Bass guitarist extraordinaire Peter Hook a/k/a “Hooky” to his fans, treated the packed house to over two hours consisting of two full albums, in this case, the “Substance” compilations by both Joy Division and New Order. As a founding member of these groundbreaking post-punk/new wave bands, Hook had the crowd fired up from the get-go.
Though these albums were originally released over 30 years ago, you didn’t need to be over 40 to thoroughly appreciate both sets. This was evidenced by the substantial number of younger fans who were definitely not even alive during the 1980’s to experience both bands’ relatable lyrics and bouncy energy firsthand.
After a touching nod to late bandmate Ian Curtis, the night culminated with the iconic “Love Will Tear Us Apart” with Hook channeling Curtis’ raw vocal performance. The Substance Tour continues up the East Coast and into Canada, followed by a pass through the midwest with many shows already sold out.
Walking into The Anthem you are greeted by a large, well-organized security team who come across more friendly and informative than most I have encountered over the years. Before opening doors, there is a helpful explanation of where artist merchandise would be located, as well as which lines to be in to get in fastest if you did not carry a large bag with you.
The venue’s size is comparable to a football stadium. It is beautiful and huge, with three levels all equipped with multiple areas for food, drink and other amenities on both sides of the club.
A little after 6:30 p.m. the doors open for this sold-out show, and music fans begin to file into the venue.
Around 8 p.m. New Zealand electro-pop singerKimbraset the mood for the night with a rich display of color and powerful stage presence. Having received two Grammy awards already for her work on the Gotye’s “Somebody That I Used to Know” in 2012, Kimbrareleased her third studio album,Primal Heart withWarner Bros, RecordsApril 20, 2018.
The venue lights dim and the crowd erupts as the dark moody rhythms of Kimbra’s “Hi Def Distance Romance” radiate through The Anthem. The music lovers around me sway and gyrate as the “Kiwi” singer/songwriter begins to sing, “here goes another late night call …”
Blue and red stage lighting shine through transparent fabric backdrops accenting Kimbra as she navigates the stage and instrument drum machines in the center. The crafted lighting casts shadows on the band which highlights the moodiness of the music and the venue and gives the show a theatrical vibe.
Kimbra showcases her strong and soulful vocal range by introducing the heavily R&B feeling song, “The Good War”. The keyboards and guitar compliment Kimbra as she sings her powerful chorus, “I’m runnin’ on a heartbeat, I can feel it in my blood flow…” She has a voice that embeds the sound in your mind to where you find yourself humming the tunes later.
While controlling drum modules from a modest stage workstation, more colored lights wash over Kimbra, who is accompanied her bassist Spencer Zahn, and Timon Martin on guitar and vocals, as the crowd soaks in past tracks such as “Settle Down” from her 2011 debut albumVows(Warner Bros. Records).
Guitar melodies cut through the bumping chorus of her song “Like They Do on TV”, as her voice expresses intense emotion-filled lyrical talent. Next, during the song “Everybody Knows”, Kimbra walks and dances across the stage from left to right before returning so her drum machine instruments that are set up center stage.
“This is such a beautiful venue”, the artist stated; “I love coming to D.C.”, Kimbra said as she interacts with the crowd who is grateful for the local shout out.
Unlike her more upbeat 2014 release “The Golden Echo”, Kimbra continues the night’s dark mood with the tribal backing vocals and deep percussion-filled “Top of the World” from her recentPrimal Heartrelease.
Kimbra’s dedicated display of talent and artistic control shows a well-rounded mixture of range and musical growth that only true artists can convey.
Set List: “Hi Def Distance Romance” “The Good War” “Human” “Settle Down” “Like They Do on the TV” “Everybody Knows” “Lightyears” “Top of the World”
Beck, is an American singer, songwriter, rapper, record producer, and multi-instrumentalist from Los Angeles, California. He has released nine studio albums: Mellow Gold (1994), Odelay (1996), Mutations (1998), Midnite Vultures (1999), Sea Change (2002), Guero (2005), The Information (2006), Modern Guilt (2008) and Morning Phase (2014).
After a brief intermission, The Anthem’s house music and lights drop and the crowd erupts as Beck walks on the stage.
The venue is engulfed in a vibrant wash of red lights, inlaid with smaller synchronized pulsing white lights resembling the “Close Encounters of the 3rd Kind” movie spaceships. Beck and his accompanying band enters the room and opens with the 1996 mega-hit “Devil’s Haircut” (Geffen Records).
With tambourine slapping, guitar strumming, keyboard and drum smashing intensity, the entire stage is alive with movement. From the animated illustrated backdrops to the two-tier band member setup that the keyboardist, backing vocals and drummer are standing on.
Beck, with his black and white guitar, black fedora and paisley shirt, looked confidently out to the crowd as he sings the popular opener. The crowd sings along, “got a devils haircut in my mind!” as they all move closer to the stage in the sold-out venue.
The opening song is over and Beck asks the crowd, “how you doing tonight?” and everyone starts cheering. The full stage digital video backdrop changes to black and white illustrations of an outdoor mountain landscape. Beck 1996’s award-winning song, Loser” begins.
When the first chorus comes, I hear the ecstatic crowd voices over the volume of the band. “soy un perdedor….I’m a loser baby so why don’t you kill me?”, they sing.
The song ends. “It’s been a little while since we’ve been here”, Beck says, “it’s been a little too long; we’ve got some catching up to do.” And the band starts into “The New Pollution” from hisOdelayalbum
Sharp silhouette’s of the keyboardist and backing vocalists named “The B53’s”, gyrate in front of turquoise and white geometric shapes now being projected on the digital background.
After each song, the crowd erupts in cheer. Beck gazes out over the crowd and says to the stage staff, “I’ve never played here before, can I get some lights back there so I can take a look at everyone?” He looks around the giant venue and states, “should have brought my camera, this is pretty cool.”
The song, “Wow”, from his recent album,Colours, begins. While I listened to the catchy lyrics, “wow! It’s like, right now It’s like, wow!”, animated drawings of stars, horses and blinking eyes scroll on the background screen.
With backing maracas and tambourine players, Beck, now with a shiny metallic green guitar, begins strumming the extremely bubbly song, “Mixed Business”, from his “Midnite Vultures“album. This super funky, dance-inducing tune keeps the already energetic crowd bouncing at this sold-out event.
“I don’t know what’s happening right now, but things are getting just little bit weird”, Beck said. “Feels like anything could happen right now”. The crowd screams.
Next was “Go It Alone”, which was co-written withJack White(The White Stripes) and Dust Brothers. Throughout the song, green bars of color appear and disappear vertically on the background screen.
Mid-set, the first track on Beck’s 2017 album,Coloursstarts and a mix of vibrant colors wash over the backdrop with large black shapes cutting through the images. I can see pockets of people throughout the crowd beginning to dance around during the very energetic song. Washes of white light beam around the room, emulating the sun as the keyboard sounds make you uncontrollably bop your head.
The lights become very dim and Beck dawns his acoustic guitar. “I was thinking about something for the lovers”, he said. He strums his guitar and then stops, then starts singing the lyrics for “Debra” from Odelay, and the crowd reacts with joy! With only acoustic guitar playing, the crowd begins to sing and clap along to the rhythm of the bluesy hit.
This slow and soulful song faded into a unique cover of the iconic song, “Raspberry Beret” byPrinceand continues through a repeat of the first chorus at which the crowd leads via acapella.
The night is coming to a close and Beck, now in a white blazer and grey fedora, starts to play “I’m So Free” from his new album. Black, white, grey and green hexagons bounce around the backdrop screen as the song progresses.
The venue goes black, the keyboards begin to play random notes. Beck says to the crowd, “walking a long long road to Washington D.C, when my eyes came upon the lights of the capital city, I gazed up…” The beginning of the 1996 hit “Where It’s At” begins to play. The crowd is shouting lyrics back towards the stage. “Where it’s at!, I got two turntables and a microphone”.
“How you guys doing?”, Beck said, “not a rock show, how are you doing, I really wanna know how you are doing”. He continues, “someone stole my pants last night,… but that’s life you know? One day you are wearing your pants and then the next someone else is wearing them”.
The night is ending with band introductions and a medley of cover song intros: Dwayne Moore (bass) plays “Good Times” (Chic), Jason Falkner (guitar), plays “Miss You”(Rolling Stones), Roger Manning (keyboards) plays “Cars” (Gary Numan), The B53’s (backing vocals) sang “Once in a Lifetime” (Talking Heads), Chris Coleman (drums) plays “In the Air Tonight” (Phil Collins), then a drum solo starting“One Foot in the Grave” and back into “Where It’s At”.
Many throughout The Anthem are dancing to this well-known classic, bringing a solid ending to this night full of eye-catching and body-moving entertainment. From the stage and lighting production to the artists choice of songs on the setlist, they ended with a feeling of satisfaction.
Set List: “Devil’s Haircut” “Loser” “The New Pollution” “Que Onda Guero” “Wow”
“Think I’m In Love” “Colours” “Mixed Bizness” “Go it Alone” “Lost Cause” “Say Goodbye” “Heart is a Drum” “Debra” “Raspberry Beret” (Prince cover) / “Lovely Lady” (Kool Keith cover) “Dreams” “Up All Night” “Girl” “E-Pro” Encore: “I’m So Free” “Good Times” (Chic) / “Miss You” (Rolling Stones) / “Cars” (Gary Numan) / “Once In a Lifetime” (Talking Heads) / “In the Air Tonight” (Phil Collins)medley that included band intros; ended with a drum solo “One Foot in the Grave” “Where It’s At”
Brooklyn natives, Giggly Boys opened the show as audience members were filing in. The band’s old school punk-inspired sound was an unexpected contrast to their name. Their musical formula is simple, yet intriguing: hard-hitting drums, straightforward melodies, reverb and loud vocals. Their energetic seven-song set – “Dorothy”, “Ain’t Waiting”, “Dead Again”, “True West”, “Black Sheet Party”, “Another Close Call”, and “Unnatural”, left the crowd hyped for more.
Local favorites Jonathan Monument have been on the scene since 2013. The band consists of guitarists/vocalists David Fick and Steven Balthaser, bassist Matthew Thren, and drummer Josh Noel. They opened their set with the instrumental surf-rock number “Takeshi”, followed by one of my favorite songs, “Adaline”. The impressive rhythm section combination of Thren and Noel is only enhanced by Fick and Balthasar’s grunge-inspired guitar and often humorous lyrics. Their set featured tracks such as “Dad Fight”, “Dutch Wonderland”, and the title track from their latest release, “Wonderkid”; as well as “Ne’er Do Wells”, “Jasper”, “Florida” and “Destroyer”.
Winter is the name of singer/songwriter/guitarist Samira Winter’s Los Angeles-based indie rock project. Winter’s whimsical vocals are complemented by beautiful melodies played by sisters Justine Brown on bass, and Chelsea Brown on guitar. Fans danced to dreamy, yet catchy, songs such as “Alligator” and “All In My Head”. Winter asked the crowd if anyone has a cat, and the crowd cheered in response. She then dedicated fan-favorite song, “Zoey”, which she wrote about her cat, to “all the cats of Lancaster”. They also entertained fans with “High School”, “Memoria Colorida”, “You Don’t Know Me”, “Best of It”, “Black Sea”, and “Jaded”.
Indie rockers Surfer Blood, from West Palm Beach, Florida, closed out the evening. I had a few moments to speak with guitarist Mike McCleary after the show, and he said that, while touring can be exhausting, when you’re on the stage, you find the energy. If the band was even a little bit tired, I had no idea. The party started with “Fast Jabroni”, and didn’t let up until over an hour later.
In addition to McCleary on guitar, Surfer Blood includes singer/guitarist John Paul Pitts, bassist Lindsey Mills and drummer, Tyler Schwarz. Pitts enthusiastically sang and danced along with fans to songs like Island, “Swim”, and “Anchorage”, occasionally inviting friends and other musicians onto the stage to join the band. The 12-song set also included tracks, “Weird Shapes”, “Miranda”, “Voyager Reprise”, “Island”, “Take it Easy”, “Floating Vibes”, “Six Flags in F or G”, “Gravity”, and “”Matter of Time”.
At one point Pitts danced his way to the back of the crowd, where he climbed and perched on a ledge in front of the soundboard. Looking at the mic cord stretched all the way back to the stage, he joked that he’s usually on a “much shorter leash than this”. Surfer Blood is clearly a band that loves their fans and enjoys what they do. Currently, they have four upcoming shows planned in their home state of Florida, as well as Summer Daze Music Festival in Raleigh, NC.
I have been a longtime fan of Jonathan Monument, but when I arrived at the venue I did not know what to expect from the other three. All four bands put on incredible performances -suffice to say, Giggly Boys, Winter, and Surfer Blood definitely gained new fans tonight!
Pontiac, Michigan (April 26, 2018) – The Crofoot,Pontiac, MI– Some 30 miles north of Detroit, MI, a crowd is gathering on the street outside of Pontiac’sCrofoot Ballroom. Fans of the UK based headliners COUNTERFEIT. lined the sidewalk, many with shiny holographic VIP badges glistening in the evening sun. Formed just over 2 years ago, releasing their first EP Come Get Some, the band led by actor Jamie Campbell Bower has amassed a quite the loyal following for their first North American tour. The rest of the band consists of Jamie’s brother Sam Bower and Tristan Marmont on guitars, Roland Johnson playing bass and Jim Craig on drums.
Prior to founding Counterfeit, Jamie got his start in the public eye through acting, playing Anthony Hope in Tim Burton’s Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber Of Fleet Street, Caius Volturi in the Twilight movie series and the young Gellert Grindelwald in Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows: Part 1. The transition from one stage to another was a natural one, as Jamie explained when we sat down with him backstage, “I was born both a thespian and a rock star! I’ve always played music, but I never really took it very seriously up until this project, and until some things happened in my life where I was able to give a lot more things, a lot more time.” Performing comes naturally to him, and he tells us the band runs on instinct. “What we do is we go out there and we let instincts take over. Be ourselves, our most honest and most raw. I think that from being in front of the camera, I definitely learned to get more comfortable being in front of people.”
Leading up to tonight’s show, we reached out to fans on social media to find out what they wanted to know, and fan found faith, asked whether his acting roles affect the music.
Do Jamie’s roles have any influence on his song writing, such as [Christopher] Marlowe?
“Yes, absolutely. Of course they do. When I was playing Marlowe, obviously I dove quite deeply into his work. I seem to be drawn to these weird, fucked up characters all the time.” Jamie shared with us. “Marlowe is just another one of them, a very interesting guy. I read his version of [Doctor] Faustus, and I liked the whole idea of bargaining with the devil and selling your soul, all that kind of murky, nasty, occult-y kind of stuff.”
The Londoners are on their third stop of this tour, supporting 2017’s Together We Are Stronger. The 10-track album has been described as having themes of anger and loss, backed by a wall of powerful guitar riffs and bashing drums hurtling each song forward. “The writing of that record came out of a very, very dark and twisted place and this need to use my voice, to be able to study myself, was paramount, I think.” Jamie recounted. “Almost a catharsis of sorts?” I asked him. “Yeah, catharsis, exorcism, whatever you want to call it,” he said with a mischievous grin.
The doors finally open and fans proceed up the narrow staircase to the Crofoot’s Pike Room, an intimate venue that excels in showing off the raunchy sound of hard playing rock and punk bands. Counterfeit have been described as both “punk” and “rock and roll”, seeming to fit right in the midst of these two genres. We had a chance to discuss these labels with Jamie Bower shortly before the show, asking which he felt was the more appropriate descriptor for their sound. “I think they’re both appropriate, but we never set out to be a punk band. We never set out to be anything other than sort of what we are.” he tells us. “It’s definitely got a rock and roll heart with the punk aesthetic to it. But it’s punk in the sense that a.) it’s kind of ‘for the people’ and b.), we just want to get out there and thrash, you know?”
The show opened up with local band Dark Serenity, giving us a dose of rock with a classic, unfiltered sound. Vocalist/guitarist Kate Emrich passionately led bassist Zachary Barnes, and drummer Michael Bergamo through the set, the crowd showing their approval with increasing levels of applause after each song.
Middlemen on bill, dubé, hailing from Ottawa, Ontario, pulled out all the stops for a raucous set that evoked a tighter, louder version of your college buddy’s garage band. Brothers Jan, Liam and Quinn energized the crowd with plenty of thrashing, including the most appropriately Canadian instrument of their own invention, the “hockey-tar”, literally a hockey stick strung as a functional guitar!
After a short break to change out the gear, Counterfeit took to the stage in a cacophony of sound with “As Yet Untitled”, a song mentioned by Jamie during our earlier conversation as one of his favorites to play live. Driving drums carry “Washed Out”, as fans sing along to the chorus of “I’m too old to live, I’m too young to die”. The band pounded through several more tracks from their current album, including “Addiction”, “Romeo”, “Close to Your Chest” and “You Can’t Rely”
Breaking down the fourth-wall, the mood turned around 180° when Jamie asked the crowd to form a circle on the floor and proceed to step down from the stage, guitar and all, explaining that the next song was about his close friend Ivan who took his own life a few years ago. Deeply emotional, with Jamie’s raw vocals ranging from intense sorrow to sheer anger, the crowd is nearly silent throughout “Letters To The Lost”, the rest of band playing on stage with their backs to the audience.
This isn’t the only time the guys end up in the throng of fans filling the room, with Sam and Jamie singing “For The Thrill of It” together from the midst of the floor, or Sam being paraded around riding on the shoulders of a randomly selected audience member while dangerously shredding one of his solos. This level of interaction with the crowd really shines a light on how much Counterfeit appreciates their adoring fans and the fact that their music is being accepted. On this subject, fan Charlene.W from Toronto asked the following about life since the album release:
What’s been the biggest moment or biggest shock since the release of your debut album? Will the sophmore album be as blistering fast and in your face?
Jamie told us, “The biggest shock was the fact that the record was widely received rather well across the board. If I’m being honest, truly, I don’t think any of us expected it to be as well received as it was. I remember speaking to Roland a few months before the release and going, “Is this any good? Are people are going to dig this?” There’s that constant back and forth and that constant self doubt.” Clearly, from the reaction tonight, the people dig it.
The band has been also working on their next album, and two new songs were debuted at the Pike Room to the fan’s delight. Backstage, we asked whether we should expect a similar sound and theme as we heard on Together We Are Stronger. “It’s all about butterflies and rainbows! It’s beautiful!” Jamie gushed with sarcastic enthusiasm. “But, seriously, I think from what we’ve got thus far the anger is still definitely there. This record seems to be touching on a few more social political themes.” Discussing the fact that there are quite a few things to be angry about right now, he continued, “And a lot to be confused about. Then the themes of loss and death. I’m obsessed with the idea of my own mortality and mortality in general.”
Using the crowdsourcing platform, PledgeMusic, to fund the new recording is giving the band a way to offer so much more to their fans as they create this album. “We haven’t even gone into the studio on this record yet.” Jamie explained, “so for those people who have joined the Pledge campaign, even if you’ve just bought an Access Pass, however little it may be, it’s still a lot to us.” When asked why PledgeMusic rather than the traditional process through a record label, Jamie talked about how this gives the band so much more creative control over their art. “The industry’s changing so much. The old format of record labels is no longer necessary. To be able to be in control if one’s own art is the most important thing, in particular for this band.” Noting that, historically, it has only been more established artists that could demand full artistic control, leaving newcomers at the mercy of the label. Jamie laughed as he said that in a way, this reversal of roles is a “Fuck you!” to the system.
The show wrapped up with the anthemic “Enough”, full of furiously delivered lyrics. Written after the 2015 terrorist attacks in Paris, including the Bataclan which was hosting a rock show, the song offers to fight violence and hate with love:
“It’s time ‘cos we’ve had enough
You bring your guns, we bring our hearts
And our weapons of love
I hope you watch as we take to the streets
Because together we are stronger
And as one we bring peace”
Leading the crowd, split left and right, to go head to head singing alternating lines of the chorus “Let us live/Let us love”, Counterfeit invokes the feeling that when all is said and done, the lasting effect they’d like to have on the world is one of change. “Someone asked me the other day, ‘What social change would you like to see in the world?’ And it’s like, well, where the fuck do I begin? There’s so many things that need to change”, Jamie related during our interview. “What we do and what we’re about is trying to let people know that no matter how screwed up you may feel, no matter how low you may go, that, really, at the end of the day, your voice still matters, your voice is still heard and it’s necessary. That’s what I want to leave behind – the feeling that the people who come to our shows or are listening to our music can stand up and say something and can make a difference.” Jamie continued. “For the better! God help you if you’re doing it for the worse, I will come hunt you down!”, he added, laughing.
Counterfeit continues the tour with stops in Canada, along the East Coast and more before wrapping up mid-May in California. Check out upcoming tour dates on their site, and be sure to snap up some tickets when they come to your town. These guys are a big deal and only going to be bigger!
All Within My Hands is a foundation set up by the band to provide support to local food banks and other charities worldwide. On May 23, 2018, Metallica encourages fans in participating with their local food banks. You must register through All Within My Hands in order to participate in this special event. All registered volunteers that donate their time will receive an All Within My Hands t-shirt.
The guys are back on the road and today had the pleasure of putting on the Münchner Tafel e.V. aprons! Thank you to all who purchased tickets to the show at Olympiahalle for helping support the fight against hunger in Munich. #MetallicaGivesBack#AWMHpic.twitter.com/wKBK79iFAB
Detroit, Michigan (April 17, 2018) – The mural adorned, all-ages El Club in Southwest Detroit,MI was host to three great rock/country music talents fromJack White‘sThird Man Records label this evening. Opening the show, local favorites the Craig Brown Band got the audience pumped up and ready to rock. Making their Detroit debut, Blackfoot Gypsies, an explosive energetic band from Nashville, were next on the bill. Country singer/songwriter Margo Price headlined the sold-out event. The bright yellow Third Man Records mobile record store was parked out front and fans gathering in the line that stretched down the street were busy buying merchandise.
Featuring singer Craig Brown, formerly the lead singer of the punk band Terrible Twos, The Craig Brown Band released their debut full length album,The Lucky Ones Forget, on Third Man Records label on March 31, 2018. Known for their songwriting and self-described “hillbilly-deluxe-meets-dive-bar-jukebox classic rock” sound, this band is worth a listen. Craig thanked the crowd for coming early and evoked some laughs reminding the crowd to ‘tip your bartenders, especially on Saturday!” – when he would be bartending at El Club! Their set featured several songs off their recent album,The Lucky Ones Forget and held the crowd’s attention with rocking guitar riffs and Brown’s energetic jumps and side-kicks.
Nashville rockers,The Blackfoot Gypsies, cannot be missed. Opening their set with the statement ”you rock and roll and then you die, that’s how life goes!” gave the crowd an idea of what to expect. The frontman, singer Matthew Paige, had amazing stage presence with his red guitar and explosive energy. The power quartet engaged the audience and had everyone moving with their roadhouse rock. You can definitely feel the Blues, Rock, and Southern Rock influence in their music. The give one hell of a show complete with harmonica, guitar riffs and hair whipping.
Headliner Margo Price, is currently on the road with her Nowhere Fast Tour, promoting 2017’s releaseAll American Made. A Nashville transplant, like Jack White, Margo became Third Man Records’ first country artist, when she released her debut albumMidwest Farmer’s Daughter, in 2016. She has been called “country’s next big star”. Her voice has been compared toLoretta Lynn andTammy Wynette. The El Club was packed and she delivered an amazing 16 song set, pleasing her loyal fans with a couple of covers and plenty of original tunes. Margo played guitar and tambourine on crowd favorites like “Don’t Say It” and “Do Right By Me”. A two song encore featuredHurtin’ (On The Bottle) and a raucous rendition of Proud Mary joined by Craig Brown and The Blackfoot Gypsies.
This was a night to remember, with strong sets from three powerful artists making their mark on the music scene!
When Lita Ford took the stage tonight it was like a flashback to the golden era of glam rock. Dressed in her classic black and red leather, Lita was tapped to start off the evening festivities. Backed by Patrick Dennison (drums), Marty O’Brien (bass) and Bobby Rock (drums), Ford wasted no time getting the crowd pumped by playing her traditional opening salvo,“Gotta Let Go”. A typical guitar-heavy tune, that according to the lyrics, wants the fans to “release their problems for a bit and live in the music for a night”. Judging by the fans reaction, “living in the music” wasn’t going to be a problem for them tonight whatsoever!
While “Larger Than Life” continued to build the bands momentum, “Relentless” put it over the top. With the dueling guitars of Ford and Dennison playing off each other, the lyrics told a story of a “guitar chick” trying to make it in the music industry. Most of the fans recognized the song and began to sing back at the band. The Temple was rocking by now with the signature guitar licks from Ford and her well-traveled band. After a quick follow up with powerful “Can’t Catch Me”, it was Bobby Rock’s turn for a three-minute version of the ever-popular drum solo. It was the perfect highlight, linking a past era when the drum solo was a requirement for a live performance.
Lita then slowed the momentum a bit with a heartfelt story about her mother, Lisa’s, illness and how she was honored. Tonight was going to be the first time “Lisa” was going to be played to a live audience. After the sobering rendition, the appreciative crowd stood for an extended ovation while visibly emotional Ford stood under a beaming spotlight, head bowed, respectfully.
Never one to miss an opportunity, the Alice Cooper classic “Only Women Bleed” was up next. Timing was perfect as the subdued crowd was still processing the previous song. Along with the guitar of Dennison, it was a memorable rendition proving Ford still has the same voice and guitar prowess that has been her trademark the last 40 years.
Although most artists tend to spread their fan-favorite hits throughout their sets, Lita didn’t follow that pattern. Tonight, it was if she was telling a story, with each song placed strategically where it would either enhance the previous one or simply turn the page to a new chapter in the journey. With her bestselling song, “Close My Eyes Forever” up next, the story continued. Dennison supplied vocals along with Ford, and the duet became the highlight of the night. The pairing played up their eerie guitars dueling back and forth and portrayed the perceived pain of the lyrics superbly.
Dipping back into her days as lead guitar for the groundbreaking female band, The Runaways, came the hit, “Cherry Bomb”. The fun upbeat song got the fans up and moving and set the stage for the final song of the night, the sing-along radio favorite, “Kiss Me Deadly”.
It’s unfortunate that Lita Ford’s career didn’t happen 20 years later in life. She could have been a mega superstar with multiple hit records and a massive following. Don’t take it wrong; the lady can still play better than most. In fact, to the eyes and ears of her of her fans she hasn’t lost a bit of her skills in the 40 plus year she has been performing. With the musical journey she took us on tonight, I’d have to agree with them.
More often than not, when a band is still performing in their fourth decade of existence, they are a mere shell of their former selves. Be it natural attrition, musical indifferences, or the erosion of musical skills – time take its toll. Heavy metal band Queensrÿche appear to be one of the very few who have broken away from the typical mindset.
Formed in Seattle in 1982, three of the five original members are still with the band. Original members Michael Wilton (guitar) and Eddie Jackson (bass) are currently touring with the band, while Scott Rockenfield (drums) has taken a leave of absence. Tabbed to fill in for Rockenfield is former Kamelot drummer, Chris Grillo, who, along with Parker Lundgren (guitar), and lead singer Todd LaTorre, complete the current touring lineup.
When the venue lights began to dim, they knew the time had arrived. With a smaller crowd on hand and only a smattering of security visible, fans were in store for something special. When the opening keyboard sound of “Best I Can” became audible, fans who sensed the lack of crowd control, jumped to their feet and surged toward the stage. With the spotlights now fully illuminating the stage, “Damaged” from Promised Land was up. With the pounding bass guitar from Jackson setting the rhythm, along with LaTorres’ fantastic vocals, the crowd appeared to be transported back to a time when music was all that mattered to them. Looking around, men and women of all ages had their eyes closed, singing along as if trying to reach back in time and grasp a memory long removed.
After an intense version of “The Whisper” from Rage for Order had the fans throwing devils horns, the metalhead sign for universal acceptance, it was time for the band to slow it down. As the lights dimmed and the slow, opening guitar chords to the band’s signature classic, ”Silent Lucidity” started the crowd went silent. As LaTorres worked through the opening lyrics, the fans became transfixed on his every word, the performance accentuated by the incredible smooth transitions from musical solos to lyrics and back again. What an amazing moment it was to watch today’s fans held spellbound by a song that holds so much meaning to the generation before them.
With the roaring crowd now packing the lower reaches of the Temple, Queensryche made a quick return to the stage and their adoring fans. By now, the ushers had stepped back and let the boys with the guitars do all the talking. After a fiery rendition of the guitar-heavy “Screaming in Digital” finished, the band wasted no time moving right into an extended version of the popular “Eyes of a Stranger“ from 1988’s Operation: Mindcrime, which, to the fans dismay, turned out to be the last song of the night.
As the band met at center stage for the customary curtain call, a smattering of house lights illuminated the venue. There was some apparent confusion readily visible from the band. At first look, it appeared that they wanted to play on, but the venue, however unfortunate for the fans, had already made the decision to end the night.
Very few hard rock bands from the golden era have the capability to light up a venue with as much energy and precision as we witnessed tonight. The mesmerizing vocals of LaTorre and multi-layered guitar tracks of Wilton and Lundgren have the chops to leave a lasting impression. Add in the thumping bass of Jackson and the crashing drums of Grillo and you have a band that puts others on notice.
With a new album in the works and bands such as Judas Priest making a welcome comeback, can Queensryche be far behind? Time will tell, but if tonight’s performance is any indication, you better strap in and hold on. The golden years are back and we couldn’t be happier!!!
Marty Stuart is a platinum recording artist, Lifetime Achievement Award recipient from the Americana Music Association, Grand Ole Opry star, country music archivist, photographer, musician, & songwriter. Since starting out singing gospel as a child, Stuart has spent over four decades celebrating American roots music. His teenage years on tour with bluegrass legend Lester Flatt in the ’70s were followed by six years in Johnny Cash’s band in the ’80s, and a chart-topping tenure as a solo artist in the ’90s. Marty Stuart arrived in Nashville on Labor Day weekend, 1972 & 40 years later, a decade worth of hits and a full round of hillbilly stardom later, Stuart has hillbilly rocked himself back to the bosom of traditional country music.
Straying from the intended setlist immediately, the group put on a show without any confinements – doing it their way. Marty, with his bold presence and a guitar that has a fan following of its own, was joined by three other equally great band members. Stage right was “Cousin” Kenny Vaughan who shared the guitar picking, stage left held “Professor” Chris Scruggs on bass, followed up with “Handsome” Harry Stinson on the skins. Marty with his Superlatives took the crowd through a mix of musical stylings with country, bluegrass and gospel tunes.
The band not only mixed musical stylings, but musical presentation as well, from full arrangements to a front and center acoustic setting with some barbershop quartet vocal stylings. Marty broke out his legendary mandolin on some songs, as Chris plucked along on his upright bass.
Marty took moments throughout the night to engage the audience in some back stories about the songs as well as personally interact with the crowd. Acknowledging two youngsters on the front row, Marty asked their age, with a response of “5” and “9”, he then asked, “what trouble did you get in to have to be here tonight?“, as he gathered some guitar picks and drumsticks to give them.
Each band member was given a moment to shine. First of the night was Kenny Vaughn who led the band into renditions of two of his songs, “Country Music Got A Hold On Me“, and the humorous “Hot Like That“, with a comical mention of Kim Kardashian. Chris stripped it down for a solo acoustic performance of “Old Soul Like You and Me” before Harry led the band in a version of “Pretty Boy Floyd” by the late Woody Guthrie. Marty took a few moments to honor late guitarist Grady Martin with his rendition of the Marty Robbins song “El Paso“, as well as Ervin T. Rouse, covering “Orange Blossom Special“.
Closing out the night with one last new song, the the band broke into “Time Don’t Wait“, with Marty taking the time to shake hands along the front of the stage as the Superlatives did an extended outro.
Hailing from Atlanta, Georgia, the band Big Jesus opened the show with an 8-song set. Performing songs from their album, Oneiric, the group quickly got the crowd worked up with songs like “Lock & Key” and “SP“. Filling the room with cranked-up, fuzzed-out guitars courtesy of CJ Ridings and Tommy Gonzalez, thundering drums from Blake Gamel, and solid low-end bass work, Big Jesus came out to prove a point leaving nothing behind. Lead singer and bassist Spencer Ussery mentioned this was their second time playing at The Fillmore, their first being as a support act for Good Charlotte, and how they loved the energy of the room. Finishing their set with “Oneirica”, the crowd of new fans were left wanting more as the band made their way to the merch booth to shake hands and take pictures.
Next up, all the way from Adelaide Australia, was Atlas Genius, featuring brothers Keith (guitar/vocals) and Michael Jeffery (drums). Blending these instruments with the use of keys and synthesizer to create many layers of sound, the band captured the audience’s attention from the start. The group performed songs from both of their albums, When It Was Now, which charted at number 34 on the U.S. Billboard charts in 2013, and their second album, Inanimate Objects. Atlas Genius easily held the crowd’s attention with originals like “Molecules“, and “If So“, before breaking mid-set into a cover of the classic 80’s hit song, “You Spin Me Round” by Dead or Alive, putting a modern twist on the well-loved tune. The band closed out their set with two of the group’s most popular songs, “Molecules” and “Trojans“.
After a short set change, the sound of loud distorted guitars breaks through the crowd’s chatter as headliners Bush take the stage. Launching headfirst into their first single, “Everything Zen“, the band wasted no time letting you know you were at the right place for a rock show. Many bands take a few songs to ramp up the energy of the show, but Bush started strong and never let up the whole night. The only low-key moment of the night was when the group played “Alien“, a softer song, from the group’s debut album. The current lineup features original frontman and guitarist, Gavin Rossdale, along with Robin Goodridge on drums, guitarist, Chris Traynor, and bassist, Corey Britz, who has been with the group since 2010. Building a setlist that focused on the group’s most successful album, Sixteen Stone, the band showcased compositions from most of their 7 albums much to the crowd’s delight.
The group played audience favorites “Greedy Fly” and “Swallowed” from Razorblade Suitcase. Energetic numbers such as “The Chemicals Between Us“, “The Sound of Winter” and “Little Things” had the fans in a frenzy all night jumping up and down with fists in the air. Featuring songs “Nurse” and “This Is War” from the group’s newest release, Black and White Rainbows, that encompasses the group’s signature 90’s sound, Bush continued to hold a strong presence all night with a great visual light show and a level of crowd interaction that I haven’t seen from a big touring band in a long time. Rossdale stepped off stage several times to get closer to the fans in the front few rows, later taking a dive into crowd surf, joining in with fans for sing-a-long moments as he walked through the venue; even bumping into me at one point! As the band played an extended version of “Machinehead“, Gavin climbed over rails, stood on chairs and tables before heading back to the stage to finish off the night.
An unexpected cover of REM‘s “The One I Love” was next and openly welcomed by the fan-filled room. The band then left Gavin alone on stage with just his guitar as he led the crowd into an intimate, acoustic performance of “Glycerine“, breaking it down to sing acapella partway through the song. Then came the rolling bass intro to “Comedown“, as the band came back out to close out the set.
Bush, Big Jesus, and Atlas Genius provided a night of live entertainment that left my ears ringing with the sounds of great new music, as well as some old favorites. Catch Bush this summer out on The Revolution 3 Tour with Stone Temple Pilots and The Cult.
Formed in 2006, while they were attending Belmont University in Nashville, TN, Moon Taxi is made up of Trevor Terndrup (vocals, guitar), Tommy Putnam (bass), Spencer Thomson (guitar), Tyler Ritter (drums), and Wes Bailey (keys). Moon Taxi hit the road in January on their Let The Record Play Tour to celebrate the release of their fifth studio album of the same name.
When H∆NDGREN∆DES took the stage, it was clear they had a loyal following of local fans who have been with them since they first hit the Detroit’s music scene in 2008. The crowd sang along and danced, (and I mean danced), with a ton of songs off the group’s 2016 release, Tunnels. The band also shared some new music with us while the crowd began to toss a handful of beach balls around, eventually landing a few on stage bringing big smiles to the entire band as they finished up their set.