Armored Saint/W.A.S.P. tour marches through Columbus

One of the most anticipated heavy metal tours in years made its way through Columbus, Ohio on Wednesday night. The tour package pairs up two of Los Angeles’ best metal bands to come out of the city during the 1980’s. In fact, both bands are celebrating their 40th years of existence on this trek. The Columbus gig, performed at The King of Clubs, on the city’s north side was the venues fastest sell out to date. The event sold out in just eight days, way back in January. For anyone claiming that the 80’s metal scene no longer has a demand, they’re sorely mistaken.

The evening started out with the usual controversy that has been following this tour from city to city. Headlining act, W.A.S.P. and their larger than life front man Blackie Lawless, were severely late to their “meet and greet” event prior to the show. An hour before doors were supposed to open, they got pushed back a half hour to 7:00. The only problem was they didn’t actually open until almost 7:40 p.m. I’m not sure if Lawless considered the fact that the fans were left to wait outside in sub freezing temperatures for nearly two hours, but surely he should recognize that the weather in Columbus, Ohio is not the same as in Los Angeles, California. While the delay did cause for some restlessness and frustration by those waiting in the long lines outside, all in all the crowd remained pretty upbeat in anticipation for the show.

Opening the event were one of the most underrated bands from that era; Armored Saint. Led out front by John Bush, one of the most respected vocalists in the metal genre, the band raced through their ten song set. As one should when they are celebrating four decades of music, ‘Saint played songs throughout the entirety of their career; including a trio of songs from their 1984 debut (March of the Saint) album to close the show as well as a couple of tracks from their most recent output (2020’s Punching the Sky). According to setlist.fm, last night’s show was the first in Ohio’s capital city for Armored Saint since 1987 on the Hell On Wheels Tour and only the third time they’ve ever played Columbus.

The combination of Bush’s soaring vocals over top of Phil Sandoval’s guitar solos worked the crowd into a frenzy and beckoning for “One more song!” well after the show ended. From my perfect vantage point, directly next to the sound guy, the band were in peak form. While they have been doing this for forty years, the energy on the stage and from the capacity crowd were reflective of the never ending passion between metal heads and the groups they follow. The fact that the venue was filled to capacity prior to the opening act, speaks to the quality of this bill and the loyalty to great metal music. Fans of metal music might not be taken seriously in the media, but you’ll be hard pressed to find fans more dedicated than them in any other genre.

Armored Saint set list 11/30/2022

  1. Reign of Fire (1991)
  2. End of the Attention Span (2020)
  3. Nervous Man (1985)
  4. Last Train Home (1991)
  5. Chemical Euphoria (1987)
  6. Standing on the Shoulders of Giants (2020)
  7. Win Hands Down (2015)
  8. Can U Deliver (1984)
  9. March of the Saint (1984)
  10. Mad House (1984)

After a short break, the headlining act for the tour took the stage, and while W.A.S.P. has a little more history playing Columbus than Armored Saint; it was their first visit since 2010 at the famed yet no longer open, Al Rosa Villa. The aforementioned Blackie Lawless and his cast of LA headbangers dominated the stage as well. W.A.S.P. sounded great and certainly lived up to the hype that this tour has been generating from city to city. Unfortunately, their ten song set seemed all too brief, for a headlining act. They stuck to their early era material and biggest hits this time around with a lot of focus on their 1984 self titled debut album and 1992’s The Crimson Idol. Prior to the encore, they made their feelings known on censorship and the ole PMRC that made the lives of metal musicians pretty stressful in the 1980’s. For those of you that might not know, it was Mr. Blackie Lawless and his band W.A.S.P. that led records to be stamped with a Parental Advisory label when the content was deemed to be too mature or vulgar. Thankfully, free speech won back then and the bands actually flourished due to the extra attention that wives in Washington D.C. were giving to these bands at no cost.

As Lawless made sure to point out near the conclusion of the show, the concerts with Armored Saint have been selling out at venues across the country. With that kind of demand, hopefully these tours will become a little more frequent for these two giants of the early Southern California metal movement!

W.A.S.P. set list 11/30/22

  1. On Your Knees (1984) / The Flame (1984) / The Torture Never Stops (1984) / Inside the Electric Circus (1986) *Medley*
  2. L.O.V.E. Machine (1984)
  3. Wild Child (1985)
  4. The Idol (1992)
  5. The Great Misconceptions of Me (1992)
  6. Chainsaw Charlie (Murders in the New Morgue) (1992)
  7. Blind in Texas (1985)
  8. Animal (**** Like a Beast) (1984) *Encore*
  9. The Real Me (The Who cover) (1989) *Encore*
  10. I Wanna Be Somebody (1984) *Encore*

Iron Maiden defying the sands of time on current tour

August 2, 2005. That is where this story, and my Iron Maiden journey, begin. That date would be the first time that I’d see the band live. It was also the last time that they played Columbus, Ohio. Columbus is the closest big city to my rural home. In the subsequent tours since that one, I’ve traveled to Detroit, Cuyahoga Falls, Indianapolis, and Cincinnati to see the band; hoping that they’d someday return to Columbus.

As fate (and my luck) would have it, the mighty Iron Maiden announced a Columbus date for their 2022 World Tour, so I immediately bought tickets for myself and my normal crew to be able to attend. In a sick twist of irony, the Columbus date would be on a Friday in October. I’m a high school football coach and my favorite band would be returning to my city on a Friday night in October. You can’t make it up.

As Friday October 7th was approaching, I resigned myself to the fact that I’d have to miss the gig, I decided to gift a pair of my tickets to my metalhead cousin and his son and the other pair to one of my buddies from high school who hadn’t had the chance to see the band live before. They had a blast and enjoyed the show. That made not being there in person a slightly less bitter pill to swallow. Luckily, for myself, the story wouldn’t end there.

The above photo was taken in 2012 before some of my usual Maiden crew made the road trip to Indianapolis to see Iron Maiden and Alice Cooper on their Maiden England tour. The young lady that is circled in the picture is my daughter. She had no choice but to grow up with Iron Maiden in her life, because while she was a child, it was I who controlled the radio. As a toddler she would sing “Run To The Hills” word for word. I don’t know what kind of father that makes me, but it is the truth. I’m not going to sit here and tell you that she doesn’t listen to Taylor Swift and the atrocity that is Nicki Minaj. She does. She’s a fifteen year old girl. However, in recent months, those playlists have started to pick up steam in the right direction. Lately, I’ve been more likely to hear Def Leppard or Metallica coming from her room, than I am to hear Megan’s Stallion or whatever passes off as music these days. I’ll take that as a win!

She was pretty upset with me in 2019 when I took my brother-in-law to the Cincinnati show instead of her, and she was bummed that the Columbus date landed on a day that I had coaching responsibilities and her cheerleading. On Saturday, the next day, she suggested we go to Detroit the following day and see the tour there. I obliged and on Sunday afternoon, after my Buffalo Bills kicked Pittsburgh’s ass, we headed up U.S. 23 and voyaged up to the Motor City.

My two prior Detroit trips to see this band were at the Palace at Auburn Hills; a massive basketball arena that was seemingly an hour north of the city. This year the band was playing downtown in the city’s recently built Little Caesar’s Arena, home of the Detroit Redwings hockey club. This venue would prove to be far superior as a venue and a much easier drive than trekking all the way to Auburn Hills.

DONINGTON ON BAIN, UNITED KINGDOM – JUNE 15: Sharon den Adel and Robert Westerholt of Within Temptation perform at Day 3 of Download Festival on June 15, 2008 in Castle Donington, England. (Photo by Chiaki Nozu/FilmMagic)

Opening the night were the Dutch symphonic metal band Within Temptation. Fronted by Sharon den Adel, this band is one that I have wanted to check out for a long time. There are a lot of bands from this genre that I’ve been exposed to by listening to bands like Sabaton and Amon Amarth; but simply haven’t been able to see due to them not touring the States very often. I’ve seen other opening bands receive lukewarm to even poor receptions (cough, Bullet For My Valentine) by the tough Iron Maiden crowd. Within Temptation, however, were received well and put on a great set to warm up the event. I’d certainly like to see them again, perhaps in a smaller venue and a longer performance.

Within Temptation Set List 10/9/2022 Detroit

  1. The Reckoning
  2. Paradise (What About Us)
  3. Faster
  4. In The Middle Of The Night
  5. Stand My Ground
  6. Supernova
  7. Don’t Pray For Me
  8. Raise Your Banner
  9. Mother Earth

After their spirited effort, the wait began for the main event. To this point, my kid had only heard me talk about what a Maiden concert experience was like, but now she was about to go through it for herself. Normally, I’m one of the head-banging masses that’s playing air guitar for two hours and belting out every lyric to every song. For this first time gig with my daughter, I took a more subdued approach and really embraced the show and the atmosphere. In all honesty, it is becoming more rare that the kid wants to hang out with her parents. In a story as old as time itself, she’s obviously becoming more independent and has her own friends, a boyfriend, cheerleading and FFA to occupy her time. So, when she does actually want to go to a concert with her Dad, I kind of turn into a softy and just relish the experience.

I’ve seen enough concerts throughout the years to be able to sit back and just enjoy it from time to time. This was one of those times. After a short wait, the familiar opening of U.F.O.’s “Doctor Doctor” blared over the P.A. and the mad dash began for four generations of Maiden fans back to their seats or the pit area for the long anticipated event. I’ve said this about a few bands that I’ve seen this year, and I’ll say it again, I think that perhaps the “layoff” for touring bands over the past few years may have been beneficial. Not that Maiden were struggling by any stretch. The Cincinnati show in 2019 remains the greatest overall concert I’ve ever seen; but there has been an urgency since live music has returned that has really been noticeable. They had three years of pent up aggression needing to be released and as always, Iron Maiden absolutely delivered.

This tour is a continuation of the 2019 “Legacy of the Beast” tour, however during the “down time” they put out a new album; the fantastic Senjutsu. For this 2022 trek, they changed up the set list a bit, so as to be able to include a few tracks from the new album. In fact, they opened the show with the first three songs on the record. When the album was first released, I recall lead vocalist Bruce Dickinson opining that the opening title track would someday make a great opener for a live concert. While I love the album, I didn’t share his sentiments when listening to that song. However, I was wrong. The thundering title track opened the show flawlessly and the band has never sounded better. I don’t know how they’re doing it but not only are they on the top of their game audibly, the visual aspects of the show continue to be a spectacle to be seen. I soaked in the opportunity of my child witnessing a Samurai version of Eddie (the band’s mascot) take the stage on the opening set, let alone the iconic Trooper Eddie, the giant Icarus inflatable, flame throwers, a replica WWII Spitfire bomber “flying” over top of the band performing below, and plenty of pyro. Things that up until then that she’d only heard me describe, she’s now seen on her own. It was a good night, even though she didn’t hold up her end of the bargain of staying awake on the ride home to help me combat the boring drive home. She didn’t even make it an hour into the trip home and was asleep before we’d even reached Toledo. Even though we didn’t make it back home until 2 a.m. and that made for an unfortunate 6 a.m. wake up call the next day, it was a trip that was well worth it. The experience was one that I hope will have a sequel on a future tour….

Iron Maiden Set List 10/9/2022 Detroit

  1. Senjutsu (2021)
  2. Stratego (2021)
  3. The Writing on the Wall (2021)
  4. Revelations (1983)
  5. Blood Brothers (2000)
  6. Sign of the Cross (1995)
  7. Flight of Icarus (1983)
  8. Fear of the Dark (1992)
  9. Hallowed Be Thy Name (1982)
  10. The Number of the Beast (1982)
  11. Iron Maiden (1980)
  12. The Trooper (1983) *Encore*
  13. The Clansman (1998) *Encore*
  14. Run To The Hills (1982) *Encore*
  15. Aces High (1984) *Encore*

Brit Floyd welcomes Columbus to the machine

2022 has been a good year for live music so far. Virtually everybody is touring and I’ve been able to catch a great deal of the shows that I’ve wanted to attend. There have been some outstanding shows this year and although they are playing covers; last night’s was the best so far. Brit Floyd, the all-star cast that relentlessly tours, keeps the timeless music of Pink Floyd alive in concert form. As they seemingly do each summer, they visited Kemba Live in Columbus last night, and played another concert for the ages. The authenticity of their sound and image is second to none.

As per usual in their performances, the concert was split into two acts. Heavy rains hit the city prior to the first set beginning, but the crowd packed in anyway and by the time the show started the skies had cleared. The instrumental “Cluster One“, the opening track off of 1994’s The Division Bell opened the evening. The band always does a great job of including as many of the hits as well as the obscure Floyd classics in their set as possible. That’s no small task, and with a catalog like Floyd’s, inevitably someone will always take issue with which songs are performed. I, for one, am baffled that not a single track from Animals was played last night. The set list was stellar and I won’t critique it, but ignoring such a monumental album blew my mind.
With all of that said, the songs were phenomenal. They dug deep into the Pink Floyd catalog and made sure to include all eras of the Pink Floyd sound. Led out front by guitarist/vocalist Damian Darlington and bassist/vocalist Ian Cattell, they’ve surrounded themselves with a cast of musicians that make sure that not even the smallest detail is missed when it comes to recreating this music. Even the outstanding backing vocalist trio, highlighted by Eva Avila’s performance of “Great Gig in the Sky“, make this the closest thing to seeing Pink Floyd live that we are going to get. I’ll be seeing Roger Waters live for the first time in a couple weeks, and I’m not convinced that his performance of his songs will beat their performance of his songs.

Getting to catch live versions of some of the greatest music ever created is always a blast. I was thankfully able to coordinate with one of my longest friends to go with me and take in the show. Pink Floyd’s music never ceases to hit me with a new message, whenever I go through one of my several Floyd binges each year. The tunes never seem to sound dated, although with each passing year it becomes more and more apparent that I can relate to them differently. In particular, the following from this Dark Side of the Moon classic.

“Time”

Ticking away the moments that make up a dull day
Fritter and waste the hours in an off-hand way
Kicking around on a piece of ground in your home town
Waiting for someone or something to show you the way

Tired of lying in the sunshine staying home to watch the rain
You are young and life is long and there is time to kill today
And then one day you find ten years have got behind you
No one told you when to run, you missed the starting gun

And you run and you run to catch up with the sun but it’s sinking
Racing around to come up behind you again
The sun is the same in a relative way, but you’re older
Shorter of breath and one day closer to death

Every year is getting shorter, never seem to find the time
Plans that either come to naught or half a page of scribbled lines
Hanging on in quiet desperation is the English way
The time is gone, the song is over, thought I’d something more to say

Home, home again
I like to be here when I can
When I come home cold and tired
It’s good to warm my bones beside the fire

Far away, across the field
The tolling of the iron bell
Calls the faithful to their knees

To hear the softly spoken magic spell

Brit Floyd Set List Columbus, Ohio 7/27/2022

  1. Cluster One (1994)
  2. Learning To Fly (1987)
  3. High Hopes (1994)
  4. Welcome To The Machine (1975)
  5. A New Machine, Part 1 (1987)
  6. Terminal Frost (1987)
  7. Time (Breathe reprise) (1973)
  8. The Great Gig In The Sky (1973)
  9. Poles Apart (1994)
  10. Another Brick In The Wall (Part 2) (1979)
  11. One Of These Days (1971)
  12. Echoes (1971)
  13. The Final Cut (1983)
  14. Set The Controls For The Heart Of The Sun (1967)
  15. Money (1973)
  16. Wish You Were Here (1975)
  17. Shine On You Crazy Diamond (Parts VI-IX) (1975)
  18. Comfortably Numb (1979)
  19. One Slip (1987) *Encore*
  20. Run Like Hell (1979) *Encore*

Two years in the making; Stadium Tour hits Cleveland

The Stadium Tour, having been scrapped each of the past two years due to COVID concerns, finally made its way to Cleveland, Ohio on Thursday. The concert was hosted by First Energy Stadium, which is home of the NFL’s Cleveland Browns, and welcomed what seemed to be at least 50,000 headbangers for the long-anticipated event.

I was unsure if I was going to make the trek to Cleveland for the show, however, the night before my 15-year-old daughter asked me if I’d take her. As I grow more nostalgic as I age, her asking me that reminded me of the teenage version of myself asking my Dad to take me to see KISS and Aerosmith nearly twenty years ago. He obliged me that evening and I felt compelled to take her and enjoy some time with her, while also being treated to a killer soundtrack throughout the night.

Unfortunately, due to downtown Cleveland’s awful infrastructure for traffic during large events as is, combined with the Tribe having a home game on the same evening; we missed both Classless Act and Joan Jett & The Blackhearts even though we had made it to The 216 in plenty of time. Thankfully, her and I had just recently seen Classless Act during their spring tour supporting Dorothy. My eldest niece and I had seen Joan Jett at the Sonic Temple Music Festival a few years ago with the Foo Fighters. She had put on a great show that night, so it was somewhat disappointing to miss their performance in Cleveland due to gridlock traffic.

Poison came on shortly after we reached our seats. Somehow, some way, we were able to score great 12th row stadium seats on the left side of the stage and had a great view for the entirety of the event. It was cool seeing my kid so awestruck at the size and energy of the crowd. She couldn’t believe how many people were there and seeing a smile on her face throughout the event made it all worth it. A lot of times, Poison gets shit on by the macho guys in the metal and hard rock community. I say, no more! First and foremost, the backing band is solid. C.C. Deville is a criminally underrated guitar player. Say what you want about Bret Michaels and his quest for companionship through reality television, but the dude is a great entertainer and at every live show he convinces you that you’re old buddies. I’ve seen this band probably a half dozen times or so and they’ve never disappointed. They are by far the most down to earth and relatable band for the common man on this tour.

I think they get most of the ridicule due to the absolutely awful look they went with for the “Look What The Cat Dragged In” album cover. In 1986. The year of my birth. But you know what? Concerts are supposed to be fun, first and foremost; and there has never been a time that I left a Poison concert in anything less than a stellar mood. Unfortunately, with such a loaded lineup, the band only had about a 55 minute set. They got to as many of their party anthems as possible and were as good as I’ve ever seen them. There are few bands that I root harder for to be successful than this one.

Poison Set List Cleveland

  1. Look What The Cat Dragged In (1986)
  2. Ride The Wind (1990)
  3. Talk Dirty To Me (1987)
  4. Your Mama Don’t Dance (Loggins & Messina cover) (1988)
  5. C.C. Deville guitar solo (including Eruption by Van Halen)
  6. Fallen Angel (1988)
  7. Rikki Rockett drum solo
  8. Every Rose Has Its Thorn (1988)
  9. Nothin’ But a Good Time (1988)

A half hour after Poison left the stage, the rock brigade Def Leppard stormed out and were the highlight of the night. I maintain that they should be the every night headliner on this tour, but they are alternating nights with Motley Crue and the Cleveland stop was a Motley headline night. While I felt Def Lep should be the headliner, I was admittedly apprehensive about how their performance would be. I’d seen them a few times before and each time left thinking that their opener (Journey, Poison) was the better performer on those evenings. Particularly on the Journey tour, I thought they blew Def Leppard off the stage that night. Lep was playing a bunch of covers on that tour and vocalist Joe Elliott was seeming to struggle with his range, but that was probably at least 15 years ago.

I’m glad to admit that my apprehension was undeserved. This was far and away the best that I’ve heard Def Leppard sound. Even with a new record out, which usually means beer/restroom break for their aging fans, the new songs sounded like classic Def Leppard and were spaced appropriately throughout the set. They came out and plowed through a 17-song performance that highlighted their 40+ year careers to this point. While they didn’t play my two favorites of theirs, “Women” or “Too Late For Love“, they did include their iconic jam “Switch 625” as an extension of “Bringin’ On The Heartbreak“; which was the crown jewel of their performance.

Elliott and the boys came out and performed like headliners. They were professionals up on that stage and the gig felt as if they were a band that belonged in a stadium setting as they churned through 80’s anthem after anthem. Leppard came around in England at a time when the New Wave of British Heavy Metal was emerging as well. While they were heavier early in their careers, they simply went a more straight ahead hard rock route while the Iron Maiden’s and Saxon’s of the scene went the metal route. The musicianship of Rick Allen (drums), Rick Savage (bass, and underrated backing vocals), as well as the guitar duo of well-known players Vivian Campbell and Phil Collen shouldn’t be forgotten. Just because there are other bands that should also be in there, this band certainly earned their induction into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, which coincidentally sits in the shadows of the stadium that this concert was performed in.

Def Leppard Set List Cleveland

  1. Take What You Want (2022)
  2. Let It Go (1981)
  3. Animal (1987)
  4. Foolin’ (1983)
  5. Armageddon It (1987)
  6. Kick (2022)
  7. Love Bites (1988)
  8. Promises (1999)
  9. This Guitar (2022)
  10. Two Steps Behind (1993)
  11. Rocket (1987)
  12. Bringin’ on the Heartbreak (1981)
  13. Switch 625 (1981)
  14. Hysteria (1987)
  15. Pour Some Sugar On Me (1987)
  16. Rock Of Ages (1983)
  17. Photograph (1983)

Let me preface my review of Motley Crue by stressing that they are fine. I enjoy their music. My issues with them mainly stem from Nikki Sixx taking his band much more seriously than they should be. His past comments, putting Crue on some different level than the other hair bands (namely Poison) that they take on tour each cycle have always rubbed me the wrong way. The people that listen to Motley Crue, also listen to Poison. And Dokken. And RATT. Each of those bands from the same scene as you. Like Def Leppard, Motley Crue was certainly heavier and faster in the early eighties. They don’t play many of those songs live anymore, though, and their big hits are all in that same realm with the bands that he likes to dis. That is all. Motley Crue makes music for strippers. That’s ok. Embrace it. I’d rather the ladies dance to “Looks That Kill” than modern dance music! Just embrace who you are and don’t try to pretend like you are on some elite level of heavy metal. You are who you are. There are fewer bands that I root against, than Motley Crue, because they are who they are.

Now, that that is out of the way. Motley was great Thursday night. Vince Neil’s vocal struggles in recent years is not news, but I thought that after the opening track, his singing got better as the night went on. They played a set that included most of their hits and their latest release that coincided with their recent Netflix biopic. Mick Mars, as a quiet guy, kind of gets lost in the larger-than-life personalities that make up the rest of the band. His guitar work is underrated, and I think it’s fair to say that it gets underappreciated, simply due to the nature of Motley Crue. Sixx had his share of interactions with the crowd and held down the bottom end on his bass. Ignoring Tommy Lee’s personality for just a moment, his drumming has been and really continues to be the driving force of their live performances. Now, non-musically speaking, he also was able to coax women in the crowd to flash the band which is his typical schtick. Neil’s vocal struggles aside, those become less important when you can point the mic to the crowd and 50,000 metal heads are screaming back every lyric at you. For as much negative press as his performances have gotten lately, I felt he exceeded my expectations and was on par with both of the previous times I had seen Motley Crue. Like the two bands that played prior, they were fun. Concerts are supposed to be fun. I had fun. My kid had fun. With the lost years of 2020 and 2021 hopefully behind us forever, I hope that this tour rejuvenates each of these bands and gives them a new lease on their rock & roll lives and carries them through yet another decade of nothin’ but a good time.

Motley Crue Set List Cleveland

  1. Wild Side (1987)
  2. Shout at the Devil (1983)
  3. Too Fast For Love (1981)
  4. Don’t Go Away Mad (Just Go Away) (1990)
  5. Saints of Los Angeles (2008)
  6. Live Wire (1982)
  7. Looks That Kill (1984)
  8. The Dirt (2019)
  9. Medley of Rock and Roll Part 2 (Gary Glitter)/Smokin’ in the Boys Room (Brownsville Station)/White Punks on Dope (The Tubes)/Helter Skelter (The Beatles)/Anarchy in the UK (Sex Pistols)
  10. Home Sweet Home (1985)
  11. Dr. Feelgood (1989)
  12. Same Ol’ Situation (1990)
  13. Girls, Girls, Girls (1987)
  14. Primal Scream (1991)
  15. Kickstart My Heart (1989)

All in all it was a great show with some of the most iconic bands that came about during the eighties pop-metal era. Getting to spend that time with my kid, at a time in her life where your offspring typically want nothing to do with you; made it that much better.

Tom Keifer, L.A. Guns on solid ground in Akron

Ohio’s Rubber City faithful were treated to another fantastic performance by the Tom Kiefer Band last night as well as an outstanding effort by opener L.A. Guns. Kiefer, who last played the classy Goodyear Theater in fall of 2019, had his band firing on all cylinders to the packed house.

The evening was started off by the hard rockers; Enuff Z’Nuff, but I unfortunately missed their set while travelling up to Akron. Shortly after finding my 11th row seats; it was the well known, Tracii Guns led, L.A. Guns that took the stage. To say that I was pleasantly surprised with their performance would be a major understatement.

For whatever reason, I’d never really checked out the band prior to last night. I’ve seen almost every band from the 80’s metal scene multiple times but had never had the opportunity to see L.A. Guns before; and if I’m being honest, I wasn’t familiar with them either. Guns is a well-known and well-respected guitar player in the metal community, but outside of being aware of him, my knowledge of the band was minimal. They have now forced my hand and my L.A. Guns phase will start in earnest after the performance that they gave as the support act.

I’d have never expected that they’d be so heavy. They were borderline too loud but got the place pumped up, as most of the spectators were standing during their set. Highlights included a Guns guitar solo with what appeared to be a violin bow, “Over the Edge”; “Never Enough”; and of course, their 1989 power ballad “The Ballad of Jayne”.

If an opening acts job is to get the crowd riled up for the headliner, L.A. Guns did that and then some. In between acts, the place was popping with plenty of buzz and the merch tables were packed. As usual, Chip Z’Nuff was at his band’s merch table taking photos and signing memorabilia for the Enuff Z’Nuff faithful in the crowd.

After a brief hiatus, the Tom Kiefer Band took the stage and ran through the Cinderella classics as well as a pair of songs each from their 2013 debut “The Way Life Goes” and 2019’s sophomore effort “Rise”. The newer tunes sounded good, as always, but it was the Cinderella anthems that kept the crowd on their feet, toe-tapping and fist pumping throughout the 14-song set.

Few performers are more obviously leaving everything they have on the stage than Keifer, which was apparent throughout the show, as his scream during “Nobody’s Fool” literally brought him to the floor. I believe that Keifer has found the sound that the Cinderella band was meant to have. During their hey-day Cinderella was often lumped with rest of the “hair” bands; criminally, I might add. They were always a great hard rock band and when you see his band perform now, there is no mistaking that this music was always more rooted in the blues than it was big hair.

Tom Keifer band performing in Akron, Ohio. Photo credit Amber Hobbs.

All the things that you’d expect from a band of that nature are present. There are piano pieces and steel guitar. The women that provide the backing vocals compliment the thumping rhythm section and a pair of guitars; combining to make a much fuller sound than you get on the Cinderella records. I’d absolutely love for the current Tom Keifer Band to do a live release because they do true justice to the Cinderella catalog as well as their own music.

An underrated element to their live sound, is that the band appears to be having the time of their lives up on stage. Nobody wants to pay hard earned money to see a band phoning it in just to collect a paycheck. Both bands that I was able to see last night, were doing it for the right reasons and the crowd can feel that energy; and feeds off it. With Led Zeppelin nonexistent, and things quiet on the AC/DC front; I’m willing to say that the Keifer Band is the group that is best flying the flag for bluesy hard rock these days.

You’re in luck, too, Ohio; if you couldn’t make the Akron gig, they’ll be back July 16th in the Columbus suburb of Pickerington headlining the Picktown Palooza Festival with Faster Pussycat and L.A. Guns supporting. The concerts are included with a paid admission of only $5 and can be purchased here.

Tom Keifer Band Setlist 6/29/2022 Akron, Ohio

  1. Touching the Divine
  2. Night Songs (Cinderella cover)
  3. Coming Home (Cinderella cover)
  4. It’s Not Enough
  5. Somebody Save Me (Cinderella cover)
  6. Rise
  7. Nobody’s Fool (Cinderella cover)
  8. Solid Ground
  9. Fallin’ Apart at the Seams (Cinderella cover)
  10. The Last Mile (Cinderella cover)
  11. Don’t Know What You Got (Till It’s Gone) (Cinderella cover)
  12. Shake Me (Cinderella cover)
  13. Shelter Me (Cinderella cover)
  14. Gypsy Road (Cinderella cover) *Encore*

Styx, REO Speedwagon light up Cincinnati

Surely one of the hottest touring packages of the summer, the Styx/REO Speedwagon co-headlining tour is well into zig zagging its way to and from large amphitheaters across the country. Last night they made a stop at Riverbend Music Center in Cincinnati. An announced crowd of over 16,000 packed the venue that’s nestled along the banks of the Ohio River, just east of the city.

Loverboy kicked off the evening with an abbreviated 8 song set to warm up the crowd. It was nice to see that the place was already packed. There weren’t many people still coming in when the opening act took the stage. That speaks to the strength of the bill for this tour. The fans, largely were there to see all three bands; and after two years of either no concerts or restricted ones, they made their presence known all evening long.

Loverboy Setlist

  1. Notorious
  2. Lucky Ones
  3. Queen of the Broken Hearts
  4. The Kid is Hot Tonite
  5. Lovin’ Every Minute of It
  6. Hot Girls in Love
  7. Turn Me Loose
  8. Working for the Weekend

I’m not sure who was in charge of the schedule but that person deserves a raise. I’ve been to many big tour packages like this one where there is a half hour to forty five minutes between bands, killing the crowd’s fervor along the way. This was not the case last night. Fifteen minutes after Loverboy finished, REO Speedwagon was on the stage playing their first song.

REO will always hold a special place in my heart. They were one of the first live rock bands that I saw as a teenager, and they were the very first ones to give me reviewer credentials as an adult for a Columbus gig circa 2011. I’ve seen them many times all over the Buckeye State and they’ve always been a great live band. Last night was no exception. In fact, it may have been the best that I’ve heard them in a live setting. I don’t know if it was due to a couple years off of the road and the rest, or perhaps something else, but Kevin Cronin was certainly at his best on lead vocals. Their rhythm section of bassist Bruce Hall and drummer Brian Hitt are always the glue holding it together, and per usual really get to strut their stuff towards the back end of the set on songs like “Back on the Road Again” and “Riding The Storm Out”. Lead guitarist Dave Amato played through solo after solo with ease and the band’s ace in the hole; Neal Doughty on the organ and keys puts the polish on the classic REO sound.

I’ve got to say, though, that it was Cronin on this night that really brought REO to the top of their game. His voice and demeanor seemed rejuvenated and refreshed after the layoff and his absolute joy at being able to play live again was apparent throughout the entirety of the set. With him and Doughty both now in their seventies, and the rest of the band close behind; they played with an urgency and passion that could be felt among the enormous crowd and that further enhanced their performance. For a band that would typically be slowing down by this point, they’re still performing at the top of their game and certainly put Styx in a difficult position to close the night.

REO Speedwagon Set List

  1. Music Man
  2. Take It on the Run
  3. Keep Pushin’
  4. Live Every Moment
  5. Tough Guys
  6. Can’t Fight This Feeling
  7. Like You Do
  8. Don’t Let Him Go
  9. Time For Me to Fly
  10. Back on the Road Again
  11. Ridin’ The Storm Out
  12. Keep On Lovin’ You
  13. Roll With the Changes

As was the case before, Styx was on stage and playing roughly fifteen minutes after REO concluded. Perfect!

If there is any band that I’ve seen more than REO or Ted Nugent, then it is definitely Styx. I’ve been fortunate to review this band at least half a dozen times and I probably saw them half a dozen more before that. In fact, this is probably the fifth or sixth tour that I’ve seen them on with REO Speedwagon, as the two Illinois based groups are no stranger to playing together.

Like always, they raced through a set full of hits with pomp, but also were able to play some new tunes as well as one from 2017’s The Mission. As the years have gone by, Styx has continued to push forward with new music, which I believe keeps the band energized and invested in their performances. Their current release, Crash of the Crown, was represented three times and has been a commercial success already and the tracks were well received live as well.

While there has always been a vocal minority pushing for a reunion of sorts with original vocalist Dennis DeYoung, it is apparent that this is Tommy Shaw and James “JY” Young’s band these days. They’ve made the right decision for the band to stick with Lawrence Gowan. Gowan’s showmanship alone is rivaled by very few and his performances of both his and DeYoung’s tracks over the years truly drown out any calls for change. There is no disrespect intended, but simply, Styx’ epic performances of the past twenty plus years are due to the addition of their current, bombastic front man. It may be Tommy and JY’s band; but make no mistake Gowan often steals the show.

With Shaw and Young on guitars and vocals, they’ve managed to keep the Styx legacy alive, while also forging into new territory and remaining a relevant rock band fifty years later. Todd Sucherman’s chops on the drums are well known and Ricky Phillips has been holding down the bottom end on the bass for almost twenty years himself. As usual, original bass player Chuck Panozzo was able to join the band for a few songs as well and the band has added a third guitar player for the band. Will Evankovich, who produced the current album, apparently got on so well with the band that they’ve added him to the group, providing another layer to their wall of sound.

Styx shows, with Gowan and Shaw out front most of the evening, are a celebration of their back catalog and last night continued that long tradition. From new songs to classics, an iconic cover and a playful rendition of “Happy Birthday“, and deep tracks in between; the Styx machine shows no signs of slowing down anytime soon. 16,000 strong in the Queen City were thankful for that last night.

Styx Set List

  1. The Fight of Our Lives
  2. Blue Collar Man (Long Nights)
  3. The Grand Illusion
  4. Lady
  5. Crash of the Crown
  6. Light Up
  7. Sound the Alarm
  8. Paradise Theater
  9. Happy Birthday to You
  10. Fooling Yourself (The Angry Young Man)
  11. Too Much Time on My Hands
  12. Khedive
  13. Rocket Man (Elton John cover)
  14. Come Sail Away

Encore

15. Mr. Roboto

16. Renegade

Dorothy brings the wild West to Columbus

As a huge fan of bands like KISS, I’m no stranger to huge concerts that require a massive production to pull off. Sometimes, though, it’s refreshing to experience rock & roll, rhythm & blues in its rawest form in a sweaty concert hall where the onstage talent is truly working (and truly sweating!) to gain their still growing fanbase.

I’ve been on the Dorothy hype train since I first saw her music video for “After Midnight” (that’s still my favorite song of hers) several years ago and watching their performance on the tiny Jagermeister stage at Rock on The Range back in 2015. I have a mad respect for true, old school rock bands that grind to earn their way to the top. I saw that from this band the first time I saw them. I saw them a second time at the same festival on a bigger stage in 2017. There ascension had kind of been slow to that point, and they had every excuse to phone it in for that gig. They played early, on a chilly and rainy day; hardly ideal conditions to be excited to play to a hungover festival crowd. They absolutely brought it though and won me over again with a haunting rendition of “I Put A Spell On You” that was one of the highlights of the festival. I’m absolutely convinced that if/when that event returns to Columbus post-COVID, that this band will be gracing the main stage whenever they make their third appearance. So, that’s the backstory for my fandom with this band.

The LA based group returned to Columbus last night with a pair of hard rocking up and coming bands to a venue that I had not previously been to. The Bluestone turned out to be a perfect setting for the rock revival that took place last night. The concert hall is actually in an old cathedral and provided both amazing acoustics and an atmosphere that was just right for the evenings event. Afterall, Dorothy’s new record is inspired by a revival of their own sorts; both literally and spiritually.

All three bands were on fire. Outstanding musicianship was on full display and all three bands feature they type of virtuoso front man/woman that gives me hope for the future of the genre. These vocalists have the type of stage presence that demands the crowd’s attention. Both opening acts’ lead vocalists feature fellas with soaring vocals reminiscent of the heavyweights of the 70’s and 80’s; and Ms. Dorothy Martin’s vocal talent is as good as any live performer I’ve ever seen. It’s cliche these days to claim that “Rock is dead.” I would counter that with real rock & roll is alive and well if you know where to look.

The evening started with a quintet from California (minus one from Texas) called Classless Act. I wasn’t familiar with them before last night but they absolutely will not be a “warm up” band for long. They give me so much hope for what can be with hard rock. With a sound and performance that reminded me of what I imagine it must have been like to see bands like Guns N’ Roses before they became a radio band, they quickly won over the crowd during their abbreviated set. They even played a blistering cover of GNR’s “Civil War” that really brought the crowd to a frenzy. My fourteen year old daughter and I were towards the back of the concert hall, near the merch booth, and it was cool to see these guys mingle and sign autographs and take pictures with fans for the rest of the evening; when they weren’t going out into the pit and enjoying the other two bands that is. I’ll definitely be pulling for these guys moving forward and their debut album will be coming out on June 24th. If you weren’t able to catch them this time around, they’ll be back in Ohio for two stops as opening support for Motley Crue, Def Leppard, Poison and Joan Jett & The Blackhearts on their summer Stadium Tour.

The next act is one that I’ve been wanting to see for a long time. Orange County, California’s Joyous Wolf have long eluded me. I had arrangements to see them and review them at Rock on the Range one year and for reasons that I don’t remember, I missed their set. In all honesty, my group was probably having breakfast beers in the parking lot, and I may have forgot. My bad. Subsequently on their visits to Columbus I haven’t been able to get there. This quartet took the energy up even another level, led by the stage command of lead vocalist Nick Reese. My introduction to this group was when I was reading up on the bands that I wasn’t familiar with coming to that festival and I was immediately drawn to their bluesy rock sound and the antics of Reese. They lived up to the hype last night with a wall of sound and their front man doing flips on stage, diving into the crowd, and even doing the splits. Compared to their early live videos of six or seven years ago, we’re witnessing a band that is now really coming into their own as seasoned vets in the world of rock & roll with multiple records under their belts. Highlights from the set were “Fearless” and a mandatory crowd participatory version of “Mother Rebel“. They also could be graciously seen for autographs and photo ops at the merch booth after their set and well after the evening’s event concluded.

After a short while, the evening’s headlining act took the stage. I’ve long considered the Dorothy band to be the best kept secret in modern rock music as they’ve stayed largely underground to the “mainstream” rock & roll powers that be. Whatever that means and for whatever that’s worth. That best kept secret, however, is making its way out as the band continues to put out high quality jams and at this point are refusing to be ignored. Their current album, just released last week (I picked up my vinyl copy at the show last night), has them on the verge of exploding. Titled “Gifts From the Holy Ghost“, the record had been gaining steam before it’s release with the lead single “Rest In Peace“. The album, the group’s third, was featured less than I imagined it would be in the setlist from the night, but the songs that were played were very well received.

The motivations for this album have been well documented, and the songs have shown a maturity that only life experiences can create. She and her band are in a different place than they were on past records lyrically but continue to excel at their craft musically as a raw, bluesy hard rock band. While her stage presence and vocal talent demand the most attention; Martin also shows off the talented musicians in the group with numerous extended jams and a terrific drum solo towards the end of the set. I’ve long thought that they should be the next big thing, and now I believe that time has arrived. While her debut album may have been titled “RockIsDead” they’re certainly too good and at the forefront of a modern rock revival for that to be true.

Turning 40: The Number of the Beast

The greatest metal album of all time turns 40 today! That distinction goes to Iron Maiden’s 1982 release; The Number of the Beast. While the band’s two prior releases are special in their own right, TNOTB saw them reach their full potential and kicked off a run of classic albums that would dominate the rest of the 1980’s.

Featuring the genre’s best bass player, founding member Steve Harris, this record saw the band go from supporting act to headliner around the world. It would be the last one with drummer Clive Burr but the first with former Samson singer Bruce Dickinson. The album is Burr’s finest accomplishment on the sticks and Dickinson’s voice transitioned the band from more of a amateur hard rock outfit to something entirely different but meeting Harris’ vision for the group. Soaring vocals that rivaled those of Ronnie James Dio and Rob Halford took them to new heights. Childhood friends Dave Murray and Adrian Smith traded off guitar solos on the record and again combined with Harris to form the signature “Maiden gallop” that their songs are still known for to this day.

The frightening album art, along with it’s title, unfortunately led to the record being pigeonholed as some sort of devil worship. Perhaps the creative lyrics went over the heads of many critics of the time, but the stigma was attached to the band for several years. The record led the band to fall victim to folks burning and smashing their albums and protesting their concerts in the United States. Nonetheless, all of the extra attention caught the eye of teenagers looking for something different and was a commercial success. It became Iron Maiden’s first record to reach the Top 40 on the U.S. Billboard Charts. It produced two iconic singles in “The Number of the Beast” and “Run To The Hills” and was certified Platinum in the U.S. and virtually everywhere else in the world. This band has sold over 85 million records and 20 million of those were just this album alone. Its staying power and longevity speak for itself.

I discovered the record as a thirteen year old coming of age moron in roughly 1999, while going through my dad’s old cassette collection. Remember cassettes? I was immediately drawn to the cover art; as any thirteen year old boy probably was back in 1982. Upon placing the cassette in my stereo I was greeted with the heaviest thing I’d probably ever heard to that point. Invaders doesn’t have some melodic, build up intro like the more modern Maiden songs do. From the first note, it is an in your face metal onslaught. Most metal bands in the 80’s were making songs about girls and parties. Not Maiden. Invaders tells the tale of some ancient Saxons being invaded by and falling victim to Norse Vikings. Probably not the type of music that was popular with the chicks but nevertheless the type of music that would inspire future metal titans like Amon Amarth and Sabaton.

The second track is one of the album’s absolute gems and has the aforementioned type of intro that the band would become known for. Children of the Damned starts off with a melodic intro and was inspired by the TV show Village of the Damned. The song starts out nice before transitioning into a heavy metal classic that showcases the band at their peak. Rarely played live, I was able to hear it performed in Detroit on the Book Of Souls World Tour in 2016.

The next track is The Prisoner which was based off of the British TV show of the same name. It’s another song that is rarely played live, but I was fortunate enough to catch it in Indianapolis in 2012 during the Maiden England tour. The song was inspired by a character in the show who is taken hostage in a village that might seem to be too perfect, but in actuality is a prison as there is no free thought or freewill.

22 Acacia Avenue is another underrated masterpiece that is probably due to it’s lyrical content; but as a song it flat out jams. The song is a sequel to an earlier song about the band’s favorite made up (or was she?) lady of the night. First appearing in 1980’s Charlotte The Harlot, this song tells the third person view of her life before the narrator ultimately rescues her from her life of sin. In Charlotte the Harlot, the song is much more upbeat and has a very punk rock vibe to it. However, in 22 Acacia Avenue, the corner she works on and the song warns of the dangers of the lifestyle she has chosen on the streets. I hope that someday I will hear this one performed live.

Then comes the aforementioned, controversial title track. Contrary to popular activist beliefs at the time, the song is not an ode to Lucifer. Rather, the song is the reflection of a nightmare that Steve Harris had after viewing the sequel to The Omen. A quick look or listen to the lyrics could have calmed a lot of the outrage that this song created. Rather than running from it, the band embraced it, and rode the momentum of this moment all the way to the bank and then some. This was the second single released on the record and it has become one of the defining songs in the history of heavy metal. They’ve played this song on every tour I’ve seen them play.

Run To The Hills was the first single from the record and is probably the most popular and well known song from the band, at least here in the States. On the very rare chance that a radio station will play any Maiden music, you have about a 95% chance of it being Run To The Hills. From the catchy intro and piercing vocals the song was an instant hit and is usually in the set list when the band tours. The song is a back and forth tale from the perspectives of both the Native Americans and their conquerors from Europe. It’s an absolute metal classic.

Arguably their most popular song is followed by the “weakest” track on the record. Gangland isn’t necessarily a bad song but it doesn’t seem to fit. Written by drummer Clive Burr and guitarist Adrian Smith, it is from the perspective of life dominated by organized crime. Again, it isn’t a bad song, but when placed next to the song that it replaced on the album you can see why Steve Harris now believes they made the wrong choice. However, now knowing that this would the last album to feature Burr on the drums, I believe he delivers one of his all time best performances in this song. So, while the song isn’t catchy nor all that memorable in the Maiden catalog, it does show Burr going out in his prime with one of his best performances.

Total Eclipse was initially left off of the album and was instead used as the B-Side for the Run To The Hills single. This was the decision that Harris regretted. It’s a much stronger song than Gangland and would have been better served on the record. When the album was remastered and re-released in 1998, it was added as it should have been to begin with as it is a great straight ahead metal jam. I’d love to hear this one live.

The finale, as is common with this band, is the strongest track on the album. I’ll go further. I will opine that this is the greatest heavy metal song ever written. Throughout their career Iron Maiden have been known more so for their massive “epics” than their singles. They’ve released some doozies, like Rime of the Ancient Mariner, Phantom of The Opera, and Seventh Son of a Seventh Son. The crown jewel of them all, though, is Hallowed Be Thy Name. It is the one that closes most Maiden shows. I assume this is because it is too good to follow with something else. Lyrically, it tells the tale of a man that is awaiting death at the gallows and the reflection of his life during his final moments. The song has everything that a heavy metal song should have. It’s got a build up intro. It has, arguably, Dickinson’s finest vocal performance. It features the classic Maiden gallop and twin guitars trading off masterpiece solos. Burr’s drums and Harris’ bass play are out of this world as well. All metal songs since and in the future should be measured against it and THAT alone is the deciding factor in making this the greatest metal album of all time. It would still be considered an all time classic without Hallowed, but its presence elevates it to the #1 slot in my not so humble opinion.

Cheers and Happy Birthday to The Number of the Beast.

Metal music is alive and well in Louisville

It had been a very long time coming, for me to attend a real, full production concert. Actually, it had been 21 long months since my wife and I saw Korn and Breaking Benjamin in Columbus, before the world came to a screeching halt. As 2021 has progressed, I’ve been able to see some really good tribute bands and a couple weeks ago I was able to catch a small scale concert from 80’s rockers Great White. The lineup for yesterday’s final day of the Louder Than Life Festival in Louisville was too good to pass up and was just what I needed.

The Wife and I had planned to be down to Louisville in time to catch The Hu and Skillet but unfortunately, for us, Cincinnati happened. I’ve been driving for a lot of years. Never in my life has there been a casual drive through Cincinnati. I don’t know what it is about that town, but traffic delays there and between Florence and Kentucky Motor Speedway added considerable time to our voyage, unfortunately putting us there at the end of Skillet’s set.

Having been to many other Danny Wimmer Presents productions in the past, we explored the grounds for a little; making comparisons to Rock on the Range/Sonic Temple Music Festival. Concession prices were quite steep, but the atmosphere was great. More relaxed than some other festivals I’ve been too, we were able to make our way fairly close to one of my favorite bands, Sabaton. As they have each of the other three times I’ve seen them, they were phenomenal. While my wife couldn’t really see much, I’m hopeful that I was able to make a fan out of her. Joakim Broden and the boys from Sweden raced through a ten song set of most of their biggest hits as well as their new single. Virtually between every song, the band would pause long enough to let the deafening “Sabaton!” chants die down. As always, one of the best performances of the event.

Sabaton Set List per setlist.fm

  1. Ghost Division
  2. The Last Stand
  3. Swedish Pagans
  4. The Red Baron
  5. Carolus Rex
  6. Fields of Verdun
  7. The Attack of the Dead Men
  8. Primo Victoria
  9. Steel Commanders
  10. To Hell and Back

From there we went to the main stages area to see the rest of Breaking Benjamin, who had started before Sabaton had finished. As always, BB sounded great and it was fitting that we were able to see some of them in our first big concert, since they also played at the last show we had gone too 21 months ago.

After Breaking Benjamin finished up, it was on to the two main stage headliners for the evening. The festival could not have nailed it much better either. Judas Priest, one of the founding bands of heavy metal, are touring on their 50th anniversary. Sadly, they were only allotted a one hour time slot, which is just way too short for a band of Priest’s stature. Halford and the band were firing on all cylinders; albeit with some curious setlist choices, it did me good to see so many young people witnessing this band probably for the first time. The scream in “Victim of Changes” is still one of, if not the, best screams in heavy metal history.

Judas Priest Set List

  1. One Shot at Glory
  2. Lightning Strike
  3. You’ve Got Another Thing Coming
  4. Freewheel Burning
  5. The Green Manalishi (With the Two Prong Crown) *Fleetwood Mac cover w/ Kirk Hammett
  6. Turbo Lover
  7. Hell Patrol
  8. The Sentinel
  9. Victim of Changes
  10. Hell Bent for Leather
  11. Painkiller

After a short break, the main event of the festival took the stage for the second of their two headlining appearances of the weekend. Saying they had something special planned would be an understatement, as they played their self titled “black” album in its entirety. I’m not one of those people that says that Metallica sold out with that record. I’ve always thought that was a lazy take. Is it my favorite Metallica album? No. That would probably be And Justice For All. But, what the “black album” did for metal music cannot be ignored. It is the defining record that made metal acceptable in the mainstream & it has many songs that flat out jam. Is it thrash? No. Is it heavy metal? Yes.

As the band is celebrating the thirtieth anniversary of that record it was pretty cool to see the album played in its entirety in reverse chronological order. It’s my wife’s favorite record by the band also, so that was a cool moment being able to share that with her; at her first Metallica show. The band sounded fantastic as always. Some people might complain because it’s the edgy take, but DWP will never fail to sell out a festival when they’re able to secure the biggest metal band in history to headline his shows. Period.

Metallica Set List

  1. Hardwired
  2. The Four Horsemen
  3. Welcome Home (Sanitarium)
  4. The Struggle Within
  5. My Friend of Misery
  6. The God That Failed
  7. Of Wolf and Man
  8. Nothing Else Matters
  9. Through the Never
  10. Don’t Tread on Me
  11. Wherever I May Roam
  12. The Unforgiven
  13. Holier Than Thou
  14. Sad But True
  15. Enter Sandman
  16. Blackened *Encore*
  17. Creeping Death *Encore*

Rock in peace; July 2021 in memoriam

A brutal July has come and gone in regards to the untimely passing of several members of some of rock’s biggest bands.

On back to back days, July 14/15, bluesy hard rock band Cinderella lost two members of their band family. On the 14th, guitarist Jeff LaBar was found deceased. Unfortunately, hours later on the 15th they were made aware of the passing of long time touring member Gary Corbett had also passed away from lung cancer. LaBar played on each of Cinderella’s records and Corbett had been their long time live keyboard player. I’ve long maintained that Cinderella was the best and simultaneously most under rated of the “hair” era bands. I was fortunate to see the band perform live twice before their long time hiatus.

Days later on the 17th, long time Kansas violinist Robby Steinhardt passed away from pancreatitis. He hadn’t been a performing member of the band in quite some time, but during the band’s hey dey was credited for his violin work and being the co-lead singer of the band. Their frequent use of violins in rock songs, gave Kansas a sound that was fairly unique to them.

One of Steinhardt’s vocals was for the song Cheyenne Anthem

Unfortunately, on July 26th the losses would continue, and this time would hit the metal world hard. Former drummer of and co-founder of Slipknot Joey Jordison would pass on. He had been ill for awhile and it appears that he died in his sleep. Jordison, who cited Keith Moon (The Who) and John Bonham (Led Zeppelin) as influences of his, had won many awards for his drumming talents. These included being named the greatest drummer by the following publications: Rhythym magazine and Loudwire. He also won the Drummies Award for Best Metal drummer in 2010.

Jordison featured on Slipknot track Duality

That same day, metal vocalist Mike Howe, of Metal Church took his life at age 55. He was the bands second vocalist, manning the microphone from 1988-1996 and again from 2015 until the time of his death. At the time of his passing, the band had been working on a new album.

One day later, the rock world would lose a true titan in ZZ Top bassist Dusty Hill. Hill, had recently left the road with some hip issues and had asked their long time guitar tech to cover for him. It appears, at least for the time being, that the band will continue on with this lineup as Billy Gibbons has said Hill asked for the band to carry on. Top’s most impressive feat had been that the Texas three piece had never had any lineup changes since their formation in 1969. As one of the longest running and stable rock bands in history, tributes and condolences poured in from throughout the rock world. ZZ Top, with Hill holding down the bottom end, were able to maneuver as a blues band, a southern rock band and in the eighties as one of the most commercially successful pop-rock bands with a slew of iconic music videos during the rise of MTV.

I was fortunate to be able to see ZZ Top twice. They were the first band to headline the Rock on the Range festival in 2007. The festival would go on to become the biggest rock festival in the United States before becoming the Sonic Temple festival in 2019. That first year ZZ Top closed the night and I recall being impressed as I was close enough and could see members from several of the newer bands of that time (Evanescence, Buckcherry, Hinder) standing to the side of the stage in awe of the icons performing in front of them. Icons.

ZZ Top performing their biggest “Hill” song, Tush.

Rock in peace to them all.