Banshee screaming/Aliced Maiden/back for more…

Wow, is it really the middle of August already? They say time and distance makes the heart grow fonder, but too much time away makes people forget your existence altogether. So, at the risk of having already ventured beyond the experation date, here’s a brief synopsis of what I’ve been up to this summer in Kollnot RNM Reviews Land.

Sunday, July 15th brought me and a couple buddies up north to Buckley, Mich. for a storied rock and roll, hair metal extravanganza. Co-headlining this charming blast from the Aqua Net past were Skid Row and Warrant, with Firehouse, Trixter and Cadillac, Mich.-based melodic metallers Banshee opening. I’m not going to lie, I really made the three-hour trek to finally meet and see longtime email friend George Call (of Dallas’ ASKA, ex-Omen) sing in guitar whiz Terry Dunn’s re-charged Banshee. Call is a masterful, high-range vocal artist in the tradition of Tate, Halford, Dickinson and Dio, and his powerful delivery and commanding stage presence perfectly fits Banshee’s pounding, groove-based modern metal. Exchewing most of their glam-oriented Metal Blade and Atlantic material, Banshee performed several tunes from their new Mindslave CD, as well as one ’80s classic, “Cry in the Night,” and a rousing cover of Iron Maiden’s “Wrathchild.” The band’s crushing and modern, yet still plenty melodic, style of metal certainly won over the sizeable crowd of rock and metal fans. Afterwards, I meandered over to the merch booth and picked up a Mindslave poster and the new CD (yes, it’s a neckwrecker, folks!), and finally got to meet Mr. Call himself. That made the night for me right there, and George was as gracious and cool in person as I had expected. We meant to hang out more afterwards, but some “things” happened, and that, my friends, is best left to the sunburned posterior of posterity.

Then, just three days later, on the 18th, my brother Jeff and I ventured two hours due east to the Detroit suburbs to see the double-mighty bill of Alice Cooper and Iron Maiden. Not since the 2003 unholy triumvirate of Motorhead/Dio/Maiden and Ozzfest 2005 has the DTE Energy Amphitheater hosted such an amazingly monstrous (okay, multiple monsters) bills as this one. To keep it brief, both acts decimated in their own distinct styles of theatrical hard rock. Alice began the show descending from a scaffolding “spider’s web” high above the stage, as the famous “Black Widow” of Welcome to My Nightmare. AC’s three-guitar driven, all-star backing band was anchored by Orianthi, the lovely blond shred guitar whiz whose class and virtuosity sets the band apart as one of the best AC lineups ever. Of course, the show was as dark and theatrical as expected, with Alice changing costumes for each song, hanging with a gigantic Frankenstein monster, and literally losing his head to the guillotine. But most importantly, the band was tight and muscular in their performance, and they proficiently delivered such timeless hits as “I’m Eighteen,” “No More Mr. Nice Guy,” “Billion Dollar Babies,” “Poison,” “Feed My Frankenstein,” “Hey Stoopid,” as well as more punishing modern cuts such as “Brutal Planet” and “Angry Young Man.” During the closer, “School’s Out,” giant balloons and oodles of confetti were sent streaming out into the audience for a perfect sendoff on Alice’s proverbial last day of school.

As for Maiden? Maiden is Maiden, and there’s not much I can say about these immortal metal giants that wouldn’t use another thousand or so words. But as my sixth time seeing Eddie and his East End killers, this was one of the most satisfying Maiden performances I’ve ever seen. Maiden is sporting the songs and snow-capped backdrops of their 1988 Seventh Son of a Seventh Son tour and the classic Maiden England video. I remember watching that VHS tape as a teenager and dreaming, marveling at how wonderful it would be to see my heavy metal heroes live and in person, like all those lucky British fans at the Birmingham NEC. After the expected pre-intro sounds of UFO’s “Doctor Doctor” finally faded, the taped opening of “Moonchild” unleashed a huge roar from the Detroit crowd as video images showed polar ice caps melting and animated imagery of the birth of the Seventh Son himself. The band then launched into the frenzied Seventh Son opener, beginning an inspired performance that demonstrated that Iron Maiden is still firing on all cylinders nearly 40 years into their career. And vocalist Bruce Dickinson hasn’t sounded better in at least 25 years; his crystal-clear operatic delivery approximated the album versions almost exactly. I won’t give away the whole setlist here, for those left in the U.S. still catching them on tour. But let’s just say the song choices were breathtaking. For those who feel like a “prisoner” in their own home, or they have been terrorized by a personal “phantom of the opera,” or they have “wasted years” by being “afraid to shoot strangers,” well, there is certainly something for everyone on this tour. The show seemingly ended as soon as it started, but isn’t it better to always leave an audience wanting more. Their three-song encore, beginning with Churchill’s Speech and ending where it all began, with everyone “Running Free,” cemented a most historic night of metal. And that is all I have to say about that.

By the way, I do still plan to finish the album and band features I mentioned before. Autumn is just around the corner, and with more work and less play, we may ironically find more time to do the things we love. Take it easy out there, and keep it loud!–JK


–TESTAMENT: Dark Roots of Earth

–HELLYEAH: Band of Brothers

–OVERKILL: The Electric Age


–RATT: Out of the Cellar

–ARCH ENEMY: Doomsday Machine

–R.E.M.: Murmer

–Movies: The Bourne Legacy, Romeo and Juliet

–TV: Breaking Bad, Alf, The Wonder Years


~ by jonnyboyrocker on August 14, 2012.

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