Category Archives: Concert Reviews

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

Prima Donna Impresses Orlando


Prima Donna's Kevin Preston at Hard Rock Live - Orlando
Prima Donna’s Kevin Preston at Hard Rock Live – Orlando

Prima Donna Concert Review

Like the majority of the folks packed into the Hard Rock, we had come to see the latest incarnation of 80’s New Wave superstar Adam Ant.  Fortunately, we also managed to catch the fantastic opening set from his special guest Prima Donna. Quite honestly, Prima Donna sounded better, put on a more passionate show and were a bit more entertaining.  Ant and his band did not suck by any stretch of the imagination, but this quintet out of Los Angeles absolutely rocked.

I pride myself in having my finger on the pulse of the current rock scene, but somehow over the past ten years this talented group slipped past my radar, despite a couple of huge tours supporting the likes of Green Day, and a few excellent albums of their own.  How did I miss them? Maybe it’s the years of bourbon abuse, but I suspect it’s more driven by their lack of a true radio hit – they have a slew of very good songs, but haven’t had that big breakthrough YET. I’d best describe their recipe of rock as power rock, with a dash of glam and spot of garage stomp – Good, good stuff!

From the minute the lights came on, they set the expectations for the night. Front man Kevin Preston immediately directed the crowd, “Don’t use the seats, don’t use them!” Most of the Antmaniacs, stuffed into their old costumes took in the set from the comfort of their seats, and a few groups in the crowd complied, dancing and bouncing for the entire thirty minute set, but everyone enjoyed the show.  

It’s easy to see why Prima Donna has caught the eye of superb performers like Green Day and Adam Ant. Preston and his band mates are consummate performers. They play power-packed passionate rock ‘n roll and constantly interact with the audience.  They’ve got a big sound and a bigger personality and offered a tremendous set.

Preston had a comfortable rapport with the Orlando crowd: “If we look a little rough,  it’s because we’ve been enjoying Florida a little too much. I love it except the humidity is bad for the hair.” He’s a charismatic front man, with a killer voice.  Another highlight was guitarist Erik Arcane, who also put on a great show, playing fantastic lead guitar and entertaining the crowd throughout the set.

Prima Donna's Kevin Preston at Hard Rock Live - Orlando
Prima Donna’s Kevin Preston at Hard Rock Live – Orlando

During “Bless This Mess,” one female fan offered Preston a rose which he grabbed with his teeth, while never missing a note with his guitar. “Bless This Mess”the title track off of their recent album,  is a rapid-fire rocker that had the crowd thoroughly engaged.  Other highlights included “Demoted,” “Sociopath” and their final selection “I Don’t Want You To Love Me.” (See full setlist at end of article)

 Thirty minutes was just enough to get a nice taste of what these guys are all about. Now that I’ve finally got them on the RARA’s Farm radar, we’ll look forward to their next visit to Central Florida, where hopefully we’ll have a chance to see them play a full headlining set.  In the meantime, grab the album linked below and enjoy their music.

See our full photo album on our Facebook page, and we’d love it if you Like Us while you are there! Prima Donna Photos

Rock On!
Cretin

Related Link: Adam Ant Hard Rock Live Orlando Show Review

Setlist
Soul Stripper
Sociopath
Like Hell
Bless This Mess
Fern Children
Demoted
Maxine
I Don’t Want You To Love Me

Adam Ant Delivers for His Faithful Orlando Fans


Adam Ant Concert at Hard Rock Orlando
Adam Ant Live in Concert at Hard Rock Orlando

Adam Ant Concert Review

Nearly twenty years since his last full American Tour, uber-talented rock icon Adam Ant has hit the road again. Saturday night he visited Orlando’s Hard Rock where he offered a captivating two hour set to a fervid fan base.  The set featured all of his eighties hits, a nice sampling of newer tracks and some deeper selections from across his vast library.

He has become legendary for the theatrical performances he offers live, and this night was no different. Ant constantly played to the crowd with his facial and body expressions and was bouncing across the stage throughout the entire show, despite the years now under his formidable belt. The stage set-up was striking and the light show excellent.

When I last saw him perform live, Ant was travelling with an eleven piece band including a brass section.  On this night, the smaller four piece supporting band led to new takes on some of the classics.  One thing that remains constant is Ant’s penchant to stack his band with two talented drummers and two full drum kits. It’s a unique arrangement that gives the live show a fantastic full sound. The absence of a brass section, however, did leave two of the classics, “Desperate But Not Serious” and “Goody Two Shoes” sounding a bit more hollow than the original versions.

Ant is touring in support of Adam Ant is the Blueblack Hussar in Marrying the Gunner’s Daughter, his first studio album in eighteen years.  It’s a rocking album, excellent stuff, but a bit different than the stuff that made Ant a legend, and his touring band The Good, The Mad & The Lovely Posse were perfectly suited for the new tracks. “Cool Zombie” and “”Vince Taylor” were two strong new tracks that were spotlighted and “Shrink” was one of the highlights of the show. It’s a powerful new rocker that perfectly utilized the duel drummers – one of my favorite parts of the entire night.

Ant had a few fun interchanges with the audience. At one point offering, “Hello Orlando, now we’re going to play all of my love songs. This is the one…” He then shared a story about his girlfriend leaving him before kicking into a nice version of “Wonderful.” He followed that with a Fifty Shades of Grey reference before kicking into his ‘other’ love song “Whip In My Valise.” Good stuff…

Other show highlights included a powerful, crowd-pleasing version of “Stand And Deliver,” and a mini striptease in “Strip.” We were also offered up a nice surprise during the four song encore when the band offered an homage to T Rex with a great version of “Bang A Gong,” as well as killer version of “Press Darlings.”  (see the full setlist below)

Despite all of the years that have transpired since Antmania was sweeping the New Wave landscape, it was evidenced in full-force at The Hard Rock.  The predominantly middle-aged fans who packed the house were on their feet the entire show, many of them dancing throughout and a slew of them looking resplendent in their pirate and period costumes.  Many of the fans apparently pulled the outfits from the deep reaches of their closets and shoehorned themselves into the costumes oblivious to the twenty-five years and pounds that have passed since their last wearings.  Interesting sight…

Los Angeles based rockers Prima Donna opened the show, and offered up a superb thirty minute set.  The band sounded fantastic and put on a killer stage show. Definitely a band that I’ll be looking to catch again in the future.  We’ll publish a full review for the Prima Donna set in the next few days…

All told, it was a fun night of rock, with plenty of fun flashbacks as well a glimpse of Ant’s powerful new music. Nearing sixty, Adam Ant still puts on a strong show, and at two hours, a generous value. It’s a concert that any Adam Ant fan needs to catch when they come to your city.

If you were there, let us know what you thought of the show, and make sure to Like Us and Follow Us to keep up with the latest Florida rock news and reviews.

(Check out our Adam Ant photos)

Rock On!
Cretin

SETLIST

MARRYING THE GUNNER’S DAUGHTER
DOG EAT DOG
BEAT MY GUEST
KICK
ANTS INVASION
HARD MEN TOUGH BLOKES
STAND AND DELIVER
SHRINK
ROOM AT THE TOP
KINGS OF THE WILD FRONTIER
WONDERFUL
WHIP IN MY VALISE
VINCE TAYLOR
STAY IN THE GAME
COOL ZOMBIE
STRIP
DESPERATE BUT NOT SERIOUS
CLEOPATRA
NEVER TRUST A MAN WITH EGG ON HIS FACE
ZEROX
VIVE LE ROCK
ANTMUSIC
GOODY TWO SHOES
CAR TROUBLE
PRINCE CHARMING

ENCORES
PRESS DARLINGS
LADY/FALL IN
BANG A GONG (T. REX COVER)
PHYSICAL

Toad The Wet Sprocket Show Review


 

Toad The Wet Sprocket at Orlando's Velvet Sessions
Toad The Wet Sprocket at Orlando’s Velvet Sessions

Toad The Wet Sprocket Concert Review

Sixteen years after their last studio album, Coil, Toad The Wet Sprocket is on the verge of releasing a long-awaited new album. From what we heard at Hard Rock’s Velvet Sessions, the fans of the band are going to be quite pleased with the sound of the new stuff.  Like that comfortable old sweatshirt from your college days, the band is back with their distinctive familiar feel.

The setlist included a few of the new tracks, highlighted by the title track “New Constellation” which had folks in the packed house dancing unabashedly.  The songs have that same clean, slick feel we’ve grown accustomed to, and the band sound still possesses that smooth 90’s Alt-rock vibe.

Lead singer Glen Phillips still takes the stage bare-footed and looks much the same as he did all those years ago. His voice is as pure as we remember. His band mates miraculously remain the same guys who started the band out of high school in 1986 – amazing seeing a band that has stood that test of time without any personnel changes.

On this night, drummer Randy Guss was absent for a family emergency and as Phillips noted regarding his replacement “this guy has had two days to learn twenty songs,” and he did a damn good job (unfortunately, I did not catch his name). Phillips chatted with the crowd throughout the set in an affable way, at one time sharing humorous thoughts on his first album ever, Saturday Night Fever.

Dean Dinning on bass and Todd Nichols on guitar (and occasional lead vocals) haven’t missed a beat and were joined on stage by guest keyboardist Jonathan Kingham. The band did not have an electric triangle player on stage (there’s a reference for you Monty Python fans familiar with the derivation of the band’s name).
toad phillips dinning 2 (800x542)

Highlights of the sets included the aforementioned “New Constellation,” a stripped down version of “Whatever I Fear” and the killer harmonies of “California Wasted.”  The band’s hits were also very well received by the diversely aged crowd, highlighted by “All I Want,” “Something’s Always Wrong,” the dance-inducing “Fall Down” and the final song of the night, the singalong vibe of “Walk On the Ocean.”

As the band exited the stage, Monty Python’s clever “Always Walk on the Bright Side of Life” piped through the speakers, an apt way to end a bright and hopeful return to the rock music landscape.

The band’s new album is an independent release fueled by an uber-successful Kickstarter campaign. The targeted release date is mid-Septemeber. Check it out, and in the meantime, take advantage of the increased opportunities to see these guys live.

Rock On!
Cretin

The Setlist is provided below.
Check out our Photos from the show, including a handful of the fans: Toad The Wet Sprocket Photos

 

Setlist
The Moment
Woodburning
Good Intentions
Crowing
Windmills
New Constellation
Inside
All I Want
Whatever I Fear
Come Back Down
Nightengale Song
The Eye
Crazy Life
Way Away
California Wasted
Brother
Something’s Always Wrong
Fall Down

Encore:
Come Down
I’ll Bet on You
Walk on the Ocean

Sublime Rocks St. Augustine Florida


 

sublime logo

Sublime and Pennywise Concert Review

Remember back when everybody’s favorite music on the planet was Reggae and Ska ?  The band Sublime was an instant hit , cranking out cool vibe songs, on three wonderful radio friendly albums.  Then tragically, the lead singer, songwriter Bradley Nowell, suddenly passed away.

So, without their main man, the band Sublime disappeared from the music scene for 12 years . Drummer Bud Gaugh, and Bassist Eric Wilson, finally decided years later to make another go of the music. Enter new Sublime singer Rome Ramirez.
After a few happy in-studio sessions, it was clear that Sublime had their singer, and a new moniker: Sublime With Rome.

Rome has the ability to reach the fans as Bradley did, with his great songwriting and showmanship. New songs have been recorded and the new tour has begun. And Florida has been blessed with a few shows. And in St. Augustine Florida , on a hot summer Saturday night, they made the rain soaked show their own.  High energy that could not be denied – these guys slammed the crowd with heavy reggae beats.

The band smartly pro-mixed in the newest tracks with the older fan favorite songs. The Sublime set lasted 1 :40 minutes and was a pleasure for all in attendance. Sublime’s massive crowd did not care about the rain, nor the mud, they just danced, smiled, and had a blast.

The management says the new album is ready, and these guys are officially back on the music scene!

Also, hard hitting opening band Pennywise was really a sight to see – very powerful music. These guys were very tight and moved everybody in the crowd. Frisbees were flying and inflatables everywhere, it was a party everyone will remember!
The band won a lot more new fans with their fast catchy tunes. The crowd was excited to hear the songs live, as they all sang along to every song in the set.

We’ll be back to see these bands again, and you should too.  It was a fun trip , and the bands were great.

The venue was really nice , even though it rained forever. Thanks St. Augustine and Rasafarm.com. Check this space for more cool music reviews , concert reviews , and exclusive backstage photo’s. We’ll be working overtime  to bring you the best reviews – tell your friends.

HappyJack
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Cool Change for Little River Band


Little River Band Orlando Concert Review

Let’s start with a confession: I saw this band at a free show five years ago and felt like I was ripped off. They were boring, seemed passionless and the sound mix was a mess. I was expecting the same this night, but oh my, how wrong I was! Simply put, these guys put on a great show in every sense of the word.

Longtime member, Wayne Nelson is the heart and soul of the band. He’s played bass and shared lead vocals for the band for decades, and is a comfortable, gregarious front man. The remainder of the players have been together for awhile and play extremely well off of each other. Guitarist Greg Hind shares lead vocals on a handful of songs and fills in admirably for original lead singer Glenn Shorrock. The musical highlight of the night was lead guitarist Richard Herring, who nailed numerous pristine solos and entertained the entire show.

Nelson seemed energized by the Hard Rock audience and interacted with the welcoming crowd throughout the entire ninety minute show.  He was friendly and witty and made the already comfortable environment feel like a neighborhood get-together from the minute he hit the stage with “I love this Velvet Sessions venue.”  He highlighted his humorous side when he introduced “Happy Anniversary” with, “If you’ve been in a grocery store or the dentist’s office anytime in the last twenty years, you know this next song.”

The stories and descriptions of the songs were captivating and made the show even more memorable, but the true focus of the night was the crisp performance of the band’s robust catalog. At one point, Nelson offered “This is your party, we’re just the band,” and the party was on.  Highlights from the set included popular hits “Take It Easy on Me,” “The Other Guy” and “Help Is on Its Way” (see the full setlist below). I was also impressed by the two new cuts offered from their forthcoming album “The Lost and Lonely” and “My Own Man.” (Before you jump down my throat about using the wrong titles, I did not have the official setlist and guessed at the song names.)

For me the highlight of the set was a killer version of “Cool Change,” which kicked off with a fantastic keyboard/piano solo from Chris Marion and evolved into a full crowd participation event.  Fun stuff…

As he sipped from his Perrier bottle, Nelson toasted the Florida rock music fans, who back in 1976 were the first Americans to welcome the Australians in Little River Band (today, Hind is the only Aussie in the line-up). The band then kicked into a nice extended instrumental introduction to “Lady.”  After taking their bow, the quintet returned for a fun singalong encore of “Lonesone Loser,” but only after Nelson took a slew of crowd photos from the stage (which you can see here on their Facebook page).

It was a fun end to an excellent night of classic rock and roll, and one of those times I was happy to eat a little crow.  Definitely a band that I would highly recommend in the future. (Check out their Greatest Hits and the show setlist at the end of the review).

Later,
Mike G.
Help grow Central Florida’s community of Rock and Roll Animals and Follow us on Twitter, and Like us on Facebook.

Setlist

It’s a Long Way There
Man on Your Mind
Happy Anniversary
Take It Easy on Me
The Other Guy
The Lost and Lonely (new)
My Own Man (new)
Reminiscing
Help Is on It’s Way
The Night Owls
Cool Change
Playing to Win
Lady

Encore:
Lonesome Loser


Legendary Bad Boys of Reggae Rock The Social


Inner Circle Show Review

Legendary Jamaican reggae band Inner Circle wrapped up their Spring Tour with an intimate show at Orlando’s Social Thursday night.  The staying power of these accomplished performers is a testament to their perseverance, commitment and premier musical talent.  They’ve suffered hardships and lost key band members over their forty year history, but they still sound as good as ever and continue to impress fans everywhere they go.

Founding members and brothers Ian and Roger Lewis have been the heart of Inner Circle since their childhood and still sound great today.   Roger is slowing down a bit and spends most of his time playing his guitar seated, but Ian is still a fantastic showman and is all over the stage while playing a killer bass. Bernard “Touter” Harvey is another long-time band member and a tremendous keyboard player, who stole the show this night.

Inner Circle at Social Orlando
Inner Circle at Social Orlando (see more photos at the conclusion of the review)

The band spotlighted selections from across their vast catalog throughout the ninety minute set and also threw in some nice classic reggae covers.  The band sounded fantastic all night, featuring two guitarists often trading off leads, including a few that would make any rocker proud. Ian Lewis had a constant smile plastered on his face and offered up a creative bass solo that included a playful snippet from “Billie Jean.”

The setlist highlights included “We A Rockers,” “Real Soldiers,” “Games People Play” and a nice tribute to deceased former front man Jacob Miller.  The high point of the set for the Social audience was a ten-minute extended version of “Sweat” which had the crowd dancing, immediately followed by the band’s biggest hit “Bad Boys,” which they stretched out to an entertaining fifteen minutes. It was a great way to wrap up a killer set.

The crowd pulled them out for an encore and after announcing that this was the last night of their tour and their last stop before home, they freelanced a bit and gave the house an unexpected treat.  They offered up a few more classic covers, before all of the band members walked to the front of the stage and sang an a cappella version of Bob Marley’s iconic “One Love.” with a nice assist from their fans. It was the perfect way to end a great night of music from a band that’s still entertaining fans across all genres.

All that being said, I need to do a little bit of whining about Orlando music fans. They’re just generally too damn safe.  You’ll drop hundreds to see the over-rated and over-priced Eagles, but we couldn’t scrape up 100 fans to spend a few bucks to see an entertaining band of this stature. That’s weak – and a poor reflection on our city’s music fans. Next time Inner Circle is in town, make sure you check them out, and while you’re at it, check out our concert calendar and take a chance on a band you don’t know well. You’ll be happy you did….

Check out photos from the show on our Facebook page.

Rock On!
Cretin


Night Beds in Orlando


Night Beds Orlando Show Review

The Americana music space has been dominated recently with talented singer-songwriters. Night Beds, the creation of talented twenty-three year-old Winston Yellen is another fresh offering in that genre. Yellen, a Colorado native who now calls Nashville home, brought his distinctive country-twinged Indie Rock sound to Orlando’s cozy Will’s Pub this weekend.

The music on Country Sleep, the band’s first full-length album, is dominated by tender, vulnerable songs with heart-touching lyrics. The songs spotlight Yellen’s fantastic voice, which translated well for the live show. Yellen’s mature voice belies his youth, but on-stage we saw several raw, unpolished glimpses of his still developing visage as an entertainer.

The show started just as the album does with a cold a cappella vocal and the song “Faithful Heights.” It was a brave and stirring start to the show, and Yellen pulled it off well. Most of the selections this evening were from the debut album, including the bouncy crowd favorite “Ramona,” which had the crowd dancing. It was one of a select few upbeat songs this night which was dominated by more mellow acoustic selections spotlighting Yellen’s dynamic voice.

Night Beds' Winston Wellen Will's Pub Orlando
Night Beds’ Winston Wellen at Will’s Pub Orlando – bc

Listening to Country Sleep, I was drawn to comparing Night Beds to Justin Vernon’s critically acclaimed Bon Iver.  Watching Yellen and mates on stage, I certainly saw the potential for them too to reach such heights.  Today the band is solely about Yellen and his majestic voice, but there’s room for them to grow as they’ll hopefully incorporate the other band members as they evolve.

Yellen seems like he’s becoming more comfortable being “the man” in the spotlight. He joked around with the crowd several times during the set, including playfully offering, “You’re the best crowd ever, but this heat does make me hate you.”  It was one of several fun interludes during the show.

“Vulnerable” was a prevalent theme to this show.  Yellen’s voice perfectly accompanies the soul-searching lyrics. He’s a young man with a great propensity to convey his most heartfelt feelings and life experiences in his songs and lyrics. He’s humble, as well. Before kicking off “Borrowed Time,” Yellen noted “I like singing low like Randy Newman. I hate hearing my voice singing high.”  He delivered a nice version of the song in his “low” voice, but absolutely undersold the pure quality of his higher falsetto voice.

The highlight of the show were the last two songs of the evening. The other three band members, including Yellen’s brother on drums exited the stage for a delicate acoustic version of “Cherry Blossoms” followed by the rousing full-band closer “Head For the Hills,” which ended with Yellen jumping into the crowd and personally thanking many of the ardent fans in attendance.

(See the setlist below)

Mike G.

Setlist
Faithful Heights
Ramona
22
Even If We Try
Borrowed Time
Lost Springs
You Were Afraid
Tenn
Was I for You?
Unbelievers
Cherry Blossoms
Head for the Hills


The Fixx Concert Review


The Fixx Rock Orlando’s Velvet Sessions

These guys are a precious rarity these days.  Many of their 80’s rock contemporaries are touring with line-ups that are embarrassing shells of the original crew, and basically going through the motions until the typically disinterested fans hear the couple of big hits they longed for.  But not The Fixx, Cy Curnin and mates are back on the road with their original line-up and still making excellent passionate music, and putting on a a nice show to top it off.

(see my review below the photo and Luc’s recap in the comments section)

The Fixx at Hard Rock Velvet Sessions Orlando
The Fixx at Hard Rock Velvet Sessions Orlando

They headlined Hard Rock’s Velvet Sessions last night, and turned Orlando’s most famous cocktail party into a damn good rock show.  The band is touting the full line-up from their mid-eighties heyday, as they support the 2012 release of Beautiful Friction. Curnin returned to the stage where he put on an excellent Storyteller-type of solo acoustic set a year ago, and put on a very different performance this night, but one that was equally engaging.

Despite missing a few high notes early in the set, Curnin’s voice is still fantastic and was powerful all night. He’s a superb show man, singing every note in a theatrical manner, often connecting with the crowd. The remaining band members were on top of their game and offered up a tight set. The sound mix in the Velvet Sessions venue was the best I’ve ever heard, as well.

Admittedly, I was only familiar with the band’s hits, and was pleasantly surprised to hear their deeper cuts and newer material. They kicked off the set with four straight selections off of Beautiful Friction, highlighted by slinky rocker “Take A Risk” and the powerful “What God?”

The entire set was being recorded by Hard Rock for their future use, and there were almost as many cameras as musicians on stage (and almost as many models with their saccharine smiles mingling amid the crowd). At one point, Curnin mentioned the presence of the cameras and playfully asked “Happy faces all around please.”

The first hit the band played was their biggest commercial success, 1983’s “One Thing Leads To Another,” which had the crowd singing along loudly. They backed that up with a great version of “Less Cities, More Moving People” and “The Fool” which spotlighted the signature Fixx keyboards of Rupert Greenall.

“Stand or Fall” was powered by superb guitar from Jamie West Oram and a killer bass groove from Dan K. Brown.  West-Oram truly impressed.  His guitar does not include any over the top solos, but every note he played was precise and played a prominent role in the songs. Before playing “I’m Life,” Curnin offered “This one is my current favorite.” It was an excellent bluesy rocker off of their 1988 release Calm Animals.

The highlights for the crowd were singalong versions of “Saved by Zero” which closed out the main set and a rousing and loud version of their last offering “Red Skies,” the ideal ending to a superb set.

Rock On!
Cretin’

 

Setlist

Anyone Else
Just Before Dawn
Take A Risk
Beautiful Friction
What God?
Happy Landings
Outside
One Thing Leads to Another
Less Cities, More Moving People
The Fool
Stand or Fall
Follow That Cab
I’m Life
Built For The Future
Saved by Zero

Encore:
Deeper and Deeper
Shaman
Red Skies