Concert Review: Garth Brooks

Garth Brooks
May 7, 2017
Sprint Center, Kansas City, MO

Our score: 5 out of 5 Stars

Before I begin let me say that I love the Sprint Center. At least once I’m inside. I’ve seen many shows there and have never had a bad seat. However, getting into the show is another story.

In November 2007 Garth Brooks played nine sold-out shows at the Sprint Center, a mere month after the building first opened. His return (for seven more) was met with great joy by the Kansas City faithful. Unfortunately those faithful had said faith put to the test with all of the problems involved. Tickets were only available through AXS, a company similar to Ticketmaster. When they went on sale I logged on to their site AND dialed their number, figuring to use whichever method got me my tickets first. Thankfully I stayed on hold as all 14 times I tried to purchase tickets on-line failed. I would get my seats picked out (a couple times I had nice floor seats), and receive a message that read “you know have two minutes and 30seconds to complete your transaction: CLICK HERE TO CONFIRM.” I would “click” and get an error message that read “your session has timed out.” 14 TIMES!

Luckily, after an hour and twenty-eight minutes on hold, an operator came on the line. I told her the problem and she told me “this always happens” whenever AXS has a large event. “Our servers can’t handle all of the traffic.” At least she was honest. The local news was told that it was a “software” error that was later fixed. NOT! Anyway, thanks to Garth playing seven shows I was able to get some nice seats. Now to get inside.

I love the layout of the Sprint Center. What I don’t love is the fact that, for a building that can hold almost 20,000 people, there are only TWO entrances: one in the front of the building and one in the rear. Most venues I’ve been too, and I’ve seen concerts literally all over the world, have multiple gates and entrances all around the building. Because of the way the Sprint Center is set up, we got in line about three blocks from the Sprint Center at 6:15 for the 7:30 show and got to out seats at 7:45! Ridiculous. And I couldn’t help but think, while I was waiting to get inside, what kind of horrible tragedy it would become should something happen while the building was packed and had to be evacuated immediately. I shudder to think of the casualties!

Now for the good stuff:

Even though he had played four shows since Friday night, Brooks was in fine form and full of energy. He kicked off the show with the song “Baby, Let’s Lay Down and Dance,” from his 10th studio LP, “Gunslinger.” He then promised the audience that he’d be doing all of the hits and kept that promise with songs like “Rodeo,” “Two of a Kind, Workin’ on a Full House” and then led the audience in a great sing-along with “The River.”

Several times during the show Brooks commented that his voice was going and that the audience may have to carry him through the night, which was apparently no problem for those in attendance as nearly 20,000 voices filled the Sprint Center, matching Brooks word for word. Like Mick Jagger, Brooks is a consummate showman, almost refusing to stand steady for more than a moment at a time.

Halfway through the show Brooks was joined on stage by his wife, singer Trisha Yearwood, who sang a mini-set of some of her hits (“She’s In Love With the Boy,” “How Do I Live?”) before once again relinquishing the stage to her husband. After more hits Brooks sent the band off stage, picked up his guitar and peered into the audience, where fans had brought posters emblazoned with the titles of songs they wanted to hear. He obliged several of them, both his voice and guitar sounding clean and clear. The band returned to close the show with “Much Too Young (To Feel This Damn Old),” in which he offered his heartfelt blessing to the late Chris LeDoux) and a rousing “Standing Outside the Fire,” which shook the rafters. It was almost 11:30 when the show ended. However, with as much fun and energy as he brought to Kansas City, I wouldn’t be surprised if the man is still on stage singing right now!

Concert Review: Rick Springfield and Pat Benatar & Neil Geraldo

rick

Rick Springfield and Pat Benatar & Neil Geraldo
May 5th, 2017
Starlight Theater, Kansas City, MO

Our score: 5 out of 5 Stars

To me, it was the “First time and Familiar” Show.

This is the 15th time I’ve seen Rick Springfield. I’ve seen him at outdoor venues, arenas and, on July 15, 1993, got to sing with him at Max’s on Broadway in Baltimore. Ironically, 1100 miles west of me, my future wife was celebrating her birthday! And tonight I was seeing him at same place I saw him for the very first time.

Mr. Springthorpe (his real name for those of you that have a desire to stump others in trivia) kicked off the show with a rousing “I’ve Done Everything For You,” then filled the night with an amazing assortment of hits, newer songs and covers, including an amazing version of Katy Perry’s “Roar.” He did a fine medley of some of his biggest hits as well as two long, fan friendly versions of “Don’t Talk to Strangers” and “Human Touch.” And, of course, he brought down the house with “Jessie’s Girl!” In his book, Springfield talks about how another guitarist was brought in to play the lead on the recording of “Jessie’s Girl” as the record label didn’t think Springfield was playing it clean enough. Obviously this stuck with him as he has, in the past three decades, become a fine guitarist, even throwing in a little “Purple Haze” in this show to demonstrate his chops. All in all a very high-energy and entertaining set.

Next on the bill were Pat Benatar and Neil Geraldo. I had never seen these two live before and they were surely an act on my bucket list! Following a short video which explained how the two ended up together (both professionally and personally) the band took the stage. In the pre-show video we learned that Ms. Benatar had been trained to use her voice from a young age and that training obviously paid off. Unlike recent shows I attended of her musical contemporaries (Joan Jett, Ann Wilson from Heart), Ms. Benatar was in amazing voice, never missing a note, no matter how high or long. And I owe Mr. Geraldo an apology. In December 2000, writing for a friends web site, I listed him as the 8th greatest guitarist of all time. I may have sold him short. Seeing him live, watching him provide the backbone to some of the most popular songs of the 80s, certainly moved him up the list. Their on-stage stories about how some of the songs came along were just as entertaining. Oh, and as a follow-up to the story I told about Rick Springfield needed a better guitarist, the audience learned what I already knew…that guitarist was Neil Giraldo. Ironically, in the past Mr. Springfield had already lost a girlfriend (Linda Blair) and a new mixing machine to Mr. Giraldo so I can’t see his feelings being hurt too much more! The hits were many and the stories interesting. Ms. Benatar talked about the “Holy 14,” which are the songs they must play or they get blasted on social media for neglecting them. As far as I know, she did them all because I left the show more then satisfied.

Concert Review: “Charm Cities Tour” Williamsport, PA

“Charm Cities Tour”
Carousel Kings, Abandoned By Bears, Bad Case of Big Mouth, American Arson, Take Two
Saturday, April 8th 2017
Ground Floor 2.0, Williamsport, PA

Our score: 4.5 out of 5 stars

Victory Records artist Carousel Kings brought their “Charm Cities” tour to the impressive Ground Floor 2.0 venue in Williamsport, PA on April 8th for a night of high energy punk rock. The quant Pennsylvania town which is best known as the home of the Little League World Series now has another claim to fame as the Ground Floor 2.0 venue boasts a fun and safe environment for all concert goers while providing top notch sound, lighting and amenities for its performing artists making for a great experience for everyone involved and the “Charm Cities” tour was no exception.

Kicking of the night was the Elmira, NY based band Take Two. The five piece group whose sound could be described as progressive punk rock performed a hand full of original material including a few songs off their recently released “Weekend Warriors EP”. The band did a great job warming up the crowd and received a hefty round of applause as their set came to a close. Michigan natives American Arson would be up next and though not originally part of the shows line up the band consisting of only two members guitarist/vocalist Evan Baker and drummer Jesse Gentry put forth a sound and style that would make full sized bands shake in their boots. The duo performed a brief, high intensity set which featured songs of their latest “Waymaker” EP. Taking the stage next would be NJ native Bad Case of Big Mouth or simply just “Bad Case” the band worked the stage like seasoned professionals as the bands vocalist and dual guitarist whipped up a solid helping of pop-punk goodness. In the direct support slot for the nights show was Sweden’s own…yes I said Sweden easy-core band Abandoned By Bears. The band which sports dual vocalist brought a heavier element to the shows lineup which contrasted nicely with the other bands on the bill as it set the stage nicely for tour headliners Carousel Kings. Flanked by numerous lighted pillars Carousel Kings would close out the night performing a variety songs including a handful from their latest release “Charm City”. It had been a little while since I had seen the guys perform live and since that time the band has undergone some lineup changes however they were just as solid as the previous incarnations.

Very rarely do you come across a tour and venue that are both equally great. However, in the case of the “Charm Cities” tour stop at the Ground Floor 2.0 both venue and artists clicked on all levels. The bands on the bill were all very personable and thankful to those in attendance and the same could be said for the venue staff as they treated every person that came through the door with the utmost respect. Though the “Charm Cities” tour comes to close on April 13th do yourself a favor and check out each of the bands on this line up as each one will not disappoint.

Carousel Kings: https://www.facebook.com/carouselkings
Abandoned By Bears: https://www.facebook.com/AbandonedByBears
Bad Case: https://www.facebook.com/BadCaseOfficial/
American Arson: http://www.americanarson.com/
Take Two: http://www.officialtaketwo.com/

Concert Review: “Mockstrosity Tour” Syracuse, NY

“Mockstrosity Tour”
Mac Sabbath, Metalachi, Okilly Dokilly
Friday, March 24, 2017
The Westcott Theater, Syracuse, NY

Our Score: 4 out of 5 stars

Mac Sabbath frontman, Ronald Osbourne, summed up the Mockstrosity Tour best, shouting “Good luck describing this show to your friends!” A night of heavy music and big laughs was served up by perhaps three of the more unique parody bands in the business today. The classic Westcott Theater in Syracuse, NY was rocked by the likes of Phoenix Arizona’s Ned Flanders themed metalcore act Okilly Dokilly, Metalachi the self proclaimed world’s first and only heavy metal mariachi band and rounding out the night’s lineup Los Angeles Mac Sabbath, picture Black Sabbath dosed in radioactive ketchup and mustard from the world’s favorite fast food chain.

Okilly Dokilly ripped through their “Nedal” (Ned-metal) crowd pleasers like “White Wine Spritzer” and “Nothing At All” which paved the way for the bands call to arms of all left-handed neighborinos for the song “All That Is Left”. Each member donned Mr. Flanders signature garb which added to the bands show allowing those in attendance to envision good ol’ Ned bellowing out vicious metal growls like no other in the Springfield zip code. Metalachi garnered a lot of attention with their mariachi flared renditions of classic hard rock and heavy metal jams, donning what can only be described as mariachi meets hair metal attire. The band crushed through classics like “Holy Diver” and “Raining Blood,” but really showed their talents with surprises like “Santeria” and the infamous “More Than Words,” during which the band invited a fan up on the stage to aid in the more romantic, bump and grind, portion of their set while violinista, Queen Kyla Vera stole the show shredding through solo after solo with every bit of intensity as a well-seasoned axe man.

The Mockstrosity would come to an end only after Mac Sabbath had their turn at the crowd of eager fans. The band’s sound was tight and their stage presence hilarious. The lighting and pyrotechnics further accentuated the group’s costumes and props, which were not limited by any means. The members of Sabbath had a good time with their stage banter between songs like “Frying Pan” and “Sweet Beef,” and at one point Ronald Osbourne himself was funneling PBR through a gigantic red, yellow, and white straw. Sabbath played on their strengths well, and did not seem to be too gimmicky, really backing up their act with musical talent and their performance. Overall, the night was a blast, and anyone looking for a great time needs to check out this tour when it rolls into town.

Kansas City Concert Review: Elvis Costello’s “The Juliet Letters”

“The Juliet Letters”
Saturday, January 28, 2017
Lyric Opera of Kansas City

Review By: J.R. Deeter

Our Score: 3.5 out of 5 Stars

As a fan of the music and lyrics of Elvis Costello I have to admit I had never heard of his 1993 release “The Juliet Letters,” a collection of 20 songs for voice and string quartet. I was not sure what to expect from the artist who has written a few of my favorite “pop” tunes through the years, given this performance was certainly not going to fit into the customary mold of his usual offerings.

From the start, this was indeed something different, something not easy to listen to. I kept waiting for the music to gain momentum into what I was used to. I kept waiting for the lyrics to give way to some snappy chorus easy to sing along to, but this was not to be and after my contemplation of the experience, I came away pleased anyway.

The vocalization interpretations of the Lyric Opera of Kansas City Resident Artists of April Martin, soprano; Samantha Gossard, mezzo-soprano; Casey Candebat, tenor and John Viscardi, baritone, were very entertaining. The set was designed with written letters hanging from wire in a crisscross pattern. The artists would remove pages and exchange them from one to another as they lit or extinguished lighting to create an ever changing dramatic atmosphere. The tone and lyrics are dark and brooding. It became clear that these were not to be happy, lovey dovey letters between star crossed lovers, but words of the brokenhearted; Painful, mournful anguished tales of love lost, or missing or refused.

The Fry Street Quartet of the Caine College of Arts at Utah State University provided the music and was the highlight of the evening. The performance of each member as they presented their part of the music really helped to convey the emotions of the selections and left me feeling sad and melancholy, as one should when the desire for love and happiness is not to be.

Concert Review: Kings of Chaos, Verona, NY

“Kings of Chaos”
Kings of Chaos, Franky Perez
Thursday, December 22th 2016
Turning Stone, Verona, NY

Our Score: 4 out of 5 stars

Rock’s Ultimate Super group Kings of Chaos made a rare appearance in the Upstate New York area on December 22 where they performed for an intimate crowd within the Turning Stone Casino. The group consisting of Matt Sorum, Chester Bennington, Robin Zander, Billy Duffy, Robert DeLeo, Steve Stevens and Billy Gibbons performed a variety of hits from each of the member’s careers making for a unique concert experience.

Opening up the night was Apocalyptica front man Franky Perez who along with his solo band performed a blend of rock infused blues that helped set the tone for the night. Though the crowd was a bit slow to respond Perez and company forged on and by the end of their forty minute set had the crowd primed and ready for the night’s headliner. After a minimal set change the night’s headliner hit the stage running as they launched into Stone Temple Pilots “Vasoline”. With Linkin Park/STP vocalist Chester Bennington at the helm the band also performed Billy Idol’s “White Wedding” and The Cult’s “Fire Woman”. Bennington would then make way for Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Robin Zander to perform a handful of Cheap Trick songs which were then followed by a few ZZ Top songs song by none other than the one and only Billy Gibbons who’s gravelly voice permeated every nook and cranny of the venue. Zander, Bennington and Gibbons would alternate in the lead vocalist spot throughout the night as they performed hit after hit from each of the members groups culminating with all of the members performing at the end of the night on “Beer Drinkers & Hell Raisers”, “Going Down” and the Led Zeppelin classic “Whole Lotta love”.

Though the nights set was absent of any Linkin Park or Guns N’ Roses numbers there certainly was still a solid mixture of songs pulled from the members impressive back catalogs. Each player looked to be performing at their best making it very hard to pick out one performance over another. Everyone definitely brought their A game and appeared to be working very well together despite minimal interactions with one another. Getting to see just one of the members in this group let alone seven is sure to bring a nights worth of entertainment but when the Kings of Chaos are all together in one spot it truly is a special occasion and one you won’t want to miss.

Kings of Chaos Set list:
1.) Vasoline
2.) White Wedding
3.) Fire Woman
4.) Hello There
5.) Surrender
6.) I Want You to Want Me
7.) Waitin’ For the Bus
8.) Sharp Dressed Man
9.) Tush
10.) The Flame
11.) Edie (Ciao Baby)
12.) Interstate Love Song
13.) Jesus Just Left Chicago
14.) Ace of Spades
15.) Sex Type Thing
16.) Love Removal Machine
17.) Rebel Yell
18.) Dream Police
19.) La Grange
20.) Beer Drinkers & Hell Raisers
21.) Going Down
22.) Whole Lotta love

 

Concert Review: Reel Big Fish “Turn Off the Radio 20th Anniversary Tour”

“Turn Off the Radio 20th Anniversary Tour”
Reel Big Fish, Masked Intruder, Stacked Like Pancakes
Monday, November 14th 2016
The Haunt, Ithaca, NY

Our Score: 4.5 out of 5 stars

Punk-Ska veterans Reel Big Fish brought the first leg of their “Turn Off the Radio 20th Anniversary Tour” to Ithaca, NY on November 14th where they performed to a near capacity crowd. The tour which celebrates the 20th anniversary of the bands monumental 1996 release “Turn the Radio Off” also featured Madison, Wisconsin pop-punk band Masked Intruder and Stacked Like Pancakes a 7 piece Ska-Rock band from Baltimore Maryland. All three bands were at the top of their game this evening which was packed with plenty of energy and fun for the college town crowd.

You never know what you are going to get with Monday night show performances. Questions like will the band be into it? Or, what will the crowd be like? Began to flood my mind as I made my way to the small lake side venue for a night of reliving my teenage years. Both of these were answered almost immediately as I could tell by the looks of the parking lot that I was going to be in for something special. Things kicked off promptly at 7pm with Stacked Like Pancakes taking the stage first. The group wasted no time at all launching in to their energetic performance which was a mixture of Ska infused rock which ignited the dance floor almost instantly. The groups 30/40 minute set was highlighted by a spot on big band infused rendition of the classic Blink 182 song “Dammit” which was unlike any other version of that song I have heard. Taking the stage next would be the masked hoodlums known as Masked Intruder. The group who’s sound is reminiscent of early Ramones with a twist seemed to be having some issues with the venues PA system at first as the vocals were getting lost in the overall mix however after a song or two everything came together and the band settled in as they poked fun at the crowd and themselves while delivering their unique high energy brand of punk rock. Having first been made of aware of this band this summer during the Warped tour is was great to be able to catch them again in a smaller setting where they seemed to be at home. Reel Big Fish would follow to close out the night by performing the entire “Turn Off the Radio” album from front to back. They even included the albums hidden track “I’m Cool” complete with a brief break before starting back in to close out the night. Though the group with the exception of front-man Aaron Barrett are different from the band that played on the album the latest incarnation of the Reel Big Fish sounded just as good if not better than the album they were celebrating making for a great overall concert experience.

When a band that has been around as long as Reel Big Fish has it’s great no matter what to be able to still them live. When it really becomes special is when all the bands on the bill bring their A game which was definitely the case in Ithaca, NY on November 14th. I highly recommend catching this tour when it resumes in February. Though it will feature a different lineup I feel pretty confident in saying that it will surely be just as good of a concert experience making a show you won’t want to miss.

Reel Big Fish Setlist:
1.) I Want Your Girlfriend to Be My Girlfriend Too
2.) The Kids Don’t Like It
3.) Another F.U. Song
4.) Your Guts (I Hate’Em)
5.) Sell Out
6.) Trendy
7.) Join the Club
8.) She Has a Girlfriend Now
9.) Snoop Dogg, Baby
10.) 241
13.) Skatanic
14.) All I Want Is More
15.) Nothin’
16.) Say “Ten”
17.) I’ll Never Be
18.) Alternative, Baby
19.) The Impression That I Get (Mighty Mighty Bosstones Cover)
20.) Beer
Encore:
21.) I’m Cool
22.) Everyone Else Is an Asshole
23.) Where Have You Been
24.) Take On Me (A-Ha Cover)

Concert Review: John Doe

John Doe, Anna Coogan

Friday, November 4th 2016
The Haunt, Ithaca, NY

Our Score: 4.5 out of 5 stars

John Doe founding member of the legendary Los Angeles punk band X made a stop in Ithaca, NY on November 4th as part of Cornell University’s “Punk Fest: Anarchy in the Archives” a week-long event which included various speaking panels and music performances which coincided with the opening of the Universities “Anarchy in the Archives” exhibit which showcases a vast array of rare punk artifacts. The performance was second of three performances the venue was schedule to host and fans who attended were treated to a great night of music which was highlighted by a guest appearance by X front-woman Exene Cervenka.

Little did I know when I walked through the intimate river side venue doors that on this night I was going to witness an amazing performance by not one but two! Legend’s in punk rock music. The venue was buzzing with excitement as people had heard that X front-woman Exene was in the building after being asked earlier in the day by John to perform with him. After a brief yet eclectic opening set from singer/songwriter Anna Coogan who despite battling some seasonal illness put forth a solid effort which the Ithacan crowd seemed to quite enjoy from the local artist who just returned from a tour with Alt/Country artist Johnny Dowd. After a very quick set change over the man himself John Doe was front and center where he announced his plans for the evening and confirming that Exene was in-fact in the house and that she would be performing with him this night. This announcement only further electrified the crowd as everyone in attendance now knew just how special this night was going to be. To start the set off Doe played selections from his solo career including a handful of new tracks from his recently released “The Westerner” album. Mid way through the performance Doe welcomed up his X cohort Exene to the dimly lit stage. The long time collaborators then proceeded to take the evening to the next level. Though the portion of the set with Cervenka was impromptu the two veterans armed only with one acoustic guitar and their voices delivered a mesmerizing performance that went off as though they had done it hundreds of times before. Much like their work in X the duos haunting voices complimented one another and despite the minimal instrumentation the music was equally if not more powerful in its raw form.

Doe took the stage like a pro and with the help of his long time band partner Exene Cervenka held the Ithaca crowd in the palm of their hands.

Be sure to check out our exclusive interview with John Doe in the interview section of the site.

Concert Review: Regina Spektor

“Regina Spektor Tour 2016”

Regina Spektor
Friday, October 14th 2016
The State Theater, Ithaca, NY

Our Score: 4 out of 5 Stars

Singer/Songwriter Regina Spektor paid a visit to the historical State Theater in Ithaca, NY on Friday, October 14th where she performed to a sold out crowd. Spektor who is currently out on the road in support of her latest album “Remember Us To Life” put on a stellar performance which combined her unique performance style and emotionally fueled vocal styling’s which tugged at the inner most parts of the Ithacan crowds emotions.

After a four year hiatus it was great to finally not only hear new music from Regina Spektor but also be able to see her live and in such an intimate venue as the State Theater. With the theater at capacity Spektor and her band took the stage to a loud wave of applause and cheer. The singer quickly thanked the crowd and kicked off the night with “On the Radio” and “Better” both from her 2006 album “Begin to Hope”. As the set progressed Regina included several songs from her latest album “Remember Us to Life” including “Older Taller”, “Bleeding Heart” and, “Grand Hotel”. Spektor and company seemed to connect almost flawlessly with only a few minor errors coming during “Après Moi” which saw Spektor throw her head back and shake it in disapproval at her mistake though like a true professional she didn’t let the slip bother her and continued on with a bright smile on her face. A unique moment in the set occurred when a fan shouted out a request for the song “Sailor Song”. Spektor who stated “we never take requests” broke her rule due to the fact the band knew the song though she did apologize beforehand if there were any mess ups. The song went off without much of a hitch and the crowd seemed to really enjoy the bands willing to give the song a try and provide a special moment for the night’s crowd.

From start to finish the concert was a great experience. Regina’s voice sounded amazing and was a perfect fit to the classic theaters surroundings. Aside from her work on the “Orange is the New Black” theme song “You’ve Got Time” and a few other tracks I was only a casual listener of her works however after seeing her and her band perform live I have a much greater appreciation for her music and quickly found myself transforming into a fan. If you have the chance to catch Regina I strongly encourage you to do so. Not many artists are able to perform night after night at the level Regina does as she is able to connect with the listener on a number of different levels making for a really great concert/music listening experience.

Set List:
1.) On the Radio
2.) Better
3.) Tornadoland
4.) Bleeding Heart
5.) Older and Taller
6.) Grand Hotel
7.) Blue Lips
8.) Black and White
9.) Small Bill$
10.) Ballad of a Politician
11.) Après Moi
12.) You’ve Got Time
13.) The Trapper and the Furrier
14.) Sailor Song
15.) Obsolete
16.) The Light
17.) Seller of Flowers
18.) The Visit
19.) Us
Encore:
20.) Fidelity
21.) Hotel Song
22.) Samson

Concert Review: Elvis Costello w/Larkin Poe

“Elvis Costello Detour Tour”

Elvis Costello w/Larkin Poe
Friday October 7th, 2016
Yardley Hall at Johnson County Community College, Overland Park, KS

Our Score: 3.5 out of 5 Stars

Concert Review by J.R. Deeter

I have to admit I haven’t really listened to Elvis Costello in a long while so when I heard he was having a show at a local “small” venue, I thought it would be cool to check it out, enjoy the hits and see what was new with the man who first caught my attention when I was a radio DJ in the 80’s. Back then “Everyday I Write the Book” and “Allison” were staples of my Top 40 airplay.

The setting for this “Detour Tour” was both simplistic and engaging. Centered around a giant TV screen on which still photos and occasional videos played out moments of time in the life of Costello (including a performance of his fathers 1960’s version of “If I Had A Hammer”) were an easy chair, a few guitars and a borrowed piano from his wife, jazz artist Diana Krall.

Opening act Larkin Poe was an unexpected pleasure. The duo from Atlanta are often described as Southern roots rockers and they do deliver with their bluesy, guitar driven sound. The vocals of Rebecca Lovell and lap steel guitar of sister Megan combined to entertain and for me, the highlight of their set was a smokin’ cover of Black Sabbath’s “War Pigs.” Larkin Poe also serve as backing musicians for Costello for a good portion of his show.

Costello’s performance rolled through several waves, moving at times from guitar to piano and back to guitar. In between, anecdotes and reminiscences were delivered, along with the occasional Trump jab, to an appreciative audience. Many in the audience were surprised to learn that Costello had written several songs for a planned stage musical based on the film “A Face In the Crowd.” Upon divulging this, Costello performed “Blood & Hot Sauce” and “Burn the Paper Down to Ash” featuring vocals by Larkin Poe’s Rebecca Lovell. Top moments for me included the off mike, into the audience version of “Alison” and the rousing, crowd pleasing “Peace, Love and Understanding.” On the downside, no “Veronica” or “Radio Radio.”

Elvis Costello Set List:
1.)New Amsterdam
2.)Poison Moon
3.)Accidents Will Happen
4.)They’re Not Laughing at Me Now
5.)All This Useless Beauty
6.)Everyday I Write the Book
7.)Shipbuilding
8.)Deep Dark Truthful Mirror
9.)No Man’s Woman
10.)Face in the Crowd
11.)Little White Lies
12.)American Without Tears
13.)Watching the Detectives
14.)Alison
Encore
15.)Blame It on Cain
16.)Clown Strike
17.)Burn the Paper Down to Ash
18.)Vitajex
19.)That’s Not the Part of Him You’re Leaving
20.)American Mirror
Encore 2
21.)(The Angels Wanna Wear My) Red Shoes
22.)Jimmie Standing in the Rain
23.)Side By Side
24.)Blood & Hot Sauce
Encore 3
25.)Brilliant Mistake
26.)Down on the Bottom
27.)(What’s So Funny ’bout) Peace, Love and Understanding
28.)Good Year for the Roses

The tour continues through the month. Upcoming dates include:

October 11: Majestic Theater Dallas, Texas

October 13: Austin City Limits Live at the Moody Theater Austin, Texas

October 14: Revention Music Center Houston, Texas

October 15: Saenger Theater New Orleans, Louisiana

October 17: Ryman Auditorium Nashville, Tennessee

October 18: Cobb Energy Centre Atlanta, Georgia

Concert Review: Ace Frehley

“Ace Frehley Tour 2016”

Ace Frehley, Simo
Saturday, September 24th 2016
Magic City Music Hall, Binghamton, NY

Our Score: 4 out of 5 Stars

The original Space Man himself Ace Frehley landed in Binghamton, NY on September 24th to perform at the Magic City Music Hall. The Rock and Roll Hall of Famer is out in support of his most recent studio release titled “Origins Vol. 1” a collection of covers handpicked by Ace himself. Though Ace had not performed in the Binghamton area since 2000 the Broome County fans certainly hadn’t forget about the man from Jendel.

 
Starting of the night were the blues tinged jam band Simo. Hailing from Nashville, TN the group performed a writhing 35 minute set which helped get the night underway. Front man JD Simo didn’t waste much time interacting with the crowd as he and his band mates let the music do the talking. The power trio all seemed quite well versed in their instrumentation as each song the band performed featured lengthy solo areas that each member filled in with ease. The band closed out the set with an energetic rendition of Joe Cockers “A Little Help From My Friends” which easily garnered the largest applause from the assembled crowd. After a momentary set change Ace Frehley and his band would hit the stage as echoes of Ace’s song “Fractured Mirror” played over the PA system. The band kicked off the night with “Rip It Out” from Frehley’s 1978 solo album setting the tone for the night’s adventure. The set touched on almost all of Ace’s solo works as wells as some of the material he wrote during his days with Kiss including “Parasite”, “Rocket Ride” and “Strange Ways” which features bassist Chris Wyse on vocals. Another highlight of the nights was “2 Young 2 Die” from Ace’s “Trouble Walkin’” album featuring guitarist Richie Scarlett on vocals.

Despite a few out of key moments and a couple tempo issues the band still put on a solid performance which the audience in Binghamton seemed to really enjoy. With the chances of Ace returning to Kiss growing slimmer and slimmer with each passing day the 65 year guitarist is showing no signs of slowing down anytime soon as a solo artist, Nor should he as he is still able to get up on stage and put on an entertaining show night after night. There are still just a few more chances to catch Ace this year so if he is coming to your town or one nearby I highly recommend you get yourself a ticket as soon as possible.

Ace Frehley Set List:
(Fractured Mirror Intro)
1.) Rip It Out
2.) Toys
3.) Emerald (Thin Lizzy Cover)
4.) Parasite
5.) Love Gun
6.) Snowblind
7.) Sister
8.) Rocket Ride
9.) Bring It On Home (Willie Dixon Cover)
10.) Rock Soldiers
-Bass Solo-
11.) Strange Ways
12.) New York Groove
13.) 2 Young 2 Die
14.) Shock Me
-Guitar Solo-
15.) Cold Gin
Encore
16.) Detroit Rock City
17.) Deuce

Concert Review: “Make America Rock Again Tour”

“Make America Rock Again Tour”

Trapt, Saving Abel, Saliva, Alien Ant Farm, Crazy Town, Tantric, 12 Stones
Friday, September 16th 2016
Tag’s Summer Stage, Big Flats, NY

Our Score: 2 out of 5 Stars

Trapt, Saliva, Saving Abel, Alien Ant Farm, Crazy Town, Tantric and 12 Stones all made their way to the quaint town of Big Flats, NY on September 16th as part of the “Make America Rock” tour. Despite the tour package boasting some of the biggest artist of the early 2000nds the night came up short making for a rather dull concert experience.

 

Taking the stage first was the group 12 Stones. The group probably had one of if not thee toughest spot on the bill as concert goers were still filing into the spacious outdoor venue and also waiting in line for their choice of tasty beverages so, needless to say the attention at this time was focused elsewhere. Despite these obstacles that band still appeared to give their all and should be commended for their efforts. Next up was the group Tantric whose song “Breakdown” dominated the airwaves in 2001 and still receives regular play to this day. The groups set seemed to be plagued by technical difficulties making vocalist Hugo Ferreira hard to hear almost the entire set. Luckily the technical setbacks did little to kill the crowds growing momentum though and the group forged ahead with their 5 song set. Crazy Town would be up next and surprisingly I thought had the best set of the night. Not only did the group display a tremendous amount of energy but they also appeared extremely well rehearsed which made their set undoubtedly my favorite of the night.

 

Alien Ant Farm was next on the bill and put on a performance that sort of had people scratching their heads. The bands front man Dryden Mitchell awkwardly milled about the stage while his band mates remained relatively immobile. Even during the bands hit cover of Michael Jackson’s “Smooth Criminal” the band seemed less than interested in being there making their 7 song set list about 7 songs too long. The latest incarnation of Saliva which now consists of Wayne Swinny, Paul Crosby, Bobby Amaru and Brad Stewart would be up next and easily had the second best set of the night. Despite having a soft spot for the bands original line up the current bands configuration did a solid job as they blasted thorough their list of hit songs which included “Always” and of course “Click Click Boom” which closed out the nights set. Mississippi natives Saving Abel would be up next and put on a performance that sort of followed suit with the evening as it came of flat and at times a bit forced. Vocalist Scott Austin’s attempts to be the “crazed front man” were pretty lame and did little to entice the crowd who by this point of the night were running on fumes. However they did come alive briefly for the bands performance of the hit song “Addicted”. Trapt would close out the night this evening which in my mind was a bit questionable however, it was what it was and away the band went with a set that was just as flat as the previous bands performance. Of course the crowd appreciated hearing “Head Strong” but other than that both the band and the remaining crowd seemed to force themselves through the remaining moments of the night.
When a lineup of bands that all had their fair share of hits and exposure join together for a tour after having been away from the public eye for some time you would hope that each of the bands come out swinging and with their best feet forward. Sadly that was not the case for the “Make America Rock Again” tour. Despite solid performances from Crazy Town and Saliva the remaining 5 act seemed to do little for the medium sized audience who ventured to Big Flats making me wonder if everyone had gotten their money’s worth. I can’t say I would be down for checking out another show however if you want to throw caution to the wind and a little cash as well the tour will be out on the road through mid October for you to check out.

Concert Review: Freedom To Rock Tour

“Freedom To Rock Tour”

Kiss, The Dead Daisies
Monday, August 29th 2016
Blue Cross Arena, Rochester, NY

Our Score: 4 out of 5 Stars

Kiss blasted in to the Blue Cross Arena in Rochester, NY on August 29th as part of their Freedom to Rock 2016 summer tour. Along with the make-up clad Rock and Roll Hall of Famers was veteran rock super group The Dead Daisies. After an 18 year hiatus from the “Flower City” Both bands brought their A game to the near capacity crowd proving their return was long overdue.

Kicking off the night were The Dead Daisies a group whose current roster is made up former Motley Crue vocalist John Corabi, Whitesnake guitarist Doug Aldrich, fellow Whitesnake drummer Brian Tichy, former Ted Nugent/Thin Lizzy bassist Marco Mendoza and Australian guitarist David Lowy. The group seemed to be the perfect opener for the assembled Kiss Army as the band’s sound was the perfect blending of both classic and new rock tones. The hour long set featured original material from the group’s latest album “Make Some Noise” along with a sprinkling of covers which included a beefed up rendition of the Credence Clearwater Revival classic “Fortune Son” along with an in your face version of The Beatles “Helter Skelter” which the fans seemed to really dig. The set was fast paced as singer John Corabi and crew wasted little time addressing the crowd which in my opinion only added to the appeal of the group as they seemed to definitely be all about the music and their performance. After a thirty minute change over Kiss would take the stage where they proceeded to hold court for the next 90 minutes. This tours staging was much more scaled back than that of the previous “Monster” tour however the group performed just the same if not better than in subsequent years. The nights set list included a lot of the group’s staples including “Detroit Rock City” and “Love Gun” but also included lesser played songs like “Flaming Youth” and “Psycho Circus”. Despite a few missed vocal lines by Gene on “Cold Gin” and Paul’s voice starting to show it’s age the New York City natives did a solid job of transporting the crowd back to the groups 1970’s glory days.

From start to finish Kiss’s “Freedom To Rock” tour was a well oiled machine that provided an enjoyable concert experience for people of all ages. For the hardcore Kiss fans there may not have been enough diversion from the bands stock stage/set performance however for the band to still able to pull of this type of show in their 60’s is an impressive feat in its self. If your city is one of the few remaining on this season’s run then do yourself a favor and grab some tickets and get there early as you won’t want to miss either bands performance.

The Dead Daisies Set List:
1.) Whole Lotta Sabbath (Whole Lotta love/War Pigs mashup intro)
2.) Mexico
3.) Make Some Noise
4.) Fortune Son
5.) Lock n’ Load
6.) Long Way to Go
7.) Join Together
8.) The Last Time I Saw the Sun
9.) Devil Out of Time
10.) Helter Skelter

Kiss Set List:
1.) Detroit Rock City
2.) Deuce
3.) Shout it Out Loud
4.) Do You Love Me
5.) I Love It Loud
6.) Flaming Youth
7.) Bass Solo/ God of Thunder
8.) Psycho Circus
9.) Shock Me/Guitar Solo
10.) Cold Gin
11.) Lick It Up
12.) War Machine
13.) Love Gun
14.) Black Diamond
Encore:
15.) Beth
16.) The Star-Spangled Banner
17.) Rock and Roll All Nite

Concert Review: Gwar B-Q 2016

GWAR B-Q 2016
Lamb of God, GWAR, Against Me!, Dillinger Escape Plan, August Burns Red, Lagwagon, EyeHateGod, Murphy’s Law, Eat The Turnbuckle, The Death of Rock ‘n Roll, Occultist, Mobile Deathcamp, American Nightmare, Brain Tentacles, Sawyer Family, Ramming Speed.

Date: August 20, 2016
Venue: Hadad’s Lake, Richmond VA

Our score: 5 out of 5 stars

The 7th annual GWAR B-Q took place on August 20th and again proved why it is the summer’s premier destination place for Bohabs from all over the globe. The humble setting of Hadad’s Lake in Richmond, VA again played host to the event which featured a variety of events, vendors, food and of course plenty of music. Headlining this year’s event along with hosts GWAR included fellow Richmond natives Lamb of God, Dillinger Escape Plan and Against Me!

With temperatures creeping towards triple digits and with a thick layer of humidity permeating the festival grounds we weren’t quite sure how things were going to play out for the day’s festivities. Thankfully the intergalactic overlords of GWAR had everything in check to ensure all those in attendance didn’t have their day cut short due to the extreme heat. Throughout the medium sized 1950’s era water park were plenty of food and drink vendors eager to help keep you going throughout the day. Prices were very affordable which made it easy to part with your all mighty dollars in that bottled “Gwater” ranged from $1/$2 and beer (PBR talls and Oderus Ale) was $4/$6. The food also was in the single dollar ranges making this hand’s down the festival with the cheapest concessions.

The event featured 3 different stages which all varied in size and for the most part each had ample viewing room. The only one that I found to not have enough space at times was the “Slutman Pavilion”. The smallest of the three stages became quickly cramped for energetic sets by bands like Occultist and the aggressive in your face; wrestling meets metal antics of Eat The Turnbuckle. At times the crowd spilled out the sides into the festival walkways which did cause some holdups when transitioning between the two larger stages. Also littered about were a variety of merchandise tents include one from Gwar slaves Bob Gorman and Matt Maguire and another from GWAR’s very own manager the one and only Sleazy P. Martini. Other musical high points from the day included powerful sets from Louisiana’s EYEHATEGOD which featured guest vocalist Phillip H. Anselmo of Pantera/Down fame. The group laid down a solid set of sludgy, doom metal that had the crowd worked into an utter frenzy. Despite the absence of vocalist Greg Puciato(due to a flight cancelation), Ben Weinman and the rest of Dillinger Escape Plan blasted through a unique set of music which feature a guest saxophone player along with a member of the crowd who was brought up to fill in for the absent member. Against Me! could have possibly been considered the odd man out on this bill which featured mostly metal acts but surprisingly enough was a big hit with the fans and, easily one of my favorite performances of the day. The band sounded and looked great while their set featured both classic material and a handful of new tracks which will be on the group’s new album due out in September. Event hosts GWAR would commandeer the stage next and within seconds of being announced by manager Sleazy P. Martin the sweat and dirt covered crowd was painted blue and red by a host of sprays and splashes. There were no safe zones this day not even in the backstage area which made for a wet but fun time which no one but GWAR can provide. Closing out the festivities were none other than Lamb of God. From the time the band first took the stage till the last notes of their set rang out the crowd was a bevy of excitement and energy. Hovering over head was a massive dirt cloud created by the large crowd who varied in color (ranging from blue to red and all point in between), wetness and thanks to the available water park varying levels of clothing making for one of the most unique LOG crowds I have ever seen. Randy Blythe and company gave there all which the crowd certainly appreciated and in my opinion capped off a perfect day.

As more and more European type festivals start to pop up around the States it can be hard to figure out which ones are the real deal and which ones, well to put it bluntly just plain suck! I am here to tell you the GWAR B-Q is one hundred percent legit. From the cool location and amenities to the low priced concessions and impressive musical line-up it was damn near impossible not to have a good time. Yes this festival might cater to a certain genre or specifically “hardcore” GWAR fans however there is plenty of fun to be had even if you don’t fall in to one of those categories. No matter what you look like, where you come from or what you are into if you go to a GWAR B-Q your going to find tons of cool people, off the wall activities and great music which will create memories that last a life time.

“Rock Hall Three for All” Concert Review

Cheap Trick/Joan Jett/Heart
Starlight Theater
August 15, 2016

Our score: 4 out of 5 Stars

This year the good people at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame righted some wrongs by inducting, among others, Cheap Trick, Joan Jett and Heart into it’s realm.

Some brief “Mike” history: I was in a band in high school and the first song we played together as a group was “Surrender,” so Cheap Trick is a band I’ve seen on many occasions. Like me, Joan Jett is a big fan of the Baltimore Orioles so naturally I’d seen here in the past. The only unknown entity on the bill was Heart, a band I enjoyed listening to as a young adult, especially their rocking 70s stuff.

Cheap Trick took the stage first, with lead singer Robin Zander dressed in white (basically wearing the same outfit as the band wore on the “Dream Police” album cover). Zander was in fine form vocally, sounding much better on the higher notes than he did last year. The band played a few songs off of their new album, “Bang, Zoom, Crazy…Hello” and the crowd seemed to enjoy them. I know I did. They also did some of their classic hits, finishing up with “Surrender.” Musically the band was tight with a special shout out to drummer Dax Nielsen. The son of lead guitarist Rick Nielsen, the drummer very capably filled the shadow left behind by Bun E. Carlos.

Next up was Jett who, at age 58, can still look amazing in a body suit. Like Cheap Trick, Jett and the Heartbreakers played a few new songs as well as some classics, with Jett reaching as far back into her catalog to include “Cherry Bomb,” her hit when with the Runaways. The group finished with a great version of Sly and the Family Stones’ “Everyday People.”

Last but not least was Heart. Ann and Nancy Wilson have been doing this a long time and their rapport worked to their advantage. Too bad their sound people didn’t. For whatever reason, the band sounded terrible. The sound pretty much drowned out Ann’s vocals, which are, of course, one of the reason’s to attend the show. For whatever reason, Ann Wilson’s microphone sounded under-miked, which made it difficult to hear and understand. Oh well, at least if I ever get asked I can say that I’ve “seen” Heart.” Just don’t ask me if I’ve ever heard them live!

Set Lists:

Cheap Trick
1. Hello There
2. Big Eyes
3. California Man
4. Tonight It’s You
5. When I Wake Up Tomorrow
6. If You Want My Love
7. Baby Loves to Rock
8. Stop This Game
9. I’m Waiting for the Man
10. The Flame
11. I Want You to Want Me
12. Surrender

Joan Jett and the Black Hearts
1. Bad Reputation
2. Cherry Bomb
3. Do You Wanna Touch Me (Oh Yeah)
4. TMI
5. You Drive Me Wild
6. Light of Day
7. Soulmates to Strangers
8. Love is Pain
9. Fake Friends
10. Any Weather
11. I Love Rock ‘n’ Roll
12. Crimson and Clover
13. I Hate Myself
14. Everyday People

Heart
1. Wild Child
2. Magic Man
3. What About Love
4. Bebe Le Strange
5. These Dreams
6. Two
7. Straight On
8. Kick It Out
9. Beautiful Broken
10. Alone, Crazy on You
11. Barracuda
ENCORE
12. The Immigrant Song
13. Stairway to Heaven