HELLOWEEN & HAMMERFALL Bring The United Forces Tour To Minnesota [Review & Photo Gallery]

A tour I’ve been waiting for since its announcement was the ‘United Forces Tour 2023’ which featured a reunited Helloween with the metal masters from Sweden HammerFall. The Fillmore in Minneapolis, Minnesota opened its doors and welcomed long-time fans of both bands for a powerful and memorable night of music.

HammerFall was given an hour to hit the crowd with everything they had and that’s exactly what they did. The attack started with the crushing “Brotherhood” and then into “Any Means Necessary.” This was my second time seeing them and once again they were impressive. They have created their own legacy over the past thirty-years with twelve studio albums, the last one coming in 2022 called ‘Hammer of Dawn.’ The first thing that immediately stood out was the energy coming from guitarist Oscar Dronjak. He looks like he lives and breathes metal as he attacked his guitar and enticed the crowd into the show. Watching the other guitar player, Pontus Norgren, was also a treat. He’s a shredder and worked the fretboard effortlessly. The rhythm section was thunderous with Fredrik Larsson on bass and David Wallin on drums. The man at the center that provided the vocals was Joacim Cans. He delivered the goods and sounded fantastic. As they ripped through a greatest hits type set-list the crowd was all in. The audience participation was non-stop and the atmosphere was electric during the set. They closed with “Hearts on Fire” with a tremendous response from the fans.

Helloween fans got energized in 2016 when it was announced that vocalist Michael Kiske and guitarist/vocalist Kai Hansen would rejoin the band. Adding back two members from the iconic ‘Keeper of the Seven Keys” era put the band back in the spotlight and fans, just like myself, waited for the tours to start. Finally, they arrived in Minnesota and from the opening note of “Skyfall,” it was a magical night. That song came off their sixteenth studio album, ‘Helloween,’ that was released in 2021 which was the first release under the “Pumpkins United” line-up. Not only did it feature Kiske and Hansen, but it also included the five current members of that band that have been active since 2005. Original members guitarist Michael Weikath and bassist Markus Grosskopf along with Sascha Gerstner also on guitar, drummer Daniel Loble and lead vocalist Andi Deris who replaced Kiske in 1993. For those people that jumped off the wagon after Kiske was replaced, you have missed some great Helloween records as Deris has done a specular job stepping into shoes that were difficult to fill. I was delighted they found a way to bring seven guys together and celebrate the entire history of the band and the tour really showcased why this band has influenced so many that came after them.

The set ran over two hours as they encapsulated the discography perfectly. After “Skyfall” where all three singers had their moments in the song, they began to alternate vocalists, sometimes solo, sometimes together. Kiske took on “Eagles Fly Free,” “Save Us” and “Future World” while Deris struck with “Mass Pollution,” “Power” and “Perfect Gentleman.”  Not to be outdone, Hansen took lead vocals for a medley of songs from the album ‘Walls of Jericho’ and a full ripping version of “How Many Tears.” The songs where both singers were on stage together trading off lines was really fun. Kiske and Deris worked together on “Best Time,” “Forever and One (Neverland),” “Dr. Stein” and the epic closer of the first encore “Keeper of the Seven Keys.” Sonically the band was top notch, with the drummer, Loble, sitting behind a monstrous kit on top of a pumpkin, you couldn’t see him, but you could hear him, and he powered the sound and worked in complete unison with the bassist Grosskopf. The third guitarist, Gerstner, is a real talent, both in playing and also providing backing vocals. The three-guitar attack allowed the guitar players to harmonize with each other while also filling in the rhythm parts which really gave the songs a full sound. Vocally, all three guys were spot on, including Kiske hitting some incredible high notes.

There was nothing I didn’t like about the show. The stage with the big pumpkin in the middle holding the drums, the ramps on each side and the screen playing some really cool images behind them. The obvious closer “I Want Out” ended a perfect evening. I love that Helloween worked out a way for the entire catalog to be represented as there are so many great songs and albums and being able to see the three singers performing together was fantastic. As a Helloween fan, I couldn’t ask for anything more…well, one thing maybe, how did the  song ‘Halloween’ not get played? That’s the only thing that comes to mind but besides that one omission, a perfect night. 

AVATAR, VEIL OF MAYA & ORBIT CULTURE Bring The Circus To Minnesota [Review & Photo Gallery]

The Skyway Theatre in Minneapolis, Minnesota welcomed in one of the heaviest hitting tours making their way across North America. Avatar was set to bring back “Avatar Country” back to the city that have continued to embrace them in bigger numbers with every stop. Veil Of Maya and Orbit Culture rounded a bill that delivered a fantastic night of music. 

The night was started by a sonic crushing quartet from Sweden called Orbit Culture. They formed in 2013 and are led by vocalist/guitarist Niklas Karlsson. His intensity matched the aggressiveness of the music which made for a great set. The rest of the line-up featured lead guitarist Richard Hansson, bassist Fredrik Lennartsson and Christopher Wallerstedt on drums. They have released three albums but it was 2020’s ‘Nija’ that caught my attention along with 2021’s EP ‘Shaman.’ I have quickly jumped on the bandwagon and they are a force to be reckoned with. They played a short set consisting of eight songs capped by a new track, “Alienated,” that will be on the oncoming new album. Other tunes that hit hard were “Strangler,” “Vultures of North,” and the closer “Saw.” It was my first time catching this band and I’m really looking forward to the new album. 

The band sandwiched between the two Swedish outfits was Chicago, Illinois own Veil of Maya. They just released studio album number seven called ‘[m]other.’ The bands energy and focal point was vocalist Lucas Magyar. From the opening cut “Viscera” he was working the crowd and getting everybody involved into the show. The rest of band featured guitarist Marc Okubo, bassist Danny Hauser and drummer Sam Applebaum and they laid down some incredible progressive and technical stuff. They ripped through a twelve-song set that included some of the new material like “Godhead,” “Red Fur” and “Synthwave Vegan.” Other songs included “Whistleblower,” “Doublespeak,” “Lisbeth” and the impressive “Mikasa” which closed the show. 

For my money, nobody delivers a concert like Sweden’s Avatar. The show they put on goes way beyond five guys just playing songs, this is a carefully constructed  and calculated event that combines theatrical trappings that play in perfect unison with the musicians and the sonic attack of the songs. Starting with the band standing in their own pods, thankfully they didn’t enclose them thus avoiding a possible Spinal Tap moment, towers of sparks shot up beside them as they launched into “Dance Devil Dance.” You could feel the energy from the stage but the energy coming back at the stage from the fans was even stronger as a steady stream of crowd surfers began. The players in this band fit so well together and they took the songs to another level live while also interacting with the each other and the crowd. Guitarists Jonas Jarlsby and Tim Ohrstrom provided some unbelievable playing, especially when they dueled each other, and the rhythm section of Henrik Sandelin and drummer John Alfredsson provided the platform for which all the dressing of the music was built upon. The court jester that led the three-ring circus was the infectious lead singer Johannes Eckerstrom. There just isn’t anyone better and more entertaining to watch than he is and it’s very difficult to take your eyes off him. He commands the stage with his crazy antics and facial expressions but it should not be lost on anybody how well he actually pulls off his vocals. He’s spot on and does not take a note off and sounded amazing the whole night which included the song “Tower” where it was just him and a piano. 

The new album released this year called ‘Dance Devil Dance’ is a crusher, blessed with an undeniable groove, it’s as catchy as it is heavy. Five of the eighteen songs played came off the new record and every one of them were incredible, in particular “The Dirt I’m Buried In” really hit in a spectacular way. During the song “Puppet Show” Johannes popped up in the balcony of the theatre with his trombone, but before he played it, he made a balloon animal, only at an Avatar show does that happen and actually makes sense. All the songs you would want were played like “Colossus,” “Let It Burn,” “Bloody Angel,” “Smells Like a Freakshow” and the king made an appearance for “A Statue of the King.” The set closed with “Hail the Apocalypse.” 

I love bands that bring that extra flavor to the stage, that visual that keeps you in the venue until the lights go up. Even with the custumes, staging and props, they never sacrifice the integrity of how the songs should be played live.  Sonically the songs sounded incredible and when you have that in unison with such a high-level stage show with all five guys sharing in the production and the responsibility of giving every person in the venue a night to remember, you have something magical, and that is what Avatar is. 

SHINEDOWN, THREE DAYS GRACE & FROM ASHES TO NEW Light Up Minnesota [Review & Photo Gallery

Shinedown have been ripping through North America and the tour rolled into Target Center in Minneapolis, Minnesota, a venue that the band has made a consistent stop over the past few years, and a rabid fanbase once again welcomed them back. 

Before the headliner would take the stage, From Ashes to New, were tasked to warm-up the audience. The band began to take form in 2013 in Lancaster, Pennsylvania and have dropped three records to date with album number four called ‘Blackout” on the way. The first single from upcoming release, “Nightmare,” opened the seven-song set. From the moment Danny Case stepped onto the stage he was in command. Belting out every word with emotion and conviction which gave me a whole new appreciation of the material. Matt Brandyberry also brought in his rap stylized vocals that played off Case giving the duo an entertaining dynamic which powered the songs. Guitarist Lance Dowdle, drummer Mat Madiro and touring guitarist Jimmy Bennett matched the vocalist energy as they played “Heartache,” “Hate Me Too,” “Crazy” and the bands first break-through single “Through It All” to close the set.  

Three Days Grace took the stage next to a tremendous response. Opening up the show with the cut “So Called Life” which also happens to kick off their latest album, ‘Explosions,’ which was released 2022. Vocalist Matt Walst is now three albums in after taking over for original vocalist Adam Gontier and has cemented himself among fans as a guy that values the past but continues to push the band forward and gain new fans with every show. The rest of the line-up included bassist Brad Walst, guitarist Barry Stock and Neil Sanderson on drums. The band is extremely tight with the material and songs became stronger and heavier than the album versions. Their music is classified in various different genres like post-grunge, alternative, hard rock and nu-metal but ultimately is just addictive catchy songs that have great melodies and memorable choruses that keep fans singing along and staying engaged in the music. With a forty-five-minute set they kept to many of the hits like “Animal I have Become,” “Pain” and “I Hate Everything About You.” The set ended with the rouser “Riot” with fans standing up and chanting riot with the band. 

The headliner, Shinedown, would attack the stage with the crusher “Diamond Eyes (Boom-Lay Boom-Lay Boom.)”  They wasted no time in unleashing the pyro as it shot over the band as the song kicked in. Dubbed the “Revolutions Live Tour” the band quickly took ahold of the arena and held it their hand throughout the entire set. They have really mastered the ideals of what makes a great rock show, lots of pyro and fire, great lighting, high-octane energy and getting the crowd fully engaged. Sonically the songs hit you square in the face. I have always felt the bands catalog translates much better live and when you put that stage show around those songs, it becomes a magical concert. The bands line-up has been solidified for over a decade now with Brent Smith on vocals, Barry Kerch on drums, guitarist Zach Myers and bassist Eric Bass. Shinedown have released seven studio albums with ‘Planet Zero’ being dropped in 2022. They pulled “Dead Don’t die” off that album for the second song of the night and it sounded fantastic. A piano dropped from the ceiling for the third song as Eric Bass sat down and played “I’ll Follow You” while guitarist Zach Meyers found a great perch to play on and climbed on top of it to play his parts. The night continued with some of the must plays like “Sound of Madness,” “Enemies,” “Bully,” “45” and the cover of Lynyrd Skynyrd’s “Simple Man.” The set came to a close with “Cut the Cord” and it once again, for my buck, solidified Shinedown as one of the must-see bands when they come through your town. They sound amazing, the songs grab you and you can’t help but engage into the music and the energy they bring to the stage every night. Shinedown believes in their audience and appreciates the people that show up and support them, a cool moment after the second song was Brent Smith giving hi-fives to every photographer in front of the stage, a very small moment in time but a meaningful and memorable experience for those photographers and it was a way of saying thanks to the people that help share their vision of what a rock concert should be. Once again, the Target Center in Minneapolis got a great show and I’m sure it will fill-up once again when they come back. 


One of the odder tour packages hit the Target Center in Minneapolis, Minnesota last week. Metal veterans Five Finger Death headlined the bill that also featured two country acts, Brantley Gilbert and Cory Marks. I was interested to see how this would play out and how the fans would react to each act. I honestly had never heard of the two country acts and couldn’t name a song they would play but the performances of all three were memorable and made for a great evening.

Cory Marks would be tasked to open the show and get people going. From the opening song, and after consulting setlist.fm, that song was “Devil’s Grin,” it was clear that this was not your average country artist. Despite the southern drawl to his voice and some country trappings in the music, he had a harder edge laced within his songs that really played well to the crowd. The band he has assembled around him were fantastic and the energy Marks summoned up as he worked the crowd won fans over during his short set. One song that really stood out to me was the third song in the set called “In Me I Trust” which comes off his latest release ‘I rise.’ The riff in that song is just dirty in the verses and instantly grabbed my attention. He also did a fun cover of Steve Miller’s “Jet Airliner.” 

Clearly, I was in the minority by not having any idea who or what Brantley Gilbert was. Fans went nuts as the lights dropped as he and his band took to the stage. He kicked into a song called “Kick it in the Sticks” and from that moment on he held the Target Center captive through his entire set. Although I could definitely hear the country elements, I had expected to be present, like Cory Marks, there was harder element to his music and the vibe that came off that stage played very well to fans that may have been there for just the headliner. The stage along with constant fire pyro sucked even the purest metalheads into the show and won even the cynics like myself over. Even Gilbert himself said he was confused on how he ended up supporting Five Finger Death Punch but he took advantage of every minute of it as he played to his fans and people hearing him for the first time. I nice touch came when they played a piece of an Eagles song and then pieces of Pantera. It showed the wide variety of musical influences he comes from and all those elements are found within his catalog of music. I began to wonder how much of this crowd is actually here for Brantley Gilbert and if there would a mass exit after he was done. Maybe this was more a country crowd than a metal crowd but the answer quickly showed itself as nobody left and people were getting ready for a death punch. This venue was full of music fans and it was great to see different genres playing to the same crowd and having success. 

As soon as the curtain dropped and the pyro and explosion went off, I knew we had entered the metal part of the evening. “Lift Me Up” opened the set for Five Finger Death Punch and the band would flex their muscles through an onslaught of power riffs and precision shredding with a venomous vocal attack. The band has been kicking around since 2005 and even though the faces have changed over the years, the band has never lost its identity and focus of crafting metal anthems that have endeared them to the metal community. Vocalist Ivan Moody has always set the table and this show was no different. He played to the crowd and challenged them to meet his intensity and the musical force coming at them from the stage. Zoltan Bathory and Andy James carried the six-strings while Chris Kael took care of the bass. Minnesota’s own Charlie Engen handled the drums and got a lot of cheers from the crowd. The band dropped a brand-new record in 2022 called ‘Afterlife’ and hit on a couple tracks from it that included “IOU” and “Welcome to the Circus.” The highlights from the set for me were “Wash It All Way,” Sham Pain,” and “Under and Over it.” The most aggressive part of the night was brutal “Burn MF” as the energy in the crowd amped into a frenzy. I also really enjoyed Moody singing A cappella. Just him and the crowd interacting and singing together, it was as if the Target Center was shrunk into a small club at that moment and it felt more intimate. There is no question Five Finger Death Punch has built up a tremendous loyal fanbase and you could see it, feel it and hear it throughout the night. The closing number was the classic “The Bleeding” which was released back on July 10, 2007 and introduced the world to the band and more than a decade later the fans are still filling the venues and throwing down with Five Finger Death Punch

The Trinity Of Terror Tour Bludgeons Minnesota [Review & Photo Gallery]

When it comes to horror movies, every great movie and villain never seems to die. They raise up from the dead and create a brand-new nightmare for fans. One of the great tour packages of the past year keeps coming back and it seems to be bigger with every run of dates. The ‘Trinity of Terror Tour’ has reached trilogy status with the third string of dates ripping through North America. The Armory in Minneapolis, Minnesota would host the sold-out tri-headline tour that featured Ice Nine KillsMotionless In White and the Black Veil Brides. Added to the bill to open the show were metalcore veterans Atreyu.

Atreyu hit the stage with the song “Baptize.” This was my first time seeing the band with Brandon Saller handling lead vocals but he quickly made his presence known with his personality and energy. He sounded great vocally and the songs came across great. A couple of my personal favorites came next with “Becoming The Bull” and “Right Side of the Bed.” Saller also made his way to the bar for a quick drink during the set and found out, as anyone who has been to the Armory, it’s a little trickly to maneuver yourself to the bar and then back to the stage. The line-up also consisted up guitarists Dan Jacobs and Travis Miguel, bassist Marc “Porter” McKnight and drummer Kyle Rosa. Throughout the night it was very clear Ateryu was the perfect fit for the tour and I realized just how much their songs have stood the test of time.  The entire band came across like there was no other place they would rather be and looked to be having so much fun that it became infectious to the packed venue. The fan reaction was really fantastic and they really ignited the crowd and that energy would hold up throughout the night. 

The three bands have been alternating slots and in Minneapolis the Black Veil Brides  took the stage next. Led by vocalist Andy Biersack they struck with the song “Crimson Skies” from 2021’s ‘The Phantom Tomorrow.’ They were certainly the most straight forward band of the night and hit with constant riffs from the two guitarist Jinxx and Jake Pitts. Holding down the rhythm section was drummer Christian “C.C.” Coma and bassist Lonny Eagleton. Although they were still supporting the latest album, the set was fun because it touched on all the records and really showcased the bands entire timeline. I really enjoyed “Fallen Angels,” “Faithless,” “Knives and Pens” and new cuts like “Scarlet Cross” and “Shadows Rise.” You could certainly feel the presence of the Black Veil Brides Army as the band made its way through the set. I thought they sounded in great form and delivered a great show.  

Motionless In White was a completely different monster from the previous bands that had previously taken the stage.  The intensity ratcheted up as soon as vocalist Chris “Motionless” Cerulli positioned himself at center stage. They kicked into “Disguise” and the chaos was in full swing. The line-up featured guitarists Ryan Stikowski and Ricky “Horror” Olson with Vinny Mauro on drums and bassist Justin Morrow. The band was supporting 2022’s release ‘Scoring the End of the World’ and played five cuts from that record like “Werewolf” and “Cyberhex.” The crowd surfing was non-stop and it did cause Cerulli to ask fans to take a little break from it to give the people up and front and the staff of the venue to catch their breath. Fan favorite “Voices” blew the roof off as did The Killers cover of “Somebody Told Me.” The entire performance was a high-octane outpouring that the crowed ate up. They even had some extra help as two people came out to provide a little extra visual experience as they threw candy into the crowd, generated sparks that shot off their body, and after the closing song “Eternally Yours” threw roses into the crowd. I’ve never seen a bad Motionless In Whiteshow and was again impressed with what they pulled off. 

The one band I had yet to see would close the night and I was anticipating great things. Ice Nine Kills is a band that I had casually listened to but the last two albums, ‘The Silver Scream’ and ‘Welcome To Horrorwood: The Silver Scream 2” really hooked me into the band. The set ripped into “Funeral Derangements” and the onslaught was on. Vocalist Spencer Charnas, with shovel in hand, got people moving and the fans in the crowd didn’t let up. Each track on those albums is a tribute to some of the most iconic horror movies or franchises. Bringing those nightmares to the stage, along with Charnas, was bassist Joe Occhiuti, drummer Patrick Galante and guitarist Ricky Armellino and Dan Sugarman. They kicked into “Wurst Vacation” which takes us into the Hostel movies and I quickly realized that this show was as much theater as it was a concert. It was a carefully calculated set that had actors and props that brought the horror movies to life. “Hip To Be Scared” was a homage to American Psycho with Charnas crushing his victim with an axe. So many highlights in the set but “The Shower Scene” which pulls from the classic Psycho movie was executed perfectly with a shower curtain pulled onto the stage with a victim standing behind it just waiting to meet her demise. With so much going on the stage, it wasn’t lost on me how good the music sounded. The songs came off so crisp and tight and when you add that sonic assault with all the different stuff they did a stage, it made for one of the most enjoyable sets I’ve seen in a while. The set ended with bringing Freddy Krueger out of your nightmares and onto the stage with the ode to The Nightmare on Elm Street movies with “The American Nightmare” and that concluded a fantastic night. 

This was a very unique bill with four bands that seem to have equal footing among the crowd. There  wasn’t any indication that one band was bigger than another and as you walked the venue the merch people were wearing seemed pretty equal.  I didn’t see anybody heading for the doors after any particular set as the venue stayed packed until the last band finished. The ‘Trinity of Terror Tour’ lived up to the hype as every band on the bill impressed me and the five hours I was at the venue flew by. 

PALAYE ROYALE & STARBENDERS Fever Dream In Minnesota [Review & Photo Gallery]

Palaye Royale have launched into the Fever Dream World Tour. They recently made a stop at First Avenue in Minneapolis, Minnesota and played an explosive set. The tour included Mod Suncarolesdaughter and Starbenders.

I was unable to catch the sets by a couple of the openers but the first band on the stage, Starbenders, were amazing. This four-piece unit out of Atlanta, Georgia demanded your attention. Led by vocalist and guitarist Kimi Shelter they ripped through a very short set that included “Holy Mother” and “Cover Me.” Flanking Shelter were guitarist Kriss Tokaji and bassist Aaron Lecesne, both were in constant motion and brought a lot of energy to the stage, while drummer Emily Moon handled the beat perfectly. I love bands that are hard to pin down from a genre aspect. They certainly pull from an assortment of subgenres that include 70’s glam, punk, grunge, rock, psychedelic and hard rock and roll it into a single entity unique to the band. They released ‘Love Potions’ in 2020 which was their first full length record and have continued to release an assortment of singles that are fantastic like “Seven White Horses,” “Blood Moon” and “If You Need It.” It was a real thrill to finally see the Starbenders and a band I will continue to root for. The path is never easy for bands that can’t be put into a single box but those are the type of bands that tend to stick around as fads come and go. If you’re hitting this tour, it’s well worth your time to get there early and catch this band live. 

The headliner, Palaye Royale, hit the stage with the rouser “Nightmare.” The band has released three albums and have created a tidal wave that continues to get bigger from their relentless touring and high-octane performances. They are and continue to be one of the most entertaining acts to take the stage as they completely overwhelm the audience with an infectious energy that is felt throughout the venue and then that energy is fed right back to the stage from the crowd that is singing every word. Vocalist Remington Leith understands his job on stage, it’s just not to sing the songs, but it’s also to bring every fan into his world, onto that stage, and be part of the family. He works non-stop to give the fans every penny’s worth of that ticket price and despite fighting off a throat issue, he gave everything he had on every song. Guitarist Sebastian Danzig never stopped moving as he glided across the stage constantly while providing his Gretsch guitar tones that sounded great. The last listed member of the band is drummer Emerson Barrett who held down the rhythm and also took his turn at the keyboard, as did Danzig and Leith, which may be the first time I’ve ever seen three different guys sit down at the keyboard in a single show. The band featured two other musicians that brought their own excitement and energy to the stage and fit in perfectly to what the band is all about. This show revisited the past with cuts like “Get Higher,” “Mr. Doctor Man” and “Dying in a Hot Tub” but this tour is about now and the album ‘Fever Dream’ that will be dropping soon. Four singles from the upcoming release were played which included “No Love in LA,” “Paranoid,” “Punching Bag” and the title track which hit the ears in a live setting for the first time for these fans and you could feel the excitement of the crowd as they played them. 

Palaye Royale is another band that is hard to define, they simply call themselves “Fashion-Art Rock” but what you hear comes from a wide range of styles and influences. Throw in everything from The Rolling StonesDavid BowieT-RexNew York Dollsand Iggy Pop with a My Chemical Romance hook and pop sensibilities, then add a sprinkle of The Black Crowes and that right there is a piece of the bands DNA. Whatever inspires them, I hope they continue to grow and create the music they want to do despite what the popular musical landscape defines what they should be to fit into the current fad. They bring an electric stage show and one of the most entertaining shows I’ve seen in some time and a catalog that is just as exciting and unpredictable which is what makes music great.  

MY CHEMICAL ROMANCE Bring Back The Parade To Minnesota [Review & Photo Gallery]

It has been over a decade since fans last saw My Chemical Romance perform in Minnesota. The band disbanded in 2013 and it seemed the black parade had packed up all its floats for good. What we have found out about modern day musical entities, nothing ever truly goes away, it just momentarily fades away until the right moment hits for a reunion. In 2019 it was announced the band would reunite and tour but covid kept the brake pedal down until now, 2022, and once again it was time to strike up the band and bring the parade to arenas across the country. People packed the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, Minnesota to welcome back one of the most influential bands of the 2000s. 

The anticipation and energy could be felt throughout the arena, this was a big deal to a whole lot of people, and when the lights dropped the screams echoed in a frenzy of excitement. Things were kept very simple as there was no pyro or laser lights cutting through the darkness, the stage was pretty simple with a red curtain draped down as backdrop that later opened to reveal a destroyed city. This was a night about the music and the connection between the band and its devoted fans. 

They opened with the latest single “The Foundation of Decay” which really came to life in the live setting. It’s a song like no other in the catalog and showcased that this unit has always been a band that could offer more musically than the emo label they have aways been tagged with. They didn’t leave the fans waiting for long to hit with the song that exploded on the scene back on September 13, 2004, “I’m Not Okay (I Promise). If there was a moment the roof lifted off the arena, that was it, every single person was singing every lyric of that song as loud as they could. It was as fun and fresh as it was when it was released and has become a timeless classic of the era. 

The band still maintains its core nucleus that catapulted My Chemical Romance to commercial success. Singer Gerard Way is still the ring leader on stage and vocally hasn’t lost a thing on his voice. The energy of the band has always come from the duo-guitar players Ray Toro and Frank Lero. Both are fun to watch and the intensity in which they approach their craft plays right along with the music they play. Holding the low-end down is Mikey Way on bass. The band utilized a couple of touring musicians on drums and keyboards. Overall, it sounded like they never left although during many of songs like “Teenagers” and “Welcome to the Black Parade” the crowd just about over took the band in volume. What has been interesting about this tour is how they are not sticking to the same set-list each show. While most bands never change things up from night to night, My Chemical Romance has taken its own liberties with song selections and the order in which they are played. Some of the highlights for me in St. Paul were “Famous Last Words,” “Vampire Money,” “Give ‘Em Hell Kid” and “Helena.” 

It was a magical night for thousands of My Chemical Romance fans. Many got emotional with tears streaking down their face as the band roared through the set. When they finally closed with “Desert Song” fans had given everything they had. People left the arena feeling good about the band and the show they just saw but it is already being asked, when will see the My Chemical Romance again? That answer remains to be seen. 


After a two-year wait, The Stadium Tour has finally been making its way through the United States. The line-up features Def LeppardMotley CruePoisonJoan Jett And The Blackhearts and new comers Classless Act. Around 50,000 people made the journey to USBank Stadium, located in Minneapolis, Minnesota, to relive some of the biggest acts from the decade of decadence known as the 80’s. 

Before the reminiscing could begin, the new kids on the tour called Classless Act took the stage. The band formed in Los Angeles in 2019 and released the album ‘Welcome To The show’ in 2022. The bands energy starts with the flamboyant lead singer Derek Day. From the opening note, it was his mission to get every eye in the building to lock on to the stage. Along with Day, the band features a two-guitar attack with Dane Pieper and Griffin Tucker, bassist Franco Gravante and drummer Chuck McKissock. The band had a short five-song set but utilized every second to introduce themselves and kicked out songs that included “This Is For You,” “Give It To Me,” “All That We Are,” “Time To Bleed” and closing with “Classless Act.” This is my second time catching these guys and once again they delivered a fantastic and fun set encompassing good old fashion bombastic rock-n-roll. Hopefully, as people were still filing into the venue, buying mech and drinks, they stopped and soaked in what Classless Act is about and what they have to offer as they are one of those bands that have the material and live flair that can make a mark on the musical landscape. 

Still riding strong after a career that spans over 46 years, Joan Jett and the rest of her Blackhearts took the stage with ‘Victim of Circumstance’ and then the Runaways classic ‘Cherry Bomb.” She was an interesting choice for the tour as she is far removed from the glam metal movement and has always harnessed a punk vibe laced with a radio rock melodic sensibility. She brings her own stack of hits to the table like “Crimson & Clover,” “Everyday People,” “I Love Rock ‘n’ Roll” and the sing-along classic “I Hate Myself for Loving You.” She remains a timeless classic and the response for her was over whelming throughout the set. Ending with the timeless punk classic “Bad Reputation,” it was a giant reminder to me just how many fantastic songs she has and just how important her contributions and legacy are to the history of rock music. 

If your listening to the ongoing opinions of people that have attended previous shows on this run, the consensus seems to suggest, Poison, has been the band that has stolen the show. The all-original glam metal kingpins featuring singer Bret Michaels, guitarist C.C. Deville, bassist Bobby Dall and drummer Rikki Rockett were once again out to prove themselves as they opened with the banger “Look What the Cat Dragged In.” Dall raced down the stage ramp pumping up the crowd while that vintage C.C. guitar tone cut through the excited crowd. Once Michaels came out, it was on, and Poison’sinfectious energy was felt throughout the stadium. Sounding exactly as they did in their heyday, they stuck with the hits, “Every Rose Has Its Thorn,” “Fallen Angel,” “Talk Dirty to Me,” and “Ride The Wind.” Poison’s cast of characters are uniquely fitted together and without those four, those Poison songs don’t sound quite the same. They truly brought a fun and exciting atmosphere to USBank Stadium and as they closed out the set with “Nothin’ But A Good Time,” which summed up the entire vibe of their show and for my money, that’s all anybody ever wanted from a Poison show. I really think this band needs to play more, not over saturate the market like many of their contemporaries do, but pick your spots to headline some of the festivals that celebrate the glam genre. It’s a shame we don’t see this very much and I think Poison are missing some really good opportunities and we as fans are also missing out. 

Back in the 2015, one of the biggest bands of the eighties, Motley Crue, signed a “cessation of touring agreement,” which stated the end of touring for the band. Well nothing lasts forever and that document was cast aside in 2019 as Motley Crue announced a reunion for this Stadium Tour. Controversy and speculation have always swirled around this band, and the biggest hurdle seemed to be how well Vince would be able to perform on this run. A string of bad performances plagued his solo shows which left a lot of fans clamoring for his retirement. With the tour starting, Vince had gotten into better shape and also his singing was stronger than his solo shows. But this is Motley Crue, Tommy had broken ribs and couldn’t finish a full show when the tour kicked off and then added further attention to himself with a “selfie” on Instagram. There is no Crue without the four members that created it, Vince Neil, Nikki Sixx, Mick Mars and Tommy Lee. They have a deep catalog of hits and showcased everything from “Wildside,” “Home Sweet Home,” “Primal Scream,” “Looks That Kill” and “Dr. Feelgood” just to name a few. The reality is Vince still struggled to hit notes and sing the words in spots and there is just no way of getting around it. The Nasty Habits which doubled as pole dancers and back-up singers probably should have been moved up in the mix as they could have helped more than what they did to help the vocal situation. With all that said, I would add, how many in the crowd actually cared? We all have YouTube and knew exactly what the vocals would be, yet there were thousands of people wearing Crue gear to support them. People were still rocking hard and singing along with all the songs. Mick Mars was still a force and continues to be one of the most underappreciated guitar players of his era. Hearing that “Live Wire” riff at that kind of volume, I couldn’t help but smile as that all-time classic ripped through the venue. Maybe it’s the covid lay-off speaking, but I still enjoyed this moment with Motley Crue, warts and all, one last time. 

Def Leppard would close out the show at our Stadium. Both Motley and Def Leppard have been alternating closing the shows. There are not a lot of eighties era bands still recording and releasing new albums, but Def Leppard remains active in the creating process and released ‘Diamond Star Halos’ this year. Opening up the set was the lead track off that record “Take What You Want,” for those fans that hadn’t been keeping up with the new material, it didn’t take long for the guys to settle in to the songs that made Leppard mainstays of rock radio and MTV. Songs like “Animal,” “Armageddon It,” “Rocket,” “Love Bites” and “Pour Some Sugar On Me” gave everybody a chance to perform eighties karaoke together. Vocalist Joe Elliot maneuvered through the set splendidly and sounded in fine form. The band was as tight as ever both musical and the backing vocals that are so critical in the band’s music. Drummer Rick Allen along with bassist Rick Savage and guitarists Phil Collen and Vivian Campbell delivered a crisp sound for Elliot to sing on top of. My allegiance to Leppard goes back to the earliest of days, ‘High ‘n’ Dry’ and ‘Pyromania’ and as much as I would love some deeper tracks from those albums, I’ll take what I can get with “Let It Go,” “Switch 625,” “Bringin’ On The Heartbreak,” “Foolin’,” “Rock Of Ages” and “Photograph” which were included in the set. Overall, I was more impressed with Def Leppard than I thought I would have. They really did sound amazing and they certainly have the hits people want to hear. A very good set to close out a long day of music but a day that I would say was a complete success after a two-year wait. 

RAMMSTEIN Brings A Night Of Impressive Pyro to Minnesota [Review & Photo Gallery]

Ninety semis rolled into Minneapolis, Minnesota carrying 1,350 tons of stage equipment for the long-awaited concert by German industrial metal giants Rammstein. After four days the stage assembly that measured 200 feet wide, 100 feet deep and a height of 120 feet was ready for the thousands of fans that would fill USBank Stadium for one of the most anticipated concerts since its initial announcement back in 2020.  The band has embarked on a 12-city North America Tour and Minnesota was the first stop in the United States.

Rammstein has put much of its effort into growing its audience throughout Europe and not North America. It has been a decade since the band traveled to Minnesota, and despite singing in their native tongue and only having one minor hit with 1997’s “Du Hast,” the band has now moved into the city’s biggest venue. The exist in their own vacuum, make their own rules, and are oblivious to musical trends and styles. While most expansive tours involve multiple bands and artists to fill venues, Rammstein pulled the talents of Duo Avelard, a pair of classically trained pianists, who warmed the crowed up with Rammstein songs played on the piano. On the surface, it doesn’t make sense, but with this band, it all make sense. 

The stage came to life as they thundered into “Armee der Tristen,” “Zick Zack,” and “Links 2-3-4.” Once things got moving it was impossible to take your eyes off the stage, you didn’t want to miss what was coming next. USBank Stadium has never been assaulted with so much pyro and fire and sound that had to push the loudest decibel reading for a concert there. The sound was thunderous as it pulverized it way through the flames, smoke and confetti that blanketed the crowd throughout the night. 

The whole idea of the brilliantly constructed stage, the antics and pyro were to deliver the most outrageous and over the top concert experience anyone could have in a two-hour set. From the oversized baby carriage, in the song “Puppe,” that is lit on fire and singer Lindemann using a flame shooter to set a cooking pot on fire with his bandmate inside during “Mein Teil,” to the impressive and fan-favorite backpack that shot out nine bolts of fire in a circle as Till Lindermann wore it during the song “Rammstein.” For the song “Engel” the band made its way out to a small Stage B, a platform about 150 feet from the goliath stage. They were greeted by the pianists that opened the show for an entirely different version of the song. Every moment was planned to give the fans the greatest visual performance possible but all done with a clever tongue-n-cheek approach. Through the twenty-two song they maneuvered through songs from seven different albums which gave a great balance of new and old songs. Some highlights for me were “Deutschland,” “Radio” and “Ich Will.” 

Rammstein lived up to their reputation and the hype that surrounds the massive show. The stage was like nothing I have ever seen. The mere size of it and the tower in the middle was both ominous and impressive. The non-stop attack of fire and pyro was mind blowing. It just kept coming at you, where most shows have packed it in after a few bursts, this onslaught went through the entire set. What is often forgotten is the music as the visual is so overwhelming, but the songs sounded as bombastic and aggressive as anything I’ve ever head live. This music was created to be played at ear breaking decibels. The heaviness of the songs are truly felt with this band playing them on stage with a full onslaught of sheer volume. It was night that was truly unforgettable and let’s hope it is not another decade before they decide to come back to North American soil. Whenever that day comes, there will be fans waiting to fill the stadium once again. 

ANTHRAX, BLACK LABEL SOCIETY & HATEBREED Mosh Into Minnesota [Review & Photo Gallery]

Anthrax is celebrating four decades of being metal thrashing mad and moshed into the sold-out Fillmore in Minneapolis, Minnesota and brought a whole lot of noise to the venue. Joining the party were Black Label Society and Hatebreedwhich made for an unbelievable night of fist crushing music. 

Hitting the stage first was Hatebreed and it is no secret what they do. Hit you fast and hard and cause as much destruction as possible. Led by frontman Jamey Jasta the band launched into an assault of heavy pounders that included “Proven,” “Destroy Everything,” “Perseverance” and “Looking Down The barrel of Today.” Hatebreed are no strangers to thrash scene and have toured with everybody except the biggest band of the big four. With that type of history, it just made sense for them to rip a smoking version of “Bonded by Blood,’ the Exodus classic cut. I’ve seen these guys on so many different tours over the years and every time they deliver the goods, the vibe is so positive and they use every second of their time on stage getting every person involved in the show. 

Black Label Society led by Zakk Wylde hit the stage with the song “Funeral Bell.” The band, along with Wylde, feature another guitar shredder in Dario Lorina along with bassist John DeServio and drummer Jeff Fabb. The band dropped ‘Doom Crew Inc.’ in 2021 and the set featured “Destroy & Conquer,” “You Made Me Want to Live” and “Set Me Free” from that album. Some other highlights included “Overlord,” “Fire it Up” and “Suicide Messiah.” I’ve seen Black Label Society on many occasions but this show was something different, the energy was palpable and it looked like a band on a mission to leave its mark on the Minneapolis Chapter fan base. It was like a jackhammer to your head reminding you just how good this band is and the electricity that Zakk brings as he shreds the frets off his guitar. With Zakk casting such a large shadow you sometimes forget the talent of Lorina but this tour is highlighting his ability throughout the set. He is getting plenty of time to showcase his fret burning ability as he trades off solos which created a nice dynamic between the two. Towards the end of the set the two takes to the center perch and put the guitars behind their head and rip solos and harmonize with each other which really gave the feeling that is was a band and not just one man. They ended with the classic “Stillborn,” which ended one of the most entertaining Black Label Society shows I have ever seen. 

Anthrax was my gateway into thrash music. ‘Among the Living’ was an album I couldn’t get enough of back in 1987, its break-neck speed, moshing and infectious hooks was ground breaking to my ears and it still stands as one of the most important metal albums of all time. Here we are, with Anthrax, celebrating forty years as they open with that title track from that iconic album. The band still has its key nucleus of Scott Ian, Joey Belladonna, Frank Bello and Charlie Benante which introduced Anthrax to the masses. Filling the roster was Jon Donais who has been axe slinging for the band since 2013. This stage production, with its ramps and stairs, is the biggest thing they have done in a long time and it really felt like an old-school Anthrax show. I think the lay-off gave the band a chance to recharge the batteries as they looked like an inspired group of guys proving why they belong in the Big Four. Belladonna sounded as good as ever and Bello never stopped moving as they ripped through classics like “Madhouse,” “Metal Thrashing Mad,” “Caught In A Mosh,” “I Am the Law’” and new cuts like “The Devil You Know” and “In The End.” A couple cool gems from the set included “Only,” the only John Bush era song to be played and Scott Ian handling the lead rap on “Bring the Noise” was really fun. The fantastic night ended with “Indians” as it capped one of the best Anthrax performances I have seen in years.