(Magic Bag, Ferndale, MI - January 28th, 2020)
Simply put, growing up in the UK, ever since 1983 I have wanted to see China Crisis play live.
Sure they tour all the time in Europe, but having only been to North America once before in nearly 40 years, and with me having lived here nearly 30 years myself, well, my opportunities were dwindling.
But then, out of the blue, a small North American tour was announced and better than that, the band were going to play just ten minutes away from me in a small club in the heart of town!
So, and with a friend in tow, we headed down to the Magic Bag in Ferndale to witness live a duo (formed in 1979) from Liverpool that achieved UK chart success throughout the eighties (inclusive of two albums certified Gold in the UK).
Cometh the hour cometh the band, for in a small, darkened club, on a black stage with a black backdrop, at 9.00pm promptly China Crisis (Gary Daly and Eddie Lundon) quietly took to the stage from behind the black backstage curtain.
Joined by a superb duo for extra sax and keyboard backing, this traveling band of musical minstrels then proceeded to give us a quite wondrous two hour set of music and chat.
Brought forth in much the same vein as the old VH1 Storytellers, from the off it was clear that this was going to be no ordinary play-the-hits-and-run live show!
Beginning the evening with their very first single, 'African and White,' afterward it was Eddie who broke bread with us first. "Howdy, Detroit. Home of the great Motown ... and Devo!" (Note: Devo actually hail from Akron, Ohio, but that's neither here nor there).
The pair chat a bit about Devo, with Gary mulling the possibility that he believed one of Devo's songs had been used in the new Quentin Tarantino movie 'Once Upon a Time … in Hollywood.' "Anyway," he adds, breaking from that train of thought, "it's lovely to see you all".
He then puts his hand up to shade his eyes from the spotlights, and taking in the criminally under-attended small venue, the seats left empty, he adds, "Most of you are of a certain age so you couldn't stand up for too long anyway," and laughs.
Gary then reflects back on how the band have been going for nearly 40 years now, how they were originally signed off the back of just three songs, and that keeping their sound alive for so long has made their songs still sound "moist"!
Talking more about their early days alongside other bands from their city of Liverpool, such as OMD (Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark) and Teardrop Explodes, Gary reminisces about China Crisis opening for OMD, but how these days he (sarcastically, of course) felt like they should be opening for them.
Continuing the theme of playing tracks from their albums in release order, 'Red Sails' from Difficult Shapes & Passive Rhythms, Some People Think It's Fun to Entertain is up next. Afterward, Gary reveals that the song only came to because Eddie's mum bought them one of the very first keyboards ever produced, from a catalogue via monthly payments.
With the stage now lit in a beautiful orange haze, 'Temptation’s Big Blue Eyes' is brought forth and showcases Eddie's immaculate work on the acoustic guitar. Gary then talks about their choice of album title, how it was an extension of a Human League album, and how the CC album had purposely drawn a lot of its inspiration from the HL one.
Gary then reveals that when they tour in the UK and Europe they are a seven-piece band, but here touring North America they are a slimmed down four-piece, which actually enables them to do more "electric music" than they normally would live.
As we then get introduced to tracks from the second album (Working with Fire and Steel – Possible Pop Songs Volume Two), Gary confesses that the next track was actually a cut that never made it onto it.
Revealing a connection between 'It's Never Too Late' and Mike Oldfield, afterward Gary talks about the different schooling experiences both he and Eddie had, and about how an experience with Shakespeare helped create the next track, 'The Soul Awakening.'
Moving on into their third album, Flaunt the Imperfection, and straight off Gary tells their incredible story of how Warner Bros. Records in the US suggested they work with the late, great Walter Becker (Steely Dan).
Blown away by the fact that Becker (a man Gary adds was the closest they ever got to a "genius") even knew them, let alone had one of their albums in his own collection, they sent him their instrumental workings and he did the rest.
Ergo, the wistful and yearning Danesque 'Bigger the Punch I'm Feeling' is a true highlight of the show and sung as a tribute to Becker couldn't have sounded any better than it did tonight.
Suggesting that "every album has to have a reggae song," next up is the beautiful hipsway of 'Strength of Character.'
After a little Eminem breakdown, Gary admitted that they had been using the same drum machine as Human League at one point, and then flopping one side of his hair forward akin to a Phil Oakey look, he then explains to us their live version of a lucky dip - before dipping back into Difficult Shapes and playing 'Some People I Know to Lead Fantastic Lives.'
Exploring Fire and Steel more, Gary then reminisces about opening up for Simple Minds back in 1984 and that even though they were never at home back then, how their writing was always based within a UK life perspective.
'Here Comes a Raincloud,' a quite beautiful and thoroughly underrated track is next, and after a brief story about how the band are big in Cuba and how Puerto Ricans have their own China Crisis dance, the stage becomes atmospherically smoky for another highlight, the mesmerizing 'It's Everything' (from their fourth album What Price Paradise).
Gary then calls for all backing vocalists in the audience to help them out, sarcastically adding that "if you can't sing, please don't join in,", and with that the stunning 'Arizona Sky' is next up.
Under a deliciously supple mist of light blue, 'Black Man Ray' takes us graciously by the heart into the last lap of the show. In what turns out to be a veritable mini-greatest hits package, that's then seamlessly backed by a delightful 'Wishful Thinking.'
Then, and after Gary recounts a passionate Freddie Mercury Live Aid memory, adding that they would now try and recreate that euphoric feeling via their very own "bonsai moment", one of their joyously poplicious singles, 'King in a Catholic Style' is unveiled.
Gary then informs the audience that after this last song they will break for a minute and then come back for another, before talking about the loss of his two family cats, how he had been staring at the venues logo of a cat all show, and then culminates all that with a few bars of 'Auld Lang Syne.'
That segues rather nicely, believe it or not, into their biggest UK hit, the always pleasing to hear dulcet mellowness of 'Christian,' and then, and without even leaving the stage, Gary not only dedicates the show to all the "Detroitians" gathered tonight, but also pays a generous tribute to the Philippines, and all their Filipino fans.
Bringing the two hour show to a close bang on 11pm with the divine musical brilliance of 'Tragedy and Mystery,' afterward Eddie thanks the audience for coming out to see them, whilst Gary ends with "Thank you, everybody. Thank you, Detroit. We'll see you again soon."
Review by: Russell A. Trunk
Live Photo #2 by: Derek Fowler
Live Photos #3 & #4 by: Eric J. Wertanen
China Crisis @ Facebook
(DTE Energy Music Theatre, Clarkston, MI - June 12th, 2019)
When compiling a list of things that are uniquely Michigan, any good indexer would include Bob Seger.
And if evidence is wanted of his Detroit Music Legend status, one would have to look no further than the sold-out, six-show run at DTE Energy Music Theater, located, as of early June, at 33 Bob Seger Drive.
And it was the third of these six shows that I, my mother, a few friends, and a couple thousand fans had the privilege of seeing last Wednesday.
Absolutely insane construction traffic saw us arrive late to the venue, missing the opening act altogether. Pity. I’m sure they were excellent. The upshot, of course, was that there was less time to wait until the main event.
Bob Seger took the stage sporting the Casual Grandpa look – a t-shirt, jeans, and all-white hair. Opener ‘Shakedown’ featured killer horns, but the music seemed quiet, like maybe the speakers weren’t working.
But you could tell Seger was having fun up there, pumping his fists along to the music, clapping his hands, and baring down on the microphone like the rockstar he is.
His first address to the crowd was an enthusiastic “Michigaaaaaan!” met with lots of cheers.
That’s our boy.
Saxophone player extraordinaire Alto Reed crushed ‘Main Street,’ a number for which Seger strummed an acoustic guitar. ‘Old Time Rock and Roll’ was the first of the crowd pleasers, inciting lots of over-the-head clapping and singing.
All the singing seemed to suit Bob, who relied on us on and off throughout the night, making up for an occasionally waning voice. But you can’t fault a guy for being a little quiet when he has so much enthusiasm and sheer joy of performing.
After plugging a love of motorcycles, he gave us ‘Roll Me Away’ and the best vocal performance of the night thus far. At this point, I noticed a father and daughter a little ways down the row; she couldn’t have been older than ten, and they looked like they were having a great time. Props to them.
‘Come to Poppa’ was an old blues cover which hit me in a weird spot because my own Papa – a huge Seger fan – couldn’t make the show. Next came ‘Like a Rock,’ which had originally been written as a reflection on Bob’s high school track and field career before Chevy turned it into an ad spot.
Seger played to the height of his ability, knocking it completely out of the park. The set list was sprinkled with fun tidbits of behind the scenes information, like that ‘You’ll Accompany Me’ hadn’t been played live in thirty years. And the band sounded great!
It was right around this time that Bob donned a hilarious black sweatband, looking like he could just as easily lead an exercise class as give us the second half of a rock show.
I also found out that ‘We’ve Got Tonight’ is not only Mama Seger’s favorite tune, but apparently an excellent couples’ skate song. The band stole the show on ‘Travelin’ Man’ and Seger was in good voice for ‘Beautiful Loser.’
But it paled in comparison to what came after. ‘Turn the Page’ is my personal favorite Bob Seger song, and the delight at hearing it done live – and done so well – was immense.
Everyone else was just as excited, too, because they sang – loudly and early – beating Bob to the opening lyrics by a measure or two. There was Alto Reed again, with that iconic saxophone line that pushed this bittersweet ode to the touring musician over the top. Phenomenal.
If the show had ended there, I would have been perfectly content, but it wasn’t even close. A cover of Bob Dylan’s ‘Forever Young’ featured a video montage honoring some of rock and roll’s recently deceased – Prince, Tom Petty, and hometown heroes Aretha Franklin and Glenn Frey, among others.
Speaking of Mr. Frey, it was mentioned that the late Eagle had sung back-up on “every recording you’ve ever heard” of ‘Ramblin’, Gamblin’ Man.’ Seger introduced his all-star Silver Bullet Band to many applause for each. Several had been nominees or recipients of various Big Deal Awards, which was very cool.
As the night wore on – it was approaching 10:00pm – lightning began flashing in the sky, prompting some folks to head for the exit. But did Bob Seger care a lick about an approaching thunderstorm or your early wake-up call the next day?
“We’re gonna move Against the Wind, whaddaya say?” he asked by way of introducing the first of two encore sets. We cheered, of course. The intro to the subsequent, stellar ‘Hollywood Nights’ was just as epic: “Alright, Michigan! Road trip!” Isn’t that great?
In the end, the lightning got the better of us, and we listened to the final few numbers from the parking lot. During the last, he sang, “So now sweet sixteen’s turned seventy-four…”.
Based on the show I’d just seen, I’d say he was thirty-one every time it mattered the most.
The bottom line: “Rock and Roll Never Forgets” and neither do Detroit music fans.
Review by: Ashley J. Cicotte
Photos by: Robin Buckson & Ryan Garza (of the Detroit News)
(Little Caesar’s Arena, Detroit, MI - May 29th, 2019)
The Who changed my life when I was 11 years old. That sounds lofty, I know, but it’s true. My Dad played Tommy for me for the first time that year, and I have never thought of music in the same way since.
So when I told my Dad that our mutual favorite rock band was playing what could well have been their farewell tour (they christened it “Moving On”), we both knew that we had to be there.
And we were.
At Little Caesar’s Arena in Detroit last Tuesday, surviving members Roger Daltrey and Pete Townshend, along with the rest of the band that comprises the Who these days, gave us the show that we’d been hoping to see.
But before them came the Arkells, a band from Hamilton, Ontario, Canada. They were an eight-piece outfit who were kinda groovy with a lead singer that reminded me a bit of The Tragically Hip’s Gord Downie.
The Arkells played to an enthusiastic house that was about two-thirds full, which can only be explained by the outrageously long lines at the merch tables. “We see you singing along,” their front man told us. "We appreciate that.”
The band played through half an hour’s worth of material, most of which suffered from lack of song identification; I was able to pick out ‘People’s Champ,’ though, only because I’d read before the show that ‘People’s Champ’ was written as a protest song against the current American Presidential administration.
By the end of their set, I was able to draw exactly three conclusions about the Arkells:
First – they delivered mightily on their pledge to “do our best for you tonight.”
Second – the small section of horns in the band could have easily moonlighted in the orchestra that would play later in the evening.
Third – I would absolutely check out their studio stuff. Maybe then I’d find out useful information like the names of songs or the names of the musicians.
The Arkells went off, and it was set change time. Normally set changes can be boring, but this particular set change included a photo montage of the Who, promos for the Teen Cancer America foundation that Daltrey and Townshend patron, and a very special tribute to the lately deceased Russ Gibb, head honcho of the Grande Ballroom; the legendary Detroit venue that hosted the Who in some of their earliest American gigs.
Before too long, though, it was time.
The Who took the stage to thunderous applause, and maestro Pete gave a lovely little welcome, cheering on the progress that Detroit has made. “You’re gonna get it right,” he told us.
But enough talk. The 1969 masterpiece Tommy was up first, and the orchestra that had been the Fun New Thing for this tour dove straight into the ‘Overture.’
Orchestral arrangements are everything that Pete Townshend’s grand works demand, and my hands could barely take notes they were shaking so much with pure excitement and ecstasy at hearing my favorite album already done so well.
‘Amazing Journey’ (personal album favorite) brought Daltrey’s trademark microphone spins, which was further proof that he just owns the stage.
Drummer Zak Starkey and the orchestra masterfully took the lead in ‘Sparks.’
The Tommy set was abbreviated, so we skipped right ahead to ‘Pinball Wizard and the audience’s collective mindfreak. Even further on, ‘We’re Not Gonna Take It’ seemed very much a 2019 disillusionment anthem, and the majestic ‘See Me, Feel Me/Listening to You’ at the end of the song was absolutely transcendent.
It was here that Pete let loose a proper series of guitar windmills – a fitting end to that portion of the show.
And honestly, if that had been the end of the entire show, I would have been completely content – a testament to how effin’ good it was. Pete addressed the crowd once again, expressing gratitude for all of us taking the time and money to come out and support them, recognizing that this was “not a cheap gig.”
Whatever. If the Who showed out like this each time, I would pay more than the cost of my ticket – that’s how effin’ good it was.
A string of radio hits came next. ‘Who Are You’ had everyone singing along like it was an episode of CSI, and ‘Eminence Front’ got an inexplicably loud cheer.
Some lite string work at the beginning of ‘Imagine a Man managed to turn a song I normally dislike into something excellent. And ‘Join Together’ melded several elements of The Who’s dynamic in general that I love the most: Multi-instrumentalism could in keyboardist Loren Gold rocking the mouth harp, crowd participation when Daltrey conducted the crowd in the singing of the chorus, and most importantly – the sense of unity the band cultivates with their audience; it is this aspect that I’ve always appreciated the most.
The post-script to that particular number was a personal highlight, in which Pete shared an anecdote about the late, great John Entwistle and how unimpressed he always seemed, and how Pete echoes the sentiment by the time ‘Join Together’ nears its end.
“If you haven’t joined the band by minute eight, you’re not getting any more promotions,” he concluded, laughing. And we all laughed too.
It’s that unity I’d mentioned.
The orchestra took a well-deserved break, and the hits kept coming with only the band to supply them. If there was a “lowlight” to the show, it was a plunky false start on ‘I Can See for Miles.’
But even that was amusing as Roger sheepishly blamed it on a “senior moment,” while Pete pinned the misstep on “Roger being creative.” Needless to say, the banter was on point.
An acoustic ‘Won’t Get Fooled Again’ seemed a weird flex, absent all but Roger and Pete onstage, and missing the iconic bombastic scream near the end. But it certainly commanded the largest audience participation of the evening so far.
‘Tea and Theatre’ off of 2006’s Endless Wire was another odd duck because, according to Pete, “many of you have never f***ing heard it!” But at the same time, he admonished us to “listen to this one, it’s nice.”
And it was – a quiet, pensive sort of song reflecting on the relationship between the guitarist and the singer.
The Quadrophenia set brought back the orchestra to play Pete’s other, 1973 magnum opus as the rock god had intended. And while the title track from the album would have been the best choice to make full use of the instrumentation, cuts like ‘The Real Me,’ ‘The Punk and The Godfather,’ and ‘5:15’ did the job.
On the previous Who tours I’ve seen, the latter track featured a thundering video cameo by bassist Entwistle. Here, however, the interlude space was filled with an absolutely shredding guitar run by Simon Townshend.
Pete’s solo turn on vocals for ‘Drowned’ was nothing short of excellent, while the instrumental ‘The Rock’ was accompanied by a video montage showing mostly the lowlights of the last fifty years or so, which included – among many, many other things – Vietnam, Nixon, John Lennon, the Berlin Wall, Princess Diana, September 11, and the immigration crisis, mashed up with footage of the band and a raging sea.
The orchestra sawed through the song, becoming equally the cause and the cure for the splitting headache I’d leave the venue with.
The absolute highlight of the entire thing was the last song of the Quadrophenia set. ‘Love Reign O’er Me’ began with an absolutely stunning piano solo by Loren Gold, and only got better from there.
Daltrey took what has always been my favorite rock vocal to the absolute height of his limits, never once sounding weak or worn even after a two hour show.
He gave 1000% percent of himself to the song, and to us, more than earning the standing ovation we leapt up to give as the final notes crashed down. I wish I could link video of it to this review so that I could show you just how effin’ great it was!
Pete introduced the main band – Simon Townshend (guitars), Jon Button (bass), Zak Starkey (drums) – and gave a special nod to the orchestra, saying they would give us one more song, closing the whole thing out in “a traditional way.”
‘Baba O’Riley’ was the perfect final touch, with the enduring lyrics about teenage wasteland and the skills and presence of lead violinist Katie Jacoby wrapped the whole evening up quite nicely.
The band took their bows, we cheered ourselves hoarse, and that was it. It was over. I’ll happily put my hand on my record collection and swear I have never been more disappointed to see the ending of a concert – and I’ve been to many excellent ones in my twenty-seven years.
But this was next level. Was this the Who’s final show in Detroit? I sure hope not. But on the off chance it is, to my all-time favorite band, all I can say is thank you.
Thank you for Tuesday, thank you for being the soundtrack to so much of my life, and for being the source of so many wonderful memories for my Dad and me.
Even if the Song is over, the Note is eternal.
Long Live Rock.
Review by: Ashley J. Cicotte
Photos by: to Elaine Cromie (Detroit Free Press)
Midge Ure & Paul Young
(Magic Bag, Ferndale, MI - June 14th, 2018)
Having been here to our shores, and indeed the very same venue for a few years now, Ultravox front man Midge Ure this time brought his fellow '80s pop star friend Paul Young with him to the Magic Bag in Michigan for the self-proclaimed The Soundtrack Of Your Life Tour 2018.
The Grammy and Brit Award winning musician kicked off his North American tour a few weeks back and here, on a very humid, yet very tolerable June night just outside of Detroit, the accomplished guitarist took to the stage as "opener".
In a small, darkened club, on a black stage with a black backdrop, at 9.00pm Midge Ure quietly, semi-unnoticed, came from behind the black curtain. Joined on stage by his (and Young's) traveling band of musical minstrels, dressed head to toe in black, Ure politely waves at the packed house, before opening the show with a stunning ‘Passing Strangers.'
"How are you all doing?“, he inquires to the devoted Ure fans in his midst. “It’s great to be back ... and I'm bringing my old pal Paul with me this time," he adds, to rapturous applause. Next up comes a pair of his big solo hits, the first being 'Dear God,' which he backs ("Let's see if you know this one ...") with the monster chart topper 'If I Was.'
"Are you having fun so far," he asks the crowd, before jokingly adding, "because I'll soon stop that! This is something from my last album, Fragile," he continues, as he then launches into 'Become.' A simply stunning 'I Remember (Death in the Afternoon)' is next and after Midge thanks the crowd once again, he then passively berates the fact that they, as artists on stage, are fighting a new era where when a song ends, people (like the one he points out in the crowd in front of him), instantly go to their cell phones to check Facebook and/or other forms of Social Media!
Introducing the next song as one for all those people, the Visage classic (that he co-wrote) 'Fade To Grey' is up next. Then a classic Ultravox quartet (no pun intended) of hits come flooding through his still-amazing guitar work. Starting off with a vibrant 'New Europeans,' he then backs that seamlessly with 'Hymn,' before the always-brilliant-to-hear 'Vienna' is swallowed up whole by the adoring crowd.
But then comes the true highlight of the night, for me and most all the crowd, for Ure unveils an Ultravox song that, to my best recollection, he just doesn't perform live all that often; and yet it's a song that symbolizes the '80s just perfectly: 'All Stood Still.' My goodness, bathed under the most perfectly-suited, densely green spotlights, it was both an audio and visual delight.
Bringing his set to a close (sadly) with the title track from his last solo outing, 'Fragile,' and then (after a minute's worth of guitar creativity) powering up the monster 'Dancing With Tears in My Eyes,' as the crowd sung along, Ure's last moments on the stage were as prolific a musical genius in motion sight as they must have been back 30+ years ago.
But, come to and end it must, for 20 minutes later and with the backing band now returned, on strolled the enigmatic '80s crooner himself, the uber well dressed, suited and booted Paul Young.
Opening with 'Some People,' between that and his infamous cover of The Four Preps' 'Love of the Common People,' he informs the audience that he's "... enjoying this little tour together" (with Ure); and why wouldn't he, let's be honest.
I mean, Young might not exactly be able to command a stage, or an audience, or even a vocal riff any more, but he's on a high profile tour of the US nonetheless!
Moving on and after thanking the audience for their applause, he admits that he made a mistake in not coming back to the US for 25 years, and that he was going to try and make up for that tonight. He didn't, far from it, but watching him sing his "drunken" old man karaoke set was, however, highly entertaining!
His big hit of the day, the Marvin Gaye classic 'Wherever I Lay My Hat (That's My Home)' is up next and is appreciated by the now-thinning crowd, and then a song that he manages to passably crawl through, 'Everything Must Change' is up next. A totally butchered 'Senza una donna' (the Zucchero duet) is up next before he dips into his recently released Good Thing album re: Memphis Soul tunes, for what turns out to be one of his best vocalized songs of the night, 'Gotta Get Back to You.'
"Thank you very much,", Young adds after the song, for as much as the crowd was now down to only half that watched Ure perform, the ones remaining were actually enjoying Young's set. 'What Becomes of the Brokenhearted' (Jimmy Ruffin) manages to sound half decent, given the obvious and severe lack of vocal range Young now showcases, and then we get a rallying cry from Young on a cover of his own Q-Tips ode to Southern soul singer Joe Tex, 'Get 'Em Up Joe.'
Expertly backing that up with more Memphis Soul (which is truly where his vocals are now best suited) in the form of the vibrant 'Slipped, Tripped and Fell In Love,' Young then sings (and I use that word very loosely) one of my own personal favorites (before tonight), 'I'm Gonna Tear Your Playhouse Down.' Man, oh man. Wow. Young just doesn't possess the lungs for this rock/pop vocal depth any more and it was a noticeably big mistake to try and bluster his way through it tonight.
Bringing the set to a close with both his big UK hit 'Everytime You Go Away' (Hall & Oates) and a rangy, over-reaching 'Come Back and Stay,' leaving the stage to an overly-generous amount of applause, he's soon back out though for a duet, of sorts, with Midge Ure on the thunderous Thin Lizzy cover (that Ure also co-wrote), 'The Boys Are Back In Town.'
Sadly, Young's vocals have all but gone at this juncture, but he tries to make his stage presence felt with some '80s mic stand spinning and cheesy lean-in poses with his guitarist. He fails, and as much as Ure was always going to be the stand out performer of the night, Young did at least give it his best shot; but came up well short, nonetheless. Sorry, mate.
Review by: Russell A. Trunk
Live Photos by: Eric J. Wertanen
BREAKING NEWS! Lost Concert Reviews Content
Due to a GoDaddy server error, we here at Exclusive Magazine subsequently lost the last two (2) years worth of Concert Reviews!
We shall endeavour to go to new shows soon and get some new reviews up for you to read, you have our word.
Thank you for your understanding in this matter at this time and we look forward to having brand new Concert Reviews up here sometime soon for you all to read.
Russell A. Trunk
Director & Editor in Chief
(Magic Bag, Ferndale, MI - October 23rd, 2016)
For those not in the know, Security Project started performing in 2012 in recognition of the 25th anniversary of the release of the album Security by Peter Gabriel. The band performs Gabriel's early progressive repertoire, generally taking material from his first four albums. Well known members of the band include drummer Jerry Marotta (who played on those first four albums and toured with Gabriel for 10 years), Warr guitarist Trey Gunn (who was a member of progressive band King Crimson), and guitarist Michael Cozzi (who was a member of Shriekback, himself replacing Fuzzbee Morse).
Add to that both David Jameson - keyboards, Eigenharp - and the extraordinary Gabriel-vocal styling of Brian Cummins, and you had a touring band that not only did eloquent justice to Gabriel's work, but with Cummins' unique, spot on perfect Gabriel inflection, brought it all to life on their first two recordings (Live 1 & Live 2).
But, since then, and just weeks before the release of Live 2 and these subsequent touring dates, Cummins quit the band. The voice that channeled Gabriel was no longer and so the Security Project hastily turned to a beloved friend of theirs to take the lead role - Happy Rhodes. Well known and highly respected within the industry, Rhodes duly learned all the lyrics and took over the vocal reins therein.
But, and as witnessed here tonight on just their third live gig together, things did not go well. Worse yet, Rhodes, being female, just doesn't have either the vocal inflections required to sing these songs, nor is her stage presence anything to write home about. Not her fault, having been thrown in at the deep end, sure, but to head this third reinvention of the Security Project they needed another male in the Cummins vocal mode. What they ended up with was a band that now comes across as nothing short of a mid-afternoon casino lounge bar band.
And so, in a small, darkened club, on a black stage with a black backdrop, electric instruments abound, seemingly making it hard for any musicians to find a space to stand. At precisely 7.45pm, the band comes quietly out, semi-unnoticed as the house music still plays. With Rhodes now center stage, the crowd begin to look at each other, also seemingly unknowing of Cummins having left the band. Rhodes, a songwriter, instrumentalist and electronic musician with a four-octave vocal range, begins the first half of the set with the spoken word introduction to 'Lay Your Hands On Me', but it's very obvious looking around at the hushed hand whispers that a lot of the audience are bemused by her presence.
And, to be fair, rightfully so, for as much as this is a celebration of Peter Gabriel's work, when the Security Project had Cummins' vocals bringing forth the spirit of Gabriel, all you had to do was shut your eyes and the great man was there on stage. Rhodes doesn't have that range, that allure, and so her voice simply cannot resonate; replicate even, Gabriel's. Again, and I can't stress this enough, that's not her fault given the circumstances, but it was a massive let down for me on the night - and for the majority of the gathering also.
Moving on, and under blue then yellow spotlights, we next get the dark slow funk bass opening to 'Intruder', with the pleasant storytelling of 'Family Snapshot' along next. Then, due to Gunn's screeching Warr guitar we lurch into 'No Self Control' which, when done right, is a gem of a song. But as Rhodes seemingly isn't invested, the passion of the song is sorely missing. Which was an ongoing theme here tonight. Thanking the crowd, she then asks for the smoke machine to be turned of as it was affecting her voice. It was then that I realized that she was seemingly embarrassed at having had to actually speak. A running theme as it turned out for almost all the night, there was no chit-chat, no idle banter, no behind-the-scenes info on why certain songs were written. Nope, save for late in the show when Marotta took over the mic for promotional purposes, there was no interaction with the audience at all.
Under red and blue lights a gentle introduction is brought forth and we are into the beautiful 'Blood Of Eden', which upon completion, allows Rhodes to go backstage for a glass of water. Soon back and we stroll into the dark, moody 'The Family and the Fishing Net' which allows Jameson to vacate his upright keyboard and bring his stand alone Eigenharp out for us to view. Lit up by different colored little lights, it is just the most perfect instrument to engage the sounds needed for one of my own personal Peter Gabriel favorites, 'I Have The Touch'. Bathed under yellow lights now, it seems that Rhodes has finely found her smile, for she not only dances in subtle, quietly programmed shapes on stage, but she literally has a broad smile on her face for the upbeat song.
"Thank you for coming out and seeing us tonight," Rhodes says. "We very much appreciate you being here," and with that, and to an oboe opening that bleeds into a dulcet piano, 'Wallflower' is then with us. The weakest song of their entire set, the Eigenharp is now out again, along with both Cozzi and Gunn standing in front of their very own solo drum heads to drum out a regimented beat to 'The Rhythm Of The Heat'. A definite fan favorite they stand to applaud at its end. Their first act is subsequently brought to a close with that song, and as they walk off backstage through the draped black curtains, with the lights now up, a lot of people are now seen nose deep in their iPhones; one can only assume Googling the band to try and learn more about what had happened to Cummins.
As the second part of the show opens, we find just Rhodes, solo with an acoustic guitar taking center stage as she, without any guff nor puff, begins to gently play David Bowie's 'Ashes To Ashes'. A nice enough song, sure, and played and sung well enough, but it has zero connection to the Peter Gabriel show that these fans had come to see. Next, and with only Gunn by her side, she puts on her best Kate Bush vocal tone, which happens to be a damn great one, and brings us Bush's 'Mother Stands for Comfort'. A beautiful rendition of a Bush song, sure, but, and again, nothing to do with why the fans were there tonight. Indeed, it was plainly obvious that the Security Project guys were simply giving her a mid-set chance to "introduce herself" to the audience; so they knew she could do other things - and better.
Up next is possibly my all-time favorite Gabriel song, 'I Don't Remember' that heard through the vocals styling of Rhodes, unfortunately fell flat and exhausted on the stage at her feet. Complete with a low static feedback throughout, that seemingly only Jameson could hear (on stage), Rhodes, once again, forgets words, looks more than a little nervous, and has an expression that begs for the show to be over.
"And that's how it's done," bellows Marotta from back behind his drum kit, the song now over. "I've been keeping quiet back here, but not any more," he adds as he stands up and proceeds to walk to center stage. "That song ... how many times have I played it? We've only been doing it for a couple of years and I still get so excited about playing it. And we had a great version already, then she came along", [he says, pointing at Happy] "and we kinda all fell back into it again," he says, as the crowd applaud his heartfelt sentiments. Then, for the next four minutes, Marotta (over) sells the merchandise they have for sale, relentlessly going over and over the items, before adding something else. "We're gonna now do a song, it's one of Happy's songs ... here it comes," he adds, finally now back behind his drum kit.
After yet another Rhodes promotional moment, the song bleeds (rather perfectly, as it turns out) into 'Red Rain', but Rhodes is visibly not feeling the heart of the song. Her static stage presence is barely registering the beat, her vocals now hers, not even trying to emulate Gabriel's any more. The Eigenharp is out again, this time to fall in line with the jingly introduction to 'San Jacinto', before the atmospherically loud 'Moribund the Burgermeister' is performed. With a Gunn bass line that veritably pounds through your chest, after a drum solo it fades out, allowing Rhodes to pick up her acoustic guitar, and we are soon propelled into 'Fly on a Windshield', and then 'Broadway Melody of 1974'.
Up next is 'The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway', a classic among classics, and done very well tonight, it has to be said. The wild piano introduction, inclusive, one assumes, of a little solo moment for Jameson, ensures a vibrant, upbeat song is sung by Rhodes. A song that, once again, allows a smile to come to her face, creating a noticeable bounce to her shaped movements. "Thank you for coming tonight," she addresses the crowd afterwards. "We appreciate it more than you know." The group all then come front and center for a bow, before Marotta once again takes the mic. "I've played here before," he reveals. "I love this place. I really do. Sorry, but I have a tendency to talk with a microphone in my hand," he laughs. "I'm so happy to be here, on the planet, first of all", he again laughs. "I see people I recognize here. I love playing this music and I love the addition of Happy Rhodes on this tour."
Marotta then goes off on a small rant about the lack of people that had come out to see them tonight, asking us, nay begging us to bring someone along with us next time, and to spread the word for him. Although he also admitted that they might never be offered the chance to come back after tonight! He tells everyone again that they should go buy the bands merchandise and that if they do he'll be up there to whisper some secrets about his playing days with Peter Gabriel to them. He talks about some of the songs that they don't usually get to play, such as both 'Wallflower' and 'San Jacinto' and then announces that they are now going to play a little more. Also thanking us for all coming out, he adds one final notification about all the tour merchandise they have for sale, and then the barefooted drummer is finally back behind his kit.
'Games Without Frontiers' is the one and only "encore" song and, once again, Rhodes just doesn't have the chops for it, sadly. It has a wonderful lead in, and is inclusive of a band jam session that sees Rhodes slide off to side stage several times, before it is all brought to a close. In what was one of the highlights of the night, to see the band jam like that for six minutes, now it was all over. "Thank you, once again," Rhodes says. "Have a great night. Thank you for coming out tonight," she adds, as the band come to the front and bow again, before waving themselves off stage for the last time.
Review: Russell A. Trunk
Photos: Gil Goodrow
Security Project @ Facebook
(Magic Bag, Ferndale, MI - October 9th, 2016)
Having been here to our shores, and indeed the very same venue back some two and three years ago now, Ultravox front man Midge Ure brought his Live+Electric North American show to the Magic Bag again last night. The Grammy and Brit Award winning musician kicked off his North American tour a few weeks back and here, on a very acceptable, very tolerable October night just outside of Detroit, MI (and with only a handful of dates left yet to play), the accomplished guitarist took to the stage.
In a small, darkened club, on a black stage with a black backdrop, at 9.10pm Midge Ure quietly, semi-unnoticed, came from behind the black curtain. Joined on stage by L.A. based bass/keyboard player Tony Solis and his drummer, Right The Stars‘ BC Taylor, dressed head to toe in black (as is his thing), Ure begins to fiddle with the new strings on his guitar, before gently opening the show with a delightful ‘Dear God’. "How are you all doing?“, the he inquires to the devoted Ure fans in his midst. “It’s great to be back. Talking of back, I’m going to go way, way back now”, he smiles, as he and his backing band then bring us a storming ‘The European’.
“Thank you very much” he once again says, which was also a running theme for the man who, after 40 years, has become a staple of music collections everywhere. “Are we missing the big debate?“ he asks them, referring to the televised official second debate between Trump and Clinton. “I’m not”, he laughs. “Ok, this is old as well. I read on Twitter, because I’m hip with the kids, you know, that this next song was #1 in the UK 35 years ago. So that’s old. It was #1 everywhere … expect here”, he adds, dryly, before launching into his hit solo single, ‘If I Was’. A vibrant ‘Call Of The Wild’ is next, before some more chit chat. “So, the last time I toured I had no friends with me”, he laughs, referring to his 2015 Live+Acoustic tour, “and, as you can see, I still have no friends with me” he sarcastically notes, as he steps back to point at both his band members. “I found these two outside busking in the cold” he adds, before announcing the next song. “This is a special song for me. It was written 25 years ago and if you know it, and know the words, please sing along. If you don’t know the words, then please don’t!”. And with that he get a wonderful rendition of Visage’s ‘Fade To Gray’.
As the song comes to an end, the red and blue lights that had once lit it merging back to white, Ure speaks, once more. “This is something different. I wrote this 20 years ago watching bombs hitting targets on TV. You never saw where they came from, but always saw where they landed. It made war into a video game for me”, he adds, before bringing us the poignant ‘Beneath A Spielberg Sky’. “Ok, you know those moments when you go see your favorite bands and their songs take you right back to good times. And then the singer says, Here’s something new … well, here’s something new”, he laughs. ‘Become’ from his last solo album, Fragile is now on deck, and is easily one of his best solo recordings to date. “Right, back into my history again” Ure says, as he and the band bring us a brilliant ‘Hymn’ which is followed by yet another spot of bother for Ure with his aforementioned new guitar strings. As he stands there working on them, come completion (for that moment), and before the next song, he audibly mumbles, “You don’t see Bono fixing his guitar or moving his own speakers!”
A smashing, and given he is delving back into his early Ultravox days and trying to make these live versions as authentic to their original creations as possible, chillingly dark and mysterious ‘The Voice’ is next. Ure plays keys the whole way through, and just closing your eyes you can hear the crisp quality of the live sound as if it were a CD playing instead. “Good singing”, he says, “Thank you very much. Great stuff … but not on this one”, he tells them as he brings forth the spine tingling ‘Vienna’. The heavier guitar work combined with an overall darker sensibility, this was the first time I’d ever heard it sound so raw, so honest. It was breathtaking, there’s just no other way to say it. That seamlessly then bleeds into a pulsating ‘All Stood Still’ which was also performed and sung in this very same moodier structure. Huge applause rang around the room, everybody up on their feet (where they should have been the moment Ure came on stage, in my humble opinion). “That song was written 37 years ago”, Ure reveals. “You guys were awesome, thank you. Ok, here’s some more older stuff”, and with that we get one of my personal favorites of the night, ‘Passing Strangers’, before a sincere, and thoughtful guitar solo moment, not to mention a subtle lead in from the drummer, finds its path into ‘Dancing With Tears In My Eyes’.
“Thank you” he says, once more. “We’ll see you soon”, he adds as he and his band make their way backstage. Back on stage some 30 seconds later, he introduces the two band members (as his sons!), before talking one last time, in earnest to the audience. “We wanted to do something special for you next. We lost so many people, so many brilliant musicians this year … and in February in NYC we lost one of the biggest stars that the world has ever known.” With that Ure and his band bring us a hauntingly spectacular ‘Starman’ from David Bowie. With Ure’s vocal tones matching the cadence of Bowie’s perfectly in the opening to the song, this was, without a shadow of a doubt, the true highlight of tonight’s show. Come the songs end, and with the audience applauding loudly, Ure thanks everyone for the last time, waves goodbye and is gone for the night.
Review & Photos by: Russell A. Trunk
(Fox Theatre, Detroit, MI - June 17th, 2016)
Whitesnake, the hard working, hard singing, hard rockin' band, founded many moons ago by the incomparable David Coverdale after his departure from his previous band, Deep Purple (which he combined a new album and highly underrated tour with last year), may well now only be Coverdale and a traveling band of troubadours, but tonight they performed as if they had been together for 40 years!
As the clock strikes 9.00pm from stage left guitarist Reb Beach wanders out, guitar already slung, ready for action, a broad smile emblazoned. Next comes bassist Michael Devin, with both guitarist Joel Hoekstra and drummer Tommy Aldridge striding to their marks quickly thereafter. Then comes the man himself, DC. Dressed, as always, in one of his very own Whitesnake designer shirts, his hair as perfect as it was back in the glory days of MTV, the boys launch into the guitar throbbing opening of 'Bad Boys’. Coverdale throws his cheeky grin around, suggestively grabs the mic stand, asks the audience to “Make some f@ckin’ noise”, and powering out his uniquely throaty vocals, we are officially off and running.
With The Purple Album and tour behind them from last year, this was now entitled The Greatest Hits Tour, and as much as there were only 13 songs, one of which was far from a “hit“ of any kind, this band still have what it takes to convince their fans they have every right to still be charging $35 for a tour tshirt! Sure not everything was perfect with the show, which we‘ll get to shortly, but having seen a lot of bands still trying to reclaim their 80‘s/90‘s heady spotlight of fame, Whitesnake just never lost it. It‘s that simple.
Without DC saying much of any note, after ’Bad Boys’ we get the powerhaus trio of ’Slide It In,’ ’Love Ain’t No Stranger,’ and the lush mid-tempo ballad, ’The Deeper The Love.’ Once ’Fool For Your Loving’ has been brought forth, DC finally addresses the audience. “Good evening, Detroit.” Then spotting a few men in uniform in the front row, perhaps just the well-dressed Fox Theatre staff, to be honest, he says, “Ohh, I do love a man in uniform. And look,” he adds, walking the front row, “we’ve got the Righteous Brothers here also!” As he then turns back to look at Joel, he quickly spins back to face the crowd once more. “OK, we’ve got a song for ya, but before that, I want you to know that the first time I ever performed here in the US I played here in Detroit with Deep Purple. It was at Cobo Hall. You remember that place?” he asks, referring to a building that still stands tall, and is the current home of the Detroit Red Wings.
“I f@ckin’ love that I’m here now with you all tonight,” he further says. “So, here’s a song for ya that Mr. Hoekstra will introduce,” he adds, as they then bring us the only non-hit of the set, ’Sailing Ships.’ Not an obvious fan favorite, people look at each other, begin to chat amongst themselves, and even leave for either a beer or a piss (or both), but when that track powers on through seamlessly into the massive ’Judgement Day’, just like that the fans are back and singing along as loud, and as proud as ever. Ending that song with his trademark wail, it’s obvious early on that DC is struggling with his throaty vocals. Not only does he now proffer the mic more and more to the front row “singers” to sing entire lines of songs, but his band take over whole chunks also. DC said back when The Purple Tour got so much flack that that was probably it for Whitesnake and touring live, so there is obviously a dire possibility DC is going to call it quits after this tour now.
“Thank you so much, Detroit, “ DC comes to the front of the stage, grinning like the cat that got the cream, “and please say hello to the insanely talented Reb Beech and the incredibly talented Joel Hoekstra.” What comes next are two guitar solo spots that, much like the upcoming bass guitar and drum solo spots, are an old school fixture of bands like this (and blues bands, in general), and yet something that has to stop! They are no longer required listening and viewing for the fans, whose attention spans, when before were rockin’ out to a “greatest hit” are now lost, bored, begging for another hit to come along - and quickly! Don’t take just my journalistic word for it, for these were statements being heard all around me, as Beech definitely won the battle of how to make his guitar sound one minute like a speeding train about to derail, the next a rocket screeching its way skyward. Hoekstra just played his sparkly purple WS guitar as if he had come in midway through a power ballad, before turning his attention to a Flamenco guitar; expertly showing off his quick-fingered plucking skills thereafter.
Once all the guys were back on stage, the brilliant’ Slow An’ Easy’ is performed, and then it’s during ‘Crying In The Rain’ that the set is once again broken up - this time by the nonsense of a bass guitar solo from Michael Devlin. Fair play that he funked it up, made it old school, but why oh why does anybody at a rock concert ever want to hear a bass guitar solo at the best of times, sorry? He then finishes, screams “Tommy …” whilst pointing backwards, and next up is Aldridge’s very own solo moment in the spotlight. As always, he goes from a riveting, if not typical drumming exhibition with sticks, to throwing them into the audience and just using the palms of his hands and his feet - on everything! The guys then come back out to finish off ‘Crying In The Rain’, DC (now in a different WS shirt, this time with 'Make Some F@ckin' Noise' emblazoned on the back). He introduces the band one at a time front of stage, informs us they have a song for us, and then we get the massive radio power ballad hit ‘Is This Love.’
That bleeds seamlessly into ‘Gimme All You Love,’ and sporting yet another big cheesy, but genuinely warm and welcoming grin, we get the last song of the set, ‘ Here I Go Again.’ “Thank you so much, Detroit,” DC waves at the crowd, before walking off stage, which doesn’t last long as soon they are back, with DC asking “You wanna make some real noise, Detroit?” The always epic ‘Still Of The Night’ is then the only encore song, and therein the last song of the night, wrapping up 90 minutes of pure Whitesnake perfectly. “A thousand thank you’s for your hospitality tonight, Detroit,“ DC adds, as the band group together for a final bow. "Be safe, be happy and don't let anyone make you afraid", he adds, waving again, bumping fists with those lucky front row hands And to the throes of 'We Wish You Well', which in turn is then followed by Monty Python’s ‘Always Look On The Bright Side Of Life’ now left to play over the speakers, they all leave the stage, one by one.
Review & Photos by: Russell A. Trunk
(The Fillmore, Detroit, MI - March 26th, 2016)
The Cult, for those uninitiated, are a British rock band formed in 1983. They gained a dedicated following in the UK in the mid-1980s as a post-punk/gothic rock band with singles such as 'She Sells Sanctuary', before breaking mainstream in the US in the late 1980s as a hard rock band with singles such as 'Love Removal Machine' and 'Fire Woman'.
Since their earliest form in Bradford during 1981, the band have had various line-ups; the longest-serving members are vocalist Ian Astbury and guitarist Billy Duffy, the band's two songwriters. John Tempesta – drums - has been with the band since 2007.
And so here tonight in Detroit, in support of their brand new 10th studio album, Hidden City - an album that is also the final part of a trilogy that began with both Born Into This (2007) and Choice of Weapon (2012) - The Cult brought both original members and newbies to the home of Motown. Taking quietly to the stage undercover of darkness, the band set themselves, whilst Astbury places some lyric sheets down by his speaker. Reaching for a tambourine, he then counts the band into the opening song, 'Dark Energy.' With no Cult banner backdrop, all the band in black, the stage lights always dark colors, the band still ride their cool Goth demeanor to the max - and rightfully so.
Midway through the first song a large man causes some trouble front row and as Astbury looks on, is dragged out by security and escorted out of the building. Heading into 'Rain,' 'Wild Flower,' and even 'Horse Nation,' Astbury is finding his ease with the stage still, chatting with other band members, even walking off stage mid-songs. But all that changes before 'Hinterland' is brought forth. "Good evening, Detroit," Astbury finally acknowledges the packed house. "We all good down the front now?" he asks the front section, based on the aforementioned incident during the first song.
"That was 'Hinterland'," Astbury acknowledges after the song. "Thank you for coming tonight. Well done, Detroit, I see you are getting it back together again," he adds, in reference to the rebuilding of our fair city after Detroit had sadly filed for Chapter 9 bankruptcy protection in 2013. 'Honey From A Knife' is next and is most definitely the most pop song-esque I think I've ever heard The Cult be, before Astbury addresses the crowd again. "Thank you kindly. Everybody good now?" Under a purple spotlight, the keyboards are lit and a gentle piano intro brings us 'Gone'.
But it's around this time that Astbury begins to crank up his rants. Seemingly getting more and more irritated by all the cell phones and lack of audience participation for the new songs, he shuts the band down. "Are we going to connect tonight, Detroit? Is it going to happen," he asks. "You've all got to participate. Anyway, you guys should know that here tonight is the best band we've had ever," he then admits, opening up his arms to showcase the foursome around him. But he is right as nobody does connect with the new songs. Indeed, there is absolutely no crowd moshing, no en masse arm waving, no out of tune chorus singing. Nothing. They are still. Silent. Quiet throughout each of the new tracks.
But all that changes when Astbury admits "If it wasn't for the MC5 and Iggy And The Stooges we wouldn't be here today" and The Cult then launch into their own 1987 classic hit 'Lil' Devil.' "Thank you," he says, come its end, before sidestepping into a stage-pacing conversation about his reducing man boobs, about good and bad luck, about life controlling our every moves and more. Then as he quietens the crowd down with his finger to his lips, next the band bring us 'Birds Of A Feather,' which again, being a new track, doesn't do much for the paying audience.
Raising his dark sunglasses for the first time away from his eyes and up, momentarily to his forehead, Astbury talks again about his desire to see all the cell phones put away, before a long instrumental lead in finally brings us yet another new cut, 'Deeply Ordered Chaos.' The crowd, as expected, remain unaffected.
After that, Astbury delivers a message to the younger members of the crowd. "Young bloods. The new generation. Don't believe what they are telling you," he instructs, before we get a rousing double act of both 'Sweet Soul Sister' (the third single taken from the brilliant album Sonic Temple) backed by the song of the night, 'Fire Woman.' And sure, Astvbury's vocals are torn a little by now, and he seems a little out of breath, but the power, the intensity of the tracks themselves bring the crowd to life - finally!
During 'The Phoenix' (a track from their underrated 1985 second album, Love) each band member gets a 30 second solo moment to showcase their talents, which also includes Astbury breaking yet another cheap-looking tambourine mid-song. "Thank you," he says, as the show nears its end. "You guys having a good time," he asks, before we get an underwhelming 'She Sells Sanctuary,' complete with a mid section break where Astbury mumbles the words, hopefully in tribute, I'm a Blackstar.
"Thank you, Detroit City," Astbury says, ending the set. "OK, you wanna hear some more music?" he then adds, before immediately leaving the stage! Less than two minutes later he is back, alone, and rambling into his mic like some off-track comedian at an empty club. Hitting hot topics of the day, he moves through each one like wildfire, never fixating long enough on one before he's into the next. He even mentions Justin Bieber's current tour, Purpose, and the fact he just split his own new pants on stage tonight! "Alright, please, can we connect tonight, Detroit," he asks them, once again. "Turn off your f**king phones. You're missing your lives. We love you and we just want you to be right here with us tonight. You're coming back, Detroit. You're not f**king dead. Come on now, Detroit," he fist pumps into the air before we get another new track, 'G.O.A.T.'
As that song ends, Astbury is once again at the mic, addressing the crowd. "Thank you kindly. That was fun. That wasn't written too long ago, but this next song should have you up and dancing. Detroit, are you ready to put your dance pants on? Ladies and Gentlemen. Boys and Girls. Are you ready to break out the killer jams, my Brothers and Sisters?", he pleads, as The Cult bring us the last song of the night, and one that has everybody up, singing, arms waving, 'Love Removal Machine'.
Come it's end, the crowd (finally) baying their love, appreciation for the band, Astbury destroys yet another tambourine, introduces the band one by one, thanks everyone for coming out (especially those from Windsor, Canada), and then the band are gone - for now.
Reviewed by: Russell A. Trunk
Terri Nunn & Berlin
(Freedom Hill Amphitheatre, Sterling Heights, MI - September 24th, 2015)
Berlin, tonight opening for once-mega 80's UK band Tears For Fears, have always been one of my favorites to listen to. Whether it be back in the day, or lead singer Terri Nunn's version of Berlin on "their" last album, Animal, the American new wave band - formed in Los Angeles in 1978 by original member John Crawford - have survived admirably in this swallow-them-whole business.
For those that recall their brand of music, they first gained mainstream-commercial success in the early 80's with singles such as 'The Metro', 'Sex (I'm A...)', 'No More Words' and then in the mid-80's with the uber chart-topping single 'Take My Breath Away' - from the 1986 film Top Gun.
After a short video montage of the band's greatest hits, Nunn and her trio of new-Berliners take the stage. Sadly, its obvious from the off that she is in pain though for she is wearing a big, clumsy brace on her right knee. Distracting mightily from her chosen combination of a flowing red evening wear dress topped with a crow's next collar wrap, it also restricts Nunn from anything more than the odd gentle stage stroll. With only a handle of people on the lawn of this expansive 7,500 outdoor venue, and just close to around 300 in the seats, it must have been ominous for Nunn to witness, but the trooper she is, she launches straight into 'Trash' and never looks back.
"How are you doing tonight, Sterling Heights?" she asks the now-growing crowd, before the opening song bleeds right into a brilliant 'No More Words.' With a slightly out of sync video playing behind them, the band nail the track, Nunn's vocals already proving that she still has what it takes to sing live in these latter years. "Can this side sing louder than them?" she says, pointing at the other side of the venue, before ensuring her whirling arms at least make up for the fact her legs cannot do anything close. "How are you, Sterling Heights?" she asks again, adding "This is the last concert of the summer season here, and so we are honored to be here tonight. Thank you all for coming out."
With that, the electronic air raid sirens are heard and we're into 'Metro,' and yet another massively spot on rendition of one of their classic songs is brought forth. Indeed, old songs or new, it has to be firmly stated here that Nunn's vocals are fantastic on every single song, never faltering, never failing her. She is, without a shadow of a doubt, one of the best-sounding 80's artists - male or female - that I have ever had the pleasure to witness live in this day and age.
Moving on and after a bow to the audience's applause, Nunn and company give us 'Masquerade.' "Detroit," Nunn speaks, now changing the local city's name to a more rounded, globally-known one, "this is a really special night for us as it is our drummer Chris' birthday today." As the applause rings out, she adds, "Thank you all, and on the count of three, will you wish Happy Birthday to Chris with me." Which, of course, they all chime in with. "Thank you. Thank you. This is our newest song and video, and it's called Animal," she introduces, and suddenly we are forgetting birthday cake and are instead knee deep in some "new" new wave/synthpop from their 2013 album.
"This is a song from my childhood," Nunn next reveals, "and is a woman I always wanted to be when I was a kid." Jefferson Airplane's infamous Grace Slick-sung 'Somebody to Love' is then brought forth, albeit with an 80's pop/synth twist, of course. "You probably have already figured this out, but I tore my ACL," she says, pointing at her knee, "and so I can't dance. But I can sing and so I will do my best for you," she adds, to a loud round of applause. "This is for all the die hard Berlin fans out there. It's called Pleasure Victim," and with that she not only sings her heart out, but halfway through, walks out into the aisles of the venue to "meet" her fans.
Now back on stage, she lets everyone know that the next song is a "brand new song, that's coming out next year." She adds that she wants to know what they think of it, and then we get to listen to what actually turns out to be a rather decent song, 'All For Love.' Sometimes new songs from old school 80's synth bands can be, well, cheesy and halfhearted, but not this one. The gentle sway of the song combined with the synth back beat actually made this a mighty favorite of mine tonight. "Are you ready to dance?", she asks, adding "I need you to dance for me tonight. This is a song about how I like to watch my man striptease, and it's called With The Lights On." But before she launches into the song, she brings up on stage around 30 early bird's from the front few rows to dance, in one long line behind her. Which they all do admirably, and as Nunn twists and turns among them, it's obvious that she is having as much fun tonight as they are.
As they are escorted off the stage at the songs end, the band bleed into another of their monster hits, 'Sex (I'm A ...),' a song sung now barefoot by the still-going-vocally-strong Nunn. However, it has to be said that the shared vocals with her male guitarist didn't sound good at all, as he just doesn't have the voice to accompany her, sadly. That aside, she bows, collects herself, and then we get, with no introduction needed, the smash hit ballad, 'You Take My Breath Away.' "We want to thank Tears For Fears for having us here tonight," she says, at the songs end, and now back on stage from yet another audience foray, "and for everyone here, including the hot lighting guy that I don't know the name of," she laughs. "Thank you all for coming out and bringing this alive tonight. We've got time for one more song so get up and dance," she requests, before the band give us yet another highlight of the night, 'Dancing In Berlin.' As the song ends, she solo bows, they then group bow and as she waves goodbye, she adds, "Thank you so much for having us," and then, for now, Terri Nunn and Berlin are gone.
Review by: Russell A. Trunk
Photos by: Chris Schwegler @ www.ChrisSchwegler.com
(The Fillmore, Detroit, MI - September 12th, 2015)
In Rock & Roll, you don't get to be a continual recording and touring success, nay behemoth, by sheer luck! So, having been an original recording artist for 40 years, one that spans a staggering five decades, the fact that Motörhead are still treading the boards, and in support of a brand new album, shouldn't shock anybody.
Motörhead, for those uninitiated, are an English rock band formed in 1975 by bassist, singer, and songwriter Ian Fraser Kilmister, professionally known by his stage name "Lemmy." Indeed, it is Lemmy who has remained the sole constant member of the band, which is something I myself didn't even know before writing this review; even though both Phil "Wizzö" Campbell (guitars) and Mikkey Dee (drums) have collectively been in the band now for 54 years!
Moving on, and the band are often considered a precursor to, or one of the earliest members of, the New Wave of British Heavy Metal, which re-energized heavy metal in the late 1970s and early 1980s. Despite this, or maybe simply because of this, Lemmy has hence forth always dubbed their music as simply "Rock 'N' Roll".
And so here tonight in Detroit, in support of their brand new 22nd studio album, Bad Magic, Motörhead entered into the final few shows on their tour of North America. Having been opened by both Crobot and Anthrax, come the witching hour, the lights go off, the yells (along with clenched fists) go up, and Motörhead take to the stage. With their slogan being 'Everything Louder Than Everything Else', you already know what kind of a night you are in for. But to experience it live, standing by the stage taking photographs, by all those speakers, well, WOW ... it was unbelievably, nay, terrifyingly loud tonight!
Anyway, with the three guys now in place, Lemmy announces the band: "We are Motörhead. We play rock 'n' roll," and with that, the opening chords of 'Damage Case' are struck up and the night has begun. Next comes 'Stay Clean' and before 'Metropolis', Lenny speaks to the crowd again: "It's great to be back in Detroit." Then peering into the crowd he adds, "A Full house, I see." Then guitarist Campbell asks for the house lights to be turned on before both he and Lemmy ask the crowd to scream as loud as they can. Which they do, but it's not loud enough for Motorhead! "That's not fuckin' good enough," Lemmy warns them. So they try again, and then once more, the last one seemingly just what the band wanted to hear. "Much better. Now you sound like you're from Detroit," Lemmy praises.
After 'Over The Top' we get a rather tuneful guitar solo from Campbell, before 'The Chase Is Better Than the Catch' and 'Rock It' are unleashed. "Has anyone bought our new album, Bad Magic?" Lemmy inquires. "It's the last album we'll make for a long, long time, but if you don't like it, you don't like it," he admits, shrugging his shoulders. "This is a song about some Lost Woman Blues," he adds, as the band set off into that very same-named track.
"Thank you very much," Lemmy acknowledges the baying crowd afterwards. "Do you remember when we used to play at Harpos," he further asks them. "Our feet used to stick to the carpet," he gently smiles, before setting the rabid fans up for a rousing, highly-extended version of 'Doctor Rock.' Complete with a massive drum solo, that itself featured eerie yellow lights beaming down upon a drum set that seemed to be smoking, it was easily one of the stand out highlights of the night.
"On the drums, Mickky Dee," Campbell announces, before Lemmy takes over, informing everyone about the true meaning to the next song: "This song is about businessmen and politicians and all those cunts. It's called 'Just 'Cos You Got the Power' that don't mean you got the right to use it." As the song ends, and with Lemmy always watchful of Campbell's guitar bringing a song to a close, he then verbally stumbles slightly. "Thanks. This is gonna be our last song tonight ...", but Campbell quickly intercedes: "No, it's not!" "Oh, that's right," Lemmy corrects himself, "It's not!" We've put in another golden oldie for you!" And with that, Motörhead launch into a cut from their Ace Of Spades album (from 1980!), the western-themed 'Shoot You in the Back.'
"Okay, THIS is really the last song," Lemmy gently smiles, "unless you clap loud enough afterwards and we might come back," he slyly adds. "It's the one song of ours that everyone knows. You can all sing along, but I won't be able to hear you," he personally admits, and with that they bring forth the monster that everyone has indeed been awaiting, 'Ace Of Spades.' The song ("...that's the way I like it baby, I don't wanna live forever") might not have the same depth, the same brutal smash-your-face-in vocal power that it once did, but with Lemmy's distinctive deep growl driving it home, it still resonates a huge sonic memory punch, that's for sure.
Leaving the stage, the crowd baying as hard as they can for the return of the magnificent three, Motörhead stroll back out; as promised. "I can't hear you. I'm deaf!" Lemmy truthfully informs them, as the crowd then turn their vocal love up a notch. "This will be the last song tonight, but before it I'm gonna introduce the band for the first time tonight." After he has put both Campbell and Dee under the spotlight, the former then "introduces" us to Mr. Lemmy Kilmister. "So, even though Detroit's in a state of redecoration," Lemmy continues, "I still love the old Detroit. You are still very good to us," he beams. "Thank you very much for all your support over the years. Don't forget us. We love you. We are Motörhead and we play rock 'n' fuckin' roll," he adds, as the band then bring forth the beloved 'Overkill.'
Complete with flashing lights, both on Campbell's guitar and from revolving spots encompassing the stage, Lemmy aims his guitar at the crowd like a long-necked machine gun. Once finished, the band come stage front to collectively bow, wave, and throw guitar pics and drum sticks into the front few rows. Lemmy leaves his bass propped up against the still-live speaker, the gentle feedback hum the last sounds that the band will make tonight.
Reviewed by: Russell A. Trunk