Tour Reviews



FIVE FINGER DEATH PUNCH, BRANTLEY GILBERT & CORY MARKS Bring The Party To MINNESOTA [Review & Photo Gallery]

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. 

DEF LEPPARD, MOTLEY CRUE, POISON, JOAN JETT AND THE BLACKHEARTS & CLASSLESS ACT Take the Stadium Tour to Minnesota

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. 

THE WARNING Bring The Mayday Tour to Minnesota

The Warning brought the ‘Mayday Tour’ to the Fine Line in Minneapolis, Minnesota. A loyal and dedicated fan base packed the venue to witness the trio’s first performance in the city. You could feel the excitement and anticipation for the band to finally hit the stage after rescheduling the date due to covid. 

The Warning features three sisters from Monterrey, Mexico that have been quietly building up momentum since blowing up YouTube back in 2014 with their version of “Enter Sandman” by Metallica was put on the platform. The Villarreal sisters, Daniela (guitar, lead vocals), Paulina (drums, lead vocals, piano), and Alejandra (bass guitar, piano, backing vocals) formed the band in 2013 and now, with almost ten years behind them, the secret of this bands talent and infectious sound is about to be unleashed into the rock world. They signed a record deal with Lava Records in 2020 and dropped a new E.P. called ‘Mayday’ in 2021 which contained half of the upcoming third studio album. Based on the success of the singles and being able to get in front of people to showcase their music, the sky is the limit for this young trio.

The set opened up with a couple of rockers, “Z” and “Animosity,” that set the table for a blazing hour set. Both songs are laced with high octane energy that show the power and the heaviness of the band without sacrificing melody and hooks. What you quickly realized was just how tight the music was and synergy the sisters have on stage. The play off each other in such perfect unison which brings a dynamic boost to the songs are they come off the stage with a lethal strike. The new tune “Money” has been an immediate fan favorite since its release this year and got a massive reaction from the crowd. This show wasn’t just about the songs on the newest release but also a time for fans to hear some of the older material off the first two studio albums ‘XXI Century Blood’ which was released in 2017 and ‘Queen of the Murder Scene’ which dropped in 2018. Songs like “Dust to Dust,” “Dull Knives (Cut Better),” “Survive,” “Queen of the Murder Scene” and “When I’m Alone” were met was as much enthusiasm as the newer tracks were. The also pulled out a couple songs sung completely in Spanish called “Narcisista” and “Martirio.” The Warning also have a track on “The Metallica Blacklist” album as they performed a new cover of “Enter Sandman” for the album that also featured Alessia Cara on the recording. I would have to admit I am always skeptical of covers and hadn’t heard this version on the record but when they played it live, I was blown away on how they took that song and made it their own. Some of the backing vocals really gave it a much darker and haunting atmosphere that really sounded great. The grunge crushing “Choke” was another big song that had the crowd moving and another definite stand-out moment. “Disciple” and the set closer “Evolve,” both off the ‘Mayday’ release rounded out the set. 

Despite being so young, The Warning performed like seasoned pros. Daniela flourishes in getting people involved in the show and is that perfect bridge between the band and the crowd. Her energy and spirit are the catalyst that make the live show go although Paulina, back on the drums, is quite entertaining as well and brings another great voice to take over lead vocals which frees up the guitarist to shred. Alejandra isn’t as demonstrative as her sisters but delivers her bass parts with precision and completes those three-part harmonies that gives many of the songs such a strong dynamic. As good as the individual pieces are in this band, it’s the collective unit that makes The Warning so impressive and for the first show ever in Minnesota, it was a big win for them and the crowd that came to see them. This headlining club tour is an award for the fans that have been supporting them since they began. It’s a chance to see them play a full set and celebrate how far they have come since the band’s inception. In July they will hit the road as an opener for Halestorm and The Pretty Reckless in bigger venues and with audiences that may be getting their first taste of The Warning and I suspect they will turn a lot of those people into fan despite playing a shorter set. I think you will this bands popularity rise very quickly and my only regret is this tour in not coming to my state as it will be a great night of music. 

TOOL Brings Fear Inoculum to Minneapolis, Minnesota [Review & Photo Gallery]

The lights went down, at the near compacity Target Center in Minneapolis, Minnesota, as drummer Danny Carey, sporting a Minnesota Timberwolves jersey, took to his throne. The crowd took to their feet as guitarist Adam Jones and bassist Justin Chancellor took to their positions and the journey, that is known as “Fear Inoculum,” began to pulsate through the arena. The stage was wrapped with a translucent curtain that projected images that circled around the stage. In the darkness, a mohawked Maynard James Keenan, took to one of the two platforms that flanked the drums, and let the crowd know he was there with his instantly recognizable voice. We had all officially been welcomed to the world of Tool

The band is still in full support mode for the album they dropped in 2019 called ‘Fear Inoculum.’ The set was built upon the album, along with the title track, they took us through “Pneuma,” “Invincible,” “Descending,” “Culling Voices” and “Chocolate Chip Trip.” The second song in the set was the real gem of the night. A reworked version of the song “Opiate,” which was originally released back in 1992, has been given new life three decades later. It is a perfectly blended mix that still contains the essence of the beginning of the band with a heavy injection of where Tool is today. The rest of the set just touched on past albums, songs played were “The Pot,” “Pushit,” The Grudge,” “Undertow” and “Hooker With A Penis” that really got the crowd going before the intermission. 

Watching a Tool show is like no other. There is almost no interaction between the band and the crowd. Only an occasional comment from Maynard, but besides that, the band itself, the players, almost become a secondary afterthought. The music being made on stage engulfs the venue and simply takes centerstage away from any anything else. Once that curtain was removed, about midway through the show, the stage seemed much more open and a very impressive laser show shot across the arena. Even with that, it was still the about the music and the atmosphere it created. People reacted in various ways, some looked like they were at a Metallica concert and were banging heads, some did the air-drums, an impossibility to shadow Carey, but some good attempts, while some just stood up with their arms in the air and eyes closed, letting the music move their body. This show didn’t have the pyrotechnics, fire, explosions and lights that left you blind for three days after the show. This show was about the creation of music. The other thing is the material they are playing are not three-minute burners that come and go in heartbeat. It’s like they are slowly constructing a building with each song and at the end, it all comes crashing down and they have to start all over again with the next song. 

Tool are truly one of the most unique bands out there. They operate on their own musical plateau without any rules that adhere to many other popular acts. The fanbase supports them and give them full autonomy to create music they want to make, not what is popular or the latest fad. As I watched the band close out the night, I think back to when I first heard them, that iconic bass sound from the song “Sober” echoing through the dorm halls from a room down the hall. I had to know what that was so I pounded on the door to get the answer. I didn’t have a crystal ball, I would have never guessed that decades later I would be sitting in a packed arena watching Tool play and hoping for that song that got it all started, “Sober,” would be played, but in true Tool fashion, they didn’t’ play it. That’s exactly how this band rolls and judging by people tonight, nobody would have it any other way. 

THE DARKNESS and THE DEAD DEADS Show Their Motorheart in Minnesota [Review & Photo Gallery]

The Darkness dropped the album ‘Motorheart’ in 2021 and are currently supporting it in a tour that is going across North America. The Varsity Theater in Minneapolis, Minnesota welcomed the band with a full house of loyal fans anxious to see them, especially since previous bookings had been cancelled due to covid.  

Before the headliner would take the stage, a band called The Dead Deads would accept the task of warming up the crowd. They are based in Nashville and what was once a five-piece band has now settled into just three members. Being fans of sci-fi has led to a stylized face make-up that each member wears. The trio consists of Meta doing lead vocals and guitar, bassist Daisy and drummer McQueen. They dropped a full-length album back in 2021 as well, ‘Tell Your Girls It’s Alright,’ and it features a track that one of rock and metals biggest voices, Corey Taylor, sings on called “Murder Ballad II.” The band has a sound that encompasses many different styles and influences. When you dive into the catalog, you’re going to get rock, hard rock, punk, metal, alternative and indie all being blended into the formula that makes up The Dead Deads. This was my first time encountering them so I had no idea what to expect or any of the songs they played. I found myself being swept into the performance and the songs were catchy with addictive melodies that kept things really fun. They got a great crowd reaction and Justin Hawkins of The Darkness was standing side stage rocking out as they played, just like the crowd in front of them. I’ve since checked out the album and there is some great stuff on it, songs like “First Tooth,” “Deal With Me” and the heavy nineties alternative rocker “Hey Girlfriend” stood out immediately. It’s always a great bonus moment when you’re hitting a show and a brand-new musical gem pops up before the headliner plays. Check out The Dead Deads as they have a really cool thing going on. 

The Darkness struck first with the opening cut off the newest record “Welcome Tae Glasgae.” The quartet consisted of drummer Rufus Tiger Taylor, bassist Frankie Poullain, guitarist Dan Hawkins and the flamboyant and unforgettable lead singer and guitarist Justin Hawkins. The song got people jumping with its hard rocking attack and from that moment on, the band held the Varsity Theater in their hands for the next hour and a half. When Frankie walks out with the cowbell, you know two things are going to happen, first off, everybody starts yelling “more cowbell,” the second, “One Way Ticket” is going to be the next song. Two of the biggest sing-alongs of the night were that song followed by “Growing On Me.” The Darkness sounded absolutely fantastic as they juggled a setlist built around seven studio albums, the debut record, now almost twenty years old, ‘Permission To Land,” provided seven of the sixteen song set. So many good songs went by in a heartbeat, “Solid Gold,” “Open Fire,” “Heart Explodes,” “Barbarian” and “Friday Night” were some of the stand-outs but quite honestly, nothing in the set was less than amazing.

Justin Hawkins is always the wildcard when you discuss The Darkness with any rock fan. It is impossible to ignore his signature voice, costumes and stage antics. You are either against him and that wicked voice or a willing passenger on his musical journey that refuses to be defined or boxed into any specific genre, except good old rock-n-roll. A good example of this can be found in a couple songs in the bands show. They played the title track from the new record, ”Motorheart,” it is a song that pushes in different directions, sounds and tempos which completely breaks away from the simplicity of another popular song in the set, “Givin’ Up,” which drives with an AC/DC type vibe. I always appreciate artists and bands that push the envelope and the fan base to listen to different styles and not simply repeat what has already been done over and over again. With all that said, everything they do, sounds uniquely The Darkness, and I’m always ready to continue that musical journey in any direction the band decides to take. 

The night really flew by fast and before I knew it, they ripped through “Get Your Hands Off My Woman” to a rousing response but the best was yet to come. After returning to the stage they had one song left, the enviable closer. They launched into the song that put the band in our laps, “I Believe In A Thing Called Love.” However, shortly after they started it, they stopped. Justin asked to people to put away the phones and simply enjoy the song and the moment. They started the song again and the people were absorbed by the moment, the song and enjoying live music once again. What The Darkness truly understands, and this show is another testament to that, a live experience is not only about how well you can play your material, and rest assure, they play it well, but it’s also about performing and entertaining. They deliver such a high energy show that pulls people right on the stage. Even if you were not a fan, you couldn’t help but to sucked into its atmosphere the show creates. Anytime these guys book a show in my town, I will be there, they may truly be the last of their kind.