One of the best classic rock tours of 2014 came to the Horseshoe Casino in Cincinnati Thursday night. The Soundtrack of Summer features Don Felder (ex-Eagles), Foreigner and Styx. The show in Cincinnati also featured local opener Brent James & The Vintage Youth. This was the first time I heard Brent James, and I gotta say, I hope to catch this band again soon. They were great!
Don Felder was next on stage and I wasn’t sure what to expect from his live show. Felder and band did a full set of Eagles tunes including some of the heavier numbers, “Heavy Metal (Takin’ a Ride)” (from the Heavy Metal Soundrack), “Heartache Tonight”, “Life in the Fast Lane” and “Hotel California”. On “Hotel California” Tommy Shaw from Styx joined Felder on stage and traded vocals with Felder. Shaw is also on the newly recorded version of “Hotel California” that is on the Soundtrack of Summer available exclusively through Walmart. Don Felder was awesome, and I was glad that I got to see him perform.
I was surprised when Foreigner took the stage, as Mick Jones was not present. After the first few songs, the band brought Mick out and he finished the show. Foreigner sounded awesome. Kelly Hansen is such a superb vocalist, you would hardly recognize that he is not Foreigner’s original singer. At one point during the show, Kelly scaled the stage supports, and got the crowd fired up from death defying heights. Foreigner’s set included the classics “Double Vision”, “Head Games”, “Cold As Ice”, “Waiting For A Girl Like You”, “Feels Like The First Time”, “Urgent”, “Starrider”, “Juke Box Hero”, “I Want To Know What Love Is” and “Hot Blooded”. The Young Professionals’ Choir Collective of Cincinnati joined Foreigner on stage for the song “I Want To Know What Love Is”. I thought that was a pretty cool touch to their show.
Styx was closing act for the Cincinnati show, although Styx and Foreigner are rotating the headlining spot at select shows. I have Styx several times and they never disappoint. At this show, Styx pulled out a couple of old tunes that I have never heard them perform including, “Superstars” and “Light Up”. The rest of the set included the songs “Grand Illusion”, “Too Much Time”, “Fooling Yourself”, “Lady”, “Crystal Ball”, “Blue Collar Man”, “Come Sail Away” and an encore with “Rockin’ The Paradise” and “Renegade”.. Tommy Shaw and company sounded great, and I thought it was cool that pulled out a couple of old tunes for their live set. I wish they would do “Mr. Roboto”, but I digress.
The Soundtrack of Summer is a great summer tour, and one that should not be missed. You can catch this tour on one of the following dates summer.
I knew when I saw the announcement for the lineup at M3 in 2014, it was going to be an awesome show. As Friday night, and the first half of Saturday had already proved at M3, this was the Festival show to be at this year.
One of the acts that I was most anxious to see at M3 was Red Dragon Cartel. This return of Jake E. Lee to the big stage is something that I could not miss, and judging from the capacity crowd at the second stage, Jake E. Lee’s fans were in full force. Red Dragon Cartel did a great selection of tunes including music from Ozzy Osbourne, Badlands and of course Red Dragon Cartel. Darren Lewis did a fine job on vocals, and Jake E. Lee was freakin’ amazing, just as I had expected. As great as Red Dragon Cartel was, the evening was only going to get better from there.
Next up on the main stage was Queensryche. This was Queensryche with Todd La Torre on vocals in case you were wondering which version. I have not seen Todd LaTorre with Queensryche before, but I recall Queensryche’s last appearance at M3. It was obvious there was tension in the band at the time, and it ended up being one of the band’s last shows with their former singer Geoff Tate. With that being said, this was a different Queensryche than the one I saw previously, and I gotta say, I was impressed as hell. Queensryche was on fire at M3. They came out with all guns blazing, and Mr. LaTorre was absolutely incredible. As soon as I heard the opening riffs of “Nightrider” I was hooked. I haven’t heard Queensryche do this song in years. I was also super excited to hear “Queen of the Reich”. Man…oh Man, Queensryche practically stole the show, and I am pretty sure Todd LaTorre made about 10,000 new believers at the M3 Rock Festival. They were fantastic! A couple of days after M3, it was announced that Geoff Tate will and Queensryche have come to an agreement, and that Tate will no longer use the Queensryche name. This is good news, and I look forward to supporting both Queensryche and Geoff Tate in the future.
Our day was super packed, and I am sad to say that I missed Autograph. This was due to a conflicting schedule for an interview that we had lined up with Brad Gillis and Kelly Keagy from Night Ranger. (coming to HRH soon).
Next band up was Sebastian Bach and his solo band. As much as I love Sebastian, his performance at M3 this year was not my favorite. He kept going on and on about how his new album was # 1 on iTunes, and while I think that is great, and a hell of a hard accomplishment for any hard rock / musician from the 80’s, it came across kind of douchey. Sebastian seemed upset that folks still want to hear Skid Row songs, and while he did them and sound great, it kind of set the mood for his show. He was good, but he could have been so much better. He was amazing at the 2012 M3.
L.A. Guns was up next on the second stage. Aside from Kix, L.A. Guns has probably played more M3 Rock Festival’s than any other band, and always enjoy their shows. This year the band has a new guitarist, former Endeverafter frontman and guitarist Michael Grant. I have been fortunate enough to see Michael play with his former band, and I already knew that he is one bad ass dude. Grant does a great job as the band’s latest Axe slinger, and of course Phil Lewis and company were great. I can’t understand why they were on the second stage, but I digress.
I am embarrassed to say that the first time I saw Night Ranger live was at the 2012 M3 Rock Festival. Since then, I have made up for lost time and have seen them play live several times. The reason why I have gone, and will continue to go to Night Ranger concerts is that the band puts on an incredible live show. Brad Gillis and Joel Hoekstra really tear it up on stage, and are a blast to watch play. Jack Blades and Kelly Keagy still deliver some of the best rock vocals on the planet. Night Ranger’s set was far too short, but their condensed set was damn impressive, and I thought they were easily the best band of the day. The joy of music always comes out on the faces of Night Ranger. They always seem to enjoy playing as much as I do hearing and seeing them. Night Ranger also debuted their new song “High Road”, and I gotta say the new song is pretty good. I look forward to hearing the rest of the new album soon.
I didn’t make it over the hill again for Slaughter as the sky had opened up and turned what was an awesome weather day, into a rather soggy evening. I chose to protect my gear from the rain, and hung near the main stage for Tesla.
Tesla has been one of my favorite bands for a long time, and it has been a couple of years since I have seen them play (ironically Night Ranger opened up for them then too!) Night Ranger is always a tough act to follow in my opinion, but Tesla lived up to the challenge. Not only did Tesla debut a new song “MP3″ off of their soon to be released album Simplicity, they also played killer set of tunes that covered the majority of their discography. I was a little disappointed that I didn’t hear “Song and Emotion” (one of my personal favorites) or Cumin’ Atcha Live, but it was still a great show. The Merriweather Post Pavilion was jam packed to one of the biggest crowds that I have ever seen for M3, and Tesla kept them all standing. This was a true testament to one great band.
Of all of the M3 Rock Festival’s I have been to, this one was by far my favorite. It was a great time with my good friend Ryo Vie, packed with awesome music and memories that I will never forget. I am already counting the days until M3 Rock Festival # 7 in 2015. I don’t know how they will top this lineup next year, but I have a feeling the next M3 Rock Festival is going to be even better!