Saturday, January 31, 2009

Week In Review..01-25..01-31-09

Crazy week around here, let's catch up, huh?

The week started with the completion of my "binge and purge" period pertaining to the live Metallica experience. Monday and Tuesday found the Metallica/Machine Head tour in my backyard and I was ready to soak it in.

What is it about first shows of a two night stand? That coupled with it being the first show back from a break? Not sure but Machine Head got off to a rough start by beginning their set some 15 minutes late resulting in the loss of of two songs from their set.

Truth be told I was near for the chaotic 15 minutes and silently wondered if they were going to play at all. A piece of the main guitar rig malfunctioned and all the preset sounds for the set were wiped out. From my POV the MH crew did whatever it was that needed to be done under the pressure of 30,000 eyes staring them down.

Soundwise it was also a bit spotty at first, it was actually a lot clearer on the floor than when I hit the seats. Regardless, crowd interaction was definitely there so the rough start eventually hit smooth waters. The band didn't bother pissing and moaning about the tech issues, who wants to hear that? Instead they bulldozed through what time they did have.

Night two was to me, epic and an indication of what Machine Head really have to offer in the live setting. The crowd was even more intense and it gave the vibe of a MH show for the duration of their 45 minute set.

"Clenching the Fists of Dissent", "Imperium", "Halo", "Descend The Shades of Night" and "Davidian" were executed with all the power and fury anyone in attendance could've hoped for. Chicago has always been an important place for MH and while night one may have left some confused at the shortened set, night two completely eclipsed any lingering thoughts from a day earlier.

Metallica fared a little better right out of the gate, and with a multi-million dollar operation running almost nightly that's the way it should be! After seeing so many of these shows it's been cool to see how professionally they're run.

You essentially get the same set list of new 'Death Magnetic' songs and standards ("Sad But True", "Enter Sandman", "Master Of Puppets", "Seek and Destroy", "Nothing Else Matters" etc. with a rotating list of maybe 4 or 5 songs...but I will admit when it's "your jam" (a.k.a. the hi-five moment) I don't care if you're seeing it for the twentieth time, it's fucking on!

"Fight Fire with Fire", "Creeping Death", "Ride The Lightning", "Whiplash", "Blackened", "For Whom The Bell Tolls" were all performed over the two nights, each one as energetic and essential as the next.

Metallica, right now, are at the top of their game. It was a privilage to see them so much after not having seen them in over a decade. Many moons ago I would've bet my house they would never be able to light the internal fire in me they once did. I suppose if I would've made that bet I'd be homeless, yet somehow happy.
In closing, I'd like to say "what's up" to everyone I ran into on both Monday and Tuesday nights. So many people, so many old friends, so many new friends it was the icing on the cake of life. Cheers!

("Fight Fire With Fire")

("Trapped Under Ice")

While nursing a hangover on Wednesday word got out that the Rock and Roll world lost one of the greats.

Billy Powell, the former roadie who became a rock star for his keyboard work with the band Lynyrd Skynyrd, died early Wednesday morning apparently of heart problems at his home in Orange Park, Fla., police said. He was 56.

Born in Corpus Christi, Texas, in 1952, Powell grew up in a traveling military family and went to Bishop Kenny High School in Jacksonville, Fla., where he became friends with Leon Wilkeson, future bassist for Lynyrd Skynyrd.

Powell, who took music lessons as a youth, became a roadie for the band until about 1972, when he helped set up the band's equipment at a school prom. There, he sat down at a piano and began to play a version of "Free Bird." Van Zant hired him as keyboardist. The song featured a keyboard introduction that helped turn the piece into a rock 'n' roll anthem and made Powell a star.

Billy holding his own with the very best...2:37-4:02