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Classic Rock News And Views
August 28, 2012
Photos and Story by Scott Smith
Kiss and Motley Crüe — what a great, guitar-slinging pair.
The two hard-rock icons hit their stride Aug. 26 in Tulsa, bringing part of their massive, much-talked about “The Tour” tour to more than 18,000 shouting, grinning fans. The scene was the BOK Center, an arena with the best acoustics found in this part of the United States, and more than 18,000 followers of both bands funneled into the venue to catch rock-and-roll sights and sounds to behold.
Following a solid, warm-up slot by the group, The Treatment, Motley Crüe stormed the stage after young female crew members carried “MC” flags through the crowd and male crew members sprayed fans with foamy, machine-gun-like blasts of beer via mounted, Gatling Gun-looking props.
Crüe vocalist Vince Neil sounded strong at the mic, with drummer Tommy Lee thrashing out relentless rock beats on his cymbals and drum heads. Guitarist Mick Mars played two solo sections, and bassist Nikki Sixx stalked the stage right-area, grinding out low-end notes and singing back-up parts into a microphone that was suspended from an overhead lighting rig.
Among the Crüe tracks that roared from the sound system were “Shout at the Devil,” “Kickstart My Heart,” “Wild Side,” “Dr. Feelgood,” “Don’t Go Away Mad (Just Go Away),” “Primal Scream,” “Girls, Girls, Girls,” “Saints of Los Angeles,” “Same Ol’ Situation (S.O.S.)” and brilliant version of the early track, “Live Wire.” Lee’s drum set was attached to a roller coaster track-like contraption, carrying the drummer and his kit vertically into a circular pattern. Lee even pulled a female spectator up to the stage to ride with him on the roaming drum set.
Motley Crüe, while sounding even tighter than they did at the Rocklahoma music festival in 2011, let too many f-bombs slam into their 90-minute session. The Tulsa show proved that Motley Crüe still have the sonic chops to dish up a top-tier concert without leaning on the tired trick of profanity-covered shout-outs.
Sans Kiss bassist Gene Simmons’ mid-set, blood-spitting take in the spotlight, Kiss’ performance was much more family friendly. The New York-born quartet started their rousing set with Simmons, singer-guitarist Paul Stanley and guitarist Tommy Thayer churning out the opening notes of “Detroit Rock City” while standing on a high-rise platform.
Drummer Eric Singer perched his energetic self near the back of the stage, giving a muscular effort that acted as the perfect sonic push for his three band mates. The electricity in Kiss’ set never dipped, and the cherished album cuts were unloaded upon the adoring crowd in machine-gun-like style. The eternally loved “Shout It Out Loud” came second, with the bruising tracks “I Love It Loud” and “War Machine” representing Kiss’ unfairly undervalued “Creatures of the Night” LP from 1982.
Often, Simmons will perform either “I Love It Loud” or “God of Thunder” on the stage, but in Tulsa, Kiss Army recruits got both songs. Simmons voice was in good shape, and his bass playing was inspired throughout the 95-minute set. Why Simmons will never get his due as a four-string warrior is as baffling — and completely unwarranted — as the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame’s ridiculous, on-going shut-out of Kiss.
For “Love Gun,” Stanley used a rig to swing out over the crowd before landing on a rotating, lighted platform near the back of the venue’s floor. The “Starchild” sang the infectious track while alternating his rhythm guitar playing with clipped, swaggering dance moves. Like Simmons’ voice, Stanley’s vocals showed hardly no wear from the beatings of touring and Father Time.
Like he did at Kiss’ 2009 gig in Little Rock, Thayer took over microphone duties for a faithful run-through of “Shock Me,” the trademark song of former Kiss guitarist Ace Frehley. This part of the show, at times, has touched a raw nerve with some older fans, who think Thayer should perform his own “When Lightning Strikes” at Kiss concerts, not Frehley’s composition.
But in all fairness, Thayer’s remake scored an A at the BOK, as did Singer’s raspy, wild-man voice on “Black Diamond.” The latter served as a vocal showpiece for Kiss’ original drummer, Peter Criss, and features one of Kiss’ greatest instrumental arrangements. Singer barked out the song’s street-tough lyrics while giving his snare, toms and shiny cymbals a true workout.
Kiss numbers “Strutter” and “Firehouse also washed over the crowd in high-decibel waves, and “Lick It Up,” as always, proved even better as a live number than the still-strong studio take from 1983. “Lick It Up,” in true Kiss fashion, incorporated the drum break/vocal scream portion of The Who’s “Won’t Get Fooled Again,” and when Kiss’ 1975 anthem “Rock and Roll All Nite” signaled the end of the evening, seemingly endless blasts of spinning confetti showered the audience and turned the BOK’s gray-and-blue interior into a massive, ivory-colored cave.
The profanity in Crüe’s set is to be expected, even by non-fans, but the sight of so many tiny, grade-school-aged Kiss Army fans in the audience in Tulsa begged the question, What is appropriate language for an all-ages crowd? Sure, censorship is bad, usually, but more than a dozen f-bombs is a bit too much, even for those rare, kinda-serious, mostly joking rants from Pete Townshend. Every concert-goer, even those kindergarten and first-grade students seen dressed head to toe as Stanley, Simmons, Thayer and Singer in Tulsa, should be considered when the between-song banter begins flowing.
July 21, 2010
Good news today for Rush fans who enjoy a game of “Guitar Hero” now and then. It was recently announced that Rush’s ever-popular 2112 will be featured in the popular console game.
As if “Guitar Hero” wasn’t popular enough, this new release brings a legendary classic rock band to the table as the 2112 opus is added to the game, something that will surely have Rush fans scrambling to give this one a try.
I have never actually played “Guitar Hero,” but have heard enough about it from diehard fans of the game to assume that any aspiring musician would love to give it a shot, despite its lack of real guitar playing realism.
The game will combine classic and modern rock with an adventure-type game mode, which includes the objective of locating “the lost guitar” in the caves of 2112. “Guitar Hero” brings a unique game play experience by combining these two genres to attract fans of the musical and adventurous gaming audience.
Geddy Lee, lead singer of Rush made this statement: “In our story, the caves of 2112 are where our hero finds the lost guitar and this rediscovery of music is much like the Guitar Hero warriors’ journey to find the Demi-God of Rock’s Legendary guitar, which has been trapped in a cavern.”
The final stage of the game will be narrated by Lee himself along with their guitarist Alex Lifeson, who also made his own statement, “I love the idea of “Guitar Hero;” they have combined two great things – music and fun. I think it’s a great way to introduce people of all ages to music of various styles by all kinds of different bands, while providing a launching pad for kids who want to get into playing music.” The rest of the game will be narrated by Gene Simmons of KISS.
Rush is obviously not the only artist that will be featured in the new “Guitar Hero.” The following bands will also make an appearance: Black Sabbath, Foo Fighters, Queen, KISS, Slipknot, Muse and ZZ Top.
So far it looks as if this “Guitar Hero” will top its previous titles, since it features more songs than any “Guitar Hero” already in circulation. Megadeth will also be recording a new song exclusively for the new title.
The game will also feature eight playable characters that you can control throughout your quest to reach the 2112 caves and retrieve the lost guitar.
The new title, “Guitar Hero: Warriors of Rock” is set to hit the shelves on September 28, 2010. Fans should keep an eye out for any new updates until the release in the meanwhile.
May 19, 2010
Everyone knows that KISS “demon” Gene Simmons isn’t a bashful kind of guy. So it may not come as a surprise to some that the rock star who has reportedly claimed to have had sexual encounters with more than 4,000 women has been accused of acting inappropriately while in the company of a an ESPN makeup artist.
Appearing on an episode of SportsCenter late last year, the fact that Simmons and Victoria Jackson found themselves in close physical contact is not surprising. Makeup artists must literally get in their client’s faces in order to do their job. This, according to Jackson, was seen as a window of opportunity for Simmons to indulge in a little impromptu “grinding.”
Jackson has said that the incident has caused her “humiliation, shame, anger, anxiety, and depression,” and is seeking a $185,000 settlement from Simmons.
Simmons has reportedly refused to agree to the out-of-court settlement, and it appears that the case may be headed for trial.
Some sources also indicate that Simmons has not even denied the incident, and indicated that his actions do not constitute harassment when he’s in costume. Another report quotes Simmons saying that Jackson’s claim is “implausible if not impossible,” due to the restrictions imposed upon his anatomy by his costume.
“He said, she said” cases can be quite difficult to prove, especially in a case like this where no physical evidence is present. If reports that Simmons has not denied the accusations are accurate, it appears he could be setting himself up to be on the wrong end of an expensive transaction.
As a rock star and an entrepreneur, a substantial payout is not going to put him in the poor house, but at the same time, it’s probably not a good idea to look like a pushover – a move that could result in more trouble of this variety in the future.
Perhaps the 60-year-old rock legend just regards these kinds of things as a cost of doing business the way he likes to do business. Then again, depending on which account is accurate, maybe Simmons is totally innocent.
Simmons is said to have filed his own complaint in court against Jackson for threatening to file a lawsuit against him if he does not agree to the settlement.
March 23, 2010
Them Crooked Vultures, the group that includes former Led Zeppelin bassist John Paul Jones, landed in London to do their part for the Teenage Cancer Trust, a charitable effort dedicated to “improving the lives of teenagers and young adults with cancer.”
The Vultures took to the stage at Royal Albert Hall in London last night for a two-hour set, and were quite happy to be part of the effort, according to front man Josh Homme, who said, “What an absolute pleasure to see you all here this evening. London let its hair down for the right reason, huh?”
Check out more on the story from NME and the video below from Absolute Radio.
Gene Simmons Speaks His Mind on Fox News
Anyone at all familiar with KISS rocker Gene Simmons knows he’s not the least bit bashful about telling things the way he sees them. In a recent appearance on Fox News, Simmons had a few things to say about President Obama and the current state of U.S. foreign policy.
Simmons told Fox’s Megan Kelly that, “I voted for Presidents Clinton, Bush and Obama. We can disagree for instance on certain social issues, and completely disagree with our pathetic foreign policy. It’s wimpy.”
With regard to the white-hot health care issue, Simmons does not sound like he’s in Obama’s corner on that issue either. “I think the worst thing we can do right now is health care… When the government gets involved it’s disaster.”
Simmons has described himself on occasion as an “Ayn Randian of sorts,” and has credited some of Rand’s work for inspiring his own creative efforts. Something he apparently has in common with Rush drummer and lyricist Neil Peart.
ZZ Top Announces Chile Benefit Show
Texas rock trio ZZ Top will appear at Movistar Arena in the Chilean city of Santiago on May 18th for a benefit concert for victims of the magnitude 8.8 earthquake that shook the region on February 27th.
On the band’s official website, guitarist Billy Gibbons announced news of the show via video. Gibbons, speaking in Spanish, expressed the band’s sentiment with the following statement:
“I’m Billy from the band ZZ Top. The whole world knows about the effects caused by the earthquake that happened in your beautiful country. We know that the Chilean spirit can never be broken and that right now it is stronger than ever. ZZ will be in Santiago on May 18 at the Movistar arena. We hope that you can join us for a special night.”
For more, see Undercover.
December 18, 2009
That place out in Cleveland has done it again. You know the one I’m talking about. I’ve pretty much sworn off mentioning the name of the place here – after all this is Real Rock News – but since that’s a bit silly, I’ll just go ahead with it.
The fact that 70’s Swedish pop stars ABBA have been given the nod for inclusion in the so-called “Rock and Roll Hall of Fame” and KISS is still awaiting their invite has reignited the debate about what kind of institution they are running out there. We’ve been down this road before, and it probably won’t be the last time.
Before I go on, it’s important to understand I actually like ABBA. At least I did back in the day when they were all over the radio and I was a young teenager. It didn’t hurt that I thought the blond one was really hot!
Be that as it may, it’s important to note that I still give a listen to some of ABBA’s hits on occasion. It really brings back memories. Classic rock is my favorite, but there are other kinds of music I enjoy as well. ABBA were quite the influential pop group back in those days, and that’s exactly my point. ABBA was clearly a pop group, and wasn’t even close to what I consider rock and roll.
Even though I’m really not a KISS fan, there is no denying that they are enormously popular, and have sold a whole lot of records. Rock and roll records.
“Hall of Fame” is an interesting name. What exactly is fame? Dictionary.com defines fame as, “widespread reputation, esp. of a favorable character; renown; public eminence.”
I’d have to say that KISS certainly justifies the association of that word with their enduring career. I may not be all that crazy about them, but they do have an enviable fan base, and they do indeed play rock and roll music. While ABBA certainly passes the “fame” test with flying colors, they don’t quite score a passing grade on the “rock and roll” test.
Each time we get word on the latest inductees into that institution, it seems like they drift further and further away from rock, and into genres that clearly don’t meet that criteria. There’s no sign that they will put an end to this nonsense, and I won’t deny that some of the non-rock artists that have been honored there are very talented, and quite deserving of recognition on a grand scale. However, not under the banner of “rock and roll.”
I think there’s a simple solution to all of this. I have no illusions that this could actually ever happen, but I think they should rename it something like “The Music Hall of Fame,” or something else that is more inclusive, if they are going to continue giving the nod to groups like ABBA while ignoring KISS, Rush, Yes, and a host of other bona fide rockers.
Isn’t inducting the likes of ABBA and Run-D.M.C. in the “Rock and Roll Hall of Fame” akin to someone opening a car dealership with a big sign out front that advertises Toyotas, and then filling the lot with Fords? Should we start calling hot dogs hamburgers? If we subscribe to the logic they are using to decide who gets the coveted invite to the “Rock Hall,” we may as well.
Although I may be the only one, I believe I will begin to refer to that institution as the “Music Hall of Fame” instead of the “Rock and Roll Hall of Fame” from now on. It certainly makes a whole lot more sense to me.