Sunday, May 27, 2012

Concert Review - Roger Waters The Wall in Portland

It seems only fitting to review this show over Memorial Day weekend, since Waters has converted The Wall from an autobiographic piece to a larger global statement on war and the abuse of power.

All the footage in the show of soldiers coming home from duty and particularly the song Bring The Boys Back Home made me think of all those who fight for our freedom. The show vacillates between heartfelt and frequently tear-inducing images of the victims of war - including soldiers, and the Dogs and Pigs who wage war from behind the boardroom walls. You all know the story.

I took my 14 year old son to the show and Waters didn't disappoint. Right out of the gate it was a visual onslaught from the pyro opening of In The Flesh to the giant Wall toppling over two and a half hours later.

I noticed some new things in the show from when I saw it in December 2010. First of all, cameras have been added to capture Waters onstage and broadcast him onto the wall - much like the jumbo screens at big stadium shows.

But it was very effective on a couple of fronts. In Nobody Home, where Waters sings the song from a faux hotel room that extends from the wall, I remember that in the 2010 show I had a hard time seeing him. I was in the 100 section in the back, which was a great place to be but not for moments like Nobody Home.

But now, an image of Waters is broadcast on the right hand side of the wall so you can see all the nuances of his delivery. They also used this in Don't Leave Me Now to great effect (see photo below).

And it was also used in my favorite moment of the show, where Waters machine guns the audience to death at the end of In The Flesh. He now shows up 50 feet tall in front of the 'Nazi rally' imagery so you REALLY get the point. See the video below.

Otherwise, my review from December pretty much stands - I don't have much to add except that Waters sounded awesome vocally and stretched out a little more on the bass. The sound in the Portland Rose Garden was very crisp and his band was fantastic.

I especially noted the large amount of vocal harmonies for example in The Show Must Go On. These live four and five part harmonies, so well executed, are refreshing given today's era of lip syncing and playing to pre-recorded backing tracks.

Overall, I am glad I saw this show a second time, and honestly wish I could see it just one more time.

Isorski and Son

Yep, I had to also get the T-Shirt! Run Like Hell!

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Prog Fans Rejoice As Steve Hackett and Chris Squire Partner in the Aptly Named 'Squackett'

Next Monday, fans of old school Yes and Genesis will have boners as the long-anticipated album from Yes bassist Chris Squire and Genesis guitarist Steve Hackett will hit the stands.

Much like the names Hoobastank and Chickenfoot, the band name started as a joke and sadly stuck. The group is called Squackett. Gah!

But the two songs available today on iTunes sound pretty cool. Or at least the 1:30 samples sound good - I am too cheap to buy them today and again next week.

I have to say I have always liked Chris Squire's songs. To me, he is the Ace Frehley of Yes. Meaning, he does not take the mic frequently but when he does, I usually like what comes out of his head.

His one solo album, Fish Out Of Water, is a prog rock classic must-have. Songs like Can You Imagine from Yes' Magnification, The More We Live/Let Go from Yes Union (the only good song on that piece of crap) and The Man You Always Wanted Me To Be from the new Fly From Here by the Anderson-less Yes are all great songs.

Also, dig Squire's first take at It Can Happen on the 90125 bonus tracks before Jon Anderson added his parts - very cool stuff indeed.

So finally another album of stuff piloted by Chris Squire - it got my interest right away.

Steve Hackett is another story. I love-love LOVE his work in Genesis. Some of the best, most tasteful and innovative playing from that era. But sadly I also have every one of his solo albums and there are A LOT of them. But aside from some stuff on Spectral Mornings, I can't Hack (cough) any of them.

Well, his last two releases are actually pretty good. One is a solo nylon string guitar album called Metamorpheus that is like a whole album of songs like the gorgeous Horizons from Foxtrot (waaaay early Genesis).

I also really dug his playing on the GTR album and have always been a fan of his style.

So maybe this will be the prog version of peanut butter and chocolate. Come Monday, we'll find out! For now, dig these short previews from Prog Magazine:

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Peter Gabriel to Tour North America, Perform "So" Album End to End

Peter Gabriel will hit the road this fall on the 25th anniversary of the So album, which shot his career into the stratosphere on songs like Sledgehammer, Red Rain, Don't Give Up and Big Time.

According to his website, he will play the album in its entirety, in order, and will also be recruiting as many players from that original tour to re-join. According to ProgRockMag, bassist/Stick player Tony Levin has posted the dates, so he's in. That's a huge win.

The So concert was one of the best shows I have ever seen. The music was incredible because he only had five albums to draw from. So we got lots of older Gabriel material like Intruder and San Jacinto.

There weren't any Sledgehammer offshoots like Steam, and he still closed the shows with Biko instead of In Your Eyes.

The show was also the first time he had gone back to being super theatrical, and I remember roaming lights on scissor arms that rolled around the stage on tracks. Very simple yet effective. In "No Self Control," each light alternated in coming down on Gabriel as if they were attacking him.

So it was theatrical but also fairly low budget. There was no back of the stage. It was not in the round per se, but I was seated behind the stage and that was an interesting way to watch the show.

I also remember I had to pee the whole time but could not tear myself away to use the can. Gah!

Anyway, I'll keep an eye on this for sure. So far only a handful of dates are announced. Lots of gaps though. Hopefully we'll have a Portland play.

Video from that tour, where you can see some of the stage show I was talking about:

Monday, May 21, 2012

Roger Waters on 60 Minutes

If you have 15 minutes or so, or are looking for brain break, take a look at this fantastic 60 Minutes segment on Roger Waters and The Wall.

...and the 'bonus footage'

Going to see The Wall with my 14 year old son tomorrow night. I don't know who I am more excited for...

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Sabbath Soap Opera Maybe Not As Frothy As We Think

Black Sabbath bassist Geezer Butler finally broke silence on the Bill Ward drama, basically saying that the other guys in the band were unaware of Ward's displeasure with the proposed contract until Ward had gone public with it:

Geezer posted to his website:

“None of us knew how Tony was going to respond to his intensive chemotherapy and radiotherapy. Ozzy and myself flew to England to be with Tony, and on his ‘good’ days, we’d meet at his home studio and put ideas together for the upcoming album, all sitting down together, no drummer involved, just three of us quietly putting together ideas. We thought when we had enough songs together for a full band rehearsal, we’d move back to LA and put the whole thing together with Bill.

“To our surprise, Bill issued a statement on his site saying he’d been offered an un-signable contract. He hadn’t told any one of us he was having contractual problems, and frankly those things are worked out between our representatives, and never between the four of us – let alone in public.

Check out the post for all the details. Nice to hear Geezer's side because up until yesterday Sabbath looked like absolute assholes, even wiping Ward's image off the band's website.

According to, that was at Ward's request! D'oh!

In the meantime, the band played a warm-up show in Birmingham this weekend for 3,000 lucky motherfuckers.

Dig this setlist:
Into The Void
Under The Sun
War Pigs
Wheels of Confusion
Electric Funeral
Black Sabbath
The Wizard
Behind The Wall of Sleep
Fairies Wear Boots
Tomorrow’s Dream
Sweet Leaf
Symptom of The Universe/Drum Solo
Iron Man
Dirty Women
Children of The Grave
Sabbath Bloody Sabbath/Paranoid

Nice to see Iommi is doing well enough to play a gig and to go through what must have been a lot of rehearsing to pull it off. Reviews have been positive and here is a video:

I think Ozzy sounds out of key, and I do miss Ward here. I was lucky enough to catch the original four on Ozzfest with Iron Maiden a few years ago. And even though Ozzy sounded like crap then too, it was cool to see the original band.

What is semi-exciting about this is the notion of a new album, and the fact that the band is digging deeper into its Ozzy era albums on the setlist. But I doubt I would go see this show if it came to my town. Not without Ward and even then, not sure.

But you know who I really miss here? Ronnie James Dio.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Black Sabbath Erase Bill Ward From History

This is such bullshit. For anyone not following the latest parade of insanity in the Black Sabbath camp, here is a re-cap:

--Tony Iommi, Ozzy Osbourne, Geezer Butler, Bill Ward announce that the original lineup of Sabbath is re-forming to record a new album and do a world tour
--Tony Iommi diagnosed with cancer
--Band moves recording sessions to the UK to accommodate Iommi's treatment
--Drummer Bill Ward makes a statement to fans that his bags are packed but that he is not going to the UK until he is presented with a 'signable' contract
--No comment from Black Sabbath except to say they wish he was there but they are carrying on without him
--Sabbath tour re-named Ozzy Osbourne and friends
--Handful of actual Sabbath dates announced
--Bill Ward this week verifying he is not taking part in any of the Sabbath dates and the door is closed - he is not in the Sabbath reunion at all, nor will he be in the future

Today's bullet point? Sabbath has removed all images of Ward from every single photo on the band's website.

OK up to this point, I can chalk it up as a classic contractual dispute, where Ward wanted a certain amount of cash but Sharon Osb...I mean the band did not agree to the figure. Ward went rogue by taking it to the fans.

But Sabbath retaliating by taking his photo off the Sabbath website? That is utter bullshit. This is exactly like when Sharon Osbourne replaced the original drum and bass tracks from Ozzy's first two solo albums because those musicians had sued Ozzy for royalties.

Or like when Van Halen airbrushed Michael Anthony off of its website.

You can't fuck with history, people. The fans don't like it and it will do nothing but tarnish your legacy. This is a dark, dark moment in Sabbath's history. You'd think that with Iommi fighting cancer, they'd grow up and work this shit out.

Here is a screen capture of the website gallery page this morning:


Roger Waters, David Gilmour Wall Reunion Video Posts

This a real treat to watch. Six minutes long, though -- I want the unedited footage, man!

Tell you what though, it warms my heart that these guys buried the hatchet from so long ago. It also gets me revved up to see The Wall as the show comes to Portland on Tuesday. I saw it last year - review posted here - and it's amazing.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

New Joe Walsh Single - Lucky That Way

Joe Walsh is putting out his first solo album in 20 years and the new song is up on the web. It's called Lucky That Way, and I think it's great.

It sounds like he picked up right where he left off from my favorite stuff in the 70s. His voice is clear, the song is catchy and upbeat. The arrangement feels really good. Very tasty Joe Walsh solo.

And it has some great Joe Walsh lines. My favorite is: “I’ll let you all in on a little secret / If I could share with you a thing or two / If you act like you know what you’re doing / Everybody thinks that you do.”


The album is called Analog Man and comes out June 5. What do you think of the tune?

Monday, May 07, 2012

Rolling Stones Open Bootleg Archive

The Rolling Stones are making some of their most popular bootlegged shows from the 70s and 80s available for $5 a pop at

So far there are only three available but you'd be hard pressed to find better recorded live Stones gigs outside of Get Yer Ya Ya's Out.

The oldest is from October 1973 and is called The Brussels Affair.

This is a hot night on the Goats Head Soup tour so we get mainly classic Mick Taylor era tunes like Brown Sugar, Rip This Joint, Street Fighting Man, Happy, Tumblin Dice and one of the most raw and vibrant versions of Midnight Rambler to grace the transom.

You can hear Jagger grunting through the harmonica as he rips out heavy distorted blues riffs, and the speedy jam section is proof of why the Stones were once rated as once of the best live bands out there.

Of course we get incredibly underrated Goats Head Soup material as well. Dancing With Mr D live? Get the hell outa here!

The band actually played (and recorded) two shows on this day in Brussels. This release is the best songs from both gigs. But you can find bootlegs of both shows (search for 'The Complete Brussels Affair') and it's cool to hear the two complete concerts with different set lists.

The second release is from a Los Angeles gig in 1975 and is from the tail end of Ronnie Wood's first tour with the band. This is the tour where they had a bunch of side guys on horns and percussion and also Billy Preston was with them.

You can hear live versions of a lot of these songs on Love You Live from the same tour but because the band didn't know they were being recorded in LA for official release, these versions on the bootleg are more raw and real.

The guitar interplay between Richards and Ron Wood is much tighter. It's like one guitar player, really. Very intertwined. Where Mick Taylor did more soloing over Keith's groove.

Having listened to a lot of Love You Live growing up, it's interesting to hear the songs the Stones played on this tour that were left off that album, like All Down The Line, Angie, an almost eight minute very bluesy Wild Horses and of course Gimmie Shelter. Cool to hear Wood's take on Taylor's parts.

This release, called LA Friday, was really recorded at a Sunday concert. You get the whole thing here - 25 songs including two Billy Preston tunes from when they'd turn the spotlight on him briefly each night.

After this tour the band went to Paris to record Some Girls, so you can imagine the group getting tighter every night on this tour, gearing up for that.

The third release is from the 1982 tour where the Stones officially jumped the shark for me and became a stadium band with huge props and stages and balloons and shit.

Still worth a listen but my least favorite of the bunch.

Mick and Keith talk about these bootlegs in the below videos from the band. As usual Keith has better things to say.

His thoughts on Mick Taylor versus Ronnie Wood and his own role playing with each is really telling. He has great respect for both guitarists and of course has really unique perspectives on each. Some great sound bites there. Enjoy!

One caveat on actually getting these releases off the web: the experience of downloading these songs is not seamless. The Stones partnered with Google in the U.S. and the process of pulling the songs off the Web is not as intuitive as iTunes. Not a deal breaker but something to note.

I had all of these shows on unofficial bootlegs and the sound is far superior as expected on these official releases. In some cases there are more songs and a different order. It's nice to hear these as the Stones meant them to be heard. I hope they continue to issue more shows. At $5 a pop I'd probably buy them all!

Thursday, May 03, 2012

T.U.B.E. Bootleg Site Vanishes Again

I noticed a lot of people searching for the TUBE Bootleg site - a great source for bootlegs across the board. Seems like it's been pulled down. This happens from time to time for various reasons.

Usually the service provider freaks out from a threat from the music industry and its lawyers and pulls the site down. Once it gets sorted out, a new site goes up with the same great (legal) bootlegs.

I suggest people go to TUBE's Facebook page, which as far as I can tell has never been taken down. All the links from the page are dead but I bet once the TUBE folks figure it out, this is where they will post a new URL.

Tuesday, May 01, 2012

Concert Review: Ghost at The Showbox in Seattle

A bit of a 'real-time' review here from last night: Drove three hours to Seattle to catch Ghost at the Showbox where they opened for Mastodon and Opeth.

In fact I am typing this on my phone half way through Mastodon's set. Not a fan of these guys at all. Every song sounds the same with little melody or variation. A big snore for me. But I do want to see Opeth or we'd be on the road back to Portland already.

So, Ghost.

You can read my CD and Portland show reviews to know how I feel about Ghost. Or you can ponder the fact that my buddy Super Dave and I drove three hours on a Monday to hear six songs, and then drove back another three hours and go to work tomorrow.

Ghost is that kind of band.

They started at 7 p.m. sharp and played for 30 minutes exactly. They did six songs from their debut album: Con Claro Con Dio, Elizabeth, Prime Mover, Death Knell, Satan Prayer, Ritual.

I missed the inclusion of a couple of songs like Stand By Him but overall the gig was awesome. This band is fantastic live. Forget for a moment the image thing (caped, masked band; zombie pope singer). The songs are a highly effective amalgamation of old school Sabbath, BOC and Metallica.

They seem to have gotten even tighter since the last tour. The singer seemed even more cozy with his chosen persona. More than once I thought of a 70s era costumed Peter Gabriel but with only one character!

Anyhow very enjoyable. And finally I am at Mastodon's last song. Like the dinosaurs this band is named after, they need to be hit by meteors and global warming. Sorry, nothing redeemable at all about this band. They suck ass.

Fast forward a few hours. Opeth...

Opeth was very good - I thought they were playing Heart of the Sunrise as their opener but it was something else but just as proggy.

The band has listened to a lot of Yes, and certainly share a brotherhood with groups like Porcupine Tree. PT has in fact set the bar so high that it was hard for Opeth to match up.

But they were a welcome change from Mastodon, and a nice way to end the evening before the three hours back to Portland.

The best part of Mastodon's set (they had just left the stage):