PERHAPS EXTREME SHOULD HAVE HEADLINED DAY THREE OF M3?
Date: May 5, 2019
Venue: Merriweather Post Pavillion
Location: Columbia, Maryland, USA
Event: M3 Rock Festival
Reviewers: Tyson Briden and Jeff Onorato
Photos: Christopher Carroll ROCK Photography (Skid Row, Extreme, Vince Neil and Dokken) and Jeff Onorato (Quiet Riot)
This year, Sleaze Roxx had not one, not two, not three but four representatives attending the M3 Rock Festival. Sleaze Roxx IT guru Ed DeGagne, professional photographer Christopher Carroll, seasoned writer Tyson Briden and new writer and cartoonist Jeff Onorato were all in attendance at M3, and both Tyson and Jeff reviewed the band’s performances. If you haven’t already done so, please make sure to check out Sleaze Roxx‘s reviews of Day One, Day Two (Parts 1 and 2) and Day Three (Part 1).
Tyson Briden: I was pretty pumped to see (or hear) this incarnation of Quiet Riot. I had purchased the band’s latest live release One Night In Milan that features former American Idol contestant James Durbin on vocals. I was very impressed. My thought was that he was by far the best singer the band had had since singer Kevin DuBrow passed away.
I was not disappointed. I must admit for the duration of this performance I heard it, but didn’t visually see it. Sometimes you need to get away from your seat and take breather. We had ventured to the back of the venue where we conversed with other concert goers. That doesn’t mean I wasn’t paying attention. I was intently listening and making sure I wrote down every song being performed on my phone.
The band’s setlist was filled with mostly cuts from the band’s first three albums. Now let’s talk about those three releases. It’s hard to put clarity to these three in some ways as there are actually two Japanese releases from the ’70s that feature Randy Rhoads, but since those albums are very obscure, it is hard to count those as popular Quiet Riot releases in the catalog. The three I make mention of are Metal Health, Condition Critical and QR III. These are the albums we all grew up listening to. These are the albums that put Quiet Riot on the map, so yes, there were two albums previously but they are just not the ones the fans know. In technical terms, these are indeed the first three. Make sense?
The bottom line is, in terms of this line-up of Quiet Riot, they were fantastic. The last time that I seen Quiet Riot, was quite some time ago. Kevin DuBrow was still with us, but the other members in this current line-up were there as well. I knew, with Durbin on vocals, what I was getting would be stellar. This line-up, which also features Frankie Banali, Chuck Wright and Alex Grossi, has played together so long that they come across as a tight and cohesive unit. From talking to Frankie Banali back in January, he assured me the band will be venturing up to Canada this summer so it is quite possible that I will catch them again. That is my hope at least.
Jeff Onorato: I’m happy to report that Quiet Riot appear to be running on all cylinders these days, following the arrival of frontman James Durbin. He fits the band like a glove, with a voice that suits their older material very well. The band dropped “Run For Cover” on the ready and waiting M3 attendees to explosive results. The opening track from 1978’s Quiet Riot II, “Slick Black Cadillac” (which was also featured on 1983’s Metal Health) followed and had many a fist pumping into the air. “Mama Weer All Crazee Now” was their first Slade cover of the evening, and the guys appeared to be having a blast on stage. “Life’s A Bitch” and “Party All Night” were followed by “Sign of The Times” before the band kicked into one of my personal favorites, “The Wild and The Young” off of QR III.
The current incarnation of Quiet Riot seems to really be at their stride with charismatic frontman James Durbin. Before finishing out their show, guitarist Alex Grossi ripped through an impressive guitar solo that paved the way for “Cum On Feel The Noize” and “Metal Health (Bang Your Head).” Like many of the other bands that played, Quiet Riot stuck to the hits. M3 is all about nostalgia, so logically a lot of the acts perform their most popular material. It would be cool to hear them dust off “Angry” from Guilty Pleasures or “Free” from Rehab. Both songs have the potential to be absolutely killer live. It would also be nice to hear a song or two from 2017’s Road Rage album, their only studio release with Durbin on vocals.
Quiet Riot’s setlist:
01. Run For Cover
02. Slick Black Cadillac
03. Mama We’re All Crazy Now
04. Love’s A Bitch
05. Put Up Or Shut Up
06. Sign of the Times
07. The Wild And The Young
08. Let’s Get Crazy
09. Cum On Feel The Noize
10. Metal Health
Quiet Riot performing “Mama Were All Crazee Now” live at the M3 Rock Festival on May 5, 2019:
M3 Rock Festival 2019 5/5/19 Quiet Riot James Durban Mama We’re All Crazy Now
Tyson Briden: Yet again as another band took the stage, I had a recollection of my past. When Skid Row’s debut album arrived in early 1989, I had found yet another band of the era that I could relate to and I really gravitated towards. At the time, singer Sebastian Bach was young and rebellious. For a 14-year old boy, that was the kind of persona that captured my attention.
As we fast forward to 2019, a 44-year old really isn’t that captivated by that sort of attitude anymore, which really explains why I am totally accepting to the fact that Bach no longer fronts Skid Row. I had seen Bach perform with the band in 1991, just as the band released Slave To The Grind. At that time, he was the perfect fit. I also had the honor of seeing the band twice with Bach’s replacement Johnny Solinger. To be honest, I loved his work with the band. The band’s Thick Skin was a constant in my CD player for years. Now, we have ZP Theart on vocals. I had heard many good things about him, so I was very interested to hear what he would bring forward. I also must make note, that with or without Bach on vocals, I will always support this band.
At one of those Sollinger shows in the mid 2000s, I was lucky enough to run into both guitarists Dave “Snake” Sabo and Scotti Hill on the street, outside the band’s bus. Both were super friendly and accommodating. When you have an experience like that with those you grew up listening to, you support them in whatever they may put forward. I also had the chance to see Bach in Peterborough, Ontario, Canada last November. I had friends that were super pumped to see the show, but for me, I just had no interest. My loyalty lies within the three original members of the band that keep the Skid Row name going. Skid Row are more about the talent and songwriting for me. Sabo and bassist Rachel Bolan are the two that wrote those classic tunes that I grew up listening to. Sure it’s great to hear Bach sing those classics as his voice made them famous, but it just doesn’t do it for me. Sure many say there is room for both. It’s like the L.A. Guns scenario, but so much is said in the press by Bach about Skid Row reuniting, that I just find it old and boring. So, I support this version of Skid Row.
What can be said about this day’s performance? Amazing! ZP Theart, although his vocal tone was slightly different than Bach’s, he still hit every note perfectly. He did such a stellar job. It was also cool, to have Bolan sing “Psycho Therapy” from the band’s B-Side Ourselves EP. The setlist was really a good mix of the band’s classics. You can’t really go wrong with tracks like “18 And Life”, “Monkey Business” and “Makin’ A Mess.” The whole venue was heard singing along and rocking out hard. A captivating and breathtaking performance.
Jeff Onorato: Skid Row were another band that I was really looking forward to seeing at M3. As a huge fan of their Bach-era albums, I was curious how they would sound with new singer ZP Theart. I found it interesting that they began their show with “Slave To The Grind”, given that their former frontman does the same. It is a heavy, uptempo song though which gives it prime candidacy to begin a rock show with. A large portion of their set consisted of songs from their debut album. Based on the reaction of the crowd, I don’t think anyone had any problems with that.
To his credit, Theart has a broad range and does a phenomenal job of hitting all those high notes in songs like “Monkey Business” and “18 And Life”. Following opener “Slave To The Grind”, “Sweet Little Sister” and “Piece of Me” were up next followed by a blisteringly heavy version of “Livin’ On A Chain Gang” from Slave To The Grind. It would prove to be the first of several deep cuts that they included in their set. “18 & Life” and “Makin’ A Mess” followed. Bassist Rachel Bolan then took over the spotlight for lead vocals on a fun cover of The Ramones‘ “Psycho Therapy” from Skid Row’s B-Sides Ourselves EP. Dave “The Snake” Sabo then broke out the acoustic for “I Remember You.”
It was clear that the guys were happy to be on stage with ZP based on their chemistry. My favorite song in their set was “Get The Fuck Out” the alternate track to “Beggar’s Day” on Slave To The Grind. It was another song that I have never heard Skid Row perform live and thought it was a great addition with its anthemic chorus and lyrical content. The same could be said of the next song, the United Word Rebellion: Chapter 2 track “We Are The Damned.” The band did a great job in choosing its setlist with the four final numbers tying together so well. They closed out their set with “Youth Gone Wild.”
Skid Row’s setlist:
01. Slave To The Grind
02. Sweet Little Sister
03. Piece of Me
04. Livin’ On A Chain Gang
05. 18 And Life
06. Makin’ A Mess
07. Psycho Therapy (with Rachel Bolan on lead vocals)
08. I Remember You
09. Get The Fuck Out
10. Monkey Business
11. We Are The Damned
12. Youth Gone Wild
Skid Row performing “Monkey Business” live at the M3 Rock Festival on May 5, 2019:
Monkey Business, Skid Row, M3 Festival, Merriweather Post Pavilion, Columbia, Maryland; May 5th, 2019; Day 3 of the Festival
Tyson Briden: My first introduction the band Extreme occurred when the band released its first album in 1989. I had seen the video for “Mutha (Don’t Wanna Go To School Today)” on Canadian music station Much Music. Like Skid Row’s “Youth Gone Wild”, this also became the anthem of the day. During that school year, my friends and I would crank music in the hallway at school during lunch hour. “Mutha” was a song that was a constant. I recall as we were playing that song, a teacher from down the hall would approach us and ask to have the music turned down. She would say, “It’s so loud that I can’t even think!” We’d oblige her request, but then wait a brief moment until she was back in her classroom and slowly turn that ghetto blaster up. We were kids and we ignored any type of authority. That was really who we were at that time. In some ways, the music we listened to was our way of fighting that authority. We all know, back then our parents didn’t listen to our music. It isn’t like today where the kids and the parents gravitate towards the dreaded country music. That seems so odd to me. We were fighting against parents, teachers and any other type of authority. Our music was all part of that.
Now of course, when Extreme released their second album Pornograffitti, the band would become a household name. Songs like “Decadence Dance” and “Get The Funk Out’ were heard regularily on rock radio. It was a hard rock band, with a certain funk flavor to their music. Sometimes when a band got popular, it was a hard pill to swallow. As fans sometimes, we’re selfish to the fact that we want our bands to stay all ours. To remain out of the spotlight means that we have something that others don’t know about and we want to keep it that way. Strange, but true.
After all these years, this was the first time I was seeing Extreme. I had seen singer Gary Cherone in the late ’90s when he fronted Van Halen, but never with Extreme. Many felt that Cherone wasn’t right for Van Halen, and I tend to agree when it comes to the album the band recorded, but in a live setting with Van Halen, Cherone highly impressed, so I knew on this day he would not disappoint.
In terms of performance, Extreme were fantastic. Both Cherone and guitarist Nuno Bettencourt have done a great job of staying in great shape and still looking young. The original bassist was still looking great as well, which caught me off guard slightly, as his hair is no longer blond, but brown. A small, minor detail that really changes nothing in terms of performance. If I have to choose a disappointing moment, it was when the band played their huge hit “More Than Words.” Honestly though, you know it’s coming, so it’s just a good chance to go get a beer or hit the bathroom.
In terms of material from the band’s catalog, a good percentage was from Pornograffitti and III Sides To Every Story. The band did perform “Play With Me” from the CD version of the self-titled debut. I just recently discovered that that song is not on the vinyl version. Of course, this song also appeared in the classic Bill And Ted’s Excellent Adventure soundtrack. It seemed fitting to me that this song would appear in the set as it has just been announced that there will indeed be a part three in the Bill And Ted’s saga. Coincidence? Possibly, but who knows!
In terms of background screens, Extreme win the award for the “best display behind a band.” It was the Pornograffitti album cover. It looked vibrant and really added to the visual of the show. Sometimes and there will those that disagree, the visual really adds to the perception of the performance. That’s what drew me to KISS in the first place. I thought everything Extreme did on this day, was perfectly calculated and made for a great experience. I look forward to seeing the band again in the future.
Jeff Onorato: In all my years of attending concerts, I have never had the pleasure of seeing Extreme’s dynamic live show. They were one of my most anticipated performances at M3 this year. My anticipation was fulfilled with a great trio of opening tracks, pulled from their smash Pornograffiti album — “It’s A Monster”, “Little Jack Horny” and “Get The Funk Out” started off what would be one of my favorite sets of the entire weekend. Their Pornograffiti backdrop helped to set the mood as they churned out tracks from their concept album. With its memorable opening violin riff, “Rest In Peace” was immediately recognizable.
Surprisingly, it was the first of several tracks that the band would play that night from their III Sides to Every Story disc. The fast-paced “Play With Me” was up next and sadly would turn out to be the only song that they played from their debut album. I was a little disappointed that “Mutha (Don’t Want To Go To School Today)” and “Kid Ego” were not included, but with a limited set, there are only so many songs that the band can get to. Nuno took some time to chat and joke with the crowd before Gary Cherone rejoined him onstage for a stirring rendition of “More Than Words.” They revisited III Sides To Every Storywith “Cupid’s Dead” and “Am I Ever Gonna Change”. Their closing number “Decadence Dance” ended the set on a high note.
01. It’s A Monster
02. Lil’ Jack Horny
03. Get The Funk Out
04. Rest In Peace
05. Play With Me
06. Nuno Bettancourt acoustic guitar solo
07. More Than Words
08. Cupid’s Dead
09. Am I Ever Gonna Change
10. Flight of The Wounded Bumble Bee
11. Decadence Dance
Extreme performing “Get The Funk Out” live at the M3 Rock Festival on May 5, 2019;
Get the Funk Out, Extreme, M3 Festival, Merriweather Post Pavilion, Columbia, Maryland; May 5th, 2019; Day 3 of the Festival
Tyson Briden: I have seen Mötley Crüe live 15 times. I have also seen Vince Neil live on numerous occasions as a solo artist. As the years have passed and the Neil has gotten older, my affection for him has really gone by the wayside. At the end of Mötley Crüe’s run as a live band, I made the choice to never go see them again. I missed the band’s last performance in Toronto, Ontario, Canada simply because I had enough. Although I have so much respect for all that the band has achieved, my desire to seem them live had passed. That feeling that I felt originally on the Dr. Feelgood tour was gone. No longer was the Mötley Crüe live show something that I felt strongly about. I attribute some of that disappointment to Vince Neil. I had seen Vince Neil on his Exposed Tour with Steve Stevens on guitar. Of the many times I had seen Neil perform, this was by far the best one ever. He was hungry to establish himself as a solo artist.
I still love to listen to Mötley Crüe studio albums. I still love Neil’s Exposed album. I loved The Dirt. It affirmed to me of how great the band truly was. I put the emphasis on ‘was’. Sometimes, a legacy can be tarnished. It’s funny, when an artist passes away young, the legacy will never be tarnished. We will always remember them young and vibrant. In the case of Neil, although he was never the greatest live singer, he captivated the audience. He was one of the greatest frontmen of the ’80s. As we all get older, we change. It is harder to live up to the expectations of the past. With Neil as hard as a try to love him, I can’t. It just seems to me he is an artist riding the coat tails of his former self.
Why is it that Neil, as a solo artist only performs Mötley Crüe hits? Why does he no longer include any tracks from his Exposed album? That album was chalk full of listener friendly hard rock and really would impress the audience if he chose to perform a few cuts.
As for Neil’s band, we know that they can cut it live. It’s Slaughter, without Mark Slaughter, so it’s a given that musically, the music will sound precise and be perfectly executed. The highlight of this performance would be when Neil would leave the stage. Guitarist Jeff “Blando” Bland would take over on vocals and do a killer rendition of Black Sabbath’s “Heaven And Hell.” See that kids, there is a silver lining in all of this. We also have to make mention of bassist Dana Strum and drummer Zoltan Chaney. Of course, for years, Strum has been the consummate performer. He moves and shakes on stage like he’s still 21. As for Chaney, he is a show all in himself. In terms of drummers, I think he is the most entertaining I have ever seen.
So as I summarize the Vince Neil performance at M3, I feel somewhat sad. Mötley Crüe were and always will be one of my favorite all-time bands. It pains me to actually have to speak in this manner about Vince Neil. I am not even sure that he sang that badly. Frankly, he didn’t. It’s everything else that coincides with his act. It’s the fact that he goes out and plays the same Mötley Crüe songs over and over. There’s no thought or something extra brought forth to the fans. It’s the same old situation so to speak. It’s like stealing candy from a baby. It’s far too easy. I feel slighted to the fact that he’s just taking my money. When making that statement, it seems obvious that he doesn’t have the same vision that Nikki Sixx has. Sixx is always pushing the envelope in terms of what direction he will take. He’s a visionary who really never sits still. Let’s be honest, if it’s wasn’t for Sixx, Neil would never be out performing these songs. That’s a bold statement, but when seeing what I saw on this performance, it makes perfect sense to me.
Jeff Onorato: Seeing Vince Neil perform solo was another first for me. I’ve seen him perform live with Mötley Crüe a handful of times, but never on his own. I only had word of mouth to rely on while anticipating his set. I’ll say that what I experienced pretty much lived up to my expectations. Neil performed faithful renditions of the Mötley classics that he is known for and put on an entertaining show. As one of the headliners of M3, his production was slightly more elaborate than the other bands but still what I would consider bare bones. With the exception of a few smoke jets and extra amps, there weren’t any real frills to his stage setup. Kicking things off with “Dr. Feelgood”, his band (Dana Strum, Jeff Blando and Zoltan Chaney) performed the Mötley Crüe classics almost note for note.
During his performance, Vince fully engaged the audience and made an effort to work the entire stage. “Shout At The Devil” and “Looks That Kill” followed. Vince spoke about his family serving in the armed forces before dedicating “Home Sweet Home” to those serving in the military. The piano introduction of the original was effectively substituted by Blando’s guitar. An accomplished musician, Jeff Blando also performed a riveting guitar solo before breaking into Black Sabbath’s “Heaven And Hell.” Joined by the rest of the band, he also handled the lead vocals on the song and their rendition was astonishing! “Kickstart My Heart” and “Girls, Girls, Girls” followed, with an encore of “Wild Side.” With three solo studio albums to his credit, I’d like to see Vince add in some of his own material to the set. With the exception of the Sabbath cover, all of the material was Mötley Crüe’s. It would be cool to hear “Sister of Pain”, “Tattoos & Tequila” or “You’re Invited (But Your Friend Can’t Come)” from Neil’s solo records.
Vince Neil’s setlist:
01. Dr. Feelgood
02. Shout At The Devil
03. Looks That Kill
04. Home Sweet Home
05. Same Old Situation
06. Heaven And Hell (with Jeff Blando on lead vocals)
07. Kickstart My Heart
08. Girls, Girls, Girls
Vince Neil performing “Dr. Feelgood”, “Shout At The Devil” and “Looks That Kill” live at the M3 Rock Festival on May 5, 2019:
Dr Feelgood & Shout at the Devil & Looks That Kill, Vince Neil, M3 Festival, Merriweather Post Pavilion, Columbia, Maryland; May 5th, 2019; Day 3 of the Festival; 1st 3 songs of the set
Tyson Briden: On this evening, this Dokken performance for me would be cut short. I would only see four songs. In terms of disappointments, this was the biggest. A few days before the show, it was announced that original guitarist George Lynch would not be making the show due to pneumonia. This was such a pinnacle thing for the fans. Lynch never plays with Dokken. Also, original drummer Mick Brown would be with the band as well. So this would be ¾’s of the original Dokken band. This would be a major highlight of the day.
My wife and I throughout the day, were luckily enough to meet a large amount of people. We talked to whoever would talk to us. It was yet again, that community of people that had come together and shared common ground. There was a couple that we had met that were sitting right behind us, we made introductions and quickly found out that they had drove from Texas to see Dokken because George Lynch would be there. They wouldn’t find out about his cancellation until they made it to the venue that morning. They were very disappointed, but still made the best of it.
As Dokken hit the stage, I quickly noticed that of course no Lynch, but no Mick Brown either. Who was on the stage? I didn’t recognize any of the band’s members. How did the Don Dokken solo band sound? Well, good I guess. I was so uninterested. My wife and I stayed for those four songs and hunger set it. We made the decision to leave the Dokken train wreck. We would venture to a restaurant called Union Jack’s. This was the place where Kip Winger had done an acoustic set on Thursday night as a pre-party to the M3 event. This would be an early evening turn in for us. Or so we thought. We finally headed back to our hotel around 1:00 am. I have to laugh to myself, back in the day I would have never abandoned a Dokken show. When it was Dokken, Lynch, Brown and bassist Jeff Pilson, the band was a force to be reckoned with, but as the years have passed it has almost become Spinal Tap. So here it is, Dokken is still gracing the stage down the street and we are at Union Jack’s enjoying a night of karaoke. I guess, in terms of Dokken, he was doing karaoke too, or his band was. You choose.
Jeff Onorato: Dokken’s performance at M3 was originally advertised as a semi-reunion of original members and was set to include guitarist George Lynch and drummer Mick Brown. Dokken were subsequently given the closing slot on day three, only to see the cancellation of Lynch and Brown at the last minute. Sadly, I think a lot of attendees left early as a result of this. Dokken followed Vince Neil’s performance with what was essentially a Don Dokken solo show. Kicking off with the Dokken classic “Paris Is Burning”, it seemed like Don was either having vocal issues or his vocals weren’t up high enough in the mix. This would continue into “The Hunter” as well. The band sounded great, but for a Dokken performance, I need to hear the vocals and harmonies more clearly. A series of Dokken hits followed by way of “Breaking The Chains”, “Into The Fire” and “Kiss of Death” — all superbly delivered.
Don spoke of writing the hit “Dream Warriors” for his “friend Robert Englund for the best of all the Nightmare on Elm Street movies” before breaking into the song. In addition to whatever was going on with the vocals, Don seemed to be having problems with his guitar amp, as he made repeated attempts to go back and address the issue while his bandmates played on. “Just Got Lucky” and “Alone Again” followed before the band played an extended version of “Too High To Fly.” Guitarist Jon Levin performed a lengthy guitar solo through the middle of the song that was absolutely phenomenal. So good that it actually had me thinking “George who?” to myself. Another pair of Dokken classics — “It’s Not Love” and “In My Dreams” — closed out their set.
01. Paris Is Burning
02. The Hunter
03. Breaking The Chains
04. Into The Fire
05. Kiss of Death
06. Dream Warriors
07. Just Got Lucky
08. Alone Again
09. Too High To Fly
10. It’s Not Love w/ snippet of All Right Now (Free cover)
11. In My Dreams
Dokken performing “Kiss of Death”, “Dream Warriors” and “Just Got Lucky” live at the M3 Rock Festival on May 5, 2019:
Kiss of Death & Dream Warriors & Just Got Lucky, Dokken, M3 Festival, Merriweather Post Pavilion, Columbia, Maryland; May 5th, 2019; Day 3 of the Festival, Final act of the Festival, (Mick Brown didn’t play drums at this show)
Jeff Onorato: All in all, it was a fantastic showing this year at M3. A few minor quibbles aside, most of the bands were amazing and I’m already looking forward to next year. I was thinking about who I would like to see included and created my own “wish list”. I’d love to see Jetboy, Roxy Blue, Spread Eagle, Hardline, Dangerous Toys, Y&T, Gilby Clarke, Ugly Kid Joe or the Sleeze Beez added to the talent roster in 2020!