Category Archives: Concert Reviews

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

Collective Soul Rocks Hard Rock’s 40th Birthday Bash

I’ll admit; attending this show was a total afterthought.  I went to the Downtown Throwdown to see a few other personal favorites playing in celebration of Hard Rock Cafe’s 40th Birthday in downtown Orlando.  As I left the powerful Everclear show (read about it here) I swung by the Main Stage to check out the night’s closing band.

I was not a huge Collective Soul fan, but I was pretty damn impressed.  These guys from Atlanta are great musicians, they were having a great time and still performing at a high level. The heart and soul of this band are three original members, Ed and Dean Roland on Guitar and  Will Turpin on bass, as well as long-time lead guitarist Joel Kosche. Ed Roland handles all of the vocals and is a strong presence on stage.

The free outdoor show had a great turnout, and the long city block was packed for their 75 minute set. I missed the first few songs, as their set overlapped with Everclear’s, but still got to hear the quintet play a slew of their past #1 Rock hits, highlighted by “Gel,” “Where the River Flows,” “December,”” and “The World I Know.”

The highlight of the show was a song that I was unfamiliar with “Hollywood,” which is from the band’s 2007 album Afterwords.  The track is a great modern blend of their classic sound.  It was great, but made even better by interspersing a medly including Metallica’s “Enter Sandman,” AC/DC’s “Thunderstruck” (complete with Ed taking the lead and channeling his best Angus Young duck walk),  some more AC/DC with “Dirty Deeds,” and then back into “Hollywood.”  Fun stuff. One concert goer uploaded a fun snippet of the song to Youtube. Take a peek.

Another cool observation: instead of stepping off the stage for an encore, Rowland shared with the crowd, “we just stand over there, make you cheer for awhile and come out and play our final cuts. Let’s just stay out here and play.”  And, they did just that, rocking the streets of Orlando for an additional 15 minutes. They closed the show with an extended version of “Shine.” Kosche tore through an energetic solo, and Ed Roland led the crowd in an impressive singalong. He was the consummate front man interacting with the crowd throughout and generally having a great time.  His voice was superb, as well.

This time I saw them by chance. Next time they’re in town, I’ll be back by choice!

Cretin

A peek at “Gel” and “The World I Know”

Everclear Rocks the Downtown Throwdown

The Hard Rock Cafe celebrated it’s 40th Birthday with a free all-day blowout on the streets of Orlando on Saturday night.  West Coast rockers, Everclear put a nice end to the day’s festivities at the Wall Street stage with a powerful and engaging set that featured many of the hits that made them a stalwart act in the nineties when I first saw them live.

The band is still fronted by the energetic Art Alexakis, who is the heart and soul behind the band, and the only original member still with Everclear.  Alexakis seemed to be having tons of fun throughout the sixty minute set, often joking with the crowd and his band mates.  At times it was hard to picture the effervescent front man as the same guy who had endured a severely troubled and drug-filled youth.  The songs and the lyrics are still as poignant as ever, and his vocals still powerful and distinctive, but he seems to be having a blast sharing them. A decade or so later, all of the songs still ring true.

The set was highlighted by great versions of “Volvo Driving Soccer Mom” and a few songs from their fantastic 1995 album So Much For the Afterglow; a song Alexakis introduced as a song about love, not money, “I Will Buy You a New Life” and “Everything To Everyone.”

The guys spent the middle of their set focused on 2000’s Song From an American Movie. playing “AM Radio,” “Wonderful,” and then their excellent rendition of Van Morrison’s “Brown Eyed Girl,” performed this night with Alexakis alone on stage with just his acoustic guitar.  “Brown Eyed Girl” was just one of many cover tunes they toyed with during the show.  It was followed immediately by an acapella version of the Rolling Stones “Faraway Eyes” which featured the entire band crowded around a microphone in the middle of the stage.

They continued their focus on cover tunes when they kicked off their encore with a very cool medley that featured

  • Judas Priest’s “Living After Midnight”
  • Queen’s “Another One Bites the Dust”
  • Tone Loc’s “Wild Thing”
  • Deep Purple’s “Smoke On the Water”
  •  The Scorpions’ “Rock You Like a Hurricane”
  • And, finally an awesome close with a rousing version of Led Zeppelin’s classic “Rock and Roll” featuring the Parlor Mob’s Mark Malicia on vocals.

They closed the night out with an audience sing-along to their signature hit “Santa Monica” which is still as relevant and timeless today.

Alexakis noted that the current configuration of the band will be headed back to the studio soon to record some new music. Looking forward to hearing the new stuff and discovering what’s up next for Alexakis and crew.

Cretin

A Peek at “I Will Buy You a New Life”


25 Years of Cinderella in the Shadows of the Castle

One of the 1980’s premiere Hair Bands made a return to Orlando’s House of Blues on Saturday night, as they celebrate the 25th Anniversary of their hugely successful debut album “Night Songs.”

I remember stumbling across them in a local Philly club in the mid-eighties and thinking they did not have much of a future. Jon Bon Jovi saw them shortly afterwards and saw the talent, and over the years they’ve sold millions of albums, and packed a slew of arenas.

Tom Keifer, is clearly still the heart and soul of this Philadelphia area quintet. His vocals were fantastic. He’s gone through two difficult surgeries on his vocal chords including one just 5 years ago, but you’d never know by listening to him. His distinctive voice is still powerful, and he hit every note perfectly.

Keifer also showed off his musicianship throughout the evening, playing an assortment of guitars, as well as they keyboards and piano. While he played impressive leads and solos, the rest of the band didn’t really shine. They were all adequate, but no one really stood out and sounded good, despite the majority of them being original members.

“Heartbreak Station” featured drummer Fred Koury stepping up front to share the vocals, and Keifer playing a slide guitar solo. During “The More Things Change, Keifer and guitarist Jeff LeBar traded off the lead and seemed to be having some fun on stage.  The highlight for me was Keifer sliding behind the piano for one of their biggest hits “Don’t Know What You Got.”

Overall, the show was good, although brief. They played the exact same set list that they’ve been rolling out nightly throughout this tour, and the show seemed a bit devoid of energy.

The set list featured 11 songs, and clocked in at a meager 57 minutes, and they followed that with a ten minute encore which closed with a smoking version of “Shelter Me.” Overall, the song selection was excellent and a diverse sampling of their catalog, both metal hits and bluesy rockers.

Here’s the Setlist:

  • Once Around the Ride
  • Shake Me
  • Heartbreak Station
  • Somebody Save Me
  • Night Songs
  • The More Things Change
  • Second Wind
  • Don’t Know What You Got (Till It’s Gone)
  • Nobody’s Fool
  • Gypsy Road

Encore:

  • Long Cold Winter
  • Shelter Me
Here’s a link to a small snippet of “Nobody’s Fool.”

The evening opened with an acoustic set from rock and roll nomad John Corabi. Corabi’s voice sounded great and he interacted with the crowd throughout, and was a very nice surprise. His set was highlighted by an abbreviated version of Motley Crue’s “Home Sweet Home” reprising his role as the group’s lead singer he held for 15 minutes in the mid-nineties. He closed with a fantastic cover of The Beatles “Oh! Darling” that featured the full range of his powerful voice.

Furs – Still Pretty Good After All These Years

I’ve now seen the Psychedelic Furs about half a dozen times over the past 30 years, and it’s amazing how reliable and consistent the shows are.  This time around I was able to catch them at the Velvet Sessions venue at the Hard Rock hotel in Orlando.

This band just doesn’t get enough credit for the breadth and depth of their musical library, and their musicianship remains fantastic. As a nice twist on this tour, the band celebrates the 30th Anniversary of the release of their breakthrough 1981 album Talk, Talk, Talk by playing it straight through in its entirety.

The constants throughout all of the incarnations of the alternative rock stalwarts have been brothers Richard and Tim Butler.  Richard is still a consummate front man, his voice as pure as ever, and his engaging performance still reeking of charisma.  He never stops interacting with the crowd, and seems to still truly enjoy performing.  Tim’s bass coupled with the driving beat of near original drummer Paul Garisto kept the crowd hopping all night. Mars Williams was back with the band and stole the spotlight several times with riveting sax solos.  The talented band was rounded out by Amanda Kremer on keyboards and Rich Good on guitar.

The highlights for me:

  • Richard Butler’s performance – still delivers the vocals with energy and passion
  • Talk, Talk, Talk – a rare chance to hear some tunes they probably haven’t played in 30 years, including the under-rated “Into You Like a Train.”
  • The cohesion of the band. They just sounded great together, and ever musician shined at one point in time or another.

Disappointment:

  • I didn’t time it, but their set seemed short. Although I really enjoyed the focus on Talk, Talk, Talk, I missed hearing a few of their classics.

Setlist:

Dumb Waiters
Pretty in Pink
I Wanna Sleep With You
No Tears
Mr. Jones
Into You Like a Train
It Goes On
So Run Down
All of This and Nothing
She is Mine

Love My Way
Sister of Mine
President Gas
Highwire Days
Heaven
Heartbreak Beat

As for the venue; it was my first trip to Hard Rock’s Velvet Sessions, but I will be back. It’s a temporary set-up in the hotel lobby (across from the Velvet Lounge). Along with the price of admission, you have a 90 minute free bar, and free appetizers. The food and the drinks, as well as the service were excellent, and the sound quality was surprisingly good.

Cretin, June 30, 2011

Check out Rara’s Best Driving songs of all-time.

Worth the Waite

Definitely, worth the wait!

I finally had a chance to check out one of my early favorites; about 30 years after I should have.  John Waite made a stop in Orlando on Sunday evening for a show at Plaza Theater Live. Waite first hit my radar as lead singer of The Baby’s late in the Seventies, then had some hits of his own in the 80’s and with Bad English in the 90’s, but for some reason, I never saw him perform live.

He got the show off to a rousing start with a version of The Baby’s “Back On My Feet Again,” in front of an appreciative yet small crowd at this fantastic venue. His distinctive voice is still perfect, and his three piece band sounded sharp.  Truthfully, I went to the show hoping he’d play every song off of Anthology (The Baby’s 1981 Greatest Hits album), throw in a couple of other hits and call it a night, but John has grown up a bit over the years, and I think it is safe to say he’s moved on since the band broke, as he noted “It’s hard to believe that The Baby’s BROKE UP over 30 years ago.”

Over the remainder of the night, Waite only played two other Baby’s tunes, but filled the 90+ minute set with a diverse group of songs that spanned his last three decades.  “If You Ever Get Lonely” from his newly released “Rough and Tumble” album was great and would be a huge hit if he were an 18 year-old American Idol finalist, instead of a classic rocker in his 4th decade of touring. Other highlights included, Bad English’s “When I see You Smile, his own hits “Missing You” and his closer “Change.”  More than a few of his songs were clearly influenced by his Nashville days, and just added to his appealing musical diversity.

Waite frequently interacted with the crowd, shared some cool anecdotes, and genuinely seemed to be having a fun time.  The highlight for me was his unexpected cover of Dylan’s (and Jimi’s) “All Along the Watchtower.” He tore it up, with a nice assist from his guitarist – some young dude from Philly, who literally joined the band a few weeks earlier.

I have to confess that I missed the line-up of band members during a trip to the rest room  Did I mention that the Plaza has Longboard on tap?

The opening act was Jackie Bristow. a beautiful Kiwi with an equally beautiful voice. She play unaccompanied acoustic guitar and was very intriguing. Her voice was unique.  Mix Australian with a hint of Nashville and you’ll have an idea.  Lots of promise, for sure.

All told, it was a really good show from start to finish, highlighting Waite’s amazing voice and deep diverse music catalog. Not a weak song in the bunch. I’m thinking that I won’t wait 30+ years to catch him again.