NEW! Adam Ant
(The Vic Theatre, Chicago, IL - January 31st, 2017)
Adam Ant (born Stuart Leslie Goddard) may well be better known as the flamboyant Englishman who gained massive popularity as the lead singer of New Wave/Post-Punk group Adam and the Ants, but he also had a highly successful solo career afterward.
Scoring ten (10) UK top ten hits between 1980 and 1983, including three #1's, and despite releasing a new solo album in 2013 (Adam Ant Is the Blueblack Hussar in Marrying the Gunner's Daughter), still to this day his biggest crossover was 1995's 'Wonderful.'
And so here tonight on his Kings Of The Wild Frontier USA Tour 2017, the singer (now 62 years-old) once voted sexiest man in America (by the viewers of MTV) brought his band of merry men (and one woman) to Chicago, IL to entertain all the still-polarized-by-his-aura Ant People gathered together on this sold-out night at The Vic Theatre.
The all-female Glam Skanks, a cross between the Cherry Bombz and The Runaways, opened for Adam tonight and most definitely ensured that he came out to a pumped up crowd. Their set of female-angst anthems all encased neatly within the confines of '70s glam rock was also a fun treat to see, it has to be said. But then, as the clock struck 9.00pm, the house music turned off, the lights went down, and the night truly began.
The four-piece band - inclusive, as always, of a pair of drummers - emerged one by one, locating their spots on the still-darkened stage, before the man himself arrives. Dressed in his swashbuckling tunic, leather pants and black boots, his outfit topped off by his now-trademark hat adorned with small, colorful feathers, taking a look at his face from just five feet away and it's clear Adam still has a lot on his mind.
The passing of his guitarist, musical director and friend Tom Edwards (41) on January 26th in Cherry Hill, N.J. was enough for him to postpone two shows immediately thereafter, but having restarted the tour the night before this one in Toronto, Adam was noticeably wary of not only putting on a top class, high energy show for the fans, but also honoring his fallen comrade at the same time.
With the Kings Of The Wild Frontier album having celebrated its 30th anniversary last year, a stunning multi-disc Super Deluxe Edition Box-Set having been released by Sony Records, this US tour was all about playing that very same album in its entirety, track for track - whilst at the same time throwing in his early punk songs, his solo material and, of course, his chart topping band hits.
In truth, and throughout the entire night, Adam was not in a talkative mood. Indeed, performing the entire KOTWF album from start to finish, he never said or acknowledged the crowd once. But that was ok, for all us true, devoted Adam Ant fans understood why, and so we stood up, sang along to, and heartily applauded the entire album of tracks brought to life by our musical hero: 'Dog Eat Dog', 'Antmusic', 'Feed Me To The Lions', 'Los Rancheros', 'Ants Invasion', 'Killer in the Home', 'Kings of the Wild Frontier', 'The Magnificent Five', 'Don't Be Square (Be There)' (complete with mic issues), 'Jolly Roger', 'Making History' and then 'Human Beings'.
Then, once the final chords had rung out, Adam finally addressed the packed house. "Thank you for coming out," he says, quietly and yet sincerely. "This song you might also know. This one's for you, Tom" he adds, before they launch into Tom's favorite song to play, 'Beat My Guest.' As the song comes to a close, Adam looks skyward. "That's for you, Tom", he utters, once more. A rousing, exceedingly pumped 'Christian D'or' is next and then the tempo of the sold-out crowd is raised even more with a fantastic double bill of both 'Stand and Deliver' and ("Thank you very much, Chicago") a quite brilliant 'Vive le Rock'.
"Thank you very much," Adam says, and then after two of my favorite ever Adam Ant tracks are performed back-to-back - 'Cartrouble' and 'Desperate But Not Serious' - he repeats his thanks. He then relates a story of when he was eight years old and bikers would roar up and down his street, and how their engines would scare him (and still do), and so that is where the inspiration came from for 'Zerox'. He then launches into that, and after thanking us again for the applause given, the trio of early Adam punk tracks then continues with both 'Never Trust a Man (With Egg on His Face)' and the uber frenetic 'Lady/Fall In'.
The main set then comes to a close with both the highly-beloved fun pop bounce of 'Goody Two-Shoes', and with a little story beforehand from Adam as to why the song 'Prince Charming' was created and what it was meant to symbolize, the band put their all into the set finale. Come its close, and with Adam encouraging us to sing-along with him, he and his band then head off stage. They quickly returned for a three-track encore, first bringing us the musically forceful guitar work of 'Red Scab', a cover of T.Rex's 'Get it On', before ending the entire show with a pulsating 'Physical (You're So).' A song that took us all back to the late '70s, it was this expanded version that, I'm pretty sure, was to become a highlight of the show for all gathered.
This being the fourth night of the Kings of the Wild Frontier 2017 North American tour, given that two had been postponed, Adam Ant and his band were, and despite the obvious black cloud that was still weighing heavy on their musical hearts, in fine and robust form. Adam's lack of chit-chat was understandable, and his love for Tom undeniable.
Indeed, whether he knew he was doing it or not, during that last song played live, he was constantly starring at his guitarists work, his eyes transfixed on his hands working overtime to bring the searing chords to life. Adam himself playing his own guitar during the song, always had his head turned to his left watching the guitarist go to town, most likely imagining Tom still there, playing all the same chords, one imagines.
So, a fantastic, powerful show from Adam Ant once again and its no wonder the US still loves the man who has left such a lasting, and indelible imprint of music on their lives for the past 30+ years. Personally, I would loved to have heard both 'Deutscher Girls' and 'Young Parisians', but as they are rarely, if ever (especially the latter) brought into the live sets, it makes me think that there's more to their exclusion than meets the eye. Still, no worries, for tonight Adam, yet again, conquered America and at the same time honored his late band mate in the best, and most productive way possible.
Review & Photos: Russell A. Trunk
Adam Ant 2017 North American Tour
1/23 – Washington, D.C., Lincoln Theatre
1/24 – Boston, Mass., Wilbur Theatre
1/26 – Philadelphia, Pa., Keswick Theatre - POSTPONED*
1/27 – New York, N.Y., Webster Hall - POSTPONED**
1/29 – Toronto, Ontario, Danforth Music Hall
1/31 – Chicago, Ill., Vic Theatre
2/02 – Portland, Ore., Revolution Hall
2/03 – Seattle, Wash., Neptune Theatre
2/04 – Vancouver, B.C., Vogue Theatre
2/07 – San Francisco, Calif., Fillmore
2/09 – Los Angeles, Calif., Fonda Theatre
2/10 – Las Vegas, Nev., Brooklyn Bowl
2/11 – Tucson, Ariz., Rialto Theatre
2/14 – Dallas, Texas, Majestic Theatre
2/15 – San Antonio, Texas, Empire Theatre
2/18 – San Diego, Calif., Observatory North Park
* 2/21 - Philadelphia, PA, The Keswick Theatre
** 2/22 - New York City, Webster Hall
NEW! Security Project
(Magic Bag, Ferndale, MI - October 23rd, 2016)
For those not in the know, Security Project started performing in 2012 in recognition of the 25th anniversary of the release of the album Security by Peter Gabriel. The band performs Gabriel's early progressive repertoire, generally taking material from his first four albums. Well known members of the band include drummer Jerry Marotta (who played on those first four albums and toured with Gabriel for 10 years), Warr guitarist Trey Gunn (who was a member of progressive band King Crimson), and guitarist Michael Cozzi (who was a member of Shriekback, himself replacing Fuzzbee Morse).
Add to that both David Jameson - keyboards, Eigenharp - and the extraordinary Gabriel-vocal styling of Brian Cummins, and you had a touring band that not only did eloquent justice to Gabriel's work, but with Cummins' unique, spot on perfect Gabriel inflection, brought it all to life on their first two recordings (Live 1 & Live 2).
But, since then, and just weeks before the release of Live 2 and these subsequent touring dates, Cummins quit the band. The voice that channeled Gabriel was no longer and so the Security Project hastily turned to a beloved friend of theirs to take the lead role - Happy Rhodes. Well known and highly respected within the industry, Rhodes duly learned all the lyrics and took over the vocal reins therein.
But, and as witnessed here tonight on just their third live gig together, things did not go well. Worse yet, Rhodes, being female, just doesn't have either the vocal inflections required to sing these songs, nor is her stage presence anything to write home about. Not her fault, having been thrown in at the deep end, sure, but to head this third reinvention of the Security Project they needed another male in the Cummins vocal mode. What they ended up with was a band that now comes across as nothing short of a mid-afternoon casino lounge bar band.
And so, in a small, darkened club, on a black stage with a black backdrop, electric instruments abound, seemingly making it hard for any musicians to find a space to stand. At precisely 7.45pm, the band comes quietly out, semi-unnoticed as the house music still plays. With Rhodes now center stage, the crowd begin to look at each other, also seemingly unknowing of Cummins having left the band. Rhodes, a songwriter, instrumentalist and electronic musician with a four-octave vocal range, begins the first half of the set with the spoken word introduction to 'Lay Your Hands On Me', but it's very obvious looking around at the hushed hand whispers that a lot of the audience are bemused by her presence.
And, to be fair, rightfully so, for as much as this is a celebration of Peter Gabriel's work, when the Security Project had Cummins' vocals bringing forth the spirit of Gabriel, all you had to do was shut your eyes and the great man was there on stage. Rhodes doesn't have that range, that allure, and so her voice simply cannot resonate; replicate even, Gabriel's. Again, and I can't stress this enough, that's not her fault given the circumstances, but it was a massive let down for me on the night - and for the majority of the gathering also.
Moving on, and under blue then yellow spotlights, we next get the dark slow funk bass opening to 'Intruder', with the pleasant storytelling of 'Family Snapshot' along next. Then, due to Gunn's screeching Warr guitar we lurch into 'No Self Control' which, when done right, is a gem of a song. But as Rhodes seemingly isn't invested, the passion of the song is sorely missing. Which was an ongoing theme here tonight. Thanking the crowd, she then asks for the smoke machine to be turned of as it was affecting her voice. It was then that I realized that she was seemingly embarrassed at having had to actually speak. A running theme as it turned out for almost all the night, there was no chit-chat, no idle banter, no behind-the-scenes info on why certain songs were written. Nope, save for late in the show when Marotta took over the mic for promotional purposes, there was no interaction with the audience at all.
Under red and blue lights a gentle introduction is brought forth and we are into the beautiful 'Blood Of Eden', which upon completion, allows Rhodes to go backstage for a glass of water. Soon back and we stroll into the dark, moody 'The Family and the Fishing Net' which allows Jameson to vacate his upright keyboard and bring his stand alone Eigenharp out for us to view. Lit up by different colored little lights, it is just the most perfect instrument to engage the sounds needed for one of my own personal Peter Gabriel favorites, 'I Have The Touch'. Bathed under yellow lights now, it seems that Rhodes has finely found her smile, for she not only dances in subtle, quietly programmed shapes on stage, but she literally has a broad smile on her face for the upbeat song.
"Thank you for coming out and seeing us tonight," Rhodes says. "We very much appreciate you being here," and with that, and to an oboe opening that bleeds into a dulcet piano, 'Wallflower' is then with us. The weakest song of their entire set, the Eigenharp is now out again, along with both Cozzi and Gunn standing in front of their very own solo drum heads to drum out a regimented beat to 'The Rhythm Of The Heat'. A definite fan favorite they stand to applaud at its end. Their first act is subsequently brought to a close with that song, and as they walk off backstage through the draped black curtains, with the lights now up, a lot of people are now seen nose deep in their iPhones; one can only assume Googling the band to try and learn more about what had happened to Cummins.
As the second part of the show opens, we find just Rhodes, solo with an acoustic guitar taking center stage as she, without any guff nor puff, begins to gently play David Bowie's 'Ashes To Ashes'. A nice enough song, sure, and played and sung well enough, but it has zero connection to the Peter Gabriel show that these fans had come to see. Next, and with only Gunn by her side, she puts on her best Kate Bush vocal tone, which happens to be a damn great one, and brings us Bush's 'Mother Stands for Comfort'. A beautiful rendition of a Bush song, sure, but, and again, nothing to do with why the fans were there tonight. Indeed, it was plainly obvious that the Security Project guys were simply giving her a mid-set chance to "introduce herself" to the audience; so they knew she could do other things - and better.
Up next is possibly my all-time favorite Gabriel song, 'I Don't Remember' that heard through the vocals styling of Rhodes, unfortunately fell flat and exhausted on the stage at her feet. Complete with a low static feedback throughout, that seemingly only Jameson could hear (on stage), Rhodes, once again, forgets words, looks more than a little nervous, and has an expression that begs for the show to be over.
"And that's how it's done," bellows Marotta from back behind his drum kit, the song now over. "I've been keeping quiet back here, but not any more," he adds as he stands up and proceeds to walk to center stage. "That song ... how many times have I played it? We've only been doing it for a couple of years and I still get so excited about playing it. And we had a great version already, then she came along", [he says, pointing at Happy] "and we kinda all fell back into it again," he says, as the crowd applaud his heartfelt sentiments. Then, for the next four minutes, Marotta (over) sells the merchandise they have for sale, relentlessly going over and over the items, before adding something else. "We're gonna now do a song, it's one of Happy's songs ... here it comes," he adds, finally now back behind his drum kit.
After yet another Rhodes promotional moment, the song bleeds (rather perfectly, as it turns out) into 'Red Rain', but Rhodes is visibly not feeling the heart of the song. Her static stage presence is barely registering the beat, her vocals now hers, not even trying to emulate Gabriel's any more. The Eigenharp is out again, this time to fall in line with the jingly introduction to 'San Jacinto', before the atmospherically loud 'Moribund the Burgermeister' is performed. With a Gunn bass line that veritably pounds through your chest, after a drum solo it fades out, allowing Rhodes to pick up her acoustic guitar, and we are soon propelled into 'Fly on a Windshield', and then 'Broadway Melody of 1974'.
Up next is 'The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway', a classic among classics, and done very well tonight, it has to be said. The wild piano introduction, inclusive, one assumes, of a little solo moment for Jameson, ensures a vibrant, upbeat song is sung by Rhodes. A song that, once again, allows a smile to come to her face, creating a noticeable bounce to her shaped movements. "Thank you for coming tonight," she addresses the crowd afterwards. "We appreciate it more than you know." The group all then come front and center for a bow, before Marotta once again takes the mic. "I've played here before," he reveals. "I love this place. I really do. Sorry, but I have a tendency to talk with a microphone in my hand," he laughs. "I'm so happy to be here, on the planet, first of all", he again laughs. "I see people I recognize here. I love playing this music and I love the addition of Happy Rhodes on this tour."
Marotta then goes off on a small rant about the lack of people that had come out to see them tonight, asking us, nay begging us to bring someone along with us next time, and to spread the word for him. Although he also admitted that they might never be offered the chance to come back after tonight! He tells everyone again that they should go buy the bands merchandise and that if they do he'll be up there to whisper some secrets about his playing days with Peter Gabriel to them. He talks about some of the songs that they don't usually get to play, such as both 'Wallflower' and 'San Jacinto' and then announces that they are now going to play a little more. Also thanking us for all coming out, he adds one final notification about all the tour merchandise they have for sale, and then the barefooted drummer is finally back behind his kit.
'Games Without Frontiers' is the one and only "encore" song and, once again, Rhodes just doesn't have the chops for it, sadly. It has a wonderful lead in, and is inclusive of a band jam session that sees Rhodes slide off to side stage several times, before it is all brought to a close. In what was one of the highlights of the night, to see the band jam like that for six minutes, now it was all over. "Thank you, once again," Rhodes says. "Have a great night. Thank you for coming out tonight," she adds, as the band come to the front and bow again, before waving themselves off stage for the last time.
Review: Russell A. Trunk
Photos: Gil Goodrow
Security Project @ Facebook
NEW! Midge Ure
(Magic Bag, Ferndale, MI - October 9th, 2016)
Having been here to our shores, and indeed the very same venue back some two and three years ago now, Ultravox front man Midge Ure brought his Live+Electric North American show to the Magic Bag again last night. The Grammy and Brit Award winning musician kicked off his North American tour a few weeks back and here, on a very acceptable, very tolerable October night just outside of Detroit, MI (and with only a handful of dates left yet to play), the accomplished guitarist took to the stage.
In a small, darkened club, on a black stage with a black backdrop, at 9.10pm Midge Ure quietly, semi-unnoticed, came from behind the black curtain. Joined on stage by L.A. based bass/keyboard player Tony Solis and his drummer, Right The Stars‘ BC Taylor, dressed head to toe in black (as is his thing), Ure begins to fiddle with the new strings on his guitar, before gently opening the show with a delightful ‘Dear God’. "How are you all doing?“, the he inquires to the devoted Ure fans in his midst. “It’s great to be back. Talking of back, I’m going to go way, way back now”, he smiles, as he and his backing band then bring us a storming ‘The European’.
“Thank you very much” he once again says, which was also a running theme for the man who, after 40 years, has become a staple of music collections everywhere. “Are we missing the big debate?“ he asks them, referring to the televised official second debate between Trump and Clinton. “I’m not”, he laughs. “Ok, this is old as well. I read on Twitter, because I’m hip with the kids, you know, that this next song was #1 in the UK 35 years ago. So that’s old. It was #1 everywhere … expect here”, he adds, dryly, before launching into his hit solo single, ‘If I Was’. A vibrant ‘Call Of The Wild’ is next, before some more chit chat. “So, the last time I toured I had no friends with me”, he laughs, referring to his 2015 Live+Acoustic tour, “and, as you can see, I still have no friends with me” he sarcastically notes, as he steps back to point at both his band members. “I found these two outside busking in the cold” he adds, before announcing the next song. “This is a special song for me. It was written 25 years ago and if you know it, and know the words, please sing along. If you don’t know the words, then please don’t!”. And with that he get a wonderful rendition of Visage’s ‘Fade To Gray’.
As the song comes to an end, the red and blue lights that had once lit it merging back to white, Ure speaks, once more. “This is something different. I wrote this 20 years ago watching bombs hitting targets on TV. You never saw where they came from, but always saw where they landed. It made war into a video game for me”, he adds, before bringing us the poignant ‘Beneath A Spielberg Sky’. “Ok, you know those moments when you go see your favorite bands and their songs take you right back to good times. And then the singer says, Here’s something new … well, here’s something new”, he laughs. ‘Become’ from his last solo album, Fragile is now on deck, and is easily one of his best solo recordings to date. “Right, back into my history again” Ure says, as he and the band bring us a brilliant ‘Hymn’ which is followed by yet another spot of bother for Ure with his aforementioned new guitar strings. As he stands there working on them, come completion (for that moment), and before the next song, he audibly mumbles, “You don’t see Bono fixing his guitar or moving his own speakers!”
A smashing, and given he is delving back into his early Ultravox days and trying to make these live versions as authentic to their original creations as possible, chillingly dark and mysterious ‘The Voice’ is next. Ure plays keys the whole way through, and just closing your eyes you can hear the crisp quality of the live sound as if it were a CD playing instead. “Good singing”, he says, “Thank you very much. Great stuff … but not on this one”, he tells them as he brings forth the spine tingling ‘Vienna’. The heavier guitar work combined with an overall darker sensibility, this was the first time I’d ever heard it sound so raw, so honest. It was breathtaking, there’s just no other way to say it. That seamlessly then bleeds into a pulsating ‘All Stood Still’ which was also performed and sung in this very same moodier structure. Huge applause rang around the room, everybody up on their feet (where they should have been the moment Ure came on stage, in my humble opinion). “That song was written 37 years ago”, Ure reveals. “You guys were awesome, thank you. Ok, here’s some more older stuff”, and with that we get one of my personal favorites of the night, ‘Passing Strangers’, before a sincere, and thoughtful guitar solo moment, not to mention a subtle lead in from the drummer, finds its path into ‘Dancing With Tears In My Eyes’.
“Thank you” he says, once more. “We’ll see you soon”, he adds as he and his band make their way backstage. Back on stage some 30 seconds later, he introduces the two band members (as his sons!), before talking one last time, in earnest to the audience. “We wanted to do something special for you next. We lost so many people, so many brilliant musicians this year … and in February in NYC we lost one of the biggest stars that the world has ever known.” With that Ure and his band bring us a hauntingly spectacular ‘Starman’ from David Bowie. With Ure’s vocal tones matching the cadence of Bowie’s perfectly in the opening to the song, this was, without a shadow of a doubt, the true highlight of tonight’s show. Come the songs end, and with the audience applauding loudly, Ure thanks everyone for the last time, waves goodbye and is gone for the night.
Review & Photos by: Russell A. Trunk
(Fox Theatre, Detroit, MI - June 17th, 2016)
Whitesnake, the hard working, hard singing, hard rockin' band, founded many moons ago by the incomparable David Coverdale after his departure from his previous band, Deep Purple (which he combined a new album and highly underrated tour with last year), may well now only be Coverdale and a traveling band of troubadours, but tonight they performed as if they had been together for 40 years!
As the clock strikes 9.00pm from stage left guitarist Reb Beach wanders out, guitar already slung, ready for action, a broad smile emblazoned. Next comes bassist Michael Devin, with both guitarist Joel Hoekstra and drummer Tommy Aldridge striding to their marks quickly thereafter. Then comes the man himself, DC. Dressed, as always, in one of his very own Whitesnake designer shirts, his hair as perfect as it was back in the glory days of MTV, the boys launch into the guitar throbbing opening of 'Bad Boys’. Coverdale throws his cheeky grin around, suggestively grabs the mic stand, asks the audience to “Make some f@ckin’ noise”, and powering out his uniquely throaty vocals, we are officially off and running.
With The Purple Album and tour behind them from last year, this was now entitled The Greatest Hits Tour, and as much as there were only 13 songs, one of which was far from a “hit“ of any kind, this band still have what it takes to convince their fans they have every right to still be charging $35 for a tour tshirt! Sure not everything was perfect with the show, which we‘ll get to shortly, but having seen a lot of bands still trying to reclaim their 80‘s/90‘s heady spotlight of fame, Whitesnake just never lost it. It‘s that simple.
Without DC saying much of any note, after ’Bad Boys’ we get the powerhaus trio of ’Slide It In,’ ’Love Ain’t No Stranger,’ and the lush mid-tempo ballad, ’The Deeper The Love.’ Once ’Fool For Your Loving’ has been brought forth, DC finally addresses the audience. “Good evening, Detroit.” Then spotting a few men in uniform in the front row, perhaps just the well-dressed Fox Theatre staff, to be honest, he says, “Ohh, I do love a man in uniform. And look,” he adds, walking the front row, “we’ve got the Righteous Brothers here also!” As he then turns back to look at Joel, he quickly spins back to face the crowd once more. “OK, we’ve got a song for ya, but before that, I want you to know that the first time I ever performed here in the US I played here in Detroit with Deep Purple. It was at Cobo Hall. You remember that place?” he asks, referring to a building that still stands tall, and is the current home of the Detroit Red Wings.
“I f@ckin’ love that I’m here now with you all tonight,” he further says. “So, here’s a song for ya that Mr. Hoekstra will introduce,” he adds, as they then bring us the only non-hit of the set, ’Sailing Ships.’ Not an obvious fan favorite, people look at each other, begin to chat amongst themselves, and even leave for either a beer or a piss (or both), but when that track powers on through seamlessly into the massive ’Judgement Day’, just like that the fans are back and singing along as loud, and as proud as ever. Ending that song with his trademark wail, it’s obvious early on that DC is struggling with his throaty vocals. Not only does he now proffer the mic more and more to the front row “singers” to sing entire lines of songs, but his band take over whole chunks also. DC said back when The Purple Tour got so much flack that that was probably it for Whitesnake and touring live, so there is obviously a dire possibility DC is going to call it quits after this tour now.
“Thank you so much, Detroit, “ DC comes to the front of the stage, grinning like the cat that got the cream, “and please say hello to the insanely talented Reb Beech and the incredibly talented Joel Hoekstra.” What comes next are two guitar solo spots that, much like the upcoming bass guitar and drum solo spots, are an old school fixture of bands like this (and blues bands, in general), and yet something that has to stop! They are no longer required listening and viewing for the fans, whose attention spans, when before were rockin’ out to a “greatest hit” are now lost, bored, begging for another hit to come along - and quickly! Don’t take just my journalistic word for it, for these were statements being heard all around me, as Beech definitely won the battle of how to make his guitar sound one minute like a speeding train about to derail, the next a rocket screeching its way skyward. Hoekstra just played his sparkly purple WS guitar as if he had come in midway through a power ballad, before turning his attention to a Flamenco guitar; expertly showing off his quick-fingered plucking skills thereafter.
Once all the guys were back on stage, the brilliant’ Slow An’ Easy’ is performed, and then it’s during ‘Crying In The Rain’ that the set is once again broken up - this time by the nonsense of a bass guitar solo from Michael Devlin. Fair play that he funked it up, made it old school, but why oh why does anybody at a rock concert ever want to hear a bass guitar solo at the best of times, sorry? He then finishes, screams “Tommy …” whilst pointing backwards, and next up is Aldridge’s very own solo moment in the spotlight. As always, he goes from a riveting, if not typical drumming exhibition with sticks, to throwing them into the audience and just using the palms of his hands and his feet - on everything! The guys then come back out to finish off ‘Crying In The Rain’, DC (now in a different WS shirt, this time with 'Make Some F@ckin' Noise' emblazoned on the back). He introduces the band one at a time front of stage, informs us they have a song for us, and then we get the massive radio power ballad hit ‘Is This Love.’
That bleeds seamlessly into ‘Gimme All You Love,’ and sporting yet another big cheesy, but genuinely warm and welcoming grin, we get the last song of the set, ‘ Here I Go Again.’ “Thank you so much, Detroit,” DC waves at the crowd, before walking off stage, which doesn’t last long as soon they are back, with DC asking “You wanna make some real noise, Detroit?” The always epic ‘Still Of The Night’ is then the only encore song, and therein the last song of the night, wrapping up 90 minutes of pure Whitesnake perfectly. “A thousand thank you’s for your hospitality tonight, Detroit,“ DC adds, as the band group together for a final bow. "Be safe, be happy and don't let anyone make you afraid", he adds, waving again, bumping fists with those lucky front row hands And to the throes of 'We Wish You Well', which in turn is then followed by Monty Python’s ‘Always Look On The Bright Side Of Life’ now left to play over the speakers, they all leave the stage, one by one.
Review & Photos by: Russell A. Trunk
NEW! The Cult
(The Fillmore, Detroit, MI - March 26th, 2016)
The Cult, for those uninitiated, are a British rock band formed in 1983. They gained a dedicated following in the UK in the mid-1980s as a post-punk/gothic rock band with singles such as 'She Sells Sanctuary', before breaking mainstream in the US in the late 1980s as a hard rock band with singles such as 'Love Removal Machine' and 'Fire Woman'.
Since their earliest form in Bradford during 1981, the band have had various line-ups; the longest-serving members are vocalist Ian Astbury and guitarist Billy Duffy, the band's two songwriters. John Tempesta – drums - has been with the band since 2007.
And so here tonight in Detroit, in support of their brand new 10th studio album, Hidden City - an album that is also the final part of a trilogy that began with both Born Into This (2007) and Choice of Weapon (2012) - The Cult brought both original members and newbies to the home of Motown. Taking quietly to the stage undercover of darkness, the band set themselves, whilst Astbury places some lyric sheets down by his speaker. Reaching for a tambourine, he then counts the band into the opening song, 'Dark Energy.' With no Cult banner backdrop, all the band in black, the stage lights always dark colors, the band still ride their cool Goth demeanor to the max - and rightfully so.
Midway through the first song a large man causes some trouble front row and as Astbury looks on, is dragged out by security and escorted out of the building. Heading into 'Rain,' 'Wild Flower,' and even 'Horse Nation,' Astbury is finding his ease with the stage still, chatting with other band members, even walking off stage mid-songs. But all that changes before 'Hinterland' is brought forth. "Good evening, Detroit," Astbury finally acknowledges the packed house. "We all good down the front now?" he asks the front section, based on the aforementioned incident during the first song.
"That was 'Hinterland'," Astbury acknowledges after the song. "Thank you for coming tonight. Well done, Detroit, I see you are getting it back together again," he adds, in reference to the rebuilding of our fair city after Detroit had sadly filed for Chapter 9 bankruptcy protection in 2013. 'Honey From A Knife' is next and is most definitely the most pop song-esque I think I've ever heard The Cult be, before Astbury addresses the crowd again. "Thank you kindly. Everybody good now?" Under a purple spotlight, the keyboards are lit and a gentle piano intro brings us 'Gone'.
But it's around this time that Astbury begins to crank up his rants. Seemingly getting more and more irritated by all the cell phones and lack of audience participation for the new songs, he shuts the band down. "Are we going to connect tonight, Detroit? Is it going to happen," he asks. "You've all got to participate. Anyway, you guys should know that here tonight is the best band we've had ever," he then admits, opening up his arms to showcase the foursome around him. But he is right as nobody does connect with the new songs. Indeed, there is absolutely no crowd moshing, no en masse arm waving, no out of tune chorus singing. Nothing. They are still. Silent. Quiet throughout each of the new tracks.
But all that changes when Astbury admits "If it wasn't for the MC5 and Iggy And The Stooges we wouldn't be here today" and The Cult then launch into their own 1987 classic hit 'Lil' Devil.' "Thank you," he says, come its end, before sidestepping into a stage-pacing conversation about his reducing man boobs, about good and bad luck, about life controlling our every moves and more. Then as he quietens the crowd down with his finger to his lips, next the band bring us 'Birds Of A Feather,' which again, being a new track, doesn't do much for the paying audience.
Raising his dark sunglasses for the first time away from his eyes and up, momentarily to his forehead, Astbury talks again about his desire to see all the cell phones put away, before a long instrumental lead in finally brings us yet another new cut, 'Deeply Ordered Chaos.' The crowd, as expected, remain unaffected.
After that, Astbury delivers a message to the younger members of the crowd. "Young bloods. The new generation. Don't believe what they are telling you," he instructs, before we get a rousing double act of both 'Sweet Soul Sister' (the third single taken from the brilliant album Sonic Temple) backed by the song of the night, 'Fire Woman.' And sure, Astvbury's vocals are torn a little by now, and he seems a little out of breath, but the power, the intensity of the tracks themselves bring the crowd to life - finally!
During 'The Phoenix' (a track from their underrated 1985 second album, Love) each band member gets a 30 second solo moment to showcase their talents, which also includes Astbury breaking yet another cheap-looking tambourine mid-song. "Thank you," he says, as the show nears its end. "You guys having a good time," he asks, before we get an underwhelming 'She Sells Sanctuary,' complete with a mid section break where Astbury mumbles the words, hopefully in tribute, I'm a Blackstar.
"Thank you, Detroit City," Astbury says, ending the set. "OK, you wanna hear some more music?" he then adds, before immediately leaving the stage! Less than two minutes later he is back, alone, and rambling into his mic like some off-track comedian at an empty club. Hitting hot topics of the day, he moves through each one like wildfire, never fixating long enough on one before he's into the next. He even mentions Justin Bieber's current tour, Purpose, and the fact he just split his own new pants on stage tonight! "Alright, please, can we connect tonight, Detroit," he asks them, once again. "Turn off your f**king phones. You're missing your lives. We love you and we just want you to be right here with us tonight. You're coming back, Detroit. You're not f**king dead. Come on now, Detroit," he fist pumps into the air before we get another new track, 'G.O.A.T.'
As that song ends, Astbury is once again at the mic, addressing the crowd. "Thank you kindly. That was fun. That wasn't written too long ago, but this next song should have you up and dancing. Detroit, are you ready to put your dance pants on? Ladies and Gentlemen. Boys and Girls. Are you ready to break out the killer jams, my Brothers and Sisters?", he pleads, as The Cult bring us the last song of the night, and one that has everybody up, singing, arms waving, 'Love Removal Machine'.
Come it's end, the crowd (finally) baying their love, appreciation for the band, Astbury destroys yet another tambourine, introduces the band one by one, thanks everyone for coming out (especially those from Windsor, Canada), and then the band are gone - for now.
Reviewed by: Russell A. Trunk
Terri Nunn & Berlin
(Freedom Hill Amphitheatre, Sterling Heights, MI - September 24th, 2015)
Berlin, tonight opening for once-mega 80's UK band Tears For Fears, have always been one of my favorites to listen to. Whether it be back in the day, or lead singer Terri Nunn's version of Berlin on "their" last album, Animal, the American new wave band - formed in Los Angeles in 1978 by original member John Crawford - have survived admirably in this swallow-them-whole business.
For those that recall their brand of music, they first gained mainstream-commercial success in the early 80's with singles such as 'The Metro', 'Sex (I'm A...)', 'No More Words' and then in the mid-80's with the uber chart-topping single 'Take My Breath Away' - from the 1986 film Top Gun.
After a short video montage of the band's greatest hits, Nunn and her trio of new-Berliners take the stage. Sadly, its obvious from the off that she is in pain though for she is wearing a big, clumsy brace on her right knee. Distracting mightily from her chosen combination of a flowing red evening wear dress topped with a crow's next collar wrap, it also restricts Nunn from anything more than the odd gentle stage stroll. With only a handle of people on the lawn of this expansive 7,500 outdoor venue, and just close to around 300 in the seats, it must have been ominous for Nunn to witness, but the trooper she is, she launches straight into 'Trash' and never looks back.
"How are you doing tonight, Sterling Heights?" she asks the now-growing crowd, before the opening song bleeds right into a brilliant 'No More Words.' With a slightly out of sync video playing behind them, the band nail the track, Nunn's vocals already proving that she still has what it takes to sing live in these latter years. "Can this side sing louder than them?" she says, pointing at the other side of the venue, before ensuring her whirling arms at least make up for the fact her legs cannot do anything close. "How are you, Sterling Heights?" she asks again, adding "This is the last concert of the summer season here, and so we are honored to be here tonight. Thank you all for coming out."
With that, the electronic air raid sirens are heard and we're into 'Metro,' and yet another massively spot on rendition of one of their classic songs is brought forth. Indeed, old songs or new, it has to be firmly stated here that Nunn's vocals are fantastic on every single song, never faltering, never failing her. She is, without a shadow of a doubt, one of the best-sounding 80's artists - male or female - that I have ever had the pleasure to witness live in this day and age.
Moving on and after a bow to the audience's applause, Nunn and company give us 'Masquerade.' "Detroit," Nunn speaks, now changing the local city's name to a more rounded, globally-known one, "this is a really special night for us as it is our drummer Chris' birthday today." As the applause rings out, she adds, "Thank you all, and on the count of three, will you wish Happy Birthday to Chris with me." Which, of course, they all chime in with. "Thank you. Thank you. This is our newest song and video, and it's called Animal," she introduces, and suddenly we are forgetting birthday cake and are instead knee deep in some "new" new wave/synthpop from their 2013 album.
"This is a song from my childhood," Nunn next reveals, "and is a woman I always wanted to be when I was a kid." Jefferson Airplane's infamous Grace Slick-sung 'Somebody to Love' is then brought forth, albeit with an 80's pop/synth twist, of course. "You probably have already figured this out, but I tore my ACL," she says, pointing at her knee, "and so I can't dance. But I can sing and so I will do my best for you," she adds, to a loud round of applause. "This is for all the die hard Berlin fans out there. It's called Pleasure Victim," and with that she not only sings her heart out, but halfway through, walks out into the aisles of the venue to "meet" her fans.
Now back on stage, she lets everyone know that the next song is a "brand new song, that's coming out next year." She adds that she wants to know what they think of it, and then we get to listen to what actually turns out to be a rather decent song, 'All For Love.' Sometimes new songs from old school 80's synth bands can be, well, cheesy and halfhearted, but not this one. The gentle sway of the song combined with the synth back beat actually made this a mighty favorite of mine tonight. "Are you ready to dance?", she asks, adding "I need you to dance for me tonight. This is a song about how I like to watch my man striptease, and it's called With The Lights On." But before she launches into the song, she brings up on stage around 30 early bird's from the front few rows to dance, in one long line behind her. Which they all do admirably, and as Nunn twists and turns among them, it's obvious that she is having as much fun tonight as they are.
As they are escorted off the stage at the songs end, the band bleed into another of their monster hits, 'Sex (I'm A ...),' a song sung now barefoot by the still-going-vocally-strong Nunn. However, it has to be said that the shared vocals with her male guitarist didn't sound good at all, as he just doesn't have the voice to accompany her, sadly. That aside, she bows, collects herself, and then we get, with no introduction needed, the smash hit ballad, 'You Take My Breath Away.' "We want to thank Tears For Fears for having us here tonight," she says, at the songs end, and now back on stage from yet another audience foray, "and for everyone here, including the hot lighting guy that I don't know the name of," she laughs. "Thank you all for coming out and bringing this alive tonight. We've got time for one more song so get up and dance," she requests, before the band give us yet another highlight of the night, 'Dancing In Berlin.' As the song ends, she solo bows, they then group bow and as she waves goodbye, she adds, "Thank you so much for having us," and then, for now, Terri Nunn and Berlin are gone.
Review by: Russell A. Trunk
Photos by: Chris Schwegler @ www.ChrisSchwegler.com
(The Fillmore, Detroit, MI - September 12th, 2015)
In Rock & Roll, you don't get to be a continual recording and touring success, nay behemoth, by sheer luck! So, having been an original recording artist for 40 years, one that spans a staggering five decades, the fact that Motörhead are still treading the boards, and in support of a brand new album, shouldn't shock anybody.
Motörhead, for those uninitiated, are an English rock band formed in 1975 by bassist, singer, and songwriter Ian Fraser Kilmister, professionally known by his stage name "Lemmy." Indeed, it is Lemmy who has remained the sole constant member of the band, which is something I myself didn't even know before writing this review; even though both Phil "Wizzö" Campbell (guitars) and Mikkey Dee (drums) have collectively been in the band now for 54 years!
Moving on, and the band are often considered a precursor to, or one of the earliest members of, the New Wave of British Heavy Metal, which re-energized heavy metal in the late 1970s and early 1980s. Despite this, or maybe simply because of this, Lemmy has hence forth always dubbed their music as simply "Rock 'N' Roll".
And so here tonight in Detroit, in support of their brand new 22nd studio album, Bad Magic, Motörhead entered into the final few shows on their tour of North America. Having been opened by both Crobot and Anthrax, come the witching hour, the lights go off, the yells (along with clenched fists) go up, and Motörhead take to the stage. With their slogan being 'Everything Louder Than Everything Else', you already know what kind of a night you are in for. But to experience it live, standing by the stage taking photographs, by all those speakers, well, WOW ... it was unbelievably, nay, terrifyingly loud tonight!
Anyway, with the three guys now in place, Lemmy announces the band: "We are Motörhead. We play rock 'n' roll," and with that, the opening chords of 'Damage Case' are struck up and the night has begun. Next comes 'Stay Clean' and before 'Metropolis', Lenny speaks to the crowd again: "It's great to be back in Detroit." Then peering into the crowd he adds, "A Full house, I see." Then guitarist Campbell asks for the house lights to be turned on before both he and Lemmy ask the crowd to scream as loud as they can. Which they do, but it's not loud enough for Motorhead! "That's not fuckin' good enough," Lemmy warns them. So they try again, and then once more, the last one seemingly just what the band wanted to hear. "Much better. Now you sound like you're from Detroit," Lemmy praises.
After 'Over The Top' we get a rather tuneful guitar solo from Campbell, before 'The Chase Is Better Than the Catch' and 'Rock It' are unleashed. "Has anyone bought our new album, Bad Magic?" Lemmy inquires. "It's the last album we'll make for a long, long time, but if you don't like it, you don't like it," he admits, shrugging his shoulders. "This is a song about some Lost Woman Blues," he adds, as the band set off into that very same-named track.
"Thank you very much," Lemmy acknowledges the baying crowd afterwards. "Do you remember when we used to play at Harpos," he further asks them. "Our feet used to stick to the carpet," he gently smiles, before setting the rabid fans up for a rousing, highly-extended version of 'Doctor Rock.' Complete with a massive drum solo, that itself featured eerie yellow lights beaming down upon a drum set that seemed to be smoking, it was easily one of the stand out highlights of the night.
"On the drums, Mickky Dee," Campbell announces, before Lemmy takes over, informing everyone about the true meaning to the next song: "This song is about businessmen and politicians and all those cunts. It's called 'Just 'Cos You Got the Power' that don't mean you got the right to use it." As the song ends, and with Lemmy always watchful of Campbell's guitar bringing a song to a close, he then verbally stumbles slightly. "Thanks. This is gonna be our last song tonight ...", but Campbell quickly intercedes: "No, it's not!" "Oh, that's right," Lemmy corrects himself, "It's not!" We've put in another golden oldie for you!" And with that, Motörhead launch into a cut from their Ace Of Spades album (from 1980!), the western-themed 'Shoot You in the Back.'
"Okay, THIS is really the last song," Lemmy gently smiles, "unless you clap loud enough afterwards and we might come back," he slyly adds. "It's the one song of ours that everyone knows. You can all sing along, but I won't be able to hear you," he personally admits, and with that they bring forth the monster that everyone has indeed been awaiting, 'Ace Of Spades.' The song ("...that's the way I like it baby, I don't wanna live forever") might not have the same depth, the same brutal smash-your-face-in vocal power that it once did, but with Lemmy's distinctive deep growl driving it home, it still resonates a huge sonic memory punch, that's for sure.
Leaving the stage, the crowd baying as hard as they can for the return of the magnificent three, Motörhead stroll back out; as promised. "I can't hear you. I'm deaf!" Lemmy truthfully informs them, as the crowd then turn their vocal love up a notch. "This will be the last song tonight, but before it I'm gonna introduce the band for the first time tonight." After he has put both Campbell and Dee under the spotlight, the former then "introduces" us to Mr. Lemmy Kilmister. "So, even though Detroit's in a state of redecoration," Lemmy continues, "I still love the old Detroit. You are still very good to us," he beams. "Thank you very much for all your support over the years. Don't forget us. We love you. We are Motörhead and we play rock 'n' fuckin' roll," he adds, as the band then bring forth the beloved 'Overkill.'
Complete with flashing lights, both on Campbell's guitar and from revolving spots encompassing the stage, Lemmy aims his guitar at the crowd like a long-necked machine gun. Once finished, the band come stage front to collectively bow, wave, and throw guitar pics and drum sticks into the front few rows. Lemmy leaves his bass propped up against the still-live speaker, the gentle feedback hum the last sounds that the band will make tonight.
Reviewed by: Russell A. Trunk
(Royal Oak Music Theatre, Royal Oak, MI – August 2nd, 2015)
The Church is an Australian psychedelic rock band formed in Sydney in 1980. Initially, they were associated with the new wave / neo-psychedelic movements, but later, the band's music occasionally became more reminiscent of progressive or jam rock; featuring long improvisations and complex guitar interplay.
The Church - Steve Kilbey (lead vocals, bass guitar, keyboards, guitar), Peter Koppes (guitars, keyboards, vocals), Tim Powles (drums, percussion, vocals, guitar), Ian Haug (guitars, vocals) - are now here in North America for a 27-date tour, one that began on August 7th in Toronto, ON and will wrap in Los Angeles, CA at The Roxy on September 10th. The band, who no longer employ the guitar, vocals, and bass guitar work of Marty Willson-Piper, are co-headlining with The Psychedelic Furs for 20 dates, along with seven headline shows on their own.
Touring in support of their 25th studio album, Further/Deeper, perhaps this brand new tour was always fated to happen. You see, an aborted 1988 U.S. tour plan that would have put post-punk stalwarts The Church and The Psychedelic Furs on the same bill back in the day is now finally gracing North American stages this summer.
As the lights go down, the packed house turn their collective heads to the stage, the five members of The Church quietly take their respective positions, and without further ado, the band launch into their opening song, 'Is This Where You Live.' Their unique brand of music turns the low brow storytelling up a notch with new track 'Delirious,' and after lead vocalist and bass guitarist Kilbey thanks the crowd, once the opening chords of 'Laurel Canyon' begin, the crowd applauds en mass. 'You Took,' 'Operetta,' and 'Myrrhis' are next, and with every song bleeding into the next seamlessly, it does make for an evening of one-long-song at times, so to speak.
Kilbey, a distinguished gentleman, always taking the audience by the hand, combining a balance of debonair and ham in equal measures, doesn't stray much from his mic stand center stage, nor does he interact with the crowd much between songs early on. But when he finally does, his self-depreciation is heartfelt. "I feel like I'm in a rock band tonight," he gently smirks, as the band then bring us an excellent 'Toy Head.' "25 years ago," the now chatty Kilbey informs us, "we had a song in the charts for whatever f**king good that did us," he adds, with a low laugh. "We're gonna do it right now for your listening pleasure," he reveals, as the band next play 'Metropolis.'
"Roll up. Roll up, for The Disillusionist. Roll up. Roll up, for The Disillusionist," Kilbey announces into his hands, clasped around the mic head. The Church then allow us to enter their theatrical, subculture world of Halloween Goth with 'The Disillusionist,' a song that runs for nearly ten full minutes and showcases Kilbey's ability to be a Ringmaster supreme. After thanking the crowd for their hearty applause, Kilbey then leads the band into a poppier, mid-tempo song 'Old Flame,' which is backed by the lighter guitar-led 'Lightning White', before the rockier, 'You Took.'
The quite brilliant 'Block' is next, complete with a wicked screechy guitar central break, it is easily (for me, at least) one of the true highlights of the night. "Now we're going from the sublime to the ridiculous. It's a song that doesn't need any introduction, nor never will do," Kilbey admits, before their monster hit 'Under the Milky Way' comes forth. "Ladies and Gentleman, we only have time for one more song tonight. It's from our new album, and it's called 'Miami'."
The new track is a good one, contains all the musical elements that The Church are renowned for, but before the song has even ended, I kid you not, as Kilbey stands his guitar upright, slowly spinning his way around it center stage, before cradling it up the side of his torso in military fashion (complete with actual marching maneuvers), two roadies come on and start dismantling the bands' equipment!
Perhaps it's common practice for The Church, who are celebrating their 35th year of making music, to have their set broken down whilst still performing. Maybe not. But it was something that I had never, ever seen before and is definitely imagery that will stay with me, as will this concert, for a long, long time to come.
Review by: Russell A. Trunk
The highly-impressive Royal Oak Music Theatre is located at 318 W. Fourth Street, Royal Oak, Michigan. It was built as a vaudeville theatre and opened in 1928.
Get Royal Oak Music Theatre tickets at AXS.com
Huey Lewis And The News
(Freedom Hill Amphitheatre, Sterling Heights, MI - August 21st, 2015)
You may not know this (I certainly didn't, once upon a time), but back in 1972, singer and harmonica player Huey Lewis and keyboardist Sean Hopper joined the Bay Area jazz-funk band Clover, who would eventually become the original backing band for Elvis Costello's first album My Aim Is True - before he attracted The Attractions!
After getting a singles contract from Phonogram Records in 1979, Huey Lewis united his former band mate and three of his former rivals to form Huey Lewis & the American Express. The group would release a single "Exo-Disco" (a disco version of the theme from the film Exodus) that was largely ignored. But in 1980, the band would woo guitarist Chris Hayes and move to Chrysalis Records, changing their name to Huey Lewis and the News.
And so it is that phenomenal musical legend that came to town yet again and wowed the packed house here in Sterling Heights, MI. Playing a venue that stands loud and proud in suburban Michigan, it truly is a beautiful outdoor arena to see concerts at, no doubt. But it does get a bit chilly when the sun goes down!
Anyway, to the "heartbeat" sounds of 'The Heart of Rock & Roll,' the show kicked off in fine, free flowing style. They then backed that up with the mid-tempo pop rock hit 'If This Is It,' before heading swiftly into 'I Want A New Drug.' Huey then begins his first of many chats with the audience, by telling them he had very fond memories of playing Michigan. He then adds, "A lot of people don't want to hear the old songs anymore. So, OK, we'll play the old ones later, but here's a new one," and with that we're into a track from the upcoming new album, 'Her Love Is Killing Me.'
"I always love to go back to a little place we call The Rhythm Ranch," Huey says, as they launch into that particular song, but it's the next song, 'Jacob's Ladder' that, for my money, truly steals the entire show tonight. What with Huey's deep, gnarly harmonica playing, Stef Burns' incredible, invigorated lead guitar playing, and Johnny Colla's stunning rhythm guitar and sax work combined, the extended version is a powerhaus to behold. "OK, screams Huey, let's get the party started and let's go Back In Time." And with that, their infamous soundtrack song is brought forth and delights the crowd.
"Are you with me so far?", Huey inquires. "Very good. That was the right answer," he responds back to the affirmatively baying audience. "How many of you have seen us perform before this evening?", he asks, and when confronted with en mass of positive response of hands held high, responds with "Excellent. So, how many of you saw us at Harpo's back in the day?" Again, a massive, positive response is noted, to which he replies, dead pan, "You are all lying ... because Harpo's only held up to 300!" He continues this talk fest by further asking them, "How many of you are seeing us perform for the very first time", to which yet another massive amount of hands pop up! "Impossible," Huey jokes back. "You must still be lying to me, because we've been around for 37 years" he laughs. Then, before a couple of acapella songs, he introduces the band. 'Um, Um, Um, Um, Um, Um, Um' and 'Little Bitty Pretty One' follow, with all the guys lined up front of stage, an old fashioned mic with stand positioned in front of them all.
"Before we get back to all the hits, we're gonna make a mistake," he jokes. "We're gonna play another new song. It's not me, I don't want to, but the band wants to play it for you. This one is for those of us who are a little bit older, but we're not done yet," he winks, before the band bring us a quite delightful, 'While We're Young.' During the song, not only does Huey veritably skip around the stage, but he also twirls some circles, and makes contact with a young girl in the front row. It was a very sweet moment and showed Huey still has the soul of a kid, when required, on stage. "Alright, let's dance", he next screams, before the guys bring forth a very powerful 'Heart and Soul,' backing it seamlessly with 'It's Alright.' That, in turn, bleeds perfectly into 'We're Not Here For A Long Time (We're Here For A Good Time).'
With that having been, rather unexpectedly, the end-of-set song, the band wave goodbye, Huey leaving first, but not for long as back they all soon come. "Thank you very much," Huey acknowledges the emphatic baying and clapping crowd. He then introduces the trio of guys that make up the Sports Section Horns, before launching into a stunning 'Power of Love.' That's backed by a mid-tempo version of 'Do You Believe In Love,' which in turn has Huey looking at the watch of a front rower for the time. "Wow, where has the time gone?" he mocks the crowd. "You have been a great audience, but it's 10:40pm and you know what that means to a guy like me," he jokingly retorts.
"OK, so what do you guys want to hear next?" Given that 20,000 fans bay their individual choices all at the same time, Huey then raises his hand. "You are going to have to speak one at a time, sorry!" When that doesn't work, obviously, he adds, "OK, let's just jam a little bit. Cool is the rule, but sometimes Bad Is Bad," he adds, as the guys launch into that very same song, before bringing the entire two hour show to a close with 'Working For A Living.' "Thank you," Huey acknowledges the crowd, and as they all come stage front for their traditional elbow-bent, fist-pumpin' trademark of a group bow, they are just as quickly then finally gone. Bill throwing his drum sticks to the little girl front row that Huey had sung to earlier on, the final act of the night.
Review & Photos by: Russell A. Trunk
Def Leppard wsg/ Styx
(DTE Energy Music Theatre, Clarkston, MI - July 17th, 2015)
As if the month of July isn't hot enough, we have just begun a long weekend of 90 degree + weather ... and to kick that off, into town come both 70's/80's rock giants, Styx and Def Leppard!
The time is 8:00pm, the weather is a balmy 92 degrees, and Styx collectively saunter out onto stage. Realizing however hot it felt to us, it must feel like a furnace to those guys on stage, a couple still with their jackets on, right out of the box keyboardist Lawrence Gowan asks if Detroit is ready for the 'Grand Illusion,' before hitting us with its intro. As it turns out, Gowan is Styx's ringmaster supreme, as he not only takes the entire show by the scruff of the theatrical neck, but he can play his keyboards facing away from them, and with his hands behind his back!
Tommy Shaw asks the crowd to "put your hands in the air," and then the guys launch into 'Too Much Time On My Hands.' "We're having ourselves a rock show in this house tonight," Shaw continues, as he then introduces to the stage original bass player Chuck Panozzo. A longtime member of Styx, he founded the group with his fraternal twin brother, drummer John Panozzo,and after three decades as a Styx mainstay, finally left the band shortly thereafter. These days he has since rejoined the band part-time and tours with Styx on a semi-regular basis. Tonight, with just his name being mentioned, the Styx gathering graciously welcomes their beloved son.
'Fooling Yourself' is next, and whilst Gowan once again plays his keyboard backwards, even managing to keep it spinning around with a flick of his back foot, for the next track, 'Miss America,' well, things just got even more incredible! Firstly, and as guitarist James "JY" Young is vocally taking the song for a ride, bassist Ricky Phillips flips a guitar pic into the air, then purposefully smacks it into the outstretched hand of Gowan with the backside of his bass guitar! Secondly, after successfully grabbing it mid air, Gowan goes and sits down at the base of his keyboard circular turntable, Shaw sits down alongside him, and Gowan proceeds to play a few chords on Shaw's guitar! Lastly, he then flips the said same pic into the outstretched hand of a front row audience member, smiles, bows, and goes back to the keys! Remarkable!!
Gowan then takes to the keys, once again, given that for most of this short set he is found to be bouncing, prancing around it like some uncaged tiger, talks about their recent trip to NASA (Styx has had their name used as a small natural satellite of Pluto whose discovery was announced on 11 July 2012), and his distinctive vocals open up one of the true highlights of the night, 'Lady.' Shaw then tells the Michigan audience that "the next song is very dear to me," that he wrote it when he was living here, and asks if the packed house can help him out. A full on, balls to the wall rendition of 'Blue Collar Man (Long Nights)' is that song and thereafter, they all leave the stage, save for Gowan on his keys. For the next few minutes it's as if he is filling in time as a piano bar player, because he simply performs songs such as 'Rocket Man (I Think It's Going to Be a Long, Long Time),' 'Bohemian Rhapsody,' and '(Sittin' On) The Dock of the Bay'! "OK," he finally says, "I feel as if we're all ready now," and with that the band is back on and ploughing through 'Come Sail Away.'
Having all left the stage, they quickly come back for their two song encore, Chuck Panozzo on deck again, and first Gowan - complete with ringmaster top hat emblazoned - brings us the most theatrical stage version of 'Rockin' the Paradise' I think I have ever seen them perform! Closing out the show with a brilliant 'Renegade,' Styx may well have been opening for Def Leppard tonight, but they all but showed they still have enough fuel left in their tanks to headline their own shows too.
Def Leppard, in many ways, was the 'definitive' hard rock band of the '80s. There were many bands that rocked harder, and were more dangerous, than the Sheffield (UK) quintet, but few others captured the spirit of the times quite as well.
Taking to the stage one at a time, Rick Allen sneaking up behind his drum set virtually noticeably, it's quickly evident that guitarist Phil Collen has forgotten to pack a shirt for the tour - and, at the same time, has lost a fight with a bottle of cooking oil! And with both Vivian Campbell and Joe Elliott cloaked in black jackets, Rick Savage kitted out in nothing but a black leather vest, they barely have time to acknowledge the baying, sold out crowd before they launch into a blistering 'Rock! Rock! (Till You Drop)'. Following that up with an even hotter 'Animal,' the band are on fire, which given the uber humid conditions here at this outdoor venue, was always to be expected!
"Good evening," says Elliott, "It looks like it's a hot one out there. It's good to be here tonight. Can you please now make some more noise for my friend, the man who puts the fast in Belfast, the happy and healthy, Vivian Campbell." With that, the aforementioned Campbell takes center stage to unleash the opening chords to 'Let It Go.'
"Oh yeah, it's definitely gonna be a hot one here tonight," Elliott repeats, as the band then bring forth a stunning 'Foolin'. These old school Leppard tracks sound so incredibly fresh, so powerful here tonight, and seem to blow the newer ones away, each and every time. With Allen wearing his distinctive British headphones, he leads the charge into the mid-tempo, and basically lackluster track, 'Paper Sun' from their 9th album Euphoria. Then, lit under a beautiful blue blanket, the stage is transformed perfectly, new backdrop videos included, for a quite stunning 'Love Bites.' "Thank you, thank you," Elliott praises the crowd, "Hey, looks who's here," he adds, pointing to an advancing Campbell, guitar slung, ready for action. And action is what it gets, as he introduces a pounding 'Armageddon It.'
Savage now stands alone on stage, save for Allen back there on drums, and coming slowly to center stage, the stage lights dim down to a bare minimum, he and his bass guitar then get lit by a single white beam from above. Then, and quite unexpectedly, he starts the intro to David Essex's massive hit UK single, 'Rock On.' Recorded by Leppard back on their 2006 album, Yeah!, it was, for me at least, one of the true stand out highlights of this entire show tonight. Elliott's voice may well still have most everything that it did back 30 years ago, but when the band come together for this track, well, it just couldn't have sounded any better. Studio or no studio.
"It's hot and sticky," Elliott comments, as he comes to the front of the stage, alone and with an acoustic guitar. "Just the way I like it," he adds, "so thank you all for being here with us tonight. It's now the part of the night where you all get to be in Def Leppard. So, if you know this one, sing-along with me," and with that he gently strums his way through the ballad, 'Two Steps Behind.' A blistering 'Rocket' is backed by a fiery 'Bringin' on the Heartbreak,' which then allows the guitarists to have their solo moments, before Allen gets his moment to shine on the drums also.
'Switch 625' allows the band to showcase a video montage of their late guitarist, Steve Clark, before a quite brilliant 'Hysteria' is brought to the fore. Saving two of their most powerful singles until last, Elliott says one final hello to the "Detroit" crowd, before asking if they "wanna get rocked?", which they obviously all wish to! After 'Let's Get Rocked' sounds out, they then launch straight into the final song of the set, 'Pour Some Sugar on Me' and ride that home to an electric audience wave of vocal participation. Coming back out a couple of minutes later, Elliott informs the audience that the first time they ever played Michigan they opened for Ozzy Osbourne. After a couple of band member intro's, but weirdly not all, a dynamite 'Rock of Ages' is then backed by the true final song of the night, 'Photograph' - complete with en mass of black and white photos from their heyday amassed as a fantastic, artistic back drop.
Review: Russell A. Trunk
The Rolling Stones
(Ralph Wilson Stadium, Buffalo, NY - July 11th, 2015)
Initially muddled into the vanguard of the British Invasion of bands that became popular in the US in 1964–65, English rock band The Rolling Stones formed in London in 1962. The first settled line-up consisted of Brian Jones (guitar, harmonica), Ian Stewart (piano), Mick Jagger (lead vocals, harmonica), Keith Richards (guitar), Bill Wyman (bass) and Charlie Watts (drums).
Stewart left the line-up in 1963, Jones departed the band less than a month prior to his death in 1969 and after having already been replaced by Mick Taylor, and so Ronnie Wood has now been on guitar in tandem with Richards thereafter. Indeed, to wrap this up completely, following Wyman's departure in 1993, Darryl Jones has been the regular main bassist to stage left. Funnily enough, the band was first led by Jones, but after teaming as the band's songwriters, Jagger and Richards assumed de facto leadership.
And what a smart move that turned out to be, because as we all know this writing partnership has gone on to rival that of Lennon & McCartney, Strummer & Jones, Tyler & Perry, Marr & Morrissey, Page & Plant, John & Taupin, etc. And the reason that quick Stones history lesson was laid out for you before the actual concert review is simple. It's to understand just what an INCREDIBLE show this truly was! To really get to grips with what a spectacular event was about to unfold. Indeed, you have to honestly understand that this is the bands 50th anniversary of their hit single '(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction' and yet they show no signs, not one, of slowing down or being ring rusty.
The last time the Rolling Stones played in western New York was 1997 and so as the clock strikes 9.20pm, the huge outdoor spotlights inside the massive, and sold out Ralph Wilson Stadium (home to the Buffalo Bills) click off, the stage lights up, and suddenly the crowd find their collective roar of anticipation for the last US tour date on this Zip Code Tour 2015.
Kicking-off the two and a half hour show to the massive booming guitar chords of 'Jumpin' Jack Flash,' the first fireworks of the night are let off and quickly the whole atmosphere of the massive live show is shrouded in smoke. "How are you?", Jagger asks the massive, cheering crowd. "You all okay?", he adds, before the band launch into the blistering 'It's Only Rock and Roll (But I Like It).' Having removed his bright red jacket, a lighter red shirt billowing underneath from the draft of the stage fans, and with a stellar supporting cast behind him, a hyperactive 'You Got Me Rocking' allows Jagger to begin his first real saunter down the elongated catwalk laid out before him. Stretching deep into the floor crowd, it enabled all those halfway down on the sides of the stadium - such as myself and the lovely Marianne Widmalm - to actually nearly see the sweat on his animated face.
Now the red shirt is off and he shows an incredibly taut, well preserved body under a very tight, hugging black tshirt. "Good evening, Buffalo, New York," Jagger announces. "Anybody here from New York? Anybody here from Ontario? Anybody here from Tikiwonda? Or TokiTiki?" And with that verbal nonsense now out of his system, they launch into 'Tumbling Dice,' which allows a serious amount of "Jagger moves" to come out for those at the end of the catwalk. "How are you all today, Buffalo?" Jagger asks the crowd again. "It's great to be back in the Ralph. Everything looks the same, except that they've added gold taps to the sink in my bathroom, which is nice," he jokes, as they then bring us a quite brilliant 'Out of Control.' The harmonica-driven blues rock track, third single from the album Bridges To Babylon in 1998, for me, it was one of the highlights of this tight show. A soulful, gospel chorus complete with Jagger's harmonica, meant that it melted 50,000 hearts instantly.
"We're gonna now do a couple of songs from the Sticky Fingers album," Jagger announces, complete with a new, different colored shirt, as the band then bring forth both 'Wild Horses' and 'Can't You Hear Me Knocking.' Complete with a massive saxophone solo and some fun guitar work from Wood, this is yet another stand out highlight of the night. Right about now, Jagger reveals - quite literally, as it comes up on the big screen behind them - that the next song was voted online by the Buffalo fans as the song to play at this very moment of the show - and it turns out to be a bouncy 'Let's Spend the Night Together.'
"How you feeling tonight Buffalo?", Jagger asks yet again. "You feeling good?," he then adds, as Richards lights up his guitar for 'Honky Tonk Women.' Bathed under a delicious yellow blanket of light, and complete with Jagger's rubber bendy body moves at the end of the catwalk, it's a remarkable live moment to both hear and see. "I'm in a great hotel," Jagger reveals, "and I'm actually staying in the Tom Brady Suite!" The crowd boo, ever so gently, ever so politely, but they needn't have worried. "It's great, except the pillows are a bit deflated!" he adds, to finish off his "Bradygate" joke. He then performs a round robin of band introductions, before getting to Ronnie "Wings" Wood, "Charlieeee" Watts, and "Keef" Richards.
It's the latter that then comes front of stage, as Jagger walks off, and introduces himself to the crowd. "Good evening, motherf**kers," he quips, smiling broadly. "It’s good to see you guys,” he continues, "actually, it's good to see anybody," he adds, with a chuckle. "Anyway, before they make me run from here, here's a song for you," and it's then that Richards gets to sing both a hearty version of 'Before They Make Me Run' and a distinctly fun 'Happy.' With Wood now on a lap steel guitar, akin to something Jeff Healey always played, the song is actually a delight to hear; given the fact Richards couldn't carry a tune in a rusty ol' bucket, of course!
Still only just two thirds of the way through, Richards waves to the fans as Jagger comes back on stage. "Thank you, and God Bless all of America," he says, still waving, stage bowing, rightfully so milking his private solo moment in the spotlight. Next up is an extended, drawn out to the max blues romp through 'Midnight Rambler,' where Jagger stutter-stepped up and down the catwalk, even boxing with an invisible opponent as he masterfully slid, nay thrust his way along in front of the baying front row fans. With 15 shows in 15 North American stadiums (well, save for the last festival show this week in Quebec!), coinciding with the recent reissue of the aforementioned 1971 album Sticky Fingers, the band still managed to cull from other historic albums. 'Miss You,' from 1978's Some Girls was next, and with Jagger on guitar, and its throbbing bass line, it brought another great funk moment out of the now-sweating guys.
Watching Jagger seemingly hover above the heated air emanating from the stage, you get the feeling that he’s like the coolest cat that ever lived! His confidence is never waning, his physical demeanor is second to none (for a man his age), and his vocals are as impressively robust throughout the show as they were back fifty years ago. With the audience singing along to the chorus, as instructed to by Jagger, come the end the entire stadium is clapping to the grateful lead singer. "Thank you so much. You sounded fantastic." Jagger then swigs from a bottle of water on stage, drop kicks it into the audience, before announcing to the crowd that the Stones have been coming to Buffalo since 1966. He thanks them for still coming out to see them and for allowing them to keep coming back to play for them.
That launches the band straight into a fantastic, heartfelt 'Gimme Shelter,' which in turn allows back-up singer Lisa Fischer’s solo vocals to crush everything in their path! What a vocal star this lady is and well done to those that were putting the tour together and thought of using her. She was something else up there at the end of the catwalk, alongside Jagger, both doing their thang.
As Richards strummed his guitar into life, Wood, a lit cigarette dangling from his lips, suddenly we were into one of my all-time favorite Stones songs (from the modern era), 'Start Me Up.' Sadly, it was around now that Jagger's voice was obviously starting to feel the pressure of the long sets on this 14th of 15 in a row shows. But all that was forgiven when next up, and as the three giant video screens came alive with fire, we were treated to a very theatrical 'Sympathy for the Devil.' Jagger, now complete with flowing red cloak, spellbound the audience, that moment captured as if he were performing Hamlet or Macbeth. Complete with audience participation when it came to the "woo woo's," the song went down a storm, and was then backed by a rousing end of set barnstormer in the form of 'Brown Sugar.' "Thank you, Buffalo," waved Jagger to the en mass gathered here tonight, "Goodnight."
But, as we all know from these types of stadium concerts, that's never the real end to a show, and sure enough, some two minutes later, out they come once more. Joining the local Calvary Episcopal Church Choir on stage, already having delivered the opening bars of the ethereal 'You Can't Always Get What You Want,' the song was definitely another highlight of the set. "You sounded f**king great on that," Jagger compliments the crowd, before he and the guys launch into the final song of the two and a half hour set, the 50th anniversary birthday boy itself, '(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction.' Complete with so many fireworks, the planes flying above us must have had a wonderful show all of their own, after some stage bows, some more waves, and Jagger's "Thank you, Buffalo. Goodnight," once the Stones had left the stage this time there was no more thereafter - sadly.
Being that these 2015 shows are the first time the Stones have played North American stadiums since A Bigger Bang, the phenomenal energy behind Jagger's constant stage dancing, hip moves, and overall entertainment showcases just what this sold out audience means to them. For, without them, packing stadiums around the world to come see them, the Stones might possibly not be as big as they still are today. Jagger appreciates that though his energy, his dancing, his love for each and every person out there that paid to see them on this Zip Code tour. Of that, have no doubt, which most likely points to the Stones (arguably) being the greatest band in rock ‘n’ roll history!
Review & Photos by: Russell A. Trunk