The Pleasant Surprises
Every year when I attend the M3 music festival, there is always one or two unexpected surprises, and this year was no exception. Last year the biggest and best surprise to me was the performance given by Pretty Boy Floyd. It turned me into a huge fan of the band and has me seeking them out in concert whenever I can. The 2012 incarnation of M3 came with its own pleasant surprises that made me a very happy metal head.
As part of the Friday night KIX-off party, M3 recruited the likes of Night Ranger to take the stage just before Kix would headline the show. I had never seen Night Ranger perform live before, so I was curious. I also didn’t expect much from them. Their new album wasn’t the greatest and while I loved their early material, I hadn’t listened to much Night Ranger since 1992. I figured they would put on a decent set and I would sing along to some nostalgic songs from my yesteryears.
Holy heck was I wrong! Night Ranger gave one of the best performances of the entire festival. The only band that I think edged them out was Stryper. Night Ranger came out onstage filled with a ton of energy. Jack Blades was running around like a mad-man trading jabs with Kelly Keagy and having the time of his life. Keagy’s drums were set in a unique fashion as well. They were arranged to sit stage left, facing the band as opposed to facing the audience. Where the drums would normally be centered was a ramp that the guitarists used to their advantage, running around and having fun.
Night Ranger was flat out awesome in concert. In addition to playing their best known hits such as Sentimental Street, Don’t Tell Me You Love Me, You Can Still Rock In America, and Sister Christian, Night Ranger also gave a terrific performance of the Damn Yankees classic, High Enough. Jack Blades mentioned how Night Ranger had taken that song and really made it their own. It showed in their performance, because Night Ranger’s version of High Enough was even better than the Damn Yankees version that I recall.
This exceptional M3 surprise left me wanting even more Night Ranger. I can guarantee that if Night Ranger goes on tour and stops anywhere near my town, I will definitely be attending that show.
I will be totally honest here. Prior to last Saturday, I knew almost nothing about Loudness. I knew that they were a Japanese glam metal band. I think I may have heard one of their songs back in the day. Other than that, I knew nothing. So, it was a great surprise to see them give such an amazing performance on the second stage. And while I did not know any of the songs that they performed, it didn’t matter. The band’s stage presence and professionalism, combined with the crowd reaction, was enough to make seeing Loudness live a tremendous experience.
Lead vocalist Minoru Niihara has an incredible voice and sings in perfect English. Guitarist Akira Takasaki is a true showman, playing blistering guitar solos and really cutting loose during his performance. Takasaki was so much fun to watch that it wouldn’t have mattered if his guitar playing was subpar. However, his playing was as amazing as his stage presence. Loudness was definitely one of the highlights of the day for me.
And I have to give props and credit to Hard Rock Hideout’s esteemed owner/editor Rob Rockitt. He told me that Loudness was going to put on one hell of a show. He was right.
Yes, I definitely had high expectations for Lynch Mob. Their last album (Smoke & Mirrors) was fantastic and with Oni Logan fronting the band, Lynch Mob was one of the acts that I could not miss during this year’s M3. I actually left Warrant’s set early to get as close to the second stage as I could for Lynch Mob. It was certainly one of the best decisions that I made.
George Lynch was in fantastic form and his guitar playing sounded better than ever. Add in the fact that this was my first time seeing Lynch Mob live and it’s easy to guess that I was a really happy metal head. Oni Logan’s voice was in fine shape, still hitting the notes just right and putting the perfect amount of inflections where needed.
The Lynch Mob performance consisted mostly of songs from their debut album, Wicked Sensation, with one song form Smoke & Mirrors thrown in. George Lynch also got a solo spotlight, giving a rousing rendition of Mr. Scary. It sounded as good as it does on the album, and it was a real treat to see him perform it live. Overall, the Lynch Mob set made me yearn to see the band at a full length concert. I can only hope that they have plans to hit New Jersey as a headliner sometime in the near future.
All right, this isn’t really a surprise. Every year I eat the cheese steaks at the Merriweather Post Pavilion and every year they taste better than the year before. This year’s cheese steak was the best yet.
Ahhh, another year of M3 has come and gone. I am already starting to save for next year, which I hope will be even bigger and better than ever.
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