Category Archives: Concert Reviews

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

Three Days Grace Rocks Orlando


Three Days Grace Orlando Concert Review

Smack dab in the middle of a killer line-up at Amway Center, Three Days Grace took the stage at Amway Center with a lot more uncertainty than you’d expect from a band that’s been touring together for fifteen years.  Longtime front man, guitarist and lead vocalist Adam Gontier unexpectedly left the band less than two months ago.

Three Days Grace in Orlando
Three Days Grace in Orlando

The band’s solution? Add Matt Walst, the brother of bassist Brad Walst and front man of My Darkest Days. He quickly jumped into Gontier’s role, and absolutely kicked ass.  He was superb, sounding great, flying around the stage and making the arena his own.  It was an amazing performance for a guy who two months earlier wasn’t even in the band.

After an energetic set by ska/metal rockers P.O.D., Three Days Grace took the stage beneath a kitschy “Welcome to Las Venus” sign and exploded into a searing version of “Chalk Outline.” Matt Walst was all over the stage throughout the night and played to the crowd masterfully.

Longtime guitarist Barry Stock was in top form all night. He shined during a searing version of “Pain” where he grabbed a double-necked guitar, playing both the 12 string and six string during the song.

Barry Stock of Three Days Grace in Orlando
Barry Stock of Three Days Grace in Orlando

Walst aptly introduced “The High Road” with “Thanks for sticking by Three Days Grace; some people drag you through the mud, but we chose to take the high road,” then he got the crowd to sing along with their hands in the air.

Neil Sanderson offered up an entertaining drum solo with a little help from Dani Rosenoer on keyboards. Immediately afterwards, Walst shared, “They say rock and roll is dead. Look around you. Rock and roll is not fucking dead at all!  I want you out of your seats for this next one,” and then kicked into a rocking version of “Misery Loves Company.”

The crowd favorite was an interactive version of “I Hate Everything About You,” but the highlight for me was a cool cover they offered up near the end of their set. Stock grabbed the mic and thanked the crowd for showing up and introduced his mates on stage. He then invited friend Sean Hamm to take the lead vocals on a raucous cover of Limp Bizkit’s “Break Stuff,” an absolute blast, that led nicely into the finale “Riot,” which had the crowd bouncing and singing along.

A great way to end the set and warm everyone up for Shinedown. (See our Shinedown review here)

Check out our Three Days Grace concert photos on our Facebook page (and Like Us while you’re there).

Rock On!
Cretin


Shinedown’s Smashing Ode to Rock Music


Shinedown's Brent Smith in Orlando
Shinedown’s Brent Smith in Orlando

Shinedown Orlando Concert Review

Admittedly, I’m a bit late to the party as it relates to these Jacksonville rock icons. Sure I was familiar with their bigger hits over the past decade, but didn’t truly begin to appreciate them until reviewing their excellent 2012 release Amaryllis, which was one of RARA’s Farm’s Top 5 Albums of 2012.

I was anxious to catch them live to see whether their live show matched the fantastic sound of Amaryllis and to validate the accolades I had heard from my peers.  Saturday night at The Amway Center left no doubt, these guys are rock legends in the making. They embody everything that makes Rock And Roll Animals, like us at RARA’s Farm, tick.

Led by dynamic singer, Brent Smith, this quartet puts on an entertaining, polished show.  All four members are excellent musicians and consummate entertainers.  They made every song memorable and wrapped up a fantastic night that also included strong sets from Three Days Grace and P.O.D.

As the curtain dropped on the show, we saw a close-up of Smith’s face on the large screen, acting like he was lost somewhere, trapped on the other side of the camera. With  drummer Barry Kerch the only band member on stage, Smith shouted “Hey You,” from the screen. Then the spotlights found the sound board in the middle of the floor, where the remaining three members stood upon risers and kicked into an explosive version of “Enemies.”

There were a few other early highlights; Smith implored the crowd to introduce themselves to the folks on their left and right before kicking into a rousing version of “Unity,” the crowd lit up the arena like a starry night for “45,” guitarist Zach Myers and aptly named bassist Eric Bass, swapped places on stage during “Save Me,” and the band moved to the stage’s upper level for “Crow and Butterfly.”  Throughout the set, Bass, Myers and Smith were in constant motion, racing around the stage and playing to the crowd throughout.

There were nice pyrotechnics during the show, including a killer waterfall effect during “If You Only Knew,” and a great choreographed sequence that highlighted the powerful “Sound of Madness.”

Before kicking into “If You Only Knew,” Smith shared “A girl told us earlier today that it’s been 962 days since we played Orlando and that’s too long.” And then offered a memorable moment, “Rock ‘n roll music is about guitars, bass, drums, bad ass vocals and a killer song. The beauty of rock ‘n roll is that it has always been there when you needed it; it’s not a genre, it’s a way of life.” That would look nice on a RARA’s Farm T-shirt, eh?

The core show was great, but the encore absolutely ratcheted the experience up a notch.  It kicked off with a powerful version of “Sound of Madness,” and up until then the song of the night, “Second Chance,” which had the fans at a fever pitch, pumping their fists, on a tune that Smith just nailed vocally.

Shinedown's Brent Smith and Zach Myers
Shinedown’s Brent Smith and Zach Myers on the floor at Amway Center

What happened next was my highlight of the night.  Smith and Myers slipped out to the riser near the sound stage and offered up a fun, interactive acoustic set.  Smith offered “What should we play now? Maybe something we can all sing along to?  Take me back to that beautiful place in high school where I first kissed my girlfriend,” and Myers kicked into “She Talks To Angels,” followed by fun snippets of other classic hits including Led Zeppelin, Nirvana, Violent Femmes, Bon Jovi and more.  Super cool stuff, that morphed perfectly into Lynyrd Skynyrd’s legendary “Simple Man.”

Myers and Smith absolutely did the Southern Rock classic justice, playing the first half of the song from the floor, before returning to the stage for a rousing finish with the entire band.

Their closing track was another memorable moment. They kicked into a scorching version of “Bully,” which again sounded absolutely great.  However, what happened on the big screen behind the stage was just as riveting.  The video showed a high school aged girl sharing her moving battle against bullying.  It was absolutely captivating, and an emotional message that complemented the lyrics to the 2012 hit perfectly.  Sadly, as the song ended, we learned that the young girl, Amanda Todd committed suicide shortly afterwards. As the screen morphed into “Stay Strong,” the song came to a moving finish, closing with some more powerful pyrotechnics.

A great, passionate ending to a complete rock’n roll experience.

Rock On!
Cretin

See the setlist below

Check out our photos on the RARA’s Farm Facebook page. (Please Like Us while you’re there)

You can find our Review of Three Days Grace here.


Setlist
Enemies
Devour
Unity
Crow and the Butterfly
Save Me
I’ll Follow You
Diamond Eyes
If You Only Knew
Amaryllis
45

Encore
Sound of Madness
Second Chance
Acoustic Medley
Simple Man
Bully

 

REO Speedwagon Keeps On Rollin’ with the Changes


REO Speedwagon Concert Review

WMMO treated local rock fans to a cool free downtown concert with rock icons REO Speedwagon on a chilly night in Orlando. The band and thousands of fans braved the frigid temperatures for a hit-filled show that had everyone engaged throughout.

REO Speedwagon in Orlando at WMMO Free Concert
REO Speedwagon in Orlando at WMMO Free Concert

REO Speedwagon has been rocking stages across the country for many years, and still sound fantastic all these years later.  At one point Kevin Cronin noted that the first time they played Florida was at a drive-in theater in front of 400 people. In the ensuing four decades they’ve entertained many thousands of Floridians and continue to provide a fantastic rock experience.

Keyboardist Neal Doughty founded the band 45 years ago and has played alongside front man Kevin Cronin and bass player Bruce Hall for around 40 years.  All three still put on a great show and are joined by “newcomers” Dave Amato on lead guitar and drummer Bryan Hitt, who have “only” been touring with the band for twenty years. As you’d expect with that much experience on the stage, the band is cohesive and tight, and feed off of each other well.

Despite a cold evening, and temperatures in the forties, the band members truly seemed to be enjoying their time on stage. At one time, Cronin offered “This can’t be Florida- you guys are crazy, it’s freezing!”

The set featured all of the band’s hits from over the decades (see the setlist below) kicking off with “Don’t Let Him Go” and closing the main set with “Roll With the Changes,” where family members joined the band on stage for a fun rollicking version. At one point, Cronin mentioned this summer’s upcoming tour with Styx and Ted Nugent and shared a story about how Nugent claims to have written the best rock love song ever, “Cat Scratch Fever.” Immediately after, we heard REO’s rebuttal with Doughty’s familiar keyboard opening to “Can’t Fight This Feeling.”

All of the band members had plenty of time in the spotlight throughout the night with a few nice solos from Amato and long solos from Hall and Hitt. Hall also took center stage for his turn at lead vocals on the searing rocker “Back On the Road Again.”

Highlights of the show were a rocking version of “Golden Country,” and a great approach for “Time For Me to Fly” where the song began with a subdued opening of just the guitars and keyboards, before exploding into the singalong moment of the night.

For the encore, Cronin offered “This is when we’d typically walk backstage and have you cheer for a few minutes and then we’d run back out for our encore. Since it’s so cold, how about if we just jump right into it?” With that, he slid behind the keyboards for a nice version of “Keep On Loving You” before the quintet closed with a rousing version of “Ridin’ the Storm Out,” the perfect way to wrap up an excellent night of classic rock.

As they’ve done in the past, the crew at 98.9 WMMO just put on a fantastic well run show for the rock and roll animals of Orlando.

Check out our photos on our RARA’s Farm Facebook page (and Like us while you’re there): REO Speedwagon Concert Photos

Rock On!
Cretin


Setlist
Don’t Let Him Go
Take It on the Run
Keep Pushin’
Golden Country
That Ain’t Love
Can’t Fight This Feeling
Like You Do
Time for Me to Fly
Bass Solo
Back on the Road Again
Drum Solo
Roll With the Changes
Encore:
Keep on Loving You
Ridin’ the Storm Out

Ed Roland’s Sweet Show in Orlando


Ed Roland and the Sweet Tea Project Show Review

Ed Roland and the Sweet Tea Project at Hard Rock Velvet Session
Ed Roland and the Sweet Tea Project at Hard Rock Velvet Session

Ed Roland has been the heart and soul of the legendary rock band Collective Soul for the past eighteen years.  He’s now embarked on an intriguing side effort, The Sweet Tea Project, and sounding better than ever.  Roland and his band-mates hail from Atlanta, Georgia and had been playing Peach City extensively over the past few months, before kicking off their tour at Hard Rock’s Velvet Sessions.

Many in the crowd came expecting a Collective Soul show but were pleasantly surprised with the entertaining and fun set offered up by Roland and friends.  Their music is a totally different take than Collective Soul, featuring a smooth, laid back folksy rock sound with a slight country vibe. It’s a refreshing new path for Roland, and an excellent show.

The line-up featured three guitarists, a bass player and drummer; pleasantly devoid of the synthesizers that dominate today’s new rock landscape. In short it was a nice old school approach with a fresh new sound. Although this is the first stop on their tour, the band was sharp and seemed totally cohesive throughout the show.

They kicked the set off with a rocking version of “Stomp” featuring lyrics that captured the band’s vibe: “Soak up summer… that sweet southern shine.” Throughout the set, Roland was clearly the focal point, yet all of the other band members took turns in the spotlight, and shared vocal responsibilities.  He was extremely in the spotlight and interacted with the packed crowd all night.

The first hour plus was focused on the new music of The Sweet Tea Project, and a few of the fans got a bit antsy for the Collective Soul hits. But Roland and the band were quickly winning over the house and having an absolute blast playing their tunes and interacting with the fans. At one time offering “If it wasn’t different it would be fuckin’ Collective Soul up here.”

There were a few nice twists thrown in, as well.  After sharing how influential Johnny Cash was to him, Roland kicked off a rollicking version of “Devils and Darlins” that morphed perfectly into Cash”s classic “Folsom Prison Blues.” They dedicated a song to folks in the military that was powered by heavy audience participation and later in the show offered up a few Lynyrd Skynyrd tidbits. When a fan shouted out “Freebird,” Roland and the band threw out a spontaneous three minute snippet of the rock anthem. Cool stuff!

They then closed with a nice collection of Collective Soul tracks, but creatively, each was performed with a Sweet Tea Project spin, and again it worked extremely well, highlighted by “December,” “Gel” and killer versions of “Shine and The World I Know.”  A great end to a fantastic show.

If this band is in your area, it’s a can’t miss show, with or without the Collective Soul tracks.

Rock On!
Cretin

Check out our photo gallery on our Facebook page, and like us while you’re there 🙂

We strongly suggest you check out Elise Rossi’s interview with Ed Roland on the WMMO website.

Ed Roland and the Sweet Tea Project
Ed Roland and the Sweet Tea Project

Muse – Amway Center Show Review


Editor: This is what happens when you’re a small website on a tight budget. Denied press coverage for the Muse show, we reached out to our intrepid Canadian Beat Reporter, Luc to crash the party.  He wasn’t familiar with the band, but as you’ll see quickly figured them out.

Muse- A perfect combination of music, lights and atmosphere

Being one who had never heard of Muse, I didn’t know what to expect.  I had heard that tickets sales for the band’s  show in Orlando was low (6,000 or so), so I knew getting a ticket would not be a problem. So, I headed down to The Amway Center to check out the show.

In relation to this band, I wondered: “Was  this going to be a grunge rock band, heavy metal, easy listening or a scream fest?”  What I didn’t expect was what I experienced at the Amway arena on Monday night.  A great show that was a collection of  electric, modern and symphonic rock.  Matthew Bellamy (guitar) Chris Wolstenholme (bass) and Dominic Bellamy (drums) had a mind blowing show for me to experience.  With the combination of lasers, lights, sound and smoke, not only was the show incredible to watch, but incredible to listen also.

One of the highlights of the show was the audience participation, and how much they loved the band.  Just watching the crowd rock back and forth to the music was fun to watch.  As for the excellent music, the band reminded me a little bit of RUSH.  Very precise with all the music, sound and show. 

They opened with “Supremacy,” the latest single release off of their 2012 release The 2nd Law, one of RARA’s Farm’s Top 25 Albums of 2012, and featured a number of songs off of that excellent album, as well as a good selection of their earlier stuff from across the prior decade.  They closed their set with “Uprising,” before their encore of “Starlight” and this year’s Olympics them “Survival.”

Trust me when I say that I was pleasantly surprise and know that if Muse ever comes back, I will make sure I get my ticket.

Luc

Check out a video from the show: Time Is Running Out

Setlist
Supremacy
Map of the Problematique
Supermassive Black Hole
Resistance
Panic Station
Animals
Knights of Cydonia
Monty Jam
Explorers
Follow Me
United States of Eurasia
The 2nd Law: Unsustainable
Madness
Undisclosed Desires
Time Is Running Out
Stockholm Syndrome
The 2nd Law: Isolated System
Uprising

Encore:
Starlight
Survival

 

 

Live’s Ed Kowalczyk Entertains at Velvet Sessions


It was about twenty years ago when a friend called to see if I wanted to check out this hot new Pennsylvania band playing a gig at the Jersey Shore. I passed on the show in order to take advantage of some cheap drink specials at a local dive – Stupid decision! A year later, Throwing Copper was released, and Live was a worldwide smash. Somehow in the ensuing decades, I never caught them “live,” but finally the stars seemed to align.

Ed Kowalczyk, the band’s charismatic singer and front man visited one of my favorite local venues, Hard Rock Hotel’s Velvet Sessions.  This event was billed as Live’s Ed Kowalczyk, as he and his band mates are going through a rancorous separation.  The rest of the original band is touring as Live, but now has a new lead singer. Kowalczyk is touring with his own band.  With that iconic distinctive voice, it was a no-brainer.

Kowalczyk is still a first rate performer, but quite honestly his band was mediocre.  The voice is the same and his on stage persona rocks, but this definitely isn’t the Live we knew and loved. The band took the stage and immediately ripped into a rocking version of “All Over You.” The crowd was rocking, but then came down a bit with “The Great Beyond” off of his 2010 debut solo album Alive. For most of the evening there was a similar ebb and flo.  Fever pitch for the Live classics, then a lull for the solo efforts.

His interaction with the crowd was excellent, and we had a chance to experience a bit of the storyteller in him.  He introduced his solo effort “Everlasting Love” as a song about his daughter, and “Heaven” a reflection on the women in his life.  Kowalczyk offered a nice nugget off of the first album, introducing “The Beauty of Gray” by offering “good songs hold up.”  He also spent a few minutes discussing a charity near and dear to his heart, World Vision, and actually auctioned off quick YouTube moments for folks willing to sponsor a child, rewarding them with instantaneous “Big Ed hugs.” It was a cool gesture.

For me, the highlights of the seventy minute set were an interactive version of “The Dolphin’s Cry” and “I Alone.” For their first encore, the band absolutely killed it with a romping version of  “Lakini’s Juice” that had the crowd in a frenzy.  But, then another dragging solo effort, this one the title track off of the new EP, “The Garden,” before closing the night with a stellar version of “Lightning Crashes.”

For those of you who have not been to a Velvet Sessions set, it actually takes place in the hotel lobby, and has a very cool vibe, and usually a surprisingly good sound mix.  For this show, it was off a bit, possibly caused by a rumored airline snafu, where the band’s equipment was lost the day of the show.  If so, certainly understandable.

All told, it was a decent show, but nothing spectacular.  Sure, we heard a bunch of Live classics and they sounded decent and were welcomed by the packed crowd, but there was just something missing.

Rock On!
Cretin

The setlist courtesy of a generous guy named Oliver is provided below.


Setlist from Ed Kowalczyk
Setlist from Ed Kowalczyk at Hard Rock Velvet Sessions in Orlando

A Silent Film Rocks The Social


From the first time I heard these UK rockers and their distinctive piano driven Alt-rock sound, I’ve been anticipating the opportunity to catch them in person, anxious to see if their live show measured up to their fine albums.  Monday night at The Social, I discovered that the band’s exciting live show was just as impressive.

Led by charismatic front man Robert Stevenson, this quartet makes a powerful and lasting impression. They are the complete package, tight talented musicians, affable personalities, energetic songs and a dynamic show.  Surprisingly, they did not pack The Social, but the few hundred in attendance saw a young band about to break out big. I suspect their next time through Orlando is going to find them in a much larger venue.

The band’s songs are wonderfully constructed and highlight the group’s versatility.  Stevenson, the lead singer and keyboard player had on-going dialogue with the audience and appeared genuinely appreciative of the crowd and their interaction.  He joked with the fans throughout the evening and offered up some enjoyable commentary on Mickey Mouse and the whole Disney thing, including an impeccably timed “F –  Mickey” at one point.  Drummer, Spencer Walker also impressed. He offered up a powerful driving beat, solid background vocals, and an occasional emergency lead vocal, also sharing witty banter with Stevenson and the crowd.

Stevenson was battling a cold and shared that he was going to have a problem hitting some of the high notes.  His honesty was refreshing, and endeared him to the crowd  as he stepped up to the challenge (sometimes with mixed results).  He handled those challenges with aplomb, a bit of humor, and a little help from his friend behind the drums.

The show kicked off with rousing versions of “Reaching the Potential” and “This Stage Is Your Life,” also the first two tracks off of the band’s 2012 hit album Sand & Snow. The latter cut featured excellent guitar work from Karl Bareham.  The current album was heavily spotlighted throughout the show, but we also got a glimpse of two of the band’s earlier hits “You Will Leave a Mark” and the fantastic “Driven By a Beating Heart” off of their debut album The City That Sleeps.

The highlight of the show was the breakneck closing trio off of their current album.  Three tremendous offerings, all with nice crowd interaction.  “Love Takes a Wrecking Ball” was another spotlight for Bareham’s guitar and offered some tender moments from Stevenson before rocking to a close.  Walker led the crowd’s singalong for the opening of “Harbour Lights,” a track that also features killer bass from Ali Hussain.  They then closed with a flourish offering a fantastic version of their biggest hit “Danny, Dakota and The Wishing Well.”  (RARA’s Farm’s #3 Song of 2012).

It was a great cap to an energetic, dynamic set from a band just beginning to build their legend.

Denver-based folk-infused rockers Churchill opened the show and offered a nice 40 minute set.  Orlando fans were fortunate, as this was the only show on the tour where they the Denver-based band is opening for A Silent Film. They’re also a band with considerable potential, and offering up a diverse sound.  They were led by boy/girl lead vocals Tim Bruns and Bethany Kelly and offered a unique touch with Mike Morter playing mandolin throughout the set.  It was an excellent mix highlighted by a cool version of Fleetwood Mac’s “Go Your Own Way” and by the fantastically good “Change” and Kelly’s Duff-esque vocals.

Two excellent bands on their way up – a promising way to start the year.

Rock On!
Cretin

See the setlist and link to the album below…

Robert Stevenson at The Social
Robert Stevenson at The Social

 


Setlist
Reaching the Potential
This Stage Is Your Life
Driven By A Beating Heart
Queen Of A Sad Land
Anastasia
You Will Leave A Mark
Thousand Mile Race
Love Takes A Wrecking Ball
Harbour Lights
Danny, Dakota & The Wishing Well

Scott Stapp Offers an Intimate Show


It’s always cool catching a local musician playing an intimate show in a cozy venue; sharing stories about the songs he sings and mixing with the crowd. It’s even nicer when it’s free, and priceless when the singer is an engaging superstar storyteller like Scott Stapp of Creed. Last night at The Velvet Lounge at The Hard Rock Hotel a small group of fans were treated to a special evening with the reformed rock legend playing to a small appreciative crowd.

Scott Stapp at Velvet Bar
Scott Stapp at Velvet Bar in Orlando

 

Stapp was joined on stage by Brent Look on guitar. Look was introduced as the drum teacher for Stapp’s son Jagger and a cool guy to jam with. It set the stage for the laid back atmosphere. The duo seemed to be having a great time and enjoyed playing with each other in the kicked back Velvet Lounge acoustic setting.  The sixty-minute set featured some of Creed’s most enduring hits, a few solo Stapp selections and a couple of deeper cuts.

In the past, Stapp was often viewed as a bit of a pompous, self-centered ass, but throughout this show you’d never get that opinion.  He was just your local rocker chilling and chatting with some close friends.  He was humble and appreciative throughout and sounded great as he offered all of the songs with a new twist.

He’s centered on his family and his faith, and throughout the show was connecting with folks close to him. I’m fairly certain that his wife was keenly watching from the V.I.P. area, which just added to the comfortable feel of the set. But the relaxed atmosphere did nothing to slow down Stapp’s passionate performance.  He was quickly bathed in sweat as he poured himself into the songs. His voice sounded pristine and was powerful throughout the show.

The Creed front man was not at all over-bearing with his strong faith, yet he introduced “Higher” as a song about heaven; and before playing “Arms Wide Open” mentioned being inspired by Cristo Redentor, the huge Jesus status overlooking Rio de Janeiro. Over his career, he’s become quite the philanthropist and on this night focused raising money for Hard Rock’s Imagine There’s No Hunger foundation.

I enjoyed hearing “Justify” and “Weathered,” the latter one where he playfully admitted to forgetting a few words in the second verse.  There were also a few nice sing-along moments that left Stapp appreciative, including a dramatic version of “My Sacrifice” and the fantastic finale “One Last Breath,” where he closed with “That was beautiful my friends.”

Rock On!
Cretin

Stapp is currently touring in support of his new memoirs, Sinner’s Creed. I have not read the book yet, but Stapp has had an interesting life with numerous peaks and valleys, and word on the street is that it is deeply reflective. Visit his website to grab a copy

Setlist

Are You Ready
Higher
Arms Wide Open
Faceless Man
Weathered
My Sacrifice
Justify
One Last Breath