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The Stone Roses at Etihad Stadium, night 1

Having been to and enjoyed every post-reunion Stone Roses gig in England, I decided to continue my streak and go to Manchester for their four night run at Etihad Stadium. This is review one of four.

I definitely enjoyed that concert. While I stood some ways back, there were enough moments when I could tell that Ian was definitely more in tune than during past post-reunion gigs and that this was not a band only in it for the money. If anything, they enjoy reveling in their status and doing giant gigs because they can. If they only wanted money, they’d tour the world and play the records note for note. Instead what you have here is four great musicians exploring their work and bringing pleasure to thousands.

There were a good number of moments when they musically moved me by ever so slightly changing a few bars or inserting an extra few notes here and there, like a penalty goal in slow motion. I hope I wasn’t the only one to notice the new approach to Elizabeth My Dear, for example. Either way, as I’ve said before on Twitter, the genius of John Squire is in the details. You have to listen carefully to notice when he improvises or elaborates.

Instead of going with preconceived notions, trust that they’ll deliver something worthwhile and then listen with an open mind. I enjoyed it a lot more once I stopped anticipating note for note reproductions of records (if you want that sort of precision, don’t go to a gig).

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Art Media Music

Heaton Park DVD petition?

Having sorted tickets and accommodation for next year’s run, I naturally had to feed my anticipation with that Fools Gold clip from Made of Stone. Only “I Wanna Be Adored” from the first night can top what I felt, but I can’t shake that nagging feeling that I may never get to see the rest of what was filmed at Heaton Park.

I know it would probably take a lot of money to process the remaining footage with as much love and care as those 13 minutes, but I reckon they’d have a bestseller on their hands if they released a Heaton Park DVD / Bluray / Live album.

Being that this is not a novel idea, I’m looking to find out if anyone’s tried this before. If not, I’d love to start something that would tell the band, their management and Shane Meadows / Warp Films that we want to see it all.

So I’d propose to also take the money factor out of the equation by promoting a pledgemusic.com effort where contributors upwards of a certain level would get a copy of at least the best of what was filmed.

Either way, see you in June!

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Concert Reviews Featured

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!

…read more

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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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Featured Music Personal

Tracklist for a Mike Portnoy solo album

Yesterday I got a retweet and responses to a tweet on the need for a Mike Portnoy album, the former even from the man himself!

So, here I present, my suggestion for already “pre-approved” tracks for “Heavy Metal Blue Beard Tattooed Jew”:

  1. Conquistador (Transatlantic)
  2. Fool in my heart (Flying Colors)
  3. Crazy Horses (w/ Neal Morse)
  4. Best of Times (Dream Theater)
  5. Repentance (Flying Colors version)
  6. Indiscipline (Transatlantic version)
  7. Money (Is Pure Evil) – BigElf
  8. Medley: Take The Time (Dream Theater) / “Growl” /  You Never Give Me Your Money (Beatles) / Shine (Transatlantic)

And here is the petition to make the project happen: http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/mike-portnoy-solo-album

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Featured General Media Music Personal

Open letter to Dream Theater

Dear John, John M, James, Jordan and Mike M,

September 8 2010 started with a shock. The future of the band I had come to love intensely over a few years was uncertain. The chief architect and informal leader said goodbye. Full speed into a brick wall, yeah, I felt that too, as much as a fan could anyhow.

When details surfaced, I blamed Frank Solomon. I did not believe that you would be so inconsequential on your own. Little did I know that I had probably misplaced my blame entirely.

When the documentary came out and Mike Mangini was introduced, I felt some excitement. How could you not, the Mangini vibe is infectous (“not just the pattern, but the tooone…”). I was mad at what I saw as your great disrespect for the warning bell Mike Portnoy had rung. He knew his baby was sick and he could no longer stand idly by. But I try not to judge, especially when I don’t have all the facts. I was willing to give you a fair shake for the new era. Twice the magic, I thought.

“On the Backs of Angels” was a disappointment, but then “A Rite of Passage” was a poppy single too, so that seemed alright. When the not-so dramatic turn of events was released, I found songs and passages I liked, but already I was missing the emotional radiance of the likes of “Count of Tuscany”. I came to both Swiss shows and even traveled to London to see you as that was the first concert announced for that cycle. I welcomed Mike Mangini with everyone else, and seeing members of your families at the Zurich concert was a special bonus.

At the end of the first Mangini album cycle, I was disappointed but hopeful. I was willing to chalk up the weaknesses of the album on the time during which it was written and I eventually forgave you for only having two minimally differing setlists on the second EU leg.

“The Enemy Inside” proved to be an ominous sign of things to come. An even weaker pre-album single. But still I did not give up. I wanted to like you so bad I bought the deluxe boxset and a VIP ticket for the concert. Gullible me. Your self-titled album should really be nicknamed “MK II”, for that’s what it signifies. A band that has lost its way, a group coasting along on laurels forged from past successes. I thought it would grow on me, and I have grown to like weirder stuff, like Billy Corgan’s voice. But I could never listen to that album all the way through. That wasn’t just you and your signature sound, that was you repeating yourselves and selling vinegar as new age vodka.

By that time I had already bought a VIP ticket for the current EU tour and the deluxe edition of “Dream Theater” was mildly rewarding until some idiot put the video from the USB stick on Youtube. Thank goodness for online resale sites.

I liked “Live at Luna Park”, but only because it contained so much old material, and even then the regret was not complete until the 360 app came out, with a photo gallery very telling of who the boss is in DT land these days.

In the intervening weeks, I struggled to admit the obvious: I’d had it with you. And then a a few days ago when I learned that you’d completely violated the original purpose of the “An Evening with” format by simply playing more of the same unimaginative running order, and playing the very same setlist every night, I knew the camel could walk no more.

Tonight I decided that I could not face you in good conscience and pretend everything was fine and that I liked you. It isn’t and I don’t, not anymore. I now know that I was a fool to think a bad tree could produce good fruit. Shame on me, because that was very cunning of you and / or Frank to use Crowdsurge as a last nail in the coffin (no refunds).

Dream Theater MK II is like a sick dog and I want no part of it anymore. Call me when you decide to see a doctor, I’ll be waiting, the fool I’ve been.

Sincerely,

Fabio, ex-fan

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Featured General Humor Media Music News Personal

My 2013 in review

As we enter another new year, it is once again time for me to recount some of the highlights of my 2013.

  1. Meeting Arthur BrownIn early December, I tendered my perk from his Zim Zam Zim album PledgeMusic campaign, by seeing him in concert and meeting him after. It is important to note that this was not your usual M&G, heck, most people nowadays couldn’t appreciate Arthur Brown enough anyway, irrespective of when they discovered him. 😉 This was more like an audience with Arthur Brown, a very cool experience!I first saw Artur and his Crazy World (of) band at the High Voltage festival in London in 2011. Like many others I only knew the “Fire” tune from the suite of the same name, but I did make it a point to go see him play. That day I first experienced the great natural high the man can produce. I had a huge smile on my face, and I was 100% sober!

    CWOAB is theater, prog, rock, soul, funk and entertainment of the classic variety in one. Brown also still sings, dances and acts just like in his younger days. Before I knew of his connection to Lemmy (Kilmister of Motörhead), I sensed that Arthur too was one of the originals, old enough to remember before there was rock’n’roll and intact enough to tell us young ones about it.

    Like Lemmy, Arthur Brown is very wise but also charming and amusing, and he too would rather tour with a small circle of trustworthy friends than top the charts. One one hand’s side, it’s a massive shame that he’s not getting the attention and respect he deserves (massive influence on the likes of Alice Cooper, for example), but on the other hand’s side him and his band are like a secret shared amongst true lovers of musical art.

    Unlike Lemmy, however, Arthur Brown has a beautiful female lead guitarist on his right, a big talent much better looking than ol’ Phil.

  2. “See youse at the Barras”, 2013 editionAnother recent and very memorable night was this year’s Shed Seven concert at the Barrowlands Ballroom in Glasgow, Scotland. This too seems to be a secret gem of the music world that I would argue any true fan of real music would be a fool to miss.The Barras, as it is known locally, is a venue that has everything. Atmosphere, great sound and a great view of the action, everywhere. And although you’ll be one of under 2000 people in there even on sold out nights, it might as well be just you and some mates you never knew you had. And the gig will start where most other venues will end them, i.e. with energy, sound and noise at 11. At the Barras all of the main act’s set is the encore, it’s that powerful. The bands love it and play at their best, and the crowds know that and too bring their A game, thus creating this unique energy feedback loop that will only be extinguished some hundred odd yards from the venue, when you can’t hear anyone sing into the night anymore after the concert.This atmosphere there I think comes closest to what Liam Gallagher calls being “mad fer it”. So prepare to be intimidated if you don’t already love the band you’re going to see there. 😉
  3. Mike Portnoy 

    This was the year I declared myself a Mike Portnoy fan, and not only because I got to meet him twice in 2013.I have liked his work a lot for quite a few years (apart from the A7X pop, that was unnecessary), but it was this year’s flaming bag of poo sold to the masses as chocolate biscuits by his former colleagues that sealed the deal. Portnoy knows why he participates in the projects he starts or joins and will not put his name on something that isn’t of his high standard.I suppose Portnoy has a bit of the older generation mentality in him. Like the generation of Lemmy and Arthur Brown, he won’t sign off on mediocrity and will work overtime if more fans get to enjoy more of his work.

    I’ll refer you to my previous Portnoy related posts and remain by saying that I really look forward to Progressive Nation ’14 and more Transatlantic, Flying Colors and Winery Dogs after that. I also can’t see Neal Morse taking a year off, so I’ll probably get to enjoy at least two Portnoy related concerts in Switzerland alone this year too.

  4. Lemmy 

    Not only did he lead Motörhead to the top with yet another masterpiece in the form of Aftershock, he also, true to his ethos, rescheduled the entire fall tour when he realised he couldn’t deliver. While it’s of course sad that he’s had to slow down, it’s much more important to remember that, as Neil Young sang, it’s better to burn out than to fade away.

  5. The Stone Roses 

    Thanks to my fast fingers, the first TSR event of 2013 was the premiere of Made of Stone in Manchester. Not only was it the first premiere I’d been to (and first of two in 2013), but it was also very exciting to be able to be at THE event, not some screening for plebs, but the same one that the band, their friends and the crew attended.After the monumental experience at Heaton Park in 2012 I naturally had to attend their Finsbury Park concerts as well. Like the bearded mega fan said in the film, there’s just something indescribably exciting about the band, and to me it’s an excitement that just does not get old no matter how many times I hear the same songs.

    The only Roses thing that’ll top that now is the hotly anticipated third album. As with my other top events of the year, I’d also advise them to do it properly or leave it be. Their successors from the Britpop scene have proven this. It is in that sense a good thing that there’s not been a new Blur or Oasis studio album but instead several smaller side project releases.

  6. Not Another Happy Ending 

    Almost a year after visiting the film set in Glasgow, I finally got to see the finished product at the commoner premiere of the film in Edinburgh. I call it the commoner premiere because the true premiere was earlier the same day and only upper class people were allowed at that one it seems.
    I enjoyed seeing the actors and crew members again, even if only from afar this time, and the movie remains one I can only recommend, in spite of my bias.

  7. HMV survives 

    Although I do prefer independent stores, I am very glad that HMV survived and has started to justify its own existence again. I’ve enjoyed seeing HMVs in all the cities I visited this year making a greater effort and wanting to be relevant again. My biggest thanks go to the Newcastle branch (and probably Universal) for arranging the Megadeth signing session where I not only got to have my copy of Super Collider signed (which I’d purchased at the Indie down the street) but also, by means of a snapshot, won an autographed poster too. This helped considering the terrible acoustics at the venue later that day.

  8. The Inspiral Carpets 

    I’ve got to add this as only their internal politics would merit an exclusion from this list.I thoroughly enjoyed seeing them live, and in their hometown of all places. Steven Holt is a surprisingly good singer, much better than he is sometime given credit for, and the band, much like Shed Seven, still play as well as during their heyday period.

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Art Music News TV

Top of the Pops at 50: should the BBC bring it back? (The Guardian)

Top of the Pops at 50: should the BBC bring it back? | Music | The Guardian.

Trust the Guardian to simultaneously ask a stupid question and shed light on an important issue.

In spite of all the crap the BBC aired on TOTP over the decades, there’s no denying that there were also some seminal performances and celebrations of miming on the show.

Just because the charts are full of crap these days doesn’t mean there’s no show. The solution to the “not enough material” “issue” is easy. How about starting with spotlight episodes on Welsh and Wales influenced artists?

This could be another perfect UK institution for BBC Cymru Wales to resurrect. I’m sure Russel T. Davies has some talents in the musical area as well.

The BBC seems to be lusting after FOX lately (well, for up to 25 years actually) with the way they’ve been abandoning quality products (including buildings), so Mr. Paphides’ question is indeed a rhetorical one.

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Concert Reviews Featured

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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Yesterday’s DTforums Google hangout

I tuned in to the newest marketing hour with Dream Theater (should use quotation marks I think) on Youtube yesterday to see if perhaps I could catch a glimpse of what went missing when they threw the captain overboard and under the bus and put dictator-light Petrucci on a pedestal.

Fat chance. It was just over an hour of backslapping and PR friendly statements, with all questions carefully screened so as to not upset their highnesses. This is the band that won’t shake hands out of germophobia and conceitedness, and I suspect that John Petrucci may have received an endorsement from a grill manufacturer to boot.

What hurt most was their utter disdain of their years of glory. They all stated they hated medleys, and I’m sure they would have slapped the moderator for asking about pre-2011 YTSEjam bootleg releases if they’d all been in the same room. You should’ve seen James switch the topic to their “fantastic” last tour, where they had “special moments”. I presume he was referring to that same tour where the only difference between the only set lists, A and B, was ONE song.

Like I said, they’re denigrating their history and former identity and selling the resulting piss in beer bottles.

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Featured Music News

Dream Theater – s/t (album review) (*/*****)

Having heard the whole “too-lazy-to-find-a-title” album in high quality after the two preview singles and the album preview, I can confidently give Dream Theater’s self-titled new album a 1/5 star rating. If it were an output of writing sessions or some other tentative collection of songs I could live with it, but considering what I’ve heard are final mixes of a final product, I can’t help but feeling like I’ve been had. Petrucci, Myung, LaBrie, Rudess and Mangini are collectively laughing at all the morons buying piss thinking it’s beer!

As a drummer, I’ve always admired the drummer before every other member, and I’ve stood in Mike Portnoy’s camp for the last three years. Now at last I feel vindicated.

“A Dramatic Turn of Events” was by comparison a considerably stronger album. Even the weak parts there could be chalked up to four non-drummers coping with an actual dramatic turn of events. But now I can truly appreciate what Mike Portnoy brought to Dream Theater. DT without Portnoy is like a ship without a captain. Sure, the crew know what they’re doing, but they have no idea of how to do it well. So long as the ship keeps moving they’re happy. But that is not good enough! Looks like 1/27/14 might be my “so long!” to DT. And yes, I would tell them to their face (to get back to work).

Some notes on the songs:

  • “False Awakening” indeed. Dream Theater no longer know what a suite is unless slept in. Charlotte Pike, show them how!
  • Yes, even DT could learn from Lemmy, who always wastes no time being artsy and delivers instead. “Enemy Inside” does not! As far as pre-album singles go, “A Rite of Passage” was way better and that was weak. The only marginal excitement in it is Mangini’s dominant hand.
  • “Enigma Machine” sounds like a jam on old songs with an A7X Nightmare reference thrown on top. Is that really the best they could do?
  • “Along for the Ride” is DT for the ladies. Was there an actual divorce?
  • “The bigger picture”? DT have lost their way.
  • “Illumination Theory” may be an epic, but even that lacks direction. It’s their “Hey, let’s throw everything in, no matter how raw, those suckers will buy anything!”, DT-Lulu if you like.
  • The hidden track expresses my opinion well. There are some good bits, but all in all, it is sadly a pathetic turd.

Today, it seems like “Après moi, le déluge” should be Mike Portnoy’s motto. He may not be the best technical drummer, but he triumphs above all when all aspects are looked at as a whole and he sure is the most fun & original pinball! As I said after seeing him with The Winery Dogs last week, “As always, if Mike Portnoy is on board, great music and fan treatment will come forth. Constant motion pays high dividends!”

I am a Mike Portnoy fan, and needn’t justify this to anyone anymore!

EDIT: Clarified qualification of technicality in drumming. This is something I think Portnoy has acknowledged, so it is no criticism.

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Concert Reviews Featured

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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Academia Business Featured Media Music Politics

Has Bono grown up?

The Beacon: The Blog of The Independent Institute.

From the article above, it would seem that at long last, and about 35 years too late, Bono has finally grown up. Gone seem the days of standing with Bob “give us the f*cking money” Geldof and conspiring with Rothchild junior on plundering the wet liberals.

Capitalism, when unrestrained by government, IS the answer, especially for poor countries, but for wealthy ones too!

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Academia Art Featured Music Personal

Golove strikes again

I’ve been getting into experimental music and Krautrock recently, so “High Voltage!” seemed like a fitting compilation to point me in some new directions.

On that playlist I found Telstar, the true beginning of the British invasion. Not until I heard it did I remember how long it had been since I last heard it and how much I loved that song. It was there I realized that Golove had struck again.

Many years ago, probably ten years ago now, I took one of the most important courses of my college career, Rock Music, taught by Professor Golove. Over the course of a semester, he introduced me and the 100+ other students to a plethora of music genres, artists and influential songs. Every now and then, I come across some artist or song and remember that I’ve known it for many years, often thanks to that class. I was into music beforehand, but I still learned a ton. So even if you’re a music geek, do it for listening to Megadeth in the pursuit of academia! And if classical music is your only muse, remember, many famous musicians didn’t know the style that would make them famous until they branched out.

So undergrads, UB students and prospective UB students, if there ever was a class you had to pick a particular university for, MUS 265 is it! And if that’s not enough, there’s always Dr. Colon’s Anal Chemistry.

Success won’t find you regardless of your efforts, it will find you because of them. So if you’re willing to apply yourself outside the classroom too, I can still only recommend my dear Alma Mater.

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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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The Stone Roses, Finsbury Park, review (Telegraph)

Ian Brown’s face had a few more lines than in his youth but his swagger can still make Liam Gallagher seem like a man crippled with self-doubt.

via The Stone Roses, Finsbury Park, review – Telegraph.

The 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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Media Music Technology

UK record labels launch unprecedented anti-Torrent campaign — RT News

UK record labels launch unprecedented anti-Torrent campaign — RT News.

It’s initiatives that seriously harm the record industry’s credibility. They fight for artists about as much as breweries are interested in people’s health.

Instead of stealing from artists, how about give them their fair share first so that there actually is something to defend?!

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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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2012 in review: Year of the M

In many ways, music in 2012 for me was a lot about various Ms: Motorhead, Manchester and Mike Portnoy. Among the 17 concerts I will have gone to this year, those three Ms stand out.

First is of course Motorhead. I only learned to appreciate them about a year and a half ago, but they have already made a huge impression on me. In a world of posers, products and spoilt idiots, they are one of the last original and completely genuine bands.

Of course Lemmy is the center of that maelstrom that is Motorhead, but don’t knock Phil and Mikkey, because it takes a lot to keep up and if their hearts weren’t in the right place they would not be in Motorhead. You really can know Lemmy by the company he keeps, the male half anyhow. 😉 In a sea of featherweight artistes, these three guys are traveling cratftman’s artisans.

I saw them thrice this year and got to watch them from stage right twice, and that for a whole lot less than I would have had to spend or pretend had I wanted to do that with another band. With these guys, you see what you get and you get what you see. Thanks to the band, the crew and Singerman management!

The next M if for Manchester, where I witnessed the historic return of the Stone Roses. Ignore the naysayers, those three days in Heaton Park were historic. They will rank up there with Spike Island and Oasis at Knebworth. Now we know that they’ll play Finsbury Park in June, but then I would have been elated if that had been it for post-1996 Stone Roses. To be among the 75’000 every night was to witness history in the making. To hear “Stoned Love” and then that iconic bass line of “I wanna be adored” out there under a cloudy sky was indescribably beautiful, pure bliss. And sod the claims of bum notes, thousands of people had a two hour singalong with four of the biggest Mancunian heroes.

After all was said and done, that was it, we were there and all had a bloody god time. Isn’t that what music is supposed to be about?

Last but not least, Mike Portnoy. 2012 was the year he was truly set free to conquer the world. What he touches warms the hearts of music fans, and like a beautiful plant withers once it’s started to smell.

Regardless of how much he may need being in constant motion for himself, Mike ensures that his fans get a lot of mileage out of his efforts too. Similar to the older warhorses Motorhead, while others fiddle and compete in being artistes, Mike puts his head down and bangs out another album, and at his pace that’s six of his to one of the ponces’. Similarly, no concert is an excuse for laziness and no town is to be left unimpressed when he’s around.

I’m glad I got to thank him personally (twice even) and look forward to doing so again next month.

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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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The Sabbath tragedy, or, I’m with Bill

I definitely do not regret what I said about Sharon Osbourne (born Arden) now. I blame her and her “business acumen” for this latest episode in the travesty that is the Black Sabbath “reunion”.

As a drummer, I will have to stand with Bill Ward. One drummer is not like the other, just like one singer is not like the other. I will not buy any present day merchandise, not go to concerts where the other three play and certainly not buy the album when it comes out.

The other three should play as The Paranoid. There is no Black Sabbath without Bill Ward!!

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Beady Eye cancel Zurich gig

Beady Eye | Good News.

I just got back from there. (See my updates on twitter). They played 5 songs and Liam left before the last one finished.

That was classic Liam. Typical tame Swiss crowd, venue not sold out (but plenty of fans) and it seems he wasn’t having any of that. Liam did not loose his voice, more like his bottle!

Promoter came on and said they might do a make up gig. Not holding my breath though.

Got a setlist and a guitar pick at least. But what a let down…