Sunday, December 30, 2012

A Perfect Circle at Planet Hollywood

Check out my photos of A Perfect Circle at Planet Hollywood over at Pure Volume.

A line of Tool, Puscifer and A Perfect Circle shirts congested the walkways of Planet Hollywood in Las Vegas as they eagerly lined up to see the only performance of A Perfect Circle for 2012. After a rousing set of comedy from Neil Hamburger, the lights dimmed to illuminate the trademark logo suspended from the stage. Billy Howerdel sat center stage in front of a tiny piano for the delicate keys of "Annihilation". Maynard James Keenan was lurking in the shadows in the back of the stage on his platform as he sung "Imagine" while James Iha provided the shadowy synthesizers for sonic texture. 

The momentum quickly shifted as the storming guitars of Howerdel and Iha combined for "Weak and Powerless".  Matt McJunkins dialed up a snarling bass tone for the crush of "Rose" propelled by the drumming prowess of Jeff Friedl. "Blue" had the lights change to the aforementioned color on cue as you could barely make out the lunges of Keenan in the shadows. Their cover of Marvin Gaye's "What's Going On" took on a dirge like quality. It was impressive how well the band sounded given it was their only show of the year. Keenan's vocals were spot on as he deftly switched between screaming and singing for "The Outsider". Howerdel showed off his own vocal skills for "(What's So Funny 'bout) Peace, Love and Understanding?". Iha switched back to his keyboard for "When The Levee Breaks" as Keenan's vocals reverberated into you skull. 

Providing some levity for the evening was joke time with James Iha. Iha told a story about a jumper cable walking into the bar and that he wouldn't be served as long as he didn't start anything. Things quickly switched back to heaviness as the stacked vocal harmonies of "The Noose" left me gasping for air. "The Package" was delivered perfectly as Freidl nailed the quirky drum hits before the band dived head first into the avalanche of sound. "Counting Bodies Like Sheep To The Rhythm of the War Drums" was a monstrous industrial tinged sledgehammer to your head as your whole body felt the reverberations from the stage. Instead of pretending to walk off the stage, A Perfect Circle closed out the evening with the dark synthesizer fueled overtones of "By And Down". One can only hope it won't take another year to see A Perfect Circle again.

"Weak And Powerless"
"The Hollow"
"What's Going On"
"People Are People"
"The Outsider"
"(What's So Funny 'bout) Peace, Love And Understanding?
"When The Levee Breaks"
"The Noose"
"3 Libras"
"The Package"
"Gimmie Gimmie Gimmie"
"Counting Bodies Like Sheep To The Rhythm Of The War Drums"
"By And Down"

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Armored Saint at the House of Blues Sunset Strip

It was a historic night for Metal Blade records as they celebrated their thirtieth anniversary at the House of Blues Sunset. Avid hockey fan and metalhead connoisseur Brian Slagel is the head of Metal Blade records has left an indelible mark in the world of metal releasing Metallica's "Hit The Lights" on the infamous Metal Massacre compilation back in June of 1982!
Headlining the festivities of the evening was the highly underrated Armored Saint. My brother got me hooked on Armored Saint back in the day as he constantly would play March of the Saint and Delirious Nomad on vinyl. The House of Blues was buzzing as the curtain lifted to hilariously reveal Armored Saint donning their classic clothes from the '80s replete with long hair wigs to get everyone in the '80s state of mind.
1983 was alive an well as they ripped through "Lesson Well Learned" from their debut EP. Phil Sandoval was rocking the old school armored vest while peeling off leads from his ESP guitar. It was flashback city as "March Of The Saint' had Joey Vera pummeling his ESP bass. The long hair wigs finally were ditched to  reveal a very bald John Bush and Joey Vera. John Bush may have one of the best voices in metal as he has also made a career for himself doing commercial voice over work.

Gonzo Sandoval was rocking the double bass drum kit for "Long Before I Die" as Jeff Duncan added his razor sharp riffs into the mix. While Armored Saint has played sporadically over the years, they were well rehearsed and even made a live debut of "Control Issues" from their Revelation album. Getting into the spirit of Metal Blade records, they covered Metallica's "Hit The Lights" with an assist from Johan Hegg from Amon Amarth.
The classic covers kept coming as Ray Alder from Fates Warning joined the band for Slayer's "Die By The Sword". Keeping things in the family, John Bush's very young son donned a guitar and provided background vocals for "Can U Deliver" for the most heart warming metal moment of the evening. "Chemical Euphoria" closed out their main set that seemed to go by in seconds.
My brother was elated that they started off their encore with his all time favorite Armored Saint song "Aftermath". Doug Pinnick of King's X joined the band for a cover of Thin Lizzy's "Hollywood (Down On Your Luck)" which was a tribute to Brian Slagel since it is one of his favorite bands. My favorite track "Reign Of Fire" was flawless and perfectly set up the closing salvo of "Mad House" as Brian Slagel was coaxed onto the stage to sing background vocals. I only hope Armored Saint can record another album or tour again soon.

Armored Saint Setlist at the House of Blues Sunset (11/30/12)
01 "Lesson Well Learned"
02 "March Of The Saint"
03 "Left Hook From Right Field"
04 "Long Before I Die"
05 "Control Issues"
06 "Hit The Lights"
07 "Human Vulture"
08 "Dropping Like Flies"
09 "Die By The Sword"
10 "Little Monkey"
11 "Can U Deliver"
12 "Chemical  Euphoria"
13 "Aftermath"
14 "Hollywood (Down On Your Luck)"
15 "Reign Of Fire"
16 "Mad House"

Monday, December 03, 2012

Sound City Movie Trailer

With the Foo Fighters on hiatus, Dave Grohl is still keeping busy recording drums for the new Queens of the Stone Age album. Another exciting project is his debut as a director for the documentary entitled Sound City which details the historic recording studio and its analog Neve recording desk.

Grohl also called in a number of musical pals including Trent Reznor, Rage Against The Machine, Tom Petty and Metallica. Being a pedal collector with loads of recording gear, it appears to be quite an interesting journey as they interview famous bands who recorded some of their seminal albums at the studio. The film will debut at the Sundance Festival in 2013. I am hoping for an LA screening.