DAY TWO ENDS STRONGLY WITH WHITESNAKE, WARRANT, FIREHOUSE & ADLER
Date: May 4, 2019
Venue: Merriweather Post Pavillion
Location: Columbia, Maryland, USA
Event: M3 Rock Festival
Reviewers: Tyson Briden and Jeff Onorato
Photos: Christopher Carroll ROCK Photography
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 and Part One of Day Two.
Tyson Briden: I am not sure if anyone else caught onto this scenario or not, but it seemed only fitting that L.A. Guns and Steven Adler would be sandwiched within the festival back to back. With there being the early history of Axl Rose and Tracii Guns, it seemed like a very organic move. Was there ever a time where Guns N’ Roses and L.A. Guns have actually shared a stage together? Anyone? That seems kind of cool — maybe? It’s so long ago and so many member changes since, that in 2019, is there really much relevance?
Regardless, former Guns N’ Roses drummer Steven Adler was there. When he took the stage, there was something cool about seeing him behind the kit. This was the first time I had actually seen him behind the drums. In the early ’90s, I was witness to the second version of Guns N’ Roses at the CNE Grandstand in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Matt Sorum was behind the drums on that day with the rest of the band’s original line-up intact. Guitarist Izzy Stradlin would leave a few months later as the band embarked on the release of Use Your Illusion I and II. So by the time I had seen the band, Adler’s time had already expired.
It was very cool to see Adler start the set with “Reckless Life.” That was very unexpected. It kind of reminded you that Adler was a pinnacle force behind the danger and excitement that Guns N’ Roses possessed on that early work. In some ways, it’s a legacy that lives on in the hearts of the fans. Those songs from the first album and EP will always be special to those that grew up in that time. I still recall my first listen to Appetite For Destruction. To be honest, I thought Axl’s voice was too weird, but like looking at a car crash, I couldn’t stop myself from listening. I was committed to the intensity and the sheer vulgarity of it all. Hell, it had a warning sticker on it, so it had to be good. Angst toward teachers, preachers, politicians and parents. This was everything your mother didn’t want you listening to. I know at the time, Tipper Gore was a big fan!
As you read the setlist at the bottom of the review, it may seem funny that a song from Use Your Illusion II was included in the set. “You Could Be Mine” could be considered a track that Adler was not a part of, but going back in Guns N’ Roses history, it is has been written in certain publications that this song was actually left off of Appetite For Destruction, so Adler is indeed a huge part of the sound of this particular song. It would have most likely been his drum intro that Matt Sorum would duplicate in the studio. In some ways, this song, although not actually on the record, the lyric, “With your bitch slap rappin’ and your cocaine tongue” made it into the liner notes of Appetite. With that said, it was surprising that the band did not do “Civil War” as this is the last known track that Adler was a part of before he was asked to leave Guns N’ Roses. Possibly it was due to time restraints as this is a particularily long song, but still very much a crowd pleaser.
So how did Adler do conveying the Guns N’ Roses approach? Well, at first I was skeptical about the singer. He came out wearing a ball cap backwards. Then when he spoke, it was a different voice than I had expected. Considering the fact that he nailed Axl Rose really well, it was very strange to hear him speak. He was soft spoken and seemed very flattered by the attention he was receiving from the audience. Although, I will say, there was a point where a very drunk guy stood up and told him to get off the stage. Uncalled for, but no matter what, you can’t please everyone. Anyways, by the end of the show, he had gotten my attention, the ball cap was gone and I came away feeling confident that Steven Adler and his band were indeed the real deal. I look forward to the future of this band as they come across tight, cohesive and professional. It can always be said about Adler, that he always does his best to do the Appetite music the justice it truly deserves. Factor in the fact that he always seems genuinely happy, I think that stands for something as well! Well done.
Jeff Onorato: Steven Adler has assembled an incredible roster of musicians for his current incarnation of what seems to be Adler’s Appetite. Their set would prove to not only be a rocking trip down memory lane, but also an homage to his former band Guns N’ Roses. With a setlist of songs that are simply beloved by rock n’ roll fans, it came as no surprise that opener “Reckless Life” was met with an approving roar from M3 attendees. The roar of the audience was countered with “Nightrain” from Appetite For Destruction. Hailing all the way from Argentina, frontman Ari Kamin did a truly remarkable job of delivering the Guns N’ Roses material and even mimicked Axl’s stage moves perfectly. Before breaking into “Patience”, Kamin spoke humbly to the captive listeners about seeing his dreams realized while playing at M3. The Adler track “Good To Be Bad” was up next and would be the only non-Guns N’ Roses number in the set that evening. It fit right in alongside the older classics. Use Your Illusion II was represented via their next song “You Could Be Mine.” It proved to be the only showing from the 1991 albums. Guitarist Michael Thomas was also in fine form, perfectly covering Slash’s lead guitar parts on the next trio of Appetite selections — “Mr. Brownstone”, “Sweet Child O’ Mine” and “Rocket Queen.” “Welcome To The Jungle” was up next, before Steven Adler took over the microphone to jokingly rev up the crowd before their smoking finale of “Paradise City.”
Steven Adler’s setlist:
01. Reckless Life
03. Patience [acapella]
04. Good To Be Bad
05. You Could Be Mine
06. Mr. Brownstone
07. Sweet Child O’ Mine
08. Welcome To The Jungle
09. Paradise City
Steven Adler performing “Reckless Life”, “Nightrain” and “XXX” live at the M3 Rock Festival on May 4, 2019:
Reckless Life & Mr Brownstone, Steven Adler’s Appetite, M3 Festival, Merriweather Post Pavilion, Columbia, Maryland; May 4th, 2019; Day 2 of the Festival
Tyson Briden: On this day, this would be my third time seeing FireHouse in two years. In terms of the performance, as always, they were great. On this occasion, the band would perform one of my all-time favorite tracks, “Don’t Walk Away.” In the past, the band had not done this song. I think in the past, the band’s set was slighter shorter, so that song may not have been feasible. Of the 12 tracks on the band’s debut album, eight would be performed on this day. Honestly, my hope is the next time I see the band, they may add a few more tracks from the second album Hold Your Fire. Possibly, “Sleeping With You Tonight” or “Mama Didn’t Raise No Fool”, but don’t take this as a complaint towards FireHouse because they played a rocking set. From my perspective, there is so much good material on those first two albums that it must be hard for them to choose what the audience might be most receptive too. I have to be honest that I was listening to the band more than seeing them. It was at this point that my wife and I had decided to purchase some overpriced food. I must say though, the nachos we ate were really good, so well worth the money. Yet again though, this is the US. This was the time that we would head over to the merch booth and run into L.A. Guns and Mike Pont. Overall, what was heard coming from the stage was great.
Jeff Onorato: Veteran rockers FireHouse delivered a high energy performance in the latter part on Day Two. Frontman C.J. Snare is still in top form vocally and seemed to have no trouble hitting all the high notes that night. “Overnight Sensation” got things rolling and would be one of many tracks FireHouse played from their debut album. The band’s 2003 album Prime Time got some attention with “Crash” which always goes over very well live. As much as I love their earlier albums, I always enjoy hearing more current songs in their set too. Bassist Allen McKenzie and guitarist Bill Leverty stayed behind their microphones for most of the show, delivering back up vocals and solid performances while Snare traversed the stage and entertained throughout the set. It was fun to hear him reminisce between songs about touring with Warrant many years ago, and sharing a bill with them many years later.
The blistering trio of “Shake & Tumble”, “Oughta Be A Law” and “All She Wrote” then followed before the band slowed things down briefly for ballad “When I Look Into Your Eyes” from Hold Your Fire. “Lover’s Lane”, “Don’t Walk Away” and the hit “Love of A Lifetime” were next before the band cranked out the first single from their second album, “Reach for the Sky, with excellent results. Their encore that evening first started with a teasing “acapella version” of “Don’t Treat Me Bad” before giving way to the classic version of the original. With one of the longer sets on Day Two (going on before Warrant), it would have been nice to hear FireHouse pepper in a track or two from their Category 5 or O2 releases, which went unrepresented. I was pleased to hear them play “Crash” from Prime Time, but aside from that song and two tracks from Hold Your Fire, they pretty much stuck to their debut.
01. Overnight Sensation
03. Shake & Tumble
04. Outta Be A Law
05. All She Wrote
06. When I Look Into Your Eyes
07. Lover’s Lane
08. Don’t Walk Away
09. Love Of A Lifetime
10. Reach For The Sky
11. Don’t Treat Me Bad
FireHouse performing “All She Wrote” live at the M3 Rock Festival on May 4, 2019:
M3 2019 FIREHOUSE
Tyson Briden: For many, it may be hard to believe that I would make Warrant my number one of the whole weekend as it seems from reading the other rankings, that most didn’t feel that way. So, before I actually begin, I want to explain myself slightly. When I rank a band’s performance, it’s not all about how the crowd reacts or how the general fan may perceive it. It’s many variables that help me come to my conclusion. Possibly little nuances that most listeners wouldn’t hear. I take into consideration the fact that the band has worked hard to achieve a great live show. When you consider many ’80s bands, it’s not all about getting onstage and just playing live. With the amount of huge production in the ’80s, it can sometimes be hard to duplicate what was put to record. This may be why Def Leppard is my favorite all-time live band. To duplicate what Mutt Lange had the band put to tape and make it sound great can be somewhat of a challenge. Sometimes my perception maybe totally different than the average listener.
In terms of Warrant’s performance, what stood out to me were two very important aspects. The harmony background vocals and the guitar solos. Since Warrant are out supporting the Dirty 30 Tour, they would do eight of the ten tracks from the band’s Dirty Rotten Filty Stinking Rich album. The two tracks they left out were “In The Sticks” and “Riding High” which if I had my way would have been in the set. Warrant nailed this album. Yes, of course singer Jani Lane was not singing these songs from this classic album, but I have to say Robert Mason did an amazing job of making it 100% believable. Honestly though, it’s Robert Mason, so in my eyes it will always be stellar. DRFSR has a lot of layers on the production side. There’s a lot of vocals in the backgrounds which require precise harmonies. Warrant nailed those easily. Every guy on that stage was singing at some point. Of course, Mason would recognize the vocal talents of drummer Steven Sweet. As I’ve mentioned in the past, Sweet is the guy carrying all those high harmonies. It was nice to see Sweet back behind that kit. Cheers to you Steven Sweet!
What also impressed me were guitarist Erik Turner and Joey Allen. I think on this album, more than any Warrant album that followed, the two played off of each other. In some spots, the solos would bleed into each other. They would just mesh. Turner and Allen nailed that aspect to a tee! Back in the day, for those that have seen a Warrant show from the late ’80s / early ’90s, you can attest to the fact that they were unbelievably entertaining. It was always something to see. It was a balls out hard rock attack. Allen and Turner riding the shoulders of Jani Lane and bassist Jerry Dixon all while still playing and not missing a note. I could never understand why Warrant weren’t taken as seriously as they should have. It was five good looking guys, with a singer who could write a hell of a song with an intensely entertaining live show. It was a double edged sword, if you were a good looking band, you were kind of thrown under the bus. Look at how Beavis and Butthead used to annihilate Kip Winger. That dude is super talented, but his looks hurt him? That seems so stupid to me. I feel the fans still take that same approach with Warrant.
This band will never live up to what they were with singer Jani Lane. There will always be excuses. I will say this in this review right here, right now. Get over it. Warrant were one of the most entertaining and energetic bands at M3. I will say that until I am blue in the face. When you combine the amount of superb songs with the great musicianship, it is a given that band will blow your face off every time out. Now let’s not forget singer Robert Mason. Not only is he a supreme vocalist, but he’s a fantastic frontman who moves, shakes and spins his microphone around the stage. If you’ve been skeptical to like this band again, don’t. Warrant are always out playing around the U.S. on a regular basis. Do yourself a favor and go catch a live show and beforehand make sure you buy a copy of the band’s 2017 release Louder, Harder, Faster. It’s a must have for any hard rock fan. I myself am looking forward to seeing the band up here in Canada in July. My nine year old son has asked me to take him. As this will be his first official rock show, I am proud of the fact that he has chosen to see Warrant live. The only issue I have is that after that show, maybe everything else will be a let down (except for Def Leppard or Kix of course).
Jeff Onorato: Warrant were also celebrating a Dirty 30 milestone, the anniversary of their debut album Dirty, Rotten, Filthy, Stinking Rich. Kicking things off with “32 Pennies”, the band played songs from that album in near entirety. Robert Mason does an awesome job of singing Warrant material, old and new, and as a fan, I’m just happy to see the band carrying on. Returning drummer Steven Sweet was a welcome sight at the show, delivering not only his powerful drumming but his signature background vocals on almost all of the songs that night. “Down Boys” was their second song of the night and instantly recognizable. They followed it up with “Big Talk” and “Sometimes She Cries.” “So Damn Pretty” and the title track “D.R.F.S.R” were next. While it was nice to hear their older material, I enjoyed the more current / up-tempo songs. “Only Broken Heart”, “Hole In My Wall” and “Louder, Harder, Faster” came later in their set. Their popular Cherry Pie album was represented with several cuts from the album — “I Saw Red”, “Blind Faith”, “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” and the rowdy encore “Cherry Pie.” The band had one of the longest sets of the day, playing 16 songs.
01. 32 Pennies
02. Down Boys
03. Big Talk
04. Sometimes She Cries
05. So Damn Pretty (Should Be Against The Law)
06. Dirty Rotten Filthy Stinking Rich
08. Cold Sweat
09. Sure Feels Good To Me
10. I Saw Red
11. Only Broken Heart
12. Louder Harder Faster
13. Blind Faith
14. Uncle Tom’s Cabin
15. Cherry Pie
Warrant performing “32 Pennies”, “Down Boys”, “Big Talk” and “Sometimes She Cries” live at the M3 Rock Festival on May 4, 2019:
32 Pennies & Down Boys & Big Talk & Sometimes She Cares, Warrant, M3 Festival, Merriweather Post Pavilion, Columbia, Maryland; May 4th, 2019; Day 2 of the Festival, Dirty 30 Tour Tour
Tyson Briden: As Day Two drew to a close, it occurred to me that this may have been the best time I had had since the early ’90s. Band after band, I was entranced within the music. Singing along to every song. Moving and shaking in my seat. I don’t think I sat down for one single band. When Whitesnake arrived on the stage, I was still going strong. It had been a long day, but none of that mattered. At 44 years old, I still feel young at heart. It’s events like this one that still make me feel that way.
The band came out abruptly and the huge crowd went into a frenzy. The stage was perfect with Whitesnake screenings in front of the amps and a huge video backdrop of the new album Flesh & Blood. My biggest fear of the performance was how I would feel about Doug Aldrich not gracing the Whitesnake stage. This was my first time seeing the band without him. Well, I have to be honest, within minutes, I was sold on the current line-up of Whitesnake. What was thrilling about this show was the anticipation of how much material the band would do off the new album Flesh & Blood. As a long-time Whitesnake fan, I love hearing the classic songs, but it’s nice to hear fresh, new material. Whitesnake did not disappoint me as the band did five songs off the terrific Flesh & Blood album. Of course, the band played standards like “Slide It In”, “Is This Love” and of course “Still of The Night” but to hear the new songs by the line-up that recorded that material is always thrilling. That’s one of those things about seeing a band with a revolving circle of hired guns. The interpretation of the classic material can sometimes leave you disappointed in terms of accuracy, so with the band doing the new material, you know those musicians that played on that album will have it down perfectly.
With that said, in terms of the classic material, I think at times some guitar solos may have been interpreted differently than how they have originally been recorded. I find that guitarist Reb Beach, who does a great job, does stray slightly from what I have become accustomed to, but I am that guy that memorizes in my head every nuance of every part. Sometimes, it’s a bitter pill to swallow as you can be jaded by the performance because you know the music too well. Reb Beach comes with a serious pedigree, so who am I to say what is right or wrong. The same can be said of his counterpart guitarist Joel Hoekstra who is a truly amazing talent in his own right. Combined together, they are a force to be reckoned with.
Of course, a Whitesnake review would not be complete without mentioning the amazing talent of drummer Tommy Aldridge. When I think of Whitesnake, besides singer David Coverdale, Aldridge is Whitesnake. There are those who have come before him, after him and so forth, but none execute the Whitesnake music with such force. To see him pounding those skins, still in his early ’70s says a lot. Aldridge has kept his body in such a shape that he is still able to rock out like he did in the ’80s. Hats off to you Tommy Aldridge.
As for David Coverdale — well, how can I ever say anything bad about a man who has created great music for over 40 years. There are those that feel his best days vocally are behind him, but I challenge you to sing like you did in your mid ’30’]s, if you could even sing at all to begin with. It is easy to point fingers when you’re the amateur critic, but until you’ve walked a mile in a man’s shoes, you really can’t say a thing.
The great thing about Whitesnake is that Coverdale has been smart enough to hire younger musicians who can sing their asses off. It helps immensely if Coverdale is having an off night. Compared to some of Coverdale’s contemporaries, who you will hear of in the Day 3 review, Coverdale still blew them off the stage with great charisma, a charming personality and a super tight band behind him. Overall, Whitesnake, as always put on a stellar performance. Coverdale, as he always does, said it perfectly at the end of the show, “Be Safe, Be Happy and Don’t Let Anybody Make You Feel Afraid!” Well put Mr. Coverdale!
Jeff Onorato: The house was jam-packed by the end of night #2 to see legendary frontman David Coverdale and Whitesnake perform. For the most part, the band more than delivered. The band kicked off their set with “Bad Boys” from their successful self-titled album before moving into another classic, “Slide It in.” With world class musicians and a broad catalog of hits to choose from, it would be hard for them to go wrong. Their newest album, Flesh & Blood, was only about a week shy of its release date. Naturally, the band worked hard to promote the upcoming release. “Gonna Be Alright” was the first showing from the album that night as evident on the three large overhead screens in the venue. Their backdrop changed to the Flesh & Blood album cover whenever a song from it was being performed. “Love Ain’t No Stranger” thankfully took things back into familiar territory for a bit before the band kicked into “Hey You (You Make Me Rock)”.
My only complaint with Whitesnake’s performance was the inclusion of so many new songs. As of May 4th, the album was still a few days shy of its release. Consequently, it was my first time hearing “Gonna Be Alright”, “Shut Up & Kiss Me” or “Trouble Is Your Middle Name”. The songs themselves were not bad by any means, but I thought that some of the momentum of the show was halted as most of the audience not familiar with the yet-to-be released material. Guitarists Reb Beach and Joel Hoekstra faced off in a guitar duel that was nothing short of phenomenal. Drummer Tommy Aldridge also delivered an absolutely super-human solo that had me in awe as he played part of his solo with his hands! “Give Me All Your Love”, “Here I Go Again” and encore “Still of the Night” rounded out their set and David Coverdale offered up the advisory to “never let anyone make you afraid.”
01. Bad Boys
02. Slide It In
03. Gonna Be Alright
04. Love Ain’t No Stranger
05. Hey You (You Make Me Rock Hard)
06. Slow And Easy
07. Trouble Is Your Middle Name
08. Joel Hoekstra/Reb Beach Guitar Solo
09. Shut Up And Kiss Me
10. Get Up
11. Drum Solo
12. Get Up (Reprise)
13. Is This Love
14. Give Me All Your Love Tonight
15. Here I Go Again
16. Still Of The Night
Whitesnake performing “Bad Boys”, “Slide It In”, “Gonna Be Alright” and “Love Ain’t No Stranger” live at the M3 Rock Festival on May 4, 2019:
Bad Boys & Slide It In & Gonna Be Alright & Love Aint No Stranger, Whitesnake, M3 Festival, Merriweather Post Pavilion, Columbia, Maryland; May 4th, 2019; Headliner for Day 2 of the Festival, Flesh and Blood Tour
The ‘After-Party’ at The Sheraton:
On this night, we would be walking to the after-party. It was close by and not raining. Somehow, we ended up with a whole entourage of people walking to the Sheraton Hotel. It was really good though because we all helped each other to reach our destination. I am proud to say, that with so much common ground, which is music, the community of ’80s hard rock fans helping each other and getting along is astounding. When we think about how messed up this world can be, it gives me so much hope. As I have stated in the past, there are times where I feel like the world has passed me by in terms of music and culture. What this festival did for me was not only re-institute my faith in society, but also put me in a place where I felt comfortable once again. It has been a long road since the early ’90s. This was a time where I really felt as though I had a place that fit me, not me fitting to the place.
I find it funny because I think back to something my good friend Ernie once said to me. He was having a conversation with a colleague who he was talking to about an ’80s hard rock band. That person said, “Oh, I used to listen to that band!” Ernie would sarcastically turn to them and say, “And why don’t you listen to them now?” For guys like us, it makes no sense how someone can forget about their roots of what moulded them in their teenage years. I have other buddies that just don’t even acknowledge that they used to love this music. It really becomes frustrating and really puts you in the mindset that some people really only do follow trends. The percentage of those I choose to be friends with still love and listen to the ’80s hard rock genre. It is what moves us. That is why we’re the best of friends. So imagine how I felt at the M3 Rock Festival. Thousands of like-minded people that loved the music I loved. If you were standing in a line somewhere, you’d overhear someone talking about a band, it would be very hard to not intervene within the conversation. Now, in some parts of the world, this would be frowned upon, but within the ’80s hard rock community, everyone is open to discussion about the bands they love. This was like the Woodstock of 2019. Peace, love, happiness and hair rock! Now you know why the 50th anniversary show of Woodstock was really cancelled. It was already taking place in Columbia, Maryland (just kidding)!
This night would be much more reserved than the night before. I would run into Bruno Ravel, Steve West, Mike Pont and Kelly Nickels as they were all congregated in the bar area. Bruno and I would have a great conversation as we always do. Funny how we actually got onto a conversation about Canadian band, Saints And Sinners. The night before we were discussing them and I pulled out my phone — lo and behold I had the whole album. We laughed. It was kind of one of my many ‘geek’ moments of the weekend, but folks that’s me. Honestly, I am not afraid to be who I am. I’m proud of it! So there you have it. I call this Confessions of a Sleaze Roxx writer!
As the evening was quickly coming to a close, I was walking towards the entrance and I ran into Black ’N Blue guitarist Brandon Cook. I walked over and said, “Hey Brandon, it’s Tyson!” He looked me up and then he looked me down and said, “Tyson Briden?” “Yeah man! How are you brother?” We made our way outside as my wife and I had called for an Uber. As we waited, we conversed. I was actually surprised to see he was still there. He mentioned that the other members of Black ’N Blue had left, but he was staying for the whole weekend to check out all the bands. Look at that folks, he’s not only a band member, but a fan too! Go figure. We then got on the conversation about our careers in tribute bands. Me being in a Bon Jovi tribute at one time and him still being in a Guns N’ Roses tribute. It was pretty cool to compare stories on how we both got into that area of music and how enjoyable the experience truly is or in my case, was. Within minutes, our Uber arrived and my wife cut Brandon and I off mid-sentence as she did not want to leave the Uber driver hanging. We made plans to possibly meet up the next day, but unfortunately our paths did not cross, but hopefully they will again this summer in Welland, Ontario as Black ’N Blue are slated to play the Hair In The Fair festival. Until tomorrow… sleep tight kids!