I've seen U2 several times over the years, but their more recent albums didn't excite me much. And so their tours didn't much either. Or at least I decided I didn't need to see them every tour. But this time they came around to play The Joshua Tree in honor of its 30th birthday. So that sounded like a good excuse to see the band again.

I got good seats. Upper deck, but in the front row, and alongside the stage, so we were pretty close. Not as good as the lower deck, but I was happy.

They started off with "Sunday Bloody Sunday." Larry walked out from the back of the stage, all the way to his kit on the B-stage, accompanied by a Pogues song. He sat down and started playing. That went on for a few bars. Edge started walking out, and started playing as his feet hit the runway. Then Bono, then Adam. Then more big hits: "New Years Day", "Bad" and "Pride".

After those heavy hitters from before Joshua Tree, they took to the main stage for the big opening - "Where the Streets Have No Name". The red wall behind them, this time with a silhouette of their Joshua tree. That's not a song I call out as one of my favorites, but you can't deny the call - it's just an amazing opener. It draws you in. They played them all in order, something they weren't sure they'd do, when they were still planning the tour. "I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For, followed by "With or Without You", which is not one of my favorites. Then "Bullet the Blue Sky" which is. From there out, I just love the album. Much of it is fascinating, and the way it flows, it just draws you in. "Running to Stand Still", "Red Hill Mining Town" and "In God's Country". Then "Trip Through Your Wires" and "One Tree Hill". Bono told the story of a young man in New Zealand who asked to join their crew on the road. He became part of the family, but was killed in an accident. He was the inspiration for One Tree Hill. The finale is the killer "Exit" followed up with "Mothers of the Disappeared". It was inspired by the mothers who lost sons in the conflict in Nicaragua.

There was a short break and they came back for the rest of the show. The rainbow of "Beautiful Day". Then "Elevation". Then they played one of their Passengers songs, "Miss Sarajevo", with Pavarotti on recording. This was accompanied by video of the Syrian refugee camps, and introduced by a teenage girl there, named Omaima. She shared her wish for all to be happy, and for her to visit America, the land of dreams. Then "Ultarviolet (Light My Way)". It was dedicated to women. Bono introduced it with mention of the band's wives and supporters, plus the women on the crew. During the song, video showed photos, names and dates of many women from history. Politicians and suffragettes, businesswomen and laborers, artists and activists.

The band came back out to the B-stage for the encore. They did "One" but I decided I'd better take a bathroom break and pick up a program. As I came back in, they led the audients in "Happy Birthday" for Island Records founder, Chris Blackwell, who was there at the show, and who will turn 79 in a couple of weeks. Then they finished up with their first hit, the bouncy "I Will Follow".

The Lumineers opened, but we had other things to do, so we only caught the last four songs, one of which I recognized - the one about Ophelia. I'm sure they'd be a lot of fun to see in a small venue. They were just tiny people on a small section of stage in an enormous space.

setlist )
After Patti's goofy New Years Eve show, this one was serious. She did Horses straight through. She even mentioned between songs, that the story she was telling us was not on the album. :-)

She started the show with one of the all-time greats - Gloria. I was dismayed to see the audients sit down when the song started. What?! How can you sit for that one!

Back in the nineties, I picked up the album to find out what Patti was about. I didn't even really know what she sounded like. I wasn't sure what to make of it. It didn't really do anything for me. I played it again the next day, and I kinda liked "Redondo Beach". But I picked up the energy of "Land". So I played it again and Gloria hit me. Hard. There was so much energy and abandon, it was amazing. The song does it to me every time. But this time I had to sit. I couldn't believe it.

This was by far the biggest place I've ever seen her, and the only one where people remained seated. Of course, I'm always down front where there are not seats, and I never look back at the sections with seating. She said that the show wasn't sold out, but there weren't very many empty seats, as far as I could tell.

Predictably, there were a lot of old people in the crowd (meaning, older than me), but there were a lot of young people in the crowd - 20's and 30's.

Patti was her usual tolerant-to-a-point self. Some guy came up to the edge of the stage to take a photo, and it didn't seem to bother her, but later on the guy did it again, and there seemed to be some sort of altercation between him and someone else. So Patti told a story about some guy getting thrown in jail for trying to film a documentary, and ended it with a complaint about people who miss the show because "they're fucking filming it." Later, she complained about the stage not being a garbage can, and she threw people's crap off it - shoes and socks, apparently. Later, she seemed a bit conciliatory about her outburst, and said that we shouldn't do that because she already does it. One person is bad enough.

The date was March 9th. That is a pivotal date to Patti. 38 years ago, her midwest tour passed through Milwaukee (the last time she was here), and a few days later, in Detroit, she met her future husband, Fred "Sonic" Smith, on March 9th. And in 1989, that's the date that Robert Mapplethorpe died. This time, Mayor Barret proclaimed March 9th, Patti Smith Day. She brought the framed certificate to the show and displayed it on the drum riser. She was tickled by it, and at the end of the show, she was almost offstage before she remembered it and went back to get it.

She had a few stories about the music. "Break It Up" was for Jim Morrison. It was spurred by a dream she'd had about him. "Elegie" was written (with Allen Lanier) in memory of Jimi Hendrix. Near the end of the song, she named artists and loved ones who had died. After Horses, they did three songs that had a connection to her late husband, Fred. "Frederick," of course, and two songs that were written while he was away, including "Because the Night." "Ghost Dance" was dedicated to Standing Rock. She had printed lyrics for "Birdland". The encore was "My Generation." Just Tony Shanahan was about to break into the bass solo, at the point on the record where she yelled "John Cale!", she said "happy birthday John Cale!" It was, in fact, Cale's birthday.

A review of the previous night's Mpls show said "Another highlight in the later portion of the performance was the song “Citizen Ship,” which Smith dusted off for the first time in decades and souped up with additional emphasis on the song’s anti-wall, pro-refugee message." I didn't notice the change of lyrics, but that one's a favorite of mine, so it was good to hear. She hadn't played it in almost ten years? Politics was in full swing, of course. "Donald Trump is 70! I'm fucking 70!" "Now is the time for us to misbehave. We must misbehave in a loving way." And of course, "People Have the Power."

After "Break It Up," she had the album in her hands, and explained that now we had to pick up the record, turn it over, put it down on the turntable, bring the arm over and put it in the groove...

The band was Patti, Lenny, Jay Dee, Tony and Patti's son, Jackson Smith. Through Horses, Tony played keyboards and Jackson played bass. But for a couple of songs, Lenny played bass and Jackson guitar. For Elegie, Jay Dee came out to play bass. For the second half, Tony mostly played bass, and Jackson played guitar.

Horses Set
1. "Gloria: In Excelsis Deo"
2. "Redondo Beach"
3. "Birdland"
4. "Free Money"
5. "Kimberly"
6. "Break It Up"
7. "Land:"
8. "Elegie"
End of Horses set
9. "Ghost Dance"
Fred "Sonic" Smith Tribute Set
10. "Dancing Barefoot"
11. "Frederick"
12. "Because the Night"
End of "Sonic" Smith Tribute
13. "Citizen Ship"
14. "People Have the Power"
Encore
15. "My Generation" (the Who cover)

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It was cold in Chicago. Nasty cold, or at least it seemed that way since I left my warm coat in the car. Note to self: Park West has coat check. Doors opened at 8:00, which is when we arrived, and the line (mostly general admission) stretched about two blocks. I left my companions in line and went for a jog around the block to warm up. It didn't work. We finally got in, and got a good place to stand, down front.

About 9:20, The Nuggets took the stage (at least that's what Lenny called them). This was Patti's band minus Patti. Lenny Kaye is known as a proponent of garage rock, and put together some compilation albums called Nuggets. So that's what they played, or course - garage rock. Eight fun, short songs. Fun!

"Crazy Like A Fox", "Night Time" (The Strangeloves), "Journey to the Center of the Mind" (The Amboy Dukes, sung by Tony Shanahan), "Nobody but Me" (The Human Beinz, sung by Andy York), "I Had "Too Much to Dream Last Night" (The Electric Prunes), "See No Evil" (Television, sung by Tony Shanahan), "People Who Died" (The Jim Carroll Band, sung by Tony and Lenny), "In the Midnight Hour" (Wilson Pickett, sung by Tony and Lenny).

I had trouble with my ears. I had forgotten to bring my good earplugs, so had to stop at a drugstore and pick up some cheap ones. They were so "good" that they blocked out everything but the bass, which came in through my head. I had to pull them partway out, to hear anything, and it still wasn't great. Much worse sound than with my good earplugs.

Then we had a break for quite a while. When Patti took the stage, more people moved in. It was pretty cramped for a while. Including some stinky hippie chick, and her big boyfriend. Due to all of this, I wasn't having a good time. Fortunately, Patti showed up. That helped. ;-) And over time, people left, for some reason. It wasn't too crowded late in the show.

So Patti took the stage. She came out by herself and read "Piss Factory." Then the band came out and they did "Dancing Barefoot", "Ghost Dance" and "My Blakean Year". There was a lot of talking and stories between the songs. I wish I could remember what they were about. After that she did the first of many covers of the night. I get the impression her NYE shows include more covers than usual. Partly because of the party atmosphere, partly to honor the year's lost souls. This one was George Michael's "Father Figure." Then "Break It Up" followed by "Jesus is Just Alright." After that was Blue Oyster Cult's "Astronomy" to honor its writer, and the bands founder and manager, Sandy Pearlman. Then "Ain't It Strange", "Peaceable Kingdom" and "People Have the Power". Patti mentioned that they had to add something to make the timing come out right for midnight, so she and Lenny did a cover of Debbie Reynolds's "Tammy". Practically unrehearsed, she said. And then the buildup of "Pissing in a River" followed by "Land" with some "Gloria". The obligatory "Auld Lang Syne" at midnight. Then the finale of "Because the Night", "People Have the Power" and "My Generation".

She brought a kid out on stage, who came all the way from Tokyo. She gave him her guitar and he played on "People Have the Power". He was going to leave, but she kept him on during "My Generation" and she had him help break the strings off her guitar.

Like I said, due to the party atmosphere, with more talking than usual, and the all the covers, the show was quite different. I think the usual tempo was broken up by the covers. The previous night was her birthday. If we'd known that beforehand, we might have gone to that one instead. Michael Stipe showed up to sing "Happy Birthday". That show started with all of Horses, was followed by five covers, then four of her songs, with "My Generation" as the encore. During one of the songs, I forget which, Patti lost her way. She stopped a couple of times to confer with Tony while the band jammed. She finally gave up and told the story of Scheherazade, which morphed into some strange bit including someone in New Jersey. Then finally went back into the song, or maybe another, I don't recall.

I think the show got out around 12:30. We took our friend home, and got to our home at 3:00.

setlist )

Marillion

Oct. 28th, 2016 08:00 pm
I'm only a casual fan of Marillion, if I can even call it that. I've got a couple of their early albums, but only on vinyl, and they're a different band now. I've got two of their later albums, but I seldom listen to Marbles. But Anoraknophobia is one of my most favorite albums. So when I heard they were coming to Chicago, I decided to go. They never play Milwaukee, so I figured this was my only chance to find out what they were about.

They were playing two shows, the second of which was on a Friday night, which made it easier to go. As it turned out, it was the same night as the first World Series game at Wrigley field since World War II, which was only a few blocks away. That made parking very expensive, but we walked up to the stadium before the show, to see the crowds. Walking up the street past the theater, with the Cubs fans, we heard more than once, "Marillion? Who the hell is that?"

They opened the doors before 7:00. We went in around 7:30, and got a good place to stand, just in front of the sound board. The crowd was very prog. Mostly old (like me). Both male and female.

The opener was solo guitarist John Wesley. Wesley is a longtime Marillion opener, and Fish, Hogarth, Porcupine Tree and Sister Hazel sideman. I did not enjoy his set at all. I kept counting the songs, wondering how many more there would be. He redeemed himself a bit with the last one, which was listenable. He had a lot of fans, though, who would cheer for certain songs.

Marillion is five guys, Steve Rothery (guitar), Mark Kelly (keyboards), Pete Trewavas (bass), Ian Mosley (drums) and Steve Hogarth (vocals and other instruments). They're a very tight, smooth, prog-ish sort of band.

The show opened with "Invisible Man" with Hogarth's face projected onto the backdrop while singing the first part of the song. I didn't realize at first that it was not recorded video, and that he was actually singing live from backstage. They closed their main set with "Neverland", so they opened their set with the opening track from Marbles, and closed it with the closing track from Marbles. Those were the only two songs I could have recognized, but I did not, since I don't listen to that album much. About two thirds of their set was from their latest album Fuck Everyone and Run (F E A R). One of the few criticisms I have of the band is that most of their music tends to sound the same. But in this case it was nice, since I felt like I knew all the music, even though I hadn't really heard it before.

Not too far into the second song, "Power", Hogarth was striding toward the front. When he reached the corner of the stage, he turned and strode back to the back of the stage between the keyboard and drum risers, turned toward the audience and made a dramatic throat-cutting gesture and left the stage behind the keyboards. After a moment, Kelley looked after him wondering what just happened. The band slowed down like they were going to end the song, then started up again, like Hogarth was coming back. Then they stopped. And waited until he returned. He did, and was all smiles. They started up a new song in a bit more casual an atmosphere. He sat down at his keyboards and they played "Sounds That Can't Be Made". Here's Mosely's explanation of what happened: "After the first track they always do a jam. During the jam, Mark triggered the click track for Power and the rest of the band weren't ready and h couldn't start singing as it was all over the place. So he left the stage. Then they started again before h had time to get back to the mic. So he said let's give up and do another song instead! So all Marks fault:). No diva."

A couple of songs later, they did "Sugar Mice", Hogarth said it was a song about Milwaukee, though it was only set in that city. It was the only Fish-era song they played, and was probably the dullest song they played.

"Neverland" was introduced as winning a poll for the fans' most favorite song. I thought it was a bit long and repetitive.

So the show was a learning experience for me. I really did quite enjoy it.

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photos and set list )
Milwaukee is a big city. Not big like NYC, Atlanta, Seattle, whatever, but big enough to host the biggest of the big bands. Bands like The Stones and U2 don't play here every tour, but often enough. But Milwaukee has a problem in being situated too close to Chicago. Many bands will skip Milwaukee, and just do Chicago and Minneapolis. They figure that Milwaukeeans can see them in Chicago. That's true, since it's less than a two hour drive away, but the problem is that they don't advertise up here for Chicago shows, because they'll sell out anyway. You really have to be on top of things to find out about the shows. It was tough in the mid nineties. You had to be following the news on your favorite bands, or have some line on what's going on down there.

I was reminded of this problem, when I was reading about a David Bowie tour tonight. A conversation from the time: "Did you hear David Bowie's on tour?" *Not extremely interested* "Yeah?" "He's touring with Nine Inch Nails." *freaks out* "OMG! No way! Where? When? How much are tickets?" "Chicago. They're sold out." *ack*

I'm a casual fan of David Bowie. I've never followed him very closely, and my favorite record of his is a compilation (or maybe Tin Machine), but hearing that he was touring with NIN just seemed right for him, and of course I was a big NIN fan.

Here's an account of the time:
In September of 1995, Bowie began the Outside Tour, with Reeves Gabrels joining him as his live band's guitarist. In a move that was equally lauded and ridiculed by Bowie fans and critics, Bowie chose Trent Reznor's Nine Inch Nails as his US tour partner. NIN & Bowie (as well as Kevin McMahon's Prick, Trent's fellow Nothing Records industrial artist and friend) toured as a co-headlining act: NIN appeared on stage first, always playing an equal amount of stage time as Bowie. As the crew changed sets behind a large backdrop, NIN would play several Bowie compositions ("Subterraneans", "Hallo Spaceboy", and "Scary Monsters (and Super Creeps)"), followed by two NIN songs with Bowie ("Reptile" and "Hurt"). This arrangement was an effort to keep young concert goers interested in staying for Bowie, though in each city few of the younger crowd stayed for the Bowie set.
That sounds like an amazing show. I would love to have heard the two artists performing each other's songs together. That in itself is extremely cool. And Prick was there too. One of the few shows that I'm perpetually disappointed to have missed.
I learned the Violent Femmes were playing Chicago, so I decided to take the day off and head to the city. I shot some photos, met a friend and we went to the show.

I had never seen them outside of Milwaukee, and was curious of the difference. I figured they'd have a lot more people with them while playing in the hometown, and I was right. The band was Gano, Ritchie and Sparrow, with Garza and three others. No Hamilton. They had the two roadies in the Horns of Dilemma, playing horns for "Black Girls" and percussion for much of the rest of the show, plus the woman named Jamie playing Trumpet.

My friend Brenda and I were down front in the crowd. A couple of large people moved in on our turf just before the show started, so it became even more packed. In the last third or quarter of the show, a bunch of kids came down and started moshing. It was distracting and a little annoying to have to spend most of your energy trying to keep your feet. And I pushed hard on the body passees, to move them away from us (I'm tall enough to get some leverage on them). Brenda and I got separated, and she was given some sanctuary right at the front. Man, I'm out of shape. Just a little bit of moshing and I was exhausted.

Other than that, the shows were similar. They played two songs that I was excited to hear. "Breakin' Up" was one. I didn't enjoy it as much as on the album. Too rough in concert? After fifteen songs, Ritchie strapped on his electric bass. That's always a good sign. I guessed they'd play "Gimme the Car." But Ritchie said they'd play a song they don't play very often. For a moment I thought that meant "Color Me Once," but he then said it was from their second album. It wouldn't be "Hallowed Ground" because there was no keyboardist on stage, so that meant "Never Tell"! I've heard it in concert many (several?) times, but it's probably my favorite Femmes tune. I danced my ass off (as did a very few people around me).

It was a fun show. As always. It was hot, and I was drenched in sweat. The moshers were only a little annoying. Between moshing and dehydration, I was exhausted by the end. I'm sure glad I bought water before the show!

As for the setlist, in comparison to the Milwaukee show...
They started both shows with "Blister" and "Kiss Off". Here, they added "Confessions" and "You Move Me", before "Good for/at Nothing", "Love Love Love Love Love", "Country Death Song", "I Could Be Anything" and "Prove My Love". Then they added "Breakin' Up" and "Believing in Myself". Then "Jesus Walking", before the added "Good Feeling". "Issues" and "I Held Her in My Arms" were common to both shows, but in Milwaukee, they had played "Old Mother Reagan", "Freak Magnet" and "Gimme the Car" between them. Here, they left out "Color Me Once", but finished up with "Gone Daddy Gone", "Black Girls", "American Music", "Memory" and "Add It Up". They switched the order of "Gone Daddy Gone" and "Black Girls". Other than that, each song that was common to both shows was played in the same order. Ritchie calls the songs from the stage. I wonder how much of the show is decided beforehand. "American Music" was called as a request by a kid in the balcony, though they always play it.

Ava Mendoza opened the show. She's a solo guitarist. She has quite a full sound. She sang a few songs, but I wasn't as thrilled with her voice. She has a low, husky sound, which fits her somewhat dark style of music. She joined the Horns of Dilemma for "Add It Up", and did the guitar solo near the end.

7-13-16
Singer/guitarist Gordon Gano and the Horns of Dilemma

7-13-16
Bassist Brian Ritchie

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fun Femmes

Jul. 7th, 2016 09:45 pm
The Femmes played a great show! It was the Harley stage at Summerfest, so it was back to balancing on the benches. It's been a few years for me, so my calves were feeling it the next day.

They started out with the usual, "Blister in the Sun" and "Kiss Off". After that they mixed it up a bit, including several new songs. The audience didn't get into them very much, of course, but soon they were back on track. They played an assortment of audience favorites - "American Music", "Gimme the Car", "Country Death Song", "Prove My Love", "Gone Daddy Gone", "Black Girls", "Jesus Walking on the Water", "I Held Her in My Arms", "Old Mother Reagan", "Freak Magnet" (I love that one!). Newish songs included "Good For / At Nothing" off last year's EP, Happy New Year, "I Could Be Anything" from their new album and "Rules of Success" from Something's Wrong. They also did "Color Me Once" which appeared on The Crow soundtrack. Probably my favorite of the night! As usual, they ended with "Add It Up". Checking with Setlist.com, I see that the first song of two in the encore was "Memory." They also did "Love Love Love Love Love" and "Issues" (all new songs) plus "Life Is an Adventure."

Ritchie played acoustic bass for the first half, and then electric for much of the second. Gano switched between electric guitar and electric banjo a lot. He played fiddle for two songs, and acoustic guitar for at least one. John Sparrow played a small kit - snare, tom and Weber Kettle, with two cymbals. He played cajon once or twice. Blaise Garza played tenor and subcontrabass saxophones. Also a melodica and the occasional percussion. Jeff Hamilton on electric guitar, mandolin and ukelele. When I first saw him with a trumpet during Black Girls, he was using it as a bottleneck slide, but I did see him blow it. Special guest Kevin Hearn of the Barenaked Ladies flew in for the show. He played accordion. I think he came out for the third song, and stayed. The various Horns of Dilemma members played various small horns, including an alto trombone. A couple of those guys filled in on bass and cajon in places.

The guys seemed to be having fun. That always makes it a fun show. The crowd slowly thinned out over the course of the show, so I ended up having about three spots to dance on by the end of the show. I was using most of it for "Color Me Once". Backing vocals were usually a bit off key. The sound wasn't always mixed well enough that I could hear all the instruments. Though the big sax sounded great, sometimes it was hard to hear when it was doubling Ritchie's bass. It was usually hard to pick out the accordion. Ritchie had a couple of good solos. He's added space for solos in a few songs, and plays the hell out of them.

My only complaint about their shows is that they only play for 90 minutes.

Opener was Midwest Death Rattle. They didn't sound as dark as you'd think based on their name. Good, solid rock. I need to pick up the album.

Violent Femmes, 7/7/16

Gano and Hearn
Gano and Hearn

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Stick Men

May. 6th, 2016 08:00 pm
featuring Tony Levin, Pat Mastelotto and Markus Reuter. I wish I could remember anything at all about the show, three months later. Markus sang a couple of songs? I thought I took photos, but I can't even find those.

Emo!

Apr. 1st, 2016 07:30 pm
Emo Phillips is just as hilarious now as when I first saw him in the early eighties. Some of his jokes were old ones and some were new. He interacted with the audience more than I recall in the past.

Sample joke (probably butchered): Abraham Lincoln and Charles Darwin were born on the same day. But that's not the only thing they have in common - they're both enemies of The South.

There had been a rally for Donald Trump somewhere in the area not long ago. He asked if anyone had gone, and one guy clapped. So this was a source of material for the rest of the show.

The Tiny Band opened the show. They play an assortment of small instruments - ukulele, mandolin, small electric guitar, toy piano. Also a drum kit and plastic bags. Aside from that gimmick, they're lighthearted and humorous. They covered "Take the Skinheads Bowling," and "Piggies." They had a few humorous compositions of their own. Unfortunately, the toy piano sounded grating and their singing voices weren't the best. The plastic bags were fun, though. *rustle rustle rustle snap*

Puscifer

Mar. 25th, 2016 10:00 pm
Puscifer puts on a show.

This show included a Mexican wrestling match. Or show, really. The troupe of Luchadores, called Luchifer, put on a show of three rounds. Two teams of a man and a woman, with one more man coming out after a bit. It was goofy fun, even if it did go on for a bit. They had small bleachers set up at the sides of the stage, and they brought up the entire front row to sit on them and cheer for and boo the luchadores. They were done in half an hour and the band came out very shortly.

The drummer (Jeff Friedl) was front-center stage, guitar (Mat Mitchell) and bass (Paul Barker) stage right, and keyboard (Masha Zargaran, who also sang, played guitar and pounded a drum) stage left. The wrestling ring was left up (center-middle and back). Maynard Keenan and Corina Round stood behind mic stands in the middle of the ring. The stands had decoration at the top (that reminded me of bicycle sprocket rings and) partially obscured their faces. There was very little light on them - just two overhead purple lights that didn't really illuminate anything, and one very dim light that barely illuminated Carina. You could kinda see her face and arms, but she was wearing black, so that's about it. She also played guitar, banjo and mandolin, and we could barely see the instruments. But it got lighter up there as the show went on.

After a few songs, Maynard and Carina moved down to the floor. There was empty space between the drum kit and the bleachers on either side. Maynard had a red three-piece suit and a black luchador mask, open on top for his mohawk. Corina a black knee-length dress. They always seemed to be posing/dancing. Dance-posing? Waving their arms in the air dramatically, or crouching and repeatedly throwing their arms up. Maynard would sometimes stride in place.

In between "acts," the luchadores performed. The singers would periodically move back to the ring, or back down to the floor. In addition to the wrestling show, there was a cock fight in a miniature ring, that involved stuffed chickens mounted on wheels (RC cars? Roombas?). During most songs, the luchadores would dance in their bleacher seats, but sometimes they'd get up and posture at each other, and go to center stage to shove each other around. Once it was in slow motion.

But there was music too! Puscifer's music is generally dark and moody. Danceable, for the most part. The sound was mixed well, except I could never hear Carina's instruments. The band played for about two hours. There was a pause where the band sat down and Maynard took the mic to introduce them, before the encore.

The audients were under strict instructions not to take photos or videos. We were told when we entered the theater, that phones were not allowed to be in use at any time. I think Maynard has always been opposed to photography at shows (and generally doesn't want to be seen), but we were told to remain present and enjoy the show. We had great seats - ninth row. I sure wish I'd had my camera, though. I saw so many scenes that would have made awesome photos.

I'm not certain, since I haven't seen any other shows this tour, but it seemed like the Milwaukee audience was a little laid back. Less boisterous than I expected. I was also a little surprised at the age of the audients. They were all ages between 20 and 60, but it seemed the majority of people were in the forties. Must have been a lot of Tool fans.

setlist )
A 50th anniversary tour. Wow. Those guys are old! The band itself is older than me. This was kind of a bittersweet show. The greatest rock and roll band ever (in my humble opinion). They still rock, and it's great to see them up there at their age. But their voices are not so hot anymore. It's a little sad to see that happen. There's hardly a singer of that age who can still hold it together - OK, there's hardly a singer of that age!

They opened with "Who Are You." It's one of their greatest songs, so it was good to get it out of the way early. Second song was "The Seeker," one of my personal favorites. After that were more early hits, "The Kids Are Alright", "I Can See for Miles" and "My Generation". Then was "The Real Me," Another one of my favorites. Then "Pictures of Lily", which was a welcome surprise. Roger's voice sounded good for that one. "Behind Blue Eyes" and "Bargain" sounded great. "Join Together" isn't one of my favorites, but it sounded good. Then three Quadrophenia tunes sandwiched between two eighties songs. Then four songs from Tommy, including "Sparks". They ended the show with "Baba O'Riley" and "Won't Get Fooled Again". I think it was two hours and ten minutes, with no encore.

The band: Roger Daltrey singing, and occasional backing guitar. Pete Townshend, songwriter, guitarist, backing vocalist and occasional lead vocalist. Pete's brother Simon Townshend on guitar and backing vocals (since 1996). Zak Starkey (Ringo Starr's son) on drums (since 1996). Pino Palladino on bass (since 2002). They had three keyboardists, John Corey, Loren Gold and Frank Simes, who was also music director (all three since 2012). The one with white hair had a nice little piano solo at the start of "Lover Reign O'er Me." Palladino hardly moved through the show. Even less noticeable than Entwistle was.

Zak Starkey can really play Keith Moon's parts. He's an awesome addition to the (touring) band. Moon was his godfather, and gave him his first set of drums, at the age of eight.

Simon sang backing vocals, and he really was backing up both Roger and Pete. He is fifteen years younger than Pete, but his voice sounds similar enough, that he was singing the same lines as Pete (when Pete was doing backing vocals) and it sounded like Pete.

Pete sang lead on two songs. The first one, "I Am One," he sounded like he had a frog in his throat. I had the urge to clear my throat. Very rough. He sounded like this performance from three years ago, only worse. I don't remember which was the second song (embarrassed!), but he didn't sound quite as bad. But for that one, he had a lot of trouble reaching the notes. He no longer has any range. But he could cover that up a bit when he belted it out.

Roger's voice was a bit more interesting. Sometimes he had it, sometimes he didn't. He sounded good on "Pictures of Lily", which has softer vocals. Sometimes he could hit the notes when he belted it out, sometimes he couldn't. He could even hit some of the high notes. He still hit that awesome scream in "Won't Get Fooled Again." For the most part, his voice had lost its range, but there didn't seem to be any rhyme or reason as to which songs he could hit and which he couldn't.

Our seats were great. Row U on the floor. The back row of the front section. I didn't know you could still get tickets that good. We were supposed to see this show in October, but Roger contracted viral meningitis, and they had to postpone about a dozen shows. Before the show, we were wondering if Roger was feeling any residual effects of the illness, but he looked pretty good. He certainly wasn't looking tired by the end of 140 minutes.

Roger just turned 72 and Pete is 70. Aside from the vocal issues, they didn't seem that old. They were moving around better than Mick or Keith were when we saw the Stones a couple of years ago. Pete even did a little scissor kick.

Overall, I loved it. It's The Who, and they rock.

I was a little surprised to see they had an opening act. Tal Wilkenfeld. I thought her voice was a bit weak, and didn't care for her vocal melodies. I liked the other parts of her songs, though. She's a bass player, which is cool. She's played with Jeff Beck, which is probably where I heard her name before, but if you play with Beck, you're pretty good.

setlist )
We saw a concert at the Chicago Symphony Hall. Zakir Hussain and the Masters of Percussion. "International phenomenon Zakir Hussain, the greatest living master of the tabla, returns with his handpicked ensemble of world-class percussionists. Don't miss a performance that crosses the spectrum of Indian classical music, filled with 'mesmerizing improvisations, dazzling technique and beguiling wit' (World Music Institute)."

So it was Indian percussion music. I'm sorry, I don't know the names of the instruments, but there was one string player and four percussionists (including Hussain), each with his own type of drum. In addition, there were two Japanese drummers (it looked like the master with his apprentice or something, because only the elder was listed in the program. Oh, here it is: link.

I loved the thundering Japanese drums. They didn't quite mix with the Indian drums, but close enough. The Indian drums usually played solo. When there were more than two of them playing, it became more of a cacophony. It was interesting how many different kinds of sounds they got from each drum. Usually three distinct sounds - low pitch, high pitch and a hard tap on the wood.
I've always appreciated Frank Zappa's work, while never really getting into it. I only have a couple of albums, so I wasn't sure how much of the songs I would recognize. I did pretty well, being familiar with about half the material. It was a fun time, and there was great music and musicianship.
Barenaked Ladies were headlining, with Violent Femmes and Colin Hay opening. The show was at the BMO Harris Pavilion, which is a covered, outdoor theater, right on the lakefront in the Summerfest grounds. Being mid-June, in Wisconsin, it was cold. I think it was below 60 degrees. The rain started a short way into Barenaked Ladies's set, so we got pretty wet as we were leaving.

Colin Hay was the leader of Men At Work, back in the 80's. I expected something a little more upbeat, but he did half an hour of introspective, minor key, acoustic guitar songs.

The Femmes, being the second opener were given less than an hour to play. That surprised me a little, since they were the hometown act. The show started at 7:30, and they were offstage by 9:05. They packed in all their usual hits plus a few. Blister in the Sun, Kiss Off, Good For/At Nothing, Love Love Love Love Love, American Music, Jesus Walking on the Water, Old Mother Reagan, Freak Magnet, Hallowed Ground, I Held Her in My Arms, Gone Daddy Gone, Black Girls, Add It Up. I was disappointed they weren't given a little more stage time in their hometown, but that was a pretty good set.

New drummer, Brian Viglione (Dresden Dolls) really tore it up. Blaise Garza played Baritone, tenor and subcontrabass saxophones. Jeff Hamilton on guitar, mandolin and percussion. John Sparrow (literally) on cajon. Gordon Gano singing, guitar and fiddle, with Brian Ritchie on basses and marimba, of course. BNL bassist Jim Creegan took over on bass, while Ritchie played marimba.

Barenaked Ladies are a fun band. I like their songs. My only complaint is that they all sound the same. Fortunately, I like the sound. But I decided to leave early, to beat some of the rain. And beat the crowd in the rain. And get Cindy home earlier than the previous night. We left about halfway through, just before my favorite song, "Light Up My Room." Before we left, they had Colin Hay join them to lead "Who Can It Be Now?" Blaize Garza from the Femmes played sax, though his mic didn't work for his big solo.

Apparently, the roof of the pavilion is a bit leaky. And also, water ran down to the front of the audience area. It was several inches deep.

6/13/15
Violent Femmes - Brian Viglione, Jeff Hamilton, Gordon Gano, Blaize Garza, John Sparrow, Brian Ritchie.

see more )

Rush R40

Jun. 12th, 2015 07:30 pm
Rush is on tour in commemoration of the bands 40 years together (41, actually, but who's counting?). Their show is a travel through time. They started with songs and set from their most recent album and tour, and ended in their earliest days. It was a fitting (apparent) end to their grand concert touring.

They started with three songs from Clockwork Angels, one of which incorporated a short drum solo. Then two songs from Snakes & Arrows - "Far Cry" and the instrumental "Main Monkey Business," which were excellent. Then Vapor Trails with "One Little Victory" (the original video seemed a bit tired). They skipped over T4E and went to Counterparts for "Animate." The first set was finished up with a couple of synth era songs - "DEW" and "Subdivisions."

It was hard for me to get into this part of the show. I'm not all that familiar with Clockwork Angels. I loved the two songs from Snakes & Arrows but after that I wasn't extremely enthused. The sound wasn't great, and most importantly, we were way in the back, only a few rows from the top. It was just harder to feel it from back there.

Workers in red coveralls kept coming out to adjust the set. They began with their steampunk set up, but shortly, a couple of guys came out to replace some of Geddy's gear with his trademark washing machine, like he had used in prior years. This continued through the set. At the same time, Alex's steampunk stuff was gradually replaced with a small Marshall stack. complete with dinosaurs and Barbies.

The second set continued the journey through time. It opened strong with Moving Pictures and Permanent Waves. "Tom Sawyer," "YYZ," "Spirit of Radio." Next was a song that I'm not thrilled about. "Natural Science" is not only dull but nine minutes long. I was thinking that as long as they were playing a long dull song, they should have done "Jacob's Ladder," since I like that one marginally better. They played it next. Both of them? Guys, they're nearly interchangeable - what were you thinking? Speaking of long dull songs, on other dates they dropped "Natural Science" and "YYZ," and did "The Camera Eye." Okay, I actually like that one.

But then they got into my favorite part. "Cygnus X-1." This one sounded a little different. Something about the live experience, I guess. It's not often a Rush song sound different live, so that was cool. They followed it up with "Cygnus X-1." Since they were going by album in reverse order, they had to play "Cygnus X-1 Book II: Hemispheres" which was from the Hemispheres album, before "Cygnus X-1 Book I: The Voyage" which was from A Farewell to Kings. They did "Prelude" from Book II, and then the first and third parts from Book I. Yes I know how pretentious that all is. Shut up. Neil did his second drum solo during that one. The solo was quite enjoyable, though not as long or as technical as his previous solos have been. I assume that has something to do with his chronic tendinitis.

After the whole Cygnus thing (or the various parts of the whole Cygnus thing) they did "Closer to the Heart." Beautiful. My favorite song of the night. The next one, "Xanadu," was a close second. It seemed abbreviated, though. Geddy played his double-necked Rickenbacker and a Minimoog, and Alex his double-necked Gibson. They finished up with Overture, Temples, Presentation and Finale from "2112." Fun stuff.

After a short break, they came back for the finale. "Lakeside Park" (from Caress of Steel), "Anthem" (from Fly By Night) and "What You're Doing" and the classic finisher "Working Man" from their debut album.

Before the start of the second set, they showed a video made up of outtakes from many of the videos they've showed at their concerts over the years.

When the curtain went up on "Tom Sawyer," their gear on stage consisted of Alex's huge Marshall stacks, and Geddy's similarly sized stacks of bass amps. Throughout the set, stagehands would come out periodically to remove some, until the end of the show when there were only a couple left. During the finale, their set resembled a school gymnasium. The video wall showed a basketball court and there were a few institutional chairs onstage. Geddy and Alex were each reduced to a single amp, Geddy's sitting across a couple of the chairs. And there was a big disco ball. While I sometimes found the stagehands distracting, it was a fun concept.

The sound started out horribly. It seemed like the sound crew was frantically trying to get everything set during the first song, like they hadn't had a soundcheck. It took a couple more songs to really get things dialed in, but things didn't sound quite right for several other songs or sections. The second half sounded pretty good, with the exception of 2112. It sounded thin, like they lost the tune, except on the most bombastic riffing.

The light show was good. A video wall on the back, with a couple of tall, narrow screens to each side. Two additional projection screens hung farther out to the sides of the stage. Lasers in a few songs. Spotlights shining upwards sometimes. Dear lighting designers. You always have spotlights shining on the audience at some point, and that's great, as long as they keep moving. Last night you had lights shining directly on my section of the audience for the entire drum solo. They were shining directly through Neil's kit, so I couldn't see him, and had to watch on the video screens. Not cool.

6/12/15
Section 313, row 14.

more pics, and setlist )
We hadn't seen Joe in quite a few years. I was a little surprised to see the blues guitarist had hit the big time, playing the bit Riverside Theater instead of the club shows at Shank Hall. The stage was all glitzy, with shiny art deco big band style... not sure what to call them. Those fancy partitions that the musicians sat behind.

Stick Men

Oct. 27th, 2014 11:39 pm
Three stick men - Tony Levin, Markus Reuter and Pat Mastelotto. They've done four albums, three with Reuter. Cindy and I have seen them twice, once after their first album.

For those of you keeping track, on earlier tours they stuck more to their newest material, but this time they played a wider variety of their pieces. They did "Soup" and "Firebird Suite" from the first Stick Men album (but rockiner). They played several King Crimson pieces, including "Vroom Vroom" and a "Larks' Tongues". They did "Breathless" from Fripp's Exposure.

Their show suffered from a bit of sameness. One of my favorites was an improvised piece. It started out with a bit of Halloween cheer - a creaky door, and some ooOOooo-ooooo spooky. Not sure that was intended, but it was fun. Then a lot of bass improvisation on a theme, and Reuter's flashy guitar soloing.

Oh, and the first time I ever saw anybody bow a Chapman Stick.









We talked Crimson for a while with the gentleman named Pat, who sat next to us. He had seen the band back in the day, so that was interesting. Plus he had seen their last show in Madison from up close, so he could fill us in on some things. Like the fact that Rieflin had put his foot through the bass drum, which was what prompted the techs to replace it during the song. And that Fripp seemed to have been enjoying himself, smiling and even laughing. And talking. Maybe calling out chord changes to Jakko?
After many many years, I finally saw Pearl Jam. I missed them, back in 1992, when they played the Marquette University Union, due to my laziness. And I missed their 1995 Summerfest show at the amphitheater due to my stupidity. So now they're more expensive than they were back then, and it's about as hard to get tickets, but we did it. Our seats were in the back corner, upper level, row R. $66.50 for nosebleed seats. Could have been worse. Cyn and I took her daughter Heather, who had been waiting as long as I had been, and who is a bigger fan than I. And her husband Greg.

The tickets said showtime was 7:30, but I didn't really believe it. Everyone else seemed to know that wasn't true, because the place didn't really fill up until 8:00. And they didn't start until 8:15. But they played until 11:30, with only two five-minute breaks. That pretty much says it all about their show. They just played and played. Thirty-six songs, though many of them are rather short - shorter than most of Eddie Vedder's stories.

Vedder mentioned early on, that this was the second-to-the-last show of the tour, and that such a show is usually the highlight of a tour. I think few doubted him by the end of the show. The band obviously has energy, and stamina to pull off a three hour show, and they were just having a good time all the way to the end. Even after several (?) bottles of wine, Eddie was still out there running around, including in the audience.

The show started with a recorded "Red Bar," which is from Yield. Then the opener was a down-tempo Pendulum, from their latest, Lightning Bolt. From there it picked up. Mind Your Manners hit hard, showing that Pearl Jam is never very far from its punkish roots.

Shortly, they brought out localish surprise special guest, guitarist Rick Nielsen of Cheap Trick. He was really excited. Probably more excited that most of the audients were. I don't think Cheap Trick has played a venue this size since the seventies. They played sort of an abbreviated low-rent version of "Baba O'Riley." Lots of fun, but no real substance. Just the riffs and the more memorable parts of the lyrics. They even kinda blew the solo. I couldn't hear it, anyway. It was a bit of a downer, if I thought about it too hard.

After that, they went into "Brain of J.," which was the beginning of Yield. They did the entire album straight through, with the exception of "Red Bar," which they had played at the start of the show. I must say I'm not what you'd call a die hard Pearl Jam fan. Great band, just never gotten deep into them. Listened to several of their albums a handful of times. Their latest album is still kinda new, and Yield, I have only on vinyl, so while I like it, I don't listen to it very often. So between the entire Yield, most of Lightning bolt, and some hits from Ten, I recognized most of the show. But other than Ten, I couldn't quite place most of it. There might have been five songs I'd never heard, but only a dozen that I really knew well.

This show marked only the third time they'd ever done an entire album in a show. Some bands have been touring albums, such as Rush, who took Moving Pictures out for an anniversary, but Pearl Jam just did it this one night. And three nights before, they did a different album. They didn't rehearse it for a tour, they tossed it off for just one night!

My favorite song of the night was "Given to Fly," which was right in the middle of the Yield set. Our section was mostly standing, below us. I could see from my seat, so I opted to stay seated through most of the show, so as not to annoy the sitters behind us. This was not a problem for me, except during "Given to Fly." The guy in front of me decided to video half that song, and had his arms up, holding his phone, and blocking my view. They had a really cool metal sculpture thing over the stage, that slowly "flapped." I wish I could have seen it from the floor.

Vedder told a lot of stories between songs. Some of them were charming. Some of them were drawn out like he was struggling to say the next words. He told of when he and a young friend stole a couple of cans of beer, to see what it was like. Eddie had Old Milwaukee. He didn't believe the audience who said they still made the stuff. Their slogan was Tastes as good as its name. "The thing is, it's not a good name." He talked about meeting Aaron Rodgers before the show, and more than once made football talk (he's a Bears fan). He couldn't put on the cheesehead that someone tossed onstage. He talked about some fundraisers and charity work just before doing "Crazy Mary." He tossed out tambourines to various audients at a couple of different times.

After over 90 minutes, the band took a short break. Vedder returned to do a solo acoustic tune. Part of the band joined him for the next one, then Vedder had the audience join him in singing Happy Birthday to Tom Petty. Then he played "I Won't Back Down." The energy built back up through "Jeremy" to "Lukin" and "Porch" before another break.

The encore was "Crazy Mary", "Black", "Alive","Fuckin' Up" (Neil Young cover) and "Yellow Ledbetter," which was followed by Mike McCready's cover of Hendrix's "Star Spangled Banner."

"Crazy Mary" included an extended organ jam by Boom Gaspar. He had an authentic Hammond, complete with spinning leslie speaker. The review in the paper said, "Boom Gaspar, largely in the shadows most of the night, launched into an insane organ jam during "Crazy Mary" as guitarist Stone Gossard tried to keep up." Yep. McCready and Gossard both had some good solos. McReady had some bad ones too. A couple of times he was screechy and out of tune.

The house lights came up for "Alive." People had been filtering out for a while, possibly due to how late it was, but the ones that were left were really enjoying the show. But even with the house lights up, Pearl Jam were still the stars of the show.

Set list )
It seems Jethro Tull is no more. I would think Barre would still be up for it, but the rest of the last band resigned, so I guess Anderson's just doing the solo thing now, whether he's playing Tull or not.

Since this tour was entitled The Best of Jethro Tull (or so my ticket says), I was expecting nothing but Tull. The fact that the first six or more songs were not Tull was a little disappointing. Not that it was bad music, it just didn't meet expectations. Expectations that were based on an explicit message. Though I now see some advertising that reads "Homo Erraticus & The Best of Jethro Tull."

The band opened with seven songs from Anderson's latest album, Homo Erraticus. They were pretty good, in my opinion, and got a positive reception from the audients. Nothing too exciting, but solid. They then went into "Bourée," and ended the first half with "Thick As a Brick." "Bourée" was great, but I was disappointed at the inclusion of Brick, since the last time we saw them, two years ago, was the Thick As A Brick tour.

The second half saw a more interesting selection of songs. As it was billed as a "Best Of" show, they concentrated on singles. Six of the nine songs of the second half had been singles, and the other three were all popular tunes, with the exception of an excerpt from A Passion Play, apparently entitled "Critique Oblique." And of course they closed with "Locomotive Breath." Again. I enjoyed it much more the last time.

Most of these tunes are not among my favorites. "Living in the Past," "Teacher," "Critique Oblique," "Too Old to Rock 'n' Roll," "Farm on the Freeway" - not thrilling. I did quite enjoy "With You There to Help Me," "Sweet Dream" and "Aqualung." Oh well. Can't win 'em all.

Ian's voice is pretty well shot. It seems to have gone downhill even in the last two years. It's odd because his speaking voice is still deep, but it's an obvious strain for him to sing. So he's got a vocalist along on the tour. Ryan O'Donnell traded lyrics with Anderson on many songs. He does a decent job at it. I wish he'd sing more. Any song where Ian plays flute or guitar should be fine to hand over the vocal reins. The whole band was the same as the last tour. John O'Hara on keyboards, Florian Opahle on electric guitar, David Goodier on bass and Scott Hammond on drums.

There was no opening act, but before the show started they played videos from friends on the big screen on the stage. That was nice background music.

Setlist:
Doggerland
Enter the Uninvited
Puer Ferox Adventus
The Engineer
Tripudium Ad Bellum
The Browning of the Green
Cold Dead Reckoning
Bourée
Thick as a Brick

Living in the Past
With You There to Help Me
Sweet Dream
Teacher
Critique Oblique
Too Old to Rock 'n' Roll: Too Young to Die
Songs from the Wood
Farm on the Freeway
Aqualung

Locomotive Breath
This was the fourth time we'd seen King Crimson, and definitely the most interesting. The shows are always interesting - that's what the band does - but this one more so. The band had been on hiatus since their last tour, in 2008 (their last album was released in 2003), and Robert Fripp had supposedly retired from the music business for a year. But he decided he wanted to work again, and it was time for the beast to rear its head once again.

But things are a little different now. Fripp wanted to take things in a different direction. Back to its roots, I would say. Reed man Mel Collins was back after forty years. This alone puts a certain spin on things. Saxophone. Crimson can be a beast - all teeth and claws. Saxophone, in this context does not smooth out any sharp edges. Further pursuant to that direction, Adrian Belew was not welcomed back to the fold. His songs very often had a smoothness. So not only was he not invited back to create music with the band, but they didn't even play any of his songs. None of the ones with vocals, anyway. No "Thela," no "Happy With." So who was Adrian replaced with? Jakko Jakszyk. He'd been playing with Fripp and various other Crims for over ten years, and suitably talented. But also, he's a vocal dead ringer for Lake and Wetton. So there you go.

But what about the front line? Tony Levin. He was reactivated after the departure of Trey Gunn in 2003, but in all that time, he'd only played one short tour. Then we have drummers. Pat Mastelotto (since 1994), Gavin Harrison (since 2007) and Bill Rieflin (2014). Yes, three. So anyway...

We were late getting our tickets, and ended up against the wall, near the front. Fairly close, but we couldn't see part of the stage behind the stage left speakers. We could see Harrison's kit, but not him. Jakszyk's stand was half obscured, and Fripp's was out of sight back in the corner. Shortly after taking our seats, a guy came by and asked if we wanted to move back. We went to the back row, against the wall. Much farther away, but we could then see everyone but Fripp.

I thought the sound started a little muddy, but it had improved by the third or fourth song. The three drummers remained overpowering throughout the show, but the mix was much better balanced in the second half. I didn't detect any problems with the sound due to me being next to the wall.

Leaning towards their early work, there were a several pieces I didn't actually recognize, and others I just wasn't that familiar with. "Pictures of a City," "The Letters." Songs from Poseidon and Islands. And there was Red. I knew "Red," but wasn't so familiar with "Starless." But they closed with "Schizoid Man," and did a couple of parts of "Larks' Tongues." And one song each from ConstruKction of Light and The Power to Believe. They had three new pieces, including the drum trio which they opened their encore with. That was the highlight of the show, drumming-wise. That's how it should be done! They also did two pieces from the Jakszyk, Fripp and Collins group. So the unfamiliarity was interesting. It was interesting to approach the songs as a fan, but without having heard them before. Very academic. And there was so much going on onstage, you couldn't see it all. Or even hear it all.

We couldn't see Fripp, but we talked to a guy later who said he was smiling and talking during the show. He also told us that Rieflin had put his foot through a bass drum. We'd wondered what had necessitated a mid-song head change.


Setlist:
Larks' Tongues in Aspic, Part One
Pictures of a City
Hell Bells
A Scarcity of Miracles (Jakszyk, Fripp and Collins cover)
The ConstruKction of Light
One More Red Nightmare
Interlude
Red
The Letters
Level Five
Sailor's Tale
The Light of Day (Jakszyk, Fripp and Collins cover)
The Talking Drum
Larks' Tongues in Aspic, Part Two
Starless

Hell Hounds of Krim (drum triet)
21st Century Schizoid Man

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