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

On this date in history, 8/31/2019, Kiss brought The End Of The Road Tour to Deer Creek, effectively completing a circle that began with my very first concert in 1976.

Kiss played the old Market Square Arena that long ago night (with support from Bob Seger & The Silver Bullet Band and Artful Dodger). Tickets for that first show were $6.50…yeah, you read that correctly! Times have changed quite a bit since then. Tickets for this one ran me considerably more than that, and to make matters worse, we didn’t even get an opening band this time. Instead, we got a painter. Yes, a freaking PAINTER! In his defense, David Garibaldi has talent with his brushes, but somehow a balding guy wearing a leather jacket and prancing around on stage while Guns ‘n Roses and Aerosmith songs are piped in over the PA is a pretty lame substitute for a live band. Enough about that guy…let’s talk about the main attraction.

Kiss delivered the goods and put on a pretty incredible display of an epic arena show. The staging was on a grand scale, the lighting was on par with a Hollywood blockbuster, the sound was suitably huge, and the band performed with admirable energy. Was it perfect? Of course not. Paul Stanley and Gene Simmons (the 2 remaining original members) both struggled vocally. Stanley, in particular, sounded ragged from the moment he delivered his first of many between-songs speeches very early in the show. To his credit, Paul never made excuses, nor seemed to back off at all in his delivery, which always seemed to be in a quest at 100% effort.

Luckily, the Kiss Army were there in force to lustily sing along with all those arena sized choruses. Yes, you can say what you will about Kiss, but Stanley and Simmons have crafted an arsenal of classic material that lies firmly in the pantheon of rock music that will endure for generations to come. These songs were born for the big stage and they shine brightly in that environment eternally.

Tommy Thayer, sporting the costume and signature face paint of Ace Frehley, possesses none of Ace’s originality as a guitarist, but is a solid player nonetheless. Thayer’s solo spot was fun, complete with the rocket shooting guitar shtick made famous by Frehley.

Eric Singer, on the other hand, is a far better drummer than Peter Criss, and played a crowd pleasing drum solo mid-set that undoubtedly bought Stanley and Simmons some much needed vocal rest. Singer also sang and played a piano with enough sparkle to make Elton John green with envy on Criss’s big hit, Beth, during the encore.

Was this truly the end of the road? I find it difficult to not be more than a little cynical regarding this question. It seems as if Kiss have been on their farewell tour for at least 20 years at this point, but if it is indeed the end, Kiss have gone out with dignity and pride.

I started playing guitar because of Kiss. Would I have found my desire to do so without them? Most likely, but I don’t ever have to answer that question, because there is zero doubt in my mind that Kiss were the ones who lit that spark within me.

Thank you, Kiss…for everything…Love & respect, gentlemen! You were glorious on August 31, 2019. I wanted the best, and I got the best!

On This Day in History

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

On this this date in history, 8/16/2019, Slipknot brought their Knotfest roadshow to Deer Creek in Noblesville, IN. Although the masked marauders hail from Iowa in the USA, the other 3 bands brought international diversity to the heavy music showcase.

Behemoth, from Poland, began the proceedings with a ferocious display of Black Metal mastery. The corpse painted band’s dark theatricality and Satanic imagery probably didn’t win over too many of the Slipknot faithful, but I thought they were the best of all the bands that day.

Behemoth are playing for keeps, and that emotional approach always finds its crowd.

Gojira, hailing originally from France, were barely below Behemoth in my estimation, and they played a fantastic set, too. In particular, Mario Duplantier’s drumming is beyond amazing. That guy simply plays patterns that seemingly no-one else has thought of, and he is a lot of fun to watch while he is up there slaughtering his drum kit.

Up next were Denmark’s Volbeat, and they were definitely the least metal of all the bands, but they were quite well received.

A friend remarked that their singer’s voice reminded him of the Swedish chef from The Muppets, and now I simply can’t “un-hear” that comparison!

Rob Caggiano (who previously played lead guitar in Anthrax) played some solid guitar solos and they sounded great mix-wise, but I think overall that Volbeat would be better on a tour more suited to their musical style.

Slipknot did what Slipknot does, which is to say that everything was bigger, brighter, and louder than everyone else. One small complaint for me personally was that one of the utility guys seemed to spend way too much of his time playing around on the treadmill up on the second level of the stage. It was pretty distracting, to say the least. Okay, it was downright annoying! Oh, yes…and Corey Taylor’s vocals were often too low in the mix. With all that is going on in Slipknot’s music, it can’t be easy to give everyone equal attention, but in general, vocals are supposed to be audible in the mix, and the sound guy wasn’t getting it done.

This was my 9th time seeing Slipknot, the 4th seeing Behemoth, the 2nd seeing Gojira, and the first time for Volbeat. All in all, I had a fantastic time, but I stand by my original reason to attend this show. I was there for Behemoth and Gojira, and for my money, those were the best 2 bands on that stage.

Kudos to Slipknot for their generosity towards the support bands.

Everyone had excellent sound, lights and backdrops…all 3 of the openers actually had better mixes than the headliners, but Slipknot is a cottage industry at this stage in their career, and like Metallica, they kind of play by their own rules.

As long as they take this approach to touring, I imagine I will be seeing them several more times before they hang up their masks.

On This Day in History

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

On this date in history, 6/11/2019, I ended a 40 year ban and saw REO Speedwagon for the first time since 1979! This happened because a wonderful new friend won free tickets and invited me.

The concert took place at The Lawn in White River State Park in downtown Indianapolis. I had never been to this venue before and I was quite impressed with the sound and visibility of the stage area.

Sister Hazel opened the show, but I must confess that they basically served as background music for a really interesting conversation my friend and I were having. To their credit, Sister Hazel sounded quite good.

When REO hit the stage, we moved up much closer to the stage and I must say the venerable classic rockers played all their biggest hits and managed to breathe some new life into some older deep cuts as well.

Lead singer Kevin Cronin did a lot of talking between songs, but his speeches served a purpose, such as his introduction of the band, particularly describing lead guitar player Dave Amato as the “new guy”, even though he joined the band in 1989. Cronin also talked about the songwriting process before performing Golden Country on solo acoustic guitar. That is one of my favorite REO songs, and the intimacy of just voice and guitar was a nice little change of pace.

Another speech involved the song 157 Riverside Ave., which was featured on their first live album. Cronin reminded us that the live version on that album was recorded in Indianapolis at the Convention Center.

Since REO hails from Illinois, Cronin played up the neighborly aspect of the band’s relationship with Indiana.

All in all there was a good balance between the big power ballads and grittier rockers like Back On The Road Again, Keep Pushin’ and Ridin’ The Storm Out. The crowd was singing along and swaying to the hits for the duration of the show. I’m glad I lifted the ban, because this time around was way more fun than the show I saw 40 years ago!

On This Date in History

On this date in history, 9/20/2009, I traveled solo to the Vogue in Broad Ripple to witness the mighty Down, along with Melvins and Weedeater! A crushingly amazing show that built in intensity with each band. I had never heard Weedeater before and I was impressed with their sound. The guy singing (although singing isn’t technically what he was doing…metalheads know what I mean!) also played bass and his bass sound was pulverizing and punishing, just the way we like it! Melvins were next and they played straight through their set with barely a pause, 2 drummers bashing away like conjoined twins who have a habit of finishing each others’ sentences. One guy would begin a drum fill and the other one would complete it, morph it into something new and bat it back. It was really crazy to watch and for a drum freak like myself, simply mesmerizing! At one point I noticed Phil Anselmo crouched down between the 2 kits and banging his head and shouting words of encouragement to the twin headed percussion behemoth. When Melvins finished their set, a whole section of the crowd got up and left. Apparently their core audience was just there for their favorite band. I can respect that, but they really missed out on a fantastic set by Down. Phil was in great voice and in a cheerful mood and it brought back memories of his prime in PanterA! The dual lead tandem of Pepper Keenan and Kirk Windstein was on point, delivering the thick swampy tones of doom we all craved. My only regret was that Rex Brown had left the band not too long before this show. His replacement fit right in and Down brought that Black Sabbath – Lynyrd Skynyrd evil swamp child hybrid voodoo magic!

Written By Braddon S. Williams aka The Concert Critic

On This Date in History

On this date in history, 9/10/2000,the blues came to Deer Creek. B.B. King, Buddy Guy, Susan Tedeschi and Corey Harris held a blues seminar that was simply sublime.

As you may guess, this was a pretty special show! I believe we arrived right before Susan Tedeschi started her set. She was really good, with a soulful heat permeating her passionate delivery.

Speaking of heat, things heated up considerably when Buddy Guy took the stage. He played and sang like a man possessed, and maybe he was…possessed by the spirit of the blues.

After Buddy’s intense set, B.B. King came out and held serve! Although he was seated for his performance, time had yet to diminish the King’s powerful voice, and of course, Lucille sang with magic all her own.

The sweet sounds the man conjured out of that guitar were some of the best tones ever heard in any form of music. I wish that Buddy and B.B. would have jammed together, but that is a minor complaint in an otherwise perfect night of blues mastery!

Written By Braddon S. Williams aka The Concert Critic

On This Date in History

On this date in history, 9/9/1984, I flew out to Los Angeles to visit a friend who was living there at that time. When I arrived, we drove immediately to the Universal Amphitheater to attend a show featuring Missing Persons and John Waite.

Due to my plane’s late arrival, we weren’t in time to catch John’s set, but Missing Persons played a phenomenal show. The band was made up of former members of Frank Zappa’s band and fronted by the outrageously costumed Dale Bozzio, who without a doubt paved the way (at least fashion wise) for Lady Gaga and many other women with her totally unique style.

At the time she was married to the band’s drummer, Terry Bozzio, one of the best drummer/percussionists of all-time! Honestly, I’m still puzzled why they didn’t become huge…they were simply amazing! Huge thanks to my friend for the surprise concert upon my arrival and for making my only trip to the city of angels such a fantastic time!

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

On This Date in History

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On this date in history, 9/10/1999, I’m going to throw Darren Nakanishi under the bus for this one! Nak & I (along with our significant others at that time) went to a show at Deer Creek that no-one who knows us would ever expect…wait for it…wait for it…yes, we actually saw Cher and Cyndi Lauper!

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I know, the things a guy has to do to keep the women happy! Actually, it was a pretty entertaining show. Cher is a living legend of show business and she brought the full production to the stage, with many costume changes, backup dancers and singers and a professional band made up of the best that money can buy.

I don’t remember if we made it in time for Cyndi Lauper or not…I’m thinking not, but who knows? Anyway, there you go…in the immortal words of Forrest Gump, “That’s all I have to say about that!”

Written By Braddon S. Williams aka The Concert Critic

On This Date in History