Rocktember Festival Day Two Concert Review

ROCKTEMBER FESTIVAL 2015 DAY TWO

Date: September 12, 2015
Venue: Grand Casino
Location: Hinckley, Minnesota, USA
Reviewer: Metal Headz Media
Photos: Metal Headz Media

Day 2 of Rocktember kicked off with Eric Martin from Mr. Big playing an acoustic set. The show was scheduled to start at 1 pm. We got to the amphitheater at 12:50 to find out that Martin was already performing on stage. When we walked in, there was about 100-150 hungover fans (previous night was a party) watching Martin along with guitarist Howie Simon playing with him. Martin sounded great, and the five songs we did hear, were Mr. Big songs, and they sounded very good acoustically. When we got there, he was playing “Daddy, Brother, Lover, Little Boy” and went right into “Alive and Kickin.” The highlight of his show was when the members of Trixter came out to do backup vocals for the massive hit “To Be With You.”   Martin did all that he could to keep the crowd entertained, but I would have rather seen the full band Mr. Big tear the roof off that place.

Eric Martin’s setlist (from what I saw when I got there):
01. Daddy, Brother, Lover, Little Boy
02. Alive & Kickin
03. Wild World
04. Take Cover
05. To Be With You (with Trixter)

Besides Candlebox from the previous night, Saliva was the other band I felt didn’t belong. They kicked their set off with “Ladies and Gentleman” from their album Blood Stained Love Story. For those of you not familiar with Saliva, they replaced their long time vocalist (1996-2012) Josey Scott, who became a born again Christian. In his place was Bobby Amaru who did a great job as the “new” front man for this well-known band. The second song, “Army” was the only newer song to feature Amaru on an album, while the rest of the set was filled with their biggest hits. Saliva’s stage presence is one that is hard to beat. These guys are up there to kick your ass and have fun at the same time. At one point during the show, guitar player Jonathan Montoya laid flat on his back while someone poured beer down his throat. These boys were ready to party, but not too much because they had another show that night a few towns away. The last song of their set was “Your Disease” and the majority of the crowd was singing along during the chorus. I know that Saliva won some new fans after this show and being part of this festival gave them exposure to people that probably wouldn’t go see them on their own.

Saliva’s setlist:
01. Ladies And Gentleman
02. Army
03. Superstar
04. Survival Of The Sickest
05. Click Click Boom
06. Your Disease

One of the bands I was most excited to see on the second day of Rocktember was Trixter. I have been a fan of theirs since their self-titled release in 1990. They just released a brand new album (with all original members), Human Era, and it has been well received by their fans. They also released a single/video for the song “Rockin’ To the Edge of the Night” and that was the first song of the day from them. This was my third time seeing them and I enjoyed every one of them. This band sounds amazing live and you can tell they are having a great time on that stage with the looks on their face and their stage presence. Their set consisted of songs from all their major album releases except their Undercovers album, with the majority of the songs being from their first release. Guitarist Steve Brown is fun to watch because of the passion and energy he puts into his performance. He constantly has a smile on his face while playing and is always on the move. Drummer Mark “Gus” Scott pounds those drums like he is on a mission. Bassist P.J. Farley keeps the rhythm going with Scott while providing back-up vocals as well. Vocalist Pete Loran sounded amazing and was hitting all the notes that he is supposed to. The highlights from their set were “Rockin Horse,” “Line of Fire,” and “Give It to Me Good.” If you get the chance to see this band live, I would highly recommend it. They are just one of those feel good rock and roll bands that will always put you in a good mood, no matter what mood you are in.

Trixter’s setlist:
01. Rockin’ To The Edge Of The Night
02. Heart Of Steel
03. Rockin’ Horse
04. Tattoos and Misery
05. One In A Million
06. Line Of Fire
07. Give It To Me Good

Besides Phil Lewis and Steve Riley, L.A. Guns have had a revolving door of guitar and bass players. The current guitarist is Michael Grant, former lead singer and guitarist for Endeverafter. The bass duties are done by Kenny Kweens, who was once in Joe Leste‘s (Bang Tango) fronted band Beautiful Creatures (who also had DJ Ashba on their first album). Since they are now a four piece, Lewis also played rhythm guitar while handling the vocal duties. By this time, the amphitheater was a full house of crazed fans ready for some kick ass rock n roll. L.A. Guns are the kings of sleaze and their set proved just that. They got things off with “Show No Mercy,” “Showdown (Riot On Sunset),” and “Sex Action.” What a great three song set to start off their show. The crowd was rockin at this point as the band sounded awesome. Grant was doing a great job filling the “big shoes” of Tracii Guns and his amazing guitar playing on the albums he was a part of. At one point during the show, Lewis was proud of Grant’s playing and made the sly comment, “Tracii who?” That comment got some mixed signals from the crowd, but Grant did a good job showing them that he is more than capable. The one surprise song of the day was “Hellraisers Ball” from the underrated album, Waking The Dead. I always enjoy it, when a band that still puts out albums, will play a song or a “deep cut” during their live shows. It was a pleasant surprise for me, but I can’t speak for the crowd. The last three songs were fan/crowd favorites: “Electric Gypsy,” “Ballad of Jayne,” and “Rip and Tear.” L.A. Guns did put on a great show and I am happy that they were part of this amazing two day festival.

L.A. Guns’ setlist:
01. Show No Mercy
02. Showdown (Riot On Sunset)
03. Sex Action
04. Never Enough
05. I Wanna Be Your Man
06. Over The Edge
07. Wheels Of Fire
08. Hellraisers Ball
09. Electric Gypsy
10. Ballad Of Jayne
11. Rip And Tear

After L.A. Guns, we were scheduled to interview Eric Martin and Trixter. We were not sure if it was going to be one after the other or do an interview with both of them together. While we were waiting backstage to be taken to the room, Stephen Pearcy of Ratt fame came out the door to smoke a cigarette. Pearcy was there to perform with Scrap Metal, who was to take the stage next. Scrap Metal consist of the Nelson brothers along with special guests that help them perform some of the classic ’80s rock songs. The line-up for them with Gunner and Mathew Nelson were drummer Jeff Bowder, special guests Pat Travers, Derek St. Holmes, Stephen Pearcy, guitarist Howie Simon (who also played with Eric Martin earlier in the day) and Brad Whitford. Since we had the interview, we did miss most of their show, but the songs we did catch were: St. Holmes performing Ted Nugent‘s “Hey Baby,” “Stranglehold” and “Cat Scratch Fever.” Stephen Pearcy came out next and performed “Lay It Down,” “Back for More,” and “Round and Round.” The finale was Brad Whitford playing “Last Child” and “Train Kept A Rollin,” to end their set list.

Now onto the interview that was scheduled, but what really happened can’t be considered an interview. We were brought to a room where Trixter and Martin were. They were having too much fun goofing around that we never really got to ask any serious questions. We did get one question in to Martin and we asked how he would rate his back-up singers from today’s performance and he said they were a “10!” They then proceeded to sing “To Be With You” and after that things just went off the hook. It was a great experience to be in that room with all that craziness going on. I did tell them that since both bands have recently released new material, they should tour together because they get along so well. They said that could be an option, but that Billy Sheenan was going to be busy with sThe Winery Dogs and it would be hard for Mr. Big to tour within the next year.

One of the best performances from the weekend (top honors go to Twisted Sister) was Tom Keifer of Cinderella fame. Keifer released a solo album titled The Way Life Goes in 2013 and has been out on tour in support of that release for the last two years. His setlist does consist mostly of Cinderella tunes, but he did end up playing two from his solo release that night. I am sure if he was a headliner, the setlist would have more tracks from his solo effort. His show started off with one of my favorite Cinderella tracks, “Bad Seamstress Blues/Fallin’ Apart At The Seams.” Keifer and his band were on fire the entire night and the crowd was enjoying ever lick from their show. He filled his set with all the big hits from Cinderella and had the packed crowd singing every word to those songs. Keifer really doesn’t do much to interact/talk with the crowd, because he mostly lets the music do his talking. I think most of the fans are ok with that because I like it when bands can fill their setlist with most of their songs as possible and do less talking. One of his staples on this tour is to have his wife, Savannah Snow help him sing “Don’t Know What You Got Till Its Gone” from the album Long Cold Winter. Snow is also one of the back-up singers during the show as well. Towards the end of the show, Keifer threw in a couple of cover tunes. The first one was “It’s Only Rock and Roll” from The Rolling Stones which then went into “With A Little Help From My Friends” by The Beatles. He did such an amazing job on that cover, that I hope he will record it some day on one of his albums. The closer was the fan favorite “Gypsy Road.” Once that song was done, I was shocked to see about a third of the crowd left for the evening, especially with Ace and Twisted Sister still having yet to perform.

Tom Keifer’s setlist:
01. Bad Seamstress Blues/Fallin’ Apart at the Seams
02. It’s Not Enough
03. Somebody Save Me
04. Shake Me
05. Heartbreak Station
06. Don’t Know What You Got (Till It’s Gone)
07. Nobody’s Fool
08. Solid Ground
09. Night Songs
10. Coming Home
11. Shelter Me
12. It’s Only Rock n Roll
13. With a Little Help From My Friends
14. Gypsy Road

The space invader himself, Ace Frehley, was the co-headliner for day 2. It did take some time for Frehley to hit the stage (which we later found out forced Twisted Sister to cut a song from their set, and they were not happy). When they came out, they tore into “Rocket Ride” which is most famous from being on the album KISS Alive II. When the first few notes hit, it was obvious that the sound guy turned up the volume during Frehley’s set. This was the first time during the festival that it felt like I needed ear plugs. It was that loud! Frehley’s song selection of the night had tracks from his solo efforts and KISS, the band he once played lead guitar for. This was my first time seeing Frehley live, so I am not sure if it is common for him in the past to have his band sing lead vocals on so many of the songs. Frehley’s drummer sang two songs “Love Gun” and “Detroit Rock City, the bassist sang “Strange Ways,” and the guitarist sang “Breakout.” All of them sounded great singing those songs, but I would still rather hear Ace sing them himself. Frehley carried on his tradition with the flashing lights on his guitar during the song “New York Groove.” He also had the smoke coming from his guitar during his raging solo. All and all, it was a great show, but I really wish he would have hit the stage on time so Twisted Sister could have played “Come Out and Play,” and that he would have played “Rock Soldiers.”

Ace Frehley’s setlist:
01. Rocket Ride
02. Give Me A Reason Gimme A Feelin’
03. Parasite
04. Love Gun
05. Breakout
06. Space Invader
07. Snowblind
08. Strange Ways
09. New York Groove
10. Shock Me
11. Guitar Solo (Ace Frehley)
12. Rip It Out
13. Detroit Rock City
14. Deuce

The headliner of the weekend was none other than Twisted Sister. I was never a big Twisted Sister fan, but I am familiar with some of their songs as I do own one of their greatest hits compilation and Stay Hungry. After their performance, I am now a Twisted Sister fan and will be going out to get a few more of their albums. The show started off with the band on stage playing “What You Don’t Know (Sure Can Hurt You).” Right before the vocals kicked in, Dee Snider came racing out on stage setting the pace for the night. Right then, I knew I was in for the ride of my life. Snider did not stop jumping up and down and running around the stage all night. He is definitely one of the best front men in rock n’ roll. Twisted Sister will be throwing in the towel at the end of 2016 due likely in part to the death of their original drummer A.J. Pero. Fans wondered if they would ever get to see Twisted Sister ever again. Then along came Mike Portnoy to the rescue. He told the band if they wanted to finish out their career, that he would love for the opportunity to sit behind the kit and take Pero’s position so the fans can have one last “good-bye.” Twisted Sister made it very clear towards the end of the night that they are going to be done next year and that this could very well be the last time Minnesota will ever see Twisted Sister live again. They will only be playing selected shows next year and are not sure what 2016 is in store for them. Between songs, Snider did a great job interacting with the crowd and also provided some good humor. He went off on how people need to stop taking “selfies.” He said that is a complete waste of time and has to be one of the stupidest pictures that one can take. He also went off on the selfie stick too! Before they went into “I Wanna Rock,” Snider made a comment that he can actually sing all of his songs, unlike Vince Neil of Motley Crue. Neil has been criticized for only singing half of the lyrics and not completing the lines.

Besides Portnoy taking Pero’s place, all original members of Twisted Sister were on stage performing for Grand Casino. Bassist Mark “Animal” Mendoza was keeping the beats with Portnoy. Eddie Ojeda and Jay Jay French were handling the guitar duties, trading off licks, one after the other. A few more highlights from the night were when Snider was introducing the song, “The Price,” and how he cries every time they perform that song because it reminds him of Pero. The next song was “Burn In Hell,” which was followed by a video tribute to Pero. It was a performance clip of him doing a drum solo from years ago. Prior to the closer “S.M.F.,” French had his time to speak on how loyal the fans are and how Snider is one of the best front men of all time and he took a small jab at Paul Stanley. He also talked about how they had their differences, but he doesn’t want anyone else to take Snider’s place. Then Snider had his chance to say how grateful he was to live his dream and to still be able to perform these songs with the band that started it all.

I am now forever a Twisted Sister fan. It’s just too bad it took me this long to become a fan and now I am not sure if I will ever get to see them live again. I guess I will just have to wait and see what 2016 has in store for me.

Twisted Sister’s setlist:
01. What You Don’t Know (Sure Can Hurt You)
02. The Kids Are Back
03. Stay Hungry
04. The Beast
05. You Can’t Stop Rock ‘n’ Roll
06. We’re Not Gonna Take It
07. The Price
08. Burn In Hell
09. Tribute to Pero
10. I Wanna Rock
11. S.M.F.

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