It’s been a long time…

Thirty three years ago next week I saw Led Zeppelin’s third to last performance with the original four members in Mannhiem, Germany.

Last night I saw the next best thing to seeing the band that reformed for the fabled O2 concert in 2007.

We went to the local concert shed to see Jason Bonham’s Led Zeppelin Experience open up for Heart.  Believe it or not, I had never seen the Wilson sisters perform.

It was a typical hot and humid June night and thankfully we had seats inside the pavilion.  The setting sun was still very intense from our seats in the 300 section, near the back of the building.  We had our shades on for the first half of Bonham’s band’s set.

Eventually the sun dropped below the tree line and we could begin to see the images on the large video screens on either side of the stage.

The Led Zep Experience ran through a quick set of Zeppelin standards, with Jason occasionally addressing the crowd from behind his kit.  The passing and subsequent absence of his Dad, though 33 past, is obviously still an emotional subject.

The band consisted of a trio of hired guns on vocals, guitar and bass.  They did a solid, if unremarkable, job with the material.  It’s clear that Jason is the star here.  Vocalist James Dylan is from the Northern Virginia area, so he had quite a few local supporters.  He’s a Plant sound-a-like, even if he is a Daughtry look-a-like.

The band was rounded out by Tony Catania on guitar, and Michael Devin on bass.

Jason, I think Bonzo would be proud.

After a brief intermission, the Anne and Nancy and crew took the stage to the power chords of their signature rocker, “Barracuda”.

Heart ran through set heavy on the hits, with couple of pleasant surprises.  Nancy did a solo acoustic cover of Elton John’s “I Need You to Turn to” that was really beautiful.  “She’s really underrated as a performer”, I shared with my date, “but she’s in the Hall of Fame”.

Other than the train wreck, “Dear Old America”, it was a solid set with some heavy riffs and the sister’s legendary vocals.  No “Dog and Butterfly”, but they did play “Mistral Wind”.

As the final notes of “Crazy On You” rang in the night and faded, the lights dimmed and Jason Bonham’s drum riser was rolled back out on stage for the “encore”.

Anne and Nancy appeared center stage.  Anne on acoustic guitar, Nancy on mandolin and they proceeded to play the “Battle of Evermore”, a Zeppelin tune they’ve been covering for probably 30 years or so.  It was, if the word can be used on a Led Zeppelin song, sublime.

That was followed by some of my favorite Zep tunes, “The Song Remains the Same”, “The Rain Song”, “The Ocean”, “Kashmir” and “Stairway to Heaven”.

“Stairway” was the closer and they included the choir, albiet a smaller version, that appeared with them on the Kennedy Center Honors awards show honoring Led Zeppelin among others.

Short of seeing Jimmy, Robert and JPJ together on stage again, this is probably as close as a Led Zeppelin fan will get to seeing the band live at this point.  Anne Wilson is undisputedly the finest interpreter of Plant’s Led Zeppelin vocals. Finest.  Ever. Period.

It’s a show well worth your time.

Bands I’ve seen over the years…

Update of the ongoing and growing list…
  1. AC/DC
  2. Judas Priest x3
  3. Queen
  4. Rush x6
  5. Led Zeppelin
  6. ZZ Top x2
  7. The Police
  8. Cheap Trick x2
  9. Asia
  10. The Black Crowes
  11. The Alarm
  12. Kings X x4
  13. Journey x3
  14. Peter Frampton
  15. Bob Dylan
  16. Emmylou Harris x2
  17. Buddy and Julie Miller x2
  18. The Proclaimers
  19. The Cranberries
  20. Toad the Wet Sprocket
  21. Dream Theater x2
  22. Zappa Plays Zappa
  23. Queenscryche
  24. Iron Maiden x4
  25. Kansas
  26. Foreigner
  27. Scorpions x2
  28. Def Leppard x3
  29. Gamma
  30. Jethro Tull
  31. Thin Lizzy
  32. Rolling Stones
  33. J. Geils Band
  34. Jason & the Scorchers x3
  35. Randy Newman
  36. Simon & Garfunkel
  37. The Everly Bros
  38. Carbon Leaf
  39. Seven Nations x5
  40. The Trans-Siberian Orchestra x3
  41. Saxon
  42. Motorhead x3
  43. Heaven and Hell (Black Sabbath w/ RJD)
  44. Larry Norman x2
  45. Eddie From Ohio
  46. Shawn Colvin
  47. Jonathon Waite
  48. April Wine
  49. Krokus
  50. Girlschool
  51. Styx x2
  52. Nickelback
  53. Papa Roach
  54. Hinder x2
  55. Saving Abel
  56. Los Lonely Boys x2
  57. Los Lobos
  58. The Young Dubliners
  59. Great Big Sea
  60. Phil Keaggy x4
  61. Second Chapter of Acts
  62. Blue Oyster Cult x2
  63. The Machine
  64. Stryper
  65. The Thompson Twins
  66. Howard Jones
  67. TNT
  68. Loudness
  69. Testament x2
  70. REM
  71. The dbs
  72. Dan Fogelberg
  73. Chicago
  74. Earth, Wind & Fire
  75. Pete Yorn
  76. Over the Rhine x3
  77. Bill Mallonee x5
  78. Ted Nugent
  79. Molly Hatchett
  80. Wishbone Ash
  81. Pat Travers
  82. Johnny Winters
  83. Gibb Droll
  84. Moe.
  85. Savatage
  86. The Galactic Cowboys
  87. Saga
  88. Susan Tedeschi
  89. Chuck Brown and the Soul Searchers
  90. Accept x3
  91. Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers with special guest Stevie Nicks
  92. Social Distortion x2
  93. Collective Soul
  94. Bryan Adams
  95. Trey Anastasio
  96. Christopher Parkening
  97. Bruce Cockburn
  98. Epica
  99. Blackguard x2
  100. SignalThreat
  101. Megadeth
  102. Roger Clyne and the Peacemakers x3
  103. Alice Cooper
  104. Godsmack x2
  105. Halestorm
  106. Alter Bridge
  107. Bullet for My Valentine x2
  108. Seether x2
  109. Sevendust
  110. Red Fang
  111. Avenged Sevenfold
  112. Pop Evil
  113. Skillet
  114. Foo Fighters
  115. The Joy Formidable
  116. Ryan Montbleau Band x6
  117. Disturbed
  118. Trivium
  119. Straight Line Stitch
  120. Machine Head x2
  121. In Flames
  122. Black Tide
  123. Three Days Grace
  124. Escape the Fate
  125. Theory of a Deadman
  126. Sabaton
  127. Sound of Thunder
  128. Slayer
  129. Anthrax
  130. Slipknot
  131. The Devil Wears Prada
  132. Asking Alexandria
  133. Alice Cooper
  134. Drake White
  135. Blackberry Smoke
  136. Dixie Power Trio
  137. Ana Popovich
  138. Soundgarden x2
  139. Silversun Pickups
  140. Capital Cities
  141. AWOL Nation
  142. Stacie Collins
  143. Deanna Bogart
  144. Mavis Staples
  145. Bonnie Raitt
  146. Quinn Sullivan
  147. Southern Hospitality
  148. Indigenous
  149. The Slide Brothers
  150. Trampled Under Foot
  151. Jason Bonham’s Led Zeppelin Experience
  152. Heart
  153. Motionless in White
  154. Butcher Babies
  155. Job for a Cowboy
  156. Amon Armoth
  157. Mastodon
  158. Five Finger Death Punch
  159. Rob Zombie
  160. Battlecross
  161. Children of Bodom
  162. Monster Madhouse
  163. The Deathbillies
  164. UFO
  165. Godspeed You Black Emperor
  166. Nine Inch Nails
  167. Ryan Montbleau solo acoustic
  168. Amber Rubarth
  169. Clutch
  170. The Mike Dillon Band
  171. DeafHeaven
  172.  Between the Buried and Me
  173. Intronaut
  174. James Taylor

 

Songs of 2012

Gangnam Style.  Seriously?

Believe it or not, there was much more to the year in music than a K-Pop star finally breaking big in the US.  Good for him.

There was a lot going on in music this year.  It was a big year for acoustic based bands, but metal and hard rock also saw a bit of resurgence in the mainstream.  LA’s own Five Finger Death Punch wrote, “I’m not selling out, I’m buying in!”. Nothing quite illustrates the underground’s continuing emergence as the new mainstream.

The criteria is the same as always.  I had to own the music and it had to be released this year.

So, let’s start – in no particular order.

The Lumineers – Ho Hey

First Aid Kit – Emmylou

Of Monsters and Men – Little Talks

Mumford and Sons – I Will Wait

Alabama Shakes – Hold On

The Beach Boys – That’s Why God Made the Radio

The Killers – Runaways

Elizabeth Cooke w/Aaron Watson – Leather and Lace

Fun. – Carry On

Green Day – Oh Love

Gaslight Anthem – 45

Ian Hunter – When I’m President

ZZ Top – I Gotsta Get Paid

Devin Townshend Project – Kingdom

Deftones – Tempest

Stone Sour – Gone Sovereign/Absolute Zero

FOZZY – Sandpaper Featuring M Shadows

Soundgarden – Been Away Too Long

In This Moment – Blood

I have to say, as well, it’s nice to see the music video making a come back as an art form.  MTV has died, long live YouTube!

The Song Remains the Same

You know,  a lot has been written about Led Zeppelin and the desire for the band to reunite for a tour and maybe an album.

I now realize why this is never going to happen, and that it shouldn’t.

The other night CBS broadcast the Kennedy Center Honors Award Show.  I recorded it and was watching it today.  I was especially interested in the Led Zep tribute.

The Foo Fighters, Kid Rock, Lenny Kravitz and Heart performed songs in tribute to the mighty Led Zeppelin, whose surviving three members sat in the Kennedy Center opera house a few seats down from the President.

When I saw that Heart’s rendition caused Robert Plant to tear up I knew there would never be a reunion.  Like a god surveying his creation – it was good.  The torch was passed, in reality it had been passed almost a generation ago.

While fans have been pining for a proper reunion almost since John Bonham died in 1980, the only time the band has actually reunited was in 2007 at a tribute concert for Ahmet Ertegun.  I don’t count Live Aid.  Twenty million online ticket requests were made online for this one off show.  One of those requests was mine.

Pete Townshend was reportedly scheduled to perform as a supporting act, but he pulled out when he heard Led Zeppelin was performing, saying, “They really don’t need me.”

Watch them play Kashmir from the Celebration Day movie recorded at what became known as the O2 concert.

Here you see the band in prime form, maybe even better than in the glory days.  Maturity and sobriety can do wonderful things.

When I saw Led Zeppelin in 1980, Jimmy Page was still battling a reported heroin addiction and was frail.  He certainly looks strong and clear eyed here.

Plant stalks the stage, bellows, wails and roars and gives a clinic to frontmen and women half his age – he makes me think of Odin from the Avengers movie.  Although, Sir Anthony Hopkins didn’t strut quite like this.

Jack Black declared the band, “the greatest rock and roll band of all time, better than the Beatles, better than the Stones…”

We can argue that, but Pete Townshend might be inclined to agree.

So you see, the release of Celebration Day is more than a perfect coda to their career, it is an epitaph written in their own hands. “This is how we will be remembered, and remembered we will be.” The once and eternally Mighty Led Zeppelin.

They truly are Golden Gods, but they are the Old Gods.

Begin the day with a friendly voice…

It’s been a few weeks, but this will be the second in my irregular series about songs that have started my day.

I really like the Black Keys.  I dig the whole garage band vibe that they have co-opted.  They can hardly be accused of being originators and of all the bands who have delved into this style, they are certainly one of those bands.

Little Black Submarines is from the bands latest LP, El Camino.  I’m not sure if it’s the second or third single.  It’s amazing to think that some bands can still release an album containing multiple singles.  So many albums are a single and filler or re-mixes.

Anyway, I woke up in the middle of the night, or more precisely, early Monday morning. I think it was Monday morning, it might have been Tuesday morning.  Either way, I woke up and had the chorus of this song running through my head.  I love when that happens.  Does it happen to you too?

The funny thing was when I got in the car and it was the first song that came on the radio.  I had left the radio tuned to XM Radio’s Alt Nation channel and the song was a little less than half way through – right in the middle of the first chorus.  Freaky, huh?  I know!

I love how music effects us and wonder if we can truly understand to what level it does. I’ve been accused of talking in my sleep, and this episode makes me wonder if I sing in my sleep too.  That would explain the nightmares!

New World Man – Rush

Occasionally a song hits you right in the solar plexus.  You know the feeling, right?  It can be an affirmation, or an encouragement or just a matter of self identification.  Kind of a “hey, that’s me!” moment.  Well I had one of the those on the way home today with a Rush song.  A Rush song, you say?  How could that be?

Yeah, yeah, yeah… I know.

New World Man starts out with this line, “He’s a rebel and a runner“.  That certainly pricked my ears!

Followed by “He’s a signal turning green, He’s a restless young romantic, Wants to run the big machine”

So, kind of wow – if you know what I mean.  Rather than give a line by line analysis of the song, because we all know how tedious that can be, I thought I’d just bold the lyrics that speak to me today.

“He’s got a problem with his poisons
But you know he’ll find a cure
He’s cleaning up his systems
To keep his nature pure

Learning to match the beat of the Old World man
Learning to catch the heat of the Third World man

He’s got to make his own mistakes
And learn to mend the mess he makes
He’s old enough to know what’s right
But young enough not to choose it
He’s noble enough to win the world
But weak enough to lose it —
He’s a New World man…

He’s a radio receiver
Turned to factories and farms
He’s a writer and arranger
And a young boy bearing arms

He’s got a problem with his power
With weapons on patrol
He’s got to walk a fine line
And keep his self-control

Trying to save the day for the Old World man
Trying to pave the way for the Third World man

He’s not concerned with yesterday
He knows constant change is here today
He’s noble enough to know what’s right
But weak enough not to choose it
He’s wise enough to win the world
But fool enough to lose it —
He’s a New World man…”

Like I’ve said before, these guys speak to me – and today, they really did.