforms, firebreathing, Gene doing his bat pose and flying up into the air, Paul ziplining out to the middle of the arena, rocket shooting guitars, smashing guitars… They did it all and myself and the rest of the crowd ate it up!

These guys are professionals, Tommy and Eric included. They sounded great and they looked great, so as always, KISS delivered. I will make sure to see them again when the next come around, hopefully they’ll do a tour dedicated to the new album next year.

Concert Review: DEF LEPPARD, POISON, CHEAP TRICK – 7/23/09

Def Leppard, Poison, Cheap Trick

7/24/09

DTE Energy Music Theatre in Clarkston, MI

In the days leading to this show, we weren’t sure how the weather was going to be. For the past two weeks, the days in this region have been cloudy one minute, looking like it’s about to pour, then the sun would come out. They were calling for thunderstorms in the Clarkston area starting at 4PM and lasting through 11PM, but luckily that didn’t happen even though clouds did come and go for awhile right around 7PM when the show started. It wasn’t too hot either (80 degrees is still warmer than I would like though).

I bought another t-shirt. I really wanted to get either a Def Leppard or Poison tour shirt, listing the dates on the back, but my fiancee convinced me to get a really cool winged skull Def Leppard t-shirt. It looks similar to this one, but the graphic is a bit different (and cooler looking) plus it’s a dark brown color. I picked out the pink Poison t-shirt for my girl, who was wanting a Def Leppard shirt but I convinced her girls always look hot in pink.

We got to DTE pretty early, making better time than we made coming here last week, so we stood around the east entrance waiting until they opened the gates (which they were late doing for some reason). The cool thing about arriving so early was that we got there to hear the final few minutes of Def Leppard’s soundcheck.

The show was a sellout, which I figured would be the case thanks to all the MILFs that grew up on Poison & Def Leppard plus because of Bret’s recent rise in popularity as a reality TV show star. We had tried to upgrade our tickets at the box office (in fear of bad weather) so we could get under the pavilion, but there were no tickets left to upgrade to.

Cheap Trick setlist

“She’s Tight”
“I Want You To Want Me”
“These Days”
“Never Had A Lot To Lose”
“Sick Man of Europe”
“Dream Police”
“The Flame”
“Surrender”
“Goodnight”

Oh my! Cheap Trick actually hit the stage at the scheduled showtime of 7PM! Seems like every concert I go to, the show begins 15-20 minutes before the announced starting time. They immediately had the crowd in the palm of their hand. DTE was about half full and filling up rapidly as they hit the stage.

The start of the show was pretty weird. It began with a bunch of sound clips from TV/movies/whatever or people mentioning Cheap Trick or singing their songs and it also had a bit of their song “Transformers (The Fallen Remix)” from the Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen – The Album soundtrack. This went on for a number of minutes.

I’m 95% sure this is the correct setlist. I know they played “She’s Tight” in there somewhere even though I don’t have it in my notes and my notes also left off what they opened with, so I’m assuming it actually was “She’s Tight”. Regardless, they did a fantastic job and the crowd ate it up. They had one of the cleanest sounds I have ever heard live and Zander’s voice was in fine form and really popped the crowd during “The Flame” (“I will be the flaaaaaaaaaaaaaaammmmmmme!”). For a song that the band has expressed displeasure with over the years, “The Flame” went over extremely well with the crowd.

I’ve never been a huge Cheap Trick fan, but I can’t imagine any diehards being disappointed with this performance at all.

Poison setlist

“Look What The Cat Dragged In”
“Ride the Wind”
“Your Mama Don’t Dance”
C.C. DeVille solo
“Fallen Angel”
“Something to Believe In”
“Unskinny Bop”
Rikki Rockett solo
“Every Rose Has Its Thorn”
“Talk Dirty to Me”
“Nothin’ But A Good Time”

Poison was as over as water in the desert. As Cheap Trick was winding down their set, DTE was at full capacity and the place came unglued for Poison, especially the ladies. Poison could easily come back next year and sell out at DTE if last night was any indication. This isn’t a knock on Def Leppard, but had the show ended with Poison, I think most people would’ve gone home happy!

There was too much buzz in the mix, which made it hard to listen to at some points, but overall, the band gave it their all and put on a solid show with Bret being the great showman that he is, running and jumping and taking time to talk to the crowd. It’s a great touch when the bands actually remember the venues and cities and talk about their history there. Numerous times Bret mentioned playing in Detroit in the early years, getting their start at Blondie’s, moving up to Harpo’s and then Pine Knob (what it was called before the corporate buyout and name change to DTE Energy in 2002). Cheap Trick’s Rick Nielson also commented on Pine Knob (“…or whatever the fuck they’re calling it!”) and cited Detroit as being the first city to put Cheap Trick on the radio.

I’d love for Poison to finally get their heads on straight and put out a new album so we could get a setlist change. Or at least for them to start pulling some lesser-played songs out of their catalog. These are great songs they play live now, but even if you haven’t seen Poison live before (which I hadn’t), you’ve already heard these songs a million times.

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”
“Switch 625”
“Hysteria”
“Armageddon It”
“Photograph”
“Pour Some Sugar On Me”
“Rock Of Ages”
“Let’s Get Rocked”

AMAZING show from these guys. Just like Cheap Trick, the sound was very clean and they are both tied for the best live sounds I’ve heard yet. I loved the stage set up too and the big video screens they had playing throughout the show.

I was really looking forward to watching Vivian and Phil play and they did not disappoint. Def Leppard is a band of professionals and everyone sounded great all night long. I didn’t think Joe’s voice was that strong anymore in a live setting, but he proved me wrong (only once or twice did I hear his voice strain).

The setlist was great and nearly perfect for a first-timer seeing them live. My only beef is that they skipped over the Euphoria album, which was a surprising success in 1999, so I don’t see why they wouldn’t want to acknowledge it. “Promises” fits in with their classic material and I wish they would have played it. I also would’ve love to have heard “Man Love Like A Man” from Adrenalize. “Rock Rock (Till You Drop)” was a great choice to open the show. “Too Late for Love” was another highlight for me.

This whole tour is definitely one worth seeing. The tickets can be a little pricey (definitely more so than last week’s Judas Priest/Whitesnake show) but it’s money well spent to see these three bands play. All three are great live acts.

Concert Review: JUDAS PRIEST, WHITESNAKE, POP EVIL – 7/15/09

Judas Priest, Whitesnake, Pop Evil

7/15/09

DTE Energy Music Theatre in Clarkston, MI

Ah, so my summer of music finally kicks off and it was a good show by all three bands. Unlike with Cruefest last year, we had pavilion seats this time, so it was nice not to have to stand up or sit in the lawn the whole show if I didn’t want to. Plus the show started at 7PM, so the sun wasn’t as strong and clouds were coming and going to keep things from getting too warm. We had perfect seats. The middle of the center section, right behind the soundboards. It was pretty cool to look at all the gear and watch the tech guys do their thing (plus I got to see the setlists, though I already had a good idea what to expect).

Between lawn and pavilion seating, DTE can hold about 15,000 people. The turnout was solid (I estimate around 7,000) but nothing spectacular. It wasn’t a sellout like Cruefest was but the crowd was, expectedly, way different. Cruefest appeals to a younger crowd that is much more likely to use their money on a “rock ‘n’ roll show”, while Priest and ‘snake brought in a crowd of 30, 40 and 50 year olds (I even saw a few people who looked to be into their 60s!). But let me tell you, it was a very vocal enthusiastic older age bracket.

I was planning on buying Whitesnake and Judas Priest tour shirts (Didn’t just want a logo shirt, I needed commemoration!) online, but the entrance we went in had no line at all for the merchandise shop, so my girl convinced me to get a Priest shirt now so I wouldn’t have to pay shipping later. I decided on the “Welcome to the Home of British Steel” tour shirt. I’d show a picture, but maybe it’s really new because their own online mechandise shop doesn’t list it. I’ll still have to pick up a ‘snake shirt though.

Pop Evil setlist

These are the songs played, though I may have misplaced one or two songs in the order:

“Breathe”
“3 Seconds to Freedom”
Dave Grahs guitar solo (short, but really good)
“Rolling Stone”
“100 in a 55”
“Shinedown”
“Another Romeo & Juliet”
“Hero”

When I found out over a month ago that this Grand Rapids, MI band was going to open, I quickly went to their MySpace page. I really like the band name and they have a really cool logo, and some of the guys have a cool look to them, but I didn’t like the music at all. It’s standard “post-grunge” hard rock. If you’re a fan of Theory of a Deadman, Nickelback, Saving Abel, etc., you’d like Pop Evil.

At the time of listening to their page, “Hero” was a mild radio hit, but I guess “100 in a 55” is a top ten rock radio song now, so the small crowd that was there so far enjoyed it. Tickets said the show was to start at 7PM, but Pop Evil hit the stage about 6:40. The crowd was extremely small at this point. Lead singer Leigh Kakaty (who kinda reminds me of Stephen Pearcy, not for singing, but just the way he looks/acts) did a good job of getting the still tiny crowd into the act and bassist Matt DiRito put on a great show as well. Kakaty walked all the way up into the lawn and sang “Hero”.

Whitesnake setlist

“Best Years”
“Bad Boys”
“Love Ain’t No Stranger”
“Slow An’ Easy”
“Lay Down Your Love”
Reb Beach/Doug Aldrich guitar solos
“Cryin’ In The Rain” (includes Chris Frazier drum solo)
“Is This Love”
“Give Me All Your Love”
“Is This Love”
“Here I Go Again”
“Still Of The Night”

The Good To Be Bad World Tour has slithered into Clarkston! I was happy to see we got TWO songs from Good to Be Bad (they could’ve played that whole album and I would’ve been fine with it). I guess they’ve been switching off on between “Best Years” and “Fool For Your Loving” at shows. I think we got the better deal with “Best Years”!

I’ve always thought “Bad Boys” and “Cryin’ In The Rain” were just okay songs, but they sounded great live. This is perhaps the best Whitesnake lineup David has ever assembled. Doug Aldrich was just amazing and I really enjoyed the dual solo he did with Beach (though Doug definitely outshined Reb). I know some people get bored with solos, but to me, it’s always fantastic to watch great musicians get spotlighted, especially with DTE’s video screens. We got tons of closeups.

Coverdale’s voice was great. I think the whole Good to Be Bad album is some of his finest recorded performances, but I wondered how much of that was studio work. The answer is not very much, if any at all. That guy can WAIL!!!

I can’t complain too much about the set list, though I would have traded “Bad Boys”, “Is This Love”, “Cryin’ In The Rain” and “Here I Go Again” for “Don’t Break My Heart Again”, “Walking the the Shadow of the Blues”, “Ready to Rock” and “Slide It In”. Coverdale mentioned that this year was the 25th anniversary of the Slide It In album… but they didn’t play “SLIDE IT IN”!!!! >=( That’s one of my favorite Whitesnake tunes.

By the third song, pretty much everyone who was going to show up was there. I wasn’t sure how people would react to Whitesnake (thinking maybe most were there for Priest) but the crowd definitely knew and appreciated Whitesnake!

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’”

And now for the British Steel 30th Anniversary Tour! I have to be honest, British Steel isn’t really a Priest favorite of mine. There are some classics on that album, but overall, I’ve never been a huge fan of it. I would have much rather heard the “hits”, since this was my first Priest show, but you take what you can get.

For what it was, it was a very good show. Rob moved around and didn’t hang his head the whole show, so that was good and the crowd really popped when he’d start wailing. “Breaking the Law and “You’ve Got Another Thing Comin'” went over the most, but “Prophecy” got a pretty good reaction too. I really loved hearing “The Rage” live. They had a really cool set up with the smoke, lasers and changing backdrops.

Overall, this entire concert gets a big thumps up from me. Pop Evil was decent, Whitesnake was great and Priest was too, they were only hindered by the setlist, in my opinion. Well worth the $32.50 or whatever I paid for. If they’re coming to your area, check ’em out.

METAL EXCESS Goes LIVE!

In honor of the Judas Priest/Whitesnake/Pop Evil show on July 15th and Def Leppard/Poison/Cheap Trick show on July 24th that I’ll be attending (both at the DTE Energy Center in Clarkston, MI), for the next two weeks I’ll be reviewing nothing but live albums. The plan is five album reviews a week, plus a concert recap.

Here’s the rundown:

Week 1
Aerosmith – Classics Live!
Halford – Live Insurrection
KISS – Alive
KISS – MTV Unplugged
Megadeth – Rude Awakening

Concert Review: Judas Priest/Whitesnake/Pop Evil @ DTE Energy Center 7/15/09

Week 2
AC/DC – Live
Bon Jovi – One Wild Night: Live 1985-2001
Cheap Trick – At Budokan
Poison – Great Big Hits: Live Bootleg
KISS – Alive II

Concert Review: Def Leppard/Poison/Cheap Trick @ DTE Energy Center 7/24/09

Check back Monday to see what album I kick things off with!

BUCKCHERRY, AVENGED SEVENFOLD, PAPA ROACH, SAVING ABEL – 02/21/09

Buckcherry/Avenged Sevenfold/Papa Roach/Saving Abel (02/21/09, Kellogg Arena in Battle Creek, Michigan)

This past Saturday night I had the pleasure of getting to see a good ol’ rock ‘n’ roll show in Battle Creek. We (my fiancee and I) left here (Lansing) at about 4PM, even though the show didn’t start until 6:30, just to make sure we know where we were going and find our seats… which turned out to be general admission.

After a long wait in a sloooow moving line just to get into the actual arena, I was surprised by how small and kinda of old it was. Holds about 8,500 people and the show was reported to be a sell-out. Of course, the woman had to stop off and get her Papa Roach shirt. Papa Roach being the whole reason we went to this show. My original concert pick was Motley Crue/Hinder/Theory of a Deadman/The Last Vegas, which took place earlier in the month in Grand Rapids. It would’ve been our 3rd time seeing the Crue, but instead she talked me into seeing seeing Buckcherry and Papa Roach for a 2nd time (3rd for her when it comes to Papa Roach).

So anyway, it was a fun show. Here’s the breakdown:

Saving Abel

I don’t know much about this band. Despite my girl owning the CD, I’ve never got around to listening to it, though I was very familiar with “Addicted” from radio and my girl’s ring tone. Everyone was very fired up as soon as they lights went down and they heard the band start to play, but I get the feeling most people were just happy to finally hear music and didn’t so much about Saving Abel in particular. I guess they’re kind of a Nickelback “post grunge” rock band. Not really my thing. I pretty much just wanted them to play “Addicted” then get the heck off the stage.

I had more fun watching one of the guitarists, who was really into the whole show and going all out with mannerisms while playing like he was some heavy metal guitar player. Not knocking it, I thought it was fun.

Not exactly sure of the setlist, since I’m not familiar with their album, but I found this list online and it sounds right:

“In God’s Eyes”
“New Tattoo”
“Drowning (Face Down)”
“Addicted”
“18 Days”
“Beautiful You”

Papa Roach

The crowd favorite of the whole show was, by far, Papa Roach. Kinda makes me wonder how they get such low billing when touring with other bands (they were 3rd on the bill for Crue Fest too). Jacoby Shaddix’s energy is off the charts, just like it was at Crue Fest in Clarkston, MI. He ran into the crowd to sing “Lifeline”, pretty cool stuff. I see the band keeps going in a poppier direction with “Lifeline”. Not a fan of the other new song, “Hollywood Whore”. Just seems cliche at this point to bash brainless celebrity bimbos like Britney and Paris.

Setlist:

“Between Angels & Insects”
“…to Be Loved”
“Deadcell”
“Scars”
“Getting Away with Murder”
“Time Is Running Out”
“Lifeline”
“Forever”
“Hollywood Whore”
“Last Resort”

Avenged Sevenfold

Judging by reaction, A7X were the 2nd biggest band of the night. I think Avenged Sevenfold and Buckcherry are alternating on who is closing the shows. I’ve been missing the boat on Avenged Sevenfold, despite owning City of Evil. I bought 2007’s self-titled release in preparation for this show and it’s a good thing I did, they covered six songs from that album. I loved it. I was really hoping they would play “A Little Piece of Heaven”, which is my favorite song from their last album. I’m hearing they do it as an encore when they close the shows.

It was amazing to hear & see the band play. Great musicians and Synyster Gates has quickly become one of my favorite guitarists.

Setlist:

“Critical Acclaim”
“Afterlife”
“Beast and the Harlot”
“Scream”
“Dear God”
Synyster Gates solo
“Bat Country”
“Gunslinger”
“Unholy Confessions”
“Almost Easy”

Buckcherry

I really enjoy this band because they’re keeping the 80s sleaze factor intact and they delivered a career best (and one of my favorite albums from 2008) with Black Butterfly, but unfortunately, I think they turn off a lot of the “modern” metal/rock fans for the very reason that they are “old school” in sound. Most of the crowd seemed way more into Papa Roach & Avenged Sevenfold in terms of reaction and t-shirts being worn. Plus, I think by this point, there had been so much screaming, yelling and moshing (!!!) going on, the crowd was getting drained.

Still, it’s a blast watching guitarist Keith Nelson (who was dressed like a cross between Bruce Springsteen and Brian Johnson) and singer Josh Todd work the stage. Todd’s movements bring to mind Axl Rose, Steven Tyler, and Mick Jagger.

Unfortunately, we actually had to cut out early from their set (at least we got to beat all of the traffic, though we had to drive an hour back home through a terrible snowstorm), but we were able to see most of it.

The set list, obviously, I’m not totally sure of but I know they played the songs, even if I can’t remember the order:

“Tired of You”
“Broken Glass”
“Next 2 You”
“Ridin'”
“Rescue Me”
“Too Drunk…”
“Lit Up”
“Talk to Me”

I’m sure they finished up with “Sorry” and “Crazy Bitch”.

Overall, this was a great show. Saving Abel was the only downer. I just don’t think they fit in with these other bands. Papa Roach had tons of energy that the crowd matched, Avenged Sevenfold put on an excellent live show and are great musicians and Buckcherry brought the sleaze, attitude & swagger. What more could you ask for?

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