ROCKLAHOMA 2008 Days One to Five
Show Date: July 9 to 13, 2008
Location: Pryor, Oklahoma, U.S.A.
Reviewer: Ray Miller – www.rockbiographer.com
Festival Website: www.rockfeverfest.com
‘The Rock Biographer’ Ray Miller, who is working on a book entitled “Pulling Your Hair Out – Stories of Decadence and Excess that Shaped 1980’s Metal”, has posted the following review of Day One of Rocklahoma 2008 at www.rockbiographer.com. Ray has dedicated his blog to his amazing wife Tina, and his incredible children Cody, Clay, Elizabeth and Austin. “Without your love and support I would not have the courage to live this dream.”
ROCKLAHOMA DAY 5 – JULY 13th, 2008 – Rocklahoma Concludes
First off folks, my apologies for my late review of day five. I returned from Oklahoma to my wife being admitted to the hospital for major surgery.
That being said, I want to thank each and every one of you for the kind words that you have sent to my e-mail in support of my reports. You have all been so kind, and I appreciate each and every one of you more than I can say. I also want to encourage you to sign the guestbook on the website and to continue checking back for updates on the book as I have tons of new material from the past five days.
Anyway, day five was just flat out amazing. The promoters got it right with the way the show finished, and I say that after initially having my doubts about the final day.
Each and every act today was nothing short of amazing. The day kicked off with Axe taking the stage at about 1:00 to a very enthusiastic crowd. The horrific storm from the previous day did absolutely nothing to dampen the spirits and enthusiasm of the crowd. I’m telling you, this fan base was not going to let anything get in the way of their good time. In this regard, the entire atmosphere resembled to the most minute detail exactly what Hollywood was all about in the early 1980’s…the party.
That was what made the whole scene so unique in rock and roll history. The music was the catalyst for the party, and the party literally never stopped. Sure, there were blips in the radar, and there were tragedies that occured such as the death of Razzle Dingly, Todd Crew and others. But the ability to heal, comfort one another, and move on was something that the people involved had mastered.
Anyway, I digress…
Axe hit the stage, and turned in nothing short of a masterful set. The band was never known for having enough hit material to put together a box set, but they have always been known for having a compelling state presence, and they did not disappoint. Personally, I have always enjoyed this band, so for me, the day started off with the bar set high.
After Axe came Zebra, a band that many people on the discussion boards for Fever Fest sold short, and at times were just plain insulting. I will say to all of those that dissed this group that you owe it to yourselves to revisit their catalog and see just what it was that you missed, not only 15 years ago, but still today.
Having lost their longtime manager a mere week ago, the band showed true class and professionalism by playing a set that was as good if not better than anything I have ever seen them do. The true fans of the genre that showed up to see this performance were treated to a collection of songs that were nothing short of brilliant. The one complaint I have always had about the band is that they don’t move around on stage much, so the show isn’t very visually exciting. But, if you are a fan of some intricate musical scores with a big synth sound, Zebra is the band you want to examine further.
UFO came next, and I have to say that this is the band I was looking forward to most all day. While UFO‘s peak popularity was prior to the 80’s, fans of the metal movement know that this band wrote and performed some of the most amazing music of our generation. These guys are musician’s musicians, and their ability to captivate an audience with nothing more than their incredible songwriting skills and live performance is renowned. I have never been disappointed in a UFO show, and this time was no different, as it really didn’t matter what was to come later in the day, this set was going to make the entire day worthwhile.
As a side note, emcee Eddie Trunk wound up coming out from backstage to “geek” in the front row for the last half of the set. The first half saw Eddie playing a mean air guitar at the side of the stage. Eddie has exemplary taste in music my friends!
Crowd favorite Steelheart was up next, and the crowd was whipped into a frenzy from the very first note. Propelled by the movie Rock Star, Steelheart has a legion of fans that are flat out nuts for these guys. I have never been a huge fan, but after seeing their live show, I have to admit that I am going to have to explore this band a little further to see why I missed them the first time around. Their performance was off the charts, and I take my hat off to them for taking a very difficult position in the days lineup and playing it for all it was worth.
Ace Frehley came next with his band that is literally half his age. The band needs to be that young to keep up with the enthusiasm that Ace attacks his music.
Playing a lot of his solo material, along with a few Kiss songs thrown in such as “Cold Gin”, Ace is just plain fun to watch. Ace threw in one little piece of pyro to end his set, which was just enough as the music was able to stand on it’s own merits. The pyro was kind of a throwback to the days of Kiss, but he didn’t really need it. Ace understands his fan base enough to know what they want, but has the presence of mind and the experience to also know what they need, and he flat out delivered as always. Seeing Ace live and in person was one of the highlights of this week.
Next up was Tesla, and I will flat out tell you that they delivered the very best performance of the entire week. These guys are consumate showmen, and they delivered a set that can be described as nothing short of perfect. Again, I can name plenty of bands whose music I would choose to listen to before I throw a Tesla disc in the player, but this show was just so well put together that I have to salute them.
Their set list was assembled exactly the way every band with the catalog they have should do it. Hit after hit after hit was what the crowd wanted, and hit after hit after hit was what Tesla gave them. I can’t say enough about how good this was, so let’s just say that if Rocklahoma were giving scores of 1-10 to the acts, Tesla would score an 11.
The festival concluded with Queensryche performing “Operation Mindcrime” in it’s entirety. Unlike all of the other performances before it, this show was theatrical in nature as the band turned into true storytellers. The album itself is a classic for this very reason, and the show did not disappoint. I have had the pleasure of seeing it on a much smaller scale, but witnessing it on a stage of this size enabled the band to really take the piece to unbridled levels.
The only mistake I think was made with Queensryche is their placement in the lineup. I believe the promoters should have closed the day with Tesla because of the free form concert experience that they provided. Having a regimented theatrical experience that started as late as it did made for a tough sell at points, but it was no less amazing as a result.
Well folks, that is it for Rocklahoma 2008. I want to thank each and every one of you for coming here daily for your information on the site. I also want to commend the folks at Event Management for giving this genre of music a place to live and thrive for a few days. Hair Metal gets knocked around quite a bit, but it’s importance in the world of rock and roll should never be sold short.
This music lives on for a reason…it was musically sound, and it was fun. The 1980’s were a time where rock and roll was still fun, and going back to revisit them was a trip worth taking. Thank you for taking the trip with me.
Please keep checking back here on the site for my book, which will take you deeper into the behind the scenes stories that paint a more complete picture of what the music was all about.
ROCKLAHOMA DAY 5 VIDEOS
Queensryche – Empire
Queensryche – Silent Lucidity
Tesla – Littel Suzi
Tesla – Signs
Ace Frehley – Parasite
Ace Frehley – New York Groove
Steelheart – Angel Eyes
Steelheart – Stand Up And Shout
Zebra – Tell me What You Want
ROCKLAHOMA DAY 4 – JULY 12th, 2008 – Potential Tragedy Averted
The potential for disaster was HUGE today, but by the grace of God no serious injuries have been reported.
While we all knew that a weather system was rolling in, those in attendence had no inkling that the violence and destruction that it was packing was part of the equation.
Packing 60+ mph winds and rain so thick you could almost cut it with a knife, the most violent part of the storm lasted about 45 minutes, during which time the two side stages collapsed onto themselves, snapping girders and throwing equipment into standing water that was up to eight inches deep in some places.
Only a handful of injuries occured, and of those only one required medical attention off site as the result of a broken arm. In the backstage area, while tents were leaning and on the verge of collapse everyone pitched in to work together for the safety of one and all. In the media tent, multiple people stepped up to hold posts upright as the tent shifted with a powerful strain against their efforts. Finally, the tent had to be evacuated as the pressure got to be too great. This was not an isolated story, as the stories that were told painted a beautiful picture of humanity at it’s best.
After the announcement was made by Eddie Trunk that there were no serious injuries, the show was on once again with some modifications in place for logistical purposes. With no side stages, main stage acts were hustled on and off a little quicker, and the show was completed by the four remaining acts.
I will be posting more in-depth reviews of the show later, but suffice to say that the Lynch Mob got everyone back into the groove with a terrific set. Oni Logan is just a superb vocalist, and what can be said about George Lynch that hasn’t already been written. The “Guitar Dojo” was spot on, as were Marco Mendoza and Fred Coury (Cinderella) who sat in on the drums. This band is tight and I want to see a complete set by them later this summer.
Kix is always an amazing act to witness live, and in the driving rain, they had the audience in the palm of their hand. From the look of things, they played a little longer than they were supposed to, but it was a welcome relief from what the afternoon had dealt to the crowd.
Lita Ford‘s triumphant return to the stage after nearly two decades was simply astounding. The set she turned in was as if she had never been gone. Lita‘s enthusiasm and passion for her music, and more importantly, her fans is unlike any in the business. When meeting with the press, Lita‘s first and foremost concern was for the fans in attendence and their safety. She was itching to get on stage and reward their diligence, and she flat out delivered.
On a side note, her keyboardist Michael Ross is one of the best in the business having played with Angel, Hardline, the Nelsons, and too many others to mention here. Michael is one of the great talents in the business, and one of the genuinely nice people in this world.
Closing out the night was Warrant. After the trainwreck that was their show last week in Las Vegas, the crowd was curious as to what they were going to get on this rainy and cold night. What they got was Jani Lane bringing his “A” game, which is admittedly not what it was in the 1980’s, but few of us can bring what we did all those many years ago.
The band was in great form, and the crowd was really into the music and the showmanship that Jani brought to the table. No matter what anyone says, the guy is putting forth the effort to give the people what they want, and for that he is to be held in high regard.
ROCKLAHOMA DAY 4 VIDEOS
Warrant – Uncle Tom’s Cabin
Warrant – Cherry Pie
Kix – Cold Shower
Kix – Same Jane
Lynch Mob – Hell Child
Tora Tora – Walkin’ Shoes
Tora Tora – Guilty
Aftermath Of The Storm
Aftermath Of The Storm
ROCKLAHOMA DAY 3 – JULY 11th, 2008
This place is loaded with musical freaks and downright geeks. Everywhere you turn you run into someone who knows intricate facts about the performers, and can geek out for hours on musical catalogs. I thought I knew music until I met some of these people!
The day kicked off with another inspired performance, this time by XYZ! The early bands have to contend with the disadvantage of smaller crowds due to either weather, but more often than not severe hangover and sleep deprivation. That being said, XYZ took the stage with energy and enthusiasm, and to their credit there were far more people in the audience when they left than when they arrived. In this venue, that is the true measure of your success in the early hours.
Next up was Armored Saint. There is no other way to say it than these guys just kicked ass. Their brand of metal was different from the rest of the genre back in the day, but their fan base is rabid, and for good reason. John Bush is one incredible showman, and after all this time, the man still has his chops.
Kicking off the afternoon portion of the day was the long awaited North American return of Kingdom Come. Vocalist/Guitarist Lenny Wolf has kept his voice in absolutely stellar condition, as it sounded just as it did some 18 years ago. The band’s biggest hit “Get it On” would also prove to be the song that plagued them for most of their career. Having been labeled a Led Zeppelin sound-alike, the criticism I believe was always unfair. Kingdom Come was a true pleasure to see on this hot and humid afternoon.
Living Colour rounded out the afternoon. I wish I could tell you more about their set, but I was otherwise occupied in press conferences for the duration of it.
Night Ranger opened the early evening hours with a mostly full audience. I had the chance to talk with Brad Gillis (guitar) before the show, and I have to say that he has a great sense of humor, and is everything you want these guys to be, most importantly, genuine.
The band took the stage to a crowd that was already on their feet. The cliche was thrown around a lot yesterday, from not only the folks in the audience, but from the great Eddie Trunk himself, so I feel comfortable in saying that Night Ranger proved “You Can Still Rock in America”.
This set was a genuine greatest hits collection, with a couple of songs from the newly release album thrown in. Folks, if you haven’t heard this new Night Ranger, they are much harder and edgier than ever before, and you owe it to yourself to get a copy of this new disk.
Extreme had the toughest role of the day…going on right before Triumph as the anticipation became palpable. Extreme also stopped by to talk with me, and both Gary Cherone and Nuno Bettencourt are extraordinarily nice men. You can tell when this band is on stage that they just enjoy the experience, and nothing feeds their souls more than the music and the appreciation shown by their fans.
I think a lot of people sold these guys short because of the vastly overplayed “More Than Words”, but for those true music aficionados, the guitar work of Nuno is a thing of legend. I never get tired of seeing this band.
Finally, at 11:30, Triumph hit the stage. The band was thirty minutes late because of a run in with the local police. The band’s limousine was stopped, and to make a long story short, the limo driver was reportedly hooked up and taken in, and the limousine was towed away.
The band was generous with their time, talking to both the press as well as holding a 1:00 a.m. meet and greet with their fans. These guys have a renewed enthusiasm for the music, and appear to genuinely like each other.
For the past few days, all you could hear from the musicians was that they couldn’t wait to see Rik Emmett (guitar) because of his legendary licks. I have to say, the man still has it…and then some!
Not to take anything away from either Gil Moore (drums) or Michael Levine (bass), but watching Rik Emmett caress that guitar is a thing of beauty, not only to the ears, but to the eyes. The guy in indeed a virtuoso.
Anyway, the show was everything you remember from Triumph. The light show (one of their trademarks) was intense, and the pyro was almost distracting to tell you the truth. Some bands need the smoke and bombs to cover for other shortcomings, but this band can do without them going forward because it really just seems out of place.
The band played many of their hits (listed below), but one of the surprises was a rendition of Joe Walsh‘s “Rocky Mountain Way” that had the crowd singing and swaying side to side. A nice little treat that nobody expected.
This show lived up to it’s billing and the wait was worth it. The band hinted that their may be a tour in Spring/Summer of 2009, and if it happens, do what you have to do to get there…it is a true no miss moment.
Triumph songs included: “Allied Forces”, “Never Surrender”, “Lay It On The Line”, “Hold On (acoustic)”, “I Live For The Weekend”, “Magic Power”, “Rock And Roll Machine (complete with drum solo)”, and “Fight The Good Fight”.
Tomorrow brings us the return of Warrant, Lita Ford, Kix, Lynch Mob, Trixter, Black N Blue, Tora Tora, Every Mother’s Nightmare and Pretty Boy Floyd.
ROCKLAHOMA DAY 3 VIDEOS
Triumph – Magic Power
Triumph – Never Surrender
Extreme – Hole Hearted/Communication Breakdown
Night Ranger – Touch Of Madness
Living Colour – Cult Of Personality
Kingdom Come – Do You Like It
Kingdom Come – Get It On
Armored Saint – Delirious Nomad
Banshee – Shoot Down The Night
ROCKLAHOMA DAY 2 – JULY 10th, 2008
And the rain continues…
The heaviest rain we’ve seen yet began about thirty minutes before Jetboy hit the stage, and lasted through their entire set. To their credit, Jetboy knew that the hundreds of fans braving the elements were die hard rock ‘n’ rollers, so they did like they do every time they hit the stage…they gave it 110 percent!
Jetboy‘s Mickey Fin, sporting his trademark mohawk, was off and running, going to the edge of the stage and standing in the rain with the crowd. “I figure that if they were gonna get wet, I was willing to sacrifice “the hawk” to do the same. His words were true as at the end of his set, the mohawk was drooping.
Jetboy had the crowd absolutely frenzied (the crowd literally never sat down) as they blazed through their classic songs, as well as their new “punked up” version of Folsom Prison Blues. The band ended their set with Feel The Shake, and with that the bar for the day was set high.
House Of Lords and Vain were the next acts up, and the rain continued through the House Of Lords set, and began to subside during the outing by Vain.
When L.A. Guns hit the stage, the rain was gone, the sun was out, and the band came prepared with everything they’ve got, and just blew the crowd away!
New singer Marty Casey (Rock Star INXS runner-up) performed in only his sixth show with the group, but you would never have known it from the way it went down. This band was tight, and the set was nothing short of inspiring.
It was apparent that Tracii Guns has a renewed enthusiasm for the band, if that is even possible. It was always obvious that Tracii‘s passion for the music was a mainstay of his performances, but the smile on his face during this show was a display of something different…a rebirth if you will. His guitar chops were solid, and his attitude was playful, and in my opinion, this ranks right up there with the best L.A. Guns has sounded since their days in Hollywood.
New to the set was a brilliant acoustic rendition of the Pink Floyd classic “Wish You Were Here” (Marty on acoustic, Tracii on electric), and “Trees”, a song penned by Marty Casey for the Rock Star show that proved to be hugely popular at the time. The songs obviously has legs because the approval from the crowd when it was announced was huge.
Songs included: “Ballad Of Jayne”, “Electric Gypsy”, “Never Enough”, “Sex Action”, “One More Reason”.
Dokken was up next, and Don Dokken brought his “A” game with him. Don was and still is the consummate showman, no matter who he is playing with. The only thing that could have made this set better would be if the baggage that has plagued the original members for far too long could be set aside to get this classic band back together in their original state.
Sebastian Bach and Bret Michaels rounded out the night. Sebastian was quite the gentleman back-stage, taking as much time as he possibly could to talk and sign autographs for fans. For all the knocks Sebastian takes from the rumor mill, my experience with him was not just pleasant, but memorable.
Tomorrow the big guns come out with Night Ranger, Extreme and the long awaited return of Triumph. More tomorrow my friends…
ROCKLAHOMA DAY 2 VIDEOS
Bret Michaels – Nothin’ But A Good Time
L.A. Guns – Never Enough (recorded by Justin Kuhns)
L.A. Guns – Sex Action (recorded by Justin Kuhns)
Enuff Z’Nuff – Fly High Michelle
Enuff Z’Nuff – Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door (with Joe LeSte, Tracii Guns and Steven Adler)
House Of Lords – Rock Bottom (recorded by Justin Kuhns)
Jetboy – Make Some Noise
Jetboy – Feel The Shake
ROCKLAHOMA DAY 1 – JULY 9th, 2008
On a day that brought heavy rain early, and mud so deep that with each step came the risk of sinking in up to your ankles, the world of rock and roll came together in Pryor to have a party.
Just like the 80’s, it was indeed all about the party, and the bands didn’t disappoint. The main stage opened with a high impact set from Firehouse. Lead singer C.J. Snare set the bar high for everyone else to come as he left the stage and made his way out into the crowd 8-10 rows deep. The electricity was palpable, and the party was on.
Next up was Jackyl with their southern brand of rock and roll that had the crowd mesmerized. I have to admit, this band has never been one of my favorites, but I have had the pleasure of seeing them live before and they always bring their “A” game. This time was no different as they played all of their hits, and closed the show with lead singer Jesse James Dupree being flown in over top of the band carrying his trademark chainsaw for “The Lumberjack Song”. While the whole thing may be a bit of shtick, it still works.
Closing out the night was Ratt who had the crowd worked up early. Ratt always puts on a great show, and this was no different. Again, they played everything you would want them to in a festival type of set.
With that being said, the highlight of the day came from Faster Pussycat. How these guys got relegated to the side stage is beyond me!
There is simply no other way to say it than that they kicked ass. The band has a catalog of hits that hard core rockers absolutely love, and seeing them live is always a treat. I can honestly say that I’ve never seen two Faster Pussycat shows that were the same, and this little gem was just that…a gem. By the time the band took the stage, the heat and humidity was unbearable, but the crowd completely forgot all of that and were totally absorbed in the showmanship of Taime Downe.
The band played cuts off of it’s new release, “The Power and the Glory Hole”, and I have to tell you that the new material is vintage stuff!
That’s it for today my friends…check back in tomorrow!
ROCKLAHOMA DAY 1 VIDEOS
Ratt – Lack Of Communication
Ratt – Back For More
THE ROAD TO ROCKLAHOMA
While working their way from California toward Pryor, Oklahoma for Rocklahoma, both Jetboy and Cockpit took some time out for intimate acoustic sets at a local Tulsa Guitar Center.
An enthusiastic crowd showed up to greet the bands, and both sounded tight and ready for the big stage in Pryor. “Doing these acoustic sets is a lot of fun, because they have kind of a “bluesy” feel to them” said Fernie Rod of Jetboy.
The raw, stripped down versions of “Bullfrog Pond”, “Folsom Prison Blues”, “Bad Disease” and a cover of “Great Balls Of Fire” were compelling in and of themselves, but watching Jetboy physically restrain themselves in an acoustic set was pure magic. This is a band that was built for hard driving electrical freedom, and you could tell that they were itching to pull out all the stops.
Tonight, both bands play The Backyard Bar in Tulsa in their final warm ups before heading to Rocklahoma. For those of you still on the bubble about showing up early on Thursday, do yourselves a favor and be there when the show starts. Jetboy could easily be the highlight of Thursday, and the last thing you want to do is regret missing the best show of the day because you sold this talented band short.Ray – www.rockbiographer.com