Monday, February 20, 2017

Concert Review: The Allman Brothers Band - March 10, 2012

The first time that I ever saw the Allman Brothers Band in concert was also the first time that I ever entered the Beacon Theater in New York City. I was anxious to see the famed room and hear what a concert sounded like in the theater. I was also anxious to hear the Allman Brothers Band perform “Midnight Rider” and “Blue Sky.” Those were the only two songs that I wanted to hear and anything else that they played would be fine with me. I knew that there was no guarantee those two songs would be performed, but I was hopeful.

I’ll admit, when I first went to see The Allman Brothers, I was pretty much going just to say I saw the Allman Brothers Band. I wasn’t well versed in their catalog and only knew their staples. I owned two Allman Brothers Band records and one was their greatest hits collection. But it was The Allman Brothers and I wanted to see them. This was also during the height of the March Madness tours that they played every year. The Allman Brothers would take over the beacon theater for several days throughout the month of March.

The Beacon Theater is absolutely breathtaking! A magnificent work of art that is also a fabulous place to witness a concert. The theater opened in 1929 as a movie palace and vaudeville. The architecture in the theater is amazing---really a sight to behold. Our seats for the night were in the lower balcony, but it didn’t matter where we sat. There isn’t a bad seat in the cozy theater. The Beacon Theater holds just under 3,000 people at max capacity. With such little seating, every seat is a magnificent one.

After finding my seat, looking around, and taking in all the scenery, I settled in to wait for the Allman Brothers. I talked with my uncle about the songs I really wanted to hear and expressed my desire for “Blue Sky” and “Midnight Rider.” My uncle was hoping to hear “Jessica.” A short time later the house lights went out and the Allman Brothers Band approached the stage with a loud roar of approval. The band ripped into “Statesboro Blues” and the night had begun. “Statesboro Blues” sounded incredible and I thought it was a great opener to the evening. It was a grand way to start the show.

After “Statesboro Blues” I realized that I may have been in over my head. I didn’t know another song until “One Way Out” which came seven songs later. And after that it would be another 6 songs until one I recognized was played. And that was “Dreams” which was the second to last song of the night (not counting the encore). I’m not saying that the song selection was terrible, it was just that they were songs I was unfamiliar with. I knew this was a risk when I agreed to see the show, but the reality of it hit hard. I couldn’t sing along with songs I didn’t know, so I would have to find a different way to appreciate these songs. One of those ways was watching Warren Haynes.

Warren Haynes is an absolute genius with a guitar in his hands. Just watching him perform all night long was worth the price of admission. His guitar playing is up there with the greatest of the greats. He makes the guitar sing and produces notes that are just mind blowing. It’s hard to believe that so much power can come out of one man with a guitar in his hand. When Haynes would break into solos I would just close my eyes and let the music wash all over me. It was mesmerizing. It also made me wish even harder to hear “Blue Sky” as I wanted to know what Warren Haynes could do to that solo in the live setting.

A lot of great songs were played but not a lot of the huge hits were played. Granted, they played Revivial and Dreams and Mountain Jam, which was incredible, but most of the songs I just didn’t know. Sadly, I would not get “Blue Sky” or “Midnight Rider” that evening. I told myself that if I was going to see this band in concert again, I would have to immerse myself deeper into their catalog.
The encore was a bit of a disappointment in that only one song was played. And while it was a great one, “Southbound,” I was hoping for more. Unfortunately, there was no more to come. At the end of my inaugural Allman Brothers experience I decided that I would return to see them again. I certainly was not disappointed with my first Allman Brothers experience, it’s just that I hadn’t prepared myself with their music enough to fully really enjoy the concert in a way that I am accustomed to. That happens sometimes. I loved the music and I loved listening to the music, but I just didn’t know most of it. That knowledge would come later.

Statesboro Blues
Come And Go Blues
Down Along The Cove
Stand Back
Sailin’ Cross the Devil’s Sea
Blind Willie McTell
Bag End
One Way Out
Old Friend
Dark End of the Street
Done Somebody Wrong
Hot ‘Lanta>>>
All Along The Watchtower>>>
Hot ‘Lanta
Mountain Jam

Monday, February 13, 2017

Concert Review: Poison With Vince Neil - June 14, 2003

During the summer of 2003 I would witness Poison live for the fifth year in a row. As they had in years past, Poision was taking other classic 80s bands out with them to revisit the great hair metal movement of my youth. This time around it was Vince Neil taking the stage before Poison. Skid Row was the opening act sans Sebastian Bach. Skid Row had a new vocalist Johnny Solinger singing for the band and the reviews were relatively positive. I was hopeful for this concert, but also reserved. In years past Poison had hit the road with Cinderella, Warrant, Ratt, and had great undercards in Dokken, Enuff Z’Nuff, Slaughter, and Winger (just to name a few). Skid Row, without Sebastian Bach, and Vince Neil, without the rest of Motley Crue, just didn’t excite me the way the Poison bills of the past had. Still I went with an open mind, full of hope.

Perhaps I had grown contempt because I had seen Poison so many years in a row, but this show was definitely a low point for the band and their hair metal tours. It appeared that it was getting harder and harder to get big (or semi-big) name acts to go out on the road with them. And while Vince Neil is exciting to some, he lacked the marquee status that came in years past. Vince Neil was okay, but that’s just it. He was okay. He wasn’t making me buy tickets. I think I attended this show for the pure fact that I had gone every year. It was another opportunity to travel nostalgia avenue and remember the hair rocking days of my youth.

I honestly don’t recall much about this concert overall. I’m sure I sang along with the songs and pumped my fist in the air during key hard rocking songs, but there is nothing emblazoned in my memory that makes this night stand out. That tells me this concert was average at best.

Vince’s set was filled with plenty of Motley Crue standards, which the crowd went crazy for, but without the rest of Motley Crue, it just wasn’t as special. And Poison gave their standard set filled with hits from the 80s and a couple of new songs that they were pushing. They closed with a cover of Kiss’ “Rock And Roll All Nite” which is always cool to hear, but overall there was nothing spectacular in their set. Even the order of songs was anticipated.

That’s not to say it was a bad show. A standard Poison concert is still a whole lot of fun. It’s just that there wasn’t anything that shook it up from years past. All of the shows from that time period start to blend together after a while. And it must have shown in ticket sales as well. By 2003, it seemed that the end of the Poison party was close at hand. Poison would go out the next year as the opening act for KISS and they wouldn’t tour at all in 2005. It was certainly fun while it lasted, but all good things must come to an end.

These days, I get my 80s fix by attending the M3 festival in Maryland every spring. It’s a two night event that is filled with all of the great bands from back in the day. And while I hope that poison will headline that festival one year, they haven’t to date. I am still hopeful though. As I can no longer witness their travelling hair metal bonanza, it would be nice to see them appear at M3. Maybe next year will be the year that it finally happens.

Vince Neil Setlist
Shout At The Devil
All In The Name Of…
Too Young To Fall In Love
Girls, Girls, Girls
Same Ol’ Situation (S.O.S.)
Home Sweet Home
Wild Side
You’re Invited (But Your Friend Can’t Come)
Looks That Kill
Dr. Feelgood
Kickstart My Heart

Poison Setlist
Look What The Cat Dragged In
Squeeze Box
Ride The Wind
I Won't Forget You
Your Mama Don't Dance
I Hate Every Bone In Your Body But Mine
Something To Believe In
Fallen Angel
Every Rose Has Its Thorn
Unskinny Bop
Talk Dirty To Me
Rock And Roll All Nite
Nothin' But  A Good TIme      

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Deftones And Rise Against Announce Summer Tour

Tickets go on sale Friday, 2/10. Get some!

Monday, February 6, 2017

Concert Review: Def Leppard With Styx and Tesla - July 25, 2015

July 25, 2015 was the night that I decided I am too old for lawn seats. Perhaps I’ve grown cynical with old age, perhaps I’m not as “fun” as I used to be, but by the end of Def Leppard’s performance at PNC Bank Arts Center on that warm July night, I was borderline miserable. And it wasn’t because the band was awful. It was because of my surroundings.

Due to the class action lawsuit where Live Nation settled a claim that they were charging fees in their ticket prices that were not disclosed, Mrs. Vie and I had the opportunity to witness Def Leppard, Styx, and Tesla for free on a nice warm Saturday night in July. I was excited by the prospect of seeing Def Leppard again. And this time they would be the headliners. I was less excited by the idea of having lawn seats, but as they say, don’t look a gift horse in the mouth. These were tickets to a free concert with three great bands.

After some minor tailgating, the Mrs. and I headed into the concert to try and secure a decent spot on the lawn. We staked a claim in the middle of the grassy knoll, about halfway up the hill. Not a terrible spot and prior to Tesla, it wasn’t too crowded. I told myself that this was going to be all right. Unfortunately, I lied to myself, although I didn’t know I was lying at the time.

Tesla was the first act of the night and I was excited to see them once again. I’ve had the fortunate opportunity to see Tesla live a handful of times and I’ve always enjoyed their performance. I knew they were the opening act, so I was aware that their stage time would be short, but some Tesla was certainly better than no Tesla. They only performed eight songs. However, I thought they chose a good setlist that included some of their biggest hits. And when “Love Song” was played the entire audience was singing along with the band. I was overjoyed by the end of their set. Mrs. Vie, not so much. I think she liked “Signs” and “Love Song,” but she didn’t really care for the rest of Tesla’s performance. To each their own I suppose.

By the time Tesla had completed their performance the lawn was packed. With free tickets being given away that made sense. This was a hot show and one that a lot of people, myself included, probably would have passed on if not for the availability of free tickets. With the lawn filling in at a rapid pace, we started to feel the first issues of the night. Here’s the biggest problem with lawn seats---there is no actual “seat” so encroachment is rampant. In between sets, Mrs. Vie would need to use the ladies room and/or get a drink. Each time she went away she had to navigate through the crowd that was slowly getting bigger and tighter. Then she also had to navigate her way back. I was not able to go with her, because then we would lose our spot on the lawn altogether. And as I stated earlier, it was a pretty decent location.

As soon as my wife headed to the stands, people started creeping into our space. They would show up, see some empty space around me and try to nudge me away. They figured there were 4 or 6 or 7 of them and only 1 of me, so they could lay claim to my lawn space. It got to the point where I had to take a wide stance, spreading my legs as far apart as they would go and extend my arms to mark the spot. As people tried to take the area, I would politely inform them that my wife was on her way back and I would need just a little extra space for her. They didn’t care. They plunked all of their shit down, blankets, towels, whatever else they had, and plopped on the lawn leaving me with literally only the space I was standing in. It took all of my effort to contain my anger.

When my wife returned she looked at me questioningly. “These people felt entitled to take our space,” was the only response I could muster. Cathy stood in front of me for Styx and I just held onto her.

Styx was the surprise of the night for me. I’ve never seen them live and I wasn’t expecting much from them. I honestly thought that they didn’t fit this bill. They were the odd band out in my opinion. However, I’ve always enjoyed their music, so I was looking forward to hearing them. They did not disappoint. Styx came out with an energy that surprised me. They were tight, they were exciting, and they played nothing but their hits. “The Grand Illusion,” “Lady,” “Blue Collar Man,” and “Come Sail Away” were amongst the mega hits the band performed. And while they had a longer set time then Tesla, they were still the middle act, so their time was short. Styx performed 10 songs in all that clocked in at just under an hour. By the end of their set my jaw was wide open. This band was amazing! I noted that I had to see them perform again. To this day I haven’t, but not because I don’t want to.

After Styx performance, Mrs. Vie had to make another bathroom/drink trip. I did my best to hold what little room we had left, but as the stage was being set for Def Leppard, more people filled in the lawn. At this point there was a lot of bumping, shoving, and spilling of beer (on me) as people ran past to find a lawn spot or to locate friends. I felt like a sardine in an over packed can. The jostling and bumping of sweaty drunk people knocking into me did little to enhance my excitement for the rest of the night. I grew agitated. My personal space was practically eradicated and I was covered in smoke, beer, water, and other unwanted chemicals. On top of all that, my claustrophobia kicked in. It was then and there that I decided the lawn is no longer for me. Perhaps I had grown too old for the lawn, but I told myself from that point forward if I couldn’t get an actual seat, I was not going to attend a concert in an amphitheater.

Def Leppard was the final act of the night and I looked forward to their performance. I had seen them the year before when they opened for KISS and I thought they were magnificent. Expectations had been set and I told Cathy that she was in for a great time. Unfortunately, the band didn’t deliver as great of a performance as they had the year before. I don’t know if my surroundings played a part in my emotions, or if the band was better at opening shows than closing them, but I did not get the same overall vibe from watching Def Leppard the headliners as I did from watching Def Leppard the openers.

They started strong with three of my favorite songs and I felt that we were in for a great finish. But as their concert wore on, things changed. The sound wasn’t as crisp for the later songs as it was for the earlier ones. The band seemed to lose their energy about halfway through their set. And the quieter songs became near impossible to hear over the buzz of the lawn. I can’t blame Def Leppard entirely, they weren’t the ones talking over the songs, but the overall experience just lacked from the year prior. It was a disappointment to say the least. And while I did get to hear my favorite Def Leppard song (“Hysteria”) and they closed strong with “Rock Of Ages” and “Photograph,” the magic of the night had already dissipated.

At the end of the evening there was a key lesson emphasized. Sometimes you get what you pay for. And when the cost of goods is nothing, the expectations should be set at the same level. Free isn’t always the best price to pay.

Tesla Setlist
Edison’s Medicine (Man Out Of Time)
Getting’ Better
Hang Tough
Heaven’s Trail (No Way Out)
Love Song
Little Suzi
Modern Day Cowboy

Styx Setlist
The Grand Illusion
Too Much Time On My Hands
Fooling Yourself (Angry Young Man)
Miss America
Blue Collar Man (Long Nights)
Rocket Man/Bohemian Rhapsody/(Sittin’ On) The Dock Of The Bay (covers medley)
Come Sail Away
Rockin’ The Paradise

Def Leppard Setlist
Rock! Rock! (Till You Drop)
Let It Go
Love Bites
Armageddon It
Rock On
Two Steps Behind
Bringin’ On The Heartbreak
Switch 625
Let’s Get Rocked
Pour Some Sugar On Me
Rock Of Ages