On this date in history, 8/5/1982, Queen graced Indianapolis with a stop on their final tour of America in the Freddie Mercury era.
The show took place at Market Square Arena and featured Billy Squier as the opening act. By 1982 Queen were global superstars, touring on their latest (and arguably least popular) album, Hot Space.
They had embraced a keyboard heavy, dance and disco influenced sound for the record, but I don't recall that affecting their live performance.
Brian May's glorious guitar work was still front and center on the classic '70's material that comprised the lion's share of the songs they played at this concert.
One thing that never wavered in any of Queen's various styles was the majestic tone of Freddie Mercury's one-in-a-million voice.
That voice, coupled with his commanding and charismatic flair as a front man, was my primary memory of the performance.
In the studio, Queen were all contributing songs and ideas, but live, it was Mercury's playground, and he elevated the band to legendary heights.
The light show was state of the art and innovative for its time, and the sound was crystal clear and perfectly defined for those glorious Queen harmonies.
Billy Squier did a fine job with his opening set. Squier had just released Emotions In Motion, his second consecutive platinum album.
Freddie Mercury and Queen's drummer, Roger Taylor, sang backup vocals on the album's title track, and the co-producer of the record had previously produced Queen's The Game, so that probably accounts for him being on the tour. It proved to be a show full of great songs, great production and fantastic musicians making magical moments. This one was special and everyone felt it, beyond a doubt.

Written By Braddon S Williams aka The Concert Critic

On This Date in History

On this date in history, 8/5/1994, I saw a cool show at the Indianapolis State Fairgrounds featuring Lynyrd Skynyrd, Ted Nugent, Bad Company, .38 Special, and Pride & Glory. Zakk Wylde's Pride & Glory kicked things off in high gear, with the Wylde man unleashing his ferocious lead guitar and his surprisingly Gregg Allman-esque whisky drenched vocals on us. Most of his short set was drawn from the band's debut album, but the song that got us all going crazy was Zakk's phenomenal take on Black Sabbath's iconic War Pigs. That one was worth the entire concert for me! .38 Special kept the ball rolling with a set of hits and Southern Rock hospitality. Bad Company continued the hit parade with their bluesy British classic rock stomp n' roll. Ted Nugent took up where Zakk left off, melting faces with his great white buffalo hunter/motor city madman style. This was my first time to see the mighty Lynyrd Skynyrd, and I was suitably impressed. Although they were filled with replacement players by necessity, the proud heritage and legacy of the classic lineup remained. The songs will outlive us all, and they were performed by a band who knows how important they are to their loving fans.

Written By Braddon S Williams aka The Concert Critic

On This Date in History

On this date in history, 7/19/2014, the yearly mecca to metal known as the Mayhem Festival arrived for its annual stop at Deer Creek. This time around, the fest featured Avenged Sevenfold, Korn, Asking Alexandria, Trivium, Cannibal Corpse, Suicide Silence, Miss May I, Mushroomhead, Texas Hippie Coalition, King 810, Bodycount Featuring Ice T, Veil Of Maya, Upon A Burning Body, Darkest Hour, Emmure, Ill Nino, Wretched, Islander, and Erimha. Looking at this list of bands, I realize that although I was present for the entire day, I only truly paid attention to a handful of these acts. Part of this is due to the physical layout of adjacent stages and trying to secure the best vantage point to witness the bands I knew would be superior. Another fact (not to be overlooked) is that this was probably the weakest lineup of any of the Mayhem shows. What this breaks down to is that I only paid close attention to a bare handful of these performances. Some of the others, such as Ill Nino, King 810, and Upon A Burning Body, I remember being distracted by either looking for people I knew were supposed to be there, or just people watching in general. My big discovery on this day was Texas Hippie Coalition (or THC…see what they did there? Pretty clever, eh?) who somehow managed the neat trick of simultaneously channeling the spirit of Pantera, mixed it with a healthy dose of Lynyrd Skynyrd, and still made it sound like something all their own. The singer, Big Dad Ritch, and the lead guitarist, Cord Pool, were both fantastic. I had previously seen Mushroomhead once before, but this time they were free of technical difficulties and played a tight, energetic set. Much improved over my first Mushroom experience. Miss May I delivered a high powered set as well, with excellent vocals and great pit activity from the crowd. Suicide Silence returned for the first time since the tragic death of original singer Mitch Lucker, now fronted by ex-All Shall Perish singer, Hernan "Eddie" Hermida. Hermida did a great job of pumping up an audience that was already prepared to go crazy at a moment's notice. It was great to see this band back in front of a live crowd where they belong. I found myself a prime spot of real estate in the front row of the stage where Cannibal Corpse was due up next while Ice T led his metal/rap hybrid, Bodycount, on the other second stage. I had a pretty good view of them and they sounded decent and appeared to have their crowd involved, but I wasn't moving away because I knew what I was getting ready to see. Cannibal Corpse were far and away my highlight of the entire day. George "Corpsegrinder" Fisher was the living embodiment of what a death metal vocalist should be, roaring his vocals and headbanging with a ferocity that none of the even most rabid audience members could compete with, spinning his long black hair until his head must surely fly of his body. Luckily for us, it remained attached. I had been told once that I "look just like Alex Webster", the band's founding member and bass player extraordinaire. I happened to be standing directly in front of him throughout their set, and it was a pretty good resemblance, although I was bearded by then, and he was not! Once the show shifted to the main stage, there wasn't much left for me to be too excited about. Trivium started the festivities in good form. This was my 4th time seeing them, and they always rock, but unfortunately for them, there is always a let down following the frenzy of the second stage bands, mostly due to the distance between the band and the audience at the main stage area. Asking Alexandria followed, and despite not being a fan of their music, I have to give credit to Danny Worsnop, who sang his ass off. Credit where credit is due. Korn were up next, and reinvigorated by the return of Brian "Head" Welch to the band, reuniting the twin guitar attack that had been diluted by his absence. This was my 7th time seeing them, and it was definitely noticeable having them back to full strength. Avenged Sevenfold closed the show, and try as I may, I just can't enjoy this band. I can be objective about it. They are exceptional musicians and they put on a stellar visual and audio performance. In particular, their stage set with the castle walls and the enormous skeleton king was one of the coolest stage sets I have ever seen. However, there is the problem of their vocalist, M. Shadows…I just don't like his voice, and after about 2 or 3 songs, I just want to be anywhere else. Other than that, he does his job with great energy, and engages the crowd between songs, seems like a genuinely likeable guy, but he can't help it that I just don't want to hear him sing. I don't think they are going to fall from grace without my approval. By the response I saw and heard, Avenged Sevenfold appears to be here for the duration and I'm sure I'll end up at more of their appearances down the road. See, I give credit where credit is due. Until next time, rock on, everyone. There is something out there for all of us, and I eagerly await my next chance to be at an all day show.

Written By Braddon S Williams aka The Concert Critic

On This Day in History

On this date in history, 7/18/1989, I saw Blue Öyster Cult at The Vogue in Broad Ripple for the first time. They were so excellent to witness in the confines of an intimate club setting.

At one time BÖC had been an arena attraction with trend setting laser light shows and songs that were designed to thrill those larger spaces. Translating that size and scope to a room of The Vogue’s nature simply made the impact of their music more hard hitting and direct. For one thing, evidence of the rich history of legendary performers that have graced that stage are lining the walls of the Vogue.

It is impressive for a casual observer, but for a band it is a catalyst and an ignition switch to fuel a classic night of music making. Blue Öyster Cult impressed me that night because they didn’t have anything to win or lose and they played a killer show anyway; it’s what a great band does.

Their most recent album, Imaginos, had been released the previous year and was basically dead in the water due to zero support from their record company. I remember it as a good album, one of the first actual cd’s I ever purchased, but it was a complicated production that didn’t actually function as a true collaborative effort from the band.

Consequently, on the night I finally got to see this band, they were lacking their original rhythm section. This was both bad and good, the good in respect to their young and hungry drummer and bass player, who spurred the veterans to inspired performances of a veritable “best of” set.

I remember the obvious crowd favorites like “Don’t Fear The Reaper” and “Godzilla”, but also got to hear “Veterans Of The Psychic Wars” and “Astronomy”. Eric Bloom sounded amazing live, with that commanding voice bringing all those great lyrics to vivid life.

Donald “Buck Dharma” Roeser burned up the frets on various guitars, and Allan Lanier lurked in the background, contributing keyboards and guitars for just the crucial components to the mix.

After the show we got to meet Buck Dharma and the drummer, Ron Riddle (reminding me of a young Tommy Lee, still fresh and excited to be part of it all). Many years later, my band Misfit Toys would get to play a show as direct support for the might BÖC, making one of my teenage daydreams come true in brilliant fashion. Keep dreaming, I can assure you it is fantastic when they occasionally happen to be obtainable.

Written By Braddon S. Williams AKA The Concert Critic

On This Date in History

On this date in history, 7/16/1998, I began my 18 year streak of all day metal festivals with my very first Ozzfest, at the fun and fabulous Deer Creek. I would be at every Ozzfest for the next 10 years until that festival stopped traveling, followed by all 8 of the Mayhem tours.

Ozzfest ’98 featured Ozzy Osbourne, Tool, Megadeth, Limp Bizkit, Soulfly, Sevendust, Coal Chamber, Incubus, Motörhead, Snot, Melvins, Monster Voodoo Machine, Life Of Agony, Ultraspank, Kilgore, and System Of A Down.

I was a rookie and I made a huge rookie mistake. I neglected to watch any of the second stage bands on this day, foolishly squandering my first shot at System Of A Down, Melvins, and the legendary Motörhead! I did, however, witness all the bands on the main stage and most of those performances ranged from pretty good to absolutely earth shaking (during Tool’s set, quite literally!).

Incubus started the festivities with a solid set. Brandon Boyd’s vocals were quite excellent and I enjoyed their time on stage.

Coal Chamber were next, kind of Marilyn Manson-light, but Dez Fafara hadn’t gained the power he would later weild so effectively with DevilDriver. Still, a formidable performance by an underrated band.

Sevendust were next, and I thought they were fantastic. Lajon Witherspoon’s vocals were particularly amazing and the band’s sound and energy stood out in a lineup of very solid bands.

Soulfly, the band that Max Cavalera put together following his departure from Sepultura, were probably the heaviest band of the day, and also brought their distinctive blend of Brazilian percussion to mix with their brutal grooves.

Limp Bizkit began their show by emerging from an enormous toilet bowl. Considering that their career eventually was flushed down that proverbial toilet, this was quite poetic and prophetic. The haters can say what they want to say, but back then Fred Durst and Wes Borland had concocted a sound and a stage show that got the crowds bouncing and producing an insane amount of energy. Megadeth brought their meticulous, surgically deadly riffing and Dave Mustaine’s patented sneering vocals along with about an hour of classic Mega-Dave songs in a fierce set that brought the crowd to the brink of the sonic devastation that awaited us.

I had heard the stories about how the crowd had started a “sod war” during Pantera’s headlining set the year before, and had witnessed a similar act of lawn massacre during a Ministry performance in 1992, but nothing prepared me for what was about to happen during Tool’s show stealing set.

As soon as Maynard James Keenan took the stage clad in an evangelist’s suit, accompanied by the hypnotic maelstrom of Tool’s sound, the carnage was instantaneous.

The lawn never had a chance, and the air was literally thick with flying chunks of earth, sod, grass, drink cups and various other items of debris. It was glorious, terrifying, hilarious, and unstoppable. Tool was so intense, it was as if they were so in the zone that they were oblivious to the World War III scenario unfolding up on the lawn.

As all good things must eventually end, Tool finally concluded their portion of the show and the spell was broken.

Ozzy proceeded with a killer set played by a stellar band (Ozzy always has the cream of the crop in his band, though) featuring Joe Holmes on lead guitar. Ozzy’s set was preceded by a wickedly funny filmed segment that put the exhausted crowd in a jolly mood (by metal crowd standards) and the Prince Of Darkness delivered a powerful concert closer that guaranteed I would continue this activity for 18 years running. Still ready to begin a new streak. The time is right for a brand new accomplishment!

Written By Braddon S. Williams AKA The Concert Critic

On this date in history

On this date in history, 7/15/2012, the 5th installment of the Mayhem Festival made its annual visit to Deer Creek, and my friends and I were part of the metal masses in attendance.

This show featured Slipknot, Slayer, Motörhead, As I Lay Dying, Anthrax, The Devil Wears Prada, Asking Alexandria, Whitechapel, Upon A Burning Body, I The Breather, Dirtfedd, Betraying The Martyrs, Hemlock, and our hometown heroes, the mighty Threat Level.

I am unable to comment on each band, but will do my best to spotlight the bands I enjoyed the most and welcome comments from anyone in attendance who may wish to fill in the blanks and give a review on any of their favorites.

The first band to attract my interest was Upon A Burning Body, but as good as they were, they were absolutely obliterated by Whitechapel, who played a singularly vicious set, raising the brutality bar to the highest echelons of intensity.

Anthrax have long been a favorite of mine, and they appeared to be in fine form on this day, but I was only able to catch 2 or 3 songs before I had to make my way to the stage where my friends in Threat Level were set to detonate the crowd gathered for their crushing performance. The band; comprised of Frank Rapacki on vocals, Troy Welch on guitar, Jason Weaver on bass, and Chad Smith (not THAT Chad Smith) on drums, had won a regional battle of the bands to secure their spot on this show and they made the most of it, impressing the large and boisterous assembly awaiting the band’s powerful blend of groove and thrash metal, topped by Rapacki’s roaring voice. Some fierce pit action accompanied favorites from their Leading The Vicious and A World Beyond Devastation albums.

After a much needed break following Threat Level’s set, I was ready for the trinity of terror comprised of Motörhead, Slayer, and Slipknot. Lemmy and company were a band on my bucket list and they were every bit as wonderful as I expected them to be. Mickey Dee drummed like a man possessed, Phil Campbell provided the guitar carnage, and the immortal Lemmy played the superhuman, jet propulsion bass and rasped out his one of a kind and singularly irreplaceable vocals on a set full of thunderous Motörhead majesty, including  “Ace Of Spades”, and “Overkill”, with its 2 false endings and the furious finale with nothing but truth.

Slayer followed with their diabolical majesty, continuing the onslaught that wouldn’t abate until the concert ended. Dave Lombardo was still in the drum throne at this time, and for my money he is the undisputed king of metal drumming. Jeff Hanneman was absent by this time and Gary Holt from the band Exodus did an admirable job of filling some nearly impossible shoes to fill. Kerry King and Tom Araya did what they have always done, with King hammering the riffs with beastly intent and causing sonic disturbances and eardrum lacerations with his punishing leads, and Araya summoning up that VOICE, the mouthpiece for the Slaytanic war ensemble.

A crushing performance it was…and this left the 9, the masked minions of Mayhem, the circus of the damned known as Slipknot to take us to the finish line as only they can. Joey Jordison was the 3rd and final superpowered drummer I had the joy to witness back to back to back in this amazing display of ferocious multi limb dexterity. Corey Taylor added his voice to the hall of fame duo of Lemmy and Araya, and the rest of the Iowa based madmen did what they do, delivering visual thrills and chills and a whole lot of metallic bombast.

This one may not have been the strongest lineup overall, but it definitely was the one with the strongest 1-2-3 punch to end the show of any of the Mayhem Festivals.

Written By Braddon S. Williams AKA The Concert Critic

On This Date in History

On this date in history, 7/13/1996, a pretty cool triple bill featuring Scorpions, Alice Cooper, and Cheap Trick descended upon Deer Creek in Noblesville, IN. Cheap Trick opened with their always entertaining blend of cleverly rockin’ anthems and Rick Neilsen’s goofy and manic stage presence. Robin Zander sang his ass off and Bun E. Carlos and Tom Petersson held down the bottom end for Neilson and Zander’s guitar work. Their set was brief but filled with energy and no filler.

Alice Cooper was up next and suffered for the lack of nightfall to provide the properly ominous backdrop to his fiendishly spooky performance. Luckily for Cooper, he isn’t entirely reliant on visuals, possessing one of the richest and deepest catalogs of amazing songs in all of rock music. Alice also comes prepared with top notch musicians to provide the spark that ignites his superior stage persona. I personally felt that he should have headlined this show, but he made the best of what he was dealt, the consummate pro.

This was my first and only time seeing the mighty Scorpions, and they were a worthy main attraction. First of all they had a great sound mix, with the guitars blasting those German power riffs and skull ripping leads, thunderous drums and bass, and all of it topped by Klaus Meine’s distinctive and unmistakable voice.

That amazing vocal sound rode easily atop all the power underneath it and the set was a whirlwind of classic rock fury and choruses we all know by heart. Any of these bands can pull in a crowd, but all 3 together was definitely a memorable night of diversity.

Written By Braddon S. Williams AKA The Concert Critic

On This Date in History