Category Archives: Music

Concert reviews, bands, albums, etc.

Purple Reign in Hollywood

The following post was originally on my Hubpages site which I’m phasing out. 

I’m heading to a party Saturday night, June 30th, 2007, held in a hotel room at the Roosevelt Hotel in Hollywood, CA. Upon my arrival I noticed lots of people decked out for more than just hanging out at the hotel. A large banner by the lobby carried that symbol we all associate with Prince. And yes, dearly beloved, Prince is in the house! The people hosting the party had no idea. Then two girls got a great idea. They  went out to Hollywood Blvd. and purchased purple wristbands, a whole box. I have no idea. All I know is the wristbands WORKED! A whole bunch of us entered the club. As soon as the door swings open, standing on the stage and shaking his hips what seemed to be ten feet away, was the purple wonder himself, PRINCE! I’ve always wanted to see Prince and now I have. I thought I missed my opportunity. Man, seeing Prince in a small club…for free was well, ‘Delirious.’ He went through many hits including “Take Me With You.” He jammed out on “Let’s Go Crazy.” He even performed “Nothing Compares to You” which he wrote for Sinead O’Connor. Sheila E. was there banging on her bongos to “Glamorous Life.” It wasn’t a long set, but for walking in off the street it was quite amazing. You never know where an evening will take you. It’s raining Purple. Purple Rain. I’d like to thank the Universe. Long Live Prince!

Purple Reign.

Unfortunately I did not get to take any photos. Knowing Prince, I wasn’t about to post any photos off other websites here as he seems to have a beef about that. You’ve got to respect his wishes especially now that he’s gone.

Dearly beloved
We are gathered here today
To get through this thing called life
Electric word life
It means forever and that’s a mighty long time
But I’m here to tell you
There’s something else
The after world
A world of never ending happiness
You can always see the sun, day or night

Rest in peace, Prince…in the After World. 

TMZ article

Scott Weiland @ The Pearl

Scott WeilandAll aboard! Former Stone Temple Pilots singer, Scott Weiland, stepped on stage, sporting aviator sunglasses, looking dapper in a sharp suit about 30 minutes late with his band, the Wildabouts. The 90-minute concert showcased mostly STP hits from albums, “Core” and “Purple.” After Weiland rambled about hearing Elvis whispering on stage, he shouted into his characteristic megaphone and launched into “Crackerman.” The 75 percent full crowd in their 30’s and 40’s stood up and cheered as Weiland performed “Wicked Garden.” Some fans enduring seats on the floor eventually snuck up to the stage.

The first half of the show was strong. Weiland worked his strange, wavy dance moves all over the stage and laid down to feel Doug Grean’s guitar solo. At the end of “Dead & Bloated,” Grean let fans run their fingers along the strings. Weiland connected with first row fans, fist bumping, slapping, shaking hands and tossing a pair of sunglasses into the crowd.

Scott WeilandThe second half of the show suffered due to their late arrival and Weiland’s weakening vocals. The Wildabouts seemed to tolerate Weiland’s antics, musings and ramblings. Some fans encouraged Weiland during some hiccups. Because of lost time, Weiland skipped some damn good STP classics; “Interstate Love Song” and “Sex Type Thing.” Weiland seems to too often reach a point when the train is leaving and he must be on it. A loud siren rang before the band’s encore. It was warning fans to lower expectations. Feeling uninspired, “Unglued” and Doors cover, “L.A. Woman” prolonged this train wreck. Weiland missed an opportunity to pay tribute to legendary Doors’ keyboardist Ray Manzarek whom passed away earlier in the week. After all his strange babble, Weiland was first to exit the stage with nothing further to say. I guess he had a train to catch.

Some high points were “Creep,” Jane’s Addiction’s “Mountain Song” and David Bowie’s “The Jean Genie” as Weiland took the liberty to climb a large stack of speakers to pull out an American flag from The Pearl’s wall. Weiland paraded his patriotism, flag in hand, marching and dancing around the stage. Love him or hate him, Scott Weiland is the quintessential, flawed rock star.

Vegas Seven Magazine article

 

ZZ Top Has Legs

Baby boomers and slightly younger fans crowded the House of Blues in Las Vegas, hooting and hollering with anticipation. “Ladies and gentlemen, it’s party time,” said the cute young, blond girl in the video that opened the show. At 10:20pm, those sharp dressed men, bassist Dusty Hill and guitarist Billy Gibbons, entered the stage with their classic long beards, cowboy hats, dark suits and cheap sunglasses. Ready to rock! Beardless Frank Beard, wearing a tee-shirt, pounded the drums. The trio powered through their entire 80 minute set promoting new album, La Futura, without any breaks. Gibbons wished the House of Blues a Happy 20th Birthday. “We’ve been doing this for 4 decades,” he added and the lively crowd cheered.

ZZ Top at HOB Las Vegas

ZZ Top at HOB Las Vegas

The show was a warm and fuzzy look back at ZZ Top’s great bluesy music and rockin’ hits over the years. Video clips, live shots of the band and other visuals enhanced the songs on-screen behind the band. Classic MTV videos played along-side “Gimme All Your Lovin’” and “Legs” while other songs had visuals such as pretty girls driving cars. Old movie clips of Vincent Price accompanied “Vincent Price Blues.”

At one point in the show, the band took a license plate from a fan. It read: ZZ TOPS. They passed it around on stage to sign. Gibbons then pretended to be an auctioneer, bidding. “Do I hear 25? 25?” The fan got their license plate back eventually.

Folks kicked up their heels to “Tube Snake Boogie.” There was a lot of 70’s and 80’s nostalgia in the air. I purchased that same famous ‘ZZ’ keychain I had and lost over 10 years ago. For their last few songs including “La Grange” and “Tush,” Gibbons and Hill switched out their guitars for those crazy white and fuzzy ones that spin. The only thing that would have completed the experience for me was if they actually spun those guitars live just once. Well, at least the guitars spun in the video clip. This was a solid performance and this is the perfect band for this venue. ZZ Top has legs.

Vegas Seven Magazine  article

Melvins Lite

Buzz Osbourne

“We broke the record we set last night in Phoenix,” said Buzz Osbourne, lead singer/guitarist of sludge metal band The Melvins Lite. The trio has embarked on a grueling tour in support of their latest release Freak Puke. The tour is more of a mission; 51 dates in 50 states in 51 days including Washington D.C. They’re attempting to break a Guinness Book of World Records to be the fastest tour by a band in the U.S. currently held by George Thorogood. Osbourne was accompanied by drummer/singer Dale Crover and Trevor Dunn on a stand-up bass.

Switching up from the usual 4-piece band with two drummers to the trio with Dunn on bass is why

Bassist Trevor Dunn

they’re called The Melvins Lite. There was nothing ‘Lite’ about it. Osbourne, with his signature grey, ragged hair, black long-sleeve shirt and what looked like sequins, thrashed about on stage, leading the rockers furiously. Bass player Trevor Dunn wore a brown baseball cap, white button-down shirt and a tie. Is this Dunn’s Angus Young (AC/DC) Halloween costume? Dunn got the flannel-wearing crowd of 30 and 40-somethings revved up with his thrilling bass solo from dark, spooky riffs to the pleasant sounds of “Over the Rainbow.” Drummer Dale Crover, mid-40’s, tee-shirt and jeans, re-entered from backstage and told the crowd, “Sing it Bitch!”

Crover got a surprise on-stage before their set as ‘Professional Weirdo’ Jenn O. Cide, a very tall, tattooed, busty brunette, lit up the room with her lengthy ‘fire fingers.’ She then lit the candles on Dale Crover’s cake and led everyone in singing “Happy Birthday” to Crover.

Jenn O. Cide Lights up

Melvins Lite, on their 49th date of this record-breaking tour, has stuck together since the early 80’s. This hard-working band played with great confidence and spirit. It was a solid performance including songs “Mr. Rip Off,” “Electric Flower” and Wings cover “Let Me Roll It.” At the end, Crover shouted, “Let’s get fucking shit-faced!” And with that the band exited the stage. George Thorogood’s “Bad to the Bone” played immediately afterwards. Look out, George! 

The show took place at Las Vegas Country Saloon.
Link to article in Vegas Seven Magazine

A Crowd-Surfing Matisyahu

Matisyahu with The Dirty Heads – Soundwaves Pool @ Hard Rock Hotel

The Dirty Heads

The Dirty Heads kicked off the good vibes with their rock/reggae/hip hop grooves for the beach ball-throwing kids mostly in their 20’s and 30’s. The Dirty Heads with their own fan-base got the crowd dancing and swaying to the hits; “Spread Too Thin” and “Lay Me Down.” The Dirty Heads were solid.

Without his usual skullcap, dark long beard and conservative black and white clothing and tallis or ‘prayer shawl’, Matisyahu walked through the crowd unnoticed as he hopped on stage wearing a white tee-shirt and blue jeans. Many fans were still unaware of his new lighter-colored hair and clean-shaven appearance. He seemed to have a fresh outlook on life as he reached out at one point to go crowd-surfing. It was a good show, but was crowd-surfing and beat-boxing enough to satisfy true fans?

Matisyahu

In early December 2011, Matisyahu shocked the music industry with a new look and not going by the ‘Hasidic reggae superstar.’ He hasn’t shed his Jewish beliefs as much as redefined them for himself.

Matisyahu has experimented with different styles of music and other artists (ex. The Chemical Brothers 2009’s “Drown in the Now”). With his new look and new album, “Spark Seeker,” perhaps his transition is a struggle to find a new identity and a wider audience. His updated look doesn’t mean he’s changed much on the inside. He‘s shed all labels. He just wants to be known as a musician or artist.

My friend (KOMP’s @thehangingchad) and I decided to watch from the upper level. Unbeknownst to us, Matisyahu and his small entourage were hanging out in a cabana nearby before the show. Every once in a while, Matisyahu would exit and walk somewhere with whom I’m guessing was his son, about six years old.

Ross with @TheHangingChad on left

During the show, I actually spoke to a guy with a long, dark, scruffy beard who called himself Kool Kojak. He turned out to be the Co-Writer/Producer on Matisyahu’s current “Spark Seeker” album. Kojak told me Matisyahu grew tired of some the restrictions of Hasidic life. He wanted to embrace his female fans as much as his male fans. That was not allowed in his Hasidic faith.

American Jews and non-Jews alike have identified with Matisyahu’s messages of faith in his lyrics. What made him so inspirational when he first came on the scene was the feeling in his voice when he sang with all his emotion and spirit. His earlier music sang out with such conviction. That magic was not present at this show.

This show was nothing like the first three times I saw him about six years ago. Matisyahu sang some of the old songs; “Time of Your Song,” “Jerusalem” and “King Without a Crown.” There was a slight edginess and a faster tempo to the old songs that lost their original appeal.

At the end, Matisyahu invited fans to climb on stage during “One Day.” And as unnoticed as he entered the stage initially, Matishayu snuck off the crowded stage and back into obscurity. He returned to the very same cabana. I was able to tell him, “Good show!” And it was a good show.

Michael McDonald

Soulful singer Michael McDonald has been performing since the late ’60s, and at this sold-out show at the Eastside Cannery Casino on February 18th, 2012, his age showed in some amusing ways. At the very start of the show he had slipped up by saying Los Angeles instead of Las Vegas, but quickly recovered. This one-time backup singer for Steeley Dan and ex-Doobie Brother poked fun at himself hoping he could ‘remember the lyrics’ to solo hit “I Keep Forgettin” off his first album, “If That’s What It Takes.”

A fan wished Michael ‘Happy Birthday.’ McDonald added that he recently turned 60. It was a night to celebrate all of his favorite pieces of music from The Doobie Brothers to his solo work to Marvin Gaye. McDonald’s rich baritone sounded great on hits; “It Keeps You Runnin’, ”Minute By Minute,” “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough” and “Sweet Freedom” from the 1986 movie, “Running Scared.” McDonald, on keyboard, was supported by a solid group of musicians. His two female singers encouraged the crowd to stand up and dance throughout the show. Fans instinctively stood up as McDonald sang “What a Fool Believes.” In McDonald’s encore, he dedicated “Takin’ it to the Streets” to Whitney Houston who was buried earlier that day. McDonald ended the 80-minute show with Stevie Wonder’s “Living for the City.” It was a night that perhaps McDonald won’t remember, but his fans will.

Here’s a link to the article I wrote for Vegas Seven.

Motley Crue…Still Kickin’ Ass!

Of all the bands that have come and gone, Motley Crue is ‘still kickin’ ass!’ All four original members; Mick Mars, Nikki Sixx, Tommy Lee and frontman Vince Neil have kept it together. There of course have been some rocky years, decades, etc. The nature of this band redefined rock and roll debauchery.

Even without the circus of sexy dancers, dangling half-naked from the ceiling of The Joint at the Hard Rock Hotel that Wednesday, February 15th, the clowns on stilts and fake-Motley Crue little people running around, the band itself put on an awesome performance. My concern was that Neil wouldn’t sound the same. Neil may have been a little out of breath at times, but his vocal chords were pounding out the high notes.

                             “Shout! Shout! Shout! Shout at the devil!”

Looks That Kill

The last time I saw Motley Crue I was in college in Hartford, CT in the early 90’s. It was the Dr. Feelgood tour. My seats were so far away. This time my buddy, Andrew, hooked me up on the GA Floor. I could have been as close as I wanted to, but 10-15 feet was close enough.

So many memories growing up as a teenager, rebelling society with my Crue tee-shirts…and parachute pants. Yes, I was also into Run DMC too. For the rest of the world, that was weird. But I love music and whatever ‘Kickstarts’ my heart works for me. Nowadays you can’t recognize songs because they’re so mixed and mashed up. Whatever happened to the days of vinyl? I still have my “Looks That Kill” 45. On the flip side is “Piece of Your Action” which turned me on to Too Fast for Love. I loved that album so much I painted the cover on the back of my jean jacket of a man grabbing his crotch. Looking back it was somewhat startling for my very white-picked fence oriented small town in Armonk, NY. IBM would not approve.

On With the Show

Getting back to the concert, they kicked off the show with “Live Wire,” “Wild Side” and “Too Fast for Love.” Soon after that came “Shout at the Devil.” The middle of the show involved a sit-down acoustic set in a circular mini-stage about 20 feet in front of the stage where my date, Nancy, and I were. The stage spun slowly enhancing the songs (not necessarily ballads) “Without You,” “On With the Show,” and “Don’t Go Away Mad (Just Go Away.)”

Drum Solo

A buxom female ringmaster dressed in black and red introduces Tommy Lee as the man ‘every single man wants to be.’ Tommy, sitting in his drum set, loops in a giant circle upside down and all around. Then as “Rollercoaster” comes on by the Red Hot Chilli Peppers, a fan gets on stage and rides the contraption with Tommy. Very cool!

Drum roll please

Home Sweet Home

In the middle mini-stage Tommy plays a piano as Vince Neil swings over the crowd  from the opposite far corner, singing “Home Sweet Home.” It’s a fitting finale as The Joint is their home all this month of February, from the 3rd to the 19th. It’s also Vince Neil’s permanent residence.

There have been rumors that this could be the end. But then during the show the band hinted at coming back.

Hard Rock Hotel elevator

Come on and Dance!

Tesla

Tesla @ HOB

TESLA

California hard rockers, Tesla, named after the famous inventor, Nikola Tesla, has reinvented itself over the years. Their risky move in the 90’s to strip down their electric guitars and play acoustically transformed the music business and inspired a generation of rockers ‘unplugging.’ Their current tour is in support of their latest album, “Twisted Wires and the Acoustic Sessions,” released in 2011 with some acoustic remakes of their earlier songs and a few brand new songs like “Second Street” and “Better Without You.”

HOUSE OF BLUES

Chad Plummer

Tesla played a very packed House of Blues Saturday, January 7, 2012.

With over 25 years of playing their ‘blues metal’ has built a very strong fan-base with a very diverse following; metalheads, hippies and blue-collar types, kids in their 20’s and older fans of 30’s and 40’s. Opening band, Built By Stereo, warmed up the crowd. Tesla played for about an hour and twenty minutes. They had a strong start and a stronger finish. Lead singer Jeff Keith, sporting a football jersey with his name on the back, belted out the hits; “Comin’ Atcha Live / Truckin,” “Heaven’s Trail (No Way Out),” “Modern Day Cowboy” and “Signs.”

The meat of the show was really for diehard Tesla fans as it pertained to lesser-known songs and songs from the new album including “Second Street” and “Better Without You.”

Playing acoustically is an animal all to itself. Some fans prefer the unplugged versions of Tesla’s rock songs while others like the original electric versions. This is not the band I saw over 20 years ago. Their energy was not the same. Mostly, the band sat on stools like any other acoustic jam. Keith got up and walked around a bit to connect with the audience. Guitarists Frank Hannon and Dave Rude showered the crowd with guitar picks. The packed house burst into singing “Love Song.” A pleasant surprise in Tesla’s set was a cover of Led Zeppelin’s “Thank You.”

Chad Plummer was my guest at the show. It was his idea to watch the show near the bar so I could use the bar to lean on when taking notes. Good idea, Chad. If the energy of the show was better I might have moved closer to the stage. I never moved.

Here’s a link to online the article version in Vegas Seven Magazine.

Uberschall @ Double Down

Elvis (Lederer) has left the Venetian. The writing on this wall said ‘Shut up and Drink.’ The bar patrons were all mesmerized by the three drummers, two guitarists and one bassist that make up Uberschall, which means ‘supersonic’ in German. This very fitting name may not ring a bell, but the band members are mostly from the current line-up of the Blue Man Group. Uberschall formed in 2000 when the members of Blue Man Group sought out an improvisational and experimental outlet away from the PVC pipes and blue faces. At roughly 12am, the band members strolled into the bar, one by one, setting up their equipment. Guitars were tuned. Drums were hit. The last drummer, Todd Waetzig, arrived to set up.

Soon after, Waetzig started warming up, pounding the drums and setting a rhythm. The two other drummers followed suit as if they were a part of a loud drum circle. The guitarists chimed in and the musicians rode the wave of an improvisational journey not knowing exactly where they would end up. They just felt the music and followed their gut. The music flowed in one direction and at some point went in another direction. The pace slowed down and then picked up. They jammed for about 20 minutes or so and took a short break. The follow-up jam session started out very differently with a slower, mellower pace set by Elvis Lederer, 40’s, the guitarist and the band’s general manager. His soft wailing vibrated throughout the bar like whale sounds, summoning his band mates to find their places. One bar patron started dancing to the wailing sounds and psychedelic vibes. The pace picked up. Drummers pounded into a frenzy. You get a sense that the session is very different every time. Uberschall plays at Double Down on the last Sunday of every month.

This is my full length blog. For the article version in Vegas Seven click here.

Roger Sings Tommy

Tommy can you hear me?

Imagine how many Twitter followers Tommy would have today? A fan from the audience tried to speak with Roger Daltrey towards the end of the show at The Joint in Las Vegas. Roger, or should I say Tommy, could not hear them. He could hear the spirited older crowd in their 40’s, 50’s and 60’s Saturday night, October 22, cheering, singing and dancing the night away.

Roger mentioned that the band playing on stage was definitely not The Who. But Roger was definitely ‘Roger’ as his voice was superb. For someone who’s had voice problems and surgery, Roger brought back Tommy in a glorious rock and roll style.

See Me, Feel Me

Visual effects accompanied Roger and enhanced the story of Tommy, ‘a classic’ Roger said after getting through the entire album. Assuming there’s no teenagers in the audience, Roger wondered about the music and lyrics lasting the test of time. It’s a salute to Pete Townsend and his bandmates of the past; bassist John Entwistle and drummer Keith Moon. Pete Townsend continues to struggle with ear problems.

Roger hinted that they (him and long-time bandmate Pete) were not done yet. That sparked more cheers from the aging crowd. After all, this little tour was originally meant to be one show for charity and was encouraged to tour.

Sally Simpson

I’m Free

Tommy is timeless because of its themes of isolation, acceptance, sexual abuse, murder, religion and more. There are so many levels to Tommy. The story is told so well that it grows on you over time. And the times may change, but those themes remain the same. Even Sally Simpson got an upgrade as the visual effects had her laying on her bed buried in her laptop computer.

Who Are You

The band on stage may not have been The Who, but they sounded great! He may not be his older brother, but Simon Townsend vocally sounds a bit like him, singing all the parts his brother would be singing if present.

Simon Townsend

The Kids Are Alright

Roger lead the band through hits by The Who; “Who Are You,” “The Kids Are Alright,” “Behind Blue Eyes” and “Going Mobile,””Baba O’Reilly,” “My Generation” and ended with “Blue, Red & Grey.”  Roger played homage to Johnny Cash playing a medley of songs; “I Got Stripes,” “Folsom Prison” and “Ring of Fire.” It was Roger’s effort to keep another artist’s music alive.

The Who’s music won’t go away anytime soon with the next generation keeping their music alive with acts like Pearl Jam and TV shows like ‘CSI.’ Amazing show!

The following footage I filmed with my little Canon Powershot camera. I wasn’t very close, but you can always zoom in.

Long live rock!

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