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

6a00e54ecca8b9883301901c8b1eea970b

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!

PRZ-005752

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

greatwhite9f-3-web

On this date in history I saw Great White in 1993. They performed at The Vogue, a nightclub probably not all that different from the club that caught fire during one of their shows a decade later.

More than a hundred people died at that show and many more suffered horrible injuries. By the time of that incident, the band was actually called Jack Russell’s Great White, but the media latched onto the more well known version for their reporting.

I don’t recall them using any pyrotechnics at our show, but it does make one think about the potential dangers at any live event. Tragedy occurs from time to time in the music world, but more often it is celebration and good feelings that are remembered. These are the reasons I have never stopped attending shows.

It is sad that Great White is mostly associated with the disastrous fire, because they were an amazing band in their day. Jack Russell had an insane vocal range and the looks and personality of a born frontman. Mark Kendall played solid lead guitar, preferring melodic bluesy lines over the “million notes per second” style that everyone else seemed to be going for at the time. They had some really good songs, too. Even though they had their best success with a cover song, they were wise enough to pick one that was just obscure enough that most people thought they wrote it. The song I’m referring to is “Once Bitten, Twice Shy” by Ian Hunter, and Great White used it to propel themselves into a pretty good run for awhile.

198e_3

The band Asphalt Ballet opened for them at The Vogue and I enjoyed their set, too. My heart goes out to the victims of the fire that scarred Great White’s career (including Ty Longley, who played guitar in the band that night), but I remain grateful that I saw them when the only fire was the heat of their music.

 

Written By Braddon S. Williams  AKA The Concert Critic

On This Date in History

mp8

On this date in history, Part 1: Rush was on tour for their magnificent Moving Pictures album in 1981 and I caught them at Market Square Arena for the third time in just over 3 years. There was a bit of a twist for me on this show, because I was actually more stoked to see the warmup band, Max Webster.

Max Webster was from Canada (like Rush) and their current album at that time was called Universal Juveniles. I highly recommend this record to anyone who loves hard rock music…utterly fantastic from start to finish…all killer, no filler! There was a song on that album that featured both Rush and Max Webster playing together that was getting some decent airplay on FM radio stations. The song was called Battle Scar, and I’m guessing this collaboration had something to do with the 2 bands touring together.

KIM MITCHELL – Battlescar

Max Webster shared the confusion factor that was always present for Jethro Tull, in that there wasn’t actually anyone in the band named Max Webster! The lead singer/lead guitarist was Kim Mitchell, and he was bursting with talent; crazy good on the guitar and a great singer. I recall him saying some amusing stuff between songs and just being quite charismatic. When they played Battle Scar at the end of their set, they were joined by a mysterious masked man with a bass guitar. As soon as the masked bassist sang his first phrase into the microphone it was obvious to everyone in the arena that he was none other than Geddy Lee. The crowd roared, the band slayed and we were properly hyped for Rush’s arrival.

ge max

Enter a caption

Geddy singing Battlescar with Dave Myles of Max Webster

As always, Rush delivered precision musical mastery and a seriously high tech light extravaganza. By this point in their career, the Canadian trio had a solid catalog of material to choose from and this was full of killer highlights. This was the best I ever saw them, but they were so consistent that I give most of the credit to Max Webster for making this one my favorite.

Written By: Braddon S. Williams

Rush 1981 Moving Pictures Tour Live

On This Day in History Part 1: