Fleetwood Mac concert review(previously see in Mike Ladano’s blog)

Before reviewing the concert I have to give a brief history of my introduction to Fleetwood Mac. In the early 90’s, one of my buddies took out whatever hair band CD was in the player and put in Fleetwood Mac Rumours. WTF is that crap? It sounded like the love child of ABBA and The Eagles! After a while the band grew on me. I wasn’t exactly going to cruise down main street with Fleetwood Mac blasting out the T-tops, but I did start to enjoy it. It became one of my guilty pleasures, and my wife loves them, so this is a bonus.

Fast forward to February 4 2015. My wife and I were early, so we got to our seats before the show started. The band was not on time, but only 20 minutes or so behind schedule. By Axl Rose standards, they were 2 hours early. This gave me time to Google the setlist as I always do before a concert. 24 songs and two encores. 24 songs? Holy crap. I also read reviews of many of the recent shows. All glowing love-fests proclaiming Fleetwood Mac as the next best thing since sliced bread, with nary a whisper of negativity. Well. We shall see about that.

The lights dim and we see the shadows of band members entering the stage. The crowd roars. When the music starts you get a feeling why this band has remained so popular. The rhythm section of this band is awesome. These guys are in their late 60’s, and they still sound incredible. John McVie is the guy that likes to stay in the background. I don’t think I ever saw any hint of showmanship from him, but he played his bass flawlessly, and that is all you can ask. Mick Fleetwood is a really underrated drummer. His talents are not shown off in the mostly pop rock songs that made the band famous, but over the years I have heard enough of his songs to know he has what it takes. And for his age, he still has it. Lindsey Buckingham is a guitarist that wasn’t on my radar: until I saw him live. He was not awesome, but a very unique guitar player. For starters, he does not play with a pick. I have seen many players play acoustic without a pick but not many electric players. His right thumb seems to act kind of like a pick, but his right hand fingers do this kind of spastic fingerpicking that is hard to describe. Kind of like, if he was trying to flick crumbs from all of his fingers at the same time. I can’t quite figure out how the guitar sounds so good when his thumb and all 4 fingers seem to be flicking at the strings at the same time. But it works.

Piano and accordion duties were handled by Christine McVie. Her strength however is her vocal prowess. All I can say is that anyone that saw this band in the last 16 years prior to this tour should ask for their money back. She left the band during that time due to an intense fear of flying. What an absolute loss that was. She completes this band, the way Van Halen was completed when David Lee Roth came back. They were great without him, but awesome with him. Her voice is so crisp and it reminds me of the first robin you hear in the spring. You can’t help but smile. For a 71 year old lady, she still looks and sounds beautiful. Kind of like an older Judith Light. She must have been a real force to deal with in her heyday.

The final member is the resident scarf twirler, tambourine banging, top hat wearing lady named Stevie Nicks — probably the most famous member of the band. She is the only member to have a productive solo career. Unfortunately life, and possibly hard partying have caught up to Stevie. Her voice is down at least 1 octave, and she can’t hit the high notes anymore. She still has a great stage presence and she is possibly better at her age than some singers in their prime.

MAC 2

Now for the bad.

“Tusk”. The mere mention of this song turns me off. However, I did prefer the live version of this song to the original, but that is not saying much.

“Second Hand News” is my favourite song by this version of the band. This live rendition however was ruined by whatever annoying sound effect they had in place of the bass line that the original had. And the “bowm bowm bowm bowm bowm…” is a little off. It might be too fast paced for the elder statesmen.

Even though I commended Lindsey, he is not without fault. His voice progressively got worse as the night wore on. I was hoping they would actually mute his mike, and just let his guitar do the talking. When he did a vocal solo, his voice reminded me of a pre-pubescent mixed with The Hobbit. I was waiting for him to say “precious’. There were also times in the night that he yelled and screamed much louder than he needed to. And I won’t even mention the skinny jeans he borrowed from One Direction.

The song choices could have been better in my opinion. There were a few duds near the middle, and even one song from the Peter Green era would have been nice. Not many people realize the band did “Black Magic Woman” before Santana. Also, they could have done a cover of “Werewolves of London”. John and Mick were the rhythm section on the Warren Zevon song. These would have been good substitutions.

Stevie Nicks though a good stage presence, kind of reminds me of an old hippie cat lady from Woodstock, New York. She is about three puffs on a reefer away from being bat shit crazy. She was rambling a few times during the night. Something about Lindsey in high school and he knew her but she didn’t know him blah, blah. Next about the store that influenced the song “Gypsy”…zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz. I told my wife to nudge when she stopped rambling.

I read in another interview how the giant screen behind the stage and the smaller screens near the front made the show so much better. Apparently this person was not sitting where I sat. The smaller screens blocked my view of members of the band. When Mick was doing a sweet solo, I wanted to watch his arms flailing. But instead I got to see a stupid screen in my way.

In conclusion, this was a concert worth seeing. I watched the Youtube clips of the show, and they don’t shed a good light on the band. The band does sound much better when you are seeing them in concert than what it looks and sounds like on a computer. Although I was much worse on them than any other reviewer I read, I still enjoyed the show. I can finally say I saw them, and I would recommend them to others.

I would rate them:

7.5/10
(3.75/5 stars on the LeBrain scale)

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Turntables Part 1

The very first thing I suggest to do is go to http://www.vinylengine.com and sign up. It’s free and there is a wealth of information. In 5 minutes I signed up and had a free copy of the service manual for my “new’ Dual 1226. It is actually over 40 years old, and it was sitting by the curb, but it is new to me.

In the next few day/weeks I will be trying to restore this thing. Perhaps some pictures and video. But the manual will be a great help. There is also a forum with just about everything there is to find out about turntables. Have fun and wish me luck. I am going to need it.

The life of an opening act-Part 1

“Gettin’ robbed, gettin’ stoned, gettin’ beat up, broken boned. Gettin’ had, gettin’ took. I tell you folks, it’s harder than it looks. It’s a long way to the top if you wanna rock n roll.”

These words by Bon Scott sum it up for me what it would take to live a life of music. As a young kid I wanted to be in Def Leppard, Motley Crue etc. It was easy. All I had to do was sing or play an instrument. I would have millions of dollars, and millions of girls lined up to sleep with. I could sleep in every day, drink beer and stay up every night until 4am. Then do it all over again the next day.

The reality is different than the dream. In speaking with band members, I get a picture of living in vans, driving across the country from one gig to another, often in sleazy joints, for next to nothing. Living off the meager wages from the show, and the few dollars brought in from selling merchandise. There is no road crew to set up and take down. The band members do this themselves.

It is hard to have a lasting relationship with a significant other because they don’t live the life, and they don’t understand that the love of music compels the band member to continue on. To do that cross Canada tour. To keep pestering the radio execs to play the new single, or the record company people to get signed.

This is the beginning of an ongoing segment about opening acts. I have some upcoming interviews, cd/concert reviews so keep checking in for more.

Queen w/adam Lambert concert review (re post from Mike Ladano’s blog)

QUEEN + ADAM LAMBERT – Live, July 13 2014 at the Air Canada Center, Toronto

I have to start off this review by saying I love Queen. I have listened to more songs by Queen than almost any band ever. I am told when people I know hear Queen, Steve Miller Band, Black Sabbath or 80’s metal, they think of me. So the review you are about to read really pains me to write. But I have to be true to myself and review the band as I saw them last night.

I went to this concert expecting to hate every little bit of Adam Lambert. I hated him on American Idol. Yes, I know. I hate to admit it, but for a while I did watch that show. How, you say, can a died-in-the-wool metal head and 70’s hard rock lover watch American Idol? Well. To answer that question, my family time TV viewing was limited to the type of shows we could watch together. Having a young pre-teen in the house meant only watching family type shows when she was awake. And she loved American Idol. At first I liked Adam Lambert. He was not your typical contestant on that show. But then he started showing off his pipes too much, and it got annoying. All of the viewers knew precisely when he was going to wail, and we got sick of him.

Then I heard the news that he was going to be the next lead singer for Queen.

Queen and American Idol. That is sacrilege. This would be like Gary Cherone in Van Halen. It wouldn’t work. It couldn’t work.

However, it did.

I hate to say this, but the three shining spots of the concert last night really had nothing at all to do with the original line up of Queen.

First, Adam Lambert was actually great. If Freddie Mercury was incredible, then Adam Lambert was great. He was spot on. He was campy, in a Freddie kind of way, and his voice was in top shape.

Second, Neil Fairclough, the bass player they hired to replace the retired John Deacon was amazing. His stand up electric bass was the biggest bass I have ever seen. It sounded sweet. And then he let Roger Taylor use drumsticks to play the bass (a first for me).

Third, Rufus Tiger Taylor. He is the son of Roger Taylor. And he has some serious chops. I didn’t realize how good he was until my wife pointed out to me that he was better than his dad. And last night, he was.

The concert was going along great, and then Adam Lambert left the stage, and the show for me mostly fell apart.

Please don’t get me wrong I love Brian May, but he was mostly off last night. His entire night sounded about a half second behind. His finger work was slow. His guitar solo (which was roughly 30 minutes) was about 28 minutes too long. It started out with a few minutes of Pink Floyd , then onto some Zeppelin, back to Floyd. I don’t think he was trying to copy David Gilmour or Jimmy Page, but the elements were there. At least I hope he wasn’t trying to copy them because he was doing a piss poor version if he was. For a guy that has seen many guitar virtuosos over the years, this was like watching a Junior High guitar talent show. The worst part for me was when Brian May screwed up in “Bohemian Rhapsody”. It was a real fingernails on the chalkboard moment for me.

During the song “Love of My Life”, Brian moved down to the front of the stage alone with an acoustic guitar. He admits he is not a singer. Well, Brian we quickly figured out why. Your voice was awful. God awful. And you chose to have the audience sing the other half of the lyrics of the song. You could have heard a pin drop when the 100 or so people in the entire audience of 15,000 that actually knew the lyrics were singing (whispering?). Here’s a hint. Choose a song most of the audience knows if you want them to sing the lyrics for you, or put the lyrics up on a screen.

Coming from the area of the world where Neil Peart is from, and having seen Rush in concert many times (and more recently seeing how good Tommy Clufetos can bang the skins), the drumming of Roger Taylor was another let down. It wasn’t bad. It just didn’t wow me. But in 2014, solos really are passé unless you are really amazing, and Roger Taylor was not. He does not have a great singing voice either, which really showed when he tried to fill in for David Bowie during “Under Pressure”.

His son is a real up and comer though, and I hope he finds his own way in the music industry. It seems especially tough on children of famous musicians.

After the horrible “Love of My Life”, Brian May talked about space travel and how we were all going on a journey and we may never come back, then all of the musicians(other than Lambert) went to the front of the stage and did “’39”. Pardon me while I yawn.

Please Adam, come back and save us from this snooze fest. As the lights go down and the audience sees Adam there is a huge cheer.

However, after a couple of classic Queen songs, they forced him to sing a remix of a little known Freddie Mercury disco song called “Love Kills”. He announced Queen was using this version in an upcoming album. In my opinion, they should do a new album with new material, perhaps throwing in a few B-sides of old material, or do a live album. They could include Freddie, Paul Rodgers, Freddie Tribute Concert songs and Adam. Just my two cents. Also in my opinion, the band had plenty of time to come out with this new album before the tour, but they didn’t. And all they had for sale at the swag booths were $40 T-shirts. I have enough T-shirts thanks. Not one CD or vinyl. Nothing.

The entire show for me was like “backwards day”. I assumed Brian May and Roger Taylor would be the highlight of the show. I told my wife the only reason I am going was to hear Brian May. But the cast of nobodies were better.

I should end the review by stating the whole is better than the sum of its parts for Queen + Adam Lambert. When they are together doing classic Queen songs, they sound great. When they do solos, and off-key singing, it didn’t work.

If they had included 8-10 more songs, and skipped a lot of the solos, I would have rated it higher.

My wife summed up the concert when we got back to the car by stating she liked The Lady Gaga concert a few nights before better (No, thankfully I did not attend that one). I told her “Don’t say that!”

For me, Adam Lambert was 8.5/10, the band without Adam 4/10, so together the show was 7.5/10. Too bad. It could have been much better.

[This works out to 3.75/5 on the five-point LeBrain scale.  Thank you Boppin for this amazing review! — LeBrain]

SETLIST:

  1. Now I’m Here
  2. Stone Cold Crazy
  3. Another One Bites the Dust
  4. Fat Bottomed Girls
  5. In the Lap of the Gods… Revisited
  6. Seven Seas of Rhye
  7. Killer Queen
  8. Somebody to Love
  9. I Want It All
  10. Love of My Life
  11. ’39
  12. These Are the Days of Our Lives
  13. Under Pressure
  14. Love Kills
  15. Who Wants to Live Forever
  16. Guitar Solo
  17. Tie Your Mother Down
  18. Radio Ga Ga
  19. Crazy Little Thing Called Love
  20. The Show Must Go On
  21. Bohemian Rhapsody
  22. Encore: We Will Rock You
  23. Encore: We Are the Champions