First gig, post apocalypse

Still Life performing Iron Maiden’s Aces High

Prior to last Saturday night, the last show I’d been able to attend in person was KORN and Breaking Benjamin in January 2020. Those of you that know me, know that going over a year in between concerts is not really a thing. Alas, that is the world that we’ve been left with after the ongoing pandemic.

Much to my delight, some smaller venues are starting to host socially distanced events again, and I was quite pleased to be able to catch a band that’s been on my radar for a few years. Still Life, an Iron Maiden tribute band based out of Columbus, and their friends from Sanitarium (a local Metallica tribute) were booked to play a gig in Dublin. I had previously caught Sanitarium once before at the Al Rosa Villa as one of the opening acts for The Iron Maidens a few years back. On that same bill was a local Judas Priest cover band which is how I heard about Still Life. For whatever reason, I hadn’t been able to catch them until now.

And how fitting would it be, that my first live show since the pandemic, would be two tribute acts playing songs from two of my favorite bands; Metallica and Iron Maiden.

Sanitarium kicked off the night with a set that primarily focused on the 80’s thrash era of Metallica’s catalog. While their set was shorter than I’d have liked and I would have liked to hear some songs from each of the bands albums (minus St. Anger), time was limited and they kept it to the classics. The band sounded great, played the songs true to form, and had the packed crowd headbanging and singing along throughout the entirety of the set.

Sanitarium performing Metallica’s Ride The Lightning

Before moving on to the evening’s headlining act, I’d like to shout out the venue. It was the first time my wife and I had ventured to Last Call Music Bar and Grill and we were quite impressed. The women that made up the wait staff that night were fantastic to us. Our table was visited at least every fifteen minutes throughout the evening. Drinks and food were served with a smile and the hospitality was fantastic.

After briefly sound checking with 1982’s The Prisoner or Invaders (I don’t recall, just was surprised either way), the stage appeared to be set for the main event. Now, and this is being picky, the person controlling the house music has to know that it’s criminal to play anything other than U.F.O.’s Doctor Doctor as the last song before Maiden or its tribute brothers and sisters take the stage. But I digress.

As far as Maiden tribute bands go, I’ve seen three, this quintet might have been my favorite. From song choice and musicianship they were top notch. Post-gig we were able to mingle a little with lead singer, Rachl Raxx Quinn, who admitted to having to shake off some rust as the band hadn’t been able to play out in quite some time. Metalheads may also recognize her from her work in Graveshadow, a self described symphonic metal band from Sacramento that I’ve been listening to since speaking with her.

As stated, after brushing off some early rust, she and the rest of the band were on fire for the entirety of the night. Maiden is not an easy band to play or sing. The musicians sounded flawless and Quinn’s vocals hit the high notes of the Air Raid Siren himself. They raced through a set that almost entirely consisted of the 1982-1988 Bruce Dickinson era of Iron Maiden. This was a popular choice, as that era had a run of five albums that are essential to all Maiden fans. They completely ignored the Blaze Bayley era of the band in 90’s and only played one song since the “classic” lineup returned in 1999. If they do venture into any of the 90’s material, I think Quinn’s pipes could do a monster rendition of Lord of the Flies (the Bruce version from Death on the Road of course) as well as a great many of their post-reunion songs. Alas, this is the struggle of trying to contain a band with Maiden’s catalog into one concert set. You, quite literally, can’t please everyone.

Even so, the set had a great pace and the song choice was varied enough between staples and deep cuts that surely everyone left happy. I know that I was certainly stoked. I got to take in some live music. Iron Maiden music at that. It was a great night! Concerts are back! As a proper Maiden concert always ends: “Always look on the bright side of life….

Still Life Set List 4/3/2021 Dublin, OH

  1. The Ides of March (1981)
  2. Wrathchild (1981)
  3. The Wicker Man (2000)
  4. 2 Minutes to Midnight (1984)
  5. The Trooper (1983)
  6. Revelations (1983)
  7. Flight of Icarus (1983)
  8. Still Life (1983)
  9. Aces High (1984)
  10. Wasted Years (1986)
  11. Powerslave (1984)
  12. The Number of the Beast (1982)
  13. Run to the Hills (1982)
  14. 22 Acacia Avenue (1982)
  15. The Evil That Men Do (1988)
  16. Seventh Son of a Seventh Son (1988)
  17. Hallowed Be Thy Name (1982)
Still Life performing Iron Maiden’s Wasted Years

Realistic scenarios to bring rock music back to Super Bowl Sunday

It wasn’t until Super Bowl XXV, which brings deep, deep pain for other reasons than the halftime performer, that the Super Bowl really started to bring in pop-icons to perform at the event. For most of the game’s existence until that point, the halftime show was performed by college marching bands. Super Bowl XXV, which featured the Buffalo Bills and the New York Giants, brought in pop sensations New Kids on the Block for the halftime entertainment. Talk about yawn. At least that game lived up to the hype, albeit in heartbreaking fashion for yours truly.

While some true pop icons (Michael Jackson, Prince) have graced the stage, for far too many Super Bowls, the performers have been inadequate with music that plainly doesn’t resonate with the average football fan. Guys that play football don’t listen to Gloria Estefan or Jessica Simpson. Guys that played football grow up to be a large base of the people that watch football. Yeah, yeah, this isn’t true in every case. But for simplicity’s sake, a large portion of football’s most loyal base, grew up with rock music in their locker rooms. Not all, but a lot. A lot of that music can never be played at a family-friendly event like the Super Bowl, so sorry fellas we will probably never see a Limp Bizkit or Korn performance at the game. Likewise for those who listened to mostly rap in the locker room. But, what if there were rock bands that would make sense and would be tame enough for the whole family to enjoy? With the next three Super Bowl locations set, this is what the halftime entertainment committee or whoever they are should do to appease their loyal fans that listen to rock music. While the bands have to be interested as well and all of that jazz (who’s going to turn down the Super Bowl though), these are scenarios that make sense for the next three Super Bowls.

Super Bowl 53 in Atlanta, Georgia.

Atlanta has hosted two recent Super Bowls; the second of back to back blowouts of the Buffalo Bills by the Dallas Cowboys and the epic game played between the St. Louis Rams and the Tennessee Titans that came down to the last play of the game. While the Bills/Cowboys game featured an all-star lineup of country musicians at the time, it was largely a forgettable performance, because you likely have no recollection of a halftime show featuring Clint Black, Tanya Tucker, Travis Tritt and The Judds. The Rams/Titans game was a better game and a more pop-friendly event featuring Phil Collins, Christina Aguilera, Enrique Iglesias, and Toni Braxton. Atlanta and America, you deserve better. So for next year’s Super Bowl in your city, imagine having Metallica!

Why Metallica? Why not? That’s a better question. This is quite possibly the absolute most overdue selection to play the Super Bowl. This band probably has more “all-time” locker room play time than any other. They are currently the biggest rock band in the world and have been since AC/DC started to slow down. With AC/DC’s future uncertain as well with Brian Johnson being out of the band and Malcolm Young’s recent passing, Metallica is the pick.¬†Unless Led Zeppelin or Pink Floyd were to reunite, Metallica is at the very top of the mountain until they decide to call it quits. They are still making new and relevant music and every single person that has played football in the last 30 years has likely heard their music in the locker room or during pregame at some point. They are likely the only heavy metal band that could pull this off. While their hardcore fans would want a halftime set-list of thrash gold, a more realistic and media appeasing set-list would be more palatable for those that are scared of heavy metal music. Imagine all of the fire and lasers of a full Metallica show condensed into this four-song set for the Super Bowl:

1. Whiskey in the Jar

2. Enter Sandman

3. Moth Into Flame

4. Seek and Destroy

 

Super Bowl 54 in Miami, Florida.

Miami has also hosted numerous modern-day Super Bowls. Let’s see, during the San Francisco 49ers’ blowout of the San Diego Chargers, they gave us Patti Labelle and Tony Bennett. No kidding. Then while the Denver Broncos were blowing out the Atlanta Falcons, we were treated to Gloria Estefan (again) and Stevie Wonder, which was probably decent but how much Gloria Estefan can they expect us to take? While Peyton Manning and the Indianapolis Colts were taking it to the Chicago Bears, Miami gave us a pretty cool set from Prince. Their most recent Super Bowl was their best, however. In 2010, the New Orleans Saints were pulling away from the Indianapolis Colts for their first Super Bowl victory, and we were treated to a fantastic show from The Who. Now THAT is an iconic rock band if there ever was one. So, in two years when Miami gets to host again, who should they pencil in for the event? Why not stadium rock icons Journey?

Even with millennials, Journey remains one of the most popular bands in the world. They are still touring today and still sound great live, albeit with a “new” singer, Arnel Pineda. With Journey just recently inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, wouldn’t the Super Bowl Halftime Show be the perfect moment for them to reunite for the night with the vocalist of their heyday, Steve Perry? He and Arnel could trade off vocals and the band could finally move forward without fans having to wonder “what if” anymore. This is a win-win. You find someone that is in a bad mood while listening to Journey and what you’ve really found is a liar. Imagine this halftime set:

1. Anyway You Want It

2. Wheel In The Sky

3. Faithfully

4. Don’t Stop Believin’

 

Super Bowl 55 in Inglewood, California. (Los Angeles)

The Los Angeles area hasn’t hosted a Super Bowl since 1987. It featured George Burns, Mickey Rooney, and the Grambling State and USC marching bands. That act must have put the Denver Broncos to sleep because they were outscored in the third quarter 17-0 by the New York Giants who wound up turning a halftime deficit into a blow out win. Considering that it’s been so long since LA hosted the Super Bowl and it will be in a brand new venue, they’ll need a marquee act for sure. This one is such a no-brainer, though, that failure to book this act would be a travesty! Los Angeles last had the Super Bowl in 1987, the same year that Guns N’ Roses exploded onto the scene with their debut album Appetite for Destruction.¬†

It has to be GNR, right? There is no other band that came out of the Los Angeles hard rock movement that better epitomizes that city than Guns N’ Roses. They were the definition of living in excess. They had infighting and turmoil. They broke up. They said never again on numerous occasions. They reunited anyway after more than a decade apart and they’re now selling out football stadiums around the country and headlining some of the biggest festivals in the world. Coupled with the fact that guitarist Slash has appeared at multiple Super Bowls now as a guest musician and they absolutely need to play the halftime show to their hometown crowd. This is a no-brainer, as long as somebody remembers to set Axl Rose’s alarm clock. Imagine this:

1. Welcome to the Jungle

2. Paradise City

3. Patience

4. Sweet Child O’ Mine

Then in a move that only they could pull off, they just keep playing. They also get through “November Rain” and “You Could Be Mine” before being forcibly removed halfway through “I Used to Love Her”. Once the field is finally cleared, the Buffalo Bills will continue on to their third consecutive Super Bowl victory fresh off of three consecutive rockin’ halftime performances. Right?