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*

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*

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.

The Iron Maidens headline trio of tributes in Columbus

Live music is coming back, and it’s a beautiful thing. While last night’s show featured a trio of high quality tribute acts, even the big tours are starting to get the wheels rolling towards big shows as well. The concert last night was at a new, to me, venue that exceeded my expectations. What they’ve got going for them first and foremost was excellent hospitality. I’ve had VIP at both The Newport and ExpressLive (or whatever it’s called these days) and never been treated as exceptionally as we were last night at The King of Clubs. While this new venue is in a tough part of town like The Al Rosa Villa was, they’re offering something that the rest of the city hasn’t for quite some time. Just being frank, compare the largely utter garbage that The Newport and Express Live are booking compared to The King of Clubs and you’ll see why I have hope for this place. The joint is being ran by a heavy metal vocalist and the talent they are booking are filling the demand for hard rock and metal fans in the 614. The former Al Rosa was not only in a tough area and it was cramped; and while we all have fond memories there, this new venue appears set to offer the same music but with more space and much superior hospitality. They’re pushing this narrative at The King of Clubs, where they are going to be Ohio’s finest entertainment venue and everyone is treated like royalty. Well, to my surprise, they delivered on all of the above. I want to see this venue do well and the surrounding area come up with it.

The opening act were Sweet Leaf, a Black Sabbath and Ozzy Osbourne tribute. They were a fun way to kick off the night and until you hear these songs live, it’s easy to forget just how heavy Sabbath really was. In today’s world of growling vocals and muddied distortion, what was once considered heavy could be forgotten. Not the case with Sabbath though. Those old, doomy riffs still hit today. Their lead singer and Ozzy lookalike took time to take a photo with my daughter who was with us celebrating her 14th birthday to see the evenings headliners. Much appreciated.

Sweet Leaf set list

  1. I Don’t Know (Ozzy cover)
  2. Sweet Leaf (Black Sabbath cover)
  3. Bark at the Moon (Ozzy cover)
  4. I’m a Believer (Ozzy cover)
  5. Crazy Train (Ozzy cover)
  6. Suicide Solution (Ozzy cover)
  7. Paranoid (Black Sabbath cover)
  8. N.I.B. (Black Sabbath cover)
  9. War Pigs (Black Sabbath cover)

From there we’d be treated to the Steel City Crue, who came from Pittsburgh to bring the Motley Crue goods to Columbus. When people think about or listen to Motley Crue music, I think the general consensus is fun. At least for me, I just think of good times, anyway. These guys went the extra yard and the entire four piece looked and sounded like their counterpart from the real Crue. That’s what the people want. When they go to a show like this, they want it all. It was my first time seeing either of these opening acts and they both exceeded my expectations. Steel City Crue didn’t only focus on the radio hits either, and made sure to play some of the old, heavier Crue as well; which was very well received. They also made sure that everyone knew that they were from Pittsburgh so they also didn’t like Penn State and of course did the obligatory “O-H” “I-O” back and forth with the crowd.

Steel City Crue set list

  1. Shout at the Devil
  2. Doctor Feelgood
  3. Take Me to the Top
  4. Wild Side
  5. Red Hot
  6. Home Sweet Home
  7. Looks That Kill
  8. Ten Seconds to Love
  9. Kickstart My Heart
  10. Smokin’ in the Boys Room (Brownsville Station cover)
  11. Live Wire

The headlining Iron Maidens were making their King of Clubs debut as well. The two previous times that I’ve been able to catch them were at The Al Rosa Villa. While they are credited with being the ‘World’s only all female tribute to Iron Maiden’; their gender really is irrelevant to their musical abilities. As a Maiden die hard, it’s cool to see chicks that even like Iron Maiden and the fact that they are excellent musicians is the icing on the cake. Just don’t get hung up on the “female” part as a gimmick. It is not. These ladies flat out rock. Nikki Stringfield and Courtney Cox trade guitar solos throughout the show and pack the Maiden punch. Kirsten Rosenberg hits Bruce Dickinson’s high vocal notes and even takes them up another couple levels on her screams. The backbone to both Maiden and their counterparts in this tribute band operate at another level. Wanda Ortiz’ right hand is a blur on the bass as she holds down the Maiden gallop and Steve Harris’ rhythms and Linda McDonald seemingly had all four of her limbs in constant motion for the entirety of the set on the drums. Fantastic as always. And in a time when most of the big tours haven’t returned yet, and the uncertainty of the industry, these high quality tribute acts bring much needed live music to concert craving fans.

The Iron Maidens performing Run to the Hills

Small venues are cool. In the mezzanine was a VIP lounge where the girls were prior to the show. It appeared that they briefly may have had a Spinal Tap moment in not being able to find their way to the stage, which I genuinely hope was the case as I love that movie. My daughter was able to get a fist bump from Courtney after the show and seeing her smile and enjoying these songs with me, the same way that I’ve enjoyed hearing these songs live with my dad, made me a happy man.

The Iron Maidens set list

(Doctor, Doctor)

  1. Aces High
  2. 2 Minutes to Midnight
  3. Infinite Dreams
  4. Losfer Words (Big ‘Orra)
  5. The Trooper
  6. Stranger in a Strange Land
  7. Wasted Years
  8. Wasting Love
  9. Rime of the Ancient Mariner
  10. Sun and Steel
  11. Killers
  12. The Number of the Beast

*Encore*

13. Hallowed Be Thy Name

14. Run to the Hills

(Always Look on the Bright Side of Life)