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Your source for information on the best and biggest rock events.

Reviews

2013
Slash
2012
Buckethead  l Corey Taylor
2011
Guns N' Roses  l Judas Priest  l Dream Theater  l Candlelight Red  l Styx  l Def Leppard
Red Hot Chili Peppers  l Bon Jovi  l  Linkin Park  l  Slash
2010
American Carnage  l  Dave Navarro  l  Joan Jett
2009
U2  l  Papa Roach  l  Nickelback  l  Def Leppard  l   Styx / REO Speedwagon  l  The Eagles
Queensryche  l  Monster Circus  l  Chris Cornell  l  Pop Evil  l  Camp Freddy 
It Might Get Loud premier
2008
Metallica  l  Tesla  l  Linkin Park




Slash 2013

By Ben Hansen

July 2013 | Park City, UT

Slash Rocks Park City Live with Four Decades of Hits

Saul Hudson is the man.

OK, many of you many not follow. But for the rest of you that only know him by his more famous moniker of Slash, it would be hard to disagree. From Guns N' Roses and Velvet Revolver through his solo efforts, Slash has remained at the forefront of rock and roll prominence throughout four decades.

Slash brought his solo band featuring Miles Kennedy and the Conspirators to Park City on Wednesday night in support of his most recent solo effort, Apocalyptic Love, which recently reached #4 on the Billboard Top 100. The Park City Live concert venue was a perfect fit for the show, which was large enough to feel like a concert hall yet small enough to still feel intimate. Fans lined up hours before the doors opened in anticipation of finding a good spot to view the show from.

From the moment Slash strapped on his Gibson Les Paul guitar and walked out on stage donning his trademark top hat, the crowd was roaring, as chants in unison of "Slash" permeated the building. Setlist from previous shows varied from a dozen or so songs through more than twenty, and hopes were high for a long set full of songs this evening for Park City. The guitar virtuoso delivered, and delivered big, playing twenty two tracks of classics spanning all eras of his career.

Familiar guitar lines quickly evoked air guitar re-enactments as Guns N' Roses classics Night Train and Mr. Brownstone were rolled out early in the set. Singer Miles Kennedy quickly won over the crowd with his precision high-octave vocals, making it easier for the crowd to quickly forget about any of the previous vocalists with whom Slash has worked with over the last few decades. Songs from the new album were mixed in generously and delivered with passion, while the show contained enough rock classics to keep fans singing along eagerly word for word. The night was not without its surprises, however, including a long unexpected guitar solo in the middle of the Guns N Roses song Rocket Queen, which mixed flash, technicality, and bluesy soulfulness. An encore of the Led Zeppelin classic Immigrant Song was delivered with a crushing raw power, as Slash paying a fitting tribute to his Les Paul-wielding predecessor Jimmy Page.

No Slash show would be complete without hearing Welcome to the Jungle, Sweet Child 'O Mine, or Slither, which all made it into the night in Park City. Fan favorite Paradise City, which served as the final encore of the night, included a massive shining confetti explosion, literally ending the night with a bang.

Long after the show had ended, fans continued to sift through mounds of confetti on the ground looking frantically for any missing personal belongings and whatever stage memorabilia they could unearth. It was very evident that hundreds of fans got more than their money's worth from Slash's performance at Park City Live.

 
Slash
Slash
Photo by Ben Hansen


 
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Buckethead 2012

By Matt Thurber

October 2012 | Salt Lake City, UT
 


The mysterious Buckethead delivers another solo
Photo by Ben Hansen
One Flew Over the Coop
Buckethead soars 20 years after first album


This fall, Buckethead's seminal album Welcome to Bucketheadland reached a milestone marking 20 years of masked madness. To celebrate, Buckethead hit the road with his custom-made Gibson guitar and that's about it for a short U.S. tour. This time around, rumors of That One Guy on bass and Pinchface on the drums turned out to be false, but it didn't really matter. With recorded bass-and-drum tracks, Buckethead wasted no time into the riffs by starting the set with Jowls. And while he didn't start at the begining of his musical catalog, Buckethead took the audience to Bucketheadland past, present, and with a glimpse of the future.

Having shared the stage with everyone from John Zorn and Bootsy Collins to colloborations with Viggo Mortsensen, Buckethead showed why he's the master of his craft. Here's a guy who can step into Guns N' Roses and not miss a lick. He's the same guy who tried out for Ozzy, but refused to remove the mask. Buckethead calls the shots, and as long as he's making music, he's happy.

As Buckethead continued to solo and bust out robot and ninja moves, he treated the crowd to a few Praxis classics such as Meta-Critic and Crash Vicitm. Although he wasn't there in person, you could sense the spirit of Praxis keyboardist Bernie Worrell in the room. Things got even better when the robotic sounds of Welcome to Bucketheadland land filled the room. If there's one signature song that encompasses Buckethead, this was it. Fans knew it, Buckethead knew it, and his soloing sounded just as good as in 2012 as it did back in 1992.

As with most Buckethead shows, the master pulled out his bags of gifts for all the good (and not-so-good) girls and boys in Salt Lake City. Having just entered October, Buckethead passed out Halloween masks, action figures and all sorts of goodies. One fan even presented Buckethead with a life-like Bruce Lee action figure, to which Buckethead nodded with approval.

After all these years, the mysyique of Buckethead has not worn off. Sure we have the Internet to credit for all the information and misinformation about Buckethead, but that hasn't changed the fact that he's one of the best soloists in the world. He's one of the few guys who can call Axl Rose a friend. He also has credibility among musicians of many different genres.

While Buckethad played a few other gems like Soothsayer and the newer Lebrontron, it was the mix of classics that made the show so special. While the tour is offically over, the Buckethead legend continues. For all we know he could be auditioning for Prince or playing some club in the Bay Area under the name Romeo Collinsworth. Maybe he's in Japan working on the score for some martial arts movie. With Buckethead, you never know, but the mystery is what makes the man. Sometimes not knowing the story or coming up with fragmented stories about the Buckethead only adds to the legend. Either way, Salt Lake City enjoyed Halloween and Christmas all in the same day thanks to Buckethead.

 
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Slipknot's Corey Taylor

By Ben Hansen

January 2012 | Park City, UT

Corey Taylor Breathes Life into Living Breathing Films

Throughout history, there have been bands which have changed the shape of the music industry. Slipknot, one of the biggest metal bands in the world, has been credited with being one of these types of bands. After selling millions of albums, receiving nominations for numerous Grammy Awards, and creating an original live element, the band will live on for generations to come. This, however, is not enough to satiate the creative desires of vocalist and best-selling author Corey Taylor. Corey, along with Slipknot visionary and percussionist M. Shawn Crahan, are now taking the next creative leap forward, establishing a new film and television production company.

Living Breathing Films was announced to the world during the 2012 Sundance Film Festival at an intimate press conference and acoustic concert held at the Carhartt Backcountry Club. The film company will specialize in mystery, suspense, horror, and the dark side of life. Both Corey and Shawn spoke very passionately about their new endeavor, as evidenced by their responses to questions from those in attendance.

"It's one of those things that we're excited about because we don't really know a lot about it," revealed Corey. "It's a whole industry that we've studied from the outside as fans, and we're ecstatic to be able to learn the ins and outs of it so that we can basically destroy it. If you're not improving on what you're doing, then there is no point in showing up. That is really the approach that we are going to take to this."

Given that Corey is heralded by many for his vocal diversity, it would be entirely conceivable to hear him creating sound effects in the style of Mike Patton. When asked about his potential involvement in the musical aspect of the film that will be produced, his eyes widened as he hinted at the possibilities.

"Maybe! There is some weird stuff that comes out of this neck. I would love to do some of that stuff. I think that my contribution will be ideas for hooks, for melodies, and what not. I've always been very distinct on that. When we do stuff like scoring, hopefully I can bring that sense of "work" to it and make it something that people can grab onto while watching the movie. It's really exciting to be able to look at it from both standpoints � from the music and the performance side."

This stems the first and most obvious question � what can we expect from the first project that will come out of Living Breathing Films? While being reluctant to give out specific details, Corey dangled enough of a carrot to draw significant interest by divulging, "The first project that we want to flesh out right now is actually about a woman and a house. It kind of has a gaslight feel to it � one of those things where the story is leading towards something, but you have no idea what the hell it is. We're in the baby stages of getting the script together. Hopefully we'll have something really good to work with right out of the gate. We're hoping to break ground on it this year, knock on wood that it happens. At the same time, I'm used to being so quick with music that I can run right into stuff. This will be a lesson in patience for me � making the right moves, doing what's right for the art, for the film."

Do not expect the typical action-suspense movie or horror movie to come from this company. Corey Taylor has always marched to the beat of his own drummer and been willing to take artistic risks, and will definitely continue to do so with Shawn in their next chapter. Facing a handful of fans, Corey stated affectionately, "My philosophy has always been that the more ridiculous you are, and the more people try to shun it, the more it becomes completely acceptable, because only the ridiculous takes you to the next level. There is a wonderful Chinese proverb that says, 'Before one looks brilliant, you must look foolish.' If you stop and think about that, people twenty years ago were looking at Quinton Tarantino and saying, 'Excuse me? What do you want to do?' Now he's the groundbreaking guy. For me, it makes sense to shake it up and do what feels right instead of trying to paint by numbers, which makes things look boring. That's not what I'm here for. I don't want quantity, I want quality. That's important to us."

For more information on Living Breathing Films, visit LivingBreathingFilms.com.

 
Corey Taylor
Slipknot's Corey Taylor performs at launch party for Living Breathing Films
Photo by Ben Hansen
 
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Guns N' Roses 2011

By Ben Hansen

December 13, 2011 | Salt Lake City, UT

Good Things Come to Those Who Wait

Axl Rose is no stranger to controversy. When his band Guns N' Roses was the biggest rock band in the world, the band's debauchery, legal issues, and eventual implosion were enough of a side story to keep the media buzzing. Twenty years after their last stop here, the most recent edition of the band was ready to come to Utah. Detractors had stated that the band would never be as good, and that the live show would pale in comparison to their glory days.

The highly anticipated return of Guns N' Roses to Utah finally arrived on Tuesday night, with a show that went far and beyond what a typical concert would entail. The group paid their loyal fans back with interest, performing a set that didn't begin until around the usual cutoff time of 11pm and lasted well into the early hours of the morning. A captivating stage show complete with massive digital displays, pyrotechnics galore, and the ever-captivating Rose poised at center stage provided enough entertainment in every direction to keep even the most ADHD fans fixated on some portion of the stage at all times.

In his efforts to restore Guns N' Roses, Axl had assembled a band of proficient guitarists. Although some fans may clamor for the return of former members, the new recruits left little to be desired from a musical standpoint at this particular show, performing each number with accuracy and soul. Guitarists Richard Fortus, Ron "Bumblefoot" Thal, and DJ Ashba traded leads and rhythms seamlessly, with the extra third guitarist adding power and depth to each song. Each of the three contributed their individuality to the live show. Fortus looked like the ideal rock-icon, powerful and poised, delivering excellent backing vocals and solid guitar licks while playing to a focused section of the crowd during each song. Ashba ran around the stage, exhibiting some impressive aerial coordination while jumping off of platforms and onto railings between his solos and audience interactions. Bumblefoot seemed to live in his own world, stoically absorbed by the music he was playing.

The show started with the music from the TV show Dexter, and as the intro music finished, the opening guitar riff to the first track of the most recent album Chinese Democracy was blasted throughout the arena. The stage quickly exploded with fireworks, and the spectacle was underway. Fans were indulging in the songs from the onset as rock anthems Welcome to the Jungle, It's So Easy, Mr. Brownstone, and Rocket Queen all were delivered emphatically in the early phases of the show.

A special moment came in the night when the mayor of West Valley presented Axl with the key to the city. When the mayor was asked by Axl how late the city was open, the mayor responded with an emphatic, "For Guns N' Roses, all night!"

It was evident that Axl had gone above and beyond in preparation of this tour to give back to the fans that have stood by the band for so many years. He looked much leaner that in recent published photos. His voice was bright and polished with the ballads swooning out of him and the rockers screeching true to his vintage, upper-octave form. Somehow Axl's voice has eluded father time, as evidenced during Live and Let Die and Nightrain when all of his high notes rang out clearly and with authority.

Axl's dedication to perfection for the fans was also evident during the encore of the song Better. As he heard the song being played incorrectly (due to a broken string by one of the guitarists) Axl stopped the song and had it restarted from the beginning, contented only when the piece had been delivered perfectly for the crowd.

Only after twenty five classic tracks and more than a half-dozen instrumentals were completed was the band finally done. It would be fair to expect both the quintessential hard rock anthems like Welcome to the Jungle and You Could Be Mine, along with power ballads like Sweet Child O' Mine and November Rain, yet there was still some room for surprise as the band snuck in a couple of ACDC cover songs (Whole Lotta Rosie and Riff Raff) and Sonic Reducer by the Dead Boys. A healthy helping of songs from the new album were thrown into the mix, but they were spread apart far enough to melt into the predominantly classic set.

Two A.M. arrived, and the group finally finished their set with an audience sing-along to their beloved song Paradise City. As confetti blew into the crowd and the last few pyrotechnics exploded, both fatigue and satisfaction were evident in the band and the audience. For the many faithful that lasted the distance, Axl Rose had done the impossible in making the twenty year wait for the show worthy of the anticipation.

 
Axl Rose
Axl Rose Breaks into Welcome to the Jungle
Photo by Ben Hansen
 
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Judas Priest 2011

By Ben Hansen

November 4, 2011 | Salt Lake City, UT
 


Rob Halford & Glen Tipton
Photo by Ben Hansen
Judas Priest Delivers Final Round Knockout Blow

Judas Priest has delivered the goods for forty years, overcoming numerous challenges such as band members quitting, changing record companies, subliminal-message lawsuits, drug abuse, and a long hiatus, to name a few. Yet somehow vocalist Rob Halford, guitarist Glen Tipton, bassist Ian Hill, drummer Scott Travis, and new guitarist Richie Faulkner have managed to press on, aptly earning the brand "Metal Gods" after their song of the same name.

The band recently revealed their mortality with the press conference announcing the 2011 Epitaph tour. This tour is to serve as a large-scale global farewell tour to many audiences throughout the world. While the band hinted at the possibility of future concentrated tour dates to support further album releases, this will be their last major global trek.

The Epitaph tour arrived at the Maverik Center in West Valley City on Friday night, and delivered everything that most lifelong Judas Priest fans could want. With songs from every album, plenty of pyrotechnics, blazing guitar solos, and an abundance of high-octave screaming and strong operatic vocals, this was indeed the way a band's swan song should be done.

One of the most recent changes, the retirement of guitarist and founding member Ken "K.K." Downing, left many to wonder how the band would be able to adequately fill the void left by losing half of their guitar tandem. The classic twin guitar attack sound that helped define Judas Priest was proven alive and well, as Glen Tipton and new guitarist Richie Faulkner traded blistering riffs seamlessly. Faulkner brought an additional energy and enthusiasm that hasn't been as prevalent in Judas Priest in recent years as he bounded about the stage, giving an older seasoned band an infusion of youth that enlivened the other band member's performances.

Rob Halford, clad in his signature leather and with his standard shaved head, wailed out an array of high notes and screams reminiscent of his form during the Painkiller era over twenty years ago. Songs like Night Crawler, Blood Red Skies, and The Sentinel were sung with such intensity that one could easily envision Halford playing this live in front of them in previous decades.

The songs played covered every era of Judas Priest, including rare gems like Starbreaker from the album Sin After Sin and Never Satisfied, from the band's 1973 debut album Rocka Rolla. Time-honored favorites like Turbo Lover, Breaking the Law, and The Green Manilishi were met with the crowd singing along with Halford, note for note. Encores of Electric Eye, Livin' After Midnight, and You've Got Another Thing Comin' rounded out the night long after the usual curfew cutoff for West Valley City. Nothing was going to stop Priest from delivering a memorable farewell show, as well after 11:00 Rob Halford was pulling out onto the stage on his Harley Davidson to fulfill the encore of Hell Bent for Leather as only they can do it.

Leave it to Judas Priest to be "Breaking the Law" on their farewell tour. Forever the staple of rebellion and metal, the band used this tour to help us to recall just how deep their catalogue is, and how Judas Priest was instrumental in forming the heavy metal scene from the very beginning. Long live the Priest!

 
Elliot & Collen
Richie's burning solo
Photo by Ben Hansen
 
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Dream Theater 2011

By Ben Hansen

September 30, 2011 | Salt Lake City, UT

Dream Theater Welcomes a Dramatic Turn of Events

Dream Theater, a globally successful band and trailblazing pioneer of the progressive metal scene, arrived in Salt Lake for a rare tour stop on Friday night. This was only the second time in the last fourteen years that the band was able to stop in Utah, with previous tours just not working out logistically for various reasons, including one missed date due to the onset of a massive snowstorm that stopped the band's trucks firmly in their tracks several years ago.

Nothing was going to stop the band from embarking on the US leg of their tour to support their latest top ten billboard album A Dramatic Turn of Events. The band has undergone a significant change in the last couple of years, with founding drummer Mike Portnoy leaving the band and replacement Mike Mangini taking the reins. With the incredibly complex music that Dream Theater writes, one could easily expect Mangini to fail. This, however, was not the case.

The set began with the song Bridges in the Sky, an eleven minute epic roller coaster from the latest album laden with ferocious drum rolls and tempo changes around every turn. Watching Mike play was like watching a kid enthralled with a video game, savoring each moment before he conquers it. Mike passed along a lot of infectious energy to the crowd, and was saluted again and again by standing ovations throughout different parts of the set, with a screaming standing ovation given following his astounding drum solo.

Guitarist John Petrucci, bassist John Myung, and keyboardist Jordan Rudess worked in timely precision with Mike throughout the night, delivering every song crisply and with authority. Each transition and riff was matched so perfectly between them that it seemed as if they were all parts of a well-oiled, high-efficiency machine.

Lead singer James LaBrie, always the epitome of a professional musician, once again proved his mettle by giving 100% to the crowd despite revealing in an interview before the show that he was suffering from what he had described as a "wicked cold." Regardless of his ailment, James sounded strong and sharp, with no note too high and no measure to long for him to hold amidst a very challenging set for anyone to sing. The songs Endless Sacrifice, Fatal Tragedy, and Forsaken were delivered with both precision and power, eventuating in many James LaBrie copycats in the audience who sang along to awake the next morning with symptoms of laryngitis.

Different nights on the current tour receive alternating song sets, and Salt Lake City was fortunate enough to receive a two song acoustic set with James and John Petrucci. The first acoustic number was a song rarely played in recent years, The Silent Man, where John delivered admirable backing vocals. Beneath the Surface, the last track from the band's new album, created a reverent atmosphere for the crowd, as once again the harmonizing between James and John was orchestrated perfectly to video screens providing alternating and complimenting images in the background.

This concert was a new multimedia experience for Dream Theater's live show, as the band incorporated some better lighting and employed the use of several different video screens. The result was a much more intimate concert, where even those in the balcony felt connected as if in the first few rows. James played this up to the crowd, as he proclaimed, "We wanted to give you some eye candy�.well, not us. Maybe twenty five years ago we were!"

Somehow Dream Theater was able to squeeze in fifteen different numbers, although the length of many of their songs challenge ten minutes. With ten albums to their credit and an obsessive fan base, it would be difficult for the band to satiate many members of the audience. Their cohesive set was very diverse, pulling out favorites and rarities from all eras of the band's existence, providing something for every level of fan in attendance. From the instrumental Ytse Jam and the new track Outcry through the encore of Under a Glass Moon, Dream Theater proved once again that their most recent dramatic turn of events is yet another step up in the progression of their musical careers.

 
Styx 2011
Jordan Rudess, John Myung, and John Petrucci jamming together
Photo by Ben Hansen

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Candlelight Red

By Ben Hansen

September 29, 2011
 



Photo provided by Candlelight Red
Candlelight Red's Debut Burns Bright

A week ago, a relatively unknown band named Candlelight Red made their way through Utah, scheduled to pay a date at Club Sound. One week later, their brand new debut album has already made it through a dozen cycles on my iPod.

Candlelight Red's debut album The Wreckage sounds more like a burning speedster, tearing up the open raceway all alone. The album wastes little time in getting straight to business, with a brief introduction leading directly into the distorted, palm-muting guitar grind of The Dirt. The feel of the songs shift quickly to a more upbeat tempo, as harmonies and higher-octave vocals are infused with catchy melodies in the following song Closer.

Lead singer Ryan Hoke shows great range in octave and style on this effort, somehow finding a way to rasp, swoon, yell, scream, growl, and harmonize within each song, creating the perfect environment for guitarist Jeremy Edge and drummer Josh Hetrick to morph powerful and emotional musical elements together from song to song without any compromise to the end result.

As the album progresses, one would expect the songs to begin to blend together and fit into a particular mold like so many others in similar genres. Surprisingly, the songs on this album hold their own from start to finish, including the 80's metal-sounding track Medicate, buried 8 clicks into the album. The final track on the album, a slamming version of Roxette's massive pop-hit The Look further validates the depth of the song variety, while also serving as a well-placed fun closing piece to the album.

While pieces of some songs are reminiscent of Breaking Benjamin, Adema, and My Chemical Romance influences, Candlelight Red develops their own musical identity well on their debut album while catering to the rock needs of an established genre. This initial effort should see this band from Pennsylvania start to gain some serious momentum. It will be interesting to see where they take their music from here.
 
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Styx 2011

By Max Parker Dahl

September 23, 2011 | Salt Lake City, UT

Styx Tells Father Time to Stuff It

It might have been the smoke of charbroiled burgers or the many mullet-goatee combinations surrounding me, but it felt great to be an American at USANA amphitheater Saturday night. Two great American rock bands split the stage for 3 hours and told old Father Time to stuff it as their aging bodies danced around and around the large stage.

REO Speedwagon played their set with unrelenting vigor, ending every song like they were leaving the stage with prolonged solos and epic drum crashes. Each member an excellent musician, they embodied the adage 'once a rock star, always a rock star', seeming to have gotten better with age. Bassist Bruce Hall's fingers danced and caressed while Dave Amato strangled the neck of his guitar, making it squeal high, distorted notes. Their evergreen energy was surprising�their deeply tanned, taut and clean skin was tattoo-free, except drummer Bryan Hitt. Speedwagon looked like a young and grateful band with huge hits and huge potential, but played with that "old man strength" in vocals and instrument handling.

After a quick set change to a more industrial look, Styx took the stage unassumingly. Every move and note has been perfected after countless shows, more like a ballet accompanied by an orchestra than a rough-and-tumble rock outfit. Don't get me wrong, Styx still rocks, but they do it with a classical beauty like a statue of hewn marble, as they played their album Grand Illusion almost entirely.

"Styx exemplified a time when radio was what we call 'album oriented'," vocalist Tommy Shaw said, "We'd give them an album and they would play every song on both sides. We looked at it as one big piece, so we are going to go a little deeper because we believe you know these songs, and will sing along with us."

Shaw's hair was blown effortlessly as he moved across the stage, cueing screams with his fingers and flexing his incredibly defined biceps. Lawrence Gill turned USANA into a baroque chapel as he rotated his keyboard in circles playing a classical organ number, and toyed with the crowd before launching into Come Sail Away. Everyone looked like they had been dabbed with stage make-up except guitarist/vocalist James Young. His smirk and stage demeanor reminded me of the sarcastic, crazy uncle that tries to spike the punchbowl at reunions. The three lead-vocalists rotated through songs and had incredible voices, their instrumentation flawless.

"The show was perfect; I wouldn't change a thing," said Young following the set. "We have had a love affair with this town for almost 40 years, and we wanted to play a show worthy of the crowd. I really think that Salt Lake helped to break us out. A little Provo station, KEYY played Lady early, early on and we came to play the Icehouse Club in the fall/summer of 73. They have been an incredible crowd since day one."

Young was the reminder that despite the glam and perceived beauty of the rock-and-roll lifestyle, these musicians are still very grounded and realistic.

"Life has become so difficult all of the sudden in the past 10 years, and music has the power to calm, soothe and to heal," said Young. "It comes from a higher power, and we are the stewards of that great power. When energy begins to flow and we receive it back from the crowd, together we are surfing the wave of joy, as I like to say."

Shaw encouraged the crowd before launching into Crystal Ball about sticking with their dreams despite the negative talk musicians hear.

"In 1973 I was the new guy in Styx, and I wanted to play in a band like Styx in front of a city like Salt Lake," Shaw said. "I only knew how to express myself through music. So if you have a dream, tell somebody because you might be closer than you think."

 
Styx 2011
The Axmen of Styx Photo by Max Parker Dahl

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Def Leppard 2011

By Ben Hansen

August 31, 2011 | Salt Lake City, UT
 


Lead guitarist Phil Collen tears into a riff
Photo by Ben Hansen
Is it really better to burn out than fade away?

Rock juggernauts Def Leppard returned to Utah boasting another set jam-packed with radio hits, appealing to fans and newcomers alike by focusing primarily on their era of being the biggest band in rock. The set drew almost entirely from songs on the band's recent greatest hits collection Mirrorball, which contains so many 80's anthem-rock mega-hits that it could be easily mistaken for an encyclopedia on that era.

Heart was invited to open the show and performed a solid set, but anyone sharing the stage with Def Leppard is like comparing apples to oranges. From the moment the intro music rolled and the British boys appeared in the shadows, the energy of the crowd became palpable.

Lead singer Joe Elliot was in excellent vocal condition, delivering strong on high notes that haven't been included in recent live versions of many classic songs. Little was held back while Joe tore through the upper-octave barrage of Love Bites, Rocket, and Bringin' on the Heartbreak. Joe's humor was still sharp as a tack, as during his acoustic 2 Steps Behind, an audience member in the front shouted loudly again and again for the band to play their song Wasted from many years past. Joe looked at the crowd and responded, "There is a guy in the front row shouting WASTED! I don't know if he is wasted or if he wants to hear it." He then proceeded to play the intro and a vocal to the song, then looked at the gentlemen and joked, "There's the opening�so what?"

Another highlight of the night was following Bringin' on the Heartbreak, when the band powered directly into their instrumental Switch 625. On this night, the song had a more modernized punch to it, as lead guitarist Phil Collen introduced heavy palm-muting during the early distortion parts of the song. The result was an edgier, tougher version to which the fans responded wildly, followed by a surprise furious double-bass drum solo by heralded drummer Rick Allen.

While it would be impossible for the band to put everything the audience wants to hear into their set, they presented a good selection that should have satisfied most of the crowd. Some of the other songs included were Hysteria, Photograph, and Pour Some Sugar on Me.

The only disappointment of the night came during the band's encore of Rock of Ages. As the first encore finished, the band, now past the city ordinance curfew, ended the set. Due to time constraints, the set naturally had to finish, but left the majority of the crowd at USANA clamoring for more.

Year after year, Def Leppard makes sure that Utah is included on their tour, and year after year thousands show up in anticipation of what is always a great show. Def Leppard has lived by their own lyric, "It's better to burn out than fade away." Judging by the response they receive every time they come to Utah, it appears that neither of these situations is in the foreseeable horizon for these rock legends.

 
Elliot & Collen
Phil and Joe savoring the crowd's response
Photo by Ben Hansen
 
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Red Hot Chili Peppers


Bz
Photo Courtesy of Warner Brothers


Red Hot Chili Peppers I'm With You Is a Sure-Fire Hit

By Ben Hansen

The Red Hot Chili Peppers last effort, Stadium Arcadium, is known to many as the perfect product of the band's evolution. During the run of this album, the band achieved multi-platinum status, received a Grammy award, toured sold-out stadiums across the world, and secured their name atop the genre of funk rock. Now, several years later, the band is ready to release their next highly-anticipated album.

The new album, simply titled I'm With You, will immediately be embraced by fans as the Chili Peppers stay true to their roots, while providing new material that doesn't sound like a revamped version of roads that have already been travelled.

Monarchy of Roses is the opening track on the album. Forty-something seconds into the song, the band explodes into typical form, with bass player Flea and drummer Chad Smith galloping into an epic rhythm line reminiscent of the backing grooves you would hear while playing favorite NES Capcom and Konami games. The foot-tapping continues into the next track, Factory of Faith, which definitely urges one to move their limbs or gyrate hips to the underlying beat.

Singer Anthony Kiedis is solid throughout as expected, excelling on tracks like Look Around. His ability to fill open space with random rhyming patterns and lyrical cycling is concrete, and his placement of "vocal silence" is timed perfectly with each track.

Many fans would expect an album front loaded with the best tracks similar to many other big recent releases. This is definitely not the case with I'm With You, as the disc is a deep offering of good tracks, similar to other albums in the Chili Peppers' catalogue, evidenced by the recent radio hit The Adventures of Rain Dance Maggie song's placement 7 tracks into the album.

One of the biggest questions lingering in fan's minds has been how the band chemistry will work since the departure of esteemed guitarist John Frusciante. While many would consider Frusciante's position in the band irreplaceable, new guitarist Josh Klinghoffer does admirably to fill in the gaps, offering good guitar fill lines between Flea and Chad while also contributing some higher octave background vocals on most tracks. While there aren't quite as many of the standout guitar moments as there have been in previous albums, Klinghoffer is able to deliver a commendable offering, creating the opportunity for the rest of the band to do what they do best around him.

Time has moved by very slowly over the last few years for those anxious to hear new Red Hot Chili Peppers music. If you happen to be one of the millions mentioned above, you will soon find out that the new album was worth the anticipation. Now that the wait is about to end, one can only hope that band will tour extensively to support this welcomed addition to their catalogue.
 
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Bon Jovi 2011

By Ben Hansen

March 18, 2011 | Salt Lake City, UT

Bon Jovi Gives Back

You are most likely familiar with at least a half-dozen songs from the Bon Jovi music catalogue. Whether you have sung your heart out while pumping your fists into the air to songs like Living on a Prayer or Bad Medicine via karaoke or while playing Guitar Hero, or remember a romantic moment in your life that correlates to Bed of Roses or I'll Be There for You, chances are that most of us have some memory that can be associated with a Bon Jovi song. Singer/guitarist Jon Bon Jovi, guitarist/vocals Richie Sambora, bassist Hugh McDonald, drummer Tico Torres, and keyboardist David Bryan have all contributed vocal lines, individual riffs and rhythms that that have caused many of us to "air jam" wildly with our hands. Now entering their fourth decade as one of the top acts in the rock world, the band brought their massive collection of hits to Salt Lake City this week.

Over the last decade, Bon Jovi has made significant giving efforts. Whether it is through promoting local bands at each show, donating his personal music gear, or supporting two handfuls of charities including Habitat for Humanity, the man has had an impressive history of giving back freely. This evening was no exception, with a huge focus being made on Jon's current charity in many places along the concourse of the venue. Dozens of volunteers recruited concert-goers for community involvement, while the band offered opportunities for purchasing discounted merchandise in fundraising efforts. Jon himself was ready to give back musically by offering a long concert, as he joked early with the audience, "I ain't going to waste time talking�I'll be singing and dancing. Doing what you pay me to do!"

The set list was well conceived, covering numerous eras of the band's success in closely clustered intervals. From the start of the opening song Blood on Blood through Born to Be My Baby, I could literally again feel the satisfaction of finding my cracked, well-worn New Jersey cassette tape, ready to reap the joys of reliving these classics by popping it in my double-decked boom-box and turning the volume up as loud as I could (until my parents would bang on the door to keep the racket down.)

Bon Jovi's 2011 Circle tour somewhat seemed to be a celebration of their music coming full circle into the next generation. Fans of all ages, from those who lived their glory days during the band's initial heyday to teenagers who admire the complete catalogue long after the majority of it has been written, all had the opportunity to experience a major multimedia event that somehow made Energy Solutions feel more like an intimate venue than a large arena. Although the concert was not solicited as "in the round", Jon found time to perform songs to each corner of the building, including climbing custom mechanized platforms to the rear of the stage to ensure that even those seated behind the action were involved in the show. A circular catwalk surrounded a pit, making the inner stage portion reminiscent of U2's famous ellipse. Jon and Richie took full advantage of the expanded performing area, making their way out during several songs to the outer reaches of the crowd with guitars in hand and microphones placed at various locations along the way.

Jon and Richie mixed their familiar vocal pairing with extra power throughout the night, as Hugh and David helped by providing strong backing vocals that gave a little oomph to each song in the set. Even with the additional vocals, there were numerous times where the audience noise drowned out the echoing singing in the stadium, as thousands of fans vocalized in unison as if many of the songs were hymns. Jon encouraged the sing-along action of the crowd throughout the entire set, while Hugh, Richie, and Tico laid down a rock-solid rhythm section for the many legions of would-be performers.

As the band progressed into the later years of their archives, they would periodically dig back deeper into their early classics. Between It's My Life and The More Things Change (their most recent song), the early hit Runaway was well placed. Bad Medicine, I'll Be There for You, and Keep the Faith all found their way into segments which included We Got it Going On, Have a Nice Day, and It's My Life. Late in the set, Jon took some time to acknowledge his fondness for the state of Utah prior to playing the song Blaze of Glory from the film Young Guns II, as the video for this song was shot in Southern Utah. He also cited his thanks for his bassist Hugh, who is also a Utah native.

. No Bon Jovi set would be complete without hearing what VH1 had named as the top song of the 80's. Three songs into the encore performance, Jon pulled out the band's finale and fan favorite "Living on a Prayer" to an ecstatic audience. While he started singing the first several lines to the song with no musical accompaniment, somehow the crowd mustered up the ability to scream with the energy as if the concert had just started, only this was 23 songs into the show!

After the show ended, the Energy Solutions Arena seemed to empty rather slowly. It seemed that few were antsy for the show to end, as everyone appeared to want more Bon Jovi. On my drive home, I again wondered what had happened to my old cassette tape, and if I found it, how I'd play it. Regardless, I'm glad I finally got the chance to relive those days for a couple of hours with thousands of fans who felt the same way.

 
Richie & Jon
Richie & Jon Still Rockin' the House Photo by Ben Hansen

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Linkin Park 2011

By Ben Hansen

February 25, 2011 | Salt Lake City, UT

An Iridescent Experience, Courtesy of Linkin Park

Friday night, the Energy Solutions Arena was illuminated brilliantly by Linkin Park, currently on tour to promote their new concept album A Thousand Suns. Lead Singer Chester Bennington, singer/guitarist/keyboardist Mike Shinoda, keyboardist/turntable master Joe Hahn, lead guitarist Brad Delson, bassist David Farrell, and drummer Rob Bourdon decided to expound on their musical expressions in a new direction, stripping down complex songs to their more basic elements to provide an interestingly raw yet processed sound. The new album has received many varying reviews, with those who �get� what Linkin Park is trying to offer being captivated by the new direction that the band has taken for this album.

The show kicked off with the house lights out, and the introduction The Requiem providing a soft yet intensifying backdrop for the events to come. Audience members could see the band members making their way through the shadows to the stage, and as the lights began to shine down, it was full speed ahead into Faint and Lying From You from the album Meteora, followed by Given Up and What I�ve Done from the album Minutes to Midnight.

Chester Bennington blended his personal abrasive and melodious combination over visceral lyrics with Mike Shinoda�s empowering rapping and harmonizing vocals. Their distinctive hybrid blend continued to provide a literal one-two punch, as they were able to effectively divide the stage and crowd, providing a more interactive experience with the audience throughout the evening. Mike rapped with passion, waiving his hands wildly and aggressively as rhymes sprung out. Chester flailed and contorted about the stage while lashing out in what was almost primal scream therapy that invigorated the audience.

Chester�s bravado was in full swing during the songs Blackout and the final encore One Step Closer as he jumped from platform to platform on the stage, letting out yells of immense proportion to each section of the audience over lyrics such as �You�ll never get it inside, push it back down,� and, �Shut up when I�m talking to you!� Drums were added to his repertoire for this tour, and he made quick use of them, beating out tribal beats during Blackout and When They Come for Me that were full of emotion.

Mike was as animated and interactive as ever, and seemed to gather more steam from each audience member�s interaction. At one point during the set, Shinoda had security raise him into the general admission pit of the crowd, where he reveled in having eager audience members clutching for his microphone as they sang along to the song In the End.

The night was chock full of fist-pumping adrenalized moments, but it was not void of calming points. During the songs Iridescent, Shadow of the Day, and Waiting for the End, many fans lifted their Zippos (albeit via the screen on their smart phones) in unison to the quiet reverence that overwhelmed the crowd.

When a band of this magnitude can play an entire set without resorting to some of their mega-hits and the audience still leaves happy, they have truly accomplished something special. While two of the band�s biggest hits, Crawling and Breaking the Habit were noticeably absent, the night still seemed full, with all twenty-three of the songs performed feeling like they had a valid place in the flow of the evening. The set list combed through all of the band�s prior efforts with balance, giving focus to every era of their catalogue without overshadowing any particular album. While playing a good selection of songs from the new album including The Radiance and The Catalyst, the band also pulled out random songs like New Divide from the Transformers � Revenge of the Fallen, From the Inside and Numb from Meteora, and Papercut from Hybrid Theory.

Musical experimentation has never impeded Linkin Park�s ability to communicate with their fans and acquire new ones. A band either evolves or dies, and Linkin Park is very much alive and well. Whether one is a fan of the new album or not, the band once again provided a live experience that would have left even their detractors clamoring for more.

 
Chester & Mike
Chester & Mike in Tandem Photo by Ben Hansen

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Slash @ Sundance 2011

By Ben Hansen

January 24, 2011 | Park City, UT
 


SLASH ANNOUNCES HIS NEW FILM COMPANY
Photo by Ben Hansen
MUSIC STARS CHANGING THE MOVIE SCENERY

The music industry has always played a pivotal role in Hollywood. A good musical score goes hand in hand with strong acting, a good script, and special effects to create a masterpiece. At the 2011 Sundance Film Festival however, 2 major players in the music industry have decided to take Hollywood into their own hands.

On Saturday, the House of Hype Lounge was buzzing with anticipation, as multi-platinum rapper Curtis Jackson (AKA 50 Cent) announced that he had joined with WBO champion Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Randall Emmett to move forward with Cheetah Vision films, a film production company. Cheetah has already partnered with Lionsgate on a $200,000,000/10 picture deal.

Jackson wanted to talk about the future of Cheetah Vision. He expressed a desire to work with other production companies, partnering with them on different projects, and collaborating with investors to make quality material. His sincerity and drive were expressed openly, as he stated to the press, �I look forward to being part of some really great projects that have the kind of artistic integrity that I�ll be proud of. Even after I�m gone, these pictures will be there for people to watch.�

One day later, the House of Blues on Main Street was another hotspot for media attention, this time as legendary rock guitarist Saul Hudson (better known as Slash) announced the formation of Slasher films with Rob Eric and Michael Williams.

Slash emitted his passion for the horror film industry and explained the formation of Slasher Film, as he stated, �Rob Eric and I had a great conversation a little over a year ago about horror movies. We had this extensive conversation and he found that I�m a huge horror movie fan. By the end of the evening, he thought that it would be great if I started a production company called Slasher pictures or Slasher films. He called me up the next morning and asked if I�d like to do that. I thought this was a killer idea � probably the last thing that I�d expect for someone to ask from me. It is my favorite subject.�

�About a year later, he gave me a script for a story with a tentative title called Nothing to Fear, written by Jonathan Mills. This is an amazing story about an American, God-fearing, Catholic family that gets lured into a small town called Stahl. Unbenounced to them, this is one of the seven gateways to hell. The town, specifically the priest of the neighborhood, has brought them in basically to�.what�s the best way to put it? A lot of bad stuff happens.

Other movies that Slasher films are working on include Theorum, The Other Kingdom, and Wake the Dead. Some of the writing and directing talent that has already been tapped for their projects include horror favorites Vincenzo Natali, Phillip Eisner, Steve Niles.

Is it good that music stars are playing a larger role in the film industry? If their passion can transcend the music industry, shouldn�t they too be able to contribute to Hollywood? If so, Sundance is the perfect launching pad for these types of announcements. As Jackson stated during his press conference, �It�s always exciting to come out here. You are in an environment where everyone loves film.�
 
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American Carnage 2010

By Matt Thurber

October 19, 2010 | UT

American Carnage Resurrects Clash of the Titans

The 2010 Jagermeister American Carnage music tour this year is a duplication of the Clash of the Titans tour from twenty years ago. This fall the Clash of the Titans returned to Utah, completely reminiscent of the first run in 1990, with all major headliners included. As pioneers of the thrash metal genre, Anthrax, Megadeth and Slayer each gave the fans what they wanted - a nostalgic trip to times when thrash metal was at its creative peak.

The re-incarnated Clash kicked off with a quick 40-plus minute set of classics from New York�s finest thrashers, Anthrax. The band not only reached back to the 1990s, they actually cranked out a set list from albums including Among the Living which may have puzzled a few of the newer fans, but would have pleased those who were old enough to remember when the band first made it big. Throughout the set Scott Ian and Frank Bello rocked just as hard as they did in the 1980s. With the Scotty stomp and Frank�s �Hell Yeah� shouts to the audience, the guitarist and bassist kept it interesting while singer Joey Belladonna struggled with some of the high notes. Despite the notable absence of classics such as Belly of the Beast, Anthrax played OK considering how the band has basically played a game of lead singer merry-go-round the past few years.

As the second act of the night, Megadeth took the stage next and wasted no time by starting with the classic song Holy Wars off Rust in Peace. Even without Nick Menza�s drumming or Marty Fridedman�s guitarwork, Megadeth really got the crowd going by continuing with all the great tracks off that album from Hanger 18 to Dawn Patrol. While Dave Mustaine has publicly overcome his demons over the past years, his demonic trademark growl with clinched teeth proved that he�s still at the top of his game. As the set continued, the band mixed in a few tracks off Peace Sells�and also the more familiar tunes like Symphony of Destruction. Kudos to the band for creating a Hangar 18 style set. Perhaps one of the best highlights of the night (in addition to the costumed Vic) was the Holy Wars reprise as the final encore. Megadeth pulled out its greatest, most rockin� song, not once but twice. You could tell by the smile on Dave Ellefson�s face that he was just happy to be back in the band, and judging the audience response, the fans are glad he�s back as well.

After seeing Megadeth, it would be hard for Slayer to capture that same sort of magic. As the band has already covered �Reign in the Blood� from start to finish on an earlier tour, the group decided to revisit its past by playing all of Seasons in the Abyss. From a fan standpoint, the album was OK, but not the best by any stretch. At least the band didn�t play God Hates Us All in its entirety. While Tom has traded in the screams for growls and even a few of his growls for hums, it was still Slayer and very soothing to hear the band play Raining Blood and Angel of Death. Kerry King and Jeff Hanneman did a great job switching back and forth on lead guitars, while Dave Lombaro didn�t miss a beat (from what I could tell) on the drums.

In all, like guitarist Scott Ian said during the Anthrax set, �It has been a great year for the thrash metal.� Fans can�t expect a band in their 20s to rock out as just hard as in their 40�s, but it was still amazing and a chance for younger fans to connect with real metal instead of nu-metal or some hardcore hybrid that lacks the screaming solos and head-banging anthems that came from giants like Slayer, Megadeth and Anthrax.

 
Dave Mustaine
Dave Mustaine� Grating and Grinding to Perfection Photo by Ben Hansen

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Dave Navarro 2010

By Ben Hansen

January 25, 2010 | Park City, UT

Downstairs with Dave Navarro

Monday nights in Utah are usually not anything to get excited about. Unless it happens to be the Monday night following opening weekend of Sundance, and one alternative icon, Dave Navarro, happens to be in town.

The Downstairs club featured a special one night only acoustical performance by former Jane�s Addiction/Red Hot Chili Peppers/Camp Freddy guitarist Dave Navarro on Monday night. The club, owned in part by Danny Masterson, is an intimate venue off the corner of Main Street in Park City, and proved to be the perfect outlet for Dave�s performance.

Dave was dressed in black and sporting his signature goatee and moustache. He was joined on this tour with guest vocalist Tuesdae from The Chelsea Girls. Her vocal range and stage presence served to be a good yin to the yang of his guitar precision throughout the evening.

The all-cover set list kicked off with Led Zeppelin�s Immigrant Song and Heart�s Crazy on You, both meshing powerful vocals by Tuesdae and solid guitar work from Dave. As the twosome continued into the next song, Twisted Sister�s I Wanna Rock, Tuesdae began reaching out to the audience for involvement. They happily responded, singing backing vocals on her cue that were loud enough to almost entirely drown out the sound of the accompanying guitar.

As the night continued, Dave churned out rock classic after classic. The audience responded in an almost sing-along form to both Dio�s Holy Diver and Guns N� Roses Sweet Child O� Mine, meeting Tuesdae note for note with Dave�s music as the driving force behind it.

Towards the end of the set, Tuesdae made a special acknowledgement towards Dave, stating that �It wasn�t until we played this song that it hit me�I can�t believe I�m singing with Dave Navarro!� They then began a duet of Dave�s mega-hit from Jane�s Addiction Jane Says, which flowed seamlessly into the ending of Led Zeppelin�s Over the Hills and Far Away.

After a rendition of the Sex Pistol�s Pretty Vacant, the pair ended the night with Metallica�s smash Enter Sandman. Dave then jokingly mentioned to the audience that he needed to get Tuesdae home before she�d pass out, and they left the stage. Before leaving the club, he continued to show his appreciation towards his fan base, posing for countless pictures and talking with all who went out of their way to meet with him.

Dave Navarro once again delivered an excellent show. Regardless of who is playing with him, he continues to cement his status as a rock guitar icon.

 
Dave Navarro
Dave Navarro Photo by Ben Hansen

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Joan Jett 2010

By Ben Hansen

January 23, 2010 | Park City, UT
 


Cherie Currie, Joan Jett, Dakota Fanning, Kristin Stewart
The Runaways: Old and New Photo by Ben Hansen
JETT STILL LOVES ROCK N' ROLL


Sometimes, timing is everything, especially in the music scene. There could not have been better timing for Joan Jett this weekend.

On Saturday night, Jett and her band the Blackhearts made their presence known in Park City, playing to a packed, sold out crowd at the World Famous Harry O�s club. The timing of the show was perfect, as a movie about Joan Jett�s first band The Runaways was to make its debut at Sundance on Sunday. The film has been the most coveted ticket at Sundance this year, and the show the night before �set the stage� perfectly for the next day�s activities.

Jett was true to her celebrated form � raw, aggressive, and with a scratchy edge to her voice that helped push the band�s sound over the top. She guided the band through a set of old and new, digging deep to her first song written, You Drive Me Wild, introducing her newest track Androgynous, and filling in the popular tracks and fan favorites between like I Hate Myself for Loving You and her anthem-rock classic I Love Rock N� Roll.

The highlight of the evening came as a surprise to those in attendance. After playing the song Love is Pain, Jett brought former Runaways singer Cherie Currie out on stage with her, along with the actors who played their respective parts in the movie, Dakota Fanning and Twilight star Kristen Stewart.

Jett delivered just what the Sundance crowd was looking for � a real-life precursor to the movie that will chronicle her early days. Hopefully Kristen Stewart can do justice to the legend that Joan Jett has created. She has some pretty big shoes to fill.
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U2 2009

By Ben Hansen

October 23, 2009 | Las Vegas, NV
 


The Edge: Magnificent Photo by Ben Hansen
Elvis is in the Building!

Las Vegas is known for having some of the greatest shows on earth. From magicians to plays and musicians to pays, things are supposed to be larger than life. For October, no show was more magnificent than U2.

U2 brought its 360� tour to the Sam Boyd Stadium on Friday night to a Las Vegas audience for the first time in four years. Their current tour, in support of their new album No Line on the Horizon, featured the usage of a new stage, aptly nicknamed �The Claw� by fans. The stage featured a central stage and a massive runway that encircled more than a thousand lucky fans between the two, giving them the opportunity to watch the concert performed all around them. It was evident that this stage was going to be something special, as pieces of it were visible from miles away from the stadium protruding high above the top of the building.

Towering over a hundred feet in the air, the stage was equipped with multiple cameramen along each downward length, a massive moving video display which fanned out into hundreds of individual monitors, and enough gadgets and gizmos to impress even the most technical of engineers. This �spaceship�, as Bono referred to it, is definitely out of this world � worthy of the concert that was about to unfold inside of it.

The Black Eyed Peas opened with a pulsing set, capturing the attention of all, including U2 drummer Larry Mullen, who watched their set from the side of the stage. After a late start to the show and a long intermission, U2 finally hit the stage. With an ever-changing set list, questions abounded as to what songs we were going to hear, and if there were going to be any surprises in the set. Las Vegas was treated to a collection of songs that satisfied each the die hard fan, the recently-converted listener, and the hits-only radio frequenter.

The set opened up with the up-tempo track Breathe from their latest album, No Line on the Horizon. Bono, dressed in black and as animated as always, began to fire the flowing strings of lyrics off while mesmerizing the audience as his body grooved with the flow of his singing. Right from the beginning, Bono had the audience in the palm of his hand.

Guitarist Edge, Bassist Adam Clayton, and Larry kept the set musically tight all night. After almost 30 years of jamming together, their unified strength was as evident as ever as the band progressed from new hits Get on Your Boots and Magnificent through classics Beautiful Day and Sunday Bloody Sunday. The synergy was palatable as Bono strapped on his Gretsch guitar and sang the first few lines to the mega hit I Still Haven�t Found What I�m Looking For, and after turning his microphone towards the audience, the band continued to play the majority of the song with only the audience singing. It surpassed the ordinary token band �Sing Along� phase of a rock concert and became a dream come true for many avid fans, giving them the opportunity to have the band play to their singing. Some extremely intoxicated fans by us actually thought that they may have become part of the band, if but for a moment.

Similar to previous tours, no U2 show would be complete without involving a member of the audience. During this show in particular, a young boy was invited onto the stage by Bono, and was given the opportunity to run laps around the runway while Bono sang the lyrics to City of Blinding Lights, almost as a man reflecting back on his former youthful self. At the conclusion of the song, he handed over the pair of his signature shaded glasses that he had worn throughout the show to the excited youngster before returning him to the audience.

Although the main set was heavily peppered with more songs from the new album, the set went on for so long and dug so deep that pieces of the catalogue were covered from end to end. The rarely played song the Unforgettable Fire sneaked into their set, along with a cover of Elvis�s Via Las Vegas, which he sang in the style of The King himself. During this time, Bono also took a moment to recognize President Bill Clinton for his global accomplishments while acknowledging him in attendance at the concert.

President Clinton was not the only individual of extreme political importance recognized throughout the evening. Bono took a moment to recognize leaders of global importance who have made an impact, with a special focus on Democratic Burma leader and Nobel Peace Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi, who has been wrongly imprisoned by her country in Burma�s attempt to continue its military control of government. Masks had been handed out with her face printed on it, along with motivational information on staying as strong as she has been. He then led the band into their final song of the set, Walk On, which was dedicated to her.

The band left the stage close to the stated 11:00 cutoff for the show. Never to disappoint, they returned to play encores, starting with the ballad One, after which Bono quietly sang an almost reverent version of Amazing Grace.

No set would be complete without Where the Streets Have No Name, and the band delivered this as a third encore, re-energizing the crowd as if they had just seen the band walk onto the stage for the first time in years. As the band took their bows and the lights dimmed, there was almost a religious feeling that permeated the building. Strangely, the house lights did not come on.

Within minutes, the band returned to play a surprise second set of encores. Three more tracks were gifted to the still famished audience. Ultraviolet was delivered with some impressive red laser effects, while With or Without You and the finale Moment of Surrender seemed to pass by in an instant.

After almost thirty years, U2 still somehow continues to pioneer the live concerts scene. With a never-ending string of hit albums that can keep them touring, stage innovations, and consistently exceptional fan-oriented live shows, it�s no wonder that many continue to make the pilgrimage from other states and countries to see the band at least once every tour. May Elvis live forever � both of them.

 
U2
Bono feeling the music. Photo by Ben Hansen


SETLIST: Breathe, Get On Your Boots, Magnificent, Mysterious Ways, Beautiful Day, In God�s Country, Fix You, Still Haven�t Found What I�m Looking For/Stand By Me, Viva Las Vegas, Stuck In a Moment, No Line on the Horizon, Elevation , In A Little While, Unknown Caller, Until the End of the World, The Unforgettable Fire, City of Blinding Lights/All These Things That I�ve Done, Vertigo, I�ll Go Crazy if I Don�t Go Crazy Tonight, Sunday Bloody Sunday, MLK, Walk On,

ENCORES: One, Amazing Grace, Where the Streets Have No Name


2ND ENCORES: Ultraviolet, With Or Without You, Moment of Surrender
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Papa Roach 2009

By Jay Koenig

August 26, 2009 | Usana Amphitheater | Salt Lake City, UT

THERE�S A ROACH IN THE HOUSE

Wednesday, August 26th was a perfect evening for music at the Usana Amphitheater. Sharing the bill with Hinder and head liner Nickelback, Papa Roach came ready to play.

Everyone get up! This is a f�n rock show! shouted singer Jacoby Shaddix, arousing the crowd at the beginning of the set with Getting Away with Murder, the title track from their 2004 release.

Despite fighting a touch of the flu Shaddix gave the fans his all. The entire band was superb as their intensity pumped into the veins of the audience. From the front of the pit to the back of the lawn a sea of hands swayed in the air at his command throughout the show.

Playing a good range of favorites the crowd sang along with every song. Hollywood Whore and Life Line, from their Metamorphosis release, seemed to be the strongest vocally supported... until the final song.

I think I�m gonna make it. We have one more and I am still here. I will need your help with this one, can you do that for me? asked Shaddix. The crow roared and the show came to an end the same way it began with every on their feet as the lyrics began. Cut my life into pieces. This is my last resort... Screaming along fans went wild as the band continued Last Resort from their 2000 release Infest.

Jacoby and band mates Jerry Horton, Tobin Esperance and Tony Palermo remained solid throughout the show, regardless of illness. Tremendous energy surrounded the amphitheater throughout (and after) an incredible set.

They came. They conquered. They rocked. USANA had a roach in the house. PAPA ROACH!
 

Jacoby Shaddix. Photo by Jay Koenig

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Nickelback
Dee Snider
CHAD KROEGER: Larger than life.
Photo by Hildie Koenig


By Hildie Koenig

August 26, 2009 | Usana Amphitheater | Salt Lake City, UT

NICKELBACK EXPLODES IN UTAH

If you were one of the lucky fans to be at the USANA Amphitheater Wednesday night when Nickelback took over the stage you were probably completely fired up.

From their explosive beginning, the crowd went wild singing along with lead singer Chad Kroeger on the opening track Something in Your Mouth from their new album Black Horse. It was next to impossible to look away from flames blazing by the drum set and a large video screen projecting the band members Nickelback was immediately in your face, and rocking Utah once again.

Usana was a full venue where it was rare to see an open seat. The audience was on their feet with an extensive excitement singing along with the band throughout the whole show. Nickelback continued with a striking set as Kroeger played Photograph acoustically from their 2007 All the Right Reasons album. He continued the set with Save Me and Far Away, then surprised everyone when he invited Austin Winkler, lead singer of Hinder, to join him in stage. They jammed together as an amazingly powerful combination on AC/DC�s Highway to Hell.

While singing If Everyone Cares the massive video monitor showed inspirational quotes and a video which included Nelson Mandela. Afterward, Chad strapped on the acoustic guitar once again and played Garth Brooks� monster hit Friends in Low Places. The night ended with an encore of Animals from their All the Right Reasons album.

Nickelback is one of those bands that no matter how many shows you see they continue to blow away their fans. It should come as no surprise that their 2009 Dark Horse Tour surpassed fans expectations. Nickelback delivered yet another solid show, leaving Utah fans yearning for the next tour.
 
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Def Leppard 2009

By Ben Hansen

August 25, 2009 | Salt Lake City, UT
 


JOE ELLIOT KILLS IT
Photo by Ben Hansen
Def Leppard Rocks Out a Happy Birthday

It had been several years since I have seen Def Leppard. Having grown up with them, album after album, I knew all of their songs by heart. Over the years, I have constantly heard people discussing the band, saying that they have evolved, they have progressed, and they have changed. One thing that hasn�t changed is their ability to kick ass.

August 25, 2009 Def Leppard made their anticipated return to a packed crowd at USANA amphitheater. Openers Cheap Trick and Poison filled adequately to get the crowd going, but the real action of the night did not begin until the visual monitors behind the stage started flashing images of things past, and as the stage darkened, the silhouette of bassist Rick Savage could be seen standing above drummer Rick Allen�s drum kit.

As the first 2 beats on the drums echoed out into the audience, fans knew what they were in for. The Pyromania album opening track Rock Rock �Till You Drop immediately swung the audience back some 25 years, as singer Joe Elliot burst onto the stage. A catwalk that emerged from the front of the stage eight rows into the audience quickly became his favorite stomping ground, with guitarists Vivian Campbell and Phil Collen also virtually wearing their own hiking trail into the stage extension.

The songs flowed like well-aged wine right from the start. Rocket from the Hysteria album was the second track, and included Vivien and Savage leading the way with the classic yet often omitted backing vocals during the pre-verse portions of the song. Joe drew out lyrics from everyone in the audience, pointing his microphone at different sections of the crowd throughout each part of the chorus and having them sing lead with him.

At a point midway through the evening, Joe strapped on an acoustic guitar and walked out to the front of the catwalk with the 3 other guitarists. He invited everyone to be part of the band, and for us all to sing together and to �Sing the words right back at us� for an acoustical performance of the hit Two Steps Behind. It was difficult to hear the band singing over the audience, even from a few rows away from the stage. Joe took advantage of the opportunity, and after prompting the audience of almost 20,000, enjoyed watching them participate as everyone wished Vivian a happy 47th birthday through song.

With 30 years of classic rock anthems, radio mega-hits, and fan favorites, the band�s available catalogue was very deep. True to their fans, they delivered a mouth-watering set list which spanned their careers, including Bringin� on the Heartbreak and the instrumental Switch 625 from the 1982 High and Dry album, following all the way through with C�mon C�mon from last year�s album Songs from the Sparkle Lounge. Mega hits like the #1 main-stays Love Bites and Pour Some Sugar on Me from the Hysteria album made their way into the set, along with a heavy helping of Pyromania favorites, including the set finale Rock of Ages.

Time seemed to vanish while watching the band perform, and before we knew it, the band had exceeded the curfew time limit for the venue. True to their fans as always, they were not going to end the night without an encore � they returned to the stage and performed the first track off of the Adrenalize album Let�s Get Rocked.

Guitarist Vivian Campbell�s birthday was only one reason to celebrate the evening. Def Leppard continues to find a way to remain timeless yet relevant, providing a performance solid enough to have me shuffling through my iPod as soon as I got to the parking lot. It�s ironic that one of their most popular song lyrics states, �It�s better to burn out�than fade away.� They have done neither.
 

Rick Savage Photo by Ben Hansen

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Stix / REO Speedwagon 2009

By RHB

May 30, 2009 | Salt Lake City, UT
 


TOMMY SHAW: Feelin' the music. Photo by Ben Hansen
A Trio of Rock � Rock Never Stops Storms through Utah

The evening started out with the rain coming down in buckets. After the torrential downpour spirits were still high as eager fans filed into their wet seats. Nothing could dampen moods. Tonight promised to be a night of pure rock and roll.

As 38 Special opened the show the energy in the stadium shot up like a bolt of lightening. They had a solid set and many fans in the audience, delivering a great start to the show.

The announcement was made for Styx to come out on the stage and it was apparent that this was the group that everyone came to see. Everywhere you turned there was somebody in a Styx shirt. All that can be said about the Styx performance tonight could be summed up in one word - wow!

The audience was on their feet with the anticipation of the first chord. The set was opened by original member and guitarist James Young singing Miss America.

Guitarist/vocalist and fan favorite Tommy Shaw�s voice has never sounded better, putting his range on full display throughout the night. The crowd joined in with him on singing �Too Much Time on My Hands and Foolin Yourself.� Even those who were up in the nosebleed section felt that the concert was being personally performed for them, as Tommy interacted with every section of the crowd, proclaiming to the fans, �Salt Lake City � we came here to rock! Shall we rock? We shall!�

A surprise in the middle of the set was bringing back original bass player Chuck Panozzo, who was one of the original founders of the band, and proved that he also still knew how to rock. He played the rest of the set with the band, adding a nostalgic feel for the die hard fans.

Of course no Styx set could be complete without their classics �Blue Collar Man� and �Renegade,� both offered up to the fans as encores while time constraints brought their set to a close.

This was my second time seeing REO Speedwagon perform, and they did not disappoint. They opened with �Don�t Let Him Go.� Lead singer Kevin Cronin�s voice rang high and crystal clear through the large stadium with the band�s number one hit �Can�t Fight This Feeling.�

Singing voices echoed through the stadium as the fans sang along with their favorite REO tunes. Many in the crowd came down from the stands to dance on the main floor with �Son of a Poor Man� and �Time for Me to Fly.�

Cronin accompanied himself on the piano as he sang �Keep on Loving You.� Then, during the last song of their set a surprise guest David Archuleta sang �Riding the Storm Out� with the band.

For the encore Kevin Cronin announced that he and Tommy Shaw had decided to write a song together for their concert tour. Styx then came out to join REO Speedwagon in an unforgettable two band finale of this song titled, �Can�t Stop Rocking.� Although the curfew cutoff brought the show to an end following the song, no one wanted to leave.

Anyone who backed out on the concert due to the rain missed out on an incredible night of rock. It was worth every raindrop.
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Eagles 2009

By Ben Hansen

May 9, 2009 | Salt Lake City, UT
 


DON HENLEY: The Eagles deliver the hits live. Photo by Ben Hansen
THE EAGLES BREAK NEW GROUND

Rio Tinto is a virgin no more...thanks to Joe Walsh and company.

Saturday night, the Eagles performed the first ever concert at the Rio Tinto Stadium in Sandy, UT. The performance was the last date of their Long Road out of Eden tour in the US, and fans came in from all over the country to get one last chance to see the band before they departed on their summer European jaunt. While prices were a whopping $175 per ticket for good seats, expectations were high.

The band hit the stage with a complete brass section accompaniment and elaborate lighting setup, while being projected on massive monitors so that even the fans furthest away could feel like part of the show. A massive semi-circle display backed the band and projected lighting and images that further enhanced the audio-visual experience. With a mega-catalogue of rock classics, the Eagles shocked the eager audience a bit by opening up with How Long from their recent Long Road out of Eden album.

It took the band only a few songs to get down to business. A smooth trumpet solo by touring Eagle Billy Armstrong led right into Hotel California, which began to engage the audience and bring them to their feet. From here out, the show started to gain some momentum, dishing out classics including Witchy Woman (Complete with guitarist/vocalist Glen Frey's humorous remark, "That was, of course, a song from our Satanic country/rock/rhythm and blues period,") and the slow I Can't Tell You Why, while also offering up solo tracks from member Don Henley's solo career, including Boys of Summer and Dirty Laundry.

Guitarist Joe Walsh (mused by Frey as "A man well known to law enforcement and hotel staff around the world,") kept the evening going and helped Frey get the fans involved in what could have easily been a predictable song set and performance. While other band mates were stoic, Walsh was passionate and animated, looking like he truly loved being there.  The guitar heroics from his solo smash Life's Been Good meshed perfectly with his wit, as he altered a second verse lyric to fit a sudden fluke occurrence, singing, "I played in Utah and a big bug went in my mouth!"

Walsh continued his antics and energy throughout the night, at one point strapping a camera onto his head to get audience members displayed up on the projection screens around him. He jumped around and flailed like a kid at recess, happy to be doing something that they enjoyed. Smooth sliding solos were met with blistering riffs as Joe continued to propel the band through hits The Long Run and Heartache Tonight, and finally closed with the guitar-heavy Life in the Fast Lane.

The band stuck with a good mix of encores, giving the fans Take it Easy and Desperado, sandwiched around either side of Walsh's solo Rocky Mountain Way, which included yet another amazing guitar solo.

There are certainly plenty of Eagles fans out there who in their teenage years passionately strummed on their air guitar or a wooden tennis racket in an attempt to be Joe Walsh. After 2 hours of watching him lead the Eagles through a massive collection of their hits catalogue, it would indeed be hard to say that the fans didn't get their money's worth.
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Queensryche 2009

By Ben Hansen

April 26, 2009 | Salt Lake City, UT
 


TIMELESS RANGE: Geoff Tate sounds vintage through three suites of classic Queensryche. Photo by Ben Hansen
Queensryche Cleans Out the Archives Live

Year after year, loyal Queensryche fans have attended shows with the fantasy of hearing some of the older, more obscure material from the bands early days. With 12 studio albums, 20 million albums sold, and almost 30 years behind them, the chances seemed remote. What the band delivered at the Depot club this week was beyond any fan's wildest expectations.

The 2009 American Soldier tour saw the band starting early, and performing a long set in three separate segments. Each segment dedicated itself to a phase of the band's career. It was a given that the new album would be one of these three phases, but what was in store for the rest of the night?

It took little time for the crowd to recognize guitarist Michael Wilton strumming the first few acoustical notes of Neue Regel from the band's breakthrough Rage for Order album to realize that this was going to be the night they had hoped for from the band. With the entire first segment dedicated specifically to the Rage for Order album, lead singer Geoff Tate howled, crooned, and bellowed the band through each track, from the often performed Walk in the Shadows to the infrequently heard Surgical Strike and I Will Remember. True to form, Tate took few shortcuts, delivering an ample load of powerful high notes mixed with his coveted haunting lows.

The band switched gears quickly following the Rage for Order segment, rolling directly into the opening track Sliver off the new album and next segment, American Solider. A drill sergeant brought the audience to attention, shouting out the opening lyrics. Get on Your Feet! The sergeant continued to bark orders throughout the track while Tate sang in tandem.

Video monitors behind the stage provided imagery of our armed forces serving, and served as an emotional storyboard that accompanied each of the songs. Eras of servicemen were seamlessly blended into one focal theme as we watched and listened to the tracks If I Were King, The Killer, and A Dead Man's Words. Tate himself summed it up best as he offered to the audience, "Everything in the world is happening so quickly. Look at this, buy this; that we lose track of what is real, of what is really important - our family, our friends, our relationships, and the people who allow us to live the way we live." As the band moved into Home Again, Geoff and his ten-year-old daughter Emily combined on a father-daughter duet while pictures of service people leaving their children to protect our freedoms streamed across the monitors. It was hard not to get teary-eyed, realizing the sacrifices that so many have made to give us our freedom.

In the recording of the new American Soldier concept album released earlier this year Queensryche had reverted back to its 4 original members; Geoff , Whip, bassist Ed Jackson, and drummer Scott Rockenfeld, while bidding a fond adieu to guitarist Mike Stone. The album was solid, but with the live responsibilities of varying guitar parts, this put the band in a quandary. Enter new guitarist Parker Lundgren and guitarist/keyboardist Jason Ames, who both held down the touring duties admirably.

For the final segment, the guys dipped into a slew of tracks from the band's highest-grossing effort, Empire. The first track Best I Can was the perfect transitional piece between the segments, with Scott's drums driving hard and pumping excitement into the crowd; Lesser-played tracks The Thin Line, One and Only, and Hand on Heart were met with excitement from the crowd, who erupted almost uncontrollably when the first few notes of the band's mega-hit Silent Lucidity were picked by Whip. Geoff passionately rendered a lullaby to beat all other lullabies, ending soothingly by whispering lowly, "I'll be there watching out for you...watching over you...forever."

Queensryche could have easily ended the show here, but continued the Empire set as bassist Ed began the bass chugging intro to the radio hit Jet City Woman. The final segment ended with another surprise, Anybody Listening,the final track from the album.

After a solid two hours of playing, an encore was not a given but once again, the guys delivered, offering up the title track from Empire.

This show proved once again that Queensryche is a live act worthy of seeing.  Although it is easy to cite the brilliance of Tate, the other guys in the band give an exceptional performance, night after night. Regardless of how many shows and how many tours you have seen them on, they always provide something new to cater to even the most diehard fan, while still providing enough to satisfy any newcomer. After seeing them for the sixth time, I can honestly say that I won't hesitate to see them again the next time they roll through town.
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Monster Circus 2009
Dee Snider
THE HORNS: Dee flashes the metal horns.
Photo by Ben Hansen

A Rocker's Vegas

By Ben Hansen

April 25, 2009 | Las Vegas, NV

Have you ever been to a rock and roll circus before?

Monster Circus is a new Vegas Show, performed at the Las Vegas Hilton Theater several nights a week. The show is the brainchild of Great White guitarist Tony Montana, who has assembled a band of world-renown talent, consisting of himself, guitarist/vocalist John Corabi (Motley Crue), guitarist Dave Kushner (Velvet Revolver), bassist Rudy Sarzo (Ozzy Osbourne, Quiet Riot), and drummer Fred Coury (Cinderella). The show combines anthem rock classics from each band member�s prior bands, along with classic rock favorites, circus acts, and sexy rock dancers. This was a show that I had to go see for myself.

The party kicked off at 11pm in Las Vegas and quickly got straight to business, delivering an instantly pleasing cover of Motley Crue�s early fist pounder, Live Wire. Dancers seemed to appear from every corner of the stage, indulging in the debauchery that was strewn forth from the stage all over the audience. The audience knew almost immediately that this show was going to deliver.

It took me a song or two to identify, but sure enough, Velvet Revolver axe man extraordinaire Dave Kushner was in the band this evening, and rolled the band straight into the second song in the set � Slither � from his own Velvet Revolver�s first album.

Both John Corabi and Tony Montana switched off vocal duties through these and Judas Priest�s You�ve Got Another Thing Coming. During the Priest cover, an audience member was brought up to try to jam (a la guitar hero style and projected onto video screens for the audience to watch) with the band. Corabi gave the gentleman a band T-shirt after a somewhat above average performance on the game, while jesting to him him, �If you would have just gotten two percentage points better, we�d be giving you one of our dancers to take home instead!�

Six songs into the set, the night lit up like the Vegas Strip as Dee Snider stormed onto the stage. The audience applause was thunderous as he jokingly shouted to the audience, �Nice�now be seated.� Dee them belted out the opening lyrics to his Twisted Sister classic We�re Not Gonna Take It, met word for word with the audience singing along.

Dee delivered high note after high note on several other covers throughout the evening, including classics Rock You Like a Hurricane by the Scorpions and Highway to Hell by ACDC. Just before the ACDC cover, Snider made us all remember our devotion to rock by reminiscing on when it is appropriate to use the �horns,� while recalling his own experience watching Ronnie James Dio introduce the gesture in the early 80�s. Dee stretched his arm to the audience, symbol outstretched on his hand, proclaiming, �This is OUR symbol! We represent this�explain to me when P-Diddy started going like this? And when did the Jonas Brothers start doing this? There is something SERIOUSLY wrong!�

With Dee leading the way, Rudy Sarzo, Tony Montana, and John Corabi all took turns performing in the aisles, and directly on top of some of the seats in the audience. This show, in all terms, was taken directly to the audience. I was the benefactor of a face to face lyric with Snider and Sarzo jamming on his bass directly over audience members, prompting them to stay enthralled and out of their seats throughout the set.

After an exceptional double encore of Twisted Sister�s I Wanna Rock and Quiet Riot�s Mental Health, the band closed out the evening by offering up an enormous birthday cake to their own John Corabi, complete with an upside down �50� candle.

In summary, this show delivered what rock was all about, with tons of extra visual elements that helped put it over the top. This is a must-see for any die hard rock fan from the 80�s genre, and well worth the short trip to Vegas, with or without Dee Snider performing as a guest with the band. Don�t forget to book early, as the fans in the closest seats definitely get the most in-the-audience interaction with the band.

For more information on Monster Circus, check out www.myspace.com/monstercircuslasvegas.
 
Monster Circus
Monster Circus. Photo by Ben Hansen

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Chris Cornell 2009

By Jay Koenig

April 25, 2009 | Salt Lake City, UT
 



Chris Cornell
Photo by Jay Koenig

Chris Cornell Outdoes Himself Again

Saturday night at the Depot in Salt Lake City, Chris Cornell held the audience in his hand from beginning to end. With intro music playing in the background, band members walked on stage; then Cornell himself to a loud reception from an ecstatic, sold out crowd.

The show started with Part of Me and then Time, both from his new CD, Scream. From the beginning of the set, the crowd showed their appreciation by singing every song lyric with Chris. During You Know My Name" (from the James Bond movie Casino Royale) the crowd sang louder than Chris did at times. His voice was clear and strong, and his band was solid. Their tight camaraderie and fun antics on stage made them as enjoyable to watch as to listen to.

Chris was one with the audience throughout the whole show, proving his status as a premier entertainer. Hebent down at the front of the stage in mid song to give an adoring fan a photo opportunity and signed another fan's CD cover prior to starting the next song. His closeness to the audience was amazing all night, shaking and smacking hands of fans during the entire set.

Chris covered a great range of his extensive library, as his band performed music from Soundgarden, Audioslave, and his different solo CDs. One of the crowd favorites, however, came from his Temple of the Dog project where everyone joined in singing backing vocals on Hunger Strike, just as Eddie Vedder had recorded them initially with Chris.

The band exploded again with the Soundgarden classics Outshined and Rusty Cage, where Chris actually jumped up on top of the drum set. Cornell recognized drummer Jason Sutter's talent, remembering how he tore it up in animalistic drum solo while the power went out during their 2007 show at the Depot. This time around there was no outage, but the same intensity was evident.

The rest of his band was also in full rock mode for the entire set.  Bass Player Corey McCormick's energy was contagious and evident while jumping about the stage. Peter Thorn and Yogi Lonich had amazing power and chemistry on guitars. Switching up solos, Yogi left sustaining resonance during Sunshower with his amazing fretwork and soulfulness.

Following the song Seasons, Chris picked up an acoustic guitar and played a few songs including fan favorites Fell on Black Days and Like a Stone while having the audience sing the final chorus for him.

The band ended the evening with a powerful rendition of Cochise, walking off the stage on a high note; but they weren't quite finished yet. The crowd went wild after they reemerged for an encore of Scream, the title track of his latest release.

At the end Chris seemed as gracious of the audience as they were of him. He and the band stepped to the front of the stage shaking fans hands while passing out show memorabilia. There were smiles on every face in the venue as the crowd finally dispersed. The lingering energy after the show summed up the excitement of the entire evening. Once again, Chris Cornell had completely outdone himself for his fans in Utah.
 
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Pop Evil 2009

By Ben Hansen

March 10, 2009 | Salt Lake City, UT
 


GETTING INTO IT: Leigh Kakaty belts out a song. Photo by Ben Hansen
Tuesday night is usually an odd night to get excited for going out. This Tuesday was worth the excitement.

Pop Evil returned to town as the headliners for their first Salt Lake show since opening for Tesla last year. The show was initially scheduled for the Avalon, but was moved the day of the show, due to fire code issues, to the Murray Theater. A crowd was lined up in front of the door by 6:30 for the show, even though the band was not scheduled on until 9:30. Everything was in place for Pop Evil to own the night . . . and they grabbed the evening by the throat.

The band wasted no time in getting the audience going, kicking off with Breathe, the second song from their debut album Lipstick on the Mirror. Energy flowed from the musicians as lead singer Leigh Kakaty took the stage, and Leigh again began laying it all out on the line, singing emphatically through not just his voice, but also with his hands and body movements. The audience barely had an opportunity to respond when guitarists Tony Greve and Dave Grahs ground into the opening riff to the fist-pumping anthem Three Seconds to Freedom.

Songs in the set also included Ready or Not, Somebody Like You, Stepping Stone, Shinedown and the yet-to-be released track Rollin Stone, which has been met with huge underground success. Taking a no-nonsense approach and playing straight through with no encores, Leigh donned an acoustic guitar himself, strumming out the lighter side of the band's recent hit 100 in a 55 while everyone in the audience sang along. True to form, they finished up by igniting the audience with a stellar rendition of their biggest hit thus far, Hero.

A Pop Evil concert is so much more than just listening to live music -- it's hearing and seeing the pure expression of great music flow from each of them. This show had all of the fireworks one could look for in a live performance without a pyrotechnics license � tons of audience interaction, heavy songs, power ballads, and even water spray explosions that would make HHH proud. Regardless of their national radio exposure, these guys are young and hungry. You can tell they love what they do, and you know that they love being in front of the live audience. Their show is solid, and it's a good bet that it won't be long until they are playing a bigger venue the next time they come to town.
 

Members of the band Pop Evil emote for the camera. Photo by Ben Hansen

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Camp Freddy 2009
Sundance - Welcome to Camp Freddy

What if a concert experience could be something that bends the normal and does something entirely new? Something very different, beyond just a band�s look, a guitar effect, or a flash pot explosion? They can, and that band is Camp Freddy.

Camp Freddy is a band of established rock musicians who come together to jam out cover songs from both their prior bands and other artists. The core of this group consists of drummer Matt Sorum (The Cult, Guns N� Roses, Velvet Revolver), bass player Chris Chaney (Jane�s Addiction, Alanis Morisette), guitarist Billy Morrison (The Cult, Circus Diablo), guitarist Dave Navarro (Jane�s Addiction, Red Hot Chili Peppers), and vocalist Donovan Leitch.

The differentiating factor with these guys is that they are all there to have a good time and put on a great show. At any time, band members may trade out or join up with �guest musicians�, throwing a completely different element into the live set. Prior to Monday�s show at the world famous Harry O�s, some of the past guest appearances have included Billie Joe Armstrong (Green Day), Kid Rock, Chad Smith (Red Hot Chili Peppers), Steven Tyler (Aerosmith), and Slash (Guns N� Roses), to name a few. The big question on everyone�s mind before the show was, �Who is going to show tonight?�

As Camp Freddy took the stage and the lights hit, the answers became very evident. The lineup of the band itself was different, with guitarist Steve Stevens (Billy Idol, Vince Neil) playing in place of Dave Navarro. Stevens rocked the house all night long, while the audience enjoyed both the combination of his technical soloing and his cigarette-smoking, Nikki Sixx hairdo circa Shout at the Devil appearance.

The band took off, most appropriately, with a cover of the song Hello There Ladies and Gentlemen by Cheap Trick. Lead vocalist Donavan Leitch reached out to the audience during this song, emphatically singing, �Do you want to do a number with me?�

The band�s lineup stayed the same only through the second song, the classic Tie Your Mother Down by Queen. Following Donavan�s screams at the end of the song, he informed the crowd that they were going to bring a lot of rock stars on the stage tonight, and immediately introduced the first guest performer of the night, singer Mark McGrath of Sugar Ray. He joked with the audience about Robert Redford asking to sing some Ted Nugent, and the band immediately broke into Ted�s 1970�s staple Cat Scratch Fever.

Following this song, McGrath introduced each member of the band, one by one. When he introduced drummer Matt Sorum, he humorously stated, �You all know this guy. He�s the best drummer in the past 3 decades. We�ve all grown up with him�Velvet Revolver, The Cult, Guns N� Roses, the Jonas Brothers � Matt Sorum.�

After jamming a cover of EFI by The Sex Pistols, another surprise was unveiled � special guest and legendary guitarist from The Cult, Billy Duffy, walked out onto the stage. Duffy made multiple appearances throughout the night, including a smoking cover of Jailbreak by Thin Lizzy, and Steve Steven�s own White Wedding from his days with Billy Idol.

The biggest surprise of the night came towards the end of the band�s set. Everyone knew as advertised that Billy Gibbons from ZZ Top was going to be a special guest this evening, so when the band announced that the next guest was going to blow their minds, the audience thought that they knew what to expect. It came as a shock to everyone however when the band announced, �Give it up for Cory Taylor from Slipknot.�

As the audience screamed with excitement, Cory smiled, grabbed the microphone, and stated �See what you can do with this one.� Guitarist Steve Stevens immediately launched into the opening riff off one of his most beloved Billy Idol classics � Rebel Yell. Cory�s vocals sounded surprisingly better than Idol�s on the song, and continued to wow through a cover of Ain�t Talkin� 'Bout Love by Van Halen, followed by the high point of the evening � The Ace of Spades by Motorhead. Even he was impressed once the song was finished, proclaiming to the audience, �Good Lord! I think I just had a f&#*g aneurism!�

The band was not done there. Billy Gibbons made his appearance as anticipated, playing his ZZ Top smash La Grange, with the audience singing along. Billy still had his famously long beard and was sporting his signature sunglasses, which he raised after the song while telling the audience, �It�s crazy tonight, and it�s gonna get crazier.� He then led the band through a cover of Jimmy Hendrix�s Foxy Lady.

Billy Gibbons walked off the stage, and it appeared the set was coming to a close. Suddenly, all of the guests began re-emerging with one last special guest. Shaun White, the top snowboarder in the world, hit the stage with his guitar in hand, ready to rock. Shaun, Cory Taylor, Billy Duffy, and everyone else rocked the building hard for the final song I Wanna Be Your Dog by Iggy Pop.

My heart did not stop pounding for about 10 minutes after the show, nor did my head for quite some time after that. Simply put, this show blew my mind. I had no idea what to expect going into this, and came out initially not realizing what had just hit me. Camp Freddy delivers a monster show worthy of seeing more than once. I, for one, will definitely be checking them out again.

Be sure to check out the band�s website at www.campfreddy.com for more information.
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Davis Guggenheim and Jack White,  White Stripes
INSIDE THE MINDS OF ROCK GODS: Davis Guggenheim, left, and Jack White of the White Stripes, right, are part of a movie that makes you want to play your guitar very loud. Photo by Ben Hansen
It Might Get Loud premier 2009
'It Might Get Loud' premiere is the talk of Sundance

By Ben Hansen

January 19, 2009 | There are times when you see a movie that makes you want to take action. Rocky made us want to fight. Rudy made us believe in ourselves. It Might Get Loud makes us want to play that classic CD and crank the volume up, or pick up a guitar -- any guitar.

Friday morning at 9, the Temple Theater in Park City began showing movies for the first time ever at the Sundance film festival, and we "Temple virgins" who were lucky enough to get into the show watched the building transform into the Temple of Rock.

Rarely can a film penetrate the glamorous surface of rock legends. It Might Get Loud tells the personal stories, in their own words, of three generations of electric guitar virtuosos -- The Edge (U2), Jimmy Page (Led Zeppelin), and Jack White (The White Stripes). It reveals how each developed his unique sound and style of playing favorite instruments, guitars both found and invented. Concentrating on the artist's musical rebellion, traveling with him to influential locations, provoking rare discussions as to how and why he writes and plays, this film lets you witness intimate moments and hear new music from each artist. The movie revolves around a day when Jimmy Page, Jack White and the Edge first met and sat down together to share their stories, teach and play.

The film wastes no time drawing in the audience as we quietly observe Jack White inventing a makeshift one-string slide instrument comprised of only a board, a Coke bottle, wire, nails, a pickup, and an amp. You immediately get the feeling that this film is going to be something special.

An incredible overall feeling is achieved with the matching of these three brilliant musicians. Each contrasts such a different style, bringing many different elements to the table. Jack is quoted at one point as saying, "All three of us get together . . . what's going to happen? Probably a fist-fight."

Page, the master of the rock guitar, is the admired forefather of the group. He is seen referencing technical aspects and terminology, and provides wisdom by both his words and his playing that causes the other two to look like kids at Christmas every time he gives them a bit of his wisdom.

Edge is a master of sounds. He has shown that he can take the dynamics of how guitar sound is delivered and change them again and again, making him the technological whiz of the bunch.

Jack White is a fundamental purist. He reads the message in the music. He feels the art of backwards and simplicity in many different styles of music.

Bring the three of them into the room together, and watch the creativity flow. The three shared their licks and jammed together in a threesome of rock gods on I Will Follow by U2, Ramble On by Led Zeppelin, and Dead Leaves and the Dirty Ground by the White Stripes, along with an impromptu slide guitar jam. Each thoroughly seemed to enjoy the opportunity to play with each other on their own tracks, almost honored at the opportunity.

Another highlight of the show was the rare footage shown from each of these artists early in their careers. This included live footage of Jimmy Page playing Stairway to Heaven from one of the early Led Zeppelin tours. As I was able to witness the energy that came from him while listening to an extended guitar solo played on his double-necked Gibson SG guitar, the hair on my arms started to stand up.

Film director and Academy Award winner Davis Guggenheim conducted a question and answer session in which he was asked why he had created this movie. His response was simple - "So many rock 'n' roll movies are like car wrecks, about tragedies. I wanted to make a documentary on what rock is all about."

As I sit here with my guitar this morning trying to remember some of the guitar tricks I picked up, I realized that no words could better describe this show. This was truly what rock 'n' roll is all about. Well done, Mr. Guggenheim.

It Might Get Loud will be released this summer by Sony pictures. You won't want to miss it.
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GET UP!: James Hetfield gets the crowd roaring. Photo by Ben Hansen
Metallica 2008
Metallica delivers a knockout punch live in Utah

By Ben Hansen

November 7, 2008 | "Where have all of the mullets gone?"

That was my question as I entered the Energy Solutions Arena in Salt Lake City on Monday night. Metallica, the thrash metal, chart-topping, lords of the '80s mullet have long since passed the days of wearing the outdated hairstyle. Surprisingly enough, only a handful of the fans have clung onto this hairdo from what many consider Metallica's early glory days. So with the mullets gone, would Metallica forget this era in their live set?

ABSOLUTELY NOT!

Metallica covered both the early and later ends of the band's musical career, pounding out a heavy dose of early speed metal classics, while giving the new fans exactly what they were looking for with a healthy helping of current album splendor. From opening the show with the band's first track off of the new Death Magnetic album, That Was Just Your Life, going immediately into the blistering classic, Creeping Death from 1984's Ride the Lightning, the band quickly let the crowd know that it was going to be a night to remember.

Lead singer and guitarist James Hetfield raised the adrenaline of every audience member throughout the night, barking and growling lyrics from numerous microphones set up in various places throughout the stage. The sight of James' 6-foot-1 frame curled over a microphone belting out the classic song One from the album And Justice for All, while flashpot pyrotechnics and strobe lights went off repeatedly, was enough to whip the general admission portion of the audience on the floor into a complete frenzy, causing security guards to scurry throughout the crowd to keep fans from going over the edge.

With five consecutive No. 1 albums, it would be impossible for obsessive fans to hear everything that they wanted. To the audience's surprise, instead of delivery a standard "hits" package like many live bands, Metallica churned through as many fan favorites as hits throughout the night. Three songs off of the early album Master of Puppets were played, including the title track, Battery and Disposable Heroes, much to the delight of fans ravenous for some "old" Metallica.

New tracks from the Death Magnetic album were blended seamlessly with old, as the band pulled out the new favorites Cyanide, The End of the Line and Broken, Beat and Scarred. Although these songs are all less than two months since release, the audience sang along with such volume that it was difficult to hear James' vocals at times.

Other songs that stood out in the band's set included Wherever I May Roam, For Whom the Bell Tolls and the closing song, Enter Sandman.

As fans began to realize that their voices were gone from shouting and screaming for over an hour and a half, Metallica returned to the stage and delivered encores with covers of punk metal classics Die, Die My Darling and So What. After the last note was hit, house lights came on and James thanked everyone for coming. He looked out to the audience and demanded everyone go home several times. Nobody budged. With a smile and a laugh, he struck the first few notes to the song Seek and Destroy from the first CD Kill 'Em All, when suddenly giant black beach balls came flying down from the ceiling onto all areas of the audience. By the time the song was over, the crowd was again in frenzy. The band fed even further into this by walking around the stage for the next several minutes throwing out dozens of signature guitar picks and drum sticks before calling it a night.

It's hard to believe that Metallica has been touring the U.S. for 25 years. Most heavy rockers may have some of the same old moves, but the songs get slower, the music can change, and many time "artsy" variations of a band's classics become part of the live set. For these guys, this could not be further from the truth. With a platinum new album worthy of gaining new fans and regaining old ones, and a concert nothing short of mesmerizing, Metallica has once again proven that its band members are the Greek gods of heavy metal.
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Tesla 2008
Tesla, Jeff Keith
IN THE RAFTERS: Jeff Keith hits another high note as Tesla performs in Salt Lake City. Photo by Ben Hansen

Tesla's music is still timeless

By Ben Hansen

October 6, 2008 | SALT LAKE CITY -- Twenty years ago, before many of you were born, I began listening to a new band out of California that sounded different than the rest of the scene at the time -- metal with a distinguishable bluesy-feel that brought more to the music than the rest of the par at the time. Years later, the band Tesla is still one of a kind, and delivered an exceptional performance at the Depot club.

Wednesday was the first date of Tesla's new tour in support of the band's yet-to-be released album Forever More. The audience in SLC was given a preview of what was to come, mixed with some of the band's best works that have assured its status as multi-platinum throughout the years.

As the lights went out, the band went straight into the title track from the new album, followed by what may be its best new song, I Wanna Live. The audience began to come alive, immediately immersed in and enjoying the new music.

Quickly the set list moved back to hit after hit, with the band going straight into its first hit, Modern Day Cowboy from the band's first album Mechanical Resonance. Many other classics followed, including Hang Tough, Heaven's Trail and The Way It Is.

Lead singer Jeff Keith sounded sensational, hitting high note after high note with ease throughout the night. He was everywhere on the stage throughout the night, seeming to sing to each member of the audience at any given point. Jeff masterfully worked the crowd as usual, getting the audience to sing along, word for word to the band's mega hits Love Song and the band's cover of Five Man Electrical Band's 1970 song Signs.

Guitarist and primary songwriter Frank Hannon was also razor sharp throughout the night, taking on all backing vocals with ease. He also seemed to empty the entire guitar arsenal, making lightning fast solos on double-necked guitars blend seamlessly with bluesy acoustic solos.

Tesla's show was everything one would hope it would be -- great hits, five noteworthy new tracks, and a solid stage performance that kept the audience pumped for 90 minutes. The new album is definitely worth picking up tomorrow when it comes out-- get it before it sells out at your store.

For more information on Tesla, or to check out the song I Wanna Live off the new album, be sure check out the band's Web site.
 
Tesla
Tesla kicks it into gear. Photo by Ben Hansen

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Linkin Park 2008
Linkin Park, Mike Shinoda
JOIN IN: Mike Shinoda asks the crowd to sing with him. Photo by Ben Hansen

Linkin Park rocks Utah -- right through two encores

By Ben Hansen

March 13, 2008 | "Somewhere I Belong" is in West Valley City with Linkin Park.

You may have heard of these guys before -- over the last seven years, Linkin Park has delivered three incredibly successful albums, achieved more than 50 million album sales, received two Grammy awards, and owned more than a dozen radio hits. This rap and metal fusion machine has done it all, including playing Ozzfest, topping the Billboard charts with two different albums . . . everything except for playing a show recently in Utah.

The band played to a sold-out crowd Saturday at the E-Center of West Valley. Tickets for the show were gone months in advance, and rarely sold tickets for seats behind the stage were offered and disappeared quickly. Those who were lucky enough to get to the show were not disappointed.

After the opening band Coheed and Cambria finished their set and gear was changed out, the lights dimmed to an empty stage. Suddenly, two platforms rose from beneath the stage with Linkin Park playing their first song, the instrumental Wake, off of their most recent album, Minutes to Midnight. At the song's conclusion, they immediately transitioned into the No. 1 hit from the same album, What I've Done, bringing the audience out of their seats, jumping up and down as if they were on pogo sticks.

Lead vocalist Chester Bennington provided quite the show for the eyes and ears, jumping off stage objects, walking directly into the audience of frenzied fans, running around the stage and performing to the audience in every direction. Although flat a couple of times on his notes in the set, the level of difficulty in the singing, yelling, and growling combinations that Chester used throughout each song is extreme. He admirably pulled off song after song to a euphoric, frenzied audience throughout the night without losing any of the edge in his growl or singing voice.

When Chester was not using either his piercing or mellow tone, guitarist/keyboardist/rapper/singer Mike Shinoda performed a good chunk of the vocal duties. A true jack of all trades, Mike had an electric energy with the audience, and had the audience following his every request � whether rapping, playing guitar, or singing while playing the keyboard with his guitar strapped to his back. Not only does Mike do it all, he does it in style, often harmonizing in tandem with Chester to fill the melodies of their songs, or throwing down rap between Chester's dominant metal style to provide a unique fusion to the music.
Linkin Park
Linkin Park rocks the crowd -- and comes back for a second encore. Photo by Ben Hansen


I did not see anyone in my section of the audience sitting down at all during the entire set - we had all waited forever to see these guys, and their music was delivered tight enough that you could shoot an arrow from it. Some of the more memorable songs from the main part of the show included Shadow of the Day, Crawling, Valentine's Day, In Pieces, and their final song, Bleed It Out. As Mike asked the audience to sing Bleed It Out with them, the crowd in unison shouted so loudly that it seemed almost deafening, even with earplugs.

The band returned for an encore of the song Pride and Promise, sung as a duet with only Mike playing keyboards and covering main vocals and Chester providing backing vocals. The band then turned to their hit Breaking the Habit as their final encore of the set.

No one in the audience wanted to leave. The entire stadium continued to erupt in chants for the band for the next few minutes, and much to everyone's surprise, the band came out for a second set of encores. They played their first hit that propelled them into the limelight One Step Closer, along with an extended version of their up tempo track, I Won't Be Ignored, complete with Chester taking time out during both of the songs to scream the most dramatic parts of these songs to each direction of the venue, again including all of the audience behind the stage.

With such a large catalogue of hits alone, I had expected Linkin Park to deliver a "hits only" package and call it a night. Much to everyone's delight, they delivered hits, fan favorites, and an unheard of second return for encores to everyone in the crowd, giving everyone their money's worth with interest. If you missed the show, hopefully the band will be back sometime in the near future. Paying a scalper may have been a good idea for this one. . . .
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