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Tony Harnell Explodes The Stage With His Own Brand Of TNT

Tony Harnell – Wildhorse Saloon – Nashville, TN – October 12, 2019

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Tony Harnell Wildhorse Saloon

Tony Harnell – Wildhorse Saloon – Nashville, TN – October 12, 2019

Tony Harnell setlist:

Tonight I’m Falling
Forever Shine On
Seven Seas
10,000 Lovers (In One)
Everyone’s A Star

Tony Harnell’s band: Luis Espaillat – bass, Richie Scholl – guitar, Max Frye – guitar, Tristan McIntosh – vocals, Zach Ballard – drums

Tony Harnell Stryper Wildhorse Saloon

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The Verdict: Queensryche Still A Force To Be Reckoned With

Queensrÿche as a collective unit fed off the fans’ energy throughout their brilliantly executed set.

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Queensryche Portland review

Seattle prog-metal vets Queensrÿche made a stop at the Crystal Ballroom in Portland, Oregon on February 4th, 2020, with support by Eve To Adam and John 5. Eve To Adam opened with a 30 minute set which went over relatively well. They’re a contemporary hard rock act based out of Florida. Having seen them before several years ago, the only disappointment was the use of supplemental background vocals. There was a mic in front of the bass player which he didn’t use until the last two tunes in the set and in the meantime there were these huge background vocals throughout. One of their latest tunes from the new album Odyssey, “Day Drinking,” went over famously for obvious reasons, as did “Straight Jacket Supermodel,” “Locked & Loaded” and “Immortal” – their best song to date, in my opinion, from their back catalog. I loved the band’s performance the last time around. This one lost a little something for me, for the reason I mentioned earlier.

John 5 has made a name for himself with his incredible guitar skills, which has made his talent sought after by the likes of K.D. Lang, David Lee Roth, Rob Halford, Marilyn Manson and Rob Zombie just to name a few. Let’s not forget that John 5 is also a showman which brings a little more entertainment value to the live performance and the guy plays a Telecaster, which is one of the coolest guitars out there.

It was complete madness by the time John 5 And The Creatures hit the stage at the historic Crystal Ballroom, this time in a supporting role for Queensrÿche. The Rob Zombie guitarist is currently on the road promoting his stellar studio offering, Invasion, which he issued in early fall of 2019. Packing a venue in the winter on a Tuesday night and a 21+ show is a tall order; the numbers were respectable by the time John 5 And The Creatures’ set kicked off. John 5 didn’t disappoint. He and the band brought all the bells and whistles for this tour, in a supporting role. John 5 incorporates so many genres and sub-genres into his music that it wouldn’t be uncommon for him to tackle metal, prog and jazz-fusion all in one tune. As if the audience wasn’t already going ape shit, when John 5 announced that he was recording the show for a new live album – people dialed up the madness.

My personal favorites of the night were the “Crank It,” the twangy “Cactus Flower,” crunchy aggro “I Am John 5,” and of course there’s the jaw dropping medley (which featured way too many songs to list here) which has become a thing of legend at the end of the set. The medley will have you playing ‘name that tune’ in your head throughout the performance. One thing is for sure – John 5 And The Creatures put on one of the most entertaining all instrumental shows that I have ever witnessed. Perhaps it’s because John 5 has a way of really making the guitar sing to you, albeit in a sardonic manner. And the songs? Well, he has them in spades.

If you’re a hard rock/metal fan you know the backstory behind Queensrÿche. The Seattle band went through some turmoil during the course of the past decade which ended with singer Geoff Tate leaving in 2012 – or was he fired? Tate and his former bandmates found themselves embroiled in a legal battle over the name “Queensrÿche.” Fast forward to the present day where founding guitarist Michael Wilton and bassist Eddie Jackson are touring behind their 2019 and 3rd post-Tate effort titled The Verdict.

In 2013 the band issued a self-titled album with new vocalist Todd La Torre who is a dead ringer sonically for Geoff Tate. In the spring of 2012 the band, sans Tate, played two very intimate sold-out shows at the Hard Rock in Seattle as Rising West with La Torre on vocals. The response was so overwhelming – they played deep cuts from the Queensrÿche catalog and tracks that hadn’t been played in ages. Wilton recalls, “When we did Rising West, it was because we wanted to continue to work. We had an opportunity to perform some classics and the response was amazing. We were humbled by the fact that people flew in from all over the world for the two intimate shows.”

On October 2, 2015 Queensrÿche issued their sophomore album titled Condition Human, which is very reminiscent of classic albums like The Warning, Rage For Order, and Operation: Mindcrime. “I think Condition Human sounds more like classic Queensrÿche, as it should since we’re the guys that made those albums,” proclaimed Wilton during a pre-show interview. On The Verdict Queensrÿche build on adding to their legacy by continuing to push forward, while staying true to their progressive metal roots.

Queensrÿche did mix things up on this tour. We were treated to deep album cuts like “Resistance,” “Screaming In Digital,” No Sanctuary,” and “Prophecy” alongside staples like “Operation: Mindcrime,” “Empire,” “Jet City Woman,” “I Don’t Believe In Love,” “Eyes Of A Stranger” and their hit “Silent Lucidity.” The Todd La Torre era was represented by four well-received selections from The Verdict: “Bent,” “Dark Reverie,” “Light-Years,” and “Man The Machine.” I would have loved to have heard “When Dreams Go To Die” and “Arrow Of Time,” but you can’t please everyone as Wilton told this writer earlier in the night. “We did a show where we didn’t play “Silent Lucidity,” we wanted to rest that for a while and we did a show where we took that out. Later that night we met some of the fans and this guy came up to me and said ‘Man you didn’t play ‘Silent Lucidity!’ I drove five hours to see you guys and I brought my wife who really wanted to see you perform that.’ It’s hard to please everyone, but there’s staples that have to be in there as we have learned over the years.” Queensrÿche as a collective unit fed off the fans’ energy throughout their brilliantly executed set. Once again, it was amazing to see and hear the audience sing along with deeper tracks as well as staples. Well done Queensrÿche.

Queensrÿche setlist:

Launder the Conscience (tape intro)
Prophecy
Operation: Mindcrime
Walk In The Shadows
Resistance
Man The Machine
Take Hold Of The Flame
No Sanctuary
Bent
Dark Reverie
Breaking The Silence
Silent Lucidity
Jet City Woman
Screaming In Digital
Queen Of The Reich

Encore:
Light-Years
Empire
Eyes Of A Stranger

photos by Mike Lewis Photography

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Slayer Raises Hellfire And Brimstone One Last Time In Spokane

Slayer / Primus / Ministry / Phil Anselmo And The Illegals – Spokane Arena – November 24, 2019

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Slayer Spokane

Slayer – Spokane Arena – Spokane, WA – November 24, 2019

“You need to get your life together my friend, what the fuck is wrong with you?! You missed the entire Slayer set!” It’s not often I encounter a 20-something year old kid, who’s stone cold sober, lecturing a 40-something that was passed out drunk in his seat, sitting in his own filth and vomit, snoozing his way throughout the ENTIRE Slayer set. Incredible. Rock and metal shows are hard to come by around these parts, it brings out fans that are starved for rock and metal, but it also brings out the amateurs, like the EMT (yeah he was a first responder) that slept through ‘The Last Campaign’ performance at Spokane Arena in a drunken stupor. I haven’t seen so much alcohol and cannabis consumed at a show since my high school daze.

Phil Anselmo And The Illegals opened the show at 6:00 PM sharp, Phil and Co. performed a 30 minute set of Pantera classics and deep cuts. Since the passing of Vinnie Paul in 2018 and Dimebag Darrel who preceded him, he’s the gatekeeper of the Pantera catalog. While it was good to hear the Pantera tunes, The Illegals can’t replicate properly the catalog, not because they’re not capable, but because they don’t have the chemistry that Pantera had. Phil Anselmo stood in place the entire set, part of what made a Pantera show was the physicality of the performance, he can’t do that anymore because of the chronic back pain issues. In short, it was a good attempt, but overall it just didn’t work. I’m anxiously awaiting Down to reconvene for a 2020 run of North American dates.

‘Industrial-sized bigmouth’ Al Jourgensen was in the building performing a ‘Lalapalooza’ set which he’s been doing on ‘The Final Campaign.’ I for one, was curious if he’d be able to bite his lip and not ‘pop off’ about 45. It probably would have incited a riot in Northern Washington with representation from Idaho, Montana and Utah in the building. Jourgensen performed a set which included classics, “The Missing,” “Deity,” “Stigmata,” “Just One Fix,” “Thieves,” toward the tail end of the set, Al mumbled something about ‘November 8th, 2016’ while introducing “N.W.O.,” it went virtually unnoticed. Also included in the set was the unnecessary cover of Black Sabbath’s “Supernaut” and the highly overrated “Jesus Built My Hotrod” which Al stated “was something for you rednecks!” I would have much rather heard something like “Burning Inside” than that. I question how much of the show was ‘live,’ as a longtime Ministry disciple, the excessive use of the fog machine, in this case the entire set, has always been a ‘smoke and mirrors’ move in my experience. Sure, Ministry have always used pre-recorded supplementation and intros and enhancements, but this was different. I could be wrong.

I’ve caught the past couple of Primus tours after a few years off from the band, Primus have taken over the crown of ‘power trio kings’ with Rush having officially retired. As previously mentioned, I’ve caught the past couple tours as headliners, this support slot was all killer and no filler. Much like the Ministry set, you could make the argument that this too was a ‘hits’ or ‘Lalapalooza’ set with fan favorites like, “Groundhog’s Day,” Too Many Puppies,” “Toys Go Winding Down,” “Pudding Time,” “American Life,” “Eleven,” Rush cover “Cignus X-1,” and “Jerry Was A Race Car Driver,” amongst others. Primus maximized their allotted time and crammed as much as they could into their set and didn’t get an encore on this night, “Wynona’s Big Brown Beaver” was sorely missed. The highlights of the set, “American Life,” “My Name Is Mud,” “Mr. Krinkle” and “Johnny The Cat.” This set in my opinion, beat out their past couple headlining sets. Kudos Les Claypool, Larry LaLonde and Tim Alexander — you destroyed the audience.

Slayer have always done great business in the Northwest. I last caught a show in Ridgefield, WA in the summer of 2018, minutes from Portland, Oregon. This show was in Spokane, WA, which was a trek, but it’s Slayer’s final Northwest appearance. Washington, Idaho, Utah and Montana plates filled the parking lot. A band like Motley Crue, Slayer’s rivals back in the day, ended their career using backtracks, overusing gimmicks and their stay was about a decade too long (now they’re back? Ugh!); Slayer (who were founded around the same time) remained a consistently good live act and it was all ‘real.’ Sure Slayer is ending, which is sad, but it makes sense; Dave Lombardo is out of the band, Jeff Hanneman passed, Araya has acknowledged that years of the touring grind has taken its toll physically on him and while Gary Holt has answered the call much like Paul Bostaph did when he was recruited, it’s not the same.

Slayer’s core is bassist/vocalist Tom Araya and guitarist Kerry King, who have continued to be a force to be reckoned with in Jeff Hanneman’s absence. They still give the fans the best show possible and perform at a high level. For this last appearance Slayer gave us a couple new tracks in the set, opening with “Repentless” from their latest (and likely their last) record Repentless, also including the standout “When The Stillness Comes.” Slayer sprinkled deeper catalog tracks ”Hell Awaits,” “Chemical Warfare,” “Payback” and “Show No Mercy.” Of course staples like “War Ensemble,” “Seasons In The Abyss,” “Raining Blood,” “Dead Skin Mask,” “Postmortem,” “South Of Heaven” and “Angel Of Death” were all prominently featured. I’ve been enjoying Slayer shows for the past 32 years; this show was just as intense as the first. ‘The Final Campaign’ is the most visual tour to date and a real ‘incendiary’ one too. While it’s sad to see Slayer go, they’re going out before they break down and the wear and tear becomes painfully evident. “Thank you for coming tonight, drive home safe. I’ll miss you,” proclaimed Araya after his band and tour mates cleared the stage, upon shooting a group photo. It was a heartfelt, emotional farewell from the man that closed the show with “Angel Of Death.” He pumped his chest a couple of times, put the palms of his hands together and took a quick bow and disappeared stage left. There’s talk of Slayer continuing to record new music, which perhaps keeps the door open for festival appearances in North America and abroad. Is this really ‘it?!’ I would guess not completely.


photos by Mike Lewis Photography

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Stryper Rocks The Hell Out Of Nashville

Stryper – Wildhorse Saloon – Nashville, TN – October 12, 2019

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Stryper Wildhorse Saloon

Stryper – Wildhorse Saloon – Nashville, TN – October 12, 2019

Stryper setlist:

Soldiers Under Command
Loving You
Calling On You
Free
More Than A Man
Shout It Out Loud (KISS cover)
Heading Out To The Highway (Judas Priest cover)
All For One
Surrender
All She Wrote (FireHouse cover)
Crazy Train (Ozzy Osbourne cover)
Honestly
In God We Trust
Always There For You
Sorry
Sing-Along Song
Yahweh

Encore:
Abyss
The Valley
To Hell With The Devil

Stryper is: Michael Sweet – guitar & vocals, Robert Sweet – drums, Perry Richardson – bass, Howie Simon – guitar (filling in for guitarist Oz Fox)

Stryper Tony Harnell Wildhorse Saloon

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Sabaton, Hammerfall Bring “The Great Tour” To Portland

Sabaton / Hammerfall – Roseland Theater – Portland, OR – October 14, 2019

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Sabaton Portland

Sabaton / Hammerfall – Roseland Theater – Portland, OR – October 14, 2019

Hammerfall setlist:

Never Forgive, Never Forget
One Against The World
Renegade
Blood Bound
Any Means Necessary
Hector’s Hymn
Last Man Standing
Let The Hammer Fall
Hammer High
(We Make) Sweden Rock
Hearts On Fire

Sabaton setlist:

Ghost Division
Great War
Resist And Bite
Fields Of Verdun
The Attack Of The Dead Men
The Red Baron
The Price Of A Mile
Bismarck
The Lion From The North
Carolus Rex
Shiroyama
Night Witches
The Lost Battalion
The Last Stand
82nd All The Way

Encore:
Primo Victoria
Swedish Pagans
To Hell And Back

photos by Mike Lewis Photography

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