Concert review: Dropkick Murphys

It seems like only yesterday I heard Sunshine Highway on Radio Wazee, and wandered over to the radio stations website to see who sang the song. This chance encounter is what sparked my interest in The Dropkick Murphys. After perusing the bands CDs on iTunes, I decided to buy The Warrior’s Code. This turned out to be a phenomenal purchase, and peaked my interest in seeing the band live. After two years of waiting for the band to come to my home town, I finally got my chance to see them two months ago at a small local venue.

The night started with two punk bands opening the way for the Dropkick Murphys. I didn’t catch the name of the first band, but the second one was named the Horror Pops. Both bands sounded good, and it was awesome seeing live punk. Once the Horror Pops went off stage, I could feel the energy in the venue rising. As soon as the Dropkick Murphys started into their opening song, the place came alive, and you could immediately tell that the band was was going to deliver a stellar performance. They did just that, and they sounded incredible when they belted out their hits “Tessie,” “I’m Shipping Up To Boston,” “The Warrior’s Code,” “Citizen C.I.A” and a number of other tunes I didn’t jot down. I had an incredible time, and am looking forward to seeing these guys play another show! Niiice!

Concert review: The Smashing Pumpkins

It seems like just yesterday The Smashing Pumpkins announced that the band was breaking up, and the band members would be venturing out to do their own thing. James Iha joined The Perfect Circle, Billy Corgan and Jimmy Chamberlain formed Zwan, and I have no idea what Darcy ended up doing with herself (though — she quit the band prior to the band formally calling it quits). While these side projects were good, they definitely didn’t fill the void that was left when the pumpkins broke up. So when Billy Corgan took out a full page ad to announce that the pumpkins would be reuniting late last year, I was stoked, and planned to attend one or more of the reunion shows.

My first chance came this week when the pumpkins played a two night stint at the lovely Fox theatre. I was fortunate to get tickets to both shows, and am extremely glad I did! Billy opened night one with four acoustic songs, including my personal favorite “Disarm.” After the acoustic set, the other band members (Jimmy Chamberlain, Ginger Reyes and Jeff Schroeder) joined Billy and his electric guitar to play a number of new songs, as well as some of the classics. In addition to the four acoustic songs Billy played to open the show, the band played “Bullet with butterfly wings,” “Hummer,” “Drown,” “Glass and the ghost children,” “1979,” “Cherub Rock,” “Tonight Tonight,” “Today,” “Tarantula,” “Set the Ray to Jerry,” “Heavy metal machine,” “Perfect” and a few songs I didn’t recognize. The opening night was awesome, and I was hopeful night two would be just as good!

On night two, the band came out dressed in white and immediately went to town on what turned out to be one of the best sets I have ever heard them play. The band opened with their mega-hit “Today,” and followed that with “Stand inside your love,” “Ava Adore,” “To Sheila, “Bullet with butterfly wings,” “Tonight Tonight,” “1979,” “Cherub Rock,” “Tarantula,” “Bring the light,” “Rocket,” “Drown,” “Zero,” “Thirty-Three,” “Starla,” and a drawn out version of “Heavy metal machine” (the songs are not listed in the actual order they played them). Night two was definitely the better of the two nights, but I was a bit disappointed that they didn’t play “Disarm.” I can empathetically say the band sounded incredible live, and it appears they didn’t drop a step from when I saw them on their Machine fair-well tour several years ago. While I have no idea what the future holds for the pumpkins, hopefully Billy will decide to keep making and playing music under the pumpkins name. Viva la rock and roll!

Concert review: Alice In Chains acoustic hour

Roughly ten years ago one of my friends loaned me his copy of the Alice In Chain’s MTV unplugged CD. Since that time, I’ve listened to that CD thousands of times, and have become one of the biggest Alice In Chains fans on the planet. I have had the opportunity to see Jerry Cantrell play a number of shows across the country, and attended an Alice In Chains show earlier this year. During that show, the guys from AIC played an awesome acoustic set, which left me wanting more. A few months back I got notified that AIC was doing a number of acoustic shows across the country, so I decided to head down to New Orleans to check one out.

New Orleans is an incredible town, so I decided to wander down a couple of days early to relax and have a little fun. While relaxing on the top of the Omni hotel the night before the show, I looked over at the bar and saw Mike Inez (the Alice In Chain’s bassist) drinking it up with his friends. I was completely taken by this, and couldn’t believe that a member of one of my favorite bands was sitting twenty feet away from me. When Mike got up to leave, I stopped him for a second to tell him we ventured down to see him, and thanked him for putting on the acoustic show (I totally respect peoples privacy, so I kept the conversation to two sentences). He smiled, thanked us for coming, and then headed out to have some fun with his friends.

On the day of the show, I was still flying high from meeting one of the band members (I saw Jerry Cantrell in the hotel bar, but he was less than friendly for some reason), so I was hoping the acoustic show would elevate things to the next level. The band took the stage around 9:30pm, and opened the show with the song “Don’t Follow.” The sound system at the House of Blues really made the acoustic instruments stand out, and the opening song sounded absolutely incredible! Jerry, William, Mike and Sean followed up the opening song with a slew of classic AIC songs, including “Heaven Beside You,” “Brother,” “Nutshell,” “Killer is Me,” “Sludge Factory,” “Love Hate Love,” “No Excuses,” “Down in a Hole,” “Angry Chair,” “Got me Wrong,” “Would?” and “Rooster.” This show has to go down as one of the best concerts I have ever attended, and hearing these guys play acoustic made my year! Viva la AIC!!!

Concert review: 311

I ventured out recently to see the The English beat, Matisyahu and 311. Based on some logistical issues, I didn’t get to see The English Beat or Matisyahu, but I was able to to see the entire 311 show (311 is one of my favorite bands, so I was stoked I got to see their entire set). The boys from Omaha put on a great show, and Doug and Nick sounded awesome! If you haven’t listened to 311 before, their music can best be described as a mix of hip-hop, funk and rock and roll.

The set list for the evening was packed with a number of tunes from transister, and contained classic hits like “Beautiful Disaster,” “Amber,” “All Mixed Up,” “Down,” “Don’t Tread on Me,” “Hive,” “Feels So Good,” “Prisoner,” “Homebrew” and “Beyond the Gray Sky.” All in all the show was fantastic, and I was fortunate to have some incredible folks with me to cheer on the band! It was also cool to see the vast majority of the crowd singing along, since audience participation can make or break a show. Niiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiice!

Concert review: Tool

Over the past two years, I have grown to enjoy the music from the band Tool. Their music was truly revolutionary when they originally hit the music scene, and they are known for putting on one of the best live shows. A few weeks back I got a chance to see Tool live for the first time. Tool came on stage around 9:20pm, and opened the show with “Jambi.” This is a wicked cool tune, and like each song they played, it sounded absolutely amazing!!!! After Jambi, the band played “Stinkfist.” This tune also sounded incredible live, and it was amazing how the band sat back and let the music speak to the crowd.

Once the band finished up with Stinkfist, they played “46 & 2,” “Schism,” “Pushit,” “Lateralus,” “Lost Keys” and “Vicarious.” Each song was accompanied by a video that was playing on a number of monitors, as well as one of the coolest laser light shows I have ever seen. It’s a bummer the band didn’t play “Sober,” “The Pot” or some of their older hits, but the tunes they did play sounded magnificent! I have seen a LOT of shows in my day, and there aren’t many bands that sound better live than they do on CD. Tool is one such band, and I think this show was the best concert I have ever attended. Hopefully I can see them again in the near future!