London

CONCERT REVIEW: Helix – The Power of Rock and Roll CD release party 2007/08/19

I found this concert review on a hard drive and realized I had never posted it to mikeladano.com.  OVERSIGHT!

This was a special experience.  Read on.

video by John Hockley

HELIX POWER_0004HELIX – The Power Of Rock And Roll – CD Release Party Report  – East Side Bar &  Grill, London Ontario, 2007/08/19

Today Jen & I headed down to London to check out Helix playing, and to celebrate the release of their new CD, The Power of Rock and Roll, on EMI. We threw on some Helix for the drive down, and met John Hockley (Helix MySpace guru) and his family at noon. John has quite an impressive autograph collection, as anyone who’s got him added on Facebook can attest to.

Stocking up on coffee and Timbits, John and I trekked over to Brian and Linda Vollmer’s house to drop off some salad for their after-show BBQ and to say hello. It was my first time at their place and I was blown away by Brian’s cool collection of rock and roll stuff! My favourite thing of his was his prop from the fourth season of Trailer Park Boys, “Ricky’s Dope Map”. Very cool to see it up close and personal.

VOLLMERBrian was gracious enough to take a photo with me, and Linda told me how everyone loved my [now deleted] YouTube video “Why I Prefer Helix To Rush”. That was very cool; I told her that if I had known that anyone would actually watch it that I would have worked harder on it! Maybe next time….

From there, we headed over to the venue to see Helix play. Milled around the crowd, ran into Brent Doerner and said hello.

John introduced me to Randy, the merchandise guy, who had also seen my YouTube video. He sold me some rare Helix stuff, including the CD Never Trust Anyone Over 30 which I thought I would never be able to find! Then I got it signed by Rainer Wiechmann who played guitar and engineered a lot of the later Helix stuff on it. Rainer was cool, and thank you John for introducing me.

fritzWe found a table, and sat with a very nice couple, Diane and Mark from Kitchener. Wouldn’t you know it…Diane used to be Greg “Fritz” Hinz bookeeper, and asked him to come over and sign my CD for me! I told Fritz that my very first concert was Helix at the Center In The Square in 1987. […where he mooned the crowd.]

Then the band hit the stage. This was our second time seeing the current live lineup of Helix. [Brian Vollmer – lead vocals, Rik VanDyk – guitars, Jim Lawson – guitars, Paul Fonseca – bass, and Brent “Ned” Niemi – drums.]  Nine months after seeing this version play for the first time, I think they were even tighter, and definitely heavier. I have never seen Helix play so fast and heavy before. Blew me away. Still played a couple of slower tunes as well, but even they had more energy.

The full and complete set list:

1. No Rest For The Wicked / Band intro and solos

2. Boomerang Lover

3. Get Up!

4. Wild In The Streets

5. Dirty Dog

6. Eat My Dust

7. Running Wild In The 21st Century

8. The Kids Are All Shakin’

9. Heavy Metal Love

10. Rick Van Dyk guitar solo / segue into Metallica’s Creeping Death riff

11. When The Hammer Falls

12. Deep Cuts The Knife

13. Good To The Last Drop

14. Baby Likes To Ride

15. Gimme Gimme Good Lovin’

16. The Power Of Rock And Roll

17. Animal House

18. Rock You

 

ENCORES

19. (Make Me Do) Anything You Want

20. Fill Your Head With Rock

Packed house, great show, the band played & sang great. Thanks Helix for an amazing afternoon!

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Part 264: Garbage Removal Machine / REVIEW: Motley Crue – Lewd, Crued & Tattooed – Live

First the tale, then the review.  I would like to dedicate this one to DEKE, Thunder Bay’s hardest rocker, who titled this story for me.  And to Jason C, who just yesterday won tickets to the Toronto show on the Final Tour with Alice Cooper!  Lucky…!

RECORD STORE TALES Part 264:  Garbage Removal Machine

The year was 2004.  I had always been an active on various “social media” but back then the place to be was called IAM.  Iam.bmezine was the full name, but it was where I spent most of my time, and where some of the journals that appear here today originated.

I had joined an IAM book exchange group and specified that I was interested in collecting Stephen King.  Someone sent me The Stand and I was hooked, so I wanted to get more into the mythos.  This girl from Thunder Bay, Ontario sent me a few more as well.  A little bit later, she moved to Waterloo for school.  We met at William’s coffee pub to exchange some more stuff.  She was wearing a Motley Crue – Girls, Girls, Girls T-shirt.

One thing led to another and we ended up going out.  She came over to my place and we watched a couple rock movies.  She was into all things “retro”, so I decided to give her all my old cassettes.  Everything that was duplicated on CD, I gave to her.  All my Iron Maiden, all my Judas Priest, Motley Crue, Van Halen…everything that I had on disc.  She gladly took them, and I gladly took back my storage closet.

In return, she gave me her copy of Motley Crue’s DVD Lewd, Crued & Tattooed – Live.  “It sucks,” she said.  “Vince Neil sucks now.  I was so disappointed.”  I didn’t have the DVD, and it wasn’t especially high on my radar because yes, the Crue had been sucking as of late.  However the presence of Samantha Maloney on drums (filling in for the terminally ill Randy Castillo) meant that it was the kind of one-off that I enjoy owning.

One of the better performances

A couple of weeks went by with Thunder Bay Girl, but my guard was up; my spider senses were tingling.  I felt like she was obsessing a bit.  A bit later she told me that the reason she sent me the Stephen King books in the first place was just to contact me; she went out to a used bookstore, bought a couple Kings and sent them to me.  I know, not exactly So I Married An Axe Murderer behaviour, but there were other factors that made me start to feel uncomfortable.  When she asked me what I wanted for my birthday that year, I decided to pull the plug before it got too far.

I did the manly thing, and dumped her by email.  I know, I know.  All I can say in my defense is that I was right.  My spider senses detected something alright.  Although it didn’t happen immediately, she eventually exploded like a powder keg.  We chose to “remain friends” (not a good idea) but friendship soon turned to a hateful obsession.  She exploded on me one day — something about a ferret?  Eventually she moved back to Thunder Bay, and I never heard from her again.  I like to think that she took my tapes with her, and dumped them in a Thunder Bay landfill out of pure spite.  Although I wish I had kept some of those cassettes, I’ve decided to maintain a safe distance from Thunder Bay at all times.  It’s the only way to be sure.

MOTLEY SUCK_0001MOTLEY CRUE – Lewd, Crued & Tattooed – Live (2001 Motley Records DVD)

Here’s Uncle LeBrain with a dose of reality: This DVD sucks. Truly. It sucks. The New Tattoo album wasn’t great to start with, but this is awful. The awfulness can be boiled down to one factor: Vince Neil, the laziest singer in rock. Here, a breathless Neil does his thing: lets the crowd sing half the song, skips every other word, and weasels his way out of the tough notes.  Set-list wise, this relies heavily on the Motley hits with very little deviation. Which is good, can Vince even remember the lyrics to obscure tunes?

So embarrassing is Vince Neil’s performance on this DVD that I have only managed to watch the whole thing twice.  The main reason to own it is Samantha Maloney. Diehard Crue-heads will remember that drummer Randy Castillo had replaced Tommy Lee, but himself had to sit out the tour due to the cancer that eventually killed him. Ex-Hole drummer Samantha Maloney, the first and only girl to be in The Crue, took his place and did admirably well.  It all came to an end when she hooked up with Nikki Sixx.  You knew these guys just could not be in a band with a girl.

A second reason for me to keep this in my collection is “Nobody Knows What It’s Like To Be Lonely”.  This is an audio-only track, and also the first-ever official release of one of the earliest Motley songs.  To date, the only official release.  It was recorded in May 1981 at the same session that yielded Motley’s first single “Toast of the Town” / “Stick To Your Guns”.  I believe the song used to be known as “I Got the Power” and was written by Nikki Sixx for his old band, London.  It does piss me off that this audio track is only on a DVD, not a CD, but I’m sure those more tech-savvy than me can rip it to an mp3 file.

2/5 stars

REVIEW: Marillion – Early Stages (Official Bootleg Box Set 1982-1987) / The Highlights

This review dedicated to the great Uncle Meat.  Part 1 of a 2 part series!

MARILLION – Early Stages (Official Bootleg Box Set 1982-1987) (EMI)

This is the first of two Marillion Official Bootleg box sets.  The second covers the Hogarth years 1990-1994.  Mine came with an autographed print!

I listened to this box again over the course of a week.  I chose the car as the setting.  I’ve spent a lot of time driving to Marillion in the past (lots of great memories) so this setting works for me.  I enjoy loading long box sets onto my car MP3 player.  I did that recently with the 12 CD Deep Purple Bootleg Series box set.  As soon as I was done with that one, I dove into Early Stages.

I also acquired the recent compilation Early Stages: The Highlights.  Why, you ask?  Well, like many “highlights” packages, they usually stick on one exclusive song to get you to buy the same thing twice.  The bait is “Market Square Heroes” Fife Aid 1988, the final song of the final show with Fish.  OK, I’ll bite.MARILLION_0009

I don’t have a lot to say specifically about any of the concerts included in this box set.  There are a lot of songs from periods before they were recorded on albums, and that’s cool.  There are four different drummers on this set*, representing the rarely documented transitional periods in Marillion’s lineup.  The discs are all of great sonic quality considering the years they were recorded.  Fish is a great frontman, usually funny but occasionally serious, and always entertaining.

Here are some observations about some of the set’s highlights.  From The Mayfair, Glasgow, 1982:  “He Knows You Know” is not quite as slick as we’re used to, a little tentative, but no less powerful.  An early version of “She Chameleon” is quite different musically from what it would become, although the lyrics are mostly in place.

When you get to the Marquee show (December of ’82), Fish is especially talkative and sentimental.  The gem here is obviously “Grendel”, a song which never ceases to amaze me.  Fish’s expressive voice has me hook, line and sinker.  You’ll be treated to the complete workout of “Grendel” again in 1983 (Reading).  The 1984 Hammersmith concert has emotional classics like “Jigsaw” and “Cinderella Search”.  The real treat is an early version of the first track for the forthcoming album Misplaced Childhood; a track Fish calls “Side One”.  It’s an early version, the lyrics still not all the way there, and it’s missing the entire “Lavender” section.  But you can hear the shape of things to come.

Hey Uncle Meat! Who’s your favourite lyricist?

The box set closes with a late period show, and a big one:  Wembley, 1987.  A good chunk of Misplaced Childhood (all of Side One) and Clutching at Straws are presented.  There are only a couple oldies:  “Fugazi” and “Incubus”.  This is a slicker, more commercial-sounding band, much more skilled at writing complicated yet catchy music.

Of note:  there are a whopping 15 pages full of liners notes by one Derek W. Dick, aka Fish, and new cover art by Mark Wilkinson!  If that doesn’t sell this set, then nothing will.

5/5 stars

* Mick Pointer, John Martyr, Andy Ward, and Ian Mosely.  Only Jonathan Mover is not heard on this, although he is on the 6 CD Curtain Call box set.

REVIEW: Marillion – Sounds Live (2012)

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MARILLION – Sounds Live (2012 Racket Records/Abbey Road LiveHereNow/EMI)

This is one of those “Instant Live” type discs.  While the discs have art pre-printed on them, they are CDRs.  There is no track list on the case, probably because the setlist wasn’t set in stone!  (I have a Slash “Instant Live” style disc with the setlist printed on the back, which was completely wrong, as the singer had a sore throat and they had to change up the set!)  The label is Racket Records/Abbey Road LiveHereNow, licensed to EMI, but even though Racket has their name on it, you can’t buy it from them.  You can buy it from Abbey Road Live, however.

The show was recorded on 16 September 2012 at the Forum in London, on the Sounds that Can’t Be Made tour.  The sound quality is excellent!

Marillion bravely opened the show with “Gaza”, the powerful, swirling, 17 minute new song from Sounds that Can’t Be Made.  I don’t know how many new fans were in the audience that night, but if there were any, they must have been in utter confusion and shock.  Hogarth delivers the song with all the passion he can muster.

Not letting up for a moment, Marillion follow this monster with another 10 minute epic:  “This Town/100 Nights”.  Incredible.  And once again, H imbues the song with so much emotion it literally leaks out of the speakers.

“This next song is a strange song,” says H, regarding track 3.  “‘Cause everybody claps along at the beginning and by verse one, they think ‘Shit, you can’t clap to this, it’s far too sad and tragic!”  And that is how H introduces the Marbles top ten (#7!) single, “You’re Gone”.  An upbeat pop-prog track with a drum program accompanying Ian Mosely, this was probably a good selection to follow two epics in a row!

My favourite of the new songs follows:  the title track from Sounds that Can’t Be Made, a simply great catchy Marillion track.  My only beef here is that I can hear pre-recorded Hogarth backing vocals.

And then…another 10 minute track?  The incredible “Neverland” from Marbles is up next, a personal favourite, and seemingly a crowd favourite too.  This one defines the word “epic” as far as I’m concerned.  Powerful, too.

From the 2007 Somewhere Else album comes “A Voice From the Past”, not one of my personal favourites (also not one of my favourite albums).  This is followed by “Power” from the new album.  “Power” is one of the better songs from an album I just haven’t wrapped my head around yet.  In live form, the chorus soars.

Disc 2 begins with yet another Marbles classic:  the soft and uplifting “Fantastic Place”, a personal favourite.  Steve Rothery’s solo is sublime.  Another personal favourite follows, the incredible “Real Tears For Sale” from the very dense Happiness is the Road album.  It’s an album I’ve never fully absorbed, but this song is incredibly powerful and at times is even reminiscent of older works like Brave or even Script in parts (listen to the flute-like keys).

Another new song, “The Sky Above the Rain”, is one that is really starting to grow on me.  This is the last of the new songs played at the London gig.  It’s 11 minute long, and it begins lullaby-like before H’s passionate, melodic vocals begin.  There’s a sadness, but also a brightness to the music; truly the blue sky above the rain.

It’s into the classics now!  “The Great Escape” is an undeniable fan favourite, and I never tire of hearing it.  What did surprise me was the resurrection of the lengthy “A Few Words for the Dead” from the underappreciated Radiation album.  I’ve always been fond of Radiation (it was the first Hogarth-era album I heard)  but this track is absolutely a challenge.  Over 10 minutes long, it builds very, very slowly.  As the closing track on a challenging album, it was perfect.  As an encore at a Marillion concert, it’s extremely brave and mind-blowing.  This is one of the best live versions I’ve heard.

The only Fish-era song played is “Sugar Mice”, but it is one that H seems comfortable with.  I will never tire of this classic, even though H lets the audience sing the first half of the song for him!  Rothery’s anthemic solo is the centerpiece of the affair.

The final surprise is that the show closes with the morose “Estonia”, from This Strange Engine.  H dedicates the song to the family of Neil Armstrong.  I’ve never been particularly fond of this dour song, although it has been played in concert many, many times over the last 15 years.  Obviously, many fans “get it” and love it.  I’m not one of them, so for me, Sounds Live ends with a thump rather than a celebration.  I would have preferred something like “Garden Party” or “Easter”, but I’m not complaining.

Speaking of “Easter”:  Conspicuous by its absence is any music at all from Seasons End.  You can’t fit ’em all in, and tour after tour, Marillion have always changed up their setlists.  You will never see the same Marillion concert two tours in a row.

While Marillion have dozens of live albums (especially when you include the 43 Front Row Club releases), this one is a valuable inclusion in the canon as the first physical live release of Sounds that Can’t Be Made songs.   I don’t know how frequently I will return to it, given the amount of live stuff I have, but I did enjoy it.

4/5 stars

Disc 1:

  1. “Gaza”
  2. “This Town/100 Nights”
  3. “You’re Gone”
  4. “Sounds that Can’t Be Made”
  5. “Neverland”
  6. “A Voice From the Past”
  7. “Power”

Disc 2:

  1. “Fantastic Place”
  2. “Real Tears For Sale”
  3. “The Sky Above the Rain”
  4. “The Great Escape”
  5. “A Few Words For the Dead”
  6. “Sugar Mice”
  7. “Estonia”

Part 118: Famous Persons

RECORD STORE TALES PART 118:  Famous Persons

People sometimes ask me, “LeBrain, did you ever meet anybody famous through your store?”  I wish that happened more often.  As it stands my list is pretty meager.  I met Dave McDonald, the local weather man.  He wanted in the store early one day.

My meager list:

1. London, Ontario’s “Snake the Tattoo Man”, whose biggest claim to fame was appearing on Phil Donahue, and in a Helix video (“Running Wild in the 21st Century”).  He thought he deserved a discount on CD’s because, as per his words:  “I’m the Tattoo Man”.

2. Country singer Beverley Mahood, a little bit after the initial fame.  She’d worked with David Foster in the past.  She was a regular.  One time she came in and held up her CD.  “That’s me!” she said.  I felt like saying, “Yup…and that’s you in the bargain bin at $4.99, too!”

3. Grammy Award winning Polka King Walter Ostenek, who I’m told is a bit of a pompous ass.  I talked about him in a previous installment.

4. Former Helix and Saga drummer Brian Doerner, who was a super nice guy that didn’t buy anything on that visit.  However I got some drum sticks and autographs out of him later on!

5. The dad of ex-Helix and Brighton Rock guitarist Greg “Shredder” Fraser.  Nice, chatty guy.  Very proud of his son.

6. Blue Rodeo slide guitarist Bob Egan, who never said much of anything.  Just looked around.  I wasn’t sure it was him until I heard that he lived in town, and sure enough, it was Bob Egan.  I believe today he occassionally collaborates with one of our store managers.

That’s about it.  This isn’t exactly a booming metropolis, and we attracted the bare minimum of people with any sort of fame.  During my 20’s, I used to fantasize that singer songwriter Dayna Manning who lived in Stratford would pop in, and we’d meet.  That never happened.

Instead, I had Snake the Tattoo Man coming in.  Good ol’ T-Rev ran into him first.  He said to Snake, “If you wanna talk to a huge Helix fan, talk to Mike.”  So he made a trip specifically to talk to me.  What Trevor failed to get through Snake’s head is that I was a huge Helix fan, not a huge Snake the Tattoo Man fan.  So Snake walked in trying to sell me Snake merch!  I disappointed him by not buying one of his autographed glossy photos.

“Do you want to buy a picture of me with Phil Donahue?  I signed it for you.  $10.  Me and Donahue.  I also have me and Helix.  I’ll give you a deal if you buy five.”

Thanks Trev.  That was such a wonderful experience!