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Concert review: The Cringe, Alice Cooper, and Mötley Crüe (August 20, 2015 @ Bankers Life Fieldhouse, Indianapolis, IN)

My 16-year old son Joshua and I traveled to Indianapolis Thursday night to take in Alice Cooper and Mötley Crüe on the latter’s “All Bad Things Must Come To An End: The Final Tour” at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. I have seen both acts before, so I had an idea what to expect going in, and for the most part I was not disappointed.

Opening the show was a Manhattan-based band called The Cringe. The band is comprised of John Cusimano (who is married to TV cooking show host Rachel Ray), James Rotondi, Johnny Blaze, and Shawn Pelton. They opened their set with a catchy tune called “Anything You Say” from their forthcoming release Blind Spot, available in October. They have four other albums available now: Hiding in Plain Sight (2012), Play Thing (2010), Tipping Point (2007), and Scratch the Surface (2005). The Cringe also performed covers of Black Sabbath’s “Paranoid” and Thin Lizzy’s “Jailbreak.” A very good set to open the show that encouraged me to search out more about the band once I came home.

The Cringe will be playing with Alice Cooper and Mötley Crüe through September 6 in San Antonio. Click here to see a full list of The Cringe’s future dates.

Alice Cooper

I have seen Alice Cooper twice before, and Joshua attended one of those concerts with me. As expected, the classic shock rocker put on a spectacular show. Playing several classic songs from the 1970s through the 1990s, Cooper and his band rocked the Indianapolis crowd into a frenzy for the headliners. A very good video of the Philadelphia show with the same setlist can be seen here (part 1) and here (part 2).

The highlights of the show included “Feed My Frankenstein” and “Killer,” which led to the beheading of the singer and the song “I Love the Dead.” As an opening act, he had a shorter set than the last time we saw him, but still put on a wicked theatrical performance complete with the Frankenstein monster prancing around the stage and the guillotine.

Setlist for Alice Cooper at Bankers Life Fieldhouse, August 20, 2015:
1. The Black Widow
2. No More Mr. Nice Guy
3. Under My Wheels
4. I’m Eighteen
5. Billion Dollar Babies
6. Poison
7. Dirty Diamonds
8. Go to H***
9. Feed My Frankenstein
10. Ballad of Dwight Fry
11. Killer
12Love the Dead
13.School’s Out (medley with Pink Floyd’s “Another Brick in the Wall)

Alice Cooper’s band is currently made up of Cooper as the lead singer, Ryan Roxie, Tommy Henriksen, and Nita Strauss on guitars, Chuck Garric on bass, and Glen Sobel on drums.

Purchase music by Alice Cooper.

Motley Crue

The headliner, of course, was Mötley Crüe, on what is being billed as the band’s final tour. Excuse me if I don’t entirely believe that, but time will tell. All of the band members have other projects in the works, such as Nikki’s Sixx:A.M. with James Michael and DJ Ashba, but it’s not difficult to envision a reunion five to ten years from now when the money made from this tour starts to dry up.

Thursday’s performance was not too disappointing to me, although if it had been my first experience with Mötley Crüe it may have been. Mick Mars, Nikki Sixx, and Tommy Lee all sounded great, and have every time I’ve seen them before. But Vince Neil was awful, and always has been in concert (at least since 1998, which was my first Mötley Crüe concert). He either forgets the lyrics or just doesn’t have the stamina to sing them all. He was backed on this tour by a couple of female singers to fill in some of the gaps, but there were still several missed lines throughout the night.

I have to admit a bit of disappointment in Vince’s incessant use of curse words as well. Before you object and say, “It’s a rock and roll show, of course he cusses,” let me remind you that Alice Cooper does not drop the f-bomb every third word in his show. I’ve been to a lot of shows, and it always bothers me to hear a continual stream of profanity from the bands. There is no need for it, and it detracts from an otherwise enjoyable night.

Then there was the song, “MF of the Year.” Am I alone in wishing this song was dropped in favor of “Too Fast For Love” or “Too Young To Fall in Love”? Even “Afraid” would have been a better choice in my opinion. And that’s all this is, my opinion, and I realize others may disagree but I’m tired of the foul language.

Back to the good parts of the show…four songs from Dr. Feelgood, personally my favorite Mötley Crüe record, were performed. The drum rollercoaster was fun to watch; Tommy Lee playing upside-down was a trip. The band highlighted songs from their entire career (except Mötley Crüe and Generation Swine) starting with “Girls Girls Girls” and finishing up with “Home Sweet Home” in the middle of the arena.

All in all, a great night, and one I will not forget anytime soon. I’m very glad I decided to catch the tour, just in case it truly is the last.

Setlist for Mötley Crüe at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis, August 20, 2015:

1. Girls, Girls, Girls
2. Wild Side
3. Primal Scream
4. Same Ol’ Situation (S.O.S.)
5. Don’t Go Away Mad (Just Go Away)
6. Smokin’ in the Boys’ Room
7. Looks That Kill
8. MF of the Year
9. Anarchy in the U.K.
10. In The Beginning/Shout at the Devil
11. Louder Than H***
12. Saints of Los Angeles
13. Live Wire
14. T.N.T. (Terror ‘N Tinseltown)/Dr. Feelgood
15. Kickstart My Heart
16. (encore) Home Sweet Home

“All Bad Things Must Come To An End: The Final Tour” is supposed to wrap up December 31 in Los Angeles. Click here to see a full list of dates, and make plans to see Mötley Crüe one last time.

Purchase music by Mötley Crüe.

Learn more about Bankers Life Fieldhouse.

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Photoset: Van Halen (February 22, 2012 @ Bankers Life Fieldhouse, Indianapolis, IN)

Hot on the heels of a #2 debut on the Billboard charts with A Different Kind of Truth, Van Halen is hitting the road…and they are hitting it hard. The third stop on their 2012 tour was Wednesday night in Indianapolis, and the house was packed to hear the boys jam like it’s 1979.

The last time these four were on the road together, it was a “greatest hits” tour. Roth had only released two songs with Van Halen since 1984, and even those songs were ten years old at that point. Now, with ADKOT in stores, they have some new material to play. Four Different songs have been played at each concert so far: “She’s The Woman,” “Tattoo,” “China Town,” and “The Trouble With Never.” But the band isn’t buffering them with only the hits from the first six albums; several “deep cuts” from Van Halen’s history are being featured on the current roadtrip.

In Louisville, fans were surprised to hear “Women In Love” and “Outta Love Again,” which had not been performed live since 1980 and 1979, respectively. In Auburn Hills, “Outta Love Again” was replaced by “Girl Gone Bad.” In Indianapolis, Van Halen added “Hear About It Later” to the mix, dropping “Mean Street.” It is a real treat to hear unexpected songs in concert, especially when the band has such an impressive catalog to choose from. Hopefully, other groups will take note of the positive response Van Halen is getting to these songs and follow their example (yes, I’m talking to you Poison).

The musicianship, as expected, was top-notch. Alex and Wolfgang provided a solid rhythm section while Eddie wailed on his axe, never missing a note. I was especially impressed with both the guitar solo and the drum solo; both sounded fantastic, and neither went too long. Eddie was especially on target, not only during his solo spot, but during the entire concert. Everyone could tell he was genuinely having a good time on stage.

David Lee Roth…well, he’s David Lee Roth, and I can’t tell you how happy I am to see him sharing the spotlight with the Van Halens. The showmanship is always over-the-top, even if the vocals are lacking a bit. He started off strong, but seemed to be struggling during the latter part of the concert. I do not believe he was having trouble remembering lyrics, as some have suggested. Rather, I believe he may have been out of breath. I mean, how can anyone forget the lyrics to “Panama?” Back to the showmanship, Roth appears to have taken up interpretive dance (watch him during the musical interludes of “China Town” and “Girl Gone Bad” in particular).

Overall, a great concert. You couldn’t ask for anything more from guys who have been doing this (off and on) since the 1970s.

A lot more photos after the jump… Read the rest of this entry

Photoset: Kool & The Gang (February 22, 2012 @ Bankers Life Fieldhouse, Indianapolis, IN)

Kool & The Gang is performing as the opening act for Van Halen on a number of the classic rock band’s 2012 tour. The crowd was sparse for their set, but during the three songs I watched, the disco group was energetic. I’m not going to review their performance since I did not see it all, but here are a few photos I snapped while they played.

Photoset: Big Time Rush (August 11, 2011 @ Indiana State Fair)

I went to my first concert in 1995. Lynyrd Skynyrd was playing Riverbend, and hearing “Freebird” live is one of the highlights of my personal music history.

I don’t know if my boys will have the same feeling when they look back to their first concert: Big Time Rush, the band featured on the Nickelodeon television program of the same name. I’ll admit, it’s a cute show, and I can absolutely relate to it. How many of us have ever wanted to be in a band and find success? I know it was a fantasy of mine throughout my youth, and even into college.

This performance was pretty good, but it was missing the big concert experience that I’m used to. The only place I saw the band’s logo was on the drumkit…there were no banners or signs at all on the stage. Yes, it was at a State Fair, so maybe I shouldn’t have expected anything like that, but it’s been a long time since I’ve been to a concert that featured branding that poor.

Back to the performance, it was good. I’m not the biggest fan of Big Time Rush, but they certainly aren’t bad by any stretch of the imagination. If you are not familiar with them, and you can tolerate boyband music, check out the video below. After pressing play, continue to scroll down for a few photos from the concert.

Some of my favorite shots are the ones that show the girls in the audience making heart shapes with their hands. We were twenty rows back, so there was plenty of fan interference while taking pictures, but that’s the beauty of a digital camera…you can keep snapping without worrying about wasted film.

To see the full set of photos (257 in all), click here.

And here’s one more video, complete with Snoop Dogg…

Photoset: Days Difference (August 11, 2011 @ Indiana State Fair)

A week and a half ago I took my boys to their first concert: Big Time Rush at the Indiana State Fair. I will be posting some photos from the concert as well as a little commentary soon, but first I wanted to recognize the opening band. Days Difference did a great job, and even though we weren’t familiar with their songs, we were humming right along with the melody and even bought their album when the show was over.

I don’t really know what “genre” of music this is…pop rock of some sort, possibly alternative…to me, genres are overemphasized. Press play on the video, then continue to scroll down to see the photos.

And for good measure, here’s another Days Difference song…

The band performed extremely well, especially considering the fact that not a single person there wanted to hear them. Ah, the life of an opening act.

The group is made up of two sets of brothers: Jeremy William Smith and Jon David Smith, and Jeremiah David Ricks and Micah Daniel Ricks. Jeremy co-wrote the song “Boomerang” for the Plain White T’s, and the band has shared the stage with Jordin Sparks, Backstreet Boys, and Bret Michaels. Part of the band also played the part of my cousin Miley Cyrus’ backing band in Hannah Montana: The Movie.

No, this isn’t the type of music I normally listen to. On the other hand, it’s a lot better than what is being played on some pop and country radio stations today. If you have an open mind and like indie pop rock (if that’s what you want to call it), check out Days Difference.

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