It was a crisp late fall afternoon on Saturday, November 12, 2016 as I, along with my girlfriend, made our way to The Ritz in Manchester England for the triple threat bill of headliner Delain, Evergrey, and Kobra and the Lotus. We arrived fairly early as I had an interview scheduled with Kobra Paige of Kobra and the Lotus. I made contact with the tour manager and we were led into the venue as Evergrey were doing their soundcheck. I waived hello to my friends, vocalist Tom Englund and guitarist Henrik Danhage who saw me from the stage and we were led into the backstage dressing rooms to conduct my interview with Kobra. It had been a year since I had last interviewed the lovely Ms. Paige when she was the special guest vocalist on Kamelot’s U.S. tour in support of Haven. As aways, Kobra was charming, engaging, and extremely wonderful to speak to. Sadly, our interview ended abruptly as Kobra was called to the stage for their soundcheck. Due to the fact that the band were unable to have a soundcheck at their previous two performances on the tour, it was imperative that Kobra joined her bandmates on stage to make sure everything was perfect for the nights show.
On Friday July 24, 2015 David Coverdale brought his 2015 version of Whitesnake to Twin River Casino in Lincoln, Rhode Island. Being a long time fan of Whitesnake (I first saw them in 1987 opening for Motley Crüe on the Girls, Girls, Girls tour and then again as headliners that very same year as they were supporting their MONSTEROULY successful self-titled album), I naturally jumped at the chance to review their newest line-up for Lady Obscure.
I have been attending PPUSA since 2010, first as a rookie or “noob”, then the two following years as a sponsor for Sanctuary and Epica respectively, but this year was different. This year I was an official member of the ProgPower USA crew. My role for the past year has been as an administrator on the PPUSA official Facebook page assisting social media director Jennifer Harveston. My job during the festival was to post updates to the page and photos in real time of band members interacting with festival attendees.I had a blast taking candid photos of band members enjoying themselves throughout the 4 day weekend.
If you’re a fan of Queensryche or metal in general, you’ve probably been keeping track of the ongoing saga of Queensryche as they fired former vocalist Geoff Tate and replaced him with former Crimson Glory singer Todd La Torre. I won’t bore you with the gory details, as the story is just a Google search away. The current line up of Queensryche featuring original members Michael Wilton, Scott Rockenfield, and Eddie Jackson, guitarist Parker Lundgren, and La Torre have been on a current “Return to History” tour, only performing material from their first five classic albums (the EP through Empire) and ignoring their recent subpar releases of the last 15 or so years with Tate at the helm.
When I learned that the newly invigorated Queensryche would be performing a free show at The Wolf Den (an open air venue inside Mohegan Sun Casino) within a two hour drive from my home, I had to see the La Torre led Ryche for myself. I’ve seen Queensryche many times over the years, the first time being as the opening act for Ozzy Osbourne in 1987 supporting their groundbreaking album Rage for Order. The last time seeing the band with Tate as the frontman was at Hampton Beach Ballroom last year in New Hampshire. I couldn’t help but notice that the bands performance was dull and lifeless and the bands earlier material was noticeably absent from the setlist. I’m sure by now many of you have seen the clips on YouTube of Todd performing the early material with the band, and if you’re like me, you were thoroughly impressed. Still, despite the rave reviews, I had to see it for myself.
Having never attended a free show at The Wolf Den, I didn’t know what to expect. When I heard storues of people lining up at 9:00 a.m. that morning, I knew I had to get there early as the venue only hold 300 or so people. So I arrived at 4pm for a show that was scheduled to start at 8pm and was 20th in line along with my friend Carl. The line soon grew in size spread around the casino. Finally around 7:30 p.m. the line started moving. That’s when the downside to the evening started. When Carl and I arrived at the front entrance the person at the door asked us for tickets. Confused, I replied that we didn’t have tickets for this free show. I was then told that a casino employee had been passing out white tickets to people in line so they could present them at the door to get in. As Carl and I tried to explain that no one had informed us of this, things turned ugly as the casino employees became rude and unprofessional telling us we were “lying” and to get out of line. Without a doubt this was the most embarrassing and unprofessional venue I have ever been to in over 20 years of attending concerts. But I digress, eventually; a kind young lady named Michelle offered one of us her “plus one” as she was on the guest list. I told my friend Carl to take it and I would try to plead my case to the casino staff. Unfortunately my calm reasoning fell on deaf ears and I was forced to watch the show from the casino floor. As ridiculous as this situation was, I was not going to let it ruin my night.
The month of September means many things to different people. For some, it is the end of summer, to others the beginning of fall, or the beginning of the school year. For those in the underground prog/power metal community, September means one thing: the arrival of the annual ProgPower USA metal festival.