Saturday, May 21, 2011

M3 Kix-Off Party - May 13, 2011

For the third year in a row, the M3 Music Festival was held at the Post Merriweather Pavilion in Columbia, Maryland. Building on the growing success of this festival, the promoters decided to expand to two days this year. Day one, dubbed the official “Kix-Off” party was held on Friday, May 13th. The bands on the bill included local act Black Mambooza, followed by Jetboy, L.A. Guns, Warrant, and the Friday night headliners, Kix. A better M3 kick-off lineup is hard to imagine.

While I missed seeing Black Mambooza’s set due to settling in, checking the merchandise stand, getting a beer, etc., I was in my seat promptly before 7:00 PM. Jetboy had a new lead singer and I was anxious to see their performance. I thought they stole the show at last year’s M3 and reports were that the band was tighter than ever with new lead singer DK Revelle at the mic.

Jetboy stormed the stage and M3 officially kicked off. Knowing they only had 30 minutes to wow the crowd, Jetboy started their performance in high energy fashion. They came to rock and that’s exactly what they did. The music was intense and the band sounded incredible.

DK Revelle’s vocal style is much different from that of his predecessor, Mickey Finn. DK’s gravelly, growling vocals fit in perfectly with Jetboy’s sleaze rock style and added an element to the band that was previously absent. The time Jetboy spent together during a tour of Europe has helped to solidify the group and resulted in a powerhouse performance.

Two new songs were performed and both of them could be the best Jetboy songs yet. Both “Strip Down” and “Little Miss Sin Eater” are geared toward Revelle’s vocal ability. The end result was exceptional. Hopefully someone will be able to get these guys into the studio to record a new album. It would definitely be good for the world of rock and roll.

By the end of their set, most of the crowd had forgotten about Mickey Finn and were focused solely on this new incarnation of the band. DK Revelle had won the crowd over and the two new songs left everyone yearning for more. Jetboy had packed an entire headlining performance into a tight, 30-minute set. I hope to see them back for next year’s M3 with a longer time slot.

Phil Lewis’ version of L.A. Guns was on stage next and their performance was as brilliant as last year’s. While delays in changing the stage cut their performance time down, L.A. Guns still worked as hard as they could to deliver a rock solid performance.

Phil Lewis looked and sounded great, as did the rest of the band. While I questioned Phil’s wardrobe, I was pleased that he could still sing well. The band gave blistering performances of such classic L.A. Guns songs as “Electric Gypsy,” “Sex Action,” and “Never Enough.” The songs sounded as great as they did when they were first released. Although a lot of years have transpired since L.A. Guns first hit the scene, Father Time has not slowed the band down one beat.

Not be their own choice, L.A. Guns closed their set with one of the most beautiful power ballads ever written. “The Ballad Of Jayne,” the band’s best known song, finished their set in style. While L.A. Guns wanted to close out with a rocker, time constraints failed to allow it. The fans were happy though, as was evident by the sing along that “The Ballad Of Jayne” inspired.

Warrant headlined the second stage at last year’s M3, and they performed so well that it was only natural they be invited back to give a performance on the main stage. With a new album ready to be unleashed on the world, Warrant and new singer Robert Mason were ready to show the Maryland crowd how incredible they are in concert.

Robert Mason looked fantastic. Dressed in a black leather vest, it was quite clear that he has dedicated himself to staying in shape. Cut, trim, and practically fat free, Mason is an inspiration to us all. At the age of 46, the man looks like he is 26. And he gave a performance that would leave most 26 year olds breathless.

Overall, Warrant looked and sounded exceptional. Classic hits like “Sure Feels Good To Me,” “Heaven,” and “Down Boys,” were performed alongside new cuts from the forthcoming Rockaholic. As their performance went on, I don’t think many fans missed Jani Lane. Robert Mason is a master front man and he worked his hardest to win the crowd over. In that attempt, he was a major success. With Robert Mason at the helm the future of Warrant is pretty stable and secure.

The new songs, “Sex Ain’t Love,” and “Life Is A Song,” were so good that I wanted to own the new album immediately. Alas, due to the Every Album Challenge, I will not be able to, but based on the 2 songs I heard, if you are not constrained by an Every Album Challenge, you need to pick up a copy of Rockaholic.

Warrant closed their set with the expected “Cherry Pie,” which is still as fun today as it was when it was first released. By the end of their stage time, fans were screaming for more. And while Warrant were unable to perform an encore, fans will be sure to check their tour schedule to learn when they will be able to see this band again.

M3 night one was set to end with a hometown, headlining performance by one of the greatest live acts known to music. This would be my third time witnessing live Kix and I was more excited than ever. I knew the band was going to produce nothing but a power packed performance that would be remembered for a long time.

As expected, Kix launched onto the stage with evident passion. “No Ring Around Rose” got the performance started and Steve Whiteman’s power packed lead singer style took over for the rest of the evening. Whiteman is a ball of energy that doesn’t stop for the entire set. The rest of the band follows his lead, but all eyes are on Steve.

Whiteman’s charisma and charm are part of what make him such a great lead singer. When not singing his ass off or running around like a madman, he was telling jokes or utilizing props. It was like going to a Vegas comedy show, only better, because it was rock and roll. The fans reacted to Whiteman’s charm and the entire evening was one of mutual love and respect. A brilliant entertainer in his own right, he certainly could hold any other job in the entertainment business should he ever decide to.

During the set, Steve joked how he was shocked that Kix was asked to headline night one of M3. He thought the promoters were crazy. Then he looked around at the audience. “Damn,” he stated. “I didn’t think this many people gave a shit about Kix!” Ahhh, but we do, Steve. Kix is still amazing in concert and the more your band brings it live, the more we are going want to see them live.

Between sparkling microphones, buckets of water that turned into confetti, umbrellas, and balloons, Kix had all the usual props and were not afraid to use them. Whiteman continued his whirling and twirling all around the stage and the band gave a blistering performance that had the crowd on their feet.

Whiteman still looks and sounds great, as does the rest of the band. It’s amazing that even after all of these years (Kix started in 1981) they are able to bring the force in concert. While Steve is surprised that so many people care about Kix, I’m not. Kix is that great live and they are a band that must be seen in concert to be believed.

Classic hits like “Don’t Close Your Eyes,” “Girl Money,” and “Cold Blood” were all performed to perfection. It was during the encore that the band gave us some big surprises. The first surprise came in the band’s performance of “Kix Are For Kids,” from their self titled debut album. It was a real treat to hear this classic song, which I’ve never heard the band perform live.

The next surprise came in the form of a roll out mini stage that the band settled on for an acoustic performance. Then they jumped into “For Shame” and I was flabbergasted. “For Shame” is an incredible acoustic diddy and a song that I forgot about, to be honest. Hearing it live was such a treat that I stood up and applauded when the band had finished (most of the fans did the same).

“Midnight Dynamite” followed, to which the crowd went wild. Always a great song live, Steve Whiteman took it to the next level along with the rest of his bandmates. Walking the stage with a sparkling microphone at his disposal, Steve was having a great time rousing the crowd. Whiteman has always been one of the greatest front men in rock history. He is certainly in the same league as Bruce Dickinson and Blackie Lawless as exceptional band leaders.

The final number of the night was another fantastic rendition of “Yeah, Yeah, Yeah,” that the band always closes with and always has fun playing. At the end of the song, the balloons dropped from the ceiling and more balloons were dragged onto the stage in large plastic bags. Normally, Whiteman would leap onto the bags and watch the balloons release underneath him, being pushed to the fans in the first or second row. On this night he made the leaping motion and the crowd roared. Then Whiteman shook his head. He hunched over, put one hand on his back and with his other hand made a motion that he was walking with a cane. Then he stuck his index finger in the air to make as if he had a brilliant idea. Whiteman dashed to the side of the stage and came back with a supersized, yellow and red, plastic sledgehammer. He smashed that against the bag and freed the balloons from their plastic imprisonment.

Once again, Kix showed to the world how exceptional they are. With another brilliant performance, this time as night one headliners, the band was mind blowing. Always a fun time and worth the money, it was great to see Kix headline the first night of this year’s M3 festival. Hopefully they will be back next year to headline the whole damned thing.

No comments: