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

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, 6/24/2018, a dear friend and I attended The Summer Of Living Dangerously Tour featuring Steely Dan and The Doobie Brothers at Deer Creek (or Ruoff Music Center if you want to get technical)! In recent years, classic bands have been staging these package tours in the summer months featuring 2 or 3 co-headliners. This is great for the promoters, the fans, and the bands themselves. I was thrilled at this combination, having never seen either band before. One of my best friends would always play music by these two iconic groups at parties he would throw when his parents were away while we were in high school, so there was a high degree of nostalgia permeating this show for me. The Doobie Brothers kicked things off with a stellar set of predominantly hits and fan favorites. Long time members Patrick Simmons and Tom Johnston handled the majority of lead vocals and both played topnotch lead guitar, along with John McFee, who also added some violin work on a couple of tunes. Bill Payne (of Little Feat fame) played keyboards and there was a phenomenal sax player who earned a lot of solo spots and elevated every song he was featured on. Steely Dan took everything to the next level, providing excellence in every facet of their performance. Donald Fagan led his extraordinary live band through a treasure trove of Steely Dan highlights including Kid Charlemagne, Aja, Babylon Sisters, Reeling In The Years, Dirty Work, Black Cow, Peg, Hey Nineteen, Bodhisattva, Green Earrings, and My Old School. Every member of the band was hall of fame worthy on their chosen instrument, and the two women handling backing vocals added a lot of wonderful harmonizing and soulful feeling to the deliciously written songs. Of course, Walter Becker will always be missed, but Fagan seems dedicated to keeping Steely Dan alive and well as long as he can. This was a glorious night of blissful music…perfect weather and wonderful company made this a totally joyous occasion for me, one I will treasure always.

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

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