I Mother Earth/Finger 11: Live at Crocks(April 21st 2018)

Kudos to Crocks Promoter Frank Loffredo who in the matter of just  under three weeks has brought in a couple of Can Con Rock Shows. The first being Sloan back on April 4th and now just 17 days later brings in two acts touring Canada together who I have never seen live and that would be Finger 11 and I Mother Earth. 

Not only were they co headlining shows but they were also doing a joint pre show Acoustic Set as well.

So I was stoked especially to see IME as Guitarist Jag Tanna is  monster on the 6 string! (More on that later)

Back at the Sloan show I had a chat with Frank who told me tickets for the IME/Finger 11 show were well past 400 tix sold. For a Thunder Bay Bar show that’s says something in that people will come out and support live music. Helps also that neither of these two acts have been round here recently. Still though…

We arrived as the Acoustic Jam was going on. Crocks stage was stuffed with  both bands about 10 members jammed up there with acoustic guitars and percussion with IME Lead Singer Edwin and Finger 11 Lead Singer Scott Anderson handling all the vocals.

The set features cover songs like Christopher Cross’ Ride Like The Wind/Horse With No Name( America) Lola (Kinks) and Set Closer Solsbury Hill(Peter Gabriel).

A cool added feature to the ticket price I must add. Good to see camaraderie between both acts and props to whose ever idea it was to come up with the pre electric 30 minute jam.

The bands both answered fan submitted questions that were handled by a moderator from Rock 94. I get it that to keep the acoustic portion moving you need that but why this Radio Guy? Rock 94 ass kisses these acts when there coming to town  and once the Tour Bus Tail Lights are out past the Thunder Bay’s city limits you won’t hear much of these acts on radio..

(Ask me how many times I have heard Sebastian Bach/Skid Row on  Rock 94 radio for Bach’s upcoming show at Crocks in June??!)

It would have been cooler to have had a mic set up where actual paid members of the public could have waltzed up and spoke directly to the band not through some third-party Radio DJ doing the submitted questions himself! (no offence Fella you got a job to do I get it..)

Before the main acts took to the stage. A musician named JJ who has his own band The Pillars came out on stage by himself with an acoustic and played about 5 songs one of them being a pretty decent cover of Big Wrecks “That Song’  which JJ told the crowd that both Headliners told him he has to play a different cover song from those old Big Shiny Tunes compilation CD’s from back in the day!

After a quick change over Finger 11 hit the stage opening with Above and from there the 12 song  set moved at a quick rapid rate. Finger 11 is a great live act with Scott Anderson possessing a real good set of pipes. Scott also comes across as real down to earth chap when he addressed the crowd at various points through there set. Course the Biggie Single One Thing was played with the crowd firing back the words right back to Scott! I will add that Drag You Down is one ferocious live track man. So good! You knew that the big hit Paralyzer would be set closer but what I didn’t know was that Genesis’ That’s All would lead off Parlayzer  that would also feature a snippet of Pink Floyd’s Another Brick In The Wall which than led into the ultimate mash-up of  Paralyzer being mixed with a ton of AC/DC’s Back In Black. 

Whoa. A great finale to Finger 11’s Set! What impressed me about these guys is how great of a live act they are and I must mention that Guitarist James Black is a show amongst himself. Great Band!

It’s amazing how quickly the Road Crew can swap out and set up a whole other bands gear in the midst of minutes.  Props to those guys! Can some one cue up Motorheads ‘We Are The Road Crew’ for these men!

I was pretty stoked to see I Mother Earth. I still recall my brother Todd seeing  IME back around 1992 just after the release of Dig at Crocks and when I asked my brother  the next morning how was the show he  said it was awesome. Four dudes up on stage with dreads and ponchos and laying down a heavy groove. I dropped the ball and missed a great show….

Damn It!

I have never seen IME live and if I’m right these guys haven’t been to TBay in about 18 years so it was time for a show!

IME took the stage and you want jamming and a band that doesn’t ‘play it like it is on the record’ philosphy than these guys fit the bill.

I have always dug the fact that these guys added a second percussionist as well they have a keyboardist in tow with them. Make no mistake though the keyboards do not drown out Guitarist Jag Tanna in the least. From opener Not Quite Sonic I Mother Earth played to the capacity crowd like there was no tomorrow. There sound emulating from the stage was huge. Jag’s live guitar tone is awesome. Not to be outdone brother Christian Tanna keeps the band driving forward with the drums.

Good to see Edwin back at the mic handling the vocals. The guy has a good voice that is made for this band so I hope in all earnest they keep this version of the band going! It was cool to hear Edwin  and band play Summertime In The Void a song that did not feature Edwin but he vocally makes it his own tune.

9 songs played and more could have been added I’m sure but as I mentioned earlier this band does not go the play it safe live route. Earth Sky & C was phenomenal as Jag put on a guitar clinic and basically a lot off his playing reminds me of Carlos Santana delivered to your senses with a sledgehammer . His use of tapping the strings is wicked as well. Earth Sky & C defines his playing to a T.

The big album seller in the IME catalogue was Scenery and Fish with the poppy Raspberry with its slick catchy chorus in what you would call “Ear Candy”. Used To Be Alright is another great IME track that has some real catchy playing and than just shoots into another level come chorus time!

The biggie track One More Astronaut had the crowd jumping and it features some great use of percussion mixed in with everything  going around it sonically! Rain Will Fall from the debut album Dig was end of the set closer!

Just like how they started acoustically it ended electrically with both bands taking the stage and delivering a 3 pack of hits.  Levitate/Good Times a cool cover of Supertramps ‘Bloody Well Right’ended the show!

Wowzer’s! This was a killer night. Two bands! One packed out facility and a lot of music was played….

Photo’s taken by dEke’s Budget Photography Skills.INC

 

Advertisements

SLOAN: 12 (2018)

When Bassist/Lead Singer Chris Murphy sings the line “There’s only so much time we can kill here. Before we start to Spin Our Wheels”  from the opening song Spin Our Wheels the Power Pop Quartet drops the gauntlet on how you properly go about writing a Catchy Hook Driven tune that is so good you almost want to push rewind and listen to it again!

Course you can push rewind but lets keep going forward for this review as Sloan have crafted an album that is real solid in all of its 12 tracks that make up new album 12.

Impressive Sloan has been recording since 1991 with the same for guys. No silliness with these guys as when its time to write pop rock perfection they just go about doing what they do. The 12th album in the career of Sloan.

It helps when you have four strong personalities along with Murphy is Guitarist/Lead Singer Patrick Pentland. Guitarist/Lead Singer Jay Ferguson along with Drummer/Lead Singer Andrew Scott.

With 12 each Guy gets 3 songs each where they get to do their own thing but as a whole its sounds like Sloan. This album on so many levels especially the Jay Ferguson tracks like The Lions Share/Right To Roam and especially Essential Services sounds like mid 70’s Paul McCartney & Wings output. Slick Lead Vocals but man where Ferguson lifts off is the sonics of Essential Services  where it sounds like Macca is actually playing the keyboards on this track.

Chris Murphy has the knack for writing great catchy Power Pop Tracks. The already mentioned Spinning Our Wheels is as catchy as they come in this style. Don’t  be fooled though friends where Side 2 Opener  Don’t Stop(If It Feels Good Do It) keeps the catchiness moving along  with its positive feel goodness vibe all over it. Murphy’s third contribution Wish Upon A Satellite  features both Chris and Patrick trading off vocal lines in the verse  and this another masterpiece written in Perfect Pop!

Patrick Pentand contributions are brilliant. All of the Voices weaves a certain cool combination of rock chops and power pop that will have you buzzing about this song well after its done! The Day Will Be Mine to my ears anyways is as retro as it comes. What I mean by that this tune reminds me of Sloan from 25 years ago.  Loud Guitars and Patricks laid back Ace Frehley like vibe sold this song to me the first time I heard it! Love the opening power electric  riff that begins Have Faith and within a second the song goes into a whole other direction. Catchy chorus and a wicked bunch of musical tempo changes featuring real short spurts of guitar riffs that push the tune forward.

Gone For Good is Drummer Andrew Scott’s first track on 12.  It’s an trippy like vibe that has a great groove to it.  A laid Back scenario fills this song. Year Zero features a real cool Bass Line that drives the song along with drums. 44 Teenagers is Andrews third composition and the last  the song that ends the 12 album. A song that features the line..

Just the other day
I was reminded of the many ways Gord Downie died
I see a kid in my head
Who will be seeing red

44 Teenagers has some real crunchy like guitars especially at the end of the song as it ramps up with a real hooky guitar lick.

Sloan has released a Brilliant Studio album. It says something that it’s the same 4 guys after what 26 years maybe longer still doing it. Four very strong personalities as I already mentioned but they make it work!   I’ll be the first to admit I was late to this party but I sure won’t be leaving anytime soon as Sloan have put out a real fine slab of Vinyl! Catch em Live if they come are in your town!

 

 

Killer Dwarfs: Live No…..Guff(2018)

Killer Dwarfs stumbled across my musical radar back in 1986 when I had seen there two videos played on  Much Music (Canada’s MTV Video Station).

The videos for the tracks Stand Tall and Keep The Spirit Alive were classic videos. Humorous and Entertaining they were  and you all should take the time to check em out on Youtube. As well as the Dwarfs were sending out messages of  hope. Basically if Life kicks you in the Nuts. Get up and Kick Life back in the ASS!

The power of video yes worked as I went out and purchased the Stand Tall album and it was a fine slab of Can Con Rawk that held its own amongst all the other acts in the mid 1980’s!

1988 comes and the Dwarfs get the Big Record Contract and title their album Big Deal. 1990 and the excellent Andy Johns(RIP) produced Dirty Weapons is unleashed and in 1992 the once again Johns produced Method of Madness was out in the market place.

Must add that when I see the name Andy Johns I think of Huge Sounding  Drums! Johns back in the day worked with John Bonham/Cozy Powell/Alex Van Halen to name but a few!

Still recall fondly when the Dwarfs opened up for Skid Row here in Thunder Bay at our local dump of an Arena back in June of 1992. Sebastian Bach came out and sang Heavy Mental Breakdown with the guys….

Fast forward to Friday April 13th 2018 and lookie here! A live Dwarfs album?? Welcome back…

Sure the Dwarfs released a lIve album from a way long time ago but this band has moved on from that band but Lead Vocalist Russ Graham and Drummer Darrell Millar remain and have been the driving factors in this band since  1981!!

Joining them in this latest incarnation is Gerry Finn who was actually the Six Stringer on 92’s Method of Madness. Johnny Fenton rounds out the group as the Bassist.

Live…No Guff is the debut album on Megadeth Bassist David Ellefson’s record label EMP. Pretty cool he signed the Dwarfs and they had these shows recorded and viola….

This live album is a Fantastic. 13 Tracks just clocking in at over an hours worth of music and the Dwarfs deliver.

The sound is crisp and a great mix of the instruments.  Gerry Finn has one ass kicking guitar tone on this album. It sounds so heavy and make no bones about it this Cat can play. He smokes the fretboard numerous times on this release.  From the opening track Comin Through Gerry lays down the law and solos to keep the songs moving along. One of my Fav Dwarf tunes is Hard Luck Town which has all the fine trimmings of a classic track. The money shot here is the chorus which is oh so good! Finn takes a short like solo which is so catchy and that’s what makes a great guitarist in my eyes. He doesn’t solo til the end of time. He knows the parameters of the song and doesn’t overdue it with a million notes per second!

The Rhythm section of Millar and Fenton must be acknowledged as well. Miller can lay back and play the groove in tunes like Can’t Lose while at other times he can ramp it up into double bass pedal action like Burn It Down.

Fenton plays some slick Bass lines which is real evident when Finn takes off on the solo’s. Johnny plays some real smooth lines throughout the album and props must be made for the Rhythm Dudes.

Ahh Russ Dwarf.  This dude has lost none of his vocal range from the 80’s which is impressive as well. He pumps up the crowd throughout this release  with a couple of F’Bombs tossed in and sings for his supper through out this album. Russ even straps on the acoustic guitar for Driftin Back and Doesn’t Matter. Now don’t get all worried or squirrely thinking that these are your typical 80’s protocol like Ballads! There not! It helps that Miller keeps the drums chugging down the tracks not letting these two tunes sap out! Give these Dudes credit. At least when they took the gas of the musical pedal when these songs were first crafted they didn’t follow the trends of the day!

Live No…Guff ends with four classic Dwarfs tracks. Stand Tall/Keep The Spirit Alive/Dirty Weapons and set closer Heavy Mental Breakdown.

Well what can I tell you other than to buy this thing. I did from iTunes and it was money well spent!

 

 

Michael Schenker Fest.

Why Michael Schenker never became a household  name in North America is beyond me. True he has a huge following but Micheal has been playing the Flying V Guitar for what 4 decades or just past that mark!

Crazy…

Through it all though Mikey put out a lot of good stuff but  in the 80’s like a few bands there was always singer changes. In Micheal’s case four singers graced the MSG band.

Gary Barden/Graham Bonnet/Doogie White & Robin McCauley at various times fronted MSG in the past 30 years!

Fast forward to 2018 and Micheal Schenker is touring North America with all 4 previous singers! What a friggin genius move! Now this would be a killer show to see.

As an added bonus Bassist Chris Glenn and Drummer Ted Mckenna played with MSG as well throughout the 80’s so it gives this show a real throwback vibe as you’re getting all the trimmings when you attend this show! Micheal Schneker Fest they’re calling this tour!

To give Michael credit he’s also plugging a current album titled Resurrection that features not only the 4 singers mentioned above  but even Metallica’s Kirk Hammett shows up to guitar duel Micheal on a track.

I posted a clip from just a few weeks back of when Schenker played Montreal..

Watch the clip to see how you do it with class with 4 ex Lead Singers! The main thing is Schenker is having fun man and thats what Rock N Roll is about!

Many act’s could take a note or two from this…

 

Stone Temple Pilots-(2018)

You know when I had heard of STP getting yet another lead singer and taking another run at it “Bored” came to my mind especially when I read that new singer Jeff Gutt was a contestant on those  American Idol like shit shows.

Basically I thought STP might be cooked for good….

I know the previous two singers had passed away (Weiland & Chester Bennington) so my mind was thinking in terms of change it up by band name and make it interesting. Play the old stuff of course but give the STP moniker a break.

See there lies the problem as the general public would know the STP name over say  a new band name like “Flipper Flanagan”**

Course when Eric Kretz/ Dean and Robert DeLeo were having trouble with Weiland back in the 90’s the DeLeo’s along with Kretz formed two different bands at the time one being Talk Show the other being Army of Anyone which both tanked and were commercial failures.

So twice they tried and twice they failed so I see why they don’t want to go down that path yet again!

Fellow Blog Pal John T Snow was one of the first reviews I read of the current STP album I won’t go into detail about it. How about I link it and you can read it.  Pretty cool that John has a family connection to the recording of the STP album. Go ahead don’t be shy click and read!

https://wordpress.com/read/blogs/108354920/posts/24770

Another Fellow Blog Pal is a huge fan of these guys when Weiland was fronting the band. Actually J is a huge Weiland Fan period! J through the comments I read is having a hard time digging/getting into this release as at times it sounds like the old STP sound.

I get what J is saying. I am nowhere near the huge STP fanboy that J is but I do dig their stuff. I totally get it on where J is coming from as when Bruce Dickinson left Iron Maiden back in 1993 I was bummed out. I invested a lot as a  Maiden Fan Boy by that point since 1981 into Maiden. Huge drag but I spun the positive as Bruce and Maiden would both be putting out product. So perhaps It would be a win win.

Kinda not really. Maiden of course got Blaze Bailey put out two albums (X Factor and Virtual XI) while Bruce stuck out solo albums.

Maiden I will give them credit changed a musical course with Bailey as he was the exact opposite of Bruce. Fair enough. I bought those two Blaze records. While X Factor was not a bad album Virtual XI lost the plot for me as the songs were so-so. Bruce on the other hand-made more Maiden sounding like solo albums like Accident of Birth and The Chemical Wedding. I was onboard with what Bruce solo was doing.

Course Bruce rejoined Maiden and all is good if not better that the 80’s..

Sorry for the Maiden ramble but I just wanted you the reader to know I get it when someone in a band you dig bolts off and it’s just never the same.

Back to STP…

Ok…I like this record. Too be honest it took forever for lead single Meadow to grow on me. Our local only Rock Station 94 Fm as much as there playlist annoys me has played this tune lots and eventually after hearing it daily I decided that it was a pretty good rock tune.

Meadow oozes that sound of STP as does a lot of this album. I know they split the writing credits four ways on this album and perhaps that’s to keep the new boy in the loop. Fair enough but its true this has a bunch of tunes that are cut from the 1990’s STP’s Rock Cloth!

Roll Me Under is a great track. Cool shuffle of the drums along with Robert’s Bass Line makes this one easily one of my fav’s from this album. Six Eight as well is another as they are the heavier like tracks but with a catchy groove.

Course there is some chill moments like the Art of Letting Go. More acoustic sounding  if anything leads me to my next point. These songs more importantly than anything is how Bassist Robert Deleo writes basically since 1992 when Core came out and sold huge!

There lies the problem for many I suppose and this is my 2 cents tossed in the STP Ring! This self titled album sounds like old STP perhaps the new guy does not have the swagger that Wieland had but fair enough perhaps give him time. An album or two more and perhaps he will find his own niche within this band.

Having said that I hope these guys can make it with the same guy for an album or two more but seriously if they don’t make this work I’m out for good as I did invest in Talkshow and Army of Anyone and where did that get me?

** Flipper Flanagan my Tbay readers will recognize this band name as they are a local folk rock group who has been playing around for decades…..

 

SLOAN: Live @ Crocks(April 4th 2018)

Here’s Sloan rolling into Thunder Bay on a Wednesday Night no less and I’m stoked!

Almost two years ago to the day when Sloan last played  Crocks myself and Tbone were simply “Blown Away” as the Sloaner’s that being Patrick Pentland/Chris Murphy/Jay Ferguson and Andrew Scott took over the stage and basically owned it for over two sets!

There back catalogue of the hits was  one after super hit after another and the fact that in there first set they played the full One Chord To Another album was a coup for Tbone and Moi as that was our first time catching these guy’s live!

So when local Promoter Frank Loffredo announced this show it was a no brainer to grab tickets quick! I recall the conversation I had with Tbone two years ago  as when Sloan was last here I flat-out said whatever night these guys would come back I would go no matter what!

Well Its a Wednesday night and we’re going! Not only that but Tbone’s brother Darr along with some other friends Brian and Cindy were along as well!

Hey not only do we need to support bands like Sloan  but you gotta hand it to Frank who sticks his neck out and brings these acts to town so we gotta support the Local Fella whose paying the bands to get em here!

Thunder Bay is the second night of the Sloan 2018 Tour and what is real cool is that they are pre selling their new release on April 6th 2018 entitled ’12’ two days early here at the Merch Table. 12 is available on both CD and Vinyl and myself and Tbone quickly grabbed up the vinyl version of 12 as we didn’t want to wait till the end of the show in case they sold out of it! Also included with the vinyl is a coupon to redeem the new album on  Digital(which I have already). Nice!

Speaking of Merch their prices for T-shirts/Vinyl/CD’s/Hats were all reasonably priced with all the CD’s going for $10 bucks!

So at around 9:30 pm the Sloan Fella’s hit the stage opening with the first two tracks of the kinda soon to be released 12 album and those tunes were Spin The Wheels followed by All The Voices which only takes a matter of seconds when the guys hit the stage that were in for a fine night with those wicked lead and harmony voices with the sounds of a hard like Power Pop Rock emulating from the retro vintage back line gear that these guys use.

If I’m right and I may not be the guys trotted out 10 of the 12 songs for the new album! Overall I’m thinking about almost close to 30 songs were played at the show! Not bad for a $25 ticket!

Give the band credit they could have blasted all the hits and perhaps sprinkled a few tracks from the album but I have to say that these new tunes carried over well as crowd was into it. How can you not be. Seriously when they change-up Instruments and Andrew takes over on Guitar/Vocals while Chris hops on Andrews Drums while Jay slides over to the Bass these guys musicianship does not dip. The talent these cat’s have just boggles my mind that they can continuously play at this high level.

Though not to be disappointed Sloan did pull out the classics as well. Patrick’s Losing California is a great straight ahead rock track with a fantastic solo as Andy,man what can you say about this guy and his basic Drum Kit? The guy is a human dynamo sitting on that stool!

The Other Man (featuring Backing Vocalist/Keyboards/Tambourine) Greg MacDonald is a valued asset of the band that doesn’t go unnoticed as Greg and Chris trade-off vocally at the end of the song! Feels Good Do It  had the crowd rocking while end of the night closer Good In Everyone just wanted you wanting more!

Sloan is a great Live/Studio act and what is a real cool quality is the fact that after the show they all came out and talked and signed a bunch of merchandise and were in no hurry to split considering they are playing something like Seven Nights in a Row!

I was lucky enough to get all Four Guys to sign my CD and to chat a bit. Chris told me and well you can call me a whistleblower(haha) but I asked how come the excellent Navy Blues album wasn’t available at the show. He told me that they are going to be coming back and playing that album front to back on their next go round. Judging by the fact that Money City Manics wasn’t played  I’m thinking were onto something here…

Look real forward to when these guys come back! Thanks for a great show Patrick/Chris/Andrew and Jay!

Photo’s courtesy of Wingman & Need More Drinks Photography!(Darr & Tbone)

 

 

 

 

 

L.A GUNS: Made In Milan(2018)

Ahhh….. L.A GUNS. Kinda dug those first three SleezeBall albums that these fella’s released between 1988-1991 that being the self titled L.A Guns(88),Cocked and Loaded(89) and 91’s Hollywood Vampires.

Than like so many LA bands they imploded. Members came and went and so did I meaning I moved on. But when Guitarist Traci Guns returned to the band with his last name hooked up with Phil Lewis the original singer I had a little bit of interest.

As many as you know I dabble and submit some stuff to the great online site SleazeRoxx. The year-end best of albums voted by the readers was LA GUNS with there 2017 reunion album Missing Peace release.

I was surprised that there was still a decent fan base for these guys and to keep the GUNS in action this past March they released the live album Made In Milan.

I will go out on a limb and say this is a fantastic Live Album.

For my money. Lot’s of songs are featured from the first three Guns albums and I’m ok with that.  Opener No Mercy rocks right out of the gate.

I must mention that Traci Guns is unbelievable on this album. The dude smokes his fretboard throughput this release. He knows  all the 80’s trimmings like all the other six stringers of the late 80’s! Traci Guns though is one under appreciated guitar slinger. Warren DiMartini/Jake E Lee/ George Lynch are three guys I would say in my opinion  were the best to come out of California. I have to include Guns now as his playing is absolutely sick!

His playing on Never Enough is phenomenal…

Traci takes all of these songs and just riffs like a lunatic but a contained lunatic to the point where it doesn’t  make me nauseous! He’s the deal folks and even with a bit of sense of humour when at the end of Kiss My Love Goodbye he goes into a little snippet of The Lemon Song By Zeppelin.

Speaking of nicking snippets at the end of Sex Action they jam out The Stones “Paint it Black” Mixing it up as you would say…

One More Reason/Rip and Tear and the Biggie late 80’s Ballad (The Ballad of Jayne)  that every band was doing. Some can pull it off while others don’t. Ballad of Jayne is not a bad track as this time around I gave it a chance whereas  back when it was originally released in 1989 I scoffed at it!

Lot’s of well basically all of these songs I have not heard since ….1991!!

Saying that they play a recent track called Speed and its a great rocker of a track!  I really dig the part in Speed when they slow it down the tempo and ramp it back up into the chorus. I always can appreciate that these guys are not just tripping all over the Nostalgia Carpet like some many of there contemporaries.

Yet today they are  a band firing on all four cylinders “Live”. Lewis voice still sounds the same as he did umm two and half decades ago! Yikes…

Other than Lewis and Guns the rest of the dudes behind em are not the original Guns or Gunners! The recently departed Rhythm Guitarist Micheal Grant lays down a steady bunch of rhythm riffs so Traci can do his thing while Drummer Shane Fitzgibbon slams the drums straight ahead as you hear the snap of the snare and the smash n crash of the cymbals at time on warp speed as the track Killing Machine proves.

The sound is Awesome. The Bass (courtesy of Johnny Martin)rumbles along like a runaway locomotive. This album has to be almost 100% Live as the mix is excellent.

14 Tracks in all and here we are in April 2018 and two live albums one being this one and the Live 94 by John Corabi are the two of the better live ones I have heard lately..

Who woulda thunk it!

 

Rock Album, Concert Reviews And The Odd Book Review