Concert Review: Hugh Jackman – The Man. The Music. The Show.

 

  • HUGH JACKMAN – THE MAN, THE MUSIC.  THE SHOW.
  • The United Center – Chicago, Illinois
  • October 11, 2019

Most people know Hugh Jackman as the claw sprouting X-man known as Wolverine.  And if that’s all they know him as, shame on them.  True fans know him as the Oscar-nominated, Tony Award winning actor whose been singing and dancing for years.  And it was those fans that were in attendance at the United Center in Chicago as Jackman continues his very successful tour.

The show kicked off with a rousing performance of “The Greatest Show,” followed by “Come Alive,” both from the very popular film “The Greatest Showman.”  While performing, Jackman noticed a fan holding up a sign stating it was her birthday.  He very graciously bent down to give her a hug as well as take a selfie with her.  He then noted that it was technically his birthday already in Australia (he turned 51 on October 12).  While addressing the audience he noticed a young boy down below in the floor audience who was dressed up like Jackman in “The Greatest Showman.”  He climbed off the stage to say hello to the boy and received a huge hug from the boy.  Returning to the stage, he explained how his first stage musical was “Beauty and the Beast,” then proceeded to perform the song “Gaston.”

He shared some information about his wife of 23 years and then sat down at the piano to play (and sing) “All the Way.”  After a medley saluting New York City he told a story about how he had worked on “The Greatest Showman” for eight years before it was made.  He also noted how there had been multiple workshops for the film and that Keala Settle had participated in all of them.  He then introduced Ms. Settle, who pretty much brought the house down with a rousing rendition of “This is Me.”  After performing a song from her upcoming album, Jackman returned to the stage and closed the first act with a few numbers from “Les Miserables,” accompanied by an enthusiastic group of singers and dancers.

The second act opened with a clip of Jackman receiving the Tony Award for his portrayal of songwriter and performer Peter Allen in “The Boy from Oz.”  Jackman took to the stage AS Peter Allen and sang a few of the songs Allen had written/co-written in his career.    The amazing dancing continued as he performed a song – “A Million Dreams” – which included sign language which was part of the choreography.  Between numbers, Jackman continually told great stories and would occasionally wander into the audience to greet concert goers.  At one point, he addressed the audience as honestly as I’ve ever head a performer, thanking all in attendance for not only supporting him but for taking the tine and spending the money to do so.  This is a man who not only appreciates his fans but goes out of his way to let him know so.

A couple of Aboriginal songs, complete with Didgeradoos helped close the show, along with Jackman doing a moving version of “Somewhere Over the Rainbow.”  All in all, it was an amazing night with an amazing talent!

Mr. Jackman’s tour is continuing throughout North America.  To see if he’s coming to your town, click HERE!

SET LIST

The Greatest Show, Come Alive, Gaston, All the Way, New York, New York/On Broadway/Empire State of Mind, This is Me, Harder, Valjean’s Soliloquy/I Dreamed a Dream/One Day More, Not the Boy Next Door, Arthur’s Theme (Best That You Can Do)/Don’t Cry Out Loud/ I Honestly Love You/ Quiet Please, There’s a Lady on Stage/ I Go to Rio, Tenterfield Saddler, A Million Dreams, Luck Be a Lady/ Singin’ in he Rain/ I Got Rhythm/Steppin’ Out With My Baby/ Sing Sing Sing, 42nd Street/Thunderstruck, Art Song, Inhibition, Somewhere Over the Rainbow, From Now On, Once Before I Go

 

 

 

 

 

Concert Review: “The Beatles – White Album 50th Anniversary Tribute

  • A TRIBUTE TO THE BEATLES WHITE ALBUM
  • Kauffman Center For the Performing Arts – Kansas City, Missouri
  • October 3, 2019

 

It’s often said of a great actor “I’d pay to watch him read the phone book.”  Well, this evening in Kansas City, I saw musicians who’d I pay to SING the phonebook.

Imagine having the opportunity to see these people in concert:  Todd Rundgren, Christopher Cross, Mickey Dolenz, Joey Molland from Badfinger and Jason Scheff from Chicago.  Now imagine seeing all of the on stage at once, which is exactly what I did this evening at the Kauffman Center in Kansas City.

They hit the stage, along with a talented group of musicians, to help pay tribute to the 50th Anniversary of an album simply titled THE BEATLES but known to fans all over the world as “the White Album.”  Great musicians performing great songs.  How can you lose?

There are 30 songs on the White Album, and, while not all of them are represented, the ones that are sound amazing.  Like the album, the show opened with Dolenz singing “Back in the U.S.S.R.”  Even at age 74, Dolenz filled the auditorium with one of the most recognizable voices in music history.  I caught the Monkees when they toured in 1986 and Mickey was the indisputable ring leader.  Nothing has changed.  It’s obvious he’s here to have fun and you can’t help but indulge him.  Rundgren, who I’ve been a fan of since he was in the band Utopia – AND WHO IS CRIMINALLY NOT IN THE ROCK AND ROLL HALL OF FAME – spelled Dolenz on lead vocals with “Everybody’s Got Something to Hide Except for Me and My Monkey,” pointing at the former Monkee while he sang.

After a few more songs, Dolenz announced that the audience was in for a special treat, as each of the main band members would also be performing a couple of their own hits.  He kicked this portion of the show off with “I’m a Believer,” followed by “Pleasant Valley Sunday.”  Then it was Molland’s turn and he entertained with a couple of Badfinger hits – “Baby Blue” and “No Matter What.”  Scheff, who very capably replaced Peter Cetera when the latter left the band Chicago, took center stage next with a mellowing version of “After All That We’ve Been Through” before switching gears into a rousing “25 or 6 to 4.”  It was then Rundgren’s turn.  Did I mention that, despite four decades in the music business and dozens of hit albums produced Todd Rundgren is NOT in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame?  He began his mini-set with “I Saw the Light” and added “Hello, It’s Me.”  That song is almost 50 years old but I sing it at the top of my voice every time I hear it, and tonight was no exception.  Thankfully the rest of the audience joined me.  Cross finished the mini solo concert with his hits “Sailing” and “Ride Like the Wind.”  A few more Beatles tunes and it was intermission time.

Rundgren, Cross and Dolenz

The show resumed with Cross alone on stage and he began the second act with a beautiful version of “Blackbird.”  The rest of the show was a constant barrage of Beatles song after song, each musically impeccable and perfectly sung.  In the second act, Rundgren began having fun.  He donned a couple of different outfits for a couple of songs, handing out flowers to the audience during “Sexy Sadie” and taking aim at the audience with an over-sized squirt gun while dressed as  hunter during “The Continuing Story of Bungalow Bill.”  Dolenz also had some fun with the audience, informing us that we were so great the band decided to also perform the entire “Abbey Road” album.  As the band played the opening riffs to “Come Together” I thought he might be serious.  Sadly, he wasn’t, though he joked that if they did play it he’d definitely need to be put into intensive care  The highlight of the show, to me, was Rundgren’s  kick-ass rendition of “Helter Skelter,” which earned him a much deserved standing ovation.  I did mention that Todd Rundgren is NOT in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, didn’t I?

To sum it up, it was an amazing night of music played by an amazing group of musicians.  If you’re a fan of the Beatles, or any of the musicians on the bill, I urge you to see this show when it’s in your town!

SET LIST:  Back in the U.S.S.R., Dear Prudence, Everybody’s Got Something to Hide Except Me and My Monkey, Martha My Dear, Yer Blues, I’m a Believer, Pleasant Valley Sunday, Baby Blue, No Matter What, After All That We’ve Been Through, 25 or 6 to 4, I Saw the Light, Hello, It’s Me, Sailing, Ride Like the Wind, Honey Pie, Why Don’t We Do It In the Road?, While My Guitar Gently Sleeps, Blackbird, I Will, Julia, Mother Nature’s Son, Rocky Raccoon, Revolution 1, Sexy Sadie, I’m So Tired, Happiness is a Warm Gun, The Continuing Story of Bungalow Bill, Piggies, Glass Onion, Helter Skelter, Come Together (opening), Birthday.  ENCORE:  Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da.

Upcoming Concert Dates

Oct 5 – Beverly, MA – Cabot Theater

Oct 6 – Concord, NH – Capitol Center For The Arts

Oct 7 – Orono, ME – Collins Center For The Arts

Oct 8 – Ridgefield, CT – Ridgefield Playhouse

Oct 10 – Staten Island, NY – St. George Theater

Oct 11 – Boston, MA – Berklee PAC

Oct 12 – Westbury, NY – Theatre @ Westbury

Oct 13 – Morristown, NJ – Mayo PAC

Oct 15 – Glenside, PA – Keswick Theatre

Oct 17 – Red Bank, NJ – Count Basie Theater

Oct 18 – New London, CT – Garde Arts Center

Oct 20 – Washington, DC – Warner Theatre

 

Concert Review: The Aquabats! “Holy Guacamole Tour”, Buffalo, NY

“Holy Guacamole Tour”

The Aquabats!, Koo Koo Kangaroo, MC Lars

Saturday, September 14th, 2019

Town Ballroom, Buffalo, NY

Our score 4.5 out of 5 stars

The Aquabats! Along with special guests Koo Koo Kangaroo and MC Lars made a stop at the quant Town Ballroom in Buffalo, NY on September 14th as part of their current “Holy Guacamole Tour”.  The family friendly evening was over flowing with energy and laughs as all three groups incorporated crowd participation into their sets making for a truly unique and unforgettable evening.

The cartoon drawing, YouTube creating rapper know as MC Lars would kick off the evening’s festivities with a set of hip-hop infused punk rock featuring songs from all five of the rappers releases. Songs like “Hot Topic Is Not Punk Rock” and “Mr.Raven” incorporated crowd participation call and answer sections with the latter featuring an accompaniment from one lucky young concert attendee who rapped alongside the artist. Easily the most impressive part of the set was when the rapper asked for audience members to hold up random items which were then incorporated into a hysterical off the cuff free style rap.  Dance-pop duo Koo Koo Kangaroo would take the stage next for an energetic set of laughable, dance inducing songs that had the entire venue smiling and gyrating. The Minnesota natives joked with the crowd in between songs like “Dinosaur Stomp”, “Fanny Pack” and “Unibrow” and at several points during the set the duo left the stage to dance and further involve the audience in their laughable performance.

The Aquabats! Would hit the stage next kicking off their set with the song “The Shark Fighter” from the group’s 2011 album “Hi-Fi Soup”. Giant inflatable sharks were tossed back and forth between the stage and crowd as everyone within reach took turns helping their costume clad heroes take out the amphibious baddies. As the night progressed the band who had been absent from Buffalo for quite some time made it up to the crowd with songs like “Red Sweater!”, “Hey Homies!” and the theme from the groups popular television/YouTube series “The Aquabats! Super Show! Theme Song”. Probably my favorite part of the set was during the song “Pizza Day!” when the MC Bat Commander instructed concert goers to return two of the large inflatable pizza’s which had been floating around the crowd to the front of the stage. While this was taking place the Commander brought up two very excited youngsters and once the pizza was in place the youth were thrown on to said pizzas and then passed around overhead as the band played the remainder of the song. You don’t see that every day! After several more songs the band would leave the stage at the close of “Captain Hampton and the Midget Pirates!” only to return after a brief pause to perform their break out hit “Super Rad!”, Also included in the encore was a cover of The Outfields “Your Love” and another Aquabats! fan favorite “Pool Party”.

Needless to say the whole night was a blast. It was great seeing kids and adults of all ages have fun while singing and dancing. Equally enjoyable was the level of interaction that each artist brought to their sets which really made the audience feel like they too were part of the show. The “Holy Guacamole Tour” runs through November so there is still plenty of time to catch one of these shows. Take the whole family you won’t be disappointed!

Aqua Bats Set List:

1.) The Shark Fighter!

2.) Cat With 2 Heads!

3.) Red Sweater!

4.) Martian Girl!

5.) Pizza Day!

6.) The Aquabats! Super Show! Theme Song

7.) Hey Homies!

8.) In My Dreams!

9.) Hot Summer Nights (Won’t Last Forever)!

10.) Fashion Zombies!

11.) Burger Rain!

12.) Look At Me, I’m a Winner!

13.) Caption Hampton and the Midget Pirates!

Encore:

14.) Super Rad!

15.) Your Love

16.) Pool Party!

 

 

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Concert Review: Kiss “End of The Road” Syracuse, NY

End of the Road Tour 2019

Kiss

Tuesday, August 27th, 2019

St. Joseph’s Health Amphitheater at Lakeview, Syracuse, NY

Our score 4 out of 5 stars

Rock and Roll Hall of Famers Kiss brought their bombastic “End of the Road” tour to the lake side St. Joseph’s Health Amphitheater in Syracuse, NY on August 27th to perform to a near capacity crowd for what very well could have been the last time due to the band announcing earlier in the year that this would be their final tour. With the annual NYS Fair taking place in the background there was already plenty of excitement in the air which the band surely was set to capitalize on.

As the scenic amphitheater quickly began to fill up renowned performance painter David Garibaldi would take the stage to showcase his unique style of splash painting back by remixed version of notable rock tracks which coincided with his subject. Garibaldi painted 3 works including one of Jimi Hendrix and of course one of Kiss complete with the shows location. A painter certainly is not the most traditional of opening acts (a fact which had a lot of concert goers scratching their heads) but given Paul Stanley’s foray into painting over the last few years there was I guess some logic to it. With the giant black and silver Kiss curtain already in place it was only a matter of minutes before it would be dropped making way for the hottest band in the land. As the opening notes of “Detroit Rock City” blasted through the PA the band descended from the roof on brightly lit platforms flanked by numerous backing displays which adorned the entire stage. The veteran rockers wasted no time launching into their catalog as they ripped through classics such as “Shout It Out Loud” and “Deuce” before breaking things up with a newer track “Say Yeah” from the groups 2009 release “Sonic Boom”.

As the evening progressed fans were treated to everything they have come to love about make-up clad band including plenty of fire, explosions, and over the top stage theatrics which included a trip in to the audience via an elaborate flying rig by Paul Stanley for the songs “Love Gun” and “I Was Made For Loving You”. After a brief exit from the stage following the closing notes of “Black Diamond” drummer Eric Singer would reappear for his version of “Beth” which he performed sitting behind a sparkle/mirror encrusted piano. Following the closing of the ballad the full band would return for two more songs including “Rock ‘N’ Roll All Nite” which featured plenty of red and white confetti that in a matter of seconds had nearly the entire crowd covered while they sang along to probably Kiss’s most well know song.  

If this truly is the last time we will see Kiss then the show the band put on for Syracuse, NY was a fitting send off as the band hardly missed a beat. Of course it would have been great to see the band perform with original members Ace Frehley and Peter Criss as well as non-makeup era guitarist Bruce Kulick but sadly that just wasn’t in the cards for this tour. With these three former members not being present for this tour could that possibly leave the door open for future Kiss works? Maybe,  and as we have learned from the bands past you just never know however, if the band does stay true to their word then you owe it to yourself to make it to one of these shows as no other band is out there putting on a show of this magnitude especially one with 40 plus years of history.

Set List:

1.) Detroit Rock City

2.) Shout It Out Loud

3.) Deuce

4.) Say Yeah

5.) I Love It Loud

6.) Heaven’s On Fire

7.) War Machine

8.) Lick it Up

9.) Calling Dr. Love

10.) 100,000 Year

11.) Cold Gin

12.) God of Thunder

13.) Psycho Circus

14.) Let Me Go, Rock ‘N’ Roll

15.) Love Gun

16.) I Was Made For Lovin’ You

17.) Black Diamond

Encore:

18.) Beth

19.) Crazy Crazy Nights

20.) Rock and Roll All Nite

 

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Kansas City Concert Review: “Weird Al” Yankovic – STRINGS ATTACHED

  • “Weird Al” Yankovic – Strings Attached Tour
  • August 31, 2019
  • Starlight Theater, Kansas City, Missouri

PHOTOS BY DAN LYBARGER

FINALLY!!

Like many other people, I have a musical bucket list. This is a list of people or groups I MUST see before I die. Over the past few years I’ve been able to cross a few of them off my list. Van Morrison? Check. Tom Petty? Check – and rest in peace. Santana? Check. But tonight I finally crossed of one that has been on my list for almost 40 years when I took in the amazing “Weird Al” Yankovic!

It was September 14, 1980. Two days before my 20th birthday. That night, while listening to Dr. Demento’s radio show, he had a guest in studio that wanted to play a song of his. The guest was “Weird Al” and the song was Another One Rides the Bus, a clever parody of Queen’s current hit Another One Bites the Dust. Something about Al – his personality oozed through my radio – instantly endeared him to me, and I listened regularly, hoping to catch one of Al’s new ditties.

On November 24, 1991 I had planned on seeing him when he came to Baltimore. He had made an appearance at a local record store – wow, I just dated myself – and very graciously signed two of my album. For some reason, if memory serves me, the show was cancelled or moved to another date. The only thing I can remember from that date is that this was the day Freddie Mercury and KISS drummer Eric Carr died. Almost three decades later, I finally fulfilled my plan.

The name of the tour – “Strings Attached” – is to inform you that not only is Al traveling with his band, but he’s bringing a 41-piece orchestra with him. Led by conductor Eric Roth, the orchestra began the night with some classic movie themes, beginning with John Williams’ “Raiders of the Lost Ark.” As I listened in rapt attention, I couldn’t help but notice one of the violinists having the time of his life playing the music. While many of the orchestra members sat still and stiff, he would move his head to the music and it was obvious that he was that rare person who really loves his job! After a few more themes, finishing with The Throne Room and End Title music from “Star Wars,” there was a 20 minute break before Al and his band joined the orchestra on stage.

I love this guy!!

Dressed in his customary loud Hawaiian shirt, the show began with a quick medley of I Lost on Jeopardy, I Love Rocky Road and Like a Surgeon. He then went into a photo-filled version of The Biggest Ball of Twine in Minnesota. As the show progressed, Al would often play along with the band and the audience. During one break, as the band played a chair was brought out for him to sit in. His brow was then mopped and a glass of wine brought to him. A touching version of You Don’t Love Me Anymore was prefaced by him thanking the Martin Guitar Company for replacing the guitar that was inadvertently broken during their last gig. When the song was over the guitar, which Al never played, was shattered in anger ala Pete Townsend.

As the night progressed, the band also got into the act, sporting everything from Viking Helmets to an impressive collection of “Star Wars” outfits. In between the audience was treated to several videos. One was a compilation of many of the television programs and films Yankovic has appeared in or been mentioned on, including “Family Guy,” “The Simpsons,” 30 Rock” and “The Naked Gun.” Their was also a faux trailer for a film called “WEIRD,” which featured Aaron Paul as “Weird Al.” He also did a nice walk through the audience and had a member of the audience electrify the show with a rousing Oboe solo!

Bass player Steve Jay kept the beat all night.

One thing that I really noticed is that Al Yankovic, weird or not, has an amazing voice. There were a couple of times when he held prolonged notes that made me think if the funny song thing didn’t work out he’d be fronting a metal band somewhere.

The show ended in an amazing “Star Wars” style, with Al and the band dressed as everyone from Darth Vader to Obi-Wan Kenobi. Unfortunately we were only allowed to take photos during the first three songs of the evening so we can’t share the images with you. Just use your imagination.

When the show was over I headed to my car, humming Another One Rides the Bus, smiling and thinking to myself one thing. FINALLY!!

SET LIST: The Orchestra – Main titles from “Raiders of the Lost Ark,” “Mission: Impossible” and “Superman: the Movie.” The Throne Room/End Title from “Star Wars.”

“Weird Al” with Orchestra – I Lost on Jeopardy/I Love Rocky Road/Like a Surgeon (Medley), The Biggest Ball of Twine in Minnesota, Word Crimes, Jurassic Park, Don’t Download this Song, Weasel Stomping Day, You Don’t Love Me Anymore, Harvey the Wonder Hamster, Jackson Park Express, Smells Like Teen Spirit, Dare to Be Stupid, White and Nerdy, Amish Paradise. ENCORE: The Saga Continues, Yoda.

Concert Review: Bad Religion, Rochester, NY

“Age of Unreason Tour 2019”

Bad Religion, The Lawrence Arms
Tuesday, August 6h, 2019
Anthology, Rochester, NY

Our score: 5 out of 5 stars

Bad Religion made a stop at Anthology in Rochester, NY on August 6th as part of the bands current “Age of Unreason” tour.  Along with the elder statesmen of punk were special guest The Lawrence Arms. Despite a thirty year lapse since the bands last performance in the Flour City both groups brought their A game to the sold out crowd who packed the gills of the intimate venue on a warm Tuesday night.

Epitaph label mates The Lawrence Arms opened the evening’s festivities promptly at 8pm and as the venue quickly filled to capacity the three piece group from Chicago, IL held court treating fans to their windy city brand of grit infused punk rock. Bassist/vocalist Brendan Kelly jokingly traded barbs with the audience between songs and at one point noted that this was the bands first time performing in Rochester. The band sounded great as it played songs from it six album catalog including a handful from their most recent release 2014’s “Metropole” before leaving the stage to a chant of one more song from the ever growing crowd.

After a somewhat timely change over Bad Religion would take to the stage basked in powerful, dark blue lighting. The band opened their set with the edgy “Them and Us” from the 1996 album “The Grey Race”. Vocalist Greg Graffin and the rest of the band consisting of Jay Bentley, Brian Baker, Mike Dimkich and drummer Jamie Miller blasted through a 27 song set full of classic BR songs like “Stranger Than Fiction”, “Atomic Garden”, Suffer” and “21st Century (Digital Boy)” and newer songs like “Chaos From Within”, “My Sanity” and “Do The Paranoid Style” all of which are from the bands recently released studio album “Age of Unreason”.

Bad Religion certainly made up for their long absence in Rochester as the bands high energy 27 song set fed the need of both long time fans and fellow new comers (some of whom were as young as 12 years old). Anthology’s medium sized venue played a near perfect host for the humble punk veterans who seemed to really appreciate the vibe and energy they received in return for their stellar performance. Bad Religion will be on tour in the States through October so if the band is coming to your area you owe it to yourself to be there!

Bad Religion Set List:

1.) Them and us

2.) End of History

3.) Fuck You

4.) Stranger Than Fiction

5.) The Dichotomy

6.) Recipe for Hate

7.) Chaos From Within

8.) Los Angeles Is Burning

9.) The Handshake

10.) My Sanity

11.) Atomic Garden

12.) Lose Your Head

13.) Suffer

14.) No Control

15.) Against the Grain

16.) Skyscraper

17.) Anesthesia

18.) I Want to Conquer the World

19.) 21st Century (Digital Boy)

20.) Generator

21.) The New Dark Ages

22.) You

23.) Do The Paranoid Style

24.) Fuck Armageddon…This Is Hell

25.) Sorrow

Encore

26.) Infected

27.) American Jesus

Concert Review: “Summer Slaughter” Syracuse, NY

“2019 Summer Slaughter”

Cattle Decapitation, Carnifex, The Faceless, Rivers of Nihil, Nekrogoblikon, Lorna Shore, Brand of Sacrifice
Friday, July 26th, 2018
The Westcott Theater, Syracuse, NY

Our score: 2.5 out of 5 stars

The 13th annual Summer Slaughter tour made a stop at the Westcott Theater in Syracuse, NY on July 26th as part of the tours 23 stop run. Being billed as “the most extreme tour of the year” we were anxious to see if this year’s package which is headlined by Cattle Decapitation, Carnifex, The Faceless and Rivers of Nihil could deliver an experience worthy of the aforementioned moniker.

As the vintage doors of the Westcott Theater came squeaking open on fairly normal Upstate, NY summer afternoon something stuck out amidst the horde of black t-shirt wearing metal heads. No it was not the over the top graphics or the hard to read fonts which adorned said shirts instead it was a unique sense of camaraderie that seemed to occur between both bands and fans as they mixed and mingled cohesively through out the day long event which made for a nice friendly gathering of metal lovers.

Opening up the tour billing was Brand of Sacrifice who performed a spattering of tracks from their most recent album “God Hand” to the incoming crowd. New Jersey’s Lorna Shore would follow promptly not allowing the energy dip too low with a high impact thirty minute set. Goblin-Metal forefathers Nekrogoblikon would hit the stage next complete with the bands loveable mascot John Goblikon who leaped and bounded across the stage as the band shredded through songs like “We Need a Gimmick”, “Dressed As Goblins”  and  “Powercore”.  The saxophone laden River of Nihil was up next performing songs from their latest offering “Where Owls Know My Name” which filled the dank theater with jazz infused metal. The Faceless would be up next banging out a somewhat lack luster set which featured very little movement from the band themselves. Carnifex took the stage next and singlehandedly brought the energy back and to a whole new level. Makeup clad front man Scott Ian Lewis worked the stage like a maniacal mad man while the rest of the band did their duty of laying down a thunderous, circle pit ensuing dirge that commanded attendees attention. Closing out the 8 plus hour day was tour headliner Cattle Decapitation who despite the dwindling crowd size hit the stage running blasting through songs like “The Prophets of Lost”, “Times Cruel Curtain” and “Pacific Grim” before leaving the stage at a prompt 11 pm.

With our ears ringing and our brains rattled we made our way out of the venue while trying to process just what our senses were put through over the course of the day. What we were able to piece together is this. Summer Slaughter is not for the faint of heart or for the casual death/extreme metal listener and, this tour could very well be as the banner boast’s the most “Extreme” musical offering this summer. With the tour running through mid August you still have time to catch a show and experience this for yourself, If you dare.

Concert Review: “Tenacious D” – Starlight Theatre, Kansas City, MO

Tenacious D/Wynchester
July 27th, 2019
Starlight Theatre, Kansas City, MO

The self-named greatest band in the world, Tenacious D, stopped by Kansas City on a hot Summer night to promote their fourth studio album, “Post Apocalypto.” Their newest album isn’t filled with a lot of bangers, so the duo of Jack Black and Kyle Gass stacked their setlist with more recognizable songs, predominantly leaning on their first two albums to fill their setlist. The crowd, certainly inebriated to some extent, ate up every minute of it.

Before the iconic comedy duo hit the stage, Wynchester, featuring Tenacious D’s electric guitarist, took the stage to perform some comedic country music and a handful of covers. The acoustic act was a fitting opener as they played some decent toe tapping music and joked with the crowd, although a good portion of fans weren’t even in their seats yet, as they waited in a never-ending merchandise line or loaded up on beverages before the main event. 

Once the sun set, and Black and Gass hit the stage, the real show was on. Much like other comedic acts, Weird Al and Psychostick, Tenacious D is very serious about their silliness and their act. For those who don’t know, their shtick is that they’re a couple of guys who believe they’re the greatest musicians to walk the Earth, even though they’re a couple of pot heads equipped with acoustic guitars and a severe case of writers block. They crank that persona to 11 on stage, doing a handful of sketches before specific songs and sometimes improvising with one another. For those who’ve probably never heard of the band, or know of them, I’m not sure you would enjoy attend their show because you’d certainly be out of the loop and wondering why everyone in the crowd knows every word to their sexually explicit and juvenile songs.

Because any fans of The D would be content with a front to back cover of their first album, the concert felt a bit short because they only played six tracks off of their self-titled album. However, when I checked my phone before the encore, the duo, accompanied by a very talented backing band, had more than filled the requisite amount of time required, clocking in at nearly an hour and a half. By the time they were prepared to saunter off the stage, fans were already on their feet applauding and chanting, hungry for more, but happy with the massive helping of pot rock that they got. Fans who have yet to see the comedy rockers, like myself, will certainly leave satisfied. Those who’ve seen them before certainly won’t feel disappointed and will most certainly catch them on their next tour.

Tenacious D Set-List

  1. JB JR Rap
  2. Woman Time
  3. Save the World
  4. Post-Apocalypto Theme
  5. Rize of the Fenix
  6. Low Hangin’ Fruit
  7. Sax-a-Boom
  8. Roadie
  9. Throwdown
  10. POD
  11. Dude (I Totally Miss You)
  12. Kickapoo
  13. Beelzeboss (The Final Showdown)
  14. The Metal
  15. Dio
  16. Kielbassa
  17. Tribute
  18. Double Team
  19. Wonder Boy
  20. Fuck Her Gently

Concert Review: Santana with the Doobie Brothers

  • Santana /the Doobie Brothers
  • Sprint Center, Kansas City, Missouri
  • July 11, 2019

50 years ago next month, over 400,000 people attended a little 3-day music festival known as Woodstock. One of the bands playing that weekend was led by a young man whose last name the band had adopted as theirs…Carlos Santana.

Tonight at Kansas City’s Sprint Center, the master guitarist entertained a packed house playing as powerfully as he did five decades ago, his skill and energy amazing for a man who turns 72 next week. After the show began with a video tribute to Woodstock, Mr. Santana and his highly talented group of musicians chose for their opening number “Soul Sacrifice.” The next two hours was a collection of hits (“Oye Como Va,” “Black Magic Woman”) and album cuts. As the show progressed, opening band the Doobie Brothers joined Santana on stage for a rousing medley of “She’s Not There,” “Spill the Wine” and “Shotgun.” A highlight of the medley was the Doobie’s Tom Johnson and Mr. Santana trading wicked guitar riffs.

As the show progressed, the band continued to jam, extending some songs several minutes, which the crowd, their eyes fixed on Mr. Santana’s flying fingers, ate up. Another highlight occurred when the band took a brief break, allowing drummer Cindy Blackman Santana to bring the house down with a prolonged and entertaining drum solo.

Of course, the biggest song of the night was the multiple Grammy-award winning “Smooth,” which the audience sang along to with gusto. The show ended with Mr. Santana encouraging the audience to strive for peace and harmony. After the performance he gave, how could we refuse him.

SET LIST: Soul Sacrifice, Jin-go-lo-ba, Evil Ways / A Love Supreme, (Da Le) Yaleo, Put Your Lights On, She’s Not There / Spill the Wine / Shotgun, Black Magic Woman / Gypsy Queen, Oye Como Va, Hope You’re Feeling Better, Love of My Life, Breaking Down the Door, In Search of Mona Lisa, Maria Maria, Foo Foo, Corazon Espinado, Toussaint L’Ouverture. ENCORE: Are You Ready, Smooth, September / Love, Peace and Happiness.

Concert Review: Rockstar Disrupt Festival, Syracuse, NY

Rockstar Disrupt Festival 2019

Thrice, The Used, Circa Survive, The Story So Far, Atreyu

Tuesday, July 2nd, 2019

St. Joseph’s Health Amphitheater at Lakeview, Syracuse, NY

Our score 3 out of 5 stars

The Rockstar Disrupt Festival made a stop in Syracuse, NY on July 2nd as part of the tours inaugural run featuring a variety of musical acts including Hyro the Hero, Andy Black, The Used and Thrice. Despite the event starting off under questionable skies it didn’t stop the bands or fans from giving their all over the course of the 7 plus hour event.  

Kicking of the day on the Festival Stage was the Texas based Hyro the Hero who performed a handful of songs of their latest album “Flagged Channel”. Though fans were still filling in the sprawling lake side venue the bands high energy and unique style of rap infused metal quickly grabbed people’s attention and set the stage perfectly for the day’s festivities. After checking out the various merchandise booths which were placed around the venue grounds we made another stop at the Festival stage where we took in performances by Memphis May Fire, Four Year Strong and Andy Black. All of which put on solid sets despite the muggy afternoon conditions. Sleeping with Sirens closed out the Festival stage lineup however it was hard to focus given the lineup which was about to be performing on the Main Stage. Veteran metal act Atreyu opened up the stage performing songs from their various albums including “Ex’s and Oh’s”, “Bleeding Mascara” and their cover of Bon Jovi’s “You Give Love a Bad Name”. The band sounded great and really got the crowd going again after a brief lull during stage changes caused the energy to dip. The Story So Far and Circa Survive would follow both turning in note worthy performances that had large portions of the audience dancing and singing along from beginning to end. The Used were up next performing a spattering of songs from their career including “Take It Away” “The Taste of Ink” and “Buried Myself Alive. Front-man Bert McCracken and company even included a cover of the Oasis song “Wonderwall” which made us question if a majority of the crowd were even alive when that song first debuted? Thrice would close out the night with an eleven song set including songs “The Artist in the Ambulance”, “In Exile” and “Black Honey” before closing out the evening with “The Earth Will Shake” from the bands 2005 album “Vheissu”.  Though the band members were all fairly stationary throughout the performance the crowd did not seem to mind as they loudly sang along to front-man Dustin Kensrues lyrics.

For those looking to fill the void left by the Warped Tour whose last full summer run was in 2018, Rockstar Disrupt Festival could be just! Yes the festival is much smaller and not hitting as many cities as its predecessor however the artist lineup is on par as are the various vendors and pop-ups. Probably the biggest selling point for us was the fact that you could actually see all the acts on the bill if you chose to. Having only two stages made for a much less stressful day and ensured you could everything. This feature alone makes the tour stand out above others with a similar design. Sure the tour has to contend with some growing pains and the various first year hiccups however with those things aside if you are looking for a full day of diverse music where you can actually see everything then we highly recommend the Rockstar Disrupt Festival.

Festival Stage:

Sleeping With Sirens

Andy Black

Four Year Strong

Memphis May Fire

Trophy Eyes

Juliet Simms

Hyro The Hero

Main Stage:

Thrice

The Used

Circa Survive

The Story So Far

Atreyu

CD Review: Bad Religion “Age of Unreason”

“Age of Unreason”

Bad Religion

Epitaph

Producer: Carlos de la Garza

Tracks: 14

Our Score: 4 out of 5 Stars

Punk Rock God Fathers Bad Religion have just released their seventeenth studio album titled “Age of Unreason” The album is being released vie Epitaph Records and features 14 brand new tracks which were produced by Carlos de la Garza. This is the bands first release since 2013’s “True North” marking the longest gap between albums in the bands history.  “Age of Reason” is also the first album to feature guitarist Mike Dimkich and drummer Jamie Miller.

Bad Religion is a band that holds a special place in my musical heart as they were one of the first punk bands me and my friends really got into. 1994’s “Stranger Than Fiction” was often the soundtrack to our skateboard adventures as were many of the bands subsequent releases. Needless to say the bands activity has been on my radar for quite some time so when it was finally announced that “Age of Reason” was going to be released after a seven year recording hiatus the album quickly moved to the top of my listening queue. Tracks such as “My Sanity”, “The Age of Reason” and “The Old Regime” are classic BR through in through as all three feature the bands signature fast paced drumming, intermittent guitar soloing  topped off by vocalist Greg Graffin’s thought provoking lyrics. Songs such as “Lose Your Head”, “Candidate” and “Downfall” show the band stretching their legs a little bit as they experiment with a variety of beats and tones giving the album a nice balance of familiarity and freshness.
 
From beginning to end I found Bad Religion’s “Age of Reason” to be a fun and energetic listen. Even after a couple of consecutive listens  I still found myself going back and listening to some of the previously noted tracks as I just couldn’t get enough. Does the release have the rawness of albums like “Suffer” or “No Control”?  Not so much. However, the band, its fans and the world as a whole are in a completely different place than they were in the late eighties and early nineties. “Age of Reason” is classic Bad Religion with a modern twist which listeners new both new and old will enjoy time and time again.

TRACK LISTING

1.) Chaos From Within

2.) My Sanity

3.) Do The Paranoid Style

4.) The Approach

5.) Lose Your Head

6.) End of History

7.) The Age of Unreason

8.) Candidate

9.) Faces of Grief

10.) Old Regime

11.) Big Black Dog

12.) Downfall

13.) Since Now

14.) What Tomorrow Brings

Kansas City Concert Review: Little River Band

 
LITTLE RIVER BAND
Ameristar Casino - Kansas City, MO
May 3, 2019

Maybe it’s my age but to me the best music ever created was done so in the 20th Century.  Great music.  Great lyrics.  Amazing voices.  Today the majority of what I hear I can’t understand, even when it’s Autotuned!  Which made my first time listening to the Little River Band live so amazing.

If you grew up in the 1970s/80s (I graduated high school in 1978), then LRB was surely part of the soundtrack of your life.  Their musical gifts, and incredible harmonies, made songs like “Reminiscing,” “Lonesome Loser,” “Cool Change” and “The Night Owl” so memorable.

Now led by bassist/singer (and Kansas City native) Wayne Nelson, who joined the Australian band in 1979, the show was an amazing retrospective of both their greatest hits and some newer material.  Their song “The Lost and the Lonely,” from the band’s 2014 album “Cuts Like a Diamond,” a tribute to the troops, was well received, as was an extensive piano intro by keyboard maestro Chris Marion before the band played “Cool Change.”

An enjoyable evening was capped off by the band coming out front and greeting the fans, which I found to be a pretty incredible thing, especially after playing a 90 minute gig!  If you’re a fan of “classic” rock and pop, then LRB is a band you’ll want to catch.

For more information on their current tour, click HERE.

Kansas City Concert Review – Brian Wilson

REVIEW AND PHOTOS BY DAN LYBARGER

 Brian Wilson

Muriel Kauffman Theater – Kansas City, MO

November 13, 2018

Brian Wilson

At 76, Brian Wilson could still make a crowded auditorium happy, even if he didn’t appear to be doing anything at all.

Having co-written and arranged dozens of hits for The Beach Boys and on his own, Wilson can get away with outsourcing songs he originated to other vocalists. He sat behind a baby grand piano as if he were an audience member instead of the star of the show.

Criticizing Wilson for being odd is like chastising the Beatles for being English. It’s essential to his greatness, even if it can be disconcerting to watch. The distinctive harmonies in the songs he recorded with the Beach Boys are the result of defying convention. The fact that Wilson is deaf in one ear only makes his accomplishments seem even more formidable.

It’s also worth noting that many Beach Boy songs like “California Girls” and “Wouldn’t It Be Nice” sound better in live performances now than they would have when the band and the session players from the Wrecking Crew recorded them over 50 years ago. The amplification to do those songs justice wasn’t around back then, and Wilson’s current band consistently performed them with both fidelity and spirit.

The 11-piece ensemble behind Wilson juggled instruments and skillfully mimicked the harmonies Wilson originally created with his late brothers Dennis and Carl and cousin Mike Love. Fellow Beach Boy founder Al Jardine wound up taking most of the vocal chores that evening and seemed happier with ingratiating himself and the band with the crowd than Wilson did. Then again, Wilson seemed to have had the crowd’s attention by simply uttering “Hello, Kansas City” at the start of the show.

Unlike musicians from the past who might have needed too much chemical help to get on stage, Wilson can at least still read a map.

Rob Bonfiglio

He and the band found a great venue. The Muriel Kauffman Theatre normally hosts classical performances, but Leonard Bernstein praised Wilson’s distinctive compositions as being worthy of the old masters, so they certainly belonged on that stage.

If Wilson seemed only fitfully engaged, the rest of the band were eager to give the songs he had popularized justice. Jardine can still plaintively beg Rhonda to help him forget his ex and can fill in for passages that Carl or Wilson’s cousin and lyricist Mike Love used to sing.

Ben Jones

Wilson’s son-in-law Rob Bonfiglio ably delivers the falsetto portions of the songs that his father-in-law used to sing, and the other instrumentalists in the ensemble change instruments more frequently than most of us change our clothes.

For “Good Vibrations,” the band even incorporated a delightfully eerie Theremin and played acoustic marimbas instead of keyboard samples. Darian Sahanaja, who helped Wilson resurrect long lost Beach Boys album Smile, played keyboards and figured out how to make studio trickery work live.

The set also received a shot of adrenaline when South African singer-guitarist Blondie Chaplin hit the stage halfway through the set. A member of the 1970s incarnation of The Beach Boys, Chaplin tore through “Free Flows,” “Wild Honey” and “Sail On, Sailor,” stopping only to deliver some scorching guitar solos. Chaplin would return to harmonize on later songs, but he left the crowd craving more.

Wilson and Al Jardine

Wilson seemed content to simply let Chaplin, Jardine and Bonfiglio do the heavy lifting. He still managed to deliver moving renditions of “God Only Knows” and his solo tune “Love & Mercy.” If you had written those haunting melodies, maybe you could afford to take it easy during the rest of the set.

Opening band Beat Root Revival offered self-deprecating quips about opening for a titan like Wilson, but delivered a brief energetic set that featured solid covers and some touching originals. Englishman Ben Jones is a remarkably nimble guitarist, while Irish vocalist Andrea Magee provided most of the percussion and found new uses for a pennywhistle in her reinterpretation of Stevie Nicks’ “Dreams.” Her original tune “Forever” may have originated with her parents arguing about a piece of cheese, but it’s catchy and delightful even if you don’t know its origin.

Andrea Magee

Set List (Courtesy of Setlist.fm)

California Girls

Dance, Dance, Dance

I Get Around

Shut Down

Little Deuce Coupe

Little Honda

Surfer Girl

Salt Lake City

Wake the World

Add Some Music to Your Day

California Saga: California

Don’t Worry Baby

Darlin’

Feel Flows

Wild Honey

Sail On, Sailor

Do It Again

Wouldn’t It Be Nice

Sloop John B

God Only Knows

Good Vibrations

Encore

All Summer Long

Help Me, Rhonda

Barbara Ann

Surfin’ U.S.A.

Fun, Fun, Fun

Love and Mercy

Concert Review: “Generation Axe” Rochester, NY

“Generation Axe”
Steve Vai, Zakk Wylde, Yngvie Malmsteen, Nuno Bettencourt, Tosin Abasi,
Saturday, December 1st, 2018
Kodak Performing Arts Center, Rochester, NY

Our score: 4 out of 5 stars

“Generation Axe” made a stop in the flour city on December 1st as part of the super group’s current US tour. Fresh off a successful tour of Asia the guitar dominant tour featuring Steve Vai, Yngvie Malmsteen, Zakk Wylde, Nuno Bettencourt and Tosin Abasi is total emersion in to all things guitar. From head spinning solo performances to face melting group jams “Generation Axe” packs a punch like no other.

Given the reputation of the five guitarists who make up “Generation Axe” going in you can sort of guess what you are going to be in for however, it isn’t until you see the thirty plus Marshall amplifiers and various other gear that adorns the stage does it really sink in that “this might get loud”! From the opening notes of the Focus song “Hocus Pocus” (which featured all five talents shredding out of the gate) to the closing notes of Deep Purples “Burn” some three and a half hours later the near capacity crowd which filled the Kodak centers multi level venue were left slack jawed the near entire time. The performance moved rather smoothly as each of the five featured guitarists performed some of their more notable material before switching off with one of the other players. Animals As Leaders, Tosin Abasi opened the solo portion of the night with a furry of slap-tastic notes and uniquely timed transitions setting the stage nicely with songs from his bands catalog such as “Woven Web” and the popular “Physical Education”. Though he may have been the lesser known of the five Abasi let his music and technique speak earning him an impressive response from the audience.

Extreme’s Nuno Bettencourt would take the stage next opening with the always fun to sing along to “Get The Funk Out”. Nuno interacted sporadically with crowd and at one point teased them with the opening of the ballad “More Than Word” which he quickly stopped and joked that he would not be playing that tonight. Probably the most impressive of Bettencourt’s session was the piece “Extreme Melody” which was taken from a You Tube fan compilation consisting of all of his solos. Before leaving the stage Nuno invited the bearded berserker Zakk Wylde up to play on “Sidewayst” which then gave way to the Ozzy Osbourne/Black Label Society guitarists own solo portion. Wylde’s set consisted mostly of Black Sabbath songs such as “NIB” and “War Pigs” before being closed out with an amazing rendition of Gary Moore’s “Still Got the Blues”. Wylde’s set was pure energy and crowd interaction as the golden haired front-man left the stage several times to jam in the audience and at one point even made his way to the over-hanging balcony to jam for the higher up fans. Steve Vai (the man behind Generation Axe) would follow taking the stage with a lighted guitar to the tune of “There’s a Fire in Here”. Vai’s solo portion was quite brief in that it only consisted of three songs however the man with six fingers delivered tenfold.

Closing out the solo portions of the night was “The Maestro” Yngvie Malmsteen. Doused in a glow of red the long haired leather clad shredder from Sweden took listeners on a neo-classical voyage courtesy of his signature fender Stratocasters and wall of Marshall amps. From “Into Valhalla”, “Apreggio From Hell” and, “Paganini’s 4th Adagio” Malmsteen kept his foot on the gas and did not let up one bit. The night ended with a handful of songs featuring the entire line up. Easily my favorite from the three was the group’s all guitar rendition of the Queen track “Bohemian Rhapsody” complete with falsetto breakdowns. This alone made the ticket worth the price of admission. The night was closed out by Deep Purples “Burn” featuring Yngvie on vocals and I have to say it was nice to hear something from Purple’s catalog other than “Highway Star” or “Smoke on the Water”

“Generation Axe” is a great night of guitar playing and music. Vary rarely do you get to see two of these performers in the same place at the same time let alone all five. Equally impressive is the groups backing band consisting of Bassist Pete Griffin, Keyboardist Nick Marinovich and drummer JP Bouvet. The band performed a wide range of complex material the entire night never missing a beat and gave the five virtuoso guitarists the perfect foundation to build on. If “Generation Axe” is coming to your town get you and/or that loved one tickets to the show as you won’t be disappointed.

Set List:
1.) Hocus Pocus (Full Group)
2. Tempting Time (TA)
3.) Woven Web (TA)
4.) Physical Education (TA)
5.) Get The Funk Out (NB)
6.) Midnite Express (NB)
7.) Extreme Melody (NB)
8.) Sidewayst (NB/ZW)
9.) Into the Void (ZW)
10.) NIB (ZW)
11.) War Pigs (ZW)
12.) Still Got the Blues (ZW)
13.) There’s a Fire in Here (SV)
14.) The Animal (SV)
15.) For the Love of God (SV)
16.) Into Valhalla (YM)
17.) Baroque & Roll (YM)
18.) From A Thousand Cuts (YM)
19.) Apreggio From Hell (YM)
20.) Far Beyond the Sun (YM)
21.) Badlinere (YM)
22.) Paganini’s 4th Adagio (YM)
23.) Trilogy Suite Op 5 (YM)
24.) Black Star (YM)
25.) The Star-Spangled Banner (YM)
26.) Frankenstein (Full Group)
27.) Bohemian Rhapsody (Full Group)
28.) Burn (Full Group)

Concert Review: FOO FIGHTERS in Kansas City

 

 Foo Fighters
 Sprint Center, Kansas City, MO
 October 12, 2018
 
During an introduction a few years ago on CBS’s “Late Show with David Letterman,” the now-retired host said this about the Foo Fighters, “We can all sleep easy at night knowing that somewhere at any given time, the Foo Fighters are out there fighting Foo.” With founder Dave Grohl at the helm, Foo Fighters did plenty of that and then some in front of a packed audience for three wild hours on Friday night (Oct. 12) at the Sprint Center in downtown Kansas City, Missouri.
 
After hitting the multi-generational crowd with three songs – “Run,” “The Sky Is a Neighborhood” and “La Dee Da” – from their ninth studio album “Concrete and Gold,” Grohl, who somehow manages to not blow out his vocal chords, took a break from wailing to let drummer Taylor Hawkins perform an epic solo, which was upon a miniature stage that rose a couple stories above the main stage. This led into “Something From Nothing,” also from their current album, before Grohl and company – bassist Nate Mendel, guitarist Pat Smear, Hawkins, guitarist Chris Shiflett, and keyboardist Rami Jaffee – took the Sprint Center on a rock journey across their 23-year music career.
 
Using just the right amount of laser lights and other visuals to complement their music, the Foo Fighters often went on extended, improvised versions of such classic hits as “The Pretender” and “Learn to Fly.” Without missing a beat, the audience was impressively able to sing every song word for word when called upon by Grohl, who once again proved he is a master showman. Some singers can bore you to tears when they decide to stop and talk in between songs. Grohl is a brilliant exception. Even with plenty of f-bombs to spare, Grohl, much like he did while sitting in a guitar throne three years ago during their last Sprint Center appearance, kept his spectators engaged and entertained.
 
The Foo Fighters took a break from their hit parade to allow each band member to have their own feature solo. No one in the house was disappointed as they demonstrated masterful musicianship, highlighted by a fantastic rendition of “Blitzkrieg Bop” with Smear taking the lead and “Under Pressure” with Grohl on drums and Hawkins on lead vocals. However, perhaps no more fun was to be had than when Grohl explained how important music can be to healing differences with Jaffee playing “Imagine” in the background. With everyone expecting to sing along with the John Lennon classic, Grohl surprised everyone by doing Van Halen’s “Jump” lyrics to the music of “Imagine,” again showing their versatility and playful side.
 
The Foo Fighters wound up the raucous evening of pure American rock with classics “My Hero,” “Monkey Wrench” and “Best of You” before diving into a slightly surprising encore. It featured Grohl inviting an 11-year-old kid onstage to play “Enter Sandman” on guitar, which was to the gleeful delight of the crowd, before the group ultimately ended with mainstay “Everlong.”

SET LIST:  Run, The Sky is a Neighborhood, La Dee Da, Sunday Rain, Something From Nothing, Walk, These Days, Arlandria, The Pretender, Times Like These, All My Life, Learn to Fly, Breakout, Another One Bites the Dust, Imagine/Jump, Blitzkrier Bop, Under Pressure, My Hero, Monkey Wrench, Best of You.  ENCORE:  Enter Sandman, Dirty Water, This is a Call, Everlon.,

 

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