Posts Tagged ‘heavy metal’

The Who Wembley Arena 13th Feb 2016

The Who Wembley Arena 13th Feb 2016
imageLast night The Who returned to their home turf to play a one-off gig at Wembley Arena. Roger Daltrey has been suffering from viral meningitis, which resulted in the postponement of the last leg of their American Tour, and this gig was slotted in by way of a warm-up before the band returns to the USA to play the rearranged dates. I’m pleased to report that Roger looks and sounds well, although he did tell us that he wasn’t 100% and that his “legs weren’t fully there”. Well it didn’t show. This was another classic Who performance, easily on par with, if not surpassing, their Hyde Park show last Summer. A sold-out crowd of locals and die-hard Who fans from across Europe gave the band the rousing London welcome they deserve. The Who Hits 50! Tour is a celebration of the amazing legacy of a legendary band who have given us so much over the years. This was my 21st (I think) Who live experience, and the third time I’ve seen them on the current tour, having caught the first leg of the tour at Newcastle Arena in late 2014 and the Hyde Park gig last summer. The set is largely the same, although it has become slightly shorter with openers “I Can’t Explain” and “Substitute” being dropped, as has their early attempt at a mini opera “A Quick One (While He’s Away)”. Last night we were treated to the inclusion of the instrumental “The Rock” as part of a trio of songs from “Quadrophenia”.
imageThe evening started with a slide show which took us through the history of the band, and featured many great images of the late Keith Moon and John Entwistle. This tour is a celebration of their legacy and contribution, as well as a run through of some of the Who’s greatest songs. The band walked on stage and launched straight into “Who Are You?” and away we went on another amazing journey through so many classic tunes; a history of this extraordinary band, and also of our own lives and memories. The giant screen behind the stage displayed powerful full-face images of Roger, Pete, Keith and John, along with clips of the Who in the ’60s and the ’70s and clips from Quadrophenia. The sound was crisp; I was sitting halfway back on the terrace to the left of the stage, and every note was very clear. The first part of the set featured early classics: “The Seeker”, “Picture of Lily”, “The Kids are Alright”, “My Generation” and my personal favourite “I Can See for Miles”. Then we moved swiftly to the ’70s and the haunting “Behind Blue Eyes” followed by “Bargain” from “Who’s Next”, “Join Together”, and “You Better You Bet”. The aforementioned segment from “Quadrophenia” followed. “Eminence Front” is not my favourite track, so I took the opportunity to have a walk around the arena, finding a spot downstairs on the floor towards the back. I spent the rest of evening there, enjoying the band and observing the crowd singing along, dancing and generally going crazy. imageThe songs from “Tommy” followed, culminating in a powerful crowd singalong to “Listening to You” which always gets me. I knew we were on the home stretch. Roger’s voice was holding out fine, and Pete was full of power and angst, twirling and twirling his arm, and squeezing great solos out of his Fender Stratocaster. The familiar minimalist synthesiser intro signalled “Baba O’Reilly” which then lead into closing song “Won’t Get Fooled Again”; as raw and relevant as ever. Pure class. Pete introduced the band, and they left the stage at around 10.30pm. I took the 2 minute walk across the road to the Wembley Hilton. Pete said at the end “Hope to see you again.” Yes indeed, hope so.
Setlist: Who Are You; The Seeker; The Kids Are Alright; I Can See for Miles; My Generation; Pictures of Lily; Behind Blue Eyes; Bargain; Join Together; You Better You Bet; I’m One; The Rock; Love Reign O’er Me; Eminence Front; Amazing Journey/Sparks; Pinball Wizard; See Me Feel Me/Listening to You; Baba O’Reilly; Won’t Get Fooled Again
I’m typing this on a very slow train (engineering works on a Sunday) which is gradually taking me back home ‘up north’. Next stop is York. I’m feeling quite tired and stiff this morning; must be starting to feel my age.

Michael Schenker Sage Gateshead 25 Jan 2016

Michael Schenker Sage Gateshead 25 Jan 2016schenker
It was a Friday night over 40 years ago, probably 1974. A group of us were standing on the dancefloor marveling at the young guitarist who was strutting his stuff a few feet in front of us. The band was UFO, who had just released their third album Phenomenon, and their new member was German guitar wizard Michael Schenker. Schenker was every inch the young and perfect rock god; long blonde hair, skinny jeans, a scoop neck t-shirt covered in stars (I think; my memory plays tricks). And he could squeeze some tryly amazing sounds out of his Gibson Flying V. The stand-out track was Doctor Doctor. Amazing. We all went home and practised some more on our guitars.
Roll on 40 something years. It’s been a long time since I last saw Michael Schenker; probably in the 1980s when he fronted his own MSG. Today his band is Michael Schenker’s Temple of Rock and the members are ex-Scorpions Herman Rarebell (drums) and Francis Buchholz (bass), ex-Rainbow’s Doogie White (vocals) and Wayne Findlay (guitar & keyboards).
schenker tixI make my way to the front and stand (probably too) close to the PA stack. Schenker and the guys take to the stage and launch straight into a blistering rockin’ Doctor Doctor. Schenker looks great: skinny, fit, and he’s walking the stage with a wild glint in his eye and a massive grin across his face. His playing is amazing; still the guitar hero who blew me away all those years ago. The band rocks and is LOUD; Doogie White does a fine job singing those classic UFO and Scorpions tracks. The new songs sound pretty good too.
Legend.
Setlist: Doctor Doctor; Live and Let Live; Lights Out; Where the Wild Winds Blow; Natural Thing; Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead; Victim of Illusion; Lovedrive; Coast to Coast; Vigilante Man; Saviour Machine; Too Hot to Handle; Good Times; Rock You Like a Hurricane; Rock Bottom
Encore: Attack of the Mad Axeman; Communion; Blackout
Postscript. By the time I drove home I couldn’t hear a thing. Just a dull ringing in my hears. Now when I was young it was great fun if my ears buzzed for days after a gig. This time it sort of scared me. My hearing isn’t that great anyway, and I was thinking “What if it doesn’t come back?” Well luckily it has. Lesson learned: when you are an old guy like me you take the earplugs they offer you at the door.
Schenker is still a legend.

Alice Cooper (and Motley Crue) Newcastle Arena 2nd November 2015

Alice Cooper (and Motley Crue) 2nd November 2015
FullSizeRender(3)I haven’t been too well this week. I’ve had a head cold, but I still couldn’t resist going to see Alice Cooper. Alice is currently special guest on the Motley Crue farewell tour which called at Newcastle Arena on Monday. I made a last minute decision to go along to see the old rock schocker. Its almost 40 years since I first saw Alice on the Welcome to my Nightmare tour, and I remain a fan. So I stopped feeling sorry for myself, forgot my cold and drove through to Newcastle for the show. I parked the car and wandered around the outside of the arena, hoping to score a cheap ticket. A friendly guy sold me a £45 standing ticket for £30: Result. I wandered around the floor area, but soon realised I needed to sit, so retreated to an empty seat in the front tier just to the left of the stage. First up was a thrash rap band called The One Hundred from London. They warmed the crowd up well, and were very LOUD. There was then a short wait before Alice took to the stage at around 7.45pm. Alice_Cooper_2015The familiar creepy Vincent Price intro for “The Black Widow” came over the PA: “….I feel that man has ruled this world as a stumbling dimented child-king long enough! And as his empire crumbles, my precious Black Widow shall rise as his most fitting successor!” Alice looked and sounded great; he has a cool rocking band which features three lead guitarists. Next up was “No More Mr. Nice Guy” quickly followed by two of my favourites: “Under My Wheels” and “I’m Eighteen”. Both are classic rock songs and still sound excellent. It’s difficult to believe that “Eighteen” was written 45 years ago. You might think it wierd seeing a 67 year old Alice sing about being “Eighteen and I don’t know what I want … I’m a boy and I’m a man” but it worked. And it still sounded great. Those dark chords came slamming out, Alice’s vocal was as strong as ever, and he led the audience through that anthemic chorus “I’m eighteen and I like it!” Wonderful!
Alice’s band are straight out of the school for heavy metal. There’s lots of leather and ripped faded denims, and three excellent metal guitar heroes in the form of axe woman Nita Strauss, and axe men Ryan Roxie (who has been in the Alice band for 20 years) and Tommy Henriksen. Bassist Chuck Garric has been with Alice for over 10 years and drummer Glen Sobel was recently placed 1st runner up in DRUM Magazine’s Poll in both the Rising Star and Rock/Metal categories. These guy play great and do justice to all those classic Alice songs.
FullSizeRender(4)For “Billion Dollar Babies” Alice threw fist fulls of billion dollar notes out to the crowd (wish I’d caught one), and in “Dirty Diamonds” handfuls of necklaces flew out to luck people in the front rows. I had wondered whether the show would be as theatrical as in the past, given the special guest status of Alice’s performance. But I should have known that you can’t really have Alice Cooper without theatre. I am pleased to report that poor Alice still gets himself into the usual macabre scrapes. The guillotine made an appearance …. off came our hero’s head, and a massive boa constrictor nearly strangled him. One minute Alice was in a straight-jacket; the tortured victim of a psychotic nurse and next a giant Frankenstein monster lumbered around the stage. Just like old times. The final song just had to be everyone’s favourite teenage rebellion anthem “School’s Out.” Excellent! We all sang along.
I stayed for part of Motley Crüe’s set which started off as powerful and OTT as you’d expect. The crowd were well up for the glam metal pioneers and gave them a hero’s welcome. But my cold started to get the better of me, so I made my way home; I really must be starting to feel my age.
Alice is THE MAN.
Alice Cooper setlist: Vincent Price Intro; The Black Widow; No More Mr. Nice Guy; Under My Wheels; I’m Eighteen; Billion Dollar Babies; Poison; Dirty Diamonds; Go to Hell; Feed My Frankenstein; Ballad of Dwight Fry; I Love the Dead; School’s Out
Many thanks to Ralph Arvesen for allowing use of his picture of Alice Cooper live in 2015 which is licensed under CC BY 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons

UFO Newcastle Academy 25 April 2015

UFO Newcastle Academy 25 April 2015
ufolpUFO 2015 are Phil Mogg (vocals and original, and only constant, member since 1969), Andy Parker (drums, and also a member of the original band in 1969), Paul Raymond (joined in 1976, and a veteran of 60s bands including Plastic Penny and Chicken Shack), Vinnie Moore (guitar and a new guy, who has only been with UFO for 12 years) and Rob De Luca (bass since 2008). The downstairs area of Newcastle Academy was packed with a mix of rock fans from the older generation and a good smattering of younger rockers. Good to see that these guys still attract a cross section of discerning music fans. They start with “We Belong to the Night” from their 1982 Mechanix album, which I am not that familiar with, and is a great opener. Phil Mogg looks and sounds great, and the rest of the band are rocking from the word go. Like many fans, I’ve come primarily for the classics, and I haven’t got long to wait. Four songs in and “Lights Out” hits us right between the eyes. The modus operandi seems to be thus: a classic UFO rocker, then a couple of new or less well known songs, followed by another classic. The great songs keep coming: “Only You Can Rock Me” (the guy to my left is shouting “Turn It Up”; which I definitely agree with), “Love to Love” (that one has always been one of my favourites; I’m a sucker for ballads), and “Rock Bottom” closes the show. We all know what is coming. You can’t have a UFO gig without “Doctor Doctor” and this one is no different. The young girl to my right (she can’t be more than 20) goes crazy, playing air guitar and shaking her head like it might just come off. “Shoot Shoot” send us on our way. The old guys really are the best, you know. A great gig. Only two things could have improved it. More volume (the guy on my left was right). And I miss Pete Way. Don’t get me wrong, the new bass player is fine, and couldn’t have done any better, but for me Pete Way was the soul of this band. Hope he’s ok. He hasn’t been so well, but I read that he is alright now and working on a solo album.
Setlist: We Belong to the Night; Fight Night; Run Boy Run; Lights Out; The Killing Kind; Venus; Only You Can Rock Me; Burn Your House Down; Cherry ; Love to Love; Messiah Of Love; Makin’ Moves; Rock Bottom
Encore: Doctor Doctor ; Shoot Shoot
PS the image (which I may have used before, and hence you may have seen before) is of a signed copy of the classic UFO lp Phenomenon, which I picked up at a car boot sale for 50p many years ago. Who knows if the signatures are real, put they look pretty real to me and I like to think that they are.

Z Z Top Rocking the Castle, Donington 17th August 1985

Z Z Top Rocking the Castle, Donington 17th August 1985
zztopdoningtontixLine-up: ZZ Top; Marillion; Bon Jovi; Metallica; Ratt; Magnum; Tommy Vance (DJ)
Donington 1985 became “Rocking the Castle” rather than “Monsters of Rock”, presumably because the line-up was a little more mixed than the usual heavy metal fare. Z Z Top returned to the festival after playing third on the bill a couple of years earlier. They were joined by a strong clutch of bands including Bon Jovi and Metallica, both of whom who would go on to be headliners in their own right. It was a beautiful hot day; one of the best Donington festivals I attended, in terms of the weather. Don’t remember much about Magnum or Ratt, although I have always been a fan of Magnum. Metallica seemed very thrash metal to me at the time; they hadn’t yet developed the subtlety that was to come later. Bon Jovi were amazing; you could just tell that they were going to be massive. ZZ-Top-RockingCastleAt some point during the afternoon the Z Z Top car flew over the crowd, carried by a helicopter; this resulted in a massive cheer, and a hail of bottles and cans, none of which (luckily) managed to get high enough to touch the limo. This was the era of the can fight…. Marillion were the hit of the day, and went down really well with the crowd. They were at the tipping point of their career, having just released “Misplaced Childhood” and with major chart hits “Lavender” and “Kayleigh”. But the day belonged to boogie kings Z Z Top who were one of the biggest acts on the planet at the time, and effortlessly tore the place up with those classic songs, tongue in cheek humour, and unique style. Classic.
Z Z Top setlist: Got Me Under Pressure; I Got The Six; Gimme All Your Lovin’; Waiting For The Bus; Jesus Just Left Chicago; Sharp Dressed Man; Ten Foot Pole; TV Dinner; Manic Mechanic; Heard It On The X; I Need You Tonight; Pearl Necklace; Cheap Sunglasses; Arrested For Driving While Blind/Hit It Quit It; Party On The Patio; Legs; Tube Snake Boogie; Can’t Stop Rockin’; Jailhouse Rock; La Grange; Tush.
Two days to go ……

Whitesnake Newcastle City Hall 27th June 2006

Whitesnake Newcastle City Hall 27th June 2006
whitesnaketix2006Support from The Answer
A lot of water had passed under the Whitesnake bridge (22 years to be exact) since I last had the pleasure of seeing David Coverdale. The line-up of the band was completely different (other than, of course, Coverdale) to all the previous line-ups I had witnessed and was David Coverdale (vocals), Doug Aldrich and Reb Beach (guitars), Uriah Duffy (bass), Timothy Drury (keyboards) and Tommy Aldridge (drums). Whitesnake 2006 was a honed heavy metal machine, a million riffs away from the soulful bluesy unit of the early ’80s. And they were LOUD.
whitesnakeprog2006Whitesnake exploded onto the stage with an amazing version of the Deep Purple classic “Burn”, which then went straight into another Purple classic “Stormbringer”. The crowd were up on their feet from the word ‘go” and Coverdale looked and sounded great. There were, however, times when you could see he was having a little difficulty with his voice (some of the earlier shows on the tour had been cancelled because he had been unwell) but overall this was a great performance. Highlights for me were ‘Walkin’ in Shadow Of The Blues’ and ‘Soldier of Fortune’ as a final encore.
Setlist: Burn / Stormbringer; Slide It In; Love Ain’t No Stranger; Walking in the Shadow of the Blues; Lovehunter; Slow an’ Easy; Is This Love; Ready an’ Willing; Blues for Mylene; Snake Dance; Crying in the Rain; Ain’t No Love in the Heart of the City; Give Me All Your Love; Here I Go Again
Encore: Take Me with You; Still of the Night
Encore 2: Soldier of Fortune
That concludes my Whitesnake ramblings. I’ve spent the last week or so listening to, and watching, Whitesnake, and it has reminded me just how great this band were, and what an amazing rock vocalist and performer David Coverdale is. Next time he tours, I’ll make sure I’m there.

Whitesnake Newcastle City Hall 10th March 1984

Whitesnake Newcastle City Hall 10th March 1984
whitesnaketix84Support came from LA hard rock band Great White
Things were about to change again in the Whitesnake camp. In late 1983, they recorded the “Slide It In” album. Shortly after completing the album Mick Moody left the band: “Me and David weren’t friends and co-writers anymore. David never said anything to me. He just didn’t socialise with me anymore. David was a guy who five, six years earlier was my best friend…..Then one night we were in Germany and we did kind of a mini festival with Thin Lizzy and John Sykes was on guitar. Back at the hotel we were all sitting around and David was really talking a lot to John Sykes. I was sitting there quietly and David just turned around to me, pointing his fingers and said, ‘Don’t you ever turn your back on the audience again’. I went, ‘Pardon?’ He said, ‘That’s really unprofessional’, in front of John Sykes to make me look small and I thought to myself, ‘That’s it’….I decided to leave after finishing the end of the tour. The last gig was in Brussels in Belgium in October 83.” This led to John Sykes joining the band. At the same time Colin Hodgkinson left and Neil Murray rejoined. The vibe of the band and their music was changing from the bluesy rock of the early band to a heavier and more adult-oriented rock, which helped the band to break in the US. whitesnakeprog84The new line-up of Coverdale, John Sykes, Mel Galley, Neil Murray, Jon Lord, and Cozy Powell toured the UK in March 1984, calling at the City Hall for two nights. It was a good concert, but Whitesnake were becoming a very different animal.
Setlist: Gambler; Guilty of Love; Ready an’ Willing; Love Ain’t No Stranger; Here I Go Again; Slow an’ Easy; Crying in the Rain/Soldier of Fortune; Ain’t No Love in the Heart of the City; Fool for Your Loving; Thank You Blues; Slide It In; Don’t Break My Heart Again.
Mel Galley suffered a broken arm in an accident during the tour. He never recovered full use of his arm, and fitted having “the Claw” to his hand in order to to play the guitar.”It was the most devastating thing that could happen to a guitarist. One minute I was playing with one of the biggest bands in the world, next minute finding it very hard to even scratch my own arse. Thankfully, with the aid of the Claw, even though told by doctors I would never play again, determination made me prove them wrong.” A few weeks later, Jon Lord left to reform Deep Purple.
It was 22 years until I saw Whitesnake again. I’ll write about that tomorrow, to conclude my series of Whitesnake memories.