Far and away, the most intriguing band coming to this year’s Sonic Temple Music and Art Festival is none other than KISS. Unlike the other three headliners, KISS will be making their first appearance at either Sonic Temple or its predecessor Rock on the Range. The legendary quartet’s appearance will not only be their first time at the Historic Crew Stadium, but it will also be the last time to see KISS in Ohio, as they are on their final tour. For real this time. They’ve announced that they are down to their last 50 shows and will officially end their touring career in their hometown New York City at the end of the year.
With a catalog of songs that began 50 years ago and album sales of over 100 million worldwide, Columbus is set to witness what will surely be another iconic performance on the main stage. In fact, there’ve only been a handful of bands that got their start in the 70’s that have played the festival. The very first headlining act for Rock on the Range was the legendary ZZ Top and in 2013 Cheap Trick were the direct support for Korn. As great as both of those performances were, KISS will likely set a new standard for what a festival headlining performance should look like. Although they haven’t played this venue yet, the two KISS shows that I’ve been fortunate enough to witness were both fantastic.
A KISS show has all of the elements needed for a great live experience. Pyro? Check. Wall of sound? Check. Spitting both blood and fire? Check. When you combine all of that with a set list of iconic sing along song and a rabid fanbase known as the KISS Army; you’ll be in for a good time! All Columbus needs to do now is show up and show out, and prove to Mr. Gene Simmons that at least in Ohio, rock is NOT dead!
Now, check out my list of the 20 Most Essential KISS tracks. I’ve linked them for your listening pleasure! Did I get it right? Vote in my poll above for your favorite KISS song!
With the recent release of their new single, “Nobody”, and their new upcoming album Life Is But A Dream…; Avenged Sevenfold seems like the proper place to pick up my series on the bands that are going to be playing at this year’s Sonic Temple Music Festival. A7X is no stranger to Columbus’ Historic Crew Stadium, they’ve played this event under its former moniker, Rock on the Range, in 2009, 2011, 2014, and 2018. They headlined a night of the festival during those three most recent appearances. This will be their first time back since the name changed to Sonic Temple, but they will once again be headlining the evening. They’ll likely also be supporting the new album when they take the main stage in May. With the record set to come out in early June, Sonic Temple seems like a logical time to try out the new tunes on the 40,000 plus that will be in attendance.
Avenged Sevenfold has always held a special place to me, as they are one of the metal bands that I grew up with. I was still pretty new in the world of metal as a 17 year old kid when I first heard “Chapter Four” while playing Madden NFL 2004 on my PlayStation 2. I remember thinking that they sounded unlike anything that anybody else was doing at the time. Two years later, when they once again appeared on Madden NFL 2006 with “Bat Country”, I was hooked. After hearing “Bat Country”, I decided to start going back into their catalog and discovering their earlier work. I’ve always enjoyed whenever I’ve been able to find an up and coming band before they break through into the main stream. Of course, a few years later, they would absolutely explode and crossover from metalcore favorites to mainstream giants with the release of Nightmare in 2010.
Similar to Metallica and the grief they get about the “black” album, A7X had a noticeable change of sound as well as the tragic death of one of their bandmates. I tend to disagree with those that disparage either band. Yes, their sound changed with the “black” album and Nightmare, but both records flat out rock. They are still heavy. I often try to rationalize with the detractors by telling them that musicians are artists first. An artist doesn’t make a living by painting the same picture over and over. As a band ages and their experiences change, it is natural for their sound to change. That has nothing to do with “selling out” and everything to do with life’s greatest truth: growing up. If KISS wrote “Christine Sixteen” at this point in their life; that’d be pretty weird. Likewise, why should we expect a band like Avenged to write a song like “A Little Piece of Heaven” in their forties?
While Nightmare broke them into the mainstream, it also put them under the intense microscope of heavy metal fandom. In the world of heavy metal, there are only two bands currently that are bigger draws than Avenged. Iron Maiden and Metallica. And like those two bands, every song and album that Avenged releases will be endlessly scrutinized. For Hail To The King, a record that paid homage to their influences, they would hear criticism of ripping off of those bands. When they released The Stage they suddenly were too progressive for some. As expected, there were plenty of mixed reviews and opinions on “Nobody” upon its release last week. At first listen, it’s a far cry from their metalcore days. However, it has grown on me with each subsequent listen. I enjoy the progression of most of the bands that I listen to. At some point, bands have to decide whether they are content playing their greatest hits night after night like Journey; or do they want to continue to create and evolve. Some bands change their sound and it isn’t always for the better. I don’t believe that is the case most of the time, however. Some fans might fall off along the way, as has happened to all of the modern metal giants; but they’ve also gained more fans along the way. You can bemoan an album like Nightmare for marking a change in sound; or you can appreciate that an album of its stature opened up the band to millions of other people whom would have never heard them and then go back and discover their back catalog.
I leave you with my Top 15 Avenged Sevenfold tracks of all time! I’ve also linked them for your listening pleasure!
Lynyrd Skynyrd. Few bands throughout the history of time have carried the weight that the group from Jacksonville, Florida has had to endure. Their history is well known. One of the biggest bands of the 70’s were tragically cut down in their prime when their plane ran out of fuel and crashed in a Mississippi forest. They were on their way from South Carolina to Louisiana for the next show of their 1977 tour. Their lead singer, Ronnie Van Zant, and lead guitarist Steve Gaines would perish in the accident. Steve’s sister and backup vocalist Cassie Gaines as well as their assistant road manager and both pilots would also succumb to the crash. The surviving passengers, including the rest of the band, were very seriously injured.
Over the course of time, the band would begin to put the pieces back together with Van Zant’s younger brother Johnny taking over on lead vocals. As if Death had some sort of vendetta against them, tragedy would strike this band over and over and over again throughout the next 45+ years. Many other members that have graced this band have gone on to pass away since the plane crash. No matter the circumstances, the surviving members have always continued to forge a path forward and carry on the legacy of Lynyrd Skynyrd’s music.
That legacy was already rock solid before the plane crash, but with yesterday’s news of Gary Rossington’s passing, it feels like the final chapter of this epic will soon be complete. Rossington was one of the band’s lead guitarists and was the last remaining original member of the band. He wasn’t the flashy, look-at-me, guitar virtuoso type. The songs that the band wrote were good enough to stand up on their own. I always respected that about him. His bandmate Rickey Medlocke is a fine guitar player himself and plays with an intense enthusiasm that often puts him in the spotlight, but Rossington’s underrated songwriting and steady playing from the shadows are a fitting metaphor for this hard working, mysterious band. Lynyrd Skynyrd has been in the midst of their farewell tour for the past several years, trying like hell to visit each city that put their music on the map one last time. Their plans had included wrapping up their touring days this year. I imagine that they may finish their scheduled dates before gracefully bowing out and leaving behind one of the most beloved musical legacies, shrouded in heartache and mystique, secure in the fact that they did things the right way. In the wise words of both Ronnie and Johnny Van Zant beckoning to Gary Rossington, before playing “Free Bird” to close out their concerts: ‘Play it pretty for….(every city they have played).‘ One thing I hope is certain, now that he’s made it home to the rest of the band, the heavens are surely getting a concert for the ages that hasn’t been seen since 1977.
I first saw Lynyrd Skynyrd in 2006 in Cincinnati, Ohio. Skynyrd has always held a special place in the heart of my family, so I made sure that that gig was a family affair. I was fortunate to catch nearly every tour, since then, whenever they made stops in Ohio. To give you an idea of just how well respected Lynyrd Skynyrd is, ponder the following artists that I’ve seen support them on tour: 3 Doors Down. Hank Williams, Jr. .38 Special. Blue Oyster Cult. ZZ Top. Justin Moore. Alex Winston. Shooter Jennings. Bad Company. Black Stone Cherry. The Marshall Tucker Band. Are you kidding me? Most of these bands have iconic legacies of their own, but from the up and coming bands of the future all the way to classic rock royalty; nobody minded opening up for Lynyrd Skynyrd. And can you blame them? Could you imagine being the band that had to try and go on after them just playing “Free Bird”? Get outta here.
A few highlights included seeing them from the front row at the small venue now known as KEMBA Live, being an approved photographer and concert reviewer of their 2012 and 2013 shows in Columbus and Cincinnati, and lastly seeing them (likely for the final time) in an arena show in Toledo where I was able to take all of my children to see the mighty Lynyrd Skynyrd band. That Toledo show happened to be the 41st anniversary of the plane crash, and as always, they left everything out there on that stage that night. I will truly miss seeing this band when they leave the stage for good.
I leave you with my ranking the Top 15 Lynyrd Skynyrd songs that Gary Rossington wrote or co-wrote:
Headlining the first night of Sonic Temple 2023 is Tool. The legendary band hails from Los Angeles, California and are made up of eccentric front-man Maynard James Keenan, guitarist Adam Jones, drummer Danny Carey and bassist Justin Chancellor. One of the most mysterious and private bands in rock music, Tool has released five albums to date. Their first studio album, Undertow, was released in 1993; while their most recent effort, Fear Inoculum, came out in 2019. Their works have certainly been created with quality in mind, rather than quantity. Nonetheless, Tool remain one of the most popular bands with one of the most die hard fanbases in the game. I once met a girl in a college music course, that was such a Tool fanatic that she argued that every album we discussed was somehow a ripoff of Tool. Even music by bands that predate this one by decades. I digress.
While she may have been a bit kooky with that take, there is certainly a reason that the band has sold over 14 million albums worldwide and sells out concerts everywhere they go. I’ve ranked my favorite Tool tracks and linked them for your listening pleasure below. When they make their second appearance at Historic Crew Stadium in May, which song will you be most hoping to hear? Vote in my poll or add a comment if I didn’t include your favorite Tool song!
Finally. It will have been over four years since the last Sonic Temple Festival (formerly Rock on the Range), when it will make its long anticipated return during Memorial Day weekend to the Historic Crew Stadium. After a great festival in 2019, that saw an amazing performance by the Foo Fighters close out the event, Sonic Temple had been unable to go on during the following three years. 2020’s lineup had much promise. Initially, they were to have two headlining performances by the biggest band on the planet; Metallica. Unfortunately, 2020 happened and live music as we knew it ceased to exist for far too long. 2021 didn’t start out much better and the festival was cancelled for a second straight year due to there not being enough time to prepare for a festival of this magnitude so shortly after the pandemic was beginning to turn for the better. Why the festival didn’t return in 2022 is still up for debate, but it didn’t; and that left many to wonder if the original of these modern day Danny Wimmer Presents festivals would ever return.
Things began to trend in the right direction when a cryptic video was released this past fall from Historic Crew Stadium’s Main Stage and shortly after that came the official announcement that the festival would return in 2023. However, this will be the first time that the event doesn’t fall during Armed Forces Day weekend and will instead expand to four days and be held during the Memorial Day weekend. Memorial Day weekend and rock & roll music in Columbus, OH (thank you QFM 96) have a long history and this event should be one for the ages. Particularly, now that the lineup has been announced, this year’s event will be the place to be over the holiday weekend. Let’s break down the lineup:
Thursday May 25 features one of the most requested headlining acts every year with TOOL. They were at the festival once before, in 2018, which would wind up being the last year that it was called Rock on the Range. The alt-metal band will once again be directly supported by the same band that opened for them last time; Godsmack. The Boston hard rockers have played this event several times, including as the first day headliner in 2010. They’ve always put on a great show, and with this tour supporting what the band is calling it’s last album, I’d expect nothing less this time around either. The rest of Thursday will also be highlighted by Columbus’ own Beartooth with the highest billing they’ve had here, Welsh metalcore giants Bullet For My Valentine, Los Angeles’ Bad Omens, and 80’s crossover thrash/punk pioneers Suicidal Tendencies.
Friday May 26th brings back another festival favorite and one of the most requested acts each year with heavy metal titans and headlining act, Avenged Sevenfold. Avenged has previously played the festival four times including headlining performances in 2011, 2014, and 2018 although this will be their first time performing here since the event switched names. Their direct support will be 90’s rock outfit Queens of the Stone Age. They’ll be making their Crew Stadium debut; and at a festival that has a history of some iconic surprise appearances and special guests, I have to imagine there could be a special guest appearing during their performance. I believe that Friday, overall, will also be the strongest day of the festival. The undercard features some really great live bands including: hard rocking three piece Chevelle, thought provoking Badflower, the current queen of rock music Dorothy and her outstanding live band (read my 2022 review of her here), and modern Southern rock heavyweights Black Stone Cherry.
Saturday May 27th keeps the party going with one of the most iconic bands of all time coming to make their Crew Stadium debut. This band will probably be making their final appearance in Columbus as the Saturday headliner, as they are on their extended final tour. Of course, the band I’m talking about is the one and only, often imitated but never duplicated, “hottest band in the world!”; KISS! The best iterations of this festival have been the ones that have included some of the true icons of rock and heavy metal (ZZ Top, Guns N Roses, Motley Crue, Metallica, Judas Priest, Saxon, Cheap Trick and Megadeth have all graced this festival) and this is just another legendary band for them to be able to add to that list. KISS will absolutely be the show of the weekend! Would there be anybody else that would be a finer direct support for them than Rob Zombie? I don’t think so. Zombie is another band that has graced this event multiple times, including headlining performances in 2012 and 2016. This pairing of shock-rock legends will be a great way to cap off an evening that will include earlier performances by the rising Vegas outfit Falling In Reverse, TOOL’s Maynard Keenan’s third band Puscifer, the always popular Trivium from Orlando, Cincinnati’s Black Veil Brides, classic rock revivalists Rival Sons, and Swedish metal act Avatar.
Sunday May 28th will see the Sonic Temple Festival come to a close with the same band that headlined its inaugural event under the Sonic Temple name. That band is the Foo Fighters. In what will surely be an emotional performance, as the band will now be trying to carry on without their long time drummer Taylor Hawkins, who sadly passed away last year. You know, though, that any time that Dave Grohl takes the stage that you are going to get a great performance. Both Rock on the Range and Sonic Temple have had their moments with emotional performances and this one will be no different. They’ll be supported by the alt metal quintet; Deftones. Other bands that are sure to highlight the day are Sublime with Rome, Taylor Momsen’s The Pretty Reckless, and Cleveland’s own Filter.
Tickets for Sonic Temple Art and Music Festival are already on sale and can be purchased here! You can also listen to “Ohio’s Best Rock” QFM 96 and “YOUR Rock Station” 99.7 The Blitz for ticket giveaways and promotions as well as news and updates for the festival. Who are you most excited to see perform at Sonic Temple in 2023?
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
Reign of Fire (1991)
End of the Attention Span (2020)
Nervous Man (1985)
Last Train Home (1991)
Chemical Euphoria (1987)
Standing on the Shoulders of Giants (2020)
Win Hands Down (2015)
Can U Deliver (1984)
March of the Saint (1984)
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
On Your Knees (1984) / The Flame (1984) / The Torture Never Stops (1984) / Inside the Electric Circus (1986) *Medley*
L.O.V.E. Machine (1984)
Wild Child (1985)
The Idol (1992)
The Great Misconceptions of Me (1992)
Chainsaw Charlie (Murders in the New Morgue) (1992)
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.
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
Paradise (What About Us)
In The Middle Of The Night
Stand My Ground
Don’t Pray For Me
Raise Your Banner
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….
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.
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.
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
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
Look What The Cat Dragged In (1986)
Ride The Wind (1990)
Talk Dirty To Me (1987)
Your Mama Don’t Dance (Loggins & Messina cover) (1988)
C.C. Deville guitar solo (including Eruption by Van Halen)
Fallen Angel (1988)
Rikki Rockett drum solo
Every Rose Has Its Thorn (1988)
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
Take What You Want (2022)
Let It Go (1981)
Armageddon It (1987)
Love Bites (1988)
This Guitar (2022)
Two Steps Behind (1993)
Bringin’ on the Heartbreak (1981)
Switch 625 (1981)
Pour Some Sugar On Me (1987)
Rock Of Ages (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
Wild Side (1987)
Shout at the Devil (1983)
Too Fast For Love (1981)
Don’t Go Away Mad (Just Go Away) (1990)
Saints of Los Angeles (2008)
Live Wire (1982)
Looks That Kill (1984)
The Dirt (2019)
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)
Home Sweet Home (1985)
Dr. Feelgood (1989)
Same Ol’ Situation (1990)
Girls, Girls, Girls (1987)
Primal Scream (1991)
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.
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.
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
Touching the Divine
Night Songs (Cinderella cover)
Coming Home (Cinderella cover)
It’s Not Enough
Somebody Save Me (Cinderella cover)
Nobody’s Fool (Cinderella cover)
Fallin’ Apart at the Seams (Cinderella cover)
The Last Mile (Cinderella cover)
Don’t Know What You Got (Till It’s Gone) (Cinderella cover)