On this date in history, 7/18/2018, The Twins Of Evil Tour featuring Rob Zombie, Marilyn Manson, and Deadly Apples made an appearance at Deer Creek in Noblesville, IN (or Ruoff Home Mortgage Music Center if you insist on being technical)! It is no secret that I am an enormous fan of all things Zombie and Manson, so my anticipation at seeing them both together was astronomical to say the least. This was my 10th time seeing Rob Zombie (twice with White Zombie and 8 times solo) and my 9th time seeing Marilyn Manson and this tour definitely lived up to the hype. Deadly Apples started the show with a good set of original material. I was unfamiliar with them, but learned they hail from Canada and this was their first tour in 8 years. Their sound was really well produced and at times they would build up this big crescendo of power, only to bring it down and kind of let the moment slip away. I’ve seen better and I’ve seen worse. Speaking of better and worse, Manson has had his ups and downs on live stages, and I was thrilled that he seems to be back to caring about his craft again. His latest album, Heaven Upside Down, is a killer, and this performance included a couple of tracks off of it in addition to a handful of classics from Antichrist Superstar and Mechanical Animals. Manson brought out two different pulpits to perform from, both songs being highlights of his set. The final song was a cover of the song Cry Little Sister from the movie Lost Boys. Like all the other covers he has done throughout his career, this one received the Manson touch and sounded suitably goth and menacing. As soon as Rob Zombie hit the stage there was absolutely no disputing who the true headliner was. Zombie pulled out all the big screens and every flashing light in the known galaxy to accentuate his ghoulish party anthems. Ironically, half of Zombie’s band spent time in the employ of Manson, making this a reunion show of sorts. The Zombie band consisting of Ginger Fish on drums, Piggy D on bass, and the astonishing John 5 on guitar, were in crushing form, delivering devilishly diabolical stadium sized riffs and rhythms without any pauses. When Zombie announced that he was going to do a song with his new BFF, the place went wild as Manson joined him for a high energy blast, covering Helter Skelter by The Beatles, complete with images of the infamous Charles Manson and his “family” projected on the screens accompanying the song that will forever be linked to them. Another short highlight was the unveiling of the official trailer for Zombie’s next movie, Three From Hell, due in 2019. All in all, The Twins Of Evil Tour was loud, fun, entertaining, and never a dull moment. I foresee adding to my numbers for both Manson and Zombie, because they still do that shock rock stuff better than anyone who isn’t named Alice Cooper!

Written By “The Concert Critic” aka Braddon S. Williams

On This Date in History

On this date in history, 6/6/2018, I traveled to the Riverbend Music Center in Ohio to be part of International Slayer Day, also singer Tom Araya’s birthday, also one date of Slayer’s farewell tour. Slayer is one of my all-time favorite bands of any genre, but specifically they are nearly universally regarded as one of the undisputed champions of thrash metal. Alongside Anthrax, Megadeth, and Metallica, Slayer are one of the Big 4 of thrash. Their farewell tour finds them doing something that very few bands do voluntarily. They are going out on their own terms, and at the top of their game. For this, they have my utmost respect. Due to traffic and travel conditions, my friends and I arrived just after Testament finished their opening set. I have seen Testament before, and I am pretty sure they played a tight and killer show. Behemoth were on stage when we arrived, and although I really like their music, I have been underwhelmed the last 2 times I have seen them. Anthrax followed, and played an absolutely ripping set of high energy, fun filled thrash. I hope their own farewell tour is far in the future, because they are kings of metal in their own right. Lamb Of God were the final band before the main event, and they raised the bar just where it needed to be, bringing savage intensity and the roar of Randy Blythe’s vocals, crushing a set of their best stuff. Slayer arrived to a wave of adoration from their fans, some of the most fiercely loyal maniacs in the music world…and it is well deserved. I have seen Slayer in nearly every possible formation, from the original 4, to the final four, which now includes Exodus shredder Gary Holt filling in for the late, great (and beloved) Jeff Hanneman, Paul Bostaph, filling in for the greatest thrash drummer ever, Mister Dave Lombardo (and doing an excellent job of it), and the remaining original masters, Kerry King and Tom Araya himself. Slayer delivered all the classics and some newer stuff as well, opening with Repentless, dipping back in time for Blood Red, hitting the obligatory crowd favorites Raining Blood, Angel Of Death, Seasons In The Abyss, Dead Skin Mask, Chemical Warfare, War Ensemble…on and on South Of Heaven. Tom spoke to the crowd a few times, very quiet, obviously emotional. At the very end he thanked us for 37 years of sharing this dream with them…and then he simply stated, “We’re going to miss you guys!” And then they were gone…

Written By Braddon S. Williams aka The Concert Critic

On This Date in History

Fan-filmed video footage of GHOST‘s May 8 concert at Revention Music Center in Houston, Texas can be seen below.

GHOST played the first official show of the “Rats! On The Road” U.S. tour on Saturday night (Saturday, May 5) at Riverside Municipal Auditorium in Riverside, California. In addition to the previously released new single “Rats”, which opened the concert, GHOST played four more songs from “Prequelle” album, including “Faith”, “Dance Macabre”, “Miasma” and “Pro Memoria”. “Miasma” featured a saxophone solo from Papa Nihil, the aged “original” Papa Emeritus.

The band broke its show up into two sets, with the first featuring 12 songs and the second consisting of 11 numbers. The group spread out the new material across both sets, interspersed with fan favorites and hits like “Cirice”, “From The Pinnacle To The Pit”, “He Is”, “If You Have Ghosts” and show closer “Square Hammer”.

The band has expanded its onstage lineup to include at least eight musicians, not including the guest appearance from Papa Nihil.

GHOST next performs in Cincinnati, Ohio on Friday night (May 11).

The Swedish-based act also played a surprise warm-up show on Friday night (May 4) at the Roxy nightclub in Los Angeles, where it aired three new songs during a 45-minute set. The Roxy concert was only announced one day earlier and tickets — priced at $6.66 — were made available starting at noon the day of the show.

GHOST will release its new album, “Prequelle”, on June 1 via Loma Vista Recordings. The record was tracked last year at Artery studios in Stockholm with producer Tom Dalgety (OPETH, ROYAL BLOOD) and mixed in January at Westlake Studios in West Hollywood, California with Andy Wallace (NIRVANA, SLAYER).

Watch GHOST Perform In Houston

On this date in history, 5/3/2018, I witnessed AVATAR whip a capacity crowd into a frenzy at Piere’s in Ft. Wayne, IN. There is something so thrilling about seeing a band poised on the brink of massive success playing at an intimate club and generating a magical performance. This band has been active since 2001 and have only had one membership change since that time. Comprised of drummer John Alfredsson, bassist/backing vocalist Henrik Sandelin, the twin guitar arsenal of Tim Öhrström and Jonas Jarlsby, and front man extraordinaire, Johannes Eckerström, AVATAR hails from Sweden. Their show drenched perfection, from the pristine sound to the nonstop energy of the entire band, covering a wide stylistic range of original material from their excellent catalog. Eckerström is a born performer with a chameleon voice capable of deep soothing baritone croons, piercing highs a la Rob Halford in his prime, and throat shredding metal growls and screams. Add this to his face painted “clown” persona, the man never stopped moving throughout the performance, with the exception of the several times he spoke to the crowd and described the correlation of the energy give and take between a band and its audience. I feel I can speak for that audience tonight. We all felt something special was going on, and AVATAR knew it, responded to it, and were genuinely moved by it. This band is going places, and I was part of something truly remarkable tonight.

Written By Braddon S. Williams aka The Concert Critic

On This Date in History

On this date in history, 3/29/2018, I returned to the luxurious Old National Centre’s Murat Theatre in Indianapolis to witness my 9th Alice Cooper show. Everyone in attendance at this one caught the final night of his current tour, and it was an electrified event of stellar proportions. Having just seen Alice at this same venue roughly a year and a half ago in October of 2016, I noticed a lot of similarities to the previous show, along with some streamlined changes, too.

Any act that has been touring as long as Alice has will have the songs that are set in stone in their sets, and the classics were well represented here, with “Billion Dollar Babies”, “I’m Eighteen”, “School’s Out”, and several others being crowd favorites. A lesser known gem, “Halo Of Flies”, returned as the band feature, with an absolutely sensational drum solo from Glen Sobel. Alice’s current hot shot (and literally HOT) lead guitarist, Nita Strauss, similarly had a solo spot earlier in the evening where she blazed away in guitar hero(ine) fashion…proving conclusively that women are shredding on equal ground with men and “plays pretty good for a girl” can be retired from discussion forever!

One of Alice’s heaviest songs, “Brutal Planet”, opened the show and set the tone for the hard rocking band’s performance throughout. In addition to Strauss, long time Cooper guitar ace Ryan Roxie, and Indianapolis native Tommy Henriksen rounded out the triple threat lead guitar arsenal, aided by the bottom end bass badassery of Chuck Garric. Alice even played some harmonica on one of the new songs.

During the encore of School’s Out (complete with bubbles, balloons, and the singalong edit of Another Brick In The Wall’s immortal “We don’t need no education” chorus) Alice introduced the band and his wife/dancer Sheryl. At the end of the introductions, he said the part of Alice Cooper was played by King Herod, a reference to him preparing to appear in NBC’s live broadcast of Jesus Christ Superstar (airing on Easter Sunday).

The 70 year old legend was in great voice, and aided by an absolutely energetic, entertaining, and astonishingly talented band, continues to be at the top of his game.

As long as the Coop is out there touring, I will make every effort to be in the audience. Long live the Coop!

Written By Braddon S. Williams AKA “The Concert Critic

On This Date in History

On this date in history, 2/14/2018, a good friend who had free tickets and a kind heart asked me to accompany her to the Resurrection Tour featuring Black Veil Brides, Asking Alexandria, and Crown The Empire. This concert took place at Old National Centre’s Murat Egyptian Room in downtown Indianapolis. I must confess that I didn’t have too much knowledge of any of the bands’ music going in, which I really enjoyed, as it allowed me to witness all of them with an open mind and ears.

Crown The Empire started the show with an energetic set of basic lightweight metalcore. The audience seemed to enjoy them and they fit in well with the styles of the 2 headlining acts. I grew tired of the lead vocalist’s voice pretty early in their set, but he was on pitch and hit his high notes with ease, so it was just a matter of opinion for my not liking it.

From the very beginning, the production on this show was top notch. Excellent sound for all 3 bands and super lights, too. Asking Alexandria was on one of the Mayhem tours and I remember seeing them and noting that Danny Worsnop is a most excellent vocalist. I discovered that he had left the band a couple of years ago and then returned, apparently rejuvenated. He was in great voice on Valentine’s night, but the band’s lead guitarist, Ben Bruce, had flown back home to England for personal reasons. In addition to missing a key member, the band’s bass player was ill and had to leave the stage for a brief time, forcing them to perform a couple of simple songs with just acoustic guitar and vocals. This little change of plan turned out to be a real highlight for me, and Worsnop was really enjoying the break in the normal routine. Even with their having to perform at less than full strength, Asking Alexandria played a hell of a great rockin’ set. They gained a whole lot of respect from me in rising above their obstacles.

Black Veil Brides rounded out a great concert with an industrial strenght onslaught of prime old school rock and roll showmanship. Inspired by Kiss, Motley Crue, Van Halen, Poison, and any other great high energy live band you care to name, the Brides came out swinging, and never let up on the intensity and enthusiasm. They were all killer and no filler, delivering one song into the next and riding the wave of the delirious energy put out by the predominantly young female audience, who loudly sang along with virtually every anthem the boys threw at them.

The execution was tight and precise, and they never stopped moving for very long, keeping the adrenaline pumping throughout their set.

Andy Biersack had the crowd under his spell from the moment he hit the stage, and the entire band seems intent on keeping that time honored tradition of the big rock show alive and kicking…and that isn’t a bad thing at all, is it?

Hats off to whoever put this tour together, because these 3 bands truly complimented each other’s styles and delivered a great night of music for their demographic crowd, and that is what every working musician strives to do…satisfy their fans and make them dance, sing, sweat and create memories.

Written By Braddon S. Williams aka “The Concert Critic”

On This Date in History

On this date in history, 2/13/1997, a good friend and I witnessed the diabolical Marilyn Manson utterly destroy a capacity crowd at the Pepsi Coliseum in Indianapolis. Manson was touring the Antichrist Superstar album and he was at the height of his popularity/notoriety. There was definitely a feeling in the air that literally ANYTHING could happen. The opening all female band, L7, had just played a really solid set and as we waited for the former Brian Warner and his interestingly named band mates (Twiggy Ramirez, Madonna Wayne Gacy, Ginger Fish, and the mysterious new guitar player, Zim Zum) to take the stage, the power tripping security steroid squad decided to make us all sit on the floor. Needless to say, a Manson crowd tends to be full of malcontents and non-conformists, so we didn’t take this order too kindly! When Manson hit the stage to the crushing industrial martial onslaught of “Angel With The Scabbed Wings”, we were up and frenzied! This was the first time I saw Manson headline and he was inspired. As crazy looking as the entire band was, it was the sinister and coldly charismatic front man who commanded our attention. He did some really creative theatrical stuff up there, from the stark lighting effect of him holding a simple construction lamp on an extension cord to illuminate himself during “Sweet Dreams”, to the pulpit where he tore pages from a bible and then threw the ruined book into the crowd during “Antichrist Superstar”, he knew he would be getting strong reactions! This was one of the few times I’ve ever witnessed people outside the venue protesting before a concert. They didn’t stop us…and we witnessed an incredible show. It’s not for everyone, but the best things never are!

Written By Braddon S. Williams aka “The Concert Critic”

On This Date in History