Monthly Archives: October 2012

Queensryche/Alice Cooper/Heaven & Hell @ The Selland Arena, Fresno CA 10/02/07 \m/\m/

Talk about one hell of a line-up, and in the Central Valley to boot. Honestly, I was more interested in seeing Queensryche and Heaven & Hell, but it was the immortal Alice Cooper that stole the show, sneaking away the headliner’s thunder. Unfortunately, we arrived late for QR’s set, they were wrapping up Eyes of a Stranger as we arrived and found our seats. I had caught QR in 2005 and was more than satisfied with that experience, so I wasn’t too disappointed about missing them. Alice Cooper’s set began and man, the first 15 minutes left me awe-struck and stunned. The songs were rockin’ but catchy, radio-friendly anthemic metal. He kept hitting us with his classic material, boom boom boom, one track after another. “It’s Hot Tonight” melted into “No More Mr. Nice Guy” without missing a beat. Rather naively, I thought to myself ‘holy shit, the man IS great!” More great tracks followed, “Under My Wheels” and “Eighteen” continued the relentless rock fest. More classics followed, one after another, then finally with a bombastic finish “Billion Dollar Babies” and “Poison.” Alice is the same age as Ozzy Osbrourne, but Alice still has all his mobility and mental faculties (sorry, Ozzy). Alice strutted and commanded on that stage. His production was awesome, the stage setup, the props, the morbid yet campy theatrical aspect, it was all great and reflected his more than solid reputation in the metal world. He practically played a full set, 15 or 16 songs in all. This was one heck of a show and the ‘headliners’ hadn’t performed yet.

It’s Hot Tonight
No More Mr. Nice Guy
Under My Wheels
Eighteen
Is It My Body
Feed My Frankenstein
Halo Of Flies
Welcome To My Nightmare
Only Women Bleed
Steven
Dead Babies
Ballad Of Dwight Fry
Devil’s Food / Killer / I Love The Dead
School’s Out
Billion Dollar Babies
Poison

The intermission occurred and then Heaven & Hell took the stage to a welcoming salute from the Fresno crowd, it was a loud welcome with plenty of \m/\m/ in the air. The tone of this set was vastly different than Alice’s set. H&H presented darker, sludgier, and less accessible metal in comparison to Alice or even Queensryche for that matter. The set seemed shorter in comparison to Alice’s set. It was loud as hell, probably the loudest show I’ve ever attended. I forgot my ear protection. Consequently, my ears rang for the following three days, scared the hell out of me. Iommi’s guitar kept getting louder and louder! It was a serious set, lacking in the tongue-in-cheek fun that was present during Alice’s set. The Dio led Black Sabbath continued the dark, occult imagery and down tuned stylings of classic Black Sabbath, but with a twist. That twist was the legendary Ronnie James Dio. While original vocalist Ozzy Osbourne was the voice of Black Sabbath, it was Ronnie James Dio that was the voice of Metal.  \m/\m/

Dio had major success with Rainbow as well as with his own band, having released a multitude of classic metal recordings. It is not widely known that Dio became the successor to Ozzy Osbourne who was fired from Sabbath in the late 70s. For this anniversary tour, to avoid a legal dispute with Osbourne, the band chose to use the moniker Heaven & Hell, named after their first album recorded with Ronnie James Dio. Dio as a frontman is so different than Ozzy Osbourne. While Osbourne cursed, yelled and sneered at the audience, Dio approached the crowds with a classy demeanor, always complimented the audience, never yelled or screamed at the audience, and was simply a gentleman metal-head. His voice was instantly recognizable, powerful, sweet at times when he crooned, and thunderous when he got into the metal head-space, and the man was only 5’4”!!! While short in stature, he commanded the audience like a 10 foot tall metal god. Sadly, Ronnie James Dio would pass away from stomach cancer a few years later in May of 2010. I felt privileged to see him perform while he was still alive. It’s quite something being able to see the most influential voices of metal live. I’ve been fortunate enough to see Dio, Ozzy Osbourne, Bruce Dickinson of Iron Maiden, Rob Halford of Judas Priest, and Geoff Tate of Queensryche. Dio is still the king. RIP.

E5150
The Mob Rules
Children of the Sea
I
The Sign of the Southern Cross
Voodoo
Computer God
Falling Off the Edge of the World
Die Young
Heaven and Hell
Neon Knights

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Ozzy Osbourne & Rob Zombie @ The Rabobank Arena, Bakersfield CA 11/26/07

Rob Zombie stole the damn show, hands down, without a doubt. His set was more entertaining, he brought his “A” game and slayed the Bako crowd. The man reminds me so much of Alice Cooper: the theatrics, the metal, the fun, and the fans truly got a spectacle and not just another rock show. It was a shock to hear that this show would be coming to the valley, let alone Bakersfield…and no offense to the Bakersfield community, but that market is so much more secondary than the Fresno market! Anyhow, Rob said hello to the crowd and made us feel just as worthy as the LA and Oakland fans. He said something along the lines of “You know someone apologized to me for having to play Bakersfield. I said apologize for what?” The band was tight, the show was well executed, and Rob was an awesome performer during the entire set. Cool little footnote. John 5 on guitar snuck in the intro to Skynyrd’s “Sweet Home Alabama” and the band jumped in for the first few bars. The crowd picked up the first verse of “Big wheels keep on turnin” and then the band stopped. That came out of nowhere but it was cool nonetheless.

Rob’s set: 

Sawdust in the Blood
American Witch
Demon Speeding
Living Dead Girl
More Human Than Human
Superbeast
House of 1000 Corpses
Let It All Bleed Out
Never Gonna Stop
Thunder Kiss ’65
The Devil’s Rejects
Dragula

Ozzy’s set began and after what seemed like a lengthy wait. Rob Zombie had the crowd pumped and we eagerly awaited The Prince of Darkness. He came on stage and the first words out of his mouth were “I can’t fucking hear yooouuu!” The crowd cheered and the set began. It was awesome to see the man in the flesh. He didn’t move around too much and it was obvious to me that there was some “help” on the vocals, but it didn’t matter: it was still Ozzy. It was even cooler to see the great Zakk Wylde on guitar, laying it down with power and precision. Zakk is such an iconic guitar player, and it was more than a treat to be able to see him work his magic onstage like that. His solo piece included excerpts from Pantera’s “Walk” and a couple other songs. The band was excellent, very tight and nailed the performance without any technical issues. Highlight of the night for me was a performance of “Road to Nowhere,” it’s the perfect combo of rock, melody and sentimentality. Witnessing Ozzy perform that will always be ingrained in my memory. The only weak aspects to the show concerned the show length and the quality of Ozzy’s vocals. The set itself was a mere 80 minutes. I initially thought the Bakersfield crowd got screwed because it was a “scratch” gig, a warm-up in a secondary market with reduced production. And I kick myself for assuming that, but that wasn’t the case. We received the standard set that other cities experienced, save for one or two songs. And Ozzy’s vocals, I suppose that’s to be expected, the man was approaching 60 and still working his ass off as a veteran touring act, harmonizer or not. All in all, this was a great combo package and worth the ticket price. It’s rare for this area to host such quality, international acts like that. I hope they keep coming. Metal is sorely lacking in the Central Valley.

Ozzy’s set: (corrections may be needed)

I Don’t Wanna Stop
Crazy Train
Suicide Solution
Mr. Crowley
Not Going Away
Road to Nowhere
Fire in the Sky
Bark at the Moon
Guitar Solo
I Don’t Know
Here for You
I Don’t Want to Change the World
Encore:
Mama, I’m Coming Home
Paranoid
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Photos taken by fans the night of 11/26/07, Bakersfield Rabobank Arena

Deftones & Incubus @ UCI Bren Events Center, Irvine CA 10/23/00

So my lady and I had more or less settled into campus life at UCI. We definitely felt like fish out of water, coming from a little town and ending up in the almost too perfect scenery of ritzy Orange County. A couple of the guys I was dorming with at the time, Jesse and Gabe, told me about the upcoming Deftones show. Jesse was the guy at Wherehouse Music that helped to introduce me to the music of dredg. The Deftones’ album White Pony was one of the most important alt/rock CDs in my collection. I had pretty much fallen in love with the disc, the music was brutal at times, but beautiful and compelling as well. Chino Moreno sounded like a sweeter yet more acidic version of Billy Corgan of The Smashing Pumpkins, without the annoying whine. I could listen to this album all day. I was heavily into this disc before I departed for college and I made sure not to leave it behind at my parents’ place. I had to keep familiar things with me, to keep me focused on studies and handle the pressures of living independently hundreds of miles away from home. My girlie and I didn’t have the luxury of going home on the weekends like most of our friends and classmates. So we made the most of it, had some adventures and grew a lot in the process.

I quickly bought tickets for the ‘Back To School Tour,’ a double bill with Incubus, Taproot would be opening. I was familiar with Incubus but was by no means a fan. Taproot I hadn’t heard of, but Jesse loaned me a CD (study materials). I invited my lady, I would end up developing a habit of dragging the poor thing to loud, hard rock/metal shows. We made our way to the Bren Events Center that October evening. We ran into Jesse and Gabe in line, as well as Phil, another cool guy from the res halls. We chatted until doors opened. It was a GA event, first come, first served – sit where ever you want type of situation. We found some good spots side stage and sat through most of Taproot’s performance. Another couple sat by us. We said hello and they explained how they were there to see Incubus mainly. We explained how we were there to see Deftones. Cool little dichotomy. Taproot wrapped up, they were a decent band, but just not my thing. Their debut album was out and they had also scored a spot on the Ozzfest Line-up. Taproot vocalist Stephen Richards went on to say at the end of their set “Are you guys ready for Incubus and the muthafuckin’ Deftones? Ohhh you guys are soooo lucky.” My ears perked up and thought wow, could Incubus be as good as Deftones? Jesse also loaned me a copy of Make Yourself, Incubus’ latest album at that point. Some of the material was good, but oh man…in a live setting, Incubus laid it down. They fuckin’ ROCKED the house.

Incubus played a steller set, no pun intended. From their opening “Make Yourself” to the final track, “Pardon Me,” they mesmerized the crowd, including me. They had stage presence, consistency, chops and put on an exciting show. The stars of that band had to be DJ Kilmore on the turntables and drummer Jose Pasillas. The scratches were sick, the drumming was energetic (very much like Stewart Copeland of The Police). They were unbelievably tight and sounded as if they’d been playing together for over a decade. While the songs on the CD Make Yourself sounded a bit muted or restrained, they came alive onstage with more energy and power. The moment that completely won me over and made me a fan was their performance of “The Warmth.” The groove, the melody, the atmosphere, the message, wow…these guys are awesome, I thought to myself. The eye popping moment came when DJ Kilmore laid it down during “Pardon Me.” There’s a scratching breakdown before the second verse of the song. The stage was darkened as Pasillas and bassist Dirk Lance laid down their groove for the pre-verse section. Kilmore then scratched up a frenzy on the turntables while a series of floor level lights, pointing upward and surrounding his turntable rig, lit up in rapid succession, in sync with his scratches. It was like a rapid fire light show that illuminated Kilmore only, as he tore it up on the turntables. The section ended, a rest occurred, and the crowd went crazy. The song picked up again and Boyd began to sing the second verse. WOW. That was freakin’ cool. The set by Incubus went down as follows, to the best of my memory. Unlike what’s posted online, Incubus DID NOT perform “Drive.” Thank goodness.

Make Yourself
Stellar
New Skin
Clean
When It Comes
A Certain Shade of Green
Nowhere Fast
The Warmth
Pardon Me

The Deftones then made their way onstage. I was eagerly awaiting an awesome performance. Much to my disappointment, a lot of the magic that made White Pony and Around the Fur great albums was tragically missing from the live show. For starters, the sound level was significantly higher than Incubus’ sound level. Stefan Carpenter’s guitar was way too loud and heavily distorted, so distorted I didn’t even realize they had begun performing “Be Quiet and Drive.” Moreno’s vocals were so inconsistent, it was embarrassing. A more tranquil selection like “Teenager” didn’t go over too well unless you were too high to notice, the vocals were so off key, I was sad for Moreno. My favorite track, “Digital Bath,” was played only somewhat well. Honestly, the saving graces of this band was the rhythm section and turntable/keyboard player Frank Delgado. Abe Cunningham on drums made the show worthwhile for me. I had never seen a Deftones video up until after the show, I hadn’t researched what kind of setup or drum kit Cunningham was using. Based on the sounds he was producing on record, I assumed that he played a monster of a kit, double bass set up with 4 rack toms, 2 floor toms, just a mess of equipment that he commanded with precision and style. The man writes stylish drum parts, very clean, creative and entertaining. Witnessing the band live, I was shocked to see a basic setup, 2 rack toms and a single floor. How does this man get such varied sounds from fewer pieces of equipment. He can rock a 5 piece kit and even put some of those drummers with big kits to shame. But unfortunately, I came to the show excited to see Deftones, I walked away disappointed (but became a new Incubus fan). I struggled to remember the band’s set, It was something like the following:

Korea
Feiticeira
Be Quiet and Drive (Far Away)
Engine No. 9
Root
Around the Fur
Change (In the House of Flies)
My Own Summer (Shove It)
MX
Lifter
Lotion
Headup
Digital Bath
Teenager
Knife Party
Encore:
Bored
7 Words

TOOL @ Selland Arena, Fresno CA 11/22/02

Tool has always been one of those dark alt rock bands that I’ve admired over the years, especially Danny Carey’s elegant and complex drumming. But to call Tool an alternative rock group borders on insult. They’re much more than that, but it’s hard to categorize them. For certain, their music is dark, aggressive and complicated. In another review I described the music and performance of A Perfect Circle, Maynard James Keenan’s other group. Some would consider APC a ‘light’ version of Tool. With Tool you get more metal, weirder arrangements, even weirder and sometimes frightening subject matter, VERY weird and sometimes morbid music videos, better stamina (some tracks clock in at 8 minutes or more) and more proficient musicianship (especially Danny Carey on Drums). This tour has been strange. The band is supporting their Lateralus album, which is mind blowing and shockingly impressive. However there are fewer memorable songs. Another way to put it, the songs and the album aren’t as accessible as the material on Ænema. This tour is even less accessible than the new album itself if you can imagine.

Fellow MP.com forumer dbfield and I made our way to Selland arena after getting lost in freakin’ Fresno. Actually, we drove in from Orange County to see this show during a break from school. We made our way into the arena as Meshuggah was closing their opening set. I like Meshuggah and wished I could have caught their act. Tool took the stage to a deafening applause from the Fresno crowd. I give the band credit for doing something different and making their music the focal point of the show, not necessarily the performance or production. It was so dark onstage, very few light sources were used, making the stage shadowy and cavern like. Use of video screens and pre-recorded footage was minimal. The light show was very basic but effective, used to augment the show, rather than provide a gimmicky distraction. Jones’ and Chancellor’s positions were at the front of the stage, stage left and stage right. The strangest part of the stage set-up was in regards to Carey’s and Keenan’s positions. The singer and drummer were side by side and toward the back of the stage, somewhat behind Chancellor and Jones! Both Keenan and Carey were on raised platforms. Keenan was dressed in an all black outfit complete with a hood. His face was painted black save for streaks of fluorescent orange. It was as if Keenan melted into the dark cavernous space of that venue.

There was little in the sense of a “show” or spectacle. The focus was on the musicians, producing their music onstage with little fan-fare or theatrics. It made for an interesting but dull concert experience. There was little connection with the audience, however a Tool fan would argue that the music itself was the only connection needed. At one point Keenan addressed the audience and said “Why don’t you put your cell phones away and join us in a night of music,” further emphasizing Tool’s philosophy of music performance without distractions. The concert itself was a strange event and it made me confused more than anything. What left me truly disappointed was the set that night. Tool played a relatively short set this tour. Around 13 tracks were featured, however many of which were long, clocking in at 8 minutes or more. And there were noticeable absences from this set, most notably “Sober,” “46&2” and my personal favorite, “H.” While exiting the venue, I ran into a classmate and Galaxy Theater alumnus, Christine. She asked “hey so how did you like the show.” I gave a half-hearted “it was ok.” She said “just ok!?” Die-hard Tool fans probably would have kicked my ass. So I probably won’t be seeing them again, but damn they know how to play their instruments (don’t laugh).

Tuva
Cold and Ugly
The Grudge
(-) Ions
Stinkfist
Eon Blue Apocalypse
The Patient
Schism
Parabol
Parabola
Ænema
Disposition
Reflection
Triad
Lateralus

Depeche Mode @ The Staples Center, Los Angeles CA 08/15/01

When I think of this show, I think of a line from one of my favorite episodes of The Simpsons, the one where The Ramones play at Monty Burns’ birthday bash. Joey Ramone says “I’d just like to say this gig sucks!” I love Depeche Mode, but damn, this gig had to be one of the most inconsistent, unspirited, unimpressive shows ever. It was so ‘whatever.’ So DM released a mediocre album that year – the inappropriately named EXCITER. You would think that the band would redeem themselves by designing a kick-ass show with a kick ass set, but nooooo. What my girl and I got was a collection of largely 2nd tier DM songs, the tracks you skip in favor of better songs! And the almost complete lack of 80s material just added to our disappointment. The show dragged, seriously dragged. It was as if the group said (with Dave Gahan’s deep voice and English accent) ‘good evening L.A., let us bore and depress you with a shitty selection of songs.‘ There were no peaks, only valleys. The highlight of the night was simply being able to see the group in the flesh. Other than that…sadly there isn’t much to write about. Um…it was cool seeing a live drummer on an acoustic kit! That’s about it. Oh and “Black Celebration” was played in a half-time, slowed tempo kind of arrangement. We should have saved our money and seen a second U2 gig. To be fair, don’t write off seeing Depeche Mode, they’re still legendary afterall. But maybe invest in the more affordable seats just in case they play a coma inducing set.

Set
Intro
Dead of Night
Sweetest Condition
Halo
Walking in My Shoes
Dream On
Waiting for the Night
Sister of Night
Breathe
Freelove
Enjoy the Silence
I Feel You
In Your Room
It’s No Good
I Feel Loved
Personal Jesus

Encore
Home
Clean
Black Celebration
Never Let Me Down Again

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U2 @ The Staples Center, Los Angeles CA 11/19/01

I can die now. That’s the feeling after seeing U2 live for the very first time. After years of watching them on video, listening to them on record, and losing out on tickets for Pop Mart and leg 1 of the Elevation Tour, FINALLY I was able to experience the greatest band on the planet (arguably), but definitely my favorite band of all-time. I was attending college at the time, my little brother made the 4 hour drive and stayed with me for a couple days. My girlie and our mutual friend, Eileen, also joined us. This show was the third Staples Center gig of a three night stand. U2 had sold out all three shows, it was miraculous that I was able to score tickets this time around. We lost out during leg one of the Elevation Tour in the Spring of ’01.

At this time, U2 were now more important to the music world (and the world at large) than ever before. It was two months since the September 11th terror attacks had occurred and the nation continued to mourn. Sadness and anger were abound, no matter where you turned. Most touring acts pulled out of performing in the United States since the attacks for a variety of reasons, mostly due to safety concerns. U2 strongly considered abandoning their return to The United States in the Fall of 2001, however they changed their minds and said fuck it, let’s tour North America anyway. At this particular gig, Bono would go on to say that the band was very proud to be playing The United States during such tumultuous times. Thus, Leg 3 of The Elevation Tour continued as previously planned, and the climate of the nation and the temperament of the audience made for very unique performances. The shows since 9/11 were therapeutic, cleansing, and celebrations of the human heart and spirit. Themes of this tour as well as the new album at the time, All That You Can’t Leave Behind, echoed those emotions and amplified the positive energy. Just like what had been written in Time and People Magazine, it was as if North America needed U2 more than ever. Their music is anthemic and uplifting, the subject matter of their songs often sobering yet celebratory. The members of U2 wear their hearts on their sleeves, and the members of U2 love North America. While other European groups of the 1980s largely avoided the investment of time and money in building their audience in The States, U2 embraced North America with open arms and toured the continent in exhaustive fashion, leaving their mark and making life-long fans in the process. Like Manager Paul McGuinness had said, U2 built their early reputation on their live performances. The Elevation Tour was ready made to showcase an intimate arena show with scaled down production, without the sensory overload and big money gimmicks of the previous two tours (ZooTV and PopMart). It was as if the Elevation Tour was the most emotional tour of U2’s career, the most human and sincere, and it was undeniably appropriate for post 9/11 North America. To promote that humanness and emotional connection, U2’s set designer created a stage that extended out into the GA floor area, known as the “Heart.” It was in fact a runway that was in the shape of a heart, it extended out into the crowd and allowed the band members to venture further out, shrinking the gap between audience and performer. On that runway, Bono, The Edge and Adam Clayton would venture out and perform stripped down versions of “Desire,” “Please,” “Stay,” and other numbers. The heart shaped stage was a direct extension of the art work of the album and it reflected the themes of the songs. The songs were about life, love, faith, family, and freedom. Such songs included “Beautiful Day,” “Walk On,” “Kite,” “When I Look at the World,” and fittingly enough, “New York.”

And as if the connections weren’t any more appropriate, U2 used The Beatles’ “All You Need is Love” and “Sgt. Pepper/With a Little Help From My Friends” as the pre-show music leading into their first number of the night, “Elevation.” As “With a Little Help From My Friends” faded out, the reworked intro to Elevation began and the house lights remained on…the song continued and woo-hoo’s began. This was in fact the ‘Tomb Raider’ Soundtrack remix of the song. The volume of the crowd became increasingly louder and LOUDER. What the heck was going on? The lights were still on and we weren’t sure if the show was actually beginning. The house lights were still on and then slowly entering from stage left…Larry, Adam, Edge and finally, Bono, waved to the audience and strolled out onto the main stage . The Staples Center crowd went ballistic. The volume of the crowd swelled to an almost painful level. It’s as if I was standing next to a jet engine at full power. Not to sound sycophantic, but it’s as if we were in the presence of heroes. The band took their places, the decibels of the audience noise continued to increase, and U2 crashed into “Elevation” running on all cylinders. The lights remained on and we were in awe. We could see EVERYTHING. And everyone for that matter. 15,000 people grooved to this song and filled in on the woo-hoo-ooo parts. It was deafening. I have never experienced such a loud, spirited reception for a group at a concert, not before or since that show. It was amazing how loud and welcoming the crowd was. After a triumphant ending to the song, suddenly the house lights clicked off, showing the red lit outline of the heart stage and the intro to “Beautiful Day” began, garnering another impressively loud roar from the audience, and now the show was truly about to begin. We soared with the music and we were awestruck by the lighting and visuals. The center piece of the production was that heart stage. Bono traveled the runway out into the audience while he sang the tune. Everyone in the GA floor section was reaching for him. Beautiful Day was a return to ‘classic’ U2: memorable melody, silvery, chiming guitar work, classic groove from the rhythm section, and uplifting, cathartic lyrics and singing from Bono. That’s the U2 formula, that’s the sound that inspires and heals.

The show continued with a rocking rendition of “Until the End of the World” and a funky performance of “Mysterious Ways.” The younger chicks were shaking it and the dudes were bobbing their heads. Then the “no fucking way” section of the show arrived: a four beat on the kick drum began along with Adam’s pulsing bass. I turned to my brother and we both had the same look of astonishment. “No. Way” I said. Then Edge’s guitar part confirmed it, it was “Out of Control” off the Boy album, and my brother and I shouted “YEEAAAHHH!!!” I think we forgot to blink. Bono introduced the song by saying “We’re a band from Dublin Ireland, this is our first single!” and the group tore into one of the coolest post punk anthems in their repertoire. During the middle-8 of the song, Bono briefly talked about how the world famous KROQ Los Angeles radio station broke them: “KROQ…on the radio…our first single….It’s out of control…we’re out of control…” and the song picked up speed and came to a blistering end. Wow…that song alone made our night. Also included were lines from “Into the Heart,” also from the Boy Album. Who would have thought we’d get to hear a classic like that.

Without a moment to catch a breath, the ratatatat-tat intro to “Sunday Bloody Sunday” began and the arena continued to give back with ear splitting cheers and screams. The WAR tune was a fitting follower to “Out of Control,” continuing the martial sounding theme. It was tense in the arena, the hair on my arms stood on end and I began to feel this odd sensation in my core. Edge’s poignant yet commanding guitar intro began and I along with other fans began to feel a shiver. After the terror attacks, a song like “Sunday Bloody Sunday” held closer meaning to the American audience. The song was originally written in response to the Bloody Sunday IRA terror attacks in Northern Ireland. During one infamous performance in England in 1983, a fight broke out in the crowd during a performance of the song. Bono angrily called out the troublesome audience members, challenging them by saying “Do you know what this song is about!? This song is about real violence where I come from, not pretend violence. You walk that way and you walk the other way. Listen to this song!” Ever since it’s release, the song has struck a chord with the Irish and English. But now, It’s as if the song was ours, the lyrics providing a somber mirror to what happened on 9/11 – ‘..I can’t believe the news today…I can’t close my eyes, make it go away. How long, how long must we sing this song, how long? Tonight, we can be as one. Tonight. Broken bottles under children’s feet, bodies strewn across a dead-end street. But I won’t heed the battle call. Puts my back up, my back up against the wall.’  During the cadence, Bono shouted to the crowd “…Turn this song into a prayer!…No More! No More!…wipe your tears away…”

After the powerful and emotionally charged Sunday Bloody Sunday, a string of slower selections followed, including “Stuck in a Moment” and a heart rendering version of “Kite,” originally written about Bono’s children, but now it was sung for his father who had passed away a few months previously. Stripped down acoustic versions of “Wild Honey” and “Please” followed, providing a downer for the set, But the magic quickly resumed when the sequencer intro to “Bad” began. It was great to hear one of my favorites performed live. “Bad” was adorned by a teaser of “Who’s Gonna Ride Your Wild Horses” in place of the usual “All I Want is You” teaser. It worked very well and it sounded like Wild Horses fit in perfectly with Bad’s song structure. Another cool happening, during “Bad,” Bono plucked a fan’s cell phone from the audience and sang the second half of the song into the phone. I wonder what the listener must have thought and felt, having “Bad” sung to him/her via cell phone. Beloved anthems “Where the Streets Have No Name,” “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For” and “Pride (In the Name of Love) closed out the main set in grande U2 fashion. During “Streets,” Bono grabbed an American Flag from the audience and ran a lap around the heart stage, flag in hand. These last four selections were a great end-cap to this show, the audience continued to sing the ‘whoa-oh-uh-oh’ section of “Pride” as the band left the stage. Of special note was in regards to the intro of “Where the Streets Have No Name,” where the large video screen projected the names of the victims of Flight 175. It was a stirring tribute to some of the victims of 9/11. The band would reproduce this tribute at subsequent shows, and finally at the Super Bowl XXXVI half-time show performance. At the end of the half-time performance, Bono opened up his jacket, showing the inner lining of the stars and stripes. That was the greatest half-time show ever.

The encore section was odd, consisting of “Bullet the Blue Sky” with NRA video footage, a cover of Marvin Gaye’s “What’s Going On” which was a duet with Gwen Stefani of No Doubt (who opened the show), “New York,” “One,” and “Peace on Earth/Walk On.” I think the encore was anti-climactic, especially after the strong ending to the main set with four timeless classics. Although the setlist wasn’ perfect, it was still an unforgettable and riveting U2 experience for a first timer like me. I finally got to see my band live. I was 12 years old when Larry Mullen first inspired me to pick up the drums in the first place. Years later I finally got to see my heroes in the flesh. Like I wrote in the beginning of this post, I can die now.

The following photos were taken by Matt McGee, creator of the atU2 web page and forum. Thanks, Matt!

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Megadeth @ The Palladium, Hollywood CA 03/31/10

I’ve wanted to catch Megadeth since 2000, but life and money (lack thereof) always got in the way. However this recent tour was VERY special. Co-founder and original bass player David Ellefson has rejoined the group. More importantly, Megadeth is commemorating the 20 year anniversary of the release of their masterwork Rust in Peace by performing it in its entirety. To add to the magic of that night, this particular show at the Hollywood Palladium was filmed for a future DVD release!!! I was actually a part of Megadeth history.

So I’m pretty new to the whole thrash metal gig experience. I had arrived as Testment wrapped up their set. The preshow music was very cool, including The Cult’s “She Sells Sanctuary” and Iron Maiden’s “2 Minutes To Midnight” which inspired the whole venue to sing along with raised fists and raised beers in the air (since there were no chalices of ale available). I knew the crowd wouldn’t be gentle, haha. The show began and we were packed like sardines and jostled in every direction. Imagine this entire mass of people heaving left and right, forward and backward in unison – some people losing their balance and falling over each other in the process. It was a big, dangerous, smelly, sweaty mass of humanity. It’s hard to enjoy a show when you’re trying NOT to get elbowed or knocked over lol. I lasted only four songs before moving to the rear of the venue, stage left. I’m getting too old for that.

This was a very cool show – historic musical event. Not bad for $40. Maybe I’m not “metal” enough for a Megadeth audience, but I still had a good time and knew most of the material. 17 songs were played including the 9 tracks from RIP. Two tracks from the new album Endgame were also featured (The Right To Go Insane, Head Crusher), as were some favorites like Peace Sells, Symphony of Destruction, Trust and In My Darkest Hour. Megadeth’s set lasted a mere 80 to 85 minutes. Ommited favorites like Sweating Bullets and A Tout Le Monde were sorely missed. Thrash giants Exodus and Testament opened, however I wasn’t able to catch them in time.

I’m more of a fan of the drummers in Megadeth than the band itself. Nick Menza and current drummer Shawn Drover are idols to me. The precision and stamina of those kinds of drummers have always impressed me. Shawn Drover made those rapid fire drum parts look easy. He played gracefully and effortlessly. His hands barely moved, but my ears were hearing a mess of activity on the toms and cymbals. It was like I was watching him in slow motion. New guitarist Chris Broderick from Nevermore nailed all those acrobatic guitar parts. David Ellefson is well…David Ellefson. And then there’s guitarist/singer Dave Mustaine…snarling, sneering egomaniac. But wow can he play. The production was simple, nothing too flashy, just your typical lighting setup and some stage props and a backdrop inspired by the Rust In Peace album cover. I think Megadeth has always been about the songs and the performance, rather than flash and frills like some other groups.

Rush In Peace = one of the greatest metal albums of all time.

MAIN SET
Skin O’ My Teeth
In My Darkest Hour
She-Wolf
Holy Wars/The Punishment Due
Hangar 18
Take No Prisoners
The Five Magics
Lucretia
Tornado of Souls
Dawn Patrol
Rust In Peace/Polaris
Trust
The Right To Go Insane
Head Crusher
Symphony of Destruction
ENCORE
Peace Sells (But Who’s Buying?)

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Daughtry & Lifehouse @ The Save Mart Center, Fresno CA 04/26/10

Very cool show, three quality acts on the same bill (Cavo/Lifehouse/Daughtry), very affordable and in an intimate venue. It was a night of enjoyable, melodic, feel good arena rock. I’m still becoming familiar with Daughtry’s new songs, but they’re very accessible and great sing-along anthems. Daughtry’s vocals were fairly strong but there were occasions when he couldn’t hold some of those notes. Show became stronger with each song performed. Daughtry’s vocals had a power to them that outdid his performances on record. Somehow Daughtry’s music comes across more powerfully in a live situation. There are times on record when his vocals can seem tame and uncompelling but in concert he goes for it with full power. I didn’t know this, but Daughtry’s bass player, Josh Paul, is a resident of Clovis. The show was very much like a homecoming to JP. Relating to that, Daughtry’s new disc, Leave This Town, deals heavily with “small town” themes. Chris said something like “this record has a lot to do with me coming from a small town…you guys know anything about that?” We responded with a roar. The cover songs were very interesting, the crowd got into it. And yes, Daughtry’s drummer Ralph Diaz played the drum break during In the Air Tonight.

Best moment of the night: Home adorned by a brief but lovely version of Lifehouse’s You and Me. Home isn’t my favorite Daughtry track, but what made this version magical was when Jason Wade from Lifehouse stepped onstage and joined Chris in a duet. To mine and the crowd’s delight, Chris changed up the chord structure and Home segued into Lifehouse’s ultimate wedding song, You and Me. The crowd responded greatly after Jason closed the chorus with the “and it’s you and me and all of the people, and I don’t know why I can’t take my eyes off of you” part – you just knew a bunch of women (and probably a few guys) were misty eyed after that, then Chris brought the song back into the next verse of Home. Perfect “WOW” moment.

there’s probably a few errors in song order but here goes…

Daughtry’s Set
Intro: Danny Elfman’s Batman Theme
Everytime You Turn Around
What I Want
Ghost of Me
No Surprise
Life After You
It’s Not Over
Learn My Lesson
September
In The Air Tonight (Phil Collins cover)
Over You
Feels Like Tonight
You Don’t Belong

Rebel Yell (Billy Idol cover)
Home/You and Me (with Jason Wade of Lifehouse)
Call Your Name
There And Back Again

Lifehouse’s Set
All In
Halfway Gone
Nerve Damage
Smoke and Mirrors
Whatever It Takes
Wrecking Ball
It Is What It Is
First Time
Hanging By A Moment

Some would consider it an injustice that Lifehouse played a mere 40-45 minutes. Wifey thought Lifehouse should have headlined tonight, and rightly so as they’ve been active since 2000 and have their share of mainstream rock hits. We need to see these guys headline on their own strength. There was an immense amount of support for Lifehouse, you could tell it was a crowd with mutual support and love for both acts.

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Taken the night of 4/26 in Fresno and submitted to Pollstar

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Jason Wade of Lifehouse, taken by a fan on 4/26, Fresno

30 Seconds To Mars @ The Greek Theatre, Hollywood CA 05/17/10

These guys are more wifey’s band than mine, but loving them now. Only 3 songs from A Beautiful Lie were played, not including an abridged version of The Story. About the new album This Is War, If you’re not familiar with the new stuff then you might find this show frustrating and hard to get into. Even so, all the new songs were very well received and the crowd stayed on its feet the entire show, however it was a little too quiet for a rock concert. I think much of the crowd was still unfamiliar with the lyrics and sing along sections (which the new album is full of). When I can hear myself above everyone else, then there’s a bit of a problem, because my singing sucks! As for the new album, I freakin’ LOVE it! I’ve been waiting a long time for these guys to release the follow up to A Beautiful Lie. Almost 5 years later and it’s been well worth the wait. The new songs are anthemic, catchy and can stand up to the songs on the previous album. It would have been awesome to see the group perform the entire new album in concert and surprise everyone, but this was not to be. A generous portion of This Is War was showcased, leaving little room for older gems.

As a front man, Jared Leto is very energetic, charismatic and gets the audience involved. He said “my mission in life is to make sure you have the most memorable, beautiful night of your life and that you all go crazy!” The audience was led in a screaming match, left versus right side of the venue. We were also given instructions on a few songs, i.e. everyone jump during this chorus, everyone scream ‘No No No No!’ on that chorus, etc. Leto moved to the center of the venue for the acoustic numbers. He then risked life and limb (and his genitals too) by diving into the pit during The Kill, even running up and down the orchestra section for another song. Very energetic show and tons of fun.

The group played very well, but Leto is focused more on providing an impassioned performance, rather than technical consistency. I say that because a quarter of the vocals were omitted. It seemed like Leto focused more on his guitar playing and running around the stage, leaving much of the lyrics out. But when he did sing he was spot on. On record, Leto’s vocals are very powerful and passionate, with sweet and acidic qualities to it. He’s a crooner AND a screamer, singing like a bird one moment and roaring like a lion another.

Escape
Night of the Hunter
Attack
Vox Populi
From Yesterday
Search and Destroy
100 Suns
L490
This Is War
The Story (shortened version)
Bad Romance (Lady Gaga Cover)
The Kill
Closer to the Edge
Hurricane (shortened version)
Kings and Queens

Best moment: During the acoustic section, Leto asked “any requests?” You could hear people screaming for A Beautiful Lie, The Kill and Kings & Queens. I was yelling my head off for The Story…and what does he play? Man, I was beaming

Worst moment: hearing myself sing

Biggest “what the heck?” moment: cover of Lady Gaga’s Bad Romance

Great value for $35 considering it was a group of this caliber in a small venue. The Greek is an outdoor 6000 seater, but I think something indoors like The Gibson or even a smaller club like The Avalon or the Palladium would be more appropriate. My biggest gripe is that the band played for 80 minutes or so, granted there were 3 opening acts. The Greek has a cerfew policy, show ends at 11pm or else. Leto even apologized for the short set, explaining that they would perform into the encore without a break. Wifey and I had a blast, but would love for these guys to play longer and include more older material. If I had my way, I would have these guys perform ALL of This Is War and A Beautiful Lie back to back! Now that would be so metal…

photos from the Greek Theatre gig provided by Jenae, no copyright infringement intended

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Los Lonely Boys @ The Majestic Fox, Bakersfield CA 08/04/10

We treated my dad to this show for his birthday. He’s always liked Chicano rock like Jorge and Carlos Santana, Malo, and Tierra and this newer group has that same spirit. Fourth row, orchestra section. My dad and the rest of us had a blast. It was beyond cool watching the Garcia brothers at work and up close, REALLY up close. This was a chilled show, more mature crowd, family vibe. The audience stayed seated for the most part but people were clearly into it. The Majestic Fox is a cool little venue, probably 2000 seater. Local act The Delgado Brothers opened and performed some tasty afro-cuban jams.

For those who aren’t familiar with Los Lonely Boys, they do blend of Tex-Mex rock with a dash of afro-cuban flavoring…with Beatlesque 3-part vocal harmonies. Think Santana meets Stevie Ray Vaughan, meets The Beatles. They tour on their own strength and have opened for Willie Nelson and Lynyrd Skynyrd. That’s right…Skynyrd. The Garcias are wizards at their respective instruments, jam-masters. I don’t understand how they can be kick-butt musicians AND sing challenging, sweet vocals like they do, each one of them taking turns with lead vocals throughout the show. Henry Garica on guitar is like Stevie Ray reincarnated – precision, passion and soul..while singing lead. And Jojo Garcia on bass is like watching a lead guitar player, his fingers were flying. What blew me away as a drummer was watching R. Garcia play his drum parts with his right hand, while the left hand pounded out a rhythm on a conga drum. I so have to try that. Awesome live band, but my only complaint is that their material sounds too similar. It’s a formula that works, but it can get tiring listening to that type of music for 90 minutes straight (plus their improvised mini jams in between songs), unless you’re a die hard of course. Still a quality act and very good concert experience.

1. Heart Won’t Tell a Lie
2. Roses
3. Nobody’s Fool
4. Senorita
5. Hollywood w/extended guitar intro
6. My Way
7. Nobody Else
8. Friday Night
9. My Loneliness
10. Velvet Sky w/improv intro
11. Superman
12. Staying With Me
13. Oye’ Mamacita w/improv intro
14. Forgiven
15. Crazy Dream
17. Man To Beat w/improv intro
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18. Heaven
19. Rockpango

We had to leave early and missed the last two songs. Later found out they were Heaven (their biggest single) and Rockpango. I was itching to hear “Onda” – now that’s a killer latin instrumental jam.