Metal Monday 3-21-2022

Archived Concert Review

Slayer

Final World Tour

w/Lamb of God, Anthrax, Testament, Napalm Death

Times Union Center

Albany, NY

August 1, 2018

It was an evening of nostalgia on August 1, 2018, when thrash metal titans Slayer brought their final world tour to Albany, NY.  While not the original four members from the group that terrified me as a child, and clearly showing their age (don’t we all), there was no way I was missing this performance.  As a teaser, the band brought along quite an enticing package to share in the on-stage debauchery with.

As had been the case on Slayer’s previous tours, the band appeared on stage after the into tape of Delusion of Savior and a climatic curtain drop, which led into the breakneck opener, Repentless, the title track of the group’s final album.  Bassist and vocalist Tom Araya showed some signs of wear and tear by strategically choosing which high notes to hit and which ones to lay off from.  While he was hardly the same man who pulled off the blood curdling scream on Angel of Death in 1986, Araya’s performance was more than adequate for someone on the backside of his fifties.

Blood Red, Disciple, Mandatory Suicide, and Hate Worldwide followed, displaying a diverse setlist that bounced around from the obscure to more recent to classic old cuts.  Slayer in the 21st century has become a band that eschews the tired between-song raps, preferring to segue from one song to the next.  The first time Araya addressed the crowd was five songs deep into the set when he introduced, “Waaaaarrrrrrr Ensemble!” 

The other original member, guitarist Kerry King, mainly stayed stage right, bobbing his head along to the frantic pace of the band’s material, his braided beard swaying to the beat.  King traded scorching guitar solos with Gary Holt, an original member of thrash metal band Exodus, who had replaced the late Jeff Hanneman.    Holt has appeared more comfortable in his role in the band, playfully joshing with the audience.

Mid-set found Slayer mixing up newer tracks (from 2000 to the present) such as Jihad, When the Stillness Comes, and Payback, with classics Postmortem, Black Magic, and Seasons in the Abyss.  Blinding lights, strobes, and lasers, combined with hot orange flames gave the crowd a visually pleasing stage show that coincided nicely with the musical selections.  Things really ramped up during 1985’s Hell Awaits, with flame throwers setting the stage ablaze.

Drummer Paul Bostaph is easily Slayer’s most maligned member, having replaced (twice) original skinsman Dave Lombardo, who is considered by many to be the finest drummer in all of thrash metal.  Simply put, Bostaph, himself a talented beat keeper, has little chance to sway most opinions on who the better player is.  For what it’s worth, on this night, Paul put on a show, especially during the show closing trifecta of Raining Blood, Chemical Warfare, and Angel of Death.

All in all, watching this version of Slayer is more than a pleasant experience, especially considering the decades the band has been around.  That said, I wish I had the nerve back in the day to see them with Hanneman and Lombardo when they were in their prime.  That must have been something!

Slayer Setlist:

Repentless

Blood Red

Disciple

Mandatory Suicide

Hate Worldwide

War Ensemble

Jihad

When the Stillness Comes

Postmortem

Black Magic

Payback

Seasons in the Abyss

Dittohead

Dead Skin Mask

Hell Awaits

South of Heaven

Raining Blood

Chemical Warfare

Angel of Death

Slayer-War Ensemble (Albany NY; 2018)

Metal Monday 3-7-2022

Archived Concert Review:

Iron Maiden

June 20, 2008

Xfinity Center

Mansfield MA

I remember being stoked to learn Iron Maiden was heading out on what would be called the Somewhere Back in Time Tour.  A big Maiden fan since the 80’s, for reasons here and there, I had never seen the band live before.  Now, here they were announcing a show that would roughly resemble the epic World Slavery Tour, with its illustrious and elaborate staging, complete with modern upgrades.  I bought a pair of tickets for the show in Mansfield, Massachusetts.  I was not disappointed.

Anyone who has been to a Maiden show or has read concert reviews knows that the band is notorious for taking the stage right after UFO’s Doctor Doctor plays on the PA.  It’s the audience’s warning to get to their seats.  As to be expected, the house lights dimmed, and the stage and amphitheater became thick with darkness, the only light being the road crew’s flashlights leading the group from the back of the stage.  As was the case with 1985’s Live After Death release, Winston Churchill’s famous We Shall Never Surrender speech played overhead, before the band launched into Aces High and Two Minutes to Midnight.  I was 13 all over again!

Iron Maiden was (and still is) a six-piece outfit.  When old guitarist Adrian Smith rejoined the group in 1999, his replacement, Janick Gers, stayed on, giving the group, along with veteran Dave Murray, a three-guitar attack.  The trio worked tirelessly, producing a string of wonderfully incorporated guitar harmonies.  Drummer Nicko McBrain, barely visible behind his monster kit, pounded out the beats and rhythms he is known for, especially showcasing his rapid-fire single bass drumming talents.  Meanwhile, bassist Steve Harris, one of the best in the business, perched in the front of the stage, one foot on a monitor, leering over the crowd, lip synching every word back to the audience.

A benefit of the nostalgia tour is that the band will play songs that haven’t seen the light of day in decades.  Iron Maiden was no different.  Revelations, Wasted Years, and Powerslave all made their way back into the setlist, along with old standbys, The Trooper, The Number of the Beast, Run to the Hills, and Fear of the Dark.  Personally, the highlight for me was the 13-minute Rime of the Ancient Mariner, complete with enough fireworks to make a Disney Fourth of July event proud.

Singer Bruce Dickenson is a timeless soul.  Even in 2008, at the age of 50, he was sprinting from one end of the stage to the other, jumping from catwalk to catwalk, dressing in period clothing to represent a particular song, and proudly waving the British flag.  Vocally, this man amazes me.  At an age where bands routinely must lower song keys so the singer can properly hit the notes, Dickenson can easily and comfortably reach the high ranges he nailed decades prior.  Clone him. 

The band’s title track, from its 1980 debut closed out the main set and featured iconic mascot, Eddie, for the first time.  When the group returned to the stage, the treated us to a triple shot of Moonchild, The Clairvoyant, and Hallowed Be Thy Name.  The show was complete.  Iron Maiden had delivered.  When McBrain emerged from his drum set to throw sticks into the crowd, many of us were getting our first visible look at him.

Iron Maiden Setlist:

Churchill’s Speech

Aces High

Two Minutes to Midnight

Revelations

The Trooper

Wasted years

The Number of the Beast

Can I Play With Madness

Rime of the Ancient Mariner

Powerslave

Heaven Can Wait

Run to the Hills

Fear of the Dark

Iron Maiden

Encore:

Moonchild

The Clairvoyant

Hallowed Be Thy Name

Iron Maiden-Aces High

Metal Monday 2-21-2022

Concert Review Archive

Ozzy Osbourne

w/Korn and Life of Agony

PRI Fieldhouse

Troy NY

January 27, 1996

A Saturday night blizzard was not keeping me away from this show.  Not this one.  Not the Prince of Darkness.  Not after my history of bad luck when it came to seeing the man perform live.  No, I was sure as hell going to catch this Ozzy Osbourne show.

Backtracking four years, in early 1992, Ozzy announced his farewell tour.  Never having seen him before, I grabbed a pair of tickets for the July show in Saratoga NY.  Well before the days of alerts and social media, my eyebrows were more than a little ruffled when I pulled into a barren parking lot less than an hour before showtime.  A young fellow at the ticket booth confirmed my worst fears.  Ozzy was ill and the evening’s performance was rescheduled for August 31.

Call it a bad feeling, but on the morning of August 31, I called the venue and asked if that night’s Ozzy Osbourne show was still on.  They informed me that the concert was the previous night, August 30.  Unbelievable!  The guy told me the wrong date!  I ended up getting my money refunded (good luck with that today!) but I was now never going to see Ozzy, as his farewell tour was wrapping up in a couple of months and I didn’t have anymore available time to take off from work.

Funny thing about rockstars who think they have had enough of the limelight:  the itch always comes back.  Even in my indie band days I have sworn off gigging only to get back out there.  It never completely goes away.  Ozzy was no different.  He announced a new tour in 1995, appropriately named the Retirement Sucks Tour.

After putting the truck into four-wheel drive, I plowed through approximately 90 miles of fresh powder to get to the venue.  Along the way, a frantic fear hit me.  What if the show was cancelled due to weather?  My worries alleviated as I got closer to Troy and the snow tapered off.  It was much worse back home.  A full parking lot greeted me this time.

The show kicked off with a video that celebrated Ozzy’s history, from the early days with Black Sabbath all the way to 1996.  It was an updated version of the intro I saw on a video from the 1992 tour.  The curtain dropped and Osbourne and his band launched into the Sabbath classic, Paranoid

The band consisted of old friend, the late Randy Castillo on drums and Mike Inez on bass guitar, both veterans of the 1992 tour.  Meanwhile, Ozzy introduced a new guitarist, Joe Holmes, following the string of legendary axemen Randy Rhodes, Jake E. Lee, and Zakk Wilde in the fold.  Holmes proved every bit of the shredder, hammering out nearly identical versions of his predecessor’s solos, while adding his own twist.  Unbeknownst to him and to us, his tenure in the band would prove to be short-lived

Osbourne, meanwhile, in his mid-forties, was in fine form, no rust from the long layoff evident, nor showing the vocal strain that would cause him to lower the keys to his songs in later years.  He was active, as well, commanding the stage from one side to the other, bellowing out his trademark stage rap, “Go fuc*$#ng crazy!”  He masterfully led the band through classic solo cuts, I Don’t Know, Flying High Again, and Goodbye to Romance, with the only track from his latest Ozzmosis record to get played being I Just Want You.   

A triple shot of Sabbath classics, Iron Man, Fairies Wear Boots, and Children of the Grave, highlighted the middle section of the show, sending the crowd into a frenzy.  Meanwhile, the middle of Suicide Solution featured a long jam that Holmes, Inez, and Castillo took part in so Ozzy could get a break.  This was the mid-nineties and, for the most part, the token guitar and drum solos were becoming obsolete.

Refreshed, Osbourne came back and delivered a closing shot of Mr. Crowley, War Pigs, and Crazy Train, the latter containing his use of the water guns that fans had come to expect.  Ozzy and crew returned to encore with Mama I’m Coming Home, before closing out the evening with Bark at the Moon.  A short set indeed, clocked in at about 85 minutes, but an energetic one at that. 

I missed the evening’s first opener, Life of Agony, due to the aforementioned snowstorm.  The second band of the night was a little-known metal group named Korn.  I’ve never been a huge fan of them and do not remember much about their performance.

Ozzy Osbourne Setlist:

Paranoid

I Don’t Know

Flying High Again

Goodbye to Romance

I Don’t Want to Change the World

I Just Want You

Suicide Solution

Iron Man

Fairies Wear Boots

Children of the Grave

Mr. Crowley

War Pigs

Crazy Train

Encore:

Mama I’m Coming Home

Bark At the Moon

https://www.ozzy.com/archives/tour/retirement-sucks

Metal Monday 2-7-2022

Archived Concert Review

AC/DC

Times Union Center

Albany NY

August 2, 2009

My dad was 63 years old in 2009 and claimed AC/DC to be his favorite band in the world.  This is a statement I didn’t deny, given how his attention would be swayed whenever one of the band’s songs was on the radio.  As he had never been to a concert of such magnitude, when I heard that AC/DC was going to be bringing its Black Ice tour to my region, I got the idea to surprise him with tickets.

Dad had no idea where we were going when I picked him up that afternoon.  Waiting until we were parked in a garage two blocks from the venue to show him the tickets, his eyes lit up when he realized the end result of the surprise.  He was downright giddy as we waited for the doors to open, openly chatting up folks who were around his age about the band.

Our seats were on the right-hand side as we faced the stage, right behind the barrier leading to the floor, and in the first row.  This placed us approximately 75 feet from the stage, with a ramp extending right in front of us.  Australia’s The Answer opened the show with a set of unknown, but solid, rock and roll, complete with modest production.  Dad’s reaction to the meager stage and light show was that of a wide-eyed kid going to his first rock show.  I giggled to myself, knowing he would be blown away once the headliners took the stage.

AC/DC opened its show with a 2-minute video featuring an animated train rollicking down the tracks, getting more and more out of control, before culminating with a high-speed crash, transitioning into the band taking the stage amidst a large train as the main stage prop, real time flames set off to complete the trick.  Not coincidentally, the band launched into the lead single off its latest Black Ice album, Rock and Roll Train.  It was at that moment, my dad realized he was seeing a real rock and roll show.

The train as its lone prop (until the cannons at the end), AC/DC entertained as it had for more than 30 years.  Lead guitarist Angus Young, in his trademark schoolboy outfit, raced, bopped, and gyrated over every inch of the stage, clearly the evening’s main attraction.  Lead vocalist, Brian Johnson, a more than competent and willing second banana was the next most mobile member of the quintet, trading spaces with Angus on the main stage, as well as the ramp, sounding in fine form with his scratchy and deep throated vocals.

The band mixed a setlist of new songs from Black Ice with classic tunes throughout the evening.  Big Jack, the title cut, War Machine, and Anything Goes made up the former, while Hell Ain’t a Bad Place to Be, Back in Black, Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap, Thunderstruck, Shoot to Thrill, You Shook Me All Night Lone, TNT, and Whole Lotta Rosie highlightedthe latter.  Angus’ brother, rhythm guitarist Malcolm Young, and bassist Cliff Williams remained glued to their posts, each taking up a spot just to the left or right of the drum riser, only moving simultaneously to their respective microphones to sign back-up vocals.  Meanwhile, drummer Phil Rudd, who could be called a human metronome, manned the drum kit, at times further solidifying his coolness by displaying a lit cigarette in his mouth while playing.

The group had some surprises left in store.  The black AC/DC bell that lowered to the point that Johnson could hang from it before crooning Hells Bells especially impressed my dad.  Main set closer Let There Be Rock was turned into a marathon affair, with Angus going berserk while assaulting his guitar.  Encore number Highway to Hell featured an impressive series of flames and fireworks, while the final song of the night, For Those About to Rock (We Salute You), gave the audience its trademark firing of the cannons, a finale that left my dad with his mouth wide open.

This was not my first AC/DC show, and I knew well beforehand how special their performances usually were.  However, for a first-time concert goer, going to see the group is mostly a blessing, given how amazing they are live, but could be considered a curse, as there is no way another band could live up to what we saw in Albany that night.  Just ask my dad.  He’s been to one other concert since:  AC/DC in 2015.

AC/DC Setlist:

Rock and Roll Train

Hell Ain’t a Bad Place to Be

Back in Black

Big Jack

Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap

Shot Down in Flames

Thunderstruck

Black Ice

The Jack

Hells Bells

Shoot to Thrill

War Machine

Dog Eat Dog

Anything Goes

You Shook Me All Night Long

TNT

Whole Lotta Rosie

Let There Be Rock

Encore:

Highway to Hell

For Those About to Rock (We Salute You)

Concert Review

Van Halen

Verizon Wireless Arena

Manchester NH

May 28, 2008

My adult years have been filled with the classic bands of my youth reuniting.  There was Kiss and the Eagles in the 90’s, and no shortage of groups from the 2000’s, including Motley Crue, The Police, even Simon and Garfunkel.  In 2007, Van Halen joined the “get back together” fray by mending fences with original singer David Lee Roth.

It was with great excitement when I first heard the news of the reunion.  Van Halen had been one of the few bands I had yet to see live.  My enthusiasm was tempered some with the fact that original bassist Michael Anthony was being replaced with guitarist Eddie Van Halen’s son Wolfgang, however, this revelation did not prevent me from purchasing tickets for the Manchester NH show.

In this day of YouTube and other Internet avenues, one’s ability to gather information is at his or her fingertips.  Never one to be patient, I logged on the morning after the first show on the tour to see the setlist.  And what an amazing selection it was!  All the hits and plenty of deep cuts from the Roth era made the cut.  YouTube provided the video for us to see the stage and hear the band’s performance.  I did notice after a few shows that people in chat groups were complaining about the sound quality, but I attributed it to the acoustics in the respective venues.

The original date of the Manchester show was in the winter but was pushed back to May 28.  Upon entering the arena, I recognized the strange S-shape walkways on the stage itself that I had seen on YouTube, however, they were partially obstructed by black drapery, not to be revealed until the band took the stage.  Classic rock was playing on the public address system and the band’s crew released a few gigantic black beach balls with the VH logo for the crowd to bop around.

The lights went down and after a brief build-up, Van Halen appeared!  Eddie was on the right and I was immediately struck by his simple t-shirt and jeans attire, accompanied with short, grayish hair, complete with a goatee, more akin to a car mechanic than a rock star.  This would be a workmanlike performance, indeed.  Wolfgang was on the left, while his Uncle Alex (Eddie’s brother) was entrenched behind his colorful and always impressive drum kit.  Meanwhile, Diamond Dave, ever the showman, appeared at the top of the stage, donning a sparkling outfit, similar to what a circus ringleader might wear.

The band opened with their cover of the Kinks classic, You Really Got Me.  Other classic hits and deep cuts followed, including, I’m the One, Runnin’ with the Devil, Beautiful Girls, and Dance the Night Away.  I couldn’t help but notice the muffled sound and thought back to those chatroom reviews.  It really was a jumbled mess.  I wondered if it were due to my seat location, which was in the first row of the upper level, immediate stage right, behind the frontline of stage monitors.  Perhaps I was hearing the sound the band was hearing through the monitors and not out of the main PA?

I observed Roth was experiencing difficulties with the stage sound.  On five or six occasions, he wandered over to my side of the stage and offered us with a clear view of him berating a poor sound guy, undoubtably in charge of stage sound.  I also noticed Roth didn’t provide us with his between-song stage banter, save for the obligatory, “Good Evening Manchester,” and a quick one-liner here and there.  Rather, the band kept segueing from song to song, its momentum not stalled, even with Alex’s drum solo, and certainly not Eddie’s guitar solo, a staple that is a treat for a VH concertgoer, instead of a mere excuse to visit to john.

The hits kept on coming, including, Unchained, I’ll Wait, And the Cradle Will Rock, Hot for Teacher, and Panama.  Meanwhile, fans were treated to numbers that the band had not played in nearly a quarter century, such as Atomic Punk, Everybody Wants Some, Mean Street, Little Dreamer, and a cover of John Brim’s, Ice Cream ManAin’t Talkin’ ‘bout Love closed out the main set, while the encore consisted of 1984 and the classic, Jump.

I am happy I got to see Van Halen with Roth.  Although I am a big fan of Sammy Hagar and the music he made with the band, it’s the Roth era tunes I will always gravitate to.  The fact that I got to see the band play so much of the soundtrack of my youth is something I will always be grateful for, especially since it is not possible to see them again. 

My only complaint is a big one.  Frankly, the sound was bad.  At times, I could not understand what Roth was singing, or could even tell what song was being played until an undeniable chorus or hook came along.  In the elevator to the parking garage after the show, I came across a couple of guys who mentioned the same thing, and when I asked them where their seats were, they told me they were in the stands behind the sound board, directly center of the stage.  My theory of the stage monitors flew out the window.  I find that an act of this caliber, on a highly anticipated reunion tour, should not sound like this.  It was a damper on what should have been a magical evening.

Van Halen Setlist:

You really Got Me

I’m the One

Runnin’ with the Devil

Romeo Delight

Somebody Get Me a Doctor

Beautiful Girls

Dance the Night Away

Atomic Punk

Everybody Wants Some!!

So This is Love?

Mean Street

On, Pretty Woman

Drum Solo

Unchained

I’ll Wait

And the Cradle Will Rock

Hot for Teacher

Little Dreamer

Jamie’s Cryin’

Ice Cream Man

Panama

Guitar Solo (featuring Eruption, Cathedral, Spanish Fly, Mean Street intro, and Women in Love intro)

Ain’t Talkin’ ‘bout Love

Encore:

1984

Jump

https://www.alamy.com/stock-photo/eddie-van-halen-van-halen.html

Metal Monday 1-3-2022

Archived Concert Review

Kiss Alive Worldwide Tour

Worcester Centrum

Worcester Massachusetts

December 28, 1996

I remember 1996 very well.  The depressing grunge scene (although my older self can appreciate some of the artistry) was winding down.  While a return to my beloved 1980’s would never completely come back, the overall musical direction was at least heading toward something resembling a little fun again.  And then the unbelievable happened.  Kiss, the band that singlehandedly led me to become a hard rock and heavy metal fanboy, was reuniting with its original members, complete with its trademark make-up! 

The idea of seeing Kiss in the way seventies rock fans were able, was nothing short of a miracle.  I recalled all the stories regarding their legendary, and almost mythical characters.  The bombastic stage shows, the blood spitting, the breathing of fire.  I remembered the inside of my Alive II album, first seen as a seven-year-old.  I had to score tickets.  There was no way I could miss this show.

The Centrum was packed that night.  I managed to get tickets in the upper level, stage right.  Way to the right.  As in the side of the stage, looking down on raised platform.  Getting into my spot after the opening set of regional band, The 4th Floor (which had to be an amazing experience for them), I had to wait, almost painfully, for my heroes to emerge, knowing our section would get a glimpse long before most in the arena.  A large black curtain with the band logo dropped from the ceiling at a strategic point in The Who classic, Won’t Get Fooled Again, which was playing over the P.A.  The crowd was getting restless.

Finally, the lights went down.  A loud humming noise filled our ears.  Spotlights rotated around the stage.  The roar of the audience was deafening.  Then they came out!  Again, our section at side stage could see them first, in all their costumed glory.  They took their places, vocalist/guitarist Paul Stanley bucking like a raging bull about to be released into the ring.  The announcer shouted those words all to familiar to us longtime Kiss fans from the glory days.  “All right, Worcester!  You wanted the best; you got the best!  The hottest band in the world……. Kiss!”

The curtain dropped and the band launched into, Duece, the first song that lead guitarist Ace Frehley played when he auditioned for the group more than 20 years prior.  A gigantic pyrotechnic blast accompanied the song, and the band was off to the races!  This tour was featuring mostly seventies classics recorded by the original members; therefore, it was not a surprise, but still amazing to witness, Kiss segueing into C’mon and Love Me, Let Me Go Rock ‘n’ Roll, and Firehouse in rapid succession. 

The conclusion of Firehouse brought about Gene Simmons’ fire breathing stunt, much cooler in person than inside a wrinkled Circus magazine.  I couldn’t believe what I was watching!  A couple of songs later, the Frehley-sung, Shock Me, culminated with his blistering solo, complete with his smoking guitar being raised to the rafters.  Calling Dr. Love, Shout it Out Loud, I Stole Your Love, and Cold Gin highlighted the midsection of the show, with an overabundance of lights, lasers, and fire to accompany them.

Paul Stanley, never one to shy away from lauding his own band and absorbing all the accolades he can muster, hadn’t yet tired fans with his sometimes meandering between-song raps, never straying far from the arena rock cliches that mostly worked to supplement Kiss’ many over-the top-gimmicks.  This included the trademark blood spitting trick that Simmons perfected back in the day, complemented by the Dragon being raised to the top of a lighting truss to sing, God of Thunder.  Drummer Peter Criss, not wanting to be left out of the spotlight, performed a steady, if unspectacular solo mid-song, displaying just enough chops to satisfy us drummers in the crowd.

100,000 Years and Detroit Rock City closed out the main set, each with enough pyro blasts to surely make the local fire warden a little nervous, before returning with classics, Black Diamond, Beth, and the fiery Rock and Roll All Nite.  The night was complete.  There was no more that could be done.  Paul Stanley had asked the audience, “Was it all that you expected?”  I had to agree with the overwhelming consensus.  Yes!

Kiss Set List:

Duece

C’mon and Love Me

Let Me Go, Rock ‘n’ Roll

Do You Love Me

Firehouse (Gene breathes fire)

Watchin’ You

Shock Me

Ace Frehley Guitar Solo

Calling Dr. Love

Shout It Out Loud

I Stole Your Love

Cold Gin

King of the Night Time World

New York Groove (Russ Ballard Cover)

Love Gun

Gene Simmons Bass Solo (spits blood)

God of Thunder (Peter Criss Drum Solo)

100,000 Years

Detroit Rock City

Encore:

Black Diamond

Beth

Rock and Roll All Nite

https://www.ebay.com/itm/323634283025

Metal Monday 12-27-2021

Archived Concert Review

An Evening With Metallica

Cumberland County Civic Center

Portland Maine

February 27, 1992

Metallica was the baddest and scariest band in the world (save maybe for Slayer) to an impressionable 19-year-old in February 1992 when I took my then-girlfriend to their Wherever I May Roam tour in Portland, Maine.  Fresh off the release of their self-titled fifth record (aka: The Black Album) the previous August, the band was taking advantage of the serious buzz the record generated by selling out arenas worldwide.  The Cumberland County Civic Center was about to have its roof blown off and I was about to witness the greatest concert I will ever see.

The stage was revolutionary for 1992, a diamond-shaped platform, allowing for 360-degree viewing for both the band and audience.  Microphone stands littered the stage, assisting band members to remain within arms reach of a mic whenever needed.  Large lighting trusses were also mobile, lifting from the stage to reveal the band at the show’s beginning, while rotating and angling to provide special effects throughout the concert.  Drummer Lars Ulrich came with two drum kits that raised through the floor of the stage and pivoted to allow him to play to different sections of the crowd.  Meanwhile, the stages’ centerpiece was a chiseled-out section in the middle, called the Snake Pit, reserved for radio contest winners and hand-picked overly enthusiastic fans, giving them the opportunity to witness the show from Ground Zero.

There was no opening act on this tour.  Given Metallica’s status as the emerging biggest rock act in the world, there was no support band that would fit the bill.  This would be a self-serving three-hour victory lap(s) around the stage.  In lieu of a band to throw stuff at, fans were treated to a 25-minute documentary about the band and its history.  The highlights of the movie were when the live cameras took over from the dressing room and we were greeted by the band members themselves, complete with enough bravado and vulgarity fit for a group of 20-something year-old-musicians.  Us teenagers ate it up.

The familiar Metallica intro song, Ennio Morricone’s The Ecstasy of Gold came on, accompanied by Tuco (Eli Wallach) running through the cemetery from the movie, The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly on the video screens.  It was time!  The lighting trusses lifted, and the band launched into their huge (and then current) single, Enter Sandman.  It was clear that this was going to be a special night.

Creeping Death, Harvester of Sorrow, and Welcome Home (Sanitarium) brought things to an early fever pitch, before we were given a dose of newer material, including, Sad but True, Wherever I May Roam, Through the Never, and The Unforgiven.  It was obvious by the fans singing along that most in the crowd were plenty familiar with the new stuff.  Rhythm guitarist and vocalist James Hetfield’s sarcastic introduction to Sad but True (“It contains three simple words”) left no doubt that even the uninitiated would be able to participate.

As was the concert norm back in the day, the band provided the obligatory solo sections, including a Jason Newsted bass solo and a Kirk Hammet guitar showcase.  Meanwhile, Ulrich performed a short drum solo, before engaging in a duel with Hetfield, who, on the spare drum kit, more than held his own.  Personally, I think these solo sections slow momentum, although with a show as long and sweaty as Metallica’s, I can give the band a pass.

The show rose to an entirely new level once the solos were complete.  I’ll give Metallica credit.  While a 10-minute guitar solo can indeed kill momentum, all it takes is a few classics to rev things up again.  For Whom the Bell Tolls, Fade to Black, and Whiplash more than did the trick, the latter ending with a climatic pyrotechnic blast from the back of the stage.

Metallica could be forgiven if they walked off the stage for good at that point, its faithful exhausted and satisfied.  However, they were merely getting started.  Master of Puppets and Seek and Destroy came next, with the Kill ‘Em All classic coming as an 18-minute singalong, as Hetfield took a microphone around the stage and encouraged (bullied?) the audience into shouting out, again, “Three simple words!”  As if that wasn’t enough, he climbed into the crowd and elicited lucky random fans to shout the words with him.

The band exited the stage again, but only temporarily, as they returned following a two-minute series of intense pyrotechnics and fireworks, a display that would make most town’s Independence Day celebration proud.  It was almost a given at that point that One would be next.  Strobe lights and a final pyro blast in sync with the phrase, “Landmine, has taken my site…….” brought the band’s (up to that point) biggest hit to a mesmerizing crescendo. 

But they still were not done!  A rapid-fire trifecta of Last Caress, Am I Evil, and Battery brought the house down, before the band delivered their final number, a cover of Queen’s, Stone Cold Crazy.  That was it.  We had nothing left.  Not the band.  Not the audience.  I recall looking around the arena and seeing everyone in a universal stupor.

My girl and I drove home.  She was a true metalhead and Metallica was her favorite band.  Yes, she was also the same girl who made me take her to see the Scorpions (see the review I wrote about this show) just so she could see Trixter.  Perhaps this is proof positive that I will never figure women out, but I digress.  On this night, we couldn’t stop talking about how amazing this show was, an impression that has remained to this day.  This show is available on YouTube, and whenever I watch it, I am transformed back to the night I saw the greatest concert of my life.

Metallica Setlist:

Enter Sandman

Creeping Death

Harvester of Sorrow

Welcome Home (Sanitarium)

Sad But True

Wherever I May Roam

Bass Solo

Through the Never

The Unforgiven

Justice Medley (snippets of Eye of the Beholder, Blackened, Frayed Ends of Sanity, And Justice for All)

Drum Solo

Guitar Solo

For Who the Bell Tolls

Fade to Black

Whiplash

Encore #1:

Master of Puppets

Seek and Destroy

Encore #2:

One

Last Caress

Am I Evil

Battery

Encore #3:

Stone Cold Crazy    

Metallica-Portland Maine 1992

Concert Review: Rush – Roll the Bones Tour Dec. 9, 1991

One of my favorite bands of all time! Great review of an old show!

Drew's Reviews

If there was ever a question about the role of Rush in my life, 30 years ago today removed all doubts.

Just a few days earlier I withdrew from college.

But Rush book-ended this abysmal time of my life first with the release of Roll the Bones on Sept. 3, the day I left for that college, only to end with a bit of everyday glory at the Providence Civic Center in Providence, RI the night before I returned home for good when I saw Rush on the Roll the Bones tour.

I’m not so sure I believe in coincidences.

Like my Presto Tour review, this one recalls more memories of that time in my life rather than reliving the concert and a breakdown of the show. Sadly, your younger brain, mine anyway, fails to absorb early events in life, even ones that make a lasting impression. But if…

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Metal Monday-Archived Concert Review

Guns N’ Roses with special guest Skid Row

Saratoga Performing Arts Center

Saratoga Springs NY

June 10, 1991

It was a comfortable late spring evening when Guns N’ Roses brought their brand-new Use Your Illusion tour to upstate New York.  The double albums of the same name (1 And 2) were still three months from release, but you wouldn’t know it by the electrified crowd that filled the theater and swelled the lawn.  With Skid Row charged with opening the show, the audience braced itself for a night of drunken debauchery.

New Jersey’s Skid Row was releasing their new album, Slave to the Grind the very next day.  The band was firing on all cylinders that evening, opening with the frenetic title track, before following up with Piece of Me and Big Guns from their 1989 self-titled debut.  It was clear that the quintet understood the magnitude of the performance, that they were solely responsible for firing the crowd up enough to compensate for what was likely to be a lengthy delay, given GnR frontman Axl Roses’ penchant for showing up late to his own concerts.  A quick, but powerful run through new tracks Monkey Business and Get the Fuck Out, plus a cover of Tiny Bradshaw’s, Train Kept A-Rollin’, with GnR’s Slash making a cameo appearance, finished up the main set, before the Skids came back for an encore of classics, I Remember You and Youth Gone Wild.  For what it was worth, the band did their part to make this a memorable night.

Skid Row Setlist:

Slave to the Grind

Piece of Me

Big Guns

Riot Act

Monkey Business

Sweet Little Sister

Get the Fuck Out

Train Kept A-Rollin’

Encore:

I Remember You

Youth Gone Wild

As to be expected, the wait for the headliners was quite prolonged.  After about an hour, the venue started playing 1989’s Batman movie, starring Michael Keaton, on the big screen.  This was fine until more than 45 minutes of the movie went by, and fans started getting restless.  The booing reached a crescendo before, mercifully, the lights went down, and the jeers turned to cheers.

Guns N’ Roses opened with a pair of tracks from its debut smash, Appetite for Destruction, Nightrain and Mr. Brownstone.  All seemed to be forgiven even though it was about 11 PM before the group made its appearance.  The band sounded tight and appeared to be in shape, the benefits of seeing a band in the infancy of a long tour.

I have several qualms about the show, however.  As the new records had yet to be released, the audience did not know much of the new material, save for the already released, Civil War, creating a lull in the momentum gained with known songs, such as It’s So Easy, Welcome to the Jungle, My Michelle, Rocket Queen, and Sweet Child o’ Mine.  While the crowd was treated to hearing future classic, November Rain for the first time, and can brag about having the Get in the Ring chant recorded at its show, even the encores were littered with unrecognizable tracks.

Another issue was the never-ending solo sections of the show.  Matt Sorum’s drum solo.  Slash’s guitar solo and his Love Theme from the Godfather bit.  The long jams that segued from song to song.  It hindered the concert from sustaining any energy that the audience had mustered.  Say nothing about Axl Rose and his preaching raps in between songs.  They get old, unnecessary, and, again, kill the festivities.  And Axl was just getting warmed up.  He was a mere three weeks away from his infamous incident in St. Louis, and a little more than a year from inciting the Montreal riot.

I enjoy Guns N’ Roses’ albums, especially the timeless debut, one of those has a permanent place on my mental “flawless” list, along with the debut Van Halen record, Def Leppard’s High and Dry, and Metallica’s Master of Puppets.  I may even put Slave to the Grind in this illustrious company.  That said, this was the first time I saw GnR live, and the last time.  I found their show to have too many fits and starts to build any sort of force and considered Axl Rose a little too obnoxious to take for two and a half hours.  I hear that Axl has mellowed with the passing of decades and the band’s current show is a killer.  I’m glad to hear that.  However, I probably won’t see them again.

Guns N’ Roses Setlist:

Nightrain

Mr. Brownstone

Double Talkin’ Jive

Dust n’ Bones

Bad Obsession

It’s So Easy

Dead Horse

Civil War

Welcome to the Jungle

14 Years

Patience (with I Was Only Joking intro)

My Michelle

November Rain

Drum Solo

Slash Guitar Solo

Speak Softly Love (Love Theme From The Godfather)

Rocket Queen

Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door (with Only Women Bleed intro)

Sweet Child o’ Mine (with Bad Time intro)

Encore 1:

Live and Let Die

Estranged

Encore 2:

Yesterdays

Paradise City

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