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For Chicagoans that grew up in the 1980’s music scene, we remember favorite rock clubs such as The Thirsty Whale, Chances R and Dirty Nellies where spandex and rayon were the materials of choice and eye-liner on Aqua-net sprayed, long-haired guys was all the rage. For the glam rock scene, Chicago was always the minor league affiliate (Single A) to its Los Angeles big brother, where new bands seemingly broke out nearly every week. Almost grinding hair bands out akin to a factory assembly line, Los Angeles set the bar for rock bands all across the world, its clubs The Whiskey a Go Go, Troubadour and The Roxy stepping stones for the next big thing. In “Rock of Ages” the hilarious 1980's musical, we are taken to Los Angeles where the fictional Bourbon Room, one of the last rock hold outs, is under the threat of eminent domain as big money developers have other plans for the property.

Club owner Dennis (riotously played by Chicago favorite Gene Weygandt) runs The Bourbon Room with his sidekick and fellow rocker Lonny (Nick Druzbanski), who also serves as the play’s narrator. Realizing the club’s days are numbered, the two decide to go all out by bringing back Arsenal, a major band that got the start from The Bourbon Room, to play their final show with lead singer and egomaniac, Stacee Jaxx, who is off to pursue a solo career.

And what would an 80’s musical be without a cheesy love story? Bar back and aspiring musician, Drew, is instantly love struck when Dennis hires Sherrie (of course a hopeful actress) to be the club’s new waitress. From there we root for The Bourbon club, along with those protesting the new corporate development, and also for Drew and Sherrie to find love.

“Rock of Ages” is a fun time capsule filled with 80’s rock classics that includes Warrant’s “Heaven”, Journey’s “Don’t stop Believin’”, Twisted Sister’s “We’re Not Gonna Take It”, “Extreme’s “More than Words” and many, many more. Though a parody of the era, “Rock of Ages” is an entertaining tribute to an age in music that, though considered kitschy by some, left a major impact in the world of music. The musical makes several 80’s refences that can’t help but make us forty-to-fifty-somethings laugh, such as Drew’s date with Sherrie where he tries to romance her with a four-pack of Bartles & James wine coolers.

The show boasts as good of a cast as one could ask for. Adam Michaels as self-aggrandizer and vulgar lead singer, Stacee Jaxx, is absolutely hysterical in the role. His moments are plenty as he puts on full display his great knack for physical comedy along with some pretty raging vocals. And as one who has seen this production more times than I remember, I can say quite confidently that Nick Druzbanski may just be the best Lonny I have seen yet. Druzbanski really fires on all cylinders and is a comedic whirlwind, also contributing nicely with strong vocals, certainly deserving a Fogmaster 5000 for a performance nothing short of outstanding.

Notable vocal performances are aplenty in this production with both Cherry Torres as Sherrie and Russell Mernaugh as Drew impressing with their singing prowess in number after number. Both skilled singers as they are actors, Torres and Mernaugh also spark a wonderful chemistry and are able to deliver plenty of funny moments. Though many, other performances of note are Donica Lynn, who sings beautifully when called upon and Nick Cosgrove who nails the role of Franz, the flamboyant German son of developer Hertz, who draws a laugh in just about every scene he occupies.

“Rock of Ages” is silly fun. It’s a campy drive down memory lane. It’s highly recommended. It’s also part concert, as a live band plays from a stage upon the stage throughout the show, tasty guitar licks and all. For some, they will relive the highly memorable era, for others they will receive a tongue-in-cheek glimpse of a time when the Los Angeles rock scene churned out hair bands like Motley Crue, Poison and Ratt.

With Falls theatrical productions in full bloom, this is a must see.

“Rock of Ages” is being performed at Drury Lane Theatre in Oakbrook through October 15th. For tickets and/or more show information, visit www.DruryLaneTheatre.com.

Published in Theatre in Review

The other night I went to Ravinia Festival. I am not afraid to admit that, after all my concert going years, it was my time going to the Ravinia venue located in Highland Park, Illinois. But there must be first time for everything and a double bill with Lifehouse and Switchfoot, two of my fave bands in the past, made it all the more enticing. Simply put, if you have never gone to Ravinia before, you need to go. It is just beautiful. Well-manicured lawns surrounding the pavilion area make an inviting temporary home for its large number of picnickers. And a friendly staff member is always nearby, ready to help, adding to the venue’s pleasant ambiance. The atmosphere is quick to relax its attendees from the moment they arrive. Picnickers can bring their own food and drink though there are a handful of food choices available on the Ravinia grounds making it easy to fill a hearty appetite before or during a concert. In short, I quickly discovered Ravinia is the perfect place to have a great family or date night. Its enchantment is only heightened by beautiful trees strategically placed throughout the grounds. Though easily accessible by car, a Metra stop is just right outside the gates, offering an even easier option of transportation for many and an easy escape route after the concert. But not to worry. Even for those that choose to drive, it's still easy to leave in a timely manner.

The night’s opening Act was Brynn Elliott, a senior college student from Boston. Ms. Elliott is a very energetic young lady whose soulful and jazzy voice is full of life. The young music artist sang eight catchy songs that got the attention of those sifting into the pavilion and having many thinking, “Have I heard that voice before?” Brynn interacted with the growing crowd well, many jumping around and dancing with her to her faster paced songs. As her set came to an end, Brynn couldn’t be more grateful to Lifehouse and Switchfoot for inviting her to open for them.

Switchfoot then hit the stage to a loud roar of cheers. The pavilion quickly filled, while no doubt a few slices of pizza were quickly scarfed down upon the band’s opening notes. Switchfoot appropriately opened their set with “Hello Hurricane” in the wake of the Harvey devastation, a stark reminder of those in need. Frontman Jon Foreman came out strong, his vocals rich, his energy at a high level matching his talent. Foreman commanded the stage, leading a band that also appeared to be in peak form. The years have been good to Switchfoot, an added maturity gracing each number played, each note struck, each address to the crowd made.  

Throughout the evening, the band, still fresh off their 2016 release Where the Light Shines Through, performed a variety of material sure to please Switchfoot fans from all eras, touching on albums from earlier in their career to current. As the set played on, Foreman walked around the pavilion, shaking hands and hugging people in the crowd, as he so often loves to get close and personal, a quality his fans don't mind one bit. He even shared a handful of interesting stories as to how and why some songs were written and the meaning behind them. Guitarist Drew Shirley was ripping through leads while Chad Butler kept a steady rhythm on drums along with bassist Tim Foreman, Jon’s brother. Jerome Fontamillas chimed in with guitar and keys to help create the band’s signature wall of sound that has so well defined the California quintet.

After seeing Switchfoot’s live show, it’s easy to believe the accomplished studio artists are happiest on stage where they can spend quality time with the fans who have supported them for so many years.

Lifehouse took the stage next. This surprised me, thinking Switchfoot would headline, but thus the double bill. Lead vocalist and guitarist Jason Wade reminded the crowd that, despite hailing from Los Angeles, they haven't toured the United States in seven years. Women in their late twenties and thirties began to flood into the pavilion, some screaming, as the band found its rhythm on stage. The band was not rusty, displaying a strong stage presence, their fans excited to see them after such a long drought.

Opening with the song “Hurricane” (obviously a theme here), the first of their fifteen-song night swiftly got their fans excited for what would be a truly rockin’ performance. The band played a good amount of material from their first two albums, songs from seventeen or so years ago, that made everyone feel a bit nostalgic, reminding us of an exciting time when a band is in its breakout stage. Fans sang along at the top of their lungs with the band’s heartfelt songs of heartache and hope. Seen around the stage were a handful of women crying and signing along with tears of emotion streaming down their faces, making the moment all the more unforgettable and powerful.

And now for the downer… Despite their powerful catalog of material and showmanship, the band truly lacked when it came to audience interaction. This was a bit disappointing. Song after song was played with little or no introductions in between and Wade did very little at all to connect with the crowd. It was almost as if they just wanted the night to end.

Switchfoot stole the night away and the reason is simple. They relate with the crowd and the crowd with them. They connect. It’s clear Foreman and company are having fun and hold a great appreciation for their fans. That’s what it’s all about, right? The venue was perfect, the staff amazing and, thanks to a fine sound system, the music performed sounded as if we were in a studio outside of the loud cheers. In all, it was a fine night of music and beautiful memories were created.

Switchfoot Setlist:

Hello Hurricane
Stars
Bull in a China Shop
Love Alone Is Worth the Fight
Your Love Is a Song
I Won't Let You Go
If the House Burns Down Tonight
Live It Well
The Sound (John M. Perkins' Blues)
Where I Belong
Meant to Live
Float
Only Hope
Dare You to Move

Lifehouse Setlist:

Hurricane
Halfway Gone
Sick Cycle Carousel
Nerve Damage
It Is What It Is
Pride (In the Name of Love)
Flight
Broken
Everything
Whatever It Takes
First Time
Spin
You and Me
Hanging by a Moment

 

 

Published in In Concert
Thursday, 10 August 2017 22:14

Delbert McClinton - One of the Fortunate Few

 

I have been waiting to see Delbert McClinton for a while. It just never happened for me…timing, etc. Finally, it happened. I even took my Mom who is as big a fan as I am.

Warming up for Delbert was Amy Black, a singer/songwriter from Nashville. Black sang only accompanied by piano, which blended perfectly with her very strong voice that comes with powerful with awesome intonation. However, I didn’t feel that strongly for her songs. They were well written but just not overly catchy. In fact, I walked away with no memory of them at all, but only that of an amazing voice. I would like to see her with her full band instead of the simple piano/voice arrangements. Maybe that’s what was missing.

Then, after a brief intermission following Black’s set… Delbert McClinton walks onto the stage. I can’t even comprehend how many times he has done this. “Take Me to the River” was the opener. Del’s version is way more swampy feeling than Talking Heads - not even the same song. Del’s hand-picked musicians formed a tremendous band. No name brand guys. No one under fifty or sixty-years-old. I don’t even remember a band introduction. It was all about the music.

What about the music, you ask? McClinton’s music is self described as Blues but there is much more to it than that. It more like the intersection of Blues Road, Country Avenue and Old Rock and Roll Boulevard. If you think of music like cooking I guess it all kinda comes from the same kitchen, but his unique formula really makes the flavors that stand out. You have the basic recipe but when you start adding spices and such…things get extra tasty.

In a way, I feel here is a guy that should be headlining stadiums. But when I see him work a club, my thoughts change. An intimate venue like such is the perfect environment for Delbert. He is basically a breathtaking club act with great songs. Sometimes we put too much emphasis on the bands playing the hockey stadiums and forget the guys in the clubs exist. The lesson here - go see more musicians like this where you can see the expressions on their face and the watch each note played with finesse and passion rather than viewing a giant monitor.

Let’s get back to the songs. “When Rita Leaves” was played early in the set and another crowd favorite “Ain’t I Got a Right to be Wrong?” was included in the first five, six songs. He has SO many great songs. Two of Delbert’s songs that always stood out were songs at least partially penned by a guy named Jerry Lyn Williams – the same guy that wrote a chunk of Clapton’s later hits. “Giving It Up for Your Love” is a classic that was on the set list. The other is a beautiful song called “Sending Me Angels”.

Music like McClinton’s is good for your cardio-vascular system. It even gets the older people dancing…did I mention that? Well, I just turned fifty and took my seventy-one-year-old mother…and there were people older than her dancing. Some of you youngsters should get out and watch a band like this. You might not be able to keep up…unless somebody breaks a hip.

 

Published in In Concert

It was a night for the archetypes of rock at Ravinia this past weekend. The rain finally let up for a cool evening to rock the night away with “Rage and Rapture”, the new Blondie and Garbage tour. The eclectic crowd of Garbage fans and Blondie fans filled the pavilion and spread across the grass in anticipation of these female rock icons.

Opening songs were played by John Doe and Exene Cervenka, mid-west natives, making their Ravinia debut. The long time musical duo, which has been performing since the 70’s (as a group and as solo artists) had the crowd swaying to their music and enjoying their last night on the “Rage and Rapture Tour”. The warm up act was well received with much applause and appreciation.

As the lights phased out and the stage was covered in a flood of red light, Shirley Manson and the band members of Garbage took to the stage. In what can only be called her signature look, Manson and the boys took over. This band first met in Chicago and began putting out music in 1995.Their latest album “Strange Little Birds” was released in 2016. The audience reveled in songs like “Only Happens When It Rains”, “Stupid Girl”, “Push It” and “Cup O’ Coffee”.  Fans were on their feet dancing and singing along. The energy was palpable.  It was a warmly welcomed and exciting first appearance at Ravinia for Garbage.

Then, although a hard act to follow, Blondie took the stage with backdrop images of buzzing bees. Debbie Harry sported a Pollinator mask (also the name of her May released album) and cape with a bold statement about the treatment of the Earth. Following a forty-year history of the powerhouse that is Blondie, original members, 72-year-old Debbie Harry, 61-year-old Clem Burke (drummer), and guitarist Chris Stein (67 years) were joined on stage by the new age members Tommy Kessler, Leigh Fox, and Matt Katz-Bohen, in a testimony of iconic style, creative music and a love for all people. The audience surged to the edge of the pavilion and remained on their feet. Fans sang along to signature songs like “One Way or Another,” “Hanging on the Telephone,” and “Heart of Glass”. The crowd also continued to sing along with Blondie’s new releases, having fun with tracks like “Fun”.

It was a night to rock out at Ravinia with some rocking music and iconic ladies. It was night not to be missed!

For a list of upcoming Ravinia shows, click HERE.

 

Published in In Concert

Graeme Edge, Justin Hayward, and John Lodge brought a show to the Ravinia stage that knocked out everyone who was in attendance. Two full sets of music packed with hits from the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s were the band’s musical offerings for the evening. Without a doubt, it was a musical setting that was great to see, hear, and feel.


There is nothing like going into a concert venue to see a favorite band. The crowds of people dress in their best going out attire and get all polished up like a pretty penny. They make their way to the seats to see some good music and moments later lights finally fade and the music starts. Excitement runs through the crowd as the first notes begin.

  
It’s just a magical time during the summer concert season at Ravinia Festival in Highland Park, Illinois. The Moody Blues only add to that magic. The legendary band came triumphantly took the stage and played a no nonsense show, having lost nothing in their fifty plus years as musicians. Their music was absolutely flawless from start to finish.


The first set contained hits from their vast catalog. They opened the show with “I’m Just a Singer (In a Rock and Roll Band)” and grabbed the attention of the audience right away. Hayward and Lodge both have amazing voices and hit every note with perfection. There wasn’t the slightest crack or imperfection in any of the performer’s voice.


Songs from the video age of the 1980’s were a big hit among the fans. “The Voice” and “Your Wildest Dreams” were definitely crowd pleasers. They kept reminding us of their amazing writing capability as their set list unfolded.


“The Story in Your Eyes” was a highlight from the first set that grabbed a few inexperienced Moody Blues fans by surprise. “Oh my God! They’re playing this song too?” If you listen to classic rock, it’s hard to not know The Moody Blues music. It’s still everywhere on the FM dial.

“Steppin’ in A Slide Zone” began with the melodic dynamic build and thrilled the more dedicated fans of this amazing band. The keyboards and guitars were blending so well in what was a great piece of ear candy. For the few that didn’t know the song, I’m guessing it had to impress them as well.


Set two was reserved for the fiftieth anniversary of Days of Future Passed. They played the album in its entirety and this is the reason a lot of people came out to see the famous band. A few people in attendance even gave up their Grateful Dead tickets to witness this once in a lifetime performance.


The monologues were prerecorded by Jeremy Irons and he nailed it. He sounded just like the original recordings. “Tuesday Afternoon” and “Nights in White Satin” were the bigger hits from the album. Getting the chance to see this composition from start to finish was a real treat. It was a musical journey that everyone will remember from the orchestral interludes to the psychedelic writings of 1967. Originally released just after the summer of love, the album is a timeless recording that will always stand out as one of the best of all time.  


Graeme Edge was awesome on the drums and kept hitting them with finesse while not missing a beat. Billy Ashbaugh was an additional drummer brought on the tour to help keep the time within the show. Justin Hayward did such an amazing job on the guitar and vocals, the show wouldn’t have been the same without him while John Lodge provided the bottom end with his bass guitar and brought along some sweet vocals as well. Rounding out The Moody Blues sound, Alan Hewitt performed some amazing keyboards and vocals. Everything he did was just like the original recordings. Norda Mullen is a multi-instrumentalist who fills in so many gaps for The Moody Blues, but really stands out with her flute. The tour also included Julie Ragins, another multi-instrumentalist who just seemed to play everything. She quickly proved she wasn’t there to take up space. Together these people are the current lineup for The Moody Blues and they shouldn’t change a thing. These professional musicians stand out within their instruments of choice. They famously blend so well with one another.

The Moody Blues is just an amazing band in a live setting. Age does not seem to affect this band in a negative way, the musicians defying Father Time. Their musicianship seems to keep getting better as the years pass. It’s always a pleasure to see people refine their talents and put them on display for everyone to see. Ravinia was just a perfect setting for this nostalgic display. It was a delight for everyone who was there.

 

Published in In Concert

An urban oasis for one-of-a-kind entertainment, eclectic dining and luxury shopping, NEWCITY, 1457 N. Halsted, announced today it will host free, weekly outdoor concerts throughout the summer. Taking place within the beautifully landscaped plaza of Chicago’s newest lifestyle destination, NEWCITY’s summer concerts will be free to guests every Thursday evening 7 – 9 p.m. from June 29 – August 31.
 
NEWCITY’s Summer Concert Series lineup includes:

June 29: The Empty Pockets and Rock and Roll
July 6: Krave Live Entertainment, R&B / Motown
July 13: Simply Bill, Bill Joel Tribute
July 20: Genevieve Jazz, Jazz
July 27: Hot Rocks, Rolling Stones Tribute
August 3: J Michael’s Band and Rock and Roll
August 10: Shut the Front Door, Pop
August 17: Tropixplosition, Steel Drums/ Island Music
August 24: After Party, 80s Band
August 31: Planet Groove, Pop/Rock/ R&B
 
“We are so excited to host these weekly concerts at NEWCITY for our local community! From Rock and Roll to Steel Drums and Island Music, our concerts will provide a wide range of musical varieties sure to excite and engage all of our visitors,” said Erin Webster, Assistant General Manager and Marketing Director.
 
Guests are invited to bring their own blankets, chairs, and coolers, along with their family and friends to enjoy the concerts. Home to numerous restaurants including Earls Kitchen + Bar, LYFE Kitchen, Max and Leo’s Artisan Pizza, Yard House, and Nando’s Peri-Peri, NEWCITY guests can also take advantage of grabbing dinner just a few steps away before or after the concerts.
 
For more information on NEWCITY’s free concerts on the plaza, visit www.experiencenewcity.com or call 312.248.8569. Follow NEWCITY on social media for the latest news and events:
www.facebook.com/NewCityExperience
www.twitter.com/newcityexp
www.instagram.com/newcityexperience

 

Published in In Concert

There is nothing better than seeing a concert driven with high energy. The audience waits with excitement for the concert to start. The introduction takes place and the band walks out onto the stage. The first notes on the electric guitar come through the monitors while everyone cheers and shouts the name of the man leading the show. A power chord drives the adrenaline up and is followed by fast paced minor riffs. Martin Barre has come to entertain you and the entire performance will be nothing less than spectacular. He’s is just amazing!

Martin had gone his own way in 2011 after Jethro Tull finally dissolved. Several years of performing within one of the toughest groups to ever exist had come to an end and left this six string master without a band. Mr. Barre had decided to start a new group. His current concert experience is fresh with a straight up rock and blues feel. The band is made up of some really great players that are having a good time playing some incredibly intricate music. The overall skill level is just off the charts!

Blues, rock, folk, and much more are the genres that make them up, but they don’t fit into any one category. This group is a four piece that is ready to blow anyone away who comes to see them. It’s a show that is a must see it to believe it. Do you like rock, blues, soulful guitars, and a super band? The Martin Barre Band is the band to see.  

George Lindsay is filling the role of drums and percussion with style that can mimic men who have been in Tull. His skill with sticks and mallets grace his kit with every beat. The foot work on the double bass pedals sounds like machine guns rapidly firing. This young man is big in every way. The percussive sound is huge and fills up any room he is playing in, but he is not lacking in the height category either. Standing six foot eight in height, he is quite an intimidating guy and appears taller than he admits. Don’t let his size spook you because he is a gentle giant and an awesome drummer. After a show, a concert attendee yelled up to him on stage, “George!” to get his attention. He responded back quickly, “That’s Big George!” Then he smiles.

It’s always great when a singer can belt out a song and push it over the top to excellence. Taking the role of singer can be difficult, but Dan Crisp has done an outstanding job. He is not attempting to fill the shoes of a one legged flute player, but rather he stands solidly on the ground as his own man. He has a voice that is very pleasant to listen to. Dan also plays guitar leads and solos that are quite difficult to undertake, but he does songs justice in everything he plays. He has a mad scientist, comical way about him as he moves around on stage. Mr. Crisp has been with this band for quite a while and with a little luck, he doesn’t leave anytime soon.

Providing the bottom end for the band is an extremely talented musician, Alan Thomson. His playing style is filled with dynamics as no notes better be played that don’t belong. It’s not possible for Martin to have picked up a better all around musician for bass. Alan sings backup and also plays slide guitar on the song “Bad Man.” His expertise shines with every swell during his mournful lead. Alan is so into the music that he appears as if he is not having a good time at all. “I may look like I’m not having a good time on the outside, but on the inside, I’m having the time of my life.” This low end master is fantastic to see live and a true gentleman to his fans. All bass players who have played with Martin in the previous years have been incredible and Alan Thomson is no exception. He can’t be compared to anyone else.

Martin Barre is just an amazing guitar player and he won’t let you forget it during any song that he performs live these days. He has taken Jethro Tull songs, ripped them apart, and put together arrangements that just impress the ears. Smiling from ear to ear, this man appears to be enjoying himself. He is actually quite funny too as he converses with the fans between songs. He talks about being a “bad guitar player” and hanging out with the Queen. You don’t have to be a fan of his previous band to enjoy his new show.

Some Jethro Tull fans seem to be divided into two separate camps, but still with respect for each other. Some are diehard Ian Anderson followers and others have preferred to watch the new and improved Martin Barre. Both are performing great shows solo, but most would just like to see them together again. Dave Pincus who has seen Jethro Tull over 150 times said, “Martin’s new band has a freshness and energy level that makes the show two hours of awesome entertainment.”

Martin being the band leader he has formed this concoction of musicians and blended these guys into awesomeness. The crisp sound of the guitars, the bass tone, and an excellent mix on drums helps capture their stage sound for the audience. The man behind the mixing board helps out a bit as well.  

New Day Yesterday, Teacher, and Fat Man are usual Jethro Tull songs that you will hear at a Martin show. In addition, other songs like Crossroads by Robert Johnson will feature Martin on mandolin and for a while it becomes a heavy metal mandolin. The arrangement is nothing like the Cream version at all. Having the mandolin lead the song was a good choice as it gave the song a sharpness that it never had before.

In late August, Martin kicks off his Fall US tour in Iowa. He will be touring the Midwest and upper East coast. He has over 30 shows scheduled and is already posting new shows for 2017! There seems to be no stopping this man. Complete show listing can be seen atwww.martinbarre.com

Martin Barre has come to entertain you and it will be nothing less than spectacular. The towns and cities wait with excitement for Martin Barre to come to the stage. Seeing him and his band is something that will make you happy and feel at home. The show is mostly musical, but he does make you feel like you’re the only person sitting in the audience. It’s just amazing!

 

Published in In Concert

Just on the cusp of the band’s latest release, Prayers for the Damned Vol. 1, Sixx: A.M. is already knee-deep into a full-fledged U.S. tour, last night stopping at Chicago’s Concord Music Hall before playing some dates in Europe. Not surprisingly, the band played their nearly two-hour set before a packed house of eager fans putting forth a well-balanced song list, taking key selections from each of their four albums including a handful of their newest, slightly untested material.  

Bassist Nikki Sixx has described the new release as an intermingling of 2011’s This Is Gonna Hurt and 2007’s The Heroin Diaries Soundtrack, and after giving the new album more than a few listens, he’s spot on. As already evidenced by the album’s first single “Rise”, the album once again carries the band’s now very well-known blend of energy, dynamics and melodic bliss along with meaningful lyrics that deliver a solid punch. Filled with raunchy, yet utterly tasty leads from guitarist DJ Ashba and singer James Michael’s versatile vocal range combined with a unified feel that only comes from a band that has played together for a decade, give or take, Prayers… might just be the best work from the band yet. Its message is simple but poignant – wake up, be aware, do not be complacent and scrap the existing state of affairs we are told to blindly accept. Like the band’s past album themes, Prayers – Vol. 1, produced and engineered by Michael, is also filled with optimistic undertones that truly inspire.  

Sixx: A.M. wastes no time in thrusting lethal blows towards its crowd, kicking off their set with the high-powered track “This Is Gonna Hurt”. James Michael, aptly self-assured as he continuously rises in the ranks as one of today’s best rock vocalists, delivers a true rock and roll performance hitting each note with precision, honing in with finely finessed power whenever called for. At the same time Nikki Sixx supports Michael with his ever-so-striking presence and flashy bass work while DJ Ashba and drummer Dustin Steinke respectively plug away on one track after another. Rounding out the band’s sound is a duo of backing vocalists Amber Vansbuskirk and Melissa Harding, adding a unique flavor to an already appetizing set. 

As previously indicated, Sixx: A.M. plays a somewhat generous dose of material from their latest release ripping into “Rise” early on, perhaps bringing down the thunder more so than any other on the album with an authoritative presentation of “When We Were Gods”. The new material went over as well as can be expected and then some while the familiar sounds of past albums were once again emphatically welcomed by a bursting house of loyal followers. Almost on cue, fans wildly cheered as Michael introduced the poetic and deeply moving “Accidents Can Happen” before Sixx and company jumped into the hard-hitting “Dead Man’s Ballet”, both songs coming from The Heroin Diaries Soundtrack. Theirs is a set that never lets up. From “Goodbye My Friends” to “Stars”, rest assured fans are thoroughly entertained, moved and inspired from the show’s beginning to its fitting encores “Skin”, a song that touches on the acceptance of yourself and others and Sixx: A.M.’s anthem that is full of positivity and hope, “Life Is Beautiful”. 

Seemingly unfazed by the difference in venue size he might be used to, Sixx genuinely appeared to appreciate every single second on stage now inserted into a much closer relationship with his fans, as did the other band members.  Close up and personal in this fifteen hundred seat or so venue, Ashba, Sixx and Michael clearly reveled in the experience, undoubtedly receiving a reciprocal vibe by the Sixx: A.M. faithful. With Motley Crue now in Sixx’s rearview mirror and no longer a side project of his, it will be interesting to see how Sixx: A.M. evolves. So far, based on volume one of the new two volume release and a commanding touring presence that is both youthful and mature at the same time, there is no reason to think that Sixx: A.M. wouldn’t be able to headline their own arena tours sometime in the near future – if they so desire. With a following that has already existed, and is continuously growing, thanks to the band’s electric material, it should be noted that Sixx: A.M. is NOT a band riding off the successes of their previous band affiliations. Rather, they are the full package – songs, image, musicianship and message, created by insightful musicians that happened to have previous music notoriety. Nonetheless, wherever they play – however many fans they play in front of, one thing is certain – Sixx: A.M. is a highly-passionate band that plays each show with heart and a sincere love for music. 

Currently, one of the best bands on the touring circuit, Sixx: A.M. has again made it look easy by putting out yet another album that rocks through and through. Prayers for the Damned Vol. 1 is filled with thought provoking songs compiled by a veteran presence that has been there done that, has had life failures and successes, has learned by its mistakes and now shares its hope with others. In other words, it’s real. 

 

Published in In Concert

Review: "Hard Times" at Lookingglass Theatre

16 October 2017 in Theatre in Review

Lookingglass Theatre Company opens its 30th Anniversary Season with the return of the award-winning “Hard Times”, adapted from Charles Dickens…

BLUE MAN GROUP CELEBRATES 20th BIRTHDAY!

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With two decades in its home at Lakeview’s Briar Street Theater under its belt, Blue Man Group is still going…

Review: "Piaf: The Show!"

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Darn those French and their "musical spectaculars." There are few things Americans do with more flare than the French, and…

First Folio's "The Man-Beast" a passionate tale of horror that delivers big

11 October 2017 in Theatre in Review

Set in the 18th century French countryside, First Folio Theatre vividly brings to life Joseph Zettelmaier’s “The Man-Beast”, a romantic,…

Rigoletto’s classic tale is a feast for the ears

10 October 2017 in Theatre in Review

Court jester Rigoletto prefers to hide his misery behind jokes and mockery of others. But it’s not the only thing…

Hilarious "Bewildered" will make you realize that YOU are the leading lady in your life!

10 October 2017 in Theatre in Review

Hell in a Handbag rings in its fifteenth-anniversary season with real magic in this hilarious spoof of the 60's and…

Review: The Crucible at Steppenwolf Theatre

09 October 2017 in Theatre in Review

It’s the season of Arthur Miller in Chicago. It appears Miller is enjoying a renaissance right now with three of…

Older than Mythologie: Orphée et Eurydice at the Lyric Opera

08 October 2017 in Theatre Reviews

The first time I went to the opera was in elementary school to see La Triviata. It was a school…

Foxfinder is vaguely relevant

03 October 2017 in Theatre in Review

The most depressing thing about the Foxfinder’s premise of “near future” is that it looks remarkably like somewhat distant past,…

Suzanne Puckett; Poetry at its finest

03 October 2017 in BCS Spotlight

You tore him down! Discredited his name ~ Made him lie, cry and beg ~ Hold his head in shame …

Cupid Has A Heart On a unique, energetic night of shock comedy

02 October 2017 in Theatre in Review

As my sidekick for the evening – himself a theater and sketch comedy guy – and I entered Stage 773’s…

Review: Becky Shaw at Windy City Playhouse

29 September 2017 in Theatre in Review

“Sometimes lying is the most humane thing you can do,” declares Gina Gionfriddo’s character Suzanna Slater in her play ‘Becky…

 

 

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