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

On this date in history, 8/7/2019, Heart brought the Love Alive

Tour to Deer Creek in Noblesville, IN. Along with the Wilson sisters, we were rocked by stellar sets from Joan Jett & The Blackhearts and Elle King.

It was a smart move by the veterans to bring fresh new talent along for this all female front line tour, because Elle King got that crowd pumped up from the very beginning.

I hadn’t heard much of her music prior to this show, but I was impressed with her powerful vocals, her energy, her easy rapport with the audience, and her musical diversity. Elements of rock, blues, country, and pop all weaved in and out of her songs that were born for the stage.

Her song Ex’s & Oh’s is an anthem for certain. That one had the crowd in the palm of her sassy hands! I was an immediate fan watching her play a Flying V guitar that was nearly as big as she was…and handling it like a boss.

Speaking of bosses, Joan Jett & The Blackhearts wasted no time in asserting their badass brand of punk tinged hard rock. Jett is beloved nearly universally, and she effortlessly exudes cool confidence and sexy swagger.

Even on the big screens, one can see that glint of playful excitement in her eyes, and it is as contagious as a rock ‘n roll epidemic. When she lights into Bad Reputation, Do You Wanna Touch Me (Oh Yeah), and I Love Rock ‘n Roll, everyone in the venue feels like they are 16 again, at least in spirit.

Heart proved beyond a doubt their legendary status with a sterling selection of their career spanning deep treasure chest of classic songs.

Not content to just play their own stuff, Heart tossed in some absolute gems of cover songs, including Your Move by Yes, The Boxer by Simon & Garfunkel, and an absolutely breathtaking tour de force rendition of Stairway To Heaven by Led Zeppelin. Ann Wilson’s voice was a force of nature throughout, and younger sister Nancy played electric and acoustic guitars and mandolin with masterful intensity, contributing some lovely lead vocals and harmonizing beautifully with her sibling.

All 3 bands were comprised of men playing their roles with anonymous but fierce contributions; content to let the legendary ladies claim the spotlight. My only complaints about this show were that it was too quiet (crank it up!), and that the crowd on the lawn were too lazy to get off their lazy asses and feed these amazing artists with some well earned energy. Everyone sounded great, but it was almost like someone has decided that the audience is old and tired and might want to just sit in their trendy little lawn chairs and not have to deal with that loud rock music.

I sure hope that doesn’t become the norm, because these artists deserve a better fate than that.

On This Date in History

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

On this date in history, 7/21/2019, I entered into uncharted territory by attending a superb show featuring Baroness and Torche, 2 bands I knew very little about. This wonderful event took place at Deluxe, the downstairs room at Old National Centre in Indianapolis. I have been to several shows at both The Egyptian Room and The Murat Theatre, but this was my first time at the Deluxe, and I was quite impressed by the sound and visual aspect of the room.

Torche kicked things off with a lethal barrage of stoner rock riffage that pummeled the crowd relentlessly throughout their energetic set. The only complaints I had were that the vocals were too low in the mix, and that there were literally no dynamics in Torche’s music. Otherwise, what they did, they did exceptionally well, and the instrumental mix was on point…crushing guitars, deep and bone rattling bass, and concussion level drumming, all played with tons of energy.

I will have to check out some of their studio stuff to get a better idea of their vocals and lyrics, though.

Baroness is an intriguing band, and although I had only heard a small selection of songs on YouTube about a year ago, I knew enough that I wanted to see this band on stage.

Nothing could have prepared me for how monumentally satisfying this music would affect me. From the moment they took the stage, Baroness was electrifying; with lead singer John Dyer Baizley running to the edge of the crowd with a beaming, nearly maniacal grin on his face.

Lead guitarist Gina Gleason was visibly excited, too, frequently making eye contact and headbanging gleefully whenever she wasn’t providing spellbinding harmony vocals to Baizley’s fantastic voice.

The guitar work that those two graced the boisterous crowd with was a tapestry of richly haunting tones, mixed with savage power, and consummate tasteful elegance.

Vocally, Baizley and Gleason blended together into something truly magical.

Nick Jost provided excellent bass and keyboard work, while Sebastian Thomson held it all together with rock solid drums and percussion.

Baroness made a huge impression on me that night, and I realized that by having virtually no knowledge of their music and no preconceived notions, I was able to have a purely musical experience, taking the show completely at face value. What a glorious concert…what a beautiful band!

On This Date in History

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

On this date in history, 6/25/2019, my bucket list was shattered…Shattered! Shidoobee, shidoobee, shidoobee…but I digress…I saw The Rolling Stones! The World’s Greatest Rock ‘n Roll Band! I never thought this would happen in my lifetime, but I finally got to witness these legends.

As fate would have it, Mick Jagger endured a heart surgery and the entire tour had to be rescheduled over his recovery, resulting in my friend and I getting to see just the second show on the tour!

We traveled through the insanity of Chicago traffic, through an intense hail storm, through being directed to 3 different entry gates before we finally arrived at our excellent seats. At this point I allowed myself to realize it was really going to happen!

I shot some video of Soldier Field steadily filling up with hordes of Stones fans, many of whom probably were feeling the myriad of emotions I was experiencing at the exact same moments.

The opening band, Whiskey Myers, played a good set of rocking Southern tinged Country Blues, and were well received.

Finally, as dusk was giving way to darkness, the lights and video displays started flashing and a booming voice announced the famous words, “Ladies and gentlemen…The Rolling Stones!” Keith Richards was launching into the high octane guitar riff of Jumping Jack Flash; Charlie Watts a millisecond behind him, already steadying the beat and propelling the engine that is the most iconic pure rock and roll band in the history of this universe.

Mick Jagger, 75 years young and fresh from heart surgery, was singing and gesturing, gyrating, displaying moves like, well…JAGGER…and Ron Wood was there with that big lovable grin, and the rest of the extended band were in lock motion with the four mains…and it was absolutely breathtaking!

I have seen the setlist from the Friday night show, and am impressed at how many songs were changed out for our show. The Stones are not a cookie cutter group that plays the same show in every city.

We got a different opening song, and a different acoustic set on the extended stage. Our acoustic songs were a rare Play With Fire, and a killer Sweet Virginia; proving beyond a doubt what I have said for decades;

The Rolling Stones are the best country band on the planet!

A sizzling Miss You midway through the show proved they are also the best r&b and disco band on Earth, too.

Bassist Darryl Jones was featured in an extended bass solo that showcased his funky side without being too flashy; in other words, classy perfection. The horn section had moments to shine, too.

As a former trumpet player I was happy to see an actual French Horn on You Can’t Always Get What You Want, instead of a trombone.

The sax player who took over from the late great Bobby Keyes delivered a sizzling solo on Brown Sugar, as did longtime keyboard guru and band director, Chuck Leavell.

The band introductions were super entertaining, displaying the adoration the fans feel for Ron Wood and Charlie Watts. The biggest love was shown to the immortal Keith Richards, who displayed his rogue pirate persona before he sang the soulful Slipping Away (one of my personal favorite Keith vocal songs) and the wonderful Before They Make Me Run. Keith made a mistake and started Midnight Rambler on the wrong guitar, resulting in Jagger stopping the band and proclaiming they were in the wrong key! Mick said it was still early in the tour and that they still had time for a fuck-up or two! Of course, the crowd loved his candor, and the Stones proceeded to play a blazing Paint It Black.

After a quick guitar change, Keith launched back into Midnight Rambler with a vengeance, and the band matched his intensity, delivering what for me was the highlight of a concert that was totally full of highlights…a stunning 11:30 worth of blazing, muscular, menacing blues…proving that these guys are most certainly not doing this for the money. That type of hunger and passion simply cannot be faked.

Each of the four primary Stones filled me with awe, from Jagger’s nonstop moving (the man literally never stopped for a moment), to his phenomenal harmonica playing and solid rhythm guitar work, Richards and Wood displaying what Keith lovingly describes as “the ancient art of weaving”, guitar lines playing cat and mouse between the two venerable masters, and of course the economy and rock solid dominance of Watts’ sublime drumming.

The sound was pristine (especially considering it was in a football stadium with an open roof) and the lights and video screens were state of the art.

I’m kind of bouncing in and out of the actual timeline, but some other highlights were an astonishing Tumbling Dice, Bitch, Honky Tonk Woman, Start Me Up, It’s Only Rock ‘n Roll, and Sympathy For The Devil.

There had been an online vote for a song and the winner for our show was Monkey Man…and it was a swaggering gem!

The encores were an incendiary Gimme Shelter and the finale of (I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction (complete with fireworks…a LOT of fireworks)!

For nearly 2 hours, these legends proved without a shadow of a doubt why they are simply the best at what they do. My bucket list is shattered…Long Live The Rolling Stones! Thank you Mick, Keith, Ronnie, Charlie…and all the rest. You guys are the soundtrack to my life…I got Satisfaction last Tuesday…if you try sometimes, you get what you need!

On This Date in History

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

On this date in history, 12/8/2018, Steel Panther brought their Sunset Strip Live tour to Piere’s Entertainment Center in Ft. Wayne, IN.

The opening act was Wilson, from Detroit, Michigan. This was my 3rd time seeing Steel Panther, and the 2nd time seeing the two bands together.

Wilson played a high energy set of catchy hard rock, acting as the straight band for the comedy that was to follow.

Steel Panther are impressive on multiple levels. First of all, in order to parody any style of music, the musicians must be able to master that style, and Steel Panther are without a doubt Jedi masters at the art of hair metal.

The sky high vocals, shredding guitars, hook filled anthems, and let’s not forget the big hair and spandex; all of this is front and center at every Steel Panther show. Additionally, the four members of the band are playing characters, and staying in character at all times while pulling off the larger than life personas they have created and playing all this explosive music. Not an easy task, but they also manage to be hysterically funny and in the moment.

I would guess there is a loose script or outline for the onstage shenanigans, but these guys always manage to make it seem spontaneous and natural, like the best improvisation an audience could ask for.

On this night, Steel Panther were performing without their bass player, Lexxi Foxx, who was in sex rehab (according to singer Michael Starr and guitarist Satchel). Whatever the real reason for his absence, the band used the opportunity to inject massive amounts of speculation in a decidedly politically incorrect manner.

The fill in bassist, introduced as Spider, was dressed up as Nikki Sixx from Motley Crue, and of course he was mercilessly ridiculed as well.

Satchel and Starr do the lion’s share of the talking, and elicit a non-stop barrage of bragging, insults, and sexual banter directed at each other, the other members of the band (drummer Stix Zadinya catches a lof of remarks, too), and the audience. Speaking of the audience, many members of the crowd show up dressed appropriately to the over the top ’80’s, with wigs, spandex and all the props they can add to their costumes.

None of the jokes come across as mean spirited, and a general mood of fun permeates the entire show. As for the music, Steel Panther took the concept of the glory days of the Sunset Strip and ran with it, covering songs by Van Halen, Bon Jovi, Motley Crue, and Def Leppard. They also threw in a bunch of Steel Panther originals, including Tiger Woods, Glory Hole, Death To All But Metal, and Community Property.

Satchel demonstrated his guitar hero chops with a center stage display of fretboard pyrotechnics, and of course, no Steel Panther show is complete without the obligatory stage full of pretty girls from the audience joining the band on stage for a couple of songs to dance and interact with the band.

If you are looking for an evening of great ’80’s metal, gut busting comedy, and a heaping amount of FUN, I highly recommend checking out a Steel Panther show. You might even see me, because I intend to keep coming back for more!

On This Date in History

Written By Braddon S. Williams

On this date in history, 9/23/2018, Ozzy Osbourne brought his No More Tours 2 show to Deer Creek in Noblesville, IN. Reunited with the formidable Viking/Biker/Shredder Zakk Wylde on guitar (and wearing a kilt), Ozzy came out with a vengeance like a man on a mission.

I noticed right away that the instruments were tuned super low to facilitate Ozzy’s diminished vocal range. This had a two-fold effect; making the music crushingly heavy and foreboding (think Black Sabbath) and managed to keep Ozzy more or less on pitch and able to sing quite strongly for the entire set.

The opening song was the explosive Bark At The Moon, and other highlights included Shot In The Dark, No More Tears, Mama I’m Coming Home, I Don’t Know, and a handful of Sabbath classics (Fairies Wear Boots, Paranoid, and a ballistic 15 minute War Pigs, featuring a long guitar solo where Wylde walked out into the crowd and shredded various audience members’ faces off).

The rhythm section consisted of 2 former Rob Zombie band members, Blasko on bass, and Tommy Clufetos on drums. Clufetos was the touring drummer for Black Sabbath on their final couple of tours, so his style was perfection on the songs by the venerable British godfathers of metal.

Osbourne’s energy was pretty outstanding for a man pushing 70 years old (and surviving all the hard living he has endured).

He wasted no time in letting the capacity crowd in on the news that the “No More Tours 2” title was indeed, bullshit!

We roared our approval as Ozzy added that he intends to continue his career in a more stripped down form of performing shows.

What it amounted to was that he won’t be doing any more long world tours. A staple of every Ozzy show I have ever seen (13 and counting) was a superior light show, and this one was no exception.

Corey Taylor’s “other” band, Stone Sour, opened the show with a solid, energetic, and rocking set.

Taylor was suffering from allergies, and appeared to be losing his speaking voice, but his singing was roaring and soaring, prime Corey Taylor.

They were much improved over the previous time I had seen them a year earlier, but I will likely prefer Slipknot over Stone Sour forever.

All in all, Ozzy exceeded all my expectations, and delivered a fantastic concert experience.

https://youtu.be/xnsP4WNHrmo

On This Date in History

On this date in history, 8/10/2018, I caught a magical evening of music at Deer Creek in Noblesville, IN. The show featured Paul Rodgers, Jeff Beck, Ann Wilson, and Deborah Bonham. Bonham started the evening’s festivities with a brief set of songs featuring her bluesy voice accompanied by a single acoustic guitar. She is the sister of the late John Bonham (Led Zeppelin’s immortal drummer) and proved conclusively that her brother wasn’t the only one with talent in her immediate family. I really enjoyed her style, and she was great with the crowd, even mentioning that she heard the venue used to be known as Deer Creek (gaining a big cheer from the crowd and making her our friend from that moment on). Up next was Ann Wilson, touring in support of an album that hasn’t been released yet (a tribute to legends who have recently passed away). Hearing Heart’s singer covering The Who, Amy Winehouse, Chris Cornell, Glen Frey, and Dusty Springfield was amazing. Wilson poured her soul and considerably powerful voice into songs that she personally picked for her record. I haven’t listened to a lot of Amy Winehouse’s stuff, but Ann crushed it on the song that she sang from the tragically short-lived British soul singer. My favorite living guitarist was next, and Jeff Beck did that thing that he does so well, conjuring miracles of sound from his Stratocaster. It had been 23 years since I had seen him last, and this time he had a singer with him for about half of his set. Jimmy Hall, from the band Wet Willie, did an amazing job on each of the songs he sang, particularly Superstitious by Stevie Wonder. Beck also had a female cellist and featured a couple of staggeringly beautiful instrumental pieces with her, playing cat and mouse with his guitar and her cello weaving a tapestry of magic tones. Both times I have seen Beck, his drummer has been an alumnus of Frank Zappa’s (Terry Bozzio in 1995, Vinnie Colaiuta this time). The female bass player was fierce, too. This would be my first time seeing Paul Rodgers live, and he was extraordinary. I am utterly in awe of the voice this man still has in his ’70’s…he literally sounds exactly like he does on all the old Free and Bad Company records from decades ago. His band was top shelf, too. Drums, bass, keyboards, and one guitar player (who had to follow Jeff Beck, not an easy task for anyone…but he was great) doing what all classic English rock bands do, which is play in the pocket, rock solid music to support one of the greatest voices in the history of voices. It was kind of mind-boggling to me that only about 5000 people were in attendance, but we sure did get a memorable night of music from some of the giants who still roam the musical earth.

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

On This Date in History

On this date in history, 7/26/2018, Foo Fighters and The Struts played a phenomenal show at Deer Creek in Noblesville, IN (Ruoff Mortgage Music Center if you insist on being up to date). The moon was full, the weather was perfect, and the place was sold out and packed tight with a fanatical crowd of Dave Grohl’s tribe. The Struts opened the show with an enjoyable and peppy set of good songs and great vocals. Luke Spiller, the lead singer/front man of the band, has a look and style that conjures up memories of the late Freddie Mercury, also possessing an impressive vocal range. However, I felt he got a bit carried away with attempting to get the crowd to sing along and wave their hands in the air. The Struts appear to have a good future ahead of them, having opened for the likes of The Rolling Stones, The Who, Guns N’ Rose, and toured with Foo Fighters. Hopefully they will rely on their real strength, which is their music. Three years have passed since Dave Grohl performed with his band at this same venue. At that show, Dave had to remain seated (in a throne made of guitars) due to a broken leg. On this night he was back on his feet and roamed the stage like a man possessed. As a matter of fact, if you could bottle the energy of Grohl and Taylor Hawkins, the Foo’s drummer, you could likely power the entire planet for at least 7 years. Like the previous show, heavy emphasis was on the impressive list of Foo Fighter hits and classics, but new songs from their most recent album were fantastic, too. For me (and probably many others) some of the best stuff was during the block of songs when Grohl introduced the band. Hearing Foo Fighters covering Alice Cooper (Under My Wheels), Ramones (Blitzkrieg Bop), and a hilarious mashup of the piano part for John Lennon’s Imagine with Van Halen’s Jump sung over the top of it was priceless. All of this was a buildup to the moment when Dave went back to play drums while Taylor Hawkins and Luke Spiller from The Struts channeled David Bowie and Freddie Mercury in an outstanding cover of the Bowie/Queen classic Under Pressure. Foo Fighters rocked at a relentless pace for 2 1/2 hours, featuring a killer light show and loud, but crystal clear sound. There aren’t many bands around these days who can stage a grand spectacle of a show like this (and have the songs to pull it off), so I hope we can keep the members of Foo Fighters healthy and happy, and doing this for years to come!

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

A Little About The Author:

My name is Braddon S. Williams and I share Lemmy’s birthday, Christmas Eve (12/24/1961). I started playing guitar when I was 13 years old, not long after discovering the first Kiss album. From there, the process of discovery was unstoppable, and I find that I am still constantly finding new artists who inspire me all these years later. I began writing a series of essays detailing all my concert experiences throughout the years on my Facebook page and was asked if it would be okay to publish them on the Vinyl Lair site, which I obviously saw as a wonderful opportunity! From there I decided to take the 10 album challenge, but quickly determined that I would have a terrible time limiting all my musical loves to such an inadequate number, so I opted to go for 365. I figured if “an apple a day keeps the doctor away”, then an album a day should keep boredom at bay! I am in the process of putting an old band of mine back together and also working up a set of mixed covers and originals for a solo acoustic act. Music is my fountain of youth, along with a love of dogs, beautiful women (and anyone who can make me laugh and carry on a deep conversation). Oh yes, I am also a movie fanatic. Feel free to send me a friend request on Facebook or follow my Instagram account @sinisterbrad.

On This Date in History