30th Sep2012

Film Review: End of Watch

by rockchicago

 

Starring: Jake Gyllenhaal and Michael Pena

End of Watch is a drama sprinkled with action sequences that focuses on the lives of two Los Angeles police officers; Officer Brian Taylor (Jake Gyllenhaal) and Officer Mike Zavala (Micheal Peña). The pair patrols the streets of south central L.A. and through a series of events in which they perform heroic actions; they end up targets for a Mexican drug cartel. This overarching plot actually betrays the real focus of the film, which is the relationship between the protagonists.

The film is shot with a “hand-held” camera perspective that utilizes mobile framing to add a sense of kinetic tension to the action sequences. The result of this is that the film feels like a ride-along with the characters as they take calls and respond to incidents. I thought this approach to the cinematography was phenomenal as it was the perfect fit for a film about beat cops. The reason this approach was so effective was that it wasn’t overpowering; that is to say that the filmmakers didn’t use it as a gimmick and they eased off of the approach for a large number of scenes in which a completely kinetic camera would have been distracting.

The plot of the film is well considered, but as I have mentioned, it takes a backseat to the relationship between Officer Taylor and Officer Zavala. There is a great deal of time spent getting to know these two characters through their back and forth banter. In fact, so much of the film is spent watching the two crack wise and tease each other, one would almost be justified in putting the word “comedy” on the list of arbitrary words describing the genre. Both Gyllenhaal and Peña deliver excellent performances and their interactions with each other feel very organic. Much of my enjoyment of the film came directly from their performances and unlike other films that feature bromance plot lines, their interactions never felt repetitive or tiresome.

The plot arch of the film is worth mentioning because I thought it was very well considered. Much of the plot points take place during seemingly routine calls that turn out to be something much deeper and there is this sense that the two protagonists can’t do their jobs properly without tripping over something complex. This may sound like a ridiculous movie trope, but it makes sense within the context of the film because one of the undercurrents is that the police officers aren’t fully equipped to deal with every scenario they encounter and what makes the protagonists unique is that they don’t hesitate to tackle these overwhelming situations.

There was a sense of pacing that was intentionally meant to foreshadow the events at the end of the film and despite a few small pacing hiccups, it succeeded in feeling like the events in the film were leading to something big. Which leads me to my biggest complaint:

The film ends in a way that betrays the entire emotional arch of what came before it and one poorly made decision in post on the part of filmmakers essentially ruined what the film set out to accomplish. I don’t want to spoil the ending, so I have to leave this statement rather vague, but I feel this needed to be said as this was my major issue with the film. For me, this is inexcusable but it is just another example of how decisions are often made in post-production that compromise the artistic quality of the film.

Another thing that seemed rather awkward was the inclusion of a small group of gang members who were initially set up as a foil for the protagonists. Their personalities were utterly uninteresting at best and annoying at worst and the attempt to try and give an alternate perspective on the events in the film felt pointless. What made them stick out like a sore thumb was the fact that the rest of the portrayals of characters in the film felt genuine; or at least as genuine as Hollywood can make them. This group of gang members however just came across like cartoon characters with all the standard generic Hispanic gang banger clichés and in a way, this poor portrayal weakened the overall plot. The filmmakers should have just stuck to the concept of the “ride-along drama” and focused on the perspective of the Officers, rather than occasionally jumping to the perspective of the Looney Tune gang bangers.

I feel I should also mention the subplot involving Officer Taylor’s love interest, Janet (Anna Kendrick). The film spends a good deal of time delving into the personal lives of Taylor and Zavala, and the major way this is done is through Taylor’s quest for a suitable partner. I don’t find this sort of obligatory relationship background to be very compelling subject matter, but within the context of the film it works to try and add a sense of emotional burden to the risks that the Officers are taking on a daily basis. There was an effort made to ramp up the stakes when it came to Taylor’s relationship with Janet, and it felt somewhat forced as it left the impression that their relationship evolved really fast in a very short period of time. This sort of convenience can only happen in Hollywood, and while it doesn’t destroy the film, it does add another line to the list of clichés this move perpetrates.

Overall, End of Watch is a well-conceived film with some very strong acting performances, but a combination of questionable post production decisions and trite narrative elements ultimately keep it from being truly fantastic film.

Reasons to go see it: Gyllenhaal and Peña deliver excellent performances that make the film truly enjoyable to watch. If you like cop films and bromance banter, then you shouldn’t pass this film up.

Reasons to avoid it: The ending of the film might leave some people feeling frustrated, for a variety of reasons. There are many moments that might make people roll their eyes as this film doesn’t exactly cover new ground in terms of content.

Verdict: If this film looked at all interesting to you, go see it. It is worth it and even though it may leave a stale taste in your mouth after it’s over, it will give you something to analyze and talk about for a while after you have left the theatre.

Reviewed by Frank Shuford

30th Sep2012

Zildjian Day at Vic’s Drum Shop on 9/29/12

by rockchicago

 

Yesterday at Vic’s Drum Shop was Zildjian Day. To celebrate all Zildjian cymbals were 55% percent off and all sticks just $5. The best part about Zildjian day was who was in-store doing signings and hanging out. Bun E Carlos (Cheap Trick), Jimmy Chamberlin (Smashing Pumpkins) Kris Myers (Umphree’s Mcgee) and Hannah Ford (Prince) came in to talk with fans and do a signing. It was cool seeing some of the old records, photos, and magazines fas brought in to get signed. Today the sale is still going on to celebrate Buddy Rich’s birthday and Hannah Ford’s clinic at 5:30pm in store.

Review and photos by Alex Kluft

30th Sep2012

Steve Vai Blows the House of Blues Into Pieces

by rockchicago

All photos by Alex Kluft

 

For those who were familiar with Beverly McClellan from her appearances on NBC’s the Voice, her short but sweet set featured the powerful vocals and soulful style that allowed her to progress past the talent show’s audition round.  Covers of “Me and Julio Down by the Schoolyard” and “Drift Away” were peppered in with originals and the piano and harp were utilized to broaden the sonic horizon.  McClellan’s half hour set was distinctly a different sound from what fans of Steve Vai might expect, but her talent and unique voice served to ready the crowd for the headlining act.

 

Shortly after 9pm Steve Vai and his band took the stage.  Opening with a few tracks from his newest release “The Story of Light”, Vai and company wasted no time in engaging the crowd with his signature combination of virtuosity and showmanship.  Staples such as “Tender Surrender”, and “For the Love of God” were performed alongside the more recently composed “Building the Church”, bringing out songs from each corner of his catalogue.  Pausing briefly between songs to share an anecdotes and jokes, or to introduce the latest lineup in elite members of his band, Vai kept the nearly three hour long set feeling fresh and exciting.  What Vai may lack in mainstream appeal to the unfamiliar, he made up for in production value.  LED bodysuits, electric harp, and a mobile drum kit were among the unconventional additions to this rock concert. With incomparable energy and flair, Steve Vai enthusiastically demonstrated his place amongst the the elite rock guitarists in his recent visit to the House of Blues Chicago.  He heads to the West Coast to finish the final stretch of his American tour dates before heading east to start the European leg on October 22nd in Finland.  Tickets can be ordered online at www.ticketmaster.com. For the “Story Of Light” Tour, Vai’s band consists of Dave Weiner (Guitar), Jeremy Colson (Drums), Philip Bynoe (Bass), and Deborah Henson- Conant (Electric Harp and Keyboard).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Reviewed by Jason Natali on 9/28/12

 

Setlist:

 

  1. Intro
  2. Racing The World
  3. Velorum
  4. Building The Church
  5. Tender Surrender
  6. Gravity Storm
  7. Dave Solo
  8. Weeping China
  9. John The Revelator
  10. The Moon and I
  11. The Animal
  12. Whispering A Prayer
  13. Audience Is Listening
  14. Deborah Solo
  15. Rescue Me
  16. Sisters
  17. Treasure Island (With The Beast)
  18. Salamanders
  19. Pusa Road
  20. Drum Solo
  21. The Ultra Zone
  22. Frank
  23. Build Me A Song
  24. For The Love Of God

Encore

25. Taurus Bulba

30th Sep2012

Tremonti “The Harddrive Tour” at Bottom Lounge

by rockchicago

Photo by Heather Miller

 

Mark Tremonti, lead guitarist of Alter Bridge and Creed, branching off into his own musical endeavors and performed it all at the Bottom Lounge on September 23 on the Harddrive Live Tour. Playing alongside was Man the Mighty, a local suburban rock band from Carpentersville, IL. Tremonti focused on songs from his solo album, All I Was, released back in 2010. If you are familiar with Creed or Alter Bridge, and haven’t had the pleasure of listening to Mark Tremonti, you are truly missing out. Tremonti brings hard rock, mixed with elegant soloing, and dark melodic riffs to the modern day metal head.  In an article by Rick Florino on Artistdirect, Tremonti states, “probably heavier than either Creed or Alter Bridge,” and that it would have “lots of soloing.” Tremonti lived up to his word, and indeed we heard lots of soloing.  A true guitar master, Tremonti put it all on the table, playing all originals from his solo album and the crowd sang every word. There wasn’t a moment without head banging and fist pumping action.

Reviewed by Heather Miller on 9/23/12

Set list:

Wish You Well

All I Was

You Waste Your Time

Giving Up

Leave it Alone

Proof

So You’re Afraid

The Things I’ve Seen

Doesn’t Matter

Decay

Encore:

New Way Out

Brains

30th Sep2012

Riot Fest Day 3 Evokes Mass Elation in Humboldt Park

by rockchicago

All photos by Alex Kluft 

 

Summer began to disappear in the great city of Chicago mid-September: the temperatures dipped at night and the daylight receded earlier each day. Despite these looming facts, droves of Midwest Americans converged on the city’s west side in Humboldt Park.  Everyone came to see one of the most complete, outdoor variety shows of the 21st century.

Music festivals became popular again around 2000.  The reemergence can be credited mainly to 2 superstar festivals – Bannaroo (Bonnaroo.com) and Lollapalooza (Lollapalooza.com).  Each continues to run strong and retains high popularity.  Like everything in high demand, new competition arises in the market.  This proves true in music entertainment festivals too, so new touring shows are created and evolve.  Riot fest is can be deemed as part of the next generation of full entertainment due to the fact it’s not just a collection of musical acts.

 

For the inaugural Riot Fest and Carnival tour, 4 major cities were selected – Chicago, Brooklyn, Toronto, and Dallas.  The pricing matrix for this full-fledged concert was insightful.  Individuals who purchased tickets first, well in advance, received a highly discounted rate.  As soon as this “block” of tickets sold out, the price increased until the next tier of tickets sold out.   Tickets were also available at the door for procrastinators.  Face value ranged from as low as $35 for general admission to $55 plus at the door (timing matters).  VIP passes were offered for an increased price for those looking for special access.

Humboldt Park is enormous.  It turned out to be an ideal location for this a huge event.  There were four music stages: Riot, Roots, Rock, and Rebel strategically spaced from one another.  The festival’s creators scheduled 47 bands in just two days: 23 of which played on Sunday the 16th.  In addition to the main musical attractions, there were countless other entertainment options including carnival rides, games and side acts of all kinds (wrestling, stilt walkers, and other unique things).   I estimate seeing around 26-28 different food and beverage trucks offering nearly anything and everything to consume.  Moreover, there were dozens of merchandise tents selling items from purses to bandanas to specialty glass, free contest drawings, and company exhibition booths/areas including the Q87.7 alternative radio station bus (formerly Q101) giving away swag.

 

There was several thousand people present, maybe around six thousand people at a given juncture.  Young children and grandparents arrived at different times beginning around 11:30 am on a bright and sunny day.  Fortunately for Bears fanatics, there was no football game since they played earlier in the week.  The age and lifestyle of ticketholders was diverse to say the least.  There were individuals sporting loads of tats from head to toe, others with piercings everywhere, and dozens with fluorescent colored Mohawks. Many others wore mundane clothes and had standard issue hair styles.

The music was equally as diverse as the persons attending.  A map of the grounds was required to navigate through the maze of food vendors, carnival challenges, bathrooms and multiple stages.  I noticed dozens of people wearing ear plugs.  This turned out to be wise since the supersized speakers kicked out near deafening beats, especially close to the stage.

Surprisingly, none of the roaring music interfered with any of the other stage’s sound waves.  It helped that there was plenty of space.  There are too many bands included in the tour to discuss for each one.  I would rather mention the fact that no matter what type of music a person enjoys, the deep and eclectic Riot Fest lineup allows everyone to experience their particular style of sound.

 

I am sure that many bands played lights out, but I could only watch a single group at a time even if three bands might be playing concurrently.  This was one of the few undesirable elements of this fest.  I do consider this as acceptable collateral damage when you consider there is a limited amount of time for everything.  That said, I would recommend checking out the following bands if given the chance: Gogol Bordello, Reverend Horton Heat, Fishbone, and Awolnation.

Folks everywhere looked happy to hear new bands and songs as well as familiar bands and songs they recognized, like Watching the Detectives by Elvis Costello & The Imposters.  This new and old combination was a satisfactory mix.

 

I made sure that I visited each stage.  Of the four stages, I was drawn to the rock stage most.  The speakers and crowd here took first place for explosive notes and extreme fans.  Some extremists even climbed 20 feet up a street light for a better view.  The rebel stage was the smallest and had the most intimate crowd.  The Roots stage had the most surrounding area while I think the vicinity of the Riot stage was nice and close to everything.

At the end of the day, my high expectations for this festival were meet.  I commend this act for its entertainment value and would recommend it.  Everyone around acted as though they too were content.  When there is an opportunity to choose amongst 23 bands, loads of food, games, and other types of entertainment, it’s really tough to complain!

Reviewed by Sean Heraty on 9/16/12

Rating: 4/5

27th Sep2012

Film Review: Looper

by rockchicago

 

Cast: Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Bruce Willis, Emily Blunt, Piper Perabo, Jeff Daniels

I was invited to the Chicago priemere of LOOPER at the ShowPlace Icon Theatre in Chicago. LOOPER directed and written by Rian Johnson, tells a tale about individuals known as “LOOPERS” in the distant future (2044) who make their living by eliminating future criminals who are physically sent back through time from the further distant future.  It is in the past which they are dealt with by the looper themselves leaving no evidence for the authorities of the future. Joe (Joseph Gordon Levitt) is the best Looper in the business given his cold manner. However, as events unfold, he begins to see how the business really works, and is soon assigned with having to kill his older self from the future (Bruce Willis). Upon hesitating with this grisly task, the plot thickens as it becomes a race against time for Joe to kill his older self while the older Joe of the future plots to kill those responsible for his death sentence in the present day.

Joseph Gordon Levitt definitely takes charge here as the hired assasin with a drug addiction. He is given the obvious task of having to look and sound like a younger version of Bruce Willis which he definitely succeeds at. As the film progresses his character undergoes some radical changes which Levitt defintely handles in a smooth manner.

Bruce Willis as the older Joe, definiely delights here as he has a different agenda than the younger Joe has. He is more an individual determined to get his old life back and is willing to do whatever it takes to accomplish it. Its almost hard to wonder which Joe is more dangerous here. It makes the conflict of both Levitts and Willis’s Joe defintely interesting.

Emily Blunt does a good job as “Sara,” who plays a protective mother of a young boy with amazing special abilities known as “Cid” (Pierce Gagnon). Pierce Gagnon gives a very quiet and sometimes terrifying tone his performance which shocked me admittedly.

Its interesting to note that another theme of special abilities is brought in alongside with the time travel theme. Here I felt the story aspect was a little too much and seemed a bit far fetched. Nevertheless, we’re definitely given something different for a time travel film. My other light critism also falls into the time travel theory of paradoxes. Being a BACK TO THE FUTURE fan, I was intrigued that the paradox theme didn’t apply to the young & old self characters facing each other in the same time and place here. I felt the 2 themes didn’t really blend well together but the actors performances pretty much make up for that in a way.

Even the character roles of Jeff Daniels, Paul Dano, Noah Segan, and even Piper Perabo (one of my favorite actresses) give memerable performances and defintely assist the film further. All in all, the film had my attention and the acting was very well done. The two conflicting themes of time travel and special abilities threw me off a bit, but I’ve seen worse examples than this for sure. I recommend it for anyone wanting to see a “different” film which no doubt this film will be known for.

Reviewed by Billy DuBose

27th Sep2012

Kansas “Carry On” at The Arcada Theatre with Fire

by rockchicago

All Photos by Peter S. Sakas 

 

What a night of music at the Arcada Theater! There was the headliner,Kansas, a legendary progressive rock band paired with two interesting opening acts; one an updated version of a one man band and a heavy metal band that has been performing for over thirty years. These disparate groups gave the concertgoers an entertaining musical experience.

Before the concert began I was purchasing a souvenir tee shirt for my wife, which is my tradition when I attend these concerts. The seller told me to be sure to catch the opening act as he is someone you do not want to miss. He said, “he is nothing like you have ever seen before.” I entered the venue and on stage was the strangest looking instrument I had ever seen, a large pipe with a couple twists and turns (looked almost like a big paper clip) with a small drum attached. I was intrigued to see how it was to be played.

I did not have to wait long until the opening act walked onto the stage “That 1 Guy” (actual name Mike Silverman). He was dressed in black, with a black hat and he took his position at his instrument. He called the instrument his “Magic Pipe,” which he built himself, standing seven feet tall and was a collection of steel plumbing pipes and joints, orchestral bass strings, and electronics. This unique instrument has 13 trigger points which can be mapped to various sound effects and samples. Silverman slaps, plucks, bows the strings, and occasionally using a drum stick to sound the strings and pipes at the same time.

His performance was quite interesting as he produced all sorts of sounds from his Magic Pipe. What added to the fun was That 1 Guy’s quirky and engaging personality. For example one of his songs was entitled, The Moon is Disgusting, It is Made Out of Cheese. You kinda get my drift. His twenty minute set was well-received by the audience who really enjoyed him and his music. He left the stage to a resounding round of applause.

The next musical treat of the evening was a band that combined hard rock, progressive metal, funk, and soul; King’s X. The band has longevity, forming in 1980 and continuing to the present day. King’s X is a well-regarded band, being ranked No. 83 on VH1’s 100 Greatest Artists of Hard Rock. When they took the stage they were greeted with enthusiastic applause, obviously many of their fans were in attendance, and they proved to be loud and raucous during the set. The band was definitely a power trio with bass, guitar, and drums. They were loud! I was taking my photos off to the side of the stage, near the speakers and my body was vibrating! Their set was approximately thirty five minutes and was pretty intense. The crowd went wild for them and they received a nice ovation at the end.

 

The highlight of the evening was Kansas, one of my favorite bands during the seventies era. They were originally formed in the 1970’s, in Topeka, Kansas, hence the name. There self-titled album, Kansas, was released in March of 1974 and began the band’s climb to national prominence. They had a signature sound, very unique for the time, highlighted by a prominent role of the violin in their compositions. What was exciting about this evening was that three of the original members were still with the band, Steve Walsh on keyboards, synthesizers and vocals, Rich Williams on guitars, and Phil Ehart on drums. Rounding out this reincarnation of the band was Billy Greer on bass and vocals (been with the band since 1985), and David Ragsdale on violin and vocals (joined the band in 1991).

 

Kansas walked on stage to a huge ovation and went right to work. They opened with a medley I Can Fly/Paradox and sounded absolutely splendid. Musically, the band was tight. David Ragsdale was outstanding on the violin and was a very enthusiastic/ demonstrative performer. Rich Williams is a fine guitarist and was very workmanlike, no showboating, just an absolute solid performance. Phil Ehart and Billy Greer, the rhythm section kept driving the band. Steve Walsh did a wonderful job on keyboards all night long. Steve Walsh’s voice had not suffered through the years, he sounded phenomenal on lead vocals. Billy Greer and David Ragsdale also proved to be fine vocalists in their own right. The harmonies were superlative as well. Despite all the years, these guys still sounded as I remembered them, and they really were working hard on stage, giving it their all. Very admirable.

The Set List

1)      I Can Fly (Freaks of Nature 1995) / Paradox (Point of Know Return 1977)

2)      Point of Know Return (Point of Know Return 1977)

3)      Song forAmerica(Song for America 1975)

4)      The Wall (Leftoverture 1976)

5)      Hold On (Audio-Visions 1980)

6)      Dust in the Wind (Point of Know Return 1977)

7)      Can I Tell You (Kansas1974)

8)      Journey from Mariabronn (Kansas1974)

9)      Miracles Out of Nowhere (Leftoverture 1976)

10)  Portrait (He Knew) (Point of Know Return 1977)

Encore

Saber Dance

Fight Fire with Fire (Drastic Measures 1983)

Carry on Wayward Son (Leftoverture 1976)

As can be seen from the set list, most of the big hits were covered and the songs ranged from the seventies era to the nineties.

 

Each of their songs was greeted enthusiastically by the crowd and the band was repeatedly rewarded with standing ovations. The loudest cheer of the night was when Dust in the Wind was introduced. Steve Walsh stepped from behind the keyboards and stood center stage giving a beautiful rendition of this rock classic.

 

All night long it was obvious the crowd was enjoying this outstanding performance by this iconic band. They did not need much prodding form the band to stand, cheer, sing or clap along, as the audience was primed. Following the final song, Portrait (He Knew) as the band walked off stage they remarked to the crowd, “You rocked the house tonight” and they were right.

When the band returned for the encore they began by playing a classical piece of music, the Saber Dance by Khachaturian that featured the violin and was rockified. In a strange interlude, a masked clown-like figure appeared on stage during the performance and danced around the stage posing/posturing with the band members. I was a bit stunned as it did not seem to make sense, but in an odd way it was unexpectedly entertaining…..but there is that creepy thing about clowns, especially one with a mask! Nonetheless, I loved the song / rendition, despite the clown.

 

The second song of the encore was dedicated by the band to our military, Fight Fire with Fire from their 1983 album, “Drastic Measures.” They closed the evening with the rock classic, Carry On Wayward Son and the crowd immediately stood, went wild, and danced away, finishing the night off with a full-throated standing ovation.

It was a great concert treat to have the opportunity to see three very different, albeit entertaining acts. I was very impressed withKansas, their musicianship, vocal talents, and enthusiastic performance. No one could have walked out of the theater the least bit disappointed as it was a super concert by a legendary rock group, who show they still “have it.”

 

The Arcada Theater, once again served to be a fine venue to see a concert. The theater has an intimate feel to it and the sound is excellent (although King’s X had their volume a bit too high). The management of the theater does a great job bringing in top notch talent and I always look forward to seeing a concert at the Arcada.

Reviewed by Peter S. Sakas on 9/21/12

27th Sep2012

Prince Disappoints at The Purple After Jam

by rockchicago

 

Seeing Prince play live was an item that I had always wanted to cross off of my concert bucket-list. So when I saw that he was coming to town I had to go check it out. He was scheduled to play Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday nights both at the United Center as well as an after party show at the House of Blues. The idea of seeing prince play at such a small venue was extremely appealing and tickets for that show were also more affordable. Thus, this was the option that was opted for.

I went to the Wednesday night after party, which was his 6th show in three nights. This is something I knew going in to the show. Knowing this, as well as knowing the tickets were cheaper then the United Center show, I went in not expecting to hear a lot of hits. Maybe one or two just to get the crowed going but still, a Prince show. However, I was way off.

Doors to the show opened at 10 and every one expected him to take the stage some were around midnight. So when he didn’t come out until 1:45am it didn’t start off on the right foot. Quickly after the show started it became very apparent that the show was nothing more then a chance for him to display how much he likes his new funky touring band and to promote Andy Allo. She is a guitar-playing singer who also happens to have Prince as an executive producer for her new album. Prince’s involvement in the show included singing 1.5 songs, playing guitar for 20 seconds, dancing, and yelling things at the crowd like “Come on Chicago!”

Once prince and his band left stage, Janelle Monae and her band came out. This was a pleasant surprise for me because I am a fan of her music and was not aware she was on tour with Prince. Monae played 4 songs. She was really good. Then the show was over. No Encore from Prince, nothing.

Although I was hoping for more of Prince and less of his band, it was still a good time and it was very exiting to even be in the same room as the man.

Lesson Learned: If you want to see Prince in concert, go to his concert, not his after-party.

2.5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed by: Danny Servi (@PennyBags1 on twitter)

27th Sep2012

Interview with Andrew W.K. Podcast

by rockchicago

 

Click here to listen to the interview: Andrew W.K. Interview (New)

Alex Kluft interviews Andrew W.K. at Riot Fest in Chicago on 9/15/12

26th Sep2012

Jack’s 7th Show Hits Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre with It’s Best Shot

by rockchicago

 

It was a very hot September afternoon in Irvine, CA at the Verizon Wireless Amphitheater for Jack’s 7th Show. The lineup for the event was a nice variety of artists who have hit’s that are frequently played on the airways of Jack 93.1FM This listener just wishes that the mainstream radio would occasionally play a larger variety of these artists songs other than the same few that are on the same old rotation day after day. Missing Persons started out the day’s festivities with a set of their hits and there was a large turnout of loyal fans that bared the very hot late afternoon temps.

 

Second up was the Gin Blossoms who also played their hits for the fans and sounded great as the festival crowd began to grow and fill the seats. Just before the sun was to set MC Hammer hit the very empty stage free of any musical equipment along with a cast of male and female dancers all dressed up in flashy outfits shaking and grooving to the obnoxious and overpowering bass that was almost unlistenable. The crowd seemed to enjoy it as I slipped out to the concession stand in the shade to wait for my favorite band Toto to begin their set. Finally, Hammer “rapped” it up.

 

One thing that is so fascinating about the Verizon venue is the revolving stage. There is a giant round turntable with a wall that divides the playing surface area of each band. After one band completes their set, the stage turntable slowly rotates and the next bands equipment is already setup on the other side of the wall and ready to go so there is no excruciatingly long drawn out intermissions waiting for the crews to tear down and setup for the next band. For without that type of a setup, a lineup of 6 acts would take twice as long. Finally the sun set and the temperatures fell to a very comfortable level just as Toto hit the stage.

 

Toto opened up their set with the song “Only The Children” from the 1987 album “The Seventh One” Joe Williams who was Toto’s lead vocalist from 1986 through 1989 for the albums “Fahrenheit” and “The Seventh One” has rejoined Toto and was in very healthy and strong condition this night, He had no difficulty singing the very difficult vocal parts that Toto’s catalog has. Toto has never received the mainstream recognition that they are more than worthy of. If one is not familiar with who Toto is, let’s just put it this way. They are probably the most successful and sought after studio musicians in the history of modern music and they have played on thousands of other artists’ albums, many of which are very famous Grammy winning albums such as “Michael Jackson’s Thriller”. Toto played a track that was written by Toto’s keyboard player Steve Porcaro “Human Nature”. Toto’s set was very short, only about an hour. But they were able to squeeze in most of the biggest hits that everyone is familiar with “Rosanna,” “Africa” and “Hold the line” as well as some songs for the hardcore fans like yours truly “Manuela Run,” “Stop Loving You” and “I Won’t Hold You Back,” Steve Lukather gave the crowd a blazing guitar performance. Steve is arguably one of the most talented and exciting guitar players in Rock and Roll today. To have Steve Lukather and the guys in Toto at this festival was truly a very nice choice for the concert planners.

 

Next up was Pat Benatar and Nick Geraldo. Oh my God….I have never seen these guys before and I gotta tell ya, they friggin’ smoked! I was taken by surprise just how good these guys are. Nick is an outstanding guitar player and Pat…well that woman has some pipes. She has definitely taken her place in rock and roll history by sheer force and when I say force, I mean vocal force. We have all heard her radio hits like “Hit Me With Your Best Shot,” “Promises in the Dark,” “Invincible” and “Heartbreaker.” But to hear them played live is a whole different story. And add to that the massive Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre’s sound system and you have an explosive situation. They had a nice big grand piano on stage and they shared with the crowd some of their history of their long personal and musical marriage that is still going strong. I raise my lighter to Pat Benatar and Nick Geraldo for a fantastic show that I personally enjoyed very much. I will go and see them again sometime. Plugs also go to my pal Mick Mahon (California Transit Authority, Marc Bonilla) for an outstanding bass performance.

Now to the headliner act for the Jack’s 7th Show, Mr. Joe Walsh himself. What a legend, and I finally got to see Joe as a solo act. Joe, if you don’t already know is also in another little rock and roll band called the Eagles. Ever heard of them? Well I gotta just say this….it was an absolute pleasure to sit back and listen and watch Joe Walsh play his guitars and sing his hits in the warm summer breeze in Irvine this night. Joe opened up with “Rocky Mountain Way,” and to see and hear him wail on his guitar with the “talk box” (wow wow bow bow bow bow BOW BOW BOW BOW BOW) was pure fun.

 

He screamed and screamed as the notes went flying off in the hot September wind and over the hills in Irvine. He gave us a nice blend of hits like “Meadows,” “Ordinary Average Guy,” The Bomber,” “Turn To Stone,” and The Eagles’ hit from the album “The Long Run/ In The City” . Joe also played some material from his latest album release “Analog Man” One thing I gotta say about Joe is that he has probably the very BEST….WORST voice in rock and roll. His voice is so clumsy and quirky sounding, but for some reason it just sounds so good! I don’t think we would have it any other way. We love Joe just the way he is…..An Ordinary Average Guy.” So Jack’s 7th Show was very successful, and everyone seemed to have a great time and everything was cool….I mean HOT!

Reviewed by Darren Bennion on 9/15/12

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