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

On this date in history, 11/2/2019, Reggie’s Rock Club in Chicago hosted a superb triple bill show featuring John 5 And The Creatures, Jared James Nichols, and Reverend Jack. The Invasion Tour 2019 was packed with amazing performances and featured one big time surprise guest artist.

First things first…Reggie’s Rock Club is a really small, intimate and nicely set up place to witness live music, complete with top notch sound and lights. The visibility was excellent and contributed to the entire crowd being treated to that wonderful feeling of energy exchanged between performers and audience.

Reverend Jack started the night with an absolutely KILLER set of original bluesy Southern hard rock. These guys have so much potential to really break big. They are young, have great songs and energized stage presence, but most of all they have this singer named Eric Harmon, and he has one of the best set of pure rock vocal pipes I have heard in years. I knew before the first song was over that this guy has a special gift, and the fact that the lead guitarist and bassist add strong harmony vocal support just adds to the magic.

Near the end of their set, they played a cover of Midnight Rider by The Allman Brothers Band and made it a streamlined muscular slab of modern rock, complete with 3 part harmony a capella vocal intro…Bravo, guys! I expect them to do big things for a long time to come.

Next up was Jared James Nichols and his fiery blues based hard rock. Performing as a power trio, Nichols and company wasted no time in keeping the momentum going with tight playing and Nichols’ passionate vocals. His voice was a pleasant surprise for me, because I had only heard his guitar work prior to this show. I follow him on Instagram and knew he was a blazing lead guitar player, but his voice fit perfectly with his larger than life soloing. Nichols is a tall guy with a great head of hair that brings to mind the lion’s mane of Robert Plant in Zeppelin’s heyday, and between the hair and the animated faces he makes when he is soloing makes him super entertaining to watch.

At the midpoint of his set, Nichols brought out a young man named Peter to play a song and it was a beautiful thing to see the joy radiating from Peter’s face. He proved to be a pretty good player, too, trading leads with Jared James and receiving a thunderous ovation from the appreciative crowd. This simple gesture of kindness, coupled with his obvious talents gained Jared James Nichols a big fan (me), or possibly a whole room of them.

John 5 And The Creatures finished the night with a jaw dropping display of musical muscle, navigating through a dizzying myriad of styles including metal, country, bluegrass, funk, and even a little jazz.

John 5’s playing is breathtaking, full of precision, flash, and passion…and always emanating the man’s obvious love of the guitar featuring lots of Halloween themed stage props and a properly sinister light show.

The insanely tight trio kept the pace moving at a breakneck pace. Midway through their show John spoke to us in several humorous song introductions and proved himself to be the humble and likeable person that could give Dave Grohl a run for his money in the Nicest Guy In Rock Music Category.

To our delight, Charle Benante, the supernaturally gifted drummer from Anthrax was at the show and joined the guys on stage for a crusher of an improvised jam session.

John 5 delivered a fun filled medley of classic song intros featuring songs by Rush, Van Halen, Rage Against The Machine, Metallica, Kiss, Megadeth, White Zombie, Marilyn Manson, Motley Crue, Nirvana, Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath, Queen, The Police, PanterA, and even The Knack (remember My Sharona? lol).

The band came out for an encore, and apparently had run out of songs, resorting to having to do one they hadn’t rehearsed (of course they nailed it!). I love shows like this one, with new discoveries and new venues.

I first saw John 5 back in 1999 when he was with Marilyn Manson, and have seen him many times with Rob Zombie, but it was incredibly satisfying to see him stretching his wings and demonstrating his full potential as a guitarist and band leader. I will definitely be back for more of all three of these bands if I get the chance.

On This Date in History

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

UFO Band Circa 1970

On this date in history, 10/24/2019, I finally got to see UFO again! It had been 41 years since I saw the venerable English hard rock stalwarts open for Rush back in 1978, at the old Market Square Arena in downtown Indianapolis.

This time around, they played a fantastic show at the Honeywell Center in Wabash, IN. Opening the show was Last In Line, featuring songs from the late Ronnie James Dio, as well as originals from the band’s 2 albums.

Last In Line is comprised of Vinnie Appice on drums, Phil Soussan on bass, Vivian Campbell on guitar, and Andrew Freeman on vocals.

I was impressed with the songs that they composed together, and blown away by the Dio songs, particularly Holy Diver, We Rock, Rainbow In The Dark, and the song the band got their name from, The Last In Line. One minor criticism; I felt that Freeman spent too much time getting the audience to sing the songs, especially considering the fact that the guy has a really strong voice that does ample justice to the legacy of the great Ronnie James Dio.

All three of the musicians delivered outstanding contributions; Campbell’s lead guitar work was blazing, Appice’s drum sound was huge and his playing was right in the pocket, and Soussan sang some nice backing vocals in addition to his solid bass guitar style. All in all, I was thrilled to have such a great opening band for UFO’s final tour.

As I mentioned before, it has been a long time since my 16 year old self saw UFO from the 10th row at what was only my 9th concert ever, and I was curious to see if they still had that magic I remembered so fondly. It took mere seconds to confirm that they did indeed retain that signature sound that made me an instant fan upon release of their magnificent live album, Strangers In The Night. Over the course of their set on this most satisfying night of music, UFO served up song after song of powerful riffs, tantalizing melodic hooks, singalong choruses that get stuck in the listener’s head for days, absolutely glorious guitar solos, and the charming presence and still fantastic voice (at 71 years old) of Mr. Phil Mogg, who has fronted the band since its formation in 1968. Pretty much all of my favorite songs were on display…Too Hot To Handle, Cherry, Hot ‘n Ready, Mother Mary, Only You Can Rock Me, and Rock Bottom (complete with Vinnie Moore’s display of guitar wizardry). UFO returned for an encore of Doctor, Doctor and Shoot Shoot and wished us a Happy Halloween and Merry Christmas, never making a big deal of this being their final tour, but for me and many others it is definitely a major event.

As I told my friend on the way out, “They just don’t make bands like that anymore!” Thanks for the music UFO…you were great when I was 16, and you’re still amazing to me at 57. Respect!

On This Date in History

Welcome to our “Psychedelic Lunch” series where we find out how deep the rabbit hole really goes and explore psychedelic tunes from the 60’s and 70’s. Enjoy the trip!

White Rabbit by Jefferson Airplane

This was written by Jefferson Airplane frontwoman Grace Slick, who based the lyrics on Lewis Carroll’s 1865 children’s book Alice In Wonderland (officially Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland). Like many young musicians in San Francisco, Slick did a lot of drugs, and she saw a surfeit of drug references in Carroll’s book, including the pills, the smoking caterpillar, the mushroom, and lots of other images that are pretty trippy. She noticed that many children’s stories involve a substance of some kind that alters reality, and felt it was time to write a song about it.

Slick got the idea for this song after taking LSD and spending hours listening to the Miles Davis album Sketches Of Spain, especially the opening track, “Concierto de Aranjuez.” The Spanish beat she came up with was also influenced by Ravel’s “Bolero.”

Psychedelic Lunch

Welcome to our “Psychedelic Lunch” series where we find out how deep the rabbit hole really goes and explore psychedelic tunes from the 60’s and 70’s. Enjoy the trip!

Pink Floyd “One Of These Days, ” this was built around a bass riff Roger Waters played through an echo unit. They worked off that for the rest of the song.

At the time, Pink Floyd was intrigued by minimalist composers who were experimenting with electronic patterns. They used a pattern this type of pattern throughout the song.

Dave Gilmour called this “The most collaborative effort of anything we ever did.” In later years, the band didn’t collaborate on songs nearly as much.

The only vocal is the line, “One of these days I’m gonna cut you up into little pieces.” It was spoken by drummer Nick Mason, and was digitally warped to give it an evil sound to it. Nick Mason said he liked how it sounded when it was all finished up.

Pink Floyd performed this on their video and album recorded live at Pompeii. When they started recording this album, they put down 24 pieces of music with no idea how it would develop. The working title was “Nothing, Parts 1-24.”

The spoken threat is reportedly aimed at Sir Jimmy Young, the Radio DJ.

Dave Gilmour in Guitar World February 1993: “‘One of these Days’ evolved from some of my experiments with the Binson [an Italian made delay unit], as did ‘Echoes’ [also from Meddle]. One day, Roger decided to take some of the techniques that I was developing and try them out himself on bass. And he came up with that basic riff that we all worked on and turned into ‘One of These Days.’ For the middle section, another piece of technology came into play: an H&H amp with vibrato. I set the vibrato to more or less the same tempo as the delay. But the delay was in 3/4 increments of the beat and the vibrato went with the beat. I just played the bass through it and made up that little section, which we then stuck on to a bit of tape and edited in. The tape splices were then camouflaged with cymbal crashes.”

Guitar World asked Gilmour about playing bass on “One Of These Days.” Gilmour replied: “The opening section is me and Roger. On ‘One of these Days,’ for some reason, we decided to do a double track of the bass. You can actually hear it if you listen in stereo. The first bass is me. A bar later, Roger joins in on the other side of the stereo picture. We didn’t have a spare set of strings for the spare bass guitar, so the second bass is very dull sounding. [laughs] We sent a roadie out to buy some strings, but he wandered off to see his girlfriend instead.”

“Psychedelic Lunch”

Welcome to our “Psychedelic Lunch” series where we find out how deep the rabbit hole really goes and explore psychedelic tunes from the 60’s and 70’s. Enjoy the trip!

The Beatles Tomorrow Never Knows

Like “A Hard Day’s Night,” the title came from an expression Ringo Starr used. The proper idiom is “tomorrow never comes,” meaning that when tomorrow arrived, it would become today. Ringo’s variation of the phrase took the edge off the heavy philosophical lyrics. Working titles for the song before Ringo gave them inspiration were “Mark I” and “The Void.”
John Lennon wrote this, and described it as “my first psychedelic song.” It was inspired by Timothy Leary and Richard Alpert’s book The Psychedelic Experience: A Manual Based On The Tibetan Book Of The Dead, which Lennon discovered at Indica Books and Gallery (inspiration for “Paperback Writer”).

The book is a reinterpretation of the Tibetan Book of the Dead and a guide to understanding it through psychedelic drugs. Lennon would read it while tripping on LSD, and according to his biographer Albert Goldman, he recorded himself reading from the book, played it back while tripping on LSD, and wrote the song.

The most overt reference to the book is the line:

Turn off your mind
Relax and float downstream
It is not dying

The book states: “Whenever in doubt, turn off your mind, relax, float downstream.”
To accompany the psychedelic imagery in Lennon’s lyric, each Beatle created strange sounds which were mixed in throughout the recording, often backward and in different speeds. Their producer, George Martin, was older and more experienced, but he allowed the group to experiment in the studio as much as they pleased.


https://youtu.be/pHNbHn3i9S4

“Psychedelic Lunch”

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 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