Killswitch Engage Dominates Downtown L.A.

Photo: Steve Rose

Photo: Steve Rose

The Novo Theater in downtown Los Angeles was the place to be Friday evening for a great night of metal with Unearth, Exodus, and Killswitch Engage. With these three acts on the bill, this show was guaranteed to deliver and they went above and beyond with their performance.

Photo: Steve Rose

Photo: Steve Rose

Unearth kicked things off with a great set that included “The Great Dividers,” “My Will be Done,” and my favorite from their set, “Giles.” This song had one of the biggest circle pits of the night and was definitely one of their standout performances. This Massachusetts based band was a great selection to kick off the show and fire up the crowd. Guitarists, Buz McGrath and Ken Susi, were phenomenal all night as they made great use of all 7 strings on their signature LTD guitars.

Photo: Steve Rose

Photo: Steve Rose

Exodus was the next band up and these bay area vets wasted no time in unleashing their brand of brutal thrash. Gary Holt and Lee Altus were masterful on their ESP guitars as they sawed through their picks playing their signature high-octane riffs during their eight song set. Notables during their show were “Blood in Blood Out,” “Bonded by Blood,” and the closing song, “Strike of the Beast.” Steve Zetro Souza did a fantastic job all night singing these songs and getting the crowd going. He sent a shoutout to his fellow “satanic hispanics” in the crowd before inviting Dino Cazares of Fear Factory and Brujeria to take the stage so the band could wish him a happy 50th birthday.

Photo: Steve Rose

Photo: Steve Rose

Before the crowd had a chance to catch their breath after Exodus’ crushing set, Killswitch Engage energetically took the stage and put on a great headlining set. The band played a diverse selection of songs ranging from songs off their current album, Incarnate, to earlier releases like “My Last Serenade” from their 2002 release, Alive or Just Breathing. Joel Stroetzel and Adam Dutkiewicz were a dynamic pair all night. Their high energy level of guitar playing was inspiring and great to see live. Their Caparison guitars sounded great and they were able to dial in some awesome tones through their rigs. Vocalist, Jesse Leach, drummer,       Justin Foley, and bassist, Mike D’Antonio also put on noteworthy performances.

Photos by Steve Rose

Unearth

Unearth @ The Novo

Exodus
Exodus @ The Novo

Killswitch Engage
Killswitch Engage @ The Novo

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Guns N’ Roses Hit a Home Run at Dodger Stadium

Photo credit: Katarina Benzova Tag: Guns N’ Roses Not In This Lifetime tour presented by Live Nation at Dodger Stadium.

Photo credit: Katarina Benzova
Guns N’ Roses Not In This Lifetime tour presented by Live Nation at Dodger Stadium.

Guns N’ Roses made their triumphant return to Los Angeles and put on a dominating three hour performance. The band started shortly after 8pm and right after a great opening set from The Cult, the anticipation started to build with every passing minute. The crowd, decked out in their various GNR shirts — with some in full Axl or Slash costume, were talking about which songs they might play, while others were still in disbelief that this show was actually happening. The show kicked off with a couple classic songs from Appetite for Destruction: “It’s So Easy” and “Mr. Brownstone.” Some well timed pyro and fireworks accented each performance. Seeing “Coma,” the band’s 10 minute epic song from Use Your Illusion I, performed in its entirety was my favorite moment of the night. There were a number of spectacular performances, but that was the best in my opinion. Throughout the night, the band played a good mix of songs from all their albums, and even worked in some great covers. Their version of “The Seeker” by The Who was a notable cover and was a great selection to play before they closed out the night with “Paradise City.”

Guns N’ Roses Not In This Lifetime tour presented by Live Nation at Dodger Stadium.

Photo credit: Katarina Benzova

Like many, this was my first time seeing Axl and Slash perform together and it was thrilling to not only see these two legendary rockstars share the stage, but to see them perform so many of the songs that were so important to my musical foundation and development. The reason I started playing the guitar was due to seeing Slash plug in his Les Paul copy at the beginning of the “Sweet Child O’ Mine” video. Over the past few years, Slash’s playing seems to have gone up a notch and that was on full display during Friday’s show. He effortlessly moved up and down the neck of his signature Les Paul and really showcased his brilliance during “Civil War” mid way through their set. Rhythm guitarist, Richard Fortus did a fantastic job tackling these classic tunes, and drummer, Frank Ferrer, put on an unbelievably powerful performance. It is no easy task to follow drummers like Steven Adler and Matt Sorum, but Frank knocked it out of the park and it was clear why he was chosen hold things down for this mighty band. Axl Rose, now fully recovered from the foot injury that plagued some of his earlier performances, was running all around the stage in the same manner as I remember from videos during the Use Your Illusion era. He has a commanding stage presence and still sings like a caged beast ready to be unleashed. Duff McKagan kept the low end going as he churned out his signature bass lines through his low slung white Fender P bass. Throughout the show, he could often be found on the drum riser locking in with Frank as their rhythmic locomotive chugged on through the night.

Guns N’ Roses Not In This Lifetime tour presented by Live Nation at Dodger Stadium.

Photo credit: Katarina Benzova

That night, the various merch stands were packed with fans looking to get a shirt or some other mementoto commemorate this historic night, but for me, the memories that this night provided go far beyond anything that could be sold at a booth. It was privilege to be in attendance and witness such a historic show at an iconic location like Dodger Stadium. The band has some international dates already scheduled into next year, and I hope they will come back for another round in the U.S.

Setlist

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Scorpions and Queensryche are a Winning Pair in Vegas

Photo: Steve Rose

Photo: Steve Rose

Scorpions and Queensryche wrapped up their penultimate show at The Joint at the Hard Rock Hotel in Las Vegas. This residency, dubbed “Blacked Out in Vegas,” consisted of a five night run at this fantastic venue. The crowd was energetic and excited from the moment that Queensryche took that stage and that emotion carried over until the Scorpions played their last note of the night. These two bands have been touring together since last Fall and compliment each other nicely. They both have die hard fans that live and breathe on each note played or lyric sung.

Photo: Steve Rose

Photo: Steve Rose

Queensryche put on a fantastic eight song set that was filled with fan favorites like “Operation: Mindcrime,” “Jet City Woman,” and “Queen of the Reich.” Michael “Whip” Wilton’s playing was fiery and inspiring as he tilted his body back to go with the notes being bent on that familiar skull painted ESP guitar. The other members of the band were all dialed in, while singer, Todd La Torre was spot on vocally and did a great job interacting with the fans.

Following a short break, the kabuki curtain with the Scorpions Return to Forever artwork on it, dropped to the ground, and the band emerged from the fog and kicked off their eighteen song set with “Going Out With a Bang.” Throughout the night, the band played a mixture of current songs and the legendary ones that they are known for. “The Zoo” is always a good one and the band played it early in the set. This song features Matthias Jabs on the talk box and handling the lead duties on his black explorer style guitar. Rudolf Schenker and bassist, Pawel Maciwoda, patrolled the stage and played to everyone in the front row, at times pointing and smiling at selected fans who were yelling to get noticed. For a band entering it’s 51st year, they show no signs of age or slowing down. Klaus Meine still has that legendary and recognizable voice and showed his appreciation to the fans by throwing out handfuls of drumsticks to as many as he could in between musical breaks.

Both bands put on great, hard rockin’ sets and it’s obvious they each love playing these great songs to their adoring fans. These two bands only have a couple of dates left together, but both have extensive touring plans throughout the year.

Photo: Steve Rose

Photo: Steve Rose

 

Queensryche @ The Joint

Scorpions @ The Joint

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Heart Doesn’t Miss a Beat at the Hollywood Bowl

photo: Stephen Rose

photo: Stephen Rose

It’s always special to see a show at the historic Hollywood Bowl and the Heart show on Friday was almost magical. The Hollywood Bowl Orchestra, led by conductor, Thomas Wilkins, joined the Rock and Roll Hall of Famers in a magical night. The band and orchestra opened with the first of two Led Zeppelin covers of the evening. The first was Kashmir and I think it was a great way to kick off the show. The mix of the band with the orchestra on this particular song was pure sonic nirvana. The way horns and strings accented and accentuated particular parts really brought a lot of definition to the music. They later closed their set with Stairway to Heaven.

photo: Stephen Rose

photo: Stephen Rose

Ann Wilson is a fantastic singer, and on this song she could’ve given Robert Plant a run for his money on any given day. Throughout their 90 minute set, Heart played a great mixture of chart topping hits and fan favorites. Some of the highlights, aside from the Zeppelin covers, were Kick It Out, Even It Up, and (obviously) Crazy On You. Another notable cover was Elton John’s, Mona Lisa’s and Mad Hatters sang by Nancy Wilson. During this song, she used her signature Martin HD-35. Nancy played a couple of Martins, Fenders, and a great Duesenberg Starplayer throughout the set. I can easily say that her Duesenberg was my favorite; it’s such a cool looking guitar. To close the set, the band also played a fantastic version of Stairway to Heaven, which featured Nancy handling the rhythm parts and lead guitarist, Craig Bartock handling those identifiable lead lines on this iconic song.

photo: Stephen Rose

photo: Stephen Rose

Heart is a high energy, high output, high caliber rock and roll band that simply puts on a great show. To see this band with the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra was a real treat. The Wilson sisters feed off of each other’s energy and it really comes through with their performance. If you haven’t seen them live, you really should. And if you have, then you know what I’m talking about.

Set list

Kashmir (w/orchestra)
Heaven (w/ orchestra)
What About Love (w/ orchestra)
Dreamboat Annie (w/ strings only)
Dog & Butterfly (w/ orchestra)
Kick It Out
Straight On
Even It Up
Mona Lisa’s and Mad Hatters (w/ strings only)
These Dreams (w/ orchestra)
Alone (w/ orchestra)
Stairway to Heaven (w/ orchestra)

-Encore-

Barracuda
Crazy On You

Heart

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Cannibal Corpse Decimates the Observatory

DrumsWhen Cannibal Corpse is on the bill, you know you’re going to get one hell of a show. Saturday night’s sold out show at The Observatory in Santa Ana, CA was one of the more frenzied shows that I’ve seen there, and that includes the last time Cannibal Corpse played at this venue. Great sets by Tribulation and Aeon had the crowd riled and ready for more. The venue was packed and it was difficult to walk anywhere without having to carefully navigate through a sea of black shirts. As the techs were getting the stage prepared for the next band, there was a lot of discussion in the crowd as to who would be next, Cannibal Corpse or co-headliner, Behemoth. When the cover was removed from the drum set and it revealed who was playing, chants of “Canni-bal” began from this raucous group of metalheads. There was another thunderous roar when the scrim bearing the band’s name was shown.

Horns up

When the band took the stage shortly after 9, George “Corpsegrinder” Fisher walked to the center of the stage and took in the roar of the crowd. This seemed to almost fuel his machine-like neck as it whipped around all night. The band opened with Scourge of Iron and everyone began pushing and pulsating to the heavy groove of the song. It was clear after the first couple of songs that the band was there to sonically annihilate anything in its path. There was an ebb and flow of people with hair, sweat, and sometimes spit flying as they moshed and did their best to imitate Fisher’s guttural delivery. The technical proficiency of this band is remarkable; bassist, Alex Webster’s ability is awe inspiring to any fan and musician alike. His fleet fingered playing on the Spector Euro bass was definitely impressive. Paul Mazurkiewicz did a fantastic job of keeping the frenetic BPM going all night on his kit. His ability with the double bass pedals is awesome, especially considering they are playing in accelerated time. Guitarists, Pat O’Brien and Rob Barrett were also pushing the boundaries of what is capable on a guitar. O’Brien’s B.C. Rich guitar was being punished all night as he ripped through the band’s challenging solos while Barrett kept the brutal rhythms going on his Dean Cadillac. Headbang

Throughout the night, the band played material from their entire catalog, including three songs from their current release, A Skeletal Domain. They tore through Sadistic Embodiment, Kill or Become (which is my favorite from this album), and Icepick Lobotomy. The fans embraced the new material as much as the older, classic songs like A Skull Full of Maggots or Hammer Smashed Face. The energy that this band puts forth, but also commands from an audience, is unlike any other that I’ve seen. They closed out their set with Devoured by Vermin and it was obvious by the unruly, but appreciative, crowd that they gave their full effort.

You know you’ve been to a Cannibal Corpse show because you’re bruised up, your ears are still ringing, and you can’t stop telling people about how great it was.

Band

Alex

George

Rob

 

SETLIST:

Scourge of Iron
Demented Aggression
Evisceration Plague
Stripped, Raped and Strangled
Make Them Suffer
I Cum Blood
A Skull Full of Maggots
Sadistic Embodiment
Kill or Become
Icepick Lobotomy
The Wretched Spawn
Hammer Smashed Face
Devoured by Vermin

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A Magical Night with the Foo Fighters and Friends

Photo Credit: Paul A. Hebert

Photo Credit: Paul A. Hebert

When the Foo Fighters took the stage just after 8:30 on Saturday night, no one knew they were about to witness one of the greatest all-star performances ever. Earlier in the week, the Foo Fighters sent out a couple of teaser posts on social media about something going on for Saturday night, and even posted videos from bands like Kiss and Van Halen. When tickets went on sale a few days before this epic Saturday night performance, I could tell that those in attendance would be treated to something special and I knew I had to be there. The event, billed as ‘Dave’s Rock N’ Roll Club,’ was a celebration of Dave Grohl’s 46th birthday.

 

The band performed in the round with a long catwalk leading to one end of the arena. The stage rotated throughout the performances so that everyone got a chance to see the band play in front of them. When the Foos took the stage, Dave Grohl let the audience know that this wouldn’t be a normal Foo Fighters show because he had invited a number of friends to join him throughout the evening. He then called for Paul Stanley Continue reading

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