Show Reviews

by Max Ink Staff Writers


Doc Kupka of Tower of Power - photo by Michael Sherer

Doc Kupka of Tower of Power - photo by Michael Sherer

Tower of Power
Live at BB King Blues Club, NYC 10/13/2010
Show Review By Michael Sherer
Posted: Dec 2010
(3056) Page Views

If a mere few words could best sum up the ethos of Tower Of Power, affectionately known as T.O.P., they would be East Bay Grease, the title of their debut record in 1970. It salutes their origin and the fact that they have the punch and ferocity of a mean muscle car cruising the streets of Oakland. It’s one of the most dangerous cities in the U.S. to do so, but then this band is quite a threat as well. Forty-two years after being founded, the guys are playing in top form, although not moving around on stage quite as much as they did in their twenties, especially on the relatively small stage of the crowded but intimate setting of BB King’s.

This is a band that’s all about the music. For minimal visual effect, the horn section will occasionally sway their instruments in unison for a few seconds, which helps to punctuate their lines. During a minute or two of one song,  (I don’t recall which) baritone saxophonist “Doc” Kupka does a frantic and funny dance. Other than these sorts of brief excursions, there’s little in the way of any real “show” elements. Singer Larry Braggs talks to the audience only a bit, which is all that seems appropriate. Original members Francis “Rocco” Prestia (bass) and David Garibaldi (drums) make a highly formidable and admired rhythm section, and lay down an intricate foundation for everyone else to perform over. Garibaldi can hardly be seen behind his good looking, custom Yamaha kit and array of shiny symbols, and Prestia is at the back of the stage, just to the right of the drums from the audience’s perspective. It’s clear that he’s concentrating intently and hardly moves, as his job is quite demanding. He’s a quiet and rather shy man anyway, so this surely suits him fine. While this dynamic duo are behind the others in physical placement, it’s them that propel everything. They’ve both said that they instantly meshed together extremely well upon first getting together, and continue to have a musical relationship that’s mutually rewarding.

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Shinedown live at the Riverside Theater in Milwaukee - photo by Paul Weber

Shinedown live at the Riverside Theater in Milwaukee - photo by Paul Weber

Shinedown
Live at the Riverside Theater 11/30/2010
Show Review By Paul Weber
Posted: Dec 2010
(5723) Page Views

When I heard that Shinedown was doing an acoustic tour I thought, “Well this could be interesting”. Having worked on tours with bands doing acoustic songs I knew it could be hit or miss in a big way. By the time the first song had finished I knew this Shinedown show was going to be something special. The show on November 30th at the Riverside Theater in Milwaukee, WI, was not only well performed, but was a rare, open book about the band and the story behind the songs. The show also felt like a rebirth for singer Brent Smith, as he described his struggles with drug addiction and his new found sobriety. There was no doubt that Shinedown loves what they do, at times being called the hardest working band in Rock and Roll. There is something to be said when the crowd is brought to their feet during an acoustic show, but when you take into account the list of hits Shinedown brings to the table, it’s no wonder the crowd at the Riverside clearly loved every minute of it.

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Jamey Johnson live at the Riverside in Milwaukee - photo by Jennifer Bronenkant

Jamey Johnson live at the Riverside in Milwaukee - photo by Jennifer Bronenkant

Jamey Johnson
Live at the Riverside Theater 12/2/2010
Show Review By Jennifer Bronenkant
Posted: Dec 2010
(6548) Page Views

Often credited as the Outlaw Country singer who will save Country Music from the “new country” that Nashville is pumping out, Jamey Johnson came to Milwaukee and proved he is much more than that.
Johnson opened his set with crowd favorites “High Cost Of Living”, “Angel” and “Lonely At The Top”. These hits brought fans to their feet where many stayed for most of the show.

With two back to back Grammy nominated albums, “That Lonesome Song” and the recently released double album “The Guitar Song”, this singer/songwriter has more than enough of his own material to fill a concert set. But instead of playing only from his own impressive song list, Johnson sang several covers. These included songs from country greats like Merle Haggard, Ray Price, Willie Nelson, Hank Williams and Waylon Jennings along with rousing renditions of rock songs made famous by ZZ Top (“La Grange”) and Bob Seger (“Here I Am On The Road Again”).

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Lifehouse at the Rave in Milwaukee - photo by Paul Weber

Lifehouse at the Rave in Milwaukee - photo by Paul Weber

Lifehouse
Live at the Rave in Milwaukee Nov. 11, 2010
Show Review By Paul Weber
Posted: Nov 2010
(2683) Page Views

When you think of bands with longevity, you may easily forget that Lifehouse has been releasing music since 2000. With their latest release, Smoke and Mirrors, the band adds to an already impressive list of well written, catchy songs. Its easy to see why the fans love Lifehouse. Between an endless list of songs that stick in your head to a polished live show they give you every dollars worth, and I would argue even more.

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Sevendust at the First Avenue in Minneapolis - photo by Paul Weber

Sevendust at the First Avenue in Minneapolis - photo by Paul Weber

Sevendust
Live at the First Avenue in Minneapollis on Nov. 5, 2010
Show Review By Paul Weber
Posted: Nov 2010
(7548) Page Views

There are few things worse than being excited about a band who has a great CD but when it comes time to deliver it live they fall short. With Sevendust, I am happy to say that is never a problem. In the tradition of other legendary touring bands such as Pantera, Sevendust brings the music to a new level during their live shows. From the stage at Woodstock, to the smaller sized venues like First Avenue, its all about the music and the fans. Sevendust gives 100 percent to their fans, and by the reaction at First Avenue, the fans loved every minute of it. With crushing songs like Denial, to the pit fueling Black, it is one solid song after another.

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Styx

Styx

Styx Live at the Beacon Theater
New York City, October 28, 2010
Show Review By Michael Sherer
Posted: Nov 2010
(2069) Page Views

How many artists or bands have the distinction of having four consecutive triple platinum albums? Very few. Styx was the first rock band to achieve this during the high flying long playing record sales era of the latter ‘70’s. ‘78 was the peak year for sales since the invention of the LP in ‘48. So why not take two of their records from their glory years, ‘77’s The Grand Illusion and its follow up, ‘78’s Pieces Of Eight, and perform them live, back to back, both in their entirety and song order? (With a twenty minute intermission between the sets.) That’s indeed what Styx is doing on their current U.S. tour. Hits and favorites like “Come Sail Away,” “Renegade,” “Blue Collar Man” and “Fooling Yourself (The Angry Young Man)” were all on display.

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Billy Idol - photo by Michael Sherer

Billy Idol - photo by Michael Sherer

Billy Idol
at Hammerstein Ballroom, NYC - 9/15/10
Show Review By Michael Sherer
Posted: Oct 2010
(2232) Page Views

When William Broad introduced the members of his band toward the end his great show, he referred to himself as “Billy fuckin’ Idol.” This reminded me, and I assume many of the approximate 2,500 fans present that this is one of the biggest music stars of the ‘80’s. I never saw him live then, but I was impressed with what I experienced now. Idol, 55, is probably less active on stage than he was in his 30’s, but his voice sounded about the same and he gave his all. So did everyone else in his band, which includes his original guitarist and co songwriter Steve Stevens (real last name is Schneider), rhythm guitarist Billy Morrison, bassist Stephen McGrath, drummer Jeremy Colson and keyboardist Derek Sherinian. Stevens, 51, is Idol’s side kick as well as the musical director, and has a strong following of his own. His trademark wild, black hair is still intact, albeit more tamed than its ‘80’s heyday. He played brilliantly and moved around quite a bit. For his solo, he incorporated some excerpts from Led Zeppelin’s Jimmy Page, undoubtedly a big influence of his. When Idol introduced him at the end of the show as being from Far Rockaway, NYC, the crowd roared. This prompted Stevens to bow and give the peace sign.

The stage show is very cool and tasteful. It includes colorful and exciting lighting, an upper level plank type set up above the drums for Idol to stand and move on, and to do his signature fist pumping from. Three large drawings of Idol high above the stage appear intermittently in different sequences, and bright white lights that make up Idol’s face are particularly eye catching as they move in the darkness.

Most of Idol’s biggest hits were played, such as Rebel Yell, Dancing With Myself, Flesh For Fantasy, Eyes Without A Face and, of course, White Wedding. The Doors’ classic LA Woman was covered with much spirit and energy.

Idol is loosely in the punk rock category, although his music has always been very accessible and radio friendly. He was huge on MTV in the early and mid ‘80’s, the glory era for both him and the then new channel that was finding its way.

The band’s summer tour neared its finish when it rolled into NYC, the country’s biggest market and birthplace of the American punk scene when it broke at CBGB’s on The Bowery in the mid ‘70’s. This bloke from Middlesex, England couldn’t have been more welcomed in The Big Apple, where Idol lived during the ‘80’s. His fans at this 98 year old ballroom indeed had a ball as they made it amply clear to him that there’s no place like home.

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Deborah Harry of Blondie - Live at Nokia Theater in New York City - photo by Michael Sherer

Deborah Harry of Blondie - Live at Nokia Theater in New York City - photo by Michael Sherer

Blondie
Live at Nokia Theater in New York City - 8/31/2010
Show Review By Michael Sherer
Posted: Sep 2010
(5036) Page Views

Blondie made their hometown and enthusiastic crowd in the middle of Times Square proud. The band was in very good form, and front woman Deborah Harry sounded and looked great. The venue was very close to its full capacity at 2100. The stellar acoustics and spacious room was a big plus to the fun. This is a long way from their humble beginnings at the biker bar/dive CBGB’s on The Bowery in NYC during the mid to latter ‘70’s. This venue was formally the Astor Plaza movie theater until it became the Nokia Theater in ‘05. In early September of ‘10, it changed its name to the Best Buy Theater after the expiration of Nokia’s five year contract.

In addition to the audience being quite excited, so was Harry. Winding up their summer tour in their hometown was clearly a thrill for the band. Although Harry was actually raised in Hawthorne New Jersey by adoptive parents, she moved to NYC in the late ‘60’s. Co founder Chris Stein is from Brooklyn, as is original keyboardist Jimmy Destri. Original drummer and bassist Clem Burke and Gary Valentine, respectively, both hail from Bayonne, New Jersey. Harry made it clear that it was very special for them to be back where it all started for them. Since June, they had been far from home on their summer tour, covering the UK and Ireland.

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Michael Schenker soloing at Scatz, August 4, 2010 - photo by Brian Ebner

Michael Schenker soloing at Scatz, August 4, 2010 - photo by Brian Ebner

Michael Schenker Group
Scatz in Middleton - August 4, 2010
Show Review By Sal Serio
Posted: Aug 2010
(2288) Page Views

Those of you following former Scorpions and UFO guitarist Michael Schenker no doubt remember the days of his notorious no-shows in the 1990s. Well, several hundred faithful Wisconsin fans came and SAW the master of the Flying V show up and tear through a tight set at Scatz in Middleton on August 4th. While MSG’s vocalist was plagued with P.A. problems, Schenker and veteran rock drummer Carmine Appice were in fine form, treating the assembled metal maniacs to a slew of UFO tunes at the sets’ end: Lights Out, Rock Bottom, and Doctor Doctor! It was a night not to have missed.

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David Draiman being weiled out on stage at Madison's Music As A Weapon Tour - photo by Sarah Paske

David Draiman being weiled out on stage at Madison's Music As A Weapon Tour - photo by Sarah Paske

Music As A Weapon 2009
Alliant Energy Center in Madison featuring Disturbed
Show Review By Sarah Paske
Posted: Jun 2009
(3714) Page Views

On the final leg of their fourth Music as a Weapon tour, Disturbed once again rocked Madison, WI at the Alliant Energy Center on May 10, 2009.  This lifestyle festival style event surprised even the veteran concert goers. Gates opened at 2:00 pm for a special free outside collaboration of music, tattoo, and sports. Local artists Serienna and The Lords of Discipline hit the Ernie Ball Stage with touring acts Spineshank, Bury Your Dead, and Crooked X.

“The diversity in the lineup with bands such as Bury Your Dead mixed in with Lacuna Coil and Killswitch Engage really added a lot of flavor to the tour,” Disturbed bassist John Moyer said.

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Lemme of Motörhead - photo by Mark Marek

Lemme of Motörhead - photo by Mark Marek

Motörhead
Live at the Orpheum Theater, Madison, WI - September 10, 2008
Show Review By Jeff Muendel
Posted: Sep 2008
(2742) Page Views

Motörhead has been speeding through life since since 1975. That brings lead singer and bandleader Lemmy Kilmister in at over 60 years old. As part of the the 2008 Volcom Tour, which also includes Valient Thorr (great energy – hairy, sweaty, stinky, and fun) and Year Long Disaster (I liked them, too), the band played Madison Wisconsin on September 10th.  The Misfits bailed out of the tour (boo!), so the primary focus was on Motörhead.

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Alice Cooper  at the Riverside Theater in Milwaukee, WI - August 5th, 2008 - photo by Kristin Kizer

Alice Cooper at the Riverside Theater in Milwaukee, WI - August 5th, 2008 - photo by Kristin Kizer

Alice Cooper
at the Riverside Theater in Milwaukee, WI - August 5th, 2008
Show Review By Jeff Muendel
Posted: Aug 2008
(9297) Page Views

Jeff went to Milwaukee to catch Alice Cooper at the Riverside in Milwaukee. Catch his review of the show, venue and catch a picture of Alice Cooper being hung from a gallows pole taken by Kristin Kizer.

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