Monthly Archives: January 2013

Tears For Fears @ The Universal Amphitheater, Universal City CA 11/23/04

I was very very pleased to have caught these guys at the Universal gig. I’m a little young to appreciate a band like TFF, but I remember my dad playing Song’s From the Big Chair nonstop and enjoying it, even as a kid back then. The music was exotic sounding, especially with those asian sounding scales, danceable and catchy. I was little, and remember being weirded out by “Broken.” Years later I can appreciate it and love it. I became a true follower once Elemental was released back in 1993, not realizing that Curt Smith (bassist/the sweet voice) left the group immediately upon the conclusion of the Seeds of Love Tour in 1990/91. I remember hearing “Sowing the Seeds of Love” on radio and liking it as a kid, but didn’t feel possessed to get the album. Back to 1993, I was very disappointed when I found out too late that Smith had quit. I couldn’t imagine Roland Orzabal touring without Smith…it’s like having milk WITHOUT the cookies. How the hell could he possibly have performed “Mad World,” “Pale Shelter,” “Change” or “Everybody Wants to Rule the World” without the other voice?

When I heard that the two had reunited and were releasing an album of new material, I jumped at the chance of seeing them live and scored great seats for my lady and I at a very reasonable price. It was a very good show with a great turnout. We were seated fairly close, lower Loge, stage left. TFF aren’t the most animated live act…but we were there for the music, and the music spoke for itself. Roland and Curt appeared subdued, maybe it was simply shock that they had sold out the house. It had been 14 years since the duo played together. I’m sure many consider TFF a heritage act or a nostalgia act, but the new album is strong, although it may not scored the same kind of “hits” that their previous albums did. Regardless, there’s a rich history regarding TFF and hopefully with some luck they’ll recapture that fire, that energy they had in the 80s/early 90s.

Nick D’Virgilio was great on drums, I only wished he could have done some flashy shit on the kit. I watched him intently on EWTRTW. Curt Smith’s vocals were a bit sharp, slightly higher pitched than on record. Roland’s voice was true to form. A reworked “Mad World” appeared in the set with a lengthy intro by Curt, explaining how he’d seen Donnie Darko and “…had rediscovered this great song.” The new material was executed well, with highlights being “Closest Thing to Heaven,” “Who Killed Tangerine” and “Quiet Ones.” Very austere stage setup, minimalist and free of clutter and distractions. The band played very well. Roland mentioned that Curt had turned 50. He said something like “can you believe this man is 50!?” Curt has indeed aged gracefully, aside from the salt and pepper, he looks like he’s still in his 30s. A strange incident occurred. There were a couple females sitting behind us along with their male, and very effeminate sounding male friend. I’ll just come out and say it, he was a gay man. Anyway, after Curt performed his solo piece, “Snow Hill,” the effeminate sounding gentleman said “Boooo, boooo! Ohhhh that was TERRIBLE!” The guy to our immediate left turned around and responded “SHUT UP! If you don’t like it then you can go home! I’ll kick your ass!” My lady and I were trapped in the middle of this odd show down. We turned and looked at each other and thought ‘WTF…at a Tears For Fears show??’ The complete set was as follows:

Secret World
Call Me Mellow
Sowing the Seeds of Love
Size of Sorrow
Who You Are
Everybody Loves a Happy Ending
The Devil
Mad World
Quiet Ones
Everybody Wants to Rule the World
Closest Thing
Snow Hill
Pale Shelter
Break it Down Again
Head over Heels

Woman in Chains (w/guest vocalist)


Alice In Chains @ The Warfield, San Francisco CA 11/26/06

Holy crap, this was without a doubt THEE AIC gig to go to. Not only did they extend the set by a couple songs but the almighty James Hetfield was invited to play on “Would?” and provide backing vocals, along with the patented Hetfield “yaaaaahhhh!”The place went apeshit. It was beyond awesome. The show itself was flawless. I’m amazed that the tickets were so affordable. It was a bitch making the 3.5 hour drive, but well worth it. Jerry looked like a scrawny version of Zakk Wylde onstage, Les Paul near his knees, long scraggly blonde hair and a thick beard. His playing was impeccable. Mike played his ass off and moved around the stage as if possessed. Sean played ferociously yet elegantly. Damn those DWs sound awesome, especially his snare. And I think he’s still using Sabians hehehe. Very tight drumming with that Sean Kinney finesse.

If there were any doubters of William DuVall, I think they were sold on “Rain When I Die.” ‘I think its gonna raaaaaaaaaaaaaaaain’ Damn can he soar, as did most of the crowd on that one. The mix and acoustics were better than average, but I found it very difficult to discern what the hell William and Jerry were singing. I guess something always has to suffer in a live situation. The “Living Room” set was very cool, an intimate transformation into an acoustic set reminiscent of the MTV Unplugged video, with the icing on the cake being “Down in a Hole” which has been played sporadically during the tour. Very special indeed. Guys, it was otherworldly to hear William sing on that tune. Ok, so luckily William is not trying to sound like a Layne Staley copycat. William has his own thing going on: gritty and throaty, and very rock n’ roll. But during the chorus of “Down In a Hole” it was as if something supernatural had occurred, vocally. At the end of the “but my wings have been sooooo deniiiiiiiiied” section, William was able to pull off that ghostly, tortured sounding Layne Staley vibrato, and he held the ‘denied’ part and transported me somewhere. The hairs on my body stood on end, and the crowd went freakin’ crazy! They must have felt it too, and their eyes must have bugged out of theirs sockets as well. It was one magic moment out of an entire set when I thought I heard Staley’s voice come alive. I took my girlie along for this one (as I swore I’d never drag her along to another metal/prog show again – since this isn’t exactly her kind of music) but I guess I’ll never learn. Very memorable gig. Let’s thank the metal Gods for the resurrection of AIC.

Bleed the Freak
Ain’t Like That
Them Bones
Dam That River
Rain When I Die
Layne Tribute Video
The “Living Room” Acoustic Set
Don’t Follow
No Excuses
Killer Is Me
Got Me Wrong
Down in a Hole
Sludge Factory
Angry Chair
We Die Young
Man In the Box
Would? w/ James Hetfield on guitar & guest vox \m/\m/


A shot of James Hetfield’s car parked outside of the Warfield


Morrissey @ The Rabobank Theater, Bakersfield CA 06/10/07

WOW. After three years of waiting I finally get to see the man, the legend. In case anyone’s wondering, Bakersfield is a quasi-metropolis that rests at the southern most point of the Central Valley, California. It’s a gateway to the Grapevine and the Los Angeles Basin.. It’s dry with an unending brownish landscape. It’s cheap real estate and low key and hot as Hell, not too different from Fresno, California. And an artist like this coming to the area is like a sorely needed breath of fresh air.

Very few big name acts visit this area. So when I heard Morrissey would be gracing the Central Valley with his presence I practically tripped over myself for tickets. He played the Rabobank Theater, a newer venue with 3-4,000 capacity. Place was almost sold out, but featured a very diverse and vocal crowd. There were a lot of youngsters in the crowd as well, children to lifelong fans. Some of the young boys sported the rockabilly greaser look, too cool. Morrissey mentioned seeing many children in the audience, saying “…and they’re ALL miiiiiine.” 🙂 The legendary Julia was also at this show, Morrissey even let her speak into the mic from the front row. I always thought that woman was made up, but no, she’s real, and has probably attended every Morrissey show in existence. Great crowd, awesome performance. Voice was in fine form and there were plenty of stage crashers. Glad I caught this one. This is an act to see before you die. Ah yes, FIVE Smiths songs were featured including the immortal “How Soon is Now?” My personal favorite that night was “The Boy With a Thorn In His Side” and I’m not ashamed to admit that I got misty eyed. That baby hasn’t been performed regularly since the end of the Smiths in 1986. It’s not uncommon for fans to say things like “Morrissey saved me” or “The Smiths saved me.” Morrissey and his music have long been champions of the misunderstood, the losers, misfits and the disabled. He speaks to those who’ve been ignored and shunned, making the audience’s connection to him rather messianic. Afterall, some of his nicknames include The Mozfather, The Pope of Mope and St. Morrissey. The music is magical – dreamy sounding britpop with rockabilly thrown in. Add emotional (and often morose and depressing) lyrics and you have music that is uniquely aching, uniquely beautiful.

The band was killer, spot on. However I was disappointed that guitarist Alain White, bassist Gary Day and drummer Dino Butterworth were no longer with the touring band. Those guys along with Boz Boorer (second guitar) and Mikey Farrell (keys) made up what I considered the second classic Morrissey lineup. That’s the lineup that’s documented on the Who Put the ‘M’ in Manchester DVD. Musicians come and go, but missing those three particular musicians is like missing family members or old friends. There is a fondness for that particular line-up, much like there was a fondness for the original incarnation of the Morrissey band with Spencer Cobrin on drums. Now the second classic lineup has been scattered. THEY were the Morrissey band during his comeback era. Newcomers Jesse Tobias, Solomon and Matt Walker rounded out the live band for this tour and would stay on for subsequent tours, however Farrell would eventually part ways with Morrissey to pursue work as a producer and song writer in LA, leaving Boz Boorer the only veteran from the early days of Morrissey’s solo career.

First of the Gang To Die
Last of the Famous International Playboys
You Have Killed Me
In the Future When All is Well
Let Me Kiss You
That’s How People Grow Up
National Front Disco
Girlfriend in a Coma
Everyday is Like Sunday
The Boy With a Thorn In His Side
Irish Blood English Heart
All You Need is Me
You’re Gonna Need Someone On Your Side
I Just Want to See the Boy Happy
Lucky Lisp
Please Please Please Let Me Get What I Want
I’ve Changed My Plea to Guilty
How Soon is Now?
The Queen is Dead

King’s X/Joe Satriani/Dream Theater @ The Greek Theatre, Los Angeles CA 08/10/02

Talk about mind blowing combinations. One of my favorite metal groups and one of my favorite instrumental rock guitarists had joined forces for a summer tour. My brother and I, along with Dbfield made the trek to LA from the Central Valley. We were on summer break from college at the time. Dream Theater had released a very ambitious 2 Disc release, Six Degrees of Inner Turbulence, and Joe Satriani had released yet another offering of guitar wizardry that was more in keeping with Crystal Planet, rather than the mostly electronic Engines of Creation. In college I had spun Engines of Creation heavily, as well as Dream Theater’s Six Degrees of Inner Turbulence. I have fond memories of breaking from studying on the weekends, venturing down to Subway for a bite and playing Disc 2 of Six Degrees LOUDLY. Unfortunately I only had minimal exposure to King’s X, having borrowed the Best Of disc from Dbfield. I wasn’t very impressed upon first listen.

Fast forward to the show which took place at LA’s Greek Theatre near Griffith Park. It was a perfect day for a show. It was comfortable and clear day, the sun hadn’t set yet. We arrived and braved the stacked parking. An older guy drove up in a pick up truck, turned off the ignition and exclaimed to no one in particular “We’re here, man!” Hell yes we were. We grabbed our seats in the middle/Loge section of the venue. The Greek was filling up, it was cool to see so many people coming out to support this type of music – musician’s music as I like to think of it. There’s definitely a niche for it with a very loyal fan-base. King’s X took the stage and a brief set of rockin,’ soulful grunge flew over in 30 minutes. I have to be honest, I knew of this group but had no interest in them. Rather ignorantly I dismissed them as a boring jam band, but I did like Doug Pinnick’s work on the Dream Theater track “Lines in the Sand.”  “Over My Head,” “Moanjam” and I think “Dogman” were performed to respectful but lukewarm response. It wasn’t until the devastatingly awesome rendition of “Cigarettes” that the audience woke up and wondered “who the hell are these guys?” That song was KILLER. It delicately grooved into existence, picked up momentum and power…and those soulful vocals by Doug Pinnick, damn it sounded cool. But it was Ty Tabor’s guitar solo that reeled us in. Joe Satriani and John Petrucci may be untouchable shred masters, but it was Ty Tabor that had the solo of the night, I kid you not. The solo was passionate, ripping, dynamic, and perfect. At solo’s end the crowd cheered in recognition of Tabor’s awesomeness and let out this “whoooa” in unison. My brother said “who the f*ck is that!?” I can’t remember the entire set for the life of me, but it was something like the following:

Over My Head
We Were Born To Be Loved

I think It’s Love may have been played but I can’t be sure

After being won over by by King’s X, DT took the stage to a very warm response. The set began in lackluster fashion for me with “New Millenium,” which then kicked into the classic “6 o’ Clock.” “Surrounded” and “The Great Debate” followed which were played effortlessly, but the song choices left me somewhat disappointed. However this was my first time hearing “Surrounded” live out of maybe 6 dates since 1998, so witnessing the song live was cool. It wasn’t until the bitchin’ “Instrumedley” that I was floored. That thing was monstrous and superb. The band played segments of The Dance of Eternity, Metropolis Part I, Erotomania, Ytse Jam, A Change of Seasons, Universal Mind, Paradigm Shift and Hell’s Kitchen. The crowd went bonkers. That medley slayed the DT heads and the Satriani heads alike, it was insane. You must check out the rendition found on the Live at Budokon DVD, it’s just as sick. DT’s set continued with a rare duet: Pinnick from King’s X joined DT for a performance of “Lines in the Sand” and it sounded pretty good, although it was chopped down quite a bit due to time constraints. The set continued with two ballads until finally ending with “Learning To Live.” DT received a standing ovation. I think DT definitely gained some new fans on this tour. They definitely gained a lot of respect from the Satriani fans.  Great performance, just wish they had selected different songs.

New Millenium
6 o’ Clock
The Great Debate
The Instrumedley
The Spirit Carries On
Solitary Shell
Learning to Live

Joe’s set began. And I’m sure that I’m in danger of having crap thrown at me, but I have to say that Joe’s set was tiring…very tiring. I don’t know if it’s because the previous two groups wore me out, or if it was Joe’s selection of songs, but the set seemed to drag. The show and the performance itself were great, no question. But damn, I found myself wanting to hit the road when “Summer Song” began. In fact, we exited before the group kicked into “Friends.” Matt Bisonnette played bass during this tour instead of Stu Hamm. What’s interesting is that two years later while working at a SoCal Guitar Center I would go on to have a couple telephone conversations with the man regarding gear. That was awesome beyond words. We even chatted about the Yellow Matter Custard project. Wish I could have met Matt in person. Regarding the show…I love Satriani, I love quality instrumental music. Curse anyone that says a song without words is not a song – that’s bullshit. Like Eddie Van Halen once said, Beethoven would have kicked your ass. Anyways, while I support Joe and thoroughly love his music, I simply found the set to be too much for me. I absolutely LOVED the set depicted on the Live at the Fillmore DVD filmed during the Engines of Creation Tour, that’s an awesome DVD. Go see him live if you get the chance, it’s an experience that can’t be missed. Just make sure you have decent stamina 🙂 I was able to take some great things away from this show. I was able to see my heroes live again, and I formed a deep appreciation for King’s X. Music like this needs and deserves more support.

Flying in a Blue Dream
Crushing Day
Devil’s Slide
Cool #9
Satch Boogie
The Crush of Love
Mind Storm
Seven String
Starry Night
Always with Me, Always with You
Raspberry Jam Delta-V
The Mystical Potato Head Groove Thing
Summer Song

Collective Soul @ The Visalia Convention Center, Visalia CA 09/19/99

For anyone that can remember, Collective Soul was HOT in the 1990’s. The formula was catchy, rockin’, and uplifting. At that time this Southern alternative rock band from Georgia was heavily played on alternative and college radio as well as MTV (when the channel still cared about music). And their increasing popularity landed them a spot at Woodstock 99. Singer and bandleader Ed Roland was another musician that Dbfield and I admired. He attended the Berklee College of Music for a brief period and came back home when his money ran out. He began producing music at home, ultimately leading to the creation of Collective Soul’s demo/first release which included “Shine.” The two records after that were phenomenal. The self-titled album and Disciplined Breakdown were like alt-rock masterpieces with a southern pop twist…if that makes any sense. Dosage was the new record at this time, and it was even stronger than the previous releases. The whole disc was awesome, you could listen to every track on there. Dosage was like a feast, every morsel was filling and delicious. It was a versatile and refreshing record. You could sing along to sweet choruses, rock out to chunky riffs, and groove to danceable rhythms. As for the arrangements, you could hear classic pop like The Beatles and Elton John in there. Roland knew how to write memorable melodies, material that could be played on radio without being forgettable or disposable (December, World I Know, Blame, Run, No More No Less, etc). Even the weaker tracks were pretty darn catchy. And the band was wicked talented, maybe too talented to simply be an alt-rock band. There was a grace and finesse to their playing, but not busy or complicated sounding.

This Central Valley show was one of two local gigs, the other taking place at the Bakersfield Co. Fair. The band was also scheduled to do The Tonight Show with Jay Leno that week as well.  It’s difficult to say how many people were in attendance. The Visalia Convention Center is a sizeable “small town” hall, capacity is listed at 3000. I think it’s fair to say that about 1000 people were there. It was a young and very energetic crowd, several kids came with their parents 🙂 The line outside the venue was lengthy, a high schooler said something along the lines of “man I thought I was the only one that liked this band!” A trendy modern rock band in the Valley was a big deal, I couldn’t get over that we were actually going to see the guys that made the discs that I spun in my jeep and played at home when I wanted a sweet escape from the world. It was Collective Soul. Not grunge, but something else, their music was like ear candy…sunshine for the ears.

This was my lady’s first ever show as well and she liked the group as much as I did. We were early enough to score spots in the second row directly in front of lead guitarist Ross Childress. The crowd was polite, friendly and respectful (save for a drunk that was ejected before the show even began!). And there were a lot of girls in the audience. The openers wrapped up their set and the docile crowd rose to it’s feet and created a mild crush up front. The band came onstage to high pitched cheering and girlie screams. The group looked like polished rock stars, abandoning the facial hair and grungy look of their early years for a slicker and clean cut look. Clearly the guys had make-up and hair specialists in their crew. While everyone else was cheering and screaming, I was geeking out, staring in disbelief as Ed Roland and Ross Childress stood only a few yards away from us as they performed “Tremble For My Beloved.” Second guitarist Dean Roland and bassist Will Turpin were also very visible, standing just beyond Ed and Childress. Drummer Shane Evans pounded away, showing off an expanded drum kit with electronic pads.

The production was very simple with the Dosage album cover serving as the stage backdrop. No video units or pyrotechnics were used, just a basic lighting setup. There didn’t need to be a spectacle or a “show” per se, this was a tight and passionate rock band that came to kick our asses – no fancy equipment needed. The live renditions were very faithful to the studio originals. The drums sounded just as sick as they did on record, the guitar playing was flawless and Ed’s singing was great. During “World I Know,” Childress used sustain to mimic the string sections during the pre-verse sections. “Run” and “Shine” were both played in a somewhat slower tempo. We were even treated to some surprise covers: Ozzy Osbourne’s “Crazy Train” and U2’s “I Will Follow.” There were a couple points during the show when Ed and Childress tossed guitar picks into the crowd. One landed over in our area and a bunch of us scrambled to grab the pick. Luckily my lady pounced on it and stuck her foot on it, keeping the other fans away. Now if we could only find that damn guitar pick…It was an unforgettable experience to see this band in their prime, at a time when they were conquering the world. These bigger than life stars stood only a few yards from us, yet it was cool to see that they were actually very human. I’m pretty sure the set went down as follows but I swear I have memories of hearing “Needs” and “Maybe” being performed.

Tremble For My Beloved
Crazy Train (Ozzy cover)
No More No Less
Good Night Good Guy
World I Know
Precious Declaration
Where the River Flows
I Will Follow (U2 cover)