Classic Rock News And Views
February 19, 2013
Without actually looking, I can’t imagine how many times I’ve posted Led Zeppelin reunion rumors. I suppose they’ve been coming and going for a number of years and back in 2007 when the remaining members of the group reunited for a one-time show at London’s O2, the rumor mill cranked up to full speed.
As these things often do, the rumors died down after a while and it seemed like lead singer Robert Plant was keeping himself quite occupied with activities such as recording albums and touring with bluegrass artist Alison Krauss. Although asked about a Zeppelin reunion a number of times on various television and radio programs, Plant was usually noncommittal and really didn’t leave the impression that a reunion was in the cards.
Rolling Stone is reporting that Plant is starting to sound more like a guy who may be ready to hook up with his old band mates and hit the road again. The Stones are still together (for the most part) and other veteran groups like Aerosmith are still making music so why not Led Zeppelin? According to Plant, you’ll need to ring up Jimmy Page and John Paul Jones for the answer to that question.
The “two Capricorns,” as Plant calls them, are the ones that appear to be in position to make a Led Zeppelin reunion a reality if they so choose. We haven’t heard from them yet regarding this latest development, but Plant says he’s “got nothing to do in 2014,” hinting that he’s willing to entertain the possibility of a reunion. That may be first positive indication we’ve heard from any of those guys so far.
A little over a year ago Page told Rolling Stone that the reason a reunion didn’t happen following the O2 show was that Plant was busy. Well, I guess we’ll see if Page is ready to get onboard now that the shoe is on the other foot.
Led Zeppelin is, of course, a household name. Hailed by many as the greatest rock band in the world, a reunion would be virtually guaranteed to be a success – at least as far as getting bottoms planted in venue seats is concerned. If the O2 show in 2007 was any indication, we know that the boys are capable of putting on a show that was received very enthusiastically by fans. Would the aging rockers hold up for a full-blown tour? I’m guessing they could if they scheduled it properly and didn’t pretend they were still twenty years old. I suspect they’re too smart for that.
We’re surely a ways off from any official announcements of a reunion, but this kind of speculation is so much fun so I may as well indulge myself a bit. I suspect we’ll see the return of Jason Bonham if a Zeppelin reunion takes shape. He’s kept himself busy with Black Country Communion and his own “Led Zeppelin Experience” in recent years, but I suspect he’d jump at the chance to tour with his father’s old band mates. They seemed to mesh will with him back on 2007, so he’d be an obvious choice to occupy the drum throne for a reunion.
Again we wait. Plant his fired a shot across the bow of the H.M.S. Two Capricorns and it shall be interesting to see how they respond.
February 16, 2013
Photos and Story by Scott Smith
No band plays with more fire, across-the-board talent or purpose than The Who. Nobody.
Led by co-founders Pete Townshend (guitar, vocals) and Roger Daltrey (vocals), The Who shot new life into their already-impressive 1973 concept album, “Quadrophenia,” with a front-to-back live rendition on Valentine’s Day at the BOK Center in Tulsa, Okla.
The magnificent, multi-media concert showed The Who to be in prize-fighting form and featured more lead singing from Townshend than any Who tour of the last 16 years.
Dressed in a white T-shirt, black pants and black shoes, Townshend windmilled away on his red Fender Stratocaster on the opening riff-festival that is “The Real Me,” while Daltrey sang with soul-finding conviction.
Save for a couple spots in the evening, Daltrey sounded every bit as good as he did on The Who’s magnificent 2000 tour, with his strong, defiant tenor hitting 99-percent of his targeted notes.
Townshend’s voice also seemed to gain strength at the Tulsa show compared to his still-good vocals during The Who’s performance at the 2010 Super Bowl, the 2012 Summer Olympics and the 12-12-12 benefit concert. At times in the past, Townshend growled and hollered some of his vocal passages, but in Tulsa, his voice returned to its cleaner, often-vulnerable character, as heard on the original “Quadrophenia” album and Townshend’s own 1980 solo album, “Empty Glass.”
On this new tour, Townshend sings a lot, and it’s this slight shift in the lead-vocal department that works in favor of The Who. Having Townshend’s voice play such a strong role in the “Quadrophenia” portion gives an added color to the modern-day Who. Daltrey does sound fantastic — his incredible vocal journey throughout the truly brilliant “Love Reign O’er Me” at the BOK was well worth the admission price alone — but having Townshend and Townshend’s younger, guitar-playing brother, Simon, frequently on microphones gave The Who an added aural dimension.
Simon’s lead vocals on “The Dirty Jobs” was an unexpected highlight for fans, as was Simon’s lead-guitar parts during the early moments of the “Quadrophenia” set. More spectacular aspects included the strong presence of The Who’s original rhythm section, the late John Entwistle (bass) and the late Keith Moon (drums), courtesy of terrific, archival footage on the arena’s big screens. Forty-year-old footage and sound from a headphones-wearing Moon blended perfectly with the live Who’s sound on “Bell Boy,” and for the full-throttle nirvana of “5.15,” Entwistle was seen and heard soloing on bass from a November 2000 Who show, his fingers and thumbs comprising tan-colored blurs.
The isolated sound of Entwistle’s speedy, power-house bass playing accompanied the live-drum sound of skin-pounder Scott Devours, Daltrey’s solo drummer who’s been subbing for a sick Zak Starkey. Without question, Starkey, who is Ringo Starr’s son, has been vital to The Who’s lifeblood since he signed on for The Who’s 1996-1997 tour, but in all fairness, Devours was a tremendous presence driving The Who in Tulsa. Refusing to ape the peerless styles of Moon and Starkey (thankfully), Devours magically put his own thumping spin on the drum parts while retaining much of the feel of the original studio recordings.
Pino Palladino, The Who’s bass player since Entwistle died in the summer of 2002, stood in a low-key way at stage right while wearing what looked like a green military jacket and cap. Palladino’s four-stringed style is less aggressive than Entwistle’s technique, but Palladino’s fluid fingering throughout “The Real Me” and the encore hits “Who Are You,” “Won’t Get Fooled Again” and “Baba O’Riley” was perfect.
The only noticeable bump at the Tulsa gig occurred when Pete Townshend, for some reason, stopped playing guitar for about 10 seconds during the up tempo portion of “Behind Blue Eyes.” Staring at his guitar technician into the darkened, stage-left wings, The Who’s chief songwriter let his Stratocaster momentarily hang silent before picking back up during the song’s bruising, power-chord crescendos.
Almost miraculously, the multi-generational audience sat and watched all of the 90-minute “Quadrophenia” section — many hard-core fans and Townshend himself consider “Quadrophenia” The Who’s crowning artistic statement, although Who LPs like “Tommy,” “Who’s Next” and “Live at Leeds” are more popular with the group’s more casual fans. The fans knew the encore-hits portion was coming, but still, for them not to make frequent dashes to the merch tables and beer lines said something of their commitment to absorb the art-rock greatness of “Quadrophenia.”
Who fans do need to make sure they arrive early to the show to catch the Los Angeles-based quartet Vintage Trouble, who opens the evening with a gotta-see, gotta-hear set that’s full of lead guitar, roaming bass, hard-hitting drum patterns and powerful, James Brown-esque vocals. In Tulsa, Vintage Trouble showed they were one of the few bands today that can open for The Who with such dignity, grace and memorable, good-time music.
January 31, 2013
Photo and Story by Scott Smith
First-night blips were banished as Matchbox Twenty rocked the house via a loud, wonderfully long set list Jan. 29 in Tulsa.
The popular band launched its world tour at a sold-out show at The Joint inside the Tulsa Hard Rock Hotel & Casino, and the gig thrilled long-time fans and shushed any nay-sayers. Lead singer Rob Thomas, guitarists Kyle Cook and Paul Doucette, bassist Brian Yale, keyboardist-guitarist Matt Beck and touring drummer Stacy Jones all sounded spectacular, merging their high-volume efforts into an ensemble sound that was edgy yet melodic, and fierce with a purpose.
“Parade,” the lead-off song of Matchbox Twenty’s most recent album, “North,” kicked off the concert as the spot-on group played under dim, colorful lighting. Appearing somewhat serious, Thomas hit all the right notes, his voice sounding fresh and strong for the opening-night celebration. “Bent” met the multi-generational audience next on a full-tilt note, followed by “Disease” and the recent single, “She’s So Mean.”
Donning glasses, a neighborly grin and tall, cool-cat hair, Cook got two stabs at the lead-vocal mic, giving Thomas a short break to play piano and rest his voice. Cook sang “The Way,” and he also gave Faces fans a friendly shock by leading Matchbox Twenty through part of Faces’ “Stay With Me.” Yale churned out that stop-and-start, oh-so-majestic bass line created by the late, always-missed Ronnie Lane, and Cook barked out Rod Stewart’s sassing vocal parts as fans danced and cheered.
Other cuts played included “Girl Like That,” “3 A.M.,” “If You’re Gone,” “Unwell,” “Overjoyed,” “I Will” and “So Sad, So Lonely.” For the band’s post-grunge anthem “Real World,” Cook played that crucial electric-guitar lick perfectly while Thomas playfully strutted and twirled his microphone stand.
One of the numerous high points was witnessing all of Matchbox Twenty’s members handling multiple instruments, all while being lighted and shadowed by an amazing, jaw-dropping light show. Thomas played guitar and piano, Yale played keyboards, Beck played lap-steel guitar and Doucette bounced between guitar, drums and a stand-alone rack of floor toms.
Dressed in a white jacket, white pants and a dark T-shirt, Doucette — he’s affectionately called “the Reverend Paul Doucette” by the band and its crew — thrashed out hefty rhythm guitar parts. At times, Doucette pounded the floor-tom set so hard that several people thought the drum sticks or drum head surely will break.
The stoic Doucette also proved that he hasn’t lost his trap-set skills when he relieved Jones for two songs; Jones himself played rhythm guitar and a snare drum when Doucette commanded the drum set.
Mid-way through the evening, Thomas introduced the band, and gave an extra-loud shout out to Jones.
“This is the newest member of this traveling circus we have here,” Thomas said while pointing to Jones, who hails from Tulsa and also is a multi-instrumentalist and singer for the band American Hi-Fi. “He’s from right down the road, so give it up for him!”
The audience roared its approval before being treated to top-shelf takes of “The Way,” “English Town” and “Bright Lights.” When the encore came — Matchbox Twenty’s two-hour main set flashed by in what seemed like 45 minutes — “Sleeping at the Wheel” was heard first, followed by the adrenaline session that is “Put Your Hands Up.” “Back to Good,” “You’re So Real” and a perfect version of “Push” closed the stellar concert.
Even if Matchbox Twenty trims the opening-night’s set list for the remainder of the tour, fans still need to catch this six-man band in person. Sure, Thomas’ duet with Carol Santana, “Smooth,” naturally wasn’t included, but the show still has those four magical ingredients for a concert worth witnessing — a great, sweaty effort from the band, wonderfully balanced sound, a bullet-proof set list and a light show that’s not too far removed from “Close Encounters of the Third Kind.”
January 20, 2013
Photo and Story by Scott Smith
Suckers walk and money talks, but they can’t touch Sammy Hagar’s party-time rock.
Backed by his super-fit band, The Wabos, the perpetually grinning Hagar let his Red-Rocker persona fly through a best-of set list Jan. 18 at The Joint inside the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Catoosa, Okla., near Tulsa. Hagar’s time in Montrose and Van Halen and as a free-willing solo artist comprised what has to be one of hard rock’s greatest feel-good sets.
The vocal, sold-out crowd first was treated to a pre-recorded, big-screen video time line of Hagar’s high-profile work. Men and women cheered as still photographs and videos of Hagar’s musical progression were seen before Hagar rushed out from the back-stage darkness to launch into the Montrose medley of “Rock Candy” and “Bad Motor Scooter.” For the latter, Hagar played a portable, electric pedal steel guitar to recreate the song’s original scooter-engine sounds moments before Wabos members Vic Johnson (guitar), Mona Gnader (bass) and David Lauser (Hagar’s solo-band drummer since 1981) pounded out more Friday-night sounds.
“There’s Only One Way to Rock” also came early in fast-and-furious fashion, as did the defiant “I Can’t Drive 55.” Also hitting all the right marks were the punk-tempo of “Heavy Metal,” the always-fantastic “I’ll Fall In Love Again” and the burning-funk workout “Three Lock Box,” and when it came time for “I’ve Done Everything For You,” Hagar preceded the song with a playful jab at Rick Springfield; Hagar wrote the song and released it first, but Springfield’s version became a smash-hit single.
“I said, Rick, how come when I did ‘I’ve Done Everything For You,’ it tanked? It just went nowhere, man,” Hagar said before laughing. “Rick said, ‘Sam, Sam. It’s because I’m better looking than you.’”
The audience then chuckled.
“I don’t know if you’ve seen Rick these days, though, but Rick hasn’t aged all that great lately,” Hagar said jokingly.
Donning black sunglasses, a black T-shirt, red tennis shoes and baggy, knee-length red shorts, Hagar was in excellent vocal form, bouncing around the stage and stomping his feet to the crack of Lauser’s snare-drum strikes. He also spent quite a bit of time playfully dog-fighting on guitar with Johnson, summoning delicious solos on top of Gnader’s limber, sassy bass lines and Lauser’s terrific-sounding tom rolls.
Johnson and Gnader also proved to be strong vocalists on the Van Halen cuts, providing Hagar with crucial harmonies previously supplied by Hagar’s Van Halen/Chickenfoot compatriot Michael Anthony. Hagar’s readings of the VH favorites “Why Can’t This Be Love,” “Top of the World” and “Finish What Ya Started” stood tall and proud, and “Right Now” underwent a touching overhaul as a keyboard-less, slower-paced song.
Throughout the energetic concert, Hagar autographed what had to have been 80 items near the venue’s front row, leaning out to sign CD and vinyl LP covers, as well as a license plate, home-made banners and a miniature, straw-woven cowboy hat. He often would giggle while simultaneously signing autographs and singing verses, and when someone tossed a small, gray shirt for Hagar to sign, Hagar laughed into the microphone.
“Man, this is a woman’s blouse,” he said with a large grin as the audience laughed and pointed. “Man, what are you doing here?”
Hagar also joked about his friendship with country star Toby Keith — one of Keith’s restaurants stands adjacent to The Joint — and Hagar and the Wabos played Hagar’s early solo cut, “Red,” for a retired U.S. Air Force member and his family who requested the song earlier in the day.
Near the end, the crowd participation of “Mas Tequila” and the soaring, under-valued “Eagles Fly” kept the smiles coming, and Hagar’s punchy hybrid of Eddie Cochran’s “Summertime Blues” and the Beastie Boys’ “Fight For Your Right (to Party)” closed the concert on a loud, fun, perfect note.
January 9, 2013
By Jason Kane
Classic Rock fans used to cringe when they heard the word Bonnaroo – it conjured images of hippies gathered in mass quantities dancing and listening to their favorite jam bands. The festival is typically associated with acts like Phish, Dave Matthews Band, Keller Williams, etc… However in the past 5 years there have been a lot of classic rock bands nuzzling their way into the once jam band exclusive set list of Bonnaroo. On top of that there are rumors circulating the internet that ZZ Top and Tom Petty will play this year’s 2013 festival. Here is a look at two years where classic rock bands rocked Bonnaroo.
Bonnaroo 2010 was a great year to attend the festival for classic rock fans. Interestingly enough the festival saw many collaborations where classic rock met newer rock. For starters The Flaming Lips along with Stardeath and White Dwarfs did a complete cover of Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon. Some old school rockers considered it blasphemy but all in all it was a pretty cool tribute to one of the most iconic classic rock bands that has ever existed.
The collaboration between Daryl Hall of Hall and Oates and the more contemporary band Chromeo also saw classic rock being fused with today’s rock. The two had played together two years back after getting together for a jam session at Hall’s house.
To top the festival off there were also separate performances by Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductees Stevie Wonder and Jeff Beck – not exactly the hippie fest that rockers once thought it was.
Last year’s 2012 Bonnaroo really embraced classic rock in a big way. There were solo performances by big names like Colin Hay of Men at Work, and 80’s rockers Red Hot Chili Peppers and Danzig played amazing sets as well. There was also the Van Halen tribute band “Unchained” that played the festival as well, and although there was a bit of controversy surrounding their coveted 2am slot on the “That Tent” stage, it was still great to hear some classic Van Halen tunes echoing through the park.
Saturday June 9th was the night rockers didn’t want to miss as rock legend Alice Cooper took the stage and turned the festival upside down. A few months before his set Cooper was quoted as saying, “If you’re in the first 20 rows, you’ll probably get some blood on you.” Although the 64 year old didn’t rock the place THAT hard, it was still a high energy show that definitely turned a few younger souls onto classic rock.
And speaking of turning younger souls onto classic rock, The Beach Boys played a set the following night. You’ve got to give it to Bonnaroo for not just completely selling out and booking all pop acts and house music – after all they probably could and they might just sell more tickets that way.
The Bonnaroo Music Festival has come a long way from being the 3-day hippy jam fest that it used to be, and rock fans are beginning to realize that. If you really love rock music then the occasional annoying 20-something you’ll run into on the concert grounds won’t be enough to stop you from seeing a great show.
Jason Kane writes about rock concerts and his vinyl album collection that keeps growing thanks to www.SoundStageDirect.com