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A triumphant return

Mon 13 Oct – Flying Colors

As with any event that involves Mike Portnoy, a great time is almost guaranteed, and this one was no different.
John Wesley was a great choice as opening act as he is neither metal nor prog but some very enjoyable amalgamation of the two. It is also worth noting that until I’d seen his current band I never thought I’d ever see a bass player more modest than John Myung (not even special stage pants!).
With the tour almost over and the pressure of the DVD shoot behind them, Flying Colors clearly enjoyed themselves and gave it all in spite of the end of tour sprint of dates (all hail the cucumber!). While it would have been interesting to see what a changing setlist would have looked like, the new songs are still new enough to deserve repeated airing and I suppose only the band and their inner circle know how easily the tour could not have taken place.
I loved seeing Casey feel more at home in the group and being even more a star this time around. With his range from in your face rock, going past Jersey melancholy worthy of The Boss himself to moods paying tribute to Jeff Buckley, he definitely was an excellent choice for frontman.
If I had to nitpick, which is all that band can leave you with, it’s that Rich Mouser is no Jerry Guidroz when it comes to live mixing and perhaps the lights could have been a bit more on point, but in the midst of it all, this didn’t really matter. The crowd was a pleasantly loud London crowd that almost matched northern ones at times, but also respected the band for the music and craftsmanship’s sake as well.
I think it’s likely that Flying Colors’ third coming will arrive before The Stone Roses‘, and I’m definitely looking forward to that!

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Like a reunion

Fri 27 Jun – Motörhead, Gloria Volt

Gloria Volt, the support band, provided a great warm-up and restored my faith in Swiss rock. They are what Gotthard once were, a band devoted to rock. True, their music was as formulaic as Krokus‘ has become, but they made me a bit proud to hail from the same canton as a band that good.

Some time after 9pm, we finally got to hear that famous rumble of Lemmy’s bass again. And for once, even a Swiss crowd was able to come alive and show the band that they’re appreciated. True, this time we did have the extra incentive of being one of the only few make up gigs for the canceled Fall 2013 tour, but I guess it is also true that there is no sort of liking Motorhead. You’re all in or far away.

The setlist was the same as it has been all year, but the selections were top notch, so I certainly appreciated hearing an evolved setlist.

I must admit, I was thrown by the slower pace of many songs (Overkill was a bit underwhelming, for example), but the fact is that Lemmy looked healthy and he was here. Like the banner some fans made and threw on stage said “Thank you Lemmy, god of R’n’R from 1945 to eternity!”. Also thanks to Tim for wedging it into Lemmy’s cabinet.

Nitpick as I may be tempted to do, I have to conclude by saying sod it, I had a fantastic time, and I can’t wait for the next tour!

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Bucket list item

Sun 1 Jun – The Rolling Stones, The Temperance Movement

Having known the Stones for almost all my life through my dad’s preferences for music from their heyday, and having seen them on the event of my dad’s birthday, I’m still not sure about the concert.
It’s definitely something to have seen. Despite them being old men in tights (h/t Liam Gallagher), their effortless performance of a greatest hits setlist lasting two full hours has to be seen to be believed. In spite of the great stage design and video inserts, I’m also not sure why the various versions of their current stage need to be so huge.
Last but not least, it is true that the smugness of charging an arm and a leg for even the worst tickets is not a friendly move, but then you never know how long they’ll still be touring for, so there may be no better time than now to go see them.

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Up and close, thank goodness

Mon 28 Apr – The Flower Kings, Karmakanic

Whether it was because it was a Monday night or whether it was the absence of the crowd pulling power of Mike Portnoy, a much smaller than usual crowd assembled at the Z7 for an evening of excellent Swedish prog.

Karmakanic, Flower Kings bass player Jonas Reingold’s side project opened the evening in place of the sadly still out of action Daniel Gildenlow. They appeared in a lighter line-up (without Erikson, Jonsson or Agren) and played a good cross section of their original material. Felix and Roine, also from The Flower Kings joined them for a few songs.

After the set break, The Flower Kings played a near 2-hour set comprised of a setlist similar to their recent tours (Tower ONE, Numbers, early days medley, etc.) and rocked as always. It was another set that made me think that they should not be a second rate categorized prog band, but really among the top of modern melodic prog. Unlike other bands in the same sub-genre there is no wasted noodling or atmospheric belching, just solid suites of well written songs. It of course helps to have Hasse Froeberg as a superb counterweight to to Roine, but they’re just one major part of what makes the entire band a very relevant one.

So as usual, go see them and fill those venues, because the Z7 sure wasn’t. Neither it being Monday or there being no Portnoy should have counted. Those who support Mike should also logically support the bands he has promoted.

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A long awaited return

Wed 5 Mar – Transatlantic

Although individually, most members of Transatlantic have visited Switzerland frequently since their last concert in 2010, this was the first time since then that they were here again (same venue even) as Transatlantic.
Unlike some who will not be mentioned, Transatlantic know how do a proper “an evening with” event. Counting everything, they provided 3 hours of prog bliss, playing Kaleidoscope (entire album), a Whirlwind medley, All of the Above and more. You can tell when Mike Portnoy has been let loose on a tour’s setlists.
The crowd may have been paying attention, but I was once again very frustrated by their overly reserved attitude. I was only giving it half a Barrowland attitude measure, but I felt out of place, as though I was the only one who knew the pieces, lyrics and at least some of the melodic parts. As if being a big fan was not popular in Switzerland. With a setlist as balanced as last night’s, yes you can keep going for three hours.
Maybe DF concerts should get them to Glasgow on the next tour. They’ve earned it.

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Stagnant, but entertaining

Fri 14 Feb – Delta Machine World Tour

I can’t shake the impression that the DM brand has grown stale these past few years. Tonight’s show was like watching a Bluray on a giant screen. Great show, slick visuals and great songs played live, but only just.

Maybe I’ve gotten old, but somehow I miss the days of yore, even only 20 years ago. Where are the explosive statements of Songs of Faith and Devotion, Violator or even Ultra?

Depeche Mode now is still good, their Martin and Dave still write great songs, but somehow there’s too much art and too little graft.

Suffice to say that I will not be in a rush to see them again anytime soon. Oh, and next time you wanna do five songs on your own and skip Somebody, especially on valentine’s day, do a solo club tour please Martin.

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Legendary, again!

Thu 12 Dec – Shed Seven, Mark Morriss

Those who know the Barras and Shed Seven needn’t read on. You know what you get when you combine the two.
Those who don’t, listen to See Youse At the Barras and you’ll get some idea.
I write this still buzzing from the unique energy loop that is characteristic of the Barrowland Ballroom. The crowds are mega and the bands know this too and bring their A game every time.
For a band who’ve not released (much) new material in over ten years, Shed Seven are in top form, kind of like the Inspiral Carpets, but with the original singer. And for them too, it doesn’t matter because the songs remain fresh and innovative.
I don’t know if there is a second generation of fans, but we’re young still, and compared to the “class of ’68”, so are they. So for them, as well as for others, I can’t wait to see youse at the Barras again!

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The genuine article

Fri 6 Dec – The Crazy World Of Arthur Brown

Like others of his generation and career path, most notably probably Lemmy, Arthur Brown is one of very few left, who have always crafted originality from where there was only raw material. Both promoters and spectators don’t know what they’re missing out on by passing on booking or seeing him, he’s that great.
Having probably lived a somewhat healthier lifestyle than others, Arthur Brown can still perform as animatedly and loudly as ever. He performed a good mix of songs from his latest album as well as classics, including of course the Fire Suite.
The current lineup of his band too did not disappoint. Both tools in Brown’s arsenal as well as functioning as a well oiled machine, those guys and gals truly proved themselves worthy of backing a legend.
So do yourself a favor next Spring and go see Arthur Brown. Where but there do you get original music, poetry, dance and a radiant female lead guitarist all in one set? Brown will have the good sense to retire before his time on stage expires, so run along and go see him, I know I will!

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Celebrating lyricists

Thu 14 Nov – The Bad Shepherds

Better than any compilation and miles above cover bands, Adrian Edmonson and his Bad Shepherds reinterpret songs to highlight their message. You needn’t be a folk fan to appreciate them, but it sure is helpful if you know the original versions. There may be many punk bands out there and many “proper” folk bands, but none demand that you listen to the words quite as well.

Ade will have to be careful to not outstay his welcome though. TBS is a great act, and there sure are lots of worthy songs to cover, but in the end us the audience still do want him to regularly collaborate with his wife and / or Rik Mayall. To put a lid on the 20th century coyotes is to hypocritically let one part of the past gather dust while highlighting the other.

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Three juggling instrumentalists

Tue 17 Sep – The Winery Dogs

Considering their line-up and previous concerts on this leg, a great gig was as good as guaranteed.

The opening act, The Sixxis, were a big surprise. Their brand of prog metal made for the ideal warm up as they both had well written rock songs as well as the prog metal streak that has characterized many aspects of Mike Portnoy’s career. Look them up, they may be big soon.

After a longer than usual set change, The Winery Dogs finally came on stage just after 9:30pm. Playing the tour set of their album interspersed with a few covers and solo spots, they could not have left any serious fan disappointed. As alluded to by the title of this review, those three could literally juggle with their instruments and still sound good.

Billy Sheehan left me wondering whether he either plays a very sturdy bass guitar or whether he carries several spares as he truly covered all bas(s)es, playing every spot that could produce a tone.

Mike Portnoy played on what must be the smallest kit he’s ever played outside of Yellow Matter Custard, having only some of his more modest quirks in his setup. He may be a toolkit drummer, but boy does he use it well!

Richie Kotzen, the man with the ironic last name, too did not struggle and hit every note and bluffed many scales out of his guitar. He even made the Poison cover fun.

So go see them if you can, especially if you too miss Black Country Communion but can cope with the absence of a full time keyboard.

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Beady Eye, Chapter 2

Sat 22 Jun – Beady Eye

Although I’d been lucky enough to get a ticket, I wasn’t sure if I wanted to go considering the blandness of the new album. The first album was a kick in the balls, BE however just a walk in the park on a Sunday.
And sure enough, as Noddy foretold, the old songs were the best. It’s not that the new songs hold no water, they’re just sort “meh”, tunes that Noel would never release as core album tracks.
Apart from that, Beady Eye delivered. Even Liam who was his usual half lad, half diva self (Glaswegians throw beer in appreciation, you wimp) sang so well even the least interested journalists would have been able to confirm that yes, the youngest Gallagher can indeed sing very well, no SFX needed!
The setlist consisted of the well tested combination of new songs, DGSS songs and the two Oasis numbers. Considering the absence of an opening act they could have played longer though. Imagine my surprise to be exiting a venue to daylight.
I titled this review chapter two as I’m hoping for a later chapter where we’ll get to hear Ride and Heavy Stereo tunes. Gem and Andy have been allowed more exposure with Andy now being the defacto replacement Noel for Liam, but maybe someday, when Liam’s had his fill for the night he could allow the other two singers to take the lead as well.
Liam remains a walking contradiction and imitation Ian Brown. Doesn’t claim to care, but needs a “Church of Liam” atmosphere to excel and does his version of Waterfall / Don’t stop (Start Anew / Dreaming of some Space) and the end of gig walk along the barrier.
Here’s hoping they don’t cheapen themselves more and try harder next time.

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An even more blinding night!

Sat 8 Jun – The Stone Roses, Public Image Ltd., Miles Kane, Johnny Marr

On night 2 as well, I went for the Stone Roses and was not disappointed. The band was in great shape, playing even more freely and vigorously than on Friday. What I saw was a band who wanted to do this and who enjoyed playing together, compared to, say, the cash in tour by The Police in 2007.
The crowd too seemed made up of bigger and more loyal fans. Ian Brown’s voice was still in just as good shape, but it needn’t’ve been, as most of the crowd knew all the lyrics anyway (as usual).
It was a celebration, and unlike blur, there’s less of a rush to get new material. I could listen to that set way more often. As the bearded fan said in Made of Stone, “you know it and I know it, but you can’t write it down.”

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Could this be their year?

Fri 7 Jun – The Stone Roses, Dizzee Rascal, The Courteeners, Rudimental

In true fashion, I went onsite for what I wanted, the Stone Roses.

Their concert was a great opportunity to rekindle memories of the historic Heaton Park gigs last year. The only truly new thing this year may have been the setlist, but with the Stone Roses, that is secondary, as just being there is an event every time.

Being that so much was similar to last year (does SJM always use the same onsite construction approach?), it’s hard to highlight much for me, but suffice to say that 2013 could be their year if new singles start coming out.

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A full helping of metal

Tue 4 Jun – Speaking Words Tour

Although I had never been to an event of this kind, I knew that Scott Ian had a talent for telling stories, so given his now 30 year career, there must be loads where the stories I’d seen in interviews came from.
And boy was it fun. If you like his style in interviews, these events will give you a full helping of that, about three hours worth!
As the tour isn’t over yet, I don’t wanna spoil the surprises he includes, but suffice to say while he is no comedian yet, Scott Ian is a very entertaining speaker.
Just like his heroes, he doesn’t take himself too seriously and is under no illusion regarding his place in the pantheon of rock. This is also one time where you don’t need a press pass to ask questions, so if you get a chance, go see him. The idea of sitting down in his presence really is not as strange as it sounds.

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Great gig in a sad venue

Mon 3 Jun – Megadeth

After finding out that the support band was of the growling non-musical variety, I skipped that part entirely and arrived in time for Megadeth.
What initially seemed normal, persisted throughout the gig: Terrible acoustics! That venue needs some serious upgrades as they made Megadeth sound 2nd rate! The engineers did what they could, so this one’s on the venue!
The setlist was classic Megadeth, consisting of mandatory tunes (Peace Sells, Hangar 18, etc.), new ones (Kingmaker, Super Collider) and newer regular ones (Poison is the cure).
All the band were in shape and playing tight as always. Due to the venue I couldn’t tell how good they played, but considering the relative pause since Sonisphere I suppose they were indeed relatively refreshed.
So go see them, but pick an acoustically sound venue if you can.

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What a rush!

Fri 24 May – Rush

Unlike with other artists, watching the DVDs is definitely not enough in Rush’s case, at least not from where I stood. To make my first Rush concert an experience, I got one of their packages, which got me into the heart of the show, within earshot of Neil.

Being close to the stage, I felt a part of the experience, bathed in light and sound and able to witness their unique chemistry up close. They may have been going for several decades, but Rush still endeavor to make each tour a new and unique experience. Stand aside greenhorns, this show had it all: A light show to shame Kuroda, pyro to scare Hetfield into the closet, audiovisual interludes trumping SNL, and of course Prog as fresh as apples from today’s market.

Go see them, because they won’t be playing 3 hour extravaganzas every other night forever. These canucks will know when to stop!

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Rocking out in "Swiss Vegas"

Wed 15 May – Michael Schenker’s Temple of Rock & Love Drive Reunion Tour

Of all the venues available, the dipstick of a booking agent working for Michael Schenker decided to have the only Swiss date at a casino. While having a small venue is of course very nice, the hassle of getting into and around the Grand Casino was just too much. The Metro is unlike most other concert venues and comes off as a last resort option for agents who don’t know any better. But enough moaning…

Opening band Absolva were more show than substance and will probably, absent any outside collaborators, vanish in the swamp of low grade rock acts. Schenker could play circles around those guys in his sleep!

If you love rock and have never seen Michael Schenker up close, remedy that! The current Temple of Rock lineup is very tight and all are well traveled work horses who have lost none of their energy.

Much like on previous dates on this tour, the set was heavy on non-MSG tracks and featured lots of UFO and Scorpions tracks. Unlike other bands however it was all action and no talk with these guys. Like fireworks, hit chased hit with hardly a chance to breathe in between.

I mentioned the small venue as Schenker has to be seen up close to be believed. Many can play fast, but only a select few can play as creatively and melodically as him.

Let’s hope Bridge The Gap will rock just as hard as Temple so that my recommendation to go see these guys will stand.

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One massive bargain

Fri 29 Mar – Inspiral Carpets
It’s not every day that you see legends in top form for only £20, yet that is what the Inspirals delivered. They may not have released new material in a long time, but this gig too was no mere reunion do, it was a full on celebration. As an out of towner, I felt privileged to bathe in that glorious atmosphere of ace tunes played to a northern crowd who were as usual lubricated and well up for it.
Although it may not have great acoustics, the Ritz does have a nicely elevated stage, so there was less of the usual see past the tall wally in front needed.
So if you haven’t yet, go see these and the other Madchester stalwarts up north while you still can. Until you’ve seen them live you’ve only experienced half of it.

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A feast of Prog

Wed 27 Feb – Neal Morse, Flower Kings

I enjoyed this double header a lot. Not having a potentially inconsequential support band meant that there was a more adequate amount of time for both The Flower Kings and Neal Morse.
TFK are probably the first band I was only minimally familiar with who impressed me straight away. They flawlessly delivered a nice cross section of material from their career and definitely didn’t disappoint.
Neal Morse and his band was who I’d come to see and owing to his recent live DVD, I knew roughly what to expect. With Neal though foreknowledge does not hamper the enjoyment of his performance as he exudes joy, admiration for the heavenly and jumps in head first every night.
Critical to his set though was the presence of his entire core group, i.e. himself, Mike Portnoy and Randy George. Many can play the right notes, but only the originals also have matching personalities. Of the others, Bill Hubauer was the clear standout. I simultaneously wondered what instruments he could not play and saw why Neal speaks so highly of this latest lineup.
I remain hopeful that someday the EU too will get a full multi hour Neal Morse set with this lineup as well, because that was surely not enough!

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Right band, wrong approach.

Fri 14 Dec – Madness, Man Like Me

Instead of using a regular size stage and two smaller screens in an arena, the band should next time either play five nights in London at a smaller venue or get a bigger stage with larger screens for the O2.
Seeing Madness at the O2 arena was a strange experience. Sure the band can handle it, but the fact that the same setup had to fit into far smaller venues was very obvious. Madness indeed.
Apart form the above, the concert was great fun. Almost two hours of a band as fresh as ever with new songs being classics in waiting. The stage and lighting design too was very well done and showed a great sense of what a production should look like, i.e. at the level of the act, and not someplace else. Nothing more to add, except go see them before they’re too old.

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Theme problems – update

Well, I have managed to get the theme back. The lesson learned here is that you shouldn’t log into wp from two locations with the same account at the same time.

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Theme problems

As wordpress has stopped accepting my theme as valid I will be using this theme until wordpress starts acting ityself again.

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New design

As you can see, I have finally changed the name of this site and remodeled the design to reflect my personality better.

Over the past few months I have freed myself more from the liberal agenda that’s prevalent here and grown to stand up more for who I am. I have always been a centrist but in the past let myself me dragged down to the level of a progressive or even a weak minded liberal.

So here is a design that represents more of the true me. My personal rule of not letting people “fiddle” with me and my agreement with many libertarian principles is represented by the Gadsden flag on top. The “American in Spirit” line refers to the fact that unlike other foreigners in the US, I abhor and despise anti-Americanism and do not segregate myself off from the general population. It is also an honest disclaimer that is to indicate that while my sense of patriotism and knowledge of US politics are far superior to that of many US citizens, I am not one of them on paper but stand with patriotic Americans in spirit.

Right now, the only thing working is this blog page but I will get to the others one by one. I will also be changing a few more things here.

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New wordpress

A few days after the release of the new wordpress I too have now upgraded to wp 1.5.

In other news, a new design for this site is also coming up.

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Superman’s dead

It looks like we may be getting a triad here after all. CNN has just broken the news that actor Christopher Reeve has passed away after slipping into a coma.

I don’t wanna guess as to who will be next.

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Goodbye MT!

As you can see, Zytronic Universe News is now the wire and runs on wordpress. This completes my move away from MoveableType. Good riddance you greedy bastards! 🙂

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Hello world!

Welcome to WordPress. This is the first post. Edit or delete it, then start blogging!