This summer saw the return of some of the biggest names in Rock to the road doing massive tours. As well as the debut of some powerhouses that are sure to keep things rocking for years to come.
Iron Maiden - June 23rd - American Airlines Center - Dallas, TX
The most amazing thing here that was obvious from the opening notes to the encore is that there are no obvious signs of rust on Iron Maiden. Still one of the world’s most popular bands, with a tour schedule that would give much younger men heart attacks This latest trek visiited more than 100 cities, and singer Bruce Dickinson is even flying the band between them on their own plane, Ed Force One. At 58, he’s not quite ready for a bus pass, but a brush with cancer seems to have underlined his mortality and rejuvenated the frontman and the band, who perform as if it's their last but with no end in sight.
Show begins with Dickinson climbing out of a steaming cauldron, leaps off the drum riser & later dons a monkey head mask, battles a giant Ed (the band’s death’s head mascot)
Some songs from 2015’s globally chart-steamrollering The Book of Souls are so long that it takes the band two hours to play 14. And yet, there’s something touching in Maiden’s relentless rocking and the way bassist Steve Harris and the band’s three guitarists grin at each other while perfecting their “machine gun” poses for the millionth time.
The none-more-rugged singer makes a speech about the “blithering idiots, now running the world, with their fingers on the nuclear button”, and when he points to flags showing where fans have come from, there are people from as far afield as Japan and Argentina. “We don’t care where you come from or what you do in your spare time If you come to an Iron Maiden show, you’re family.”
Impossible to overstate how amazing & just life-affirming this show was. Watching your heroes not as most are but still AS THEY were, at the top of their game, firing on all cylanders & kicking ass the world over.
Who would have thought that in such crazy times a grizzly old rock band in bullet belts singing about demons, warfare, apocalypse and mass murder would emerge as a beacon of unity, peace, love and understanding? Bless them.
If Eternity Should Fail
Speed of Light
Children of the Damned
Death or Glory
The Red and the Black
The Great Unknown
The Book of Souls
Fear of the Dark
The Number of the Beast
Primus/Clutch - August 6th - South Side Ballroom - Dallas,TX:
Two heavy-hitters, Clutch & Primus, teamed up for a bonkers tour that anyone in attendance won’t forget any time soon.
Clutch, my brothers from Maryland & sometimes tour mates got the party started hitting the stage hard with their profound but yet anything fancy, increasingly blues-rock formula.
“The plan is to record a new record in January,” singer Neil Fallon announced. “We’re gonna practice some for ya … Don't record it. It's gonna sound terrible.” Maybe on your cellphone, not live. The most striking was How to Shake Hands, written from the perspective of a presidential candidate promising to “put Bill Hicks on a five note.” “I don't need secret service, ‘cause I know how to work a room,” Awesome!
You Can't Stop Progress
Zep Funk 2x
Sucker for the Witch
How to Shake Hands
We Love a Good Fire
A Quick Death in Texas
Your Love Is Incarceration
Big News I (with Mike Dillon)
D.C. Sound Attack! (with Mike Dillon)
(Much thanks to Jack & Oscar for the amazing hospitality)
Now let me tell you a little story: It's called The Curse of Primus - Not because I'm not a fan of Primus, just the opposite but for some reason their odd msyticism has somehow bled into (my) real life as every time I've attempted to witness them perform, something bizarre happens to prevent it. While I managed to catch a few shows in the early to mid-90s somewhere around 1995's Tales From the Punchbowl is where the curse began. It was that tour that Patrick Collins & I arrived so late that we caught the END of the encore due to forces beyond our control. In 22 years I've managed to see them only once since that night successfully after SIX failed attempts. I'm pleased to say that thanks to my new love Jocelyn & my brothers Clutch, the curse has finally been lifted.
It started with anti-war anthem Too Many Puppies wrapped around Sgt. Baker, with images of troops marching on screen. Les Claypool showed off his unusual chops early with a solo low on the neck that sounded like a rubbery guitar.
The weirdness carried right into Over the Falls & the hits just kept coming among various dark, sluggish noodling around in the middle.
A long, patient Southbound Pachyderm, sounding like the soundtrack for an apocalyptic Western film and emphasizing why Primus is beloved in the jam as well as the metal scene. The last section was all killer, though, starting with the backwoods bludgeoning of My Name is Mud and the giddy set-closing stomp of Jerry Was a Race Car Driver.
Both sets featured beloved New Orleans Jack-of-All-trades Mike Dillon sitting in on a few songs on percussion adding his infectious energy & spot-on rhythm giving every song he touched that special feel.
Too Many Puppies
Sgt. Baker (with "Too Many Puppies" reprise)
Wynona's Big Brown Beaver
Southbound Pachyderm (with Mike Dillon)
Over the Falls
Lee Van Cleef
Candy Man (Leslie Bricusse & Anthony Newley cover)
Welcome to This World (Shortened, into "Mrs. Blaileen)
My Name Is Mud
Jerry Was a Race Car Driver
Harold of the Rocks
Dead Cross - August 14th - Gas Monkey Bar & Grill - Dallas, TX
Ok so just in case you haven't heard, prolific sound vault Mike Patton has yet another project he is fronting, Dead Cross, this time once again with legendary speed drummer, Slayer's Dave Lombardo (whom Patton also formed the esoteric project Fantomas at the turn of the millennium). Patton apparently doesn't know how to say to no & we are all better for it as this LP kicks ass & was ready to see it live.
When Dead Cross’ debut album hit shelves on Aug. 4, its four members had never even all played music together in the same room.
In November 2015, Lombardo — best known as a founding member of Huntington Park thrash-metal juggernaut Slayer — disbanded his longtime side project Philm, but had studio time and SoCal concerts booked for the band. Not one to renege, but with just two weeks before the first show, he desperately needed a fill-in act. When he ran into The Locust/Retox bassist Justin Pearson (with whom he’d toured while drumming for Fantômas) and Retox guitarist Michael Crain at the studio of metal mega-producer Ross Robinson (Korn, At the Drive-In), Lombardo seized the moment.
An album’s worth of Dead Cross material had been recorded and was set to be released on Ipecac Recordings — the label co-founded by Faith No More/Mr. Bungle frontman Mike Patton — when Serbian stepped aside to focus on family, Lombardo’s asked Patton,who is widely regarded as one of hard rock’s most innovative vocalists, to become Dead Cross' new singer. And here we are on Night #2 of the tour.
The result evokes both classic, pissed-off hardcore punk and its crossover thrash offshoot, all updated with rhythmic about-turns and sonic heft. Patton’s oft-intertwining layers of eccentric, theatrically unhinged vocals that twist Dead Cross’ instantly familiar instrumental backbone into a defiantly, perversely uncategorizable experience. A restless romp through ADHD rhythms and riffs & carnivalesque air by Patton’s unsettling, multipersonality performances.
Patton's impressively elastic, immediately recognizable crooning, punctuated with garbled scatting, yelps and rants, will be familiar to anyone aware of his projects from Mr. Bungle’s 1991 debut onward, but he’s never sung atop anything so throat-grabbing and relentlessly aggressive. It was amazing to see Patton re-creating his elaborate studio vocal arrangements onstage, and stretching a sub-28-minute album into a headline-length live set.
Opening was the incomparable Secret Chiefs 3 fronted by Patton co-hort Trey Spruance formerly of also Mr. Bungle & Faith No More.
A rare sighting in these parts & only the second time I've ever seen the band live, last time being six years ago in NYC.
Secret Chiefs 3 have existed in various incarnations over the course of the past eight years, and have served as the funnel for Spruance's remarkably far-flung studies of the hermetic mysteries and musical traditions of unknown and underappreciated subgenres. Live it's an alchemical fusion of Morricone-esque cinematic grandeur, midnight surf guitar, traditional Middle Eastern rhythms and time signatures, demonic death metal, and electronic deviance that yields a work of undeniable force.