Category Archives: Concert Reviews

Our impressions from shows that we get to witness in person.

Journey and Pat Benatar Rock Tampa


Still riding their “Glee”-ful resurgence, a revitalized Journey brought a few of their fellow 80’s rock stalwarts to the 1-800-ASK-GARY Amphitheatre in Tampa this weekend.  Paired with Pat Benatar and Loverboy, it promised to be a fun flashback packed with iconic rock tunes.

Due to an absurdly long line of traffic entering the facility,and being re-routed to a lot which seemed to be in Clearwater, we missed Loverboy. We arrived right at the printed start time of 7:30, which turned out to be the time they wrapped up.  Guilty pleasure confession: I always loved the band’s music and was kind of bummed I missed their set. The general consensus was that despite their considerably tighter black and red leather, the Canadians still sounded good.

Pat Benatar is sharing her billing with husband and long time guitarist Neil Giraldo on this tour. They sounded good and offered up a great setlist featuring songs from their entire catalog.  The band kicked off the set with a trio of powerful hits, “All Fired Up,” Invincible” and “Promises in the Dark.” They then brought out a pair of stools, caught their breath, and slowed it down a bit.

Over the course of the 50 minute performance, the band offered up all of their biggest hits including crowd favorites “Hit Me With Your Best Shot” and “Love Is a Battlefield.”  The highlight of the set was a great closing version of “Heartbreaker,” during which they deftly weaved in Led Zeppelin’s identically titled classic and Johnny Cash’s “Ring Of Fire;” a great version of a great song.

The headliners took the stage with a nice line-up reminiscent of that from the band’s heyday. Neal Schon, Ross Valory and Jonathan Cain, holdovers from the band’s epic 80’s line-up, are still performing and were joined on stage by Deen Castronovo who has been at the drums for the last dozen years. The new face is Filipino, Arnell Pineda, who was discovered by Schon covering Journey songs on Youtube (really).  Pineda’s voice is eerily similar to Steve Perry’s and his vocals were damn near perfect throughout the show.

They immediately got the crowd engaged with a rousing version of “Anyway You Want It,” and did a nice job sampling hits from their entire catalog.  Early highlights included “Feeling That Way / Anytime,” “send Her My Love” and “Faithfully.”  The band took a quick break and Schon offered up a fantastic solo version of “The Star Spangled Banner.”  Schon is an under-appreciated guitar legend with a slew of great, memorable riffs to his credit, and he truly shined during the solo.

The second half of the generous set included “Separate Ways,” “Lights,” and “Wheel In the Sky,” as well as “Just The Same Way,” with Cain taking over lead vocals.  The band also offered up a few deeper cuts, which were generally received with ambivalence from a crowd that was there for the hits.  Overall, the band offered up a nice, broad selection of hits, but at times seemed to be going through the motions. They closed the show with “Don’t Stop Believing” and came back with an anti-climactic version of “Lovin’ Touchin’ Squeezin.'” It was a nice end to a decent, yet unspectacular show.

I did have a priceless experience as the crowd sang along loudly to “Open Arms.” My friend Luc the Toque, belted out “I come to you with broken arms!” Nice, a priceless cross-up between Journey and Mister Mister… Thanks, Luc!

We had lawn seats in the equivalent of deep right field.  I’d recommend the lawn if you’re just going to hear some classic tracks, chill with friends and sing along a bit, and that worked on this night. But, the truth is, the sound was muddy and the mix inconsistent throughout the night so far from the stage. If you are headed to the Amphitheatre and are looking for a mpre pristine sound, I’d definitely recommend moving up into the reserved seats.

Check Out the full Setlists below.

Rock On!
Cretin

Pat Benatar Setlist

All Fired Up
Invincible
Promises in the Dark
We Belong
You Better Run
Hit Me With Your Best Shot
Love Is a Battlefield
Heartbreaker/Ring of Fire

Journey Setlist

Anyway You Want It
Ask the Lonely
Only the Young
Feeling That Way / Anytime
Send Her My Love
Faithfully
Neil Schon Solo – Star Spangled Banner
Stone In Love
Separate Ways
Just the Same Way
Lights
Solos
Wheel In the Sky
Escape
Open Arms
Don’t Stop Believing

Encore
Lovin’ Touchin’ Squeezin’

Sanford Gets a Nice Dose of Rehab


Georgia based Alt-Rockers, Rehab brought their entertaining act to Sanford this week with an energetic set at West End Trading Company.  The quintet out of Georgia offered up a unique entertaining cross between rock, country and hip-hop.  For those of you not familiar with the band, think Beastie Boys meet Sister Hazel; yup, a crazy combination, but these guys make it work.

DJ Chris Crisis kicked the set off with a quick and lively set that got the crowd amped up.  He remained on stage and supplied the band’s bass through his mixes. The band revolves around the vocals of front men Danny Alexander and Demun Jones, who effortlessly switched off between driving hip-hop and harmonious melodies.

The set spanned their entire career and was a great mix from their album releases.  “Hey Fred” was an early crowd favorite that got the crowd bouncing and singing along.  We also got to hear nice versions of “We Live,” “Walk Away,” and my personal favorite “Lawn Chair High” from their excellent 2008 release Graffiti World.

I’m typically not a hip-hop fan, but enjoyed the way the band deftly wove it in with a solid rock foundation.  The only downside to me was that as we listened to the tunes and the driving bass backbone, there was no bass player to be found, instead all of the bass came from the DJ. The mix was still great, and sounded excellent in the venue, but I would’ve preferred a bass player contributing to the sound.

They wrapped up their seventy-five minute set with a rollicking version of  “Kung Pao Chicken,” and then closed with the crowd favorite “Hey Bartender / Sittin At A Bar,” bringing the raucous crowd to a feverish pitch to close the night.  It was a nice way to wrap up a fun set at a cool local venue. It was my first trip to West End Trading Company, and I left impressed (look for our review of the venue soon).

Chill Flow, a local five-piece band did a great job opening for Rehab.  The Central Florida band obviously brought along some of their own passionate fans and played a nice set of ska influenced rock, with a cool beach vibe.

Rock On!
Cretin

WMMO Treats Orlando to 80’s Flashback

Thousands of Central Florida classic rock fans flocked to downtown Orlando to catch a nice triple billing, featuring 80’s Rock Legends The Romantics, John Waite and Modern English.

The flashback was the latest installment of WMMO’s wildly successful Free Downtown Concert Series and the fans were the recipient of a night full of excellent rock music, big hair and Jordache jeans.  On this night, the hair was a bit thinner, the jeans a little more snug, but the music just how we remembered it.

I arrived just after the Modern English set and missed the band that made it big with the iconic 80’s hit “I Melt With You.”

John Waite in Orlando
John Waite in Orlando

John Waite who frequently visits Orlando was back with his band and played hits spanning his entire career, in its many incarnations, over his hour long set.  Waite who is now in his fourth decade as a front man still has an amazing voice and put on a great show. The Baby’s hit “Head First” immediately kicked the set into high gear, which also featured several other tracks from the band including “Midnight Rendezvous,” “Every Time I Think of You” and “Back On My Feet Again.”

The crowd was also treated to Waite’s huge hits “Change” and “Missing You,” and a great solo a capella singalong version of Bad English’s “When I See You Smile.” Two highlights for me were rollicking versions of “No More Mr. Wonderful” and the closing cover of Tina Turners’s “Sweet Rhode Island Red.” Great stuff from an iconic rock voice.

The Romantics Live in Orlando
The Romantics Live in Orlando

The Romantics headlined the show and played a full set, featuring songs from the past 35 years of their career.  The quartet is absent their original lead singer Jimmy Marinos, but their current line-up boasts the other three original members and the vocals still sound great.  Wally Palmar takes over lead vocals on most songs and fills in admirably. He is joined by fellow original members Mike Skill on guitar and bassist Rich Cole. The set featured all of their hits including “First In Line,” “When I Look in Your Eyes” and a fun singalong version of “Talking In Your Sleep.”

The band also threw in two of their more punk-based offerings.  “She’s Got Everything” had the crowd dancing in the streets,and a rocking version of “Stone Pony” featured powerful animated drumming from Brad Elvis.  They closed their set and the night with the crowd-pleasing “What I Like About You.”

Kudos to WMMO, who continue to provide great free music to rock music fans of Central Florida.  The new location at Amelia and Orange in downtown Orlando is also a nice improvement and the set-up with two stages was a great touch.  Special thanks to WMMO radio host Elise Rossi for her help and support!

If you were at the show, let us know what you thought in the Comments section below, then please Like Us on Facebook and check out our photo galleries here:

Romantics photos  |  John Waite Photos

Rock On!
Cretin

 

Bells were ringing at House of Blues

If anyone is looking for a fun, inexpensive show to go and see, check out Hell’s Bells. They are a cover band out of Kentucky and can really put on a  show.

For 2 hours, I could almost believe that I “might be” at a AC/DC concert. The band was loud and had plenty of energy to get the crowd’s fists pumping all night long. I was happy to hear “Thunderstruck” as the opening song and was not disappointed by the guitar showmanship.  Everything from Hell’s Bells (with a smaller bell onstage) , to the firing cannons of “For Those About to Rock.”

The set list also included: “Big Balls,” “Have a Drink On Me” and my personal favorite “Whole Lotta Rosie.”  So if you put up with the fact that their lead singers is a tad larger than the real Brian Johnson and the lead guitarist reminded me of my science teacher in high school, then I know you will be entertained all night long.

Luc

Check out Hell’s Bells website

 

Green River Ordinance Rocks Orlando

Green River Ordinance at Social Orlando
Green River Ordinance at Social Orlando

From the dramatic a cappella opening of “Dark Night” to their final acoustic version of “Learning” performed unplugged on the floor amidst their fans, Green River Ordinance provided an entertaining show to their Central Florida fan base at The Social.

Their robust set prominently featured cuts from their excellent 2012 release Under Fire (see our review here), as well as other selections spanning their decade long career.  The polished quintet out of Fort Worth, Texas was making their long awaited return to Orlando, and played to a fairly full room.

The cozy Social stage was packed with a nice assortment of the band’s lighting, a second drum kit, and a slew of guitars.  The sound and lights were excellent throughout the evening, definitely a nice set-up for the room. These guys are seasoned professionals. Lead singer Josh Jenkins split his time between guitar and keyboards throughout the show and was in great voice all night.  The entire band, including brothers Jamey (guitar) and Geoff (bass) Ice is talented, and they play off of each other incredibly well – it’s a nice benefit of playing together for so many years.

Despite not playing Orlando in years, GRO drew a nice diverse crowd, most of whom were singing along to all of the band’s offerings.  Jenkins is an engaging front man, who interacted with the fans all evening and often implored them to join in the singing, which they did gladly, particularly on “Healing Touch” and “On Your Own.”

“Love Laid Down” was the highlight of the night.  The strong rocker started off by weaving in a nice version of “Amazing Grace,” featured Jamey Ice playing a sweet mandolin, and included a fantastic brief two man drum solo with drummer Denton Hunker and guitarist Joshua Wilkerson. It was a great spotlight on the breadth of talent in the band in a rare song that is both powerful and tender – great stuff!

Other highlights included “Outside” which was one of the night’s most powerful rockers, “Endlessly” another beautiful mandolin song that featured a nice singalong, and a rollicking version of “With A Little Help From My Friends.”  The latter, appropriately featured the band pulling their talented opening act Nathan Angelo onto the stage to help out.

They closed the night with a nice touch, eschewing a cheesy encore and instead unplugging their equipment, jumping off of the stage into the crowd and offering up a totally unplugged version of “Learning” on the floor in the middle of their fans.  It was a great way to end a nice night with these lads from Texas.

(see the full setlist at the bottom of the article)

Rock On!
Cretin




Set List
Dark Night
Crawling
Goodbye L.A.
Resting Hour
Outside
Where the West Wind BLows
Healing Touch
Love Laid Down
New Day
On Your Own
A Little Help From My Friends
Endlessly
Heart of Me
Under Fire
Dancing Shoes
Come On
Learning

Flock of Seagulls – Space Aged Flashback

New wave pioneers A Flock of Seagulls played an entertaining set at Hard Rock Cafe’s Velvet Sessions Thursday night. Founding member and lead singer, Mike Score brought the current rendition of the band back to Orlando, 30 years after the band experienced their greatest success as stalwarts of the early 80’s MTV Video generation.

They are often unfairly associated as a one-hit wonder (“I Ran”) when in fact they were talented musicians with a string of hits and a nice collection of solid rock tunes.  On this night, we had a chance to experience all of those hits, as well as a few newly recorded tunes. Score, who now sports a cleanly shaven head instead of his infamous ‘Flock of Seagulls’ hair, still sounded much as he did back in the band’s prime.

Score spent most of the night playing his trademark keyboards, but also picked up the guitar for a few songs including “She Won’t Let You Down” and “Naked.” The first half of the set was relatively bland, but the band began to show off their musical prowess during a nice extended version of “Man Made.”

They closed the 70 minute set in grand fashion with five excellent tracks from their early catalog.  The first four were predictable and just what the crowd was waiting for: “Telecommunication,” “Space Age Love Song,” “Wishing” and the encore “I Ran.”  Then Score introduced a surprise finale as a “song I wrote back in 1979 when I didn’t know what I was doing,” and they kicked into their fun, punk cut “Messages.” A nice end to a fun flashback.

Mike G.

Cowboy Mouth Makes Triumphant Return


Over the past twenty years, Cowboy Mouth has developed a loyal following and a fantastic reputation as a great live act, but for some reason, they haven’t made the 600 mile trek from New Orleans to Orlando in quite some time.  On Friday night, they were back in The City Beautiful and entertained the packed House of Blues with a powerful set.

Led by their charismatic and energetic front man, Fred LeBlanc, they left the thousand fans in attendance hoarse, exhausted and thoroughly entertained.  RARA’s Farm brought almost twenty fans, most of them CM-virgins, and most were thoroughly impressed by the performance. “The name of the band is…”

LeBlanc is an anomaly in the rock music scene.  He’s a drummer who’s also the band’s front man. His drum kit is tight against the front of the stage and is stripped down a bit, providing better sight lines and allowing him to better connect with the crowd.  It sure is different, but damn, it works well. LeBlanc just reeks of charisma and instantly connects with the crowd.  There’s plenty of call and answer, sing-along and hand claps, as well as a handful of surprises, such as LeBlanc pulling a talented young teen out of the crowd to join him on drums for a song.

Cowboy Mouth in Orlando
Cowboy Mouth in Orlando

Their nearly two hour set featured twenty plus songs spanning their entire music library, including a few odes to their hometown New Orleans, most of their fan favorites, and a few tracks off of their new album, This Train. A few of the highlights included two covers, a crowd led rendition of Otis Redding’s classic “Amen” and “Sweet Child of Mine” featuring the vocals and lead guitar of Matt Jones.

John Thomas Griffith is the other original Cowboy Mouth band member, and is still hugely popular.  He took lead vocals and dodged red spoons for the crowd favorite “Everybody Loves Jill,” and also dug deep in the band’s catalog for a fun version of “Here I Sit in Prison.”  The band is rounded out by talented bassist Casandra Faulconer.

But, this band still revolves around the dynamic LeBlanc (read our review with Fred from earlier this year).  He interacted with the crowd and had his ardent fans in the palm of his hand all night, as he offered up selections that spanned the band’s entire catalog, including “Easy,” “Disconnected,” “Take Me Back To New Orleans,” and their biggest hit “Jenny Says.” The highlight for me was a rousing version of the under-appreciated, “I Believe.”

For those of us in attendance, including RARA’s Farm’s band of first-timers, it was great dose of passionate, powerful rock ‘n roll from the talented band from The Big Easy. Hopefully, we’ll see them back in Orlando in the near future.

Rock On!
Cretin

If you have photos from the show, please visit our Facebook page and share: RARAs Farm Facebook

Everybody’s Talking About Neon Trees in O-Town

Tyler Glenn is a rock star, and a legend in the making.

Tyler Glenn of Neon Trees at HOB Orlando
Tyler Glenn of Neon Trees. Photo: rarasfarm.com

Glenn brought his blazing hot band, Neon Trees, back to Orlando’s House of Blues this weekend and they put on one hell of a show.  With his magnificent voice, non-stop energy, peroxide-white hair and engaging personality, the flamboyant front man had the crowd in his hands the entire night, and absolutely blew away the packed house. He absolutely reeks of charisma, and has quickly become one of the most dynamic front men on the rock music scene.  He exhibited traits that at times reminded me of Bowie, George Michael and Iggy Pop. Hard to pigeon hole Glenn’s style, but it is without a doubt something fresh and special.

Hailing from Provo, Utah, Neon Trees is riding a huge wave of popularity associated with the enormous success of their hit current single “Everybody Talks.”  Their new album, Picture Show, is a strong release, and a nice follow-up to their excellent 2010 debut, Habits, but it doesn’t do justice to the sound of the band live.  Glenn and his band mates are talented musicians and passionate show men (drummer Elaine Bradley is out after giving birth to her first child).

Their set was focused on the latest release, including the first two songs of the set which were also the first two songs off of Picture Show, “Moving in the Dark” and “Teenage Sounds.” Right from the start, we were treated to Glenn flying around the stage, vamping for the crowd and belting out pristine vocals. He interacted with the crowd all night and constantly held their rapt attention in the packed venue. Chris Allen on guitar and bassist Branden Campbell were overshadowed by the performance of Glenn, but were strong in their own right.

As the set progressed, we got to hear a handful of tracks off of the band’s superb debut album, including “Sins of My Youth,” and “Love and Affection,” as well as a nice extended version of “1983” which started with some fun dialogue between Glenn and the rollicking crowd and included a quick snippet of “Hand Jive.” Campbell’s bass dominated the song.  It was followed shortly afterwards by the stark “Your Surrender” which Glenn played seated at his keyboard alone on stage. It was a well deserved respite for the magnetic front man who was drenched in sweat from his constant dashes around the stage and his powerful vocals. We also got a deeper look into Glenn’s roots, as he reflected on the decade long struggle to breakthrough and his revitalized relationship with his father.

Off of the new album, there were a few gems, including “Lessons in Love” and “I am the DJ,” which kicked off the encore.  “Mad Love” which typically includes vocals from the absent Bradley, was the only part of the show that didn’t really work.  The band brought out a young woman to sing the female part, but she clearly didn’t know the words. It was a bit forced and unusual, considering  there were about a thousand other females in the crowd singing every word to every song.

Chris Allen of Neon Trees at HOB-Orlando
Chris Allen of Neon Trees. Photo: RARA's Farm

“Animal” the band’s first hit off of Habits closed the set and ratcheted the audience into near frenzy.  The crowd sang along throughout and had the house rocking.  They pulled the band out for their encore “I Am the DJ,” and the crowd pleasing finale of “Everybody Talks.” It was the perfect end to a great show.

Twenty One Pilots and Walk the Moon (read the review here) put on engaging opening sets that had the crowd amped for the main event, and Neon Trees just kicked it up another notch.

Check out our Photos from the show on our Neon Trees Facebook album  – and Like us while you’re there 🙂

(Check out the setlist below)

Rock On!
Cretin

GTR Store

Setlist:

Moving in the Dark
Teenage Sounds
Sins of My Youth
1983
Mad Love
Weekend
Your Surrender
Trust
Lessons in Love
Love and Affection
In the Next Room
Animal

Encore
I am the DJ
Everybody Talks