Rumblings, Ruminations, and Retrospectives

Musings from the mind of the Beast.


A Different Kind Of Concert

Van Halen Concert Review

Well, cross a really big one off the ol’ bucket list.

Anyone that knows me even remotely well knows that I’m a massive Van Halen fan.

As an 11 year old in 1986, my first exposure to the band was the Sammy Hagar-led era with the 5150 album. I remember being over at my friend Jamie’s place as I often was back at that time, and he brought out this cassette (OMG I’m old!) and told me I had to listen to this album. He was pretty revved up about it, and given that we have almost identical musical tastes, I was instantly hooked. Edward Van Halen’s guitar playing and Hagar as a pretty talented singer made VH my insta-favorite.

Not too long after that, I was back over at Jamie’s one day, and he says, “Remember Van Halen and 5150? Well, you have to hear this!”, and he played Hot For Teacher (from the album 1984) for me.

“It’s the same band! It’s the same guitar player!” he says.

Holy shit!

We listened to the entire 1984 album, and then Jamie has one more surprise for me. He puts VH’s first album in, and from the moment Alex Van Halen’s drum fill burst through the speakers, only to be eclipsed by the string bending screams and whammy bar dive bombs of Edward’s now signature solo “Eruption”, my jaw not only dropped but went through the floor and the foundation. Like so many other people that were first exposed to EVH’s innovative playing in that solo that put him and the rest of Van Halen on the map, I’d never heard guitar played like that before – and I wanted more.

The two of us quickly tracked down every Van Halen album made, and from that solo on, Van Halen has basically been the soundtrack for my life. Everyone has a favorite band, and VH is the one I connected most strongly with. At 15 and 16, Jamie and I started a band – you guessed – playing mostly Van Halen cover tunes. A VH song comes on the radio or shuffles on my phone, and within the first couple notes I’ll tell you what the song is. I know them all frontwards and backwards.

They don’t come to Winnipeg very often, but I was fortunate enough to see Van Halen in concert twice – both times with Sammy Hagar as the vocalist. Once in 1991 in support of the F.U.C.K. album, and again in 2004 as they toured for the Best Of Both Worlds compilation album. 1991’s concert was outstanding. 2004’s… not so much as Eddie was battling the bottle and the band was not getting along well, but it provided one of my greatest musically-related moments ever, as we were sitting on the side of the arena on Eddie’s side of the stage, close to the front, and as Eddie stepped out to talk to a guitar tech, a bunch of us saw him and I called at him and waved, and he looked at me, smiled, and nodded and waved back. Pretty cool.

But that VH Holy Grail was still out there. I’ve always wanted to see Van Halen with David Lee Roth as the frontman. With Sammy Hagar, other than “Jump” and “Panama” the early VH catalog was basically ignored. Sammy didn’t want to play Roth’s songs, so I never got to here those older songs in a live setting. As the band was having issues (both with finding and keeping a new singer, as well as with Eddie’s health and rehab stints), I didn’t think it was ever going to happen.

But it did. Last night, May 13th, 2012. The Mighty Van Halen descended down upon Winnipeg, their heavy swagger tearing the doors off their hinges, their power kicking over every seat in the arena, their aural assault blasting our faces off, and their sexy dragon magic (learn the lyrics, folks!) consuming the MTS Centre.

It’s odd, but I really don’t have words to describe just how freaking awesome this experience was. I went with my lovely wife Stephanie and long-time best buddy Geoff (who also played in the aforementioned band), and while the two of them – in addition to Geoff’s tremendous air drumming – cheered and screamed their way through the show, I was oddly silent for the most part, just sitting there focusing on the music, just wanting to let every drop of Van Halen – both new and old – sink in and just take in the experience. It might not ever happen again, and I wanted to feel every moment of it. I cheered after the songs were over, and laughed at some of Roth’s antics, but for the most part, I just sat there and let the music just beat the crap out of me. And it was amazing.

Kool And The Gang opened up for Van Halen, and while we all thought that was an odd combination (but there’s some kind of relationship with Roth there) they were actually pretty impressive. They are one of those bands where they play a song and you go “Oh, I didn’t know they did this one!”, but they were musically very tight, good performers, and the music was actually very good. They actually made me want to buy one of their CD’s.

Their gear was torn down, and as we were waiting, a MTS Centre staff member was close to our seats, and he mentioned when the band was scheduled to go on, so we knew when to get ready. We were commenting it was really warm in the arena, and we watched as the crew quickly installed a wooden dance floor on the stage and carefully wiped down and mopped/dried the stage steps. This was apparently all requested by Roth, who needed the floor to do some of his schtick, and asked the venue personnel to ensure “there was no moving air” in the arena. We all had no idea why.

So, we waited, and between bands the venue was playing some generic music to get us all entertained. Usually what the venue will then do right before the headliners come on is stop the music and cut the lights – that’s the unwritten code and the signal that the main event is going to start.

But, as with everything else Van Halen, they march to their own drummer, and the lights stayed down while the house music continued to play, and a short time later, the music just abruptly stopped, the lights hit the drum riser and Alex Van Halen opened up with an absolute sonic salvo of crushing drums, leading into EVH crushing the opening riff of their classic hit and fan favorite “Unchained”, and Geoff and I got blown right out of our chairs. This was one of the songs we were dying to hear, and for this to be the opening tune just knocked our socks off. The crowd (which I’ll put around 8-9,000) went NUTS and the band took that energy and threw it all right back at us and then some.

Here’s the full set list, with some random comments thrown in.

Runnin With The Devil
– An awesome opening shot. Two classic powerhouse tunes that primed the crowd for the rest of the night.

She’s The Woman
– A classic-era song reworked for the new album “A Different Kind Of Truth”. Sounded great!

Full Bug
– This was awesome in the sense that while the band stayed with the Roth version of the VH catalog, this is a song that was rarely played live, so to get this was an awesome surprise.

– The first single off the new album. A lot of people hated on this song, but the more I listen to it, the better it gets. The whole song is one giant hook that reels you right in. Like the rest of the “new” material, this song sounds awesome live. It’s a classic-style stong with a more modern sound, and that combination is simply stunning.

Everybody Wants Some
Somebody Get Me A Doctor
– Another classic duo that are crowd favorites, and the band demolished these two songs. Just powerful and amazing.

China Town
-Another one of the new album’s tracks that should show everyone that Edward Van Halen is, using wrestling terms, the best there is, the best there was, and the best there ever will be. He just amazed during this song.

Hear About It Later
– Yet another classic from the same album as “Unchained”, and another massive crowd favorite. I’m so happy I got to hear this one live. Wolfgang was amazing with the background vocals.

Pretty Woman
– A classic cover (of their cover?) of Roy Orbison’s timeless piece. Roth was a little too camp and didn’t sing much here, which took away from Edward and Wolfgang’s backup vocals, but the band sounded amazing.

Drum solo
– A signature of the Van Halen live experience, both Eddie and Alex play solos to give the rest of the band a break. Historically, Alex just played the drums on his own, pounding out various cool beats mixed with amazing fills, rolls, and rumbles. For this show though, Alex played along to a musical accompaniment, which was more like a jazz track, with trumpets and such, but he still found a way to throw his amazing technical ability behind some great sounding drum work. Very enjoyable!

You Really Got Me
– Again, another redo of a cover song from their first album. As with some of the older, really popular songs, Dave turned into a showman and the singing came second, which took away from the whole, but the rest of the band was busy kicking our asses!

Trouble With Never
– Another track from the new album that sounded great live!

Dance The Night Away
– An absolute classic and one of my favorites. Dave really sang this one and the harmonies from everyone was just tremendous. really well done!

I’ll Wait
– A keyboard-intense song from the 1984 album, I was hoping they would play this one and they did! The band played to a keyboard track, and I can’t stress the following enough; the way the band sounded on this song – the mix, the updated sound compared with almost 30 years ago, the power, the tone, the perfect vocals… this was the sleeper song of the night and was probably my favorite of all the songs played. I can’t put it into words, but this song with updated sound and the way the band played it literally gave me goosebumps and I was simply entranced. I could listen to that sound for the rest of my life and I would die an extremely happy man. It was musical Nirvana, Zen, alignment with the stars, whatever you want to call it, but it was absolutely beautiful and I never wanted it to end.

Hot For Teacher
– The band absolutelty nailed this timeless hit. It sounded great! The drums were off the hook and crowd just lost their minds for this song. Geoff nailed the air drums, and even Stephanie was head banging. Great times!

Women In Love
Outta Love Again
Beautiful Girls
– Another trio of classics that sounded amazing with the updated sound. I’m so glad I got to hear these songs played live.

Ice Cream Man
– This was Dave’s turn to shine. The rest of the band left the stage and Dave came out with his Gibson Hummingbird electric/acoustic, and noodled around, teasing us with some bars from the new track “Stay Frosty” before heading back into some strumming and telling us stories about him and his dogs while a giant video played in the background of his dogs sheep and cattle herding. This was the musical version of a wrestling “rest hold”, another break to let the band prep for the last run of the night. Dave segued from his strumming into “Ice Cream Man”, playing a bit before the rest of the band kicked in (and kicked our faces in). What a great, fun song.

– The band went right into Panama, and everyone was on point for this one. This classic just sounded amazing and the crowd was right fired up.

Guitar Solo
– The energy kept on going, even though the band toned it down. The rest of the band left the stage as King Edward The First played a good solid 6-7 minutes, fingers smoking all over the fret board, more dizzying whammy dives, squealing harmonics, incredible runs, and of course, his signature spots Cathedral and Eruption. All through the show, the band had a MASSIVE video screen showing the band playing all night long, and for 95% of the solo the camera was zoomed in on Eddie’s guitar and we could see every pick, bend, and tap and every moment of the solo. It was absolutely glorious, and anyone that has ever questioned Eddie’s ability as a result of his issues should be taken out back and be shot. Edward is back and better than ever, and last night he reminded us once again exactly why he is the undisputed king of rock guitar.

Ain’t Talkin Bout Love
– Another all time favorite. With renewed energy following the response to Ed’s solo, the band blistered on this one and not only blasted our faces off but grabbed us by the hair and slammed us into the floor. Then they kicked us all in the back of the head while we were down. ATBL sounded amazing.

And, without fanfare, without the lights going down and the band walking off-stage and all of us screaming our heads off for an encore, the band simply rode the wave of energy and Dave yelled “Winnipeg, do you guys want an encore?”

No, Dave, we don’t. We’re just screaming because someone kicked us in the shins (or we’re happy about the beating we took during ATBL) and the cheering went to 11, and the band launched into their all-time classic hit “Jump”. The arena was rocking, the band was amazing, and although there was a distinct lack of pyro all night long, this one ended with a giant explosion of confetti and everyone went apeshit.

Some Thoughts On The Band

Van Halen is back, baby! They’re back, and they haven’t lost a damned step. This was an expensive show to go to ($165.00 per ticket) but with the chance to see DLR, there was no way I was going to turn this down.

Wolfgang Van Halen: Don’t let anyone hate on WVH. This kid is the real f’n deal. He is an absolute BEAST on the bass, and while he doesn’t sound like Michael Anthony, he sounds like WVH and he hits all the notes. He appears to be flawless, and he injects a new life into this band. I’m glad I got to see him play. Truly great.

Alex Van Halen: What can you say about AVH? He’s quiet in front of the camera, but on stage the man is a freaking machine. His timing still is and always has been impeccable. I think he’s always been underrated as a drummer, and he sounded just incredible at this show. I can listen to him play all day long.

David Lee Roth: The only weak link in the band. Don’t get me wrong; it’s not because DLR “can’t” sing. He never has been the greatest singer, even back in the early days, but has always been a tremendous showman, and that’s his calling. It’s more because he “didn’t” sing. I want to make this very clear: when he *chose* to sing, he was incredible. He can still do it. he can still sing all the old songs, and he sounds amazing on the new songs. It’s just that he’s a showman first and foremost, and sometimes during the giant hit songs he would play around a bit and massage the lyrics and timing, and it was hard to sing along because he was doing his own thing. That took away from the show a little, especially because Wolfgang and Edward were sticking to the script and singing the regular backups, so it sounded out of place at times. He had a couple great one-liners too: at one point someone threw something up on the stage, and DLR – without breaking stride in the song – told the fan “Don’t throw your garbage on the stage, throw your girlfriend up here instead!” Another time between songs, he was talking and a female fan got his attention. I have no idea what she said, but DLR comes back with: “I’m old enough to be your father! By the way, you look a little familiar!”  But make no bones about it: DLR still has the chops and I’m so happy to see I got to see him live.

Edward Van Halen: I can’t say anything else that I haven’t already said about EVH. He looked strong and healthy, he looked happy, and he absolutely KILLED each and every song he played. His solo was outstanding, and you can tell that he absolutely loves playing music with his son. I’m so very glad to have seen him live one more time. Just truly amazing, and there will never be another better or more innovative guitar player than EVH.


This is a band that is happy to be back on the scene, and it shows in the way they play and the way they conduct themselves. There are always rumors about EVH and DLR being able to get along, but these guys are happy and it shows. There were a couple times where they just took a break in the middle of a song and just riffed both vocally and on the guitar while WVH and AVH just held down the bottom end of the song. It was really a sight to see. The classic VH songs from Roth’s first run with the band sound truly amazing and timeless with the band’s modern sounds, and “I’ll Wait” was one of those time-stopping moments that I never want to stop living. The songs from the new album fit in perfectly with the classic songs and sound even better live than they do on the album.

Even being older (with the exception of Wolfgang), all of these guys were born to do what they do, and this was an awesome, awesome night for me. I’ll remember this show for years and years to come. I’ll give this one a 9.5 out of 10. Truly spectacular, and if you get a chance to see them, please do. You won’t regret it.


VH ADKOT Day 4: “China Town”

Alright, getting back into this after some really busy times!

An interesting bit of what sounds like tapping from Edward leads into some crashing drums and power chords that instantly takes us into an absolute earthquake of drums and bass underneath some crunchy guitar and I’ve grabbed onto my desk to brace for the upcoming destruction of the world…

… and then I’m a bit underwhelmed. The earth stops shaking, and the walls stop crumbling around me. The song progresses into a good driving riff by Edward and matched by Wolfgang on bass, but there’s something about the vocals that subdues it all. Not to say that it’s “bad” – DLR rather sounds excellent, his voice strong in the upper range, but it’s like it doesn’t match the song underneath. I can’t exactly put my finger on it, but it’s like it’s two very different parts – the music and the vocals – but they don’t gel well together.

This is indicative of the rest of the song as well. Musically, I think this song is excellent. It drives and pounds in all the right spots, and Edward fuses lead and rythym together as only he can. Wolfgang is a monster on bass as he keeps up with his dad note for note. The backup vocals are impeccable, and Alex is spot on with the drums, but I just keep coming back to the lead vocal just being… off.

The guitar solo is an exhibition of Edward’s work with the whammy bar. He has harmonics and notes dipping and diving all over the place, and shows that he’s still got the speed in his chops as he shreds through some scale work, capping it off with some tapping that matches the start of the song.

Overall: As I said before, musically, this song is top notch. Love it. And it’s not that Dave does a poor job, I just don’t think the combination of the melody and his voice is a true fit for the music, and that kinda bums me out on the song on the whole. I would give this one much lower marks, but the music is just SO good that it saved the song for me.

Score: 7 out of 10


VH ADKOT Day 3: “You And Your Blues”

I’m not entirely sure if this song is one of the redone demos or if it’s a new song, but this one opens up with a guitar riff that sounds like it might have been written in the 5150 days – a nice muted-picking number that’s a good melody in it’s own right.

Dave sings a few lines by himself over the guitar, then the bass accents a few spots here and there while Alex keeps time on just the high-hat. All this is adding layer over layer, building wonderfully to a drum fill and the entire band kicking in to the start of the song, and I really like the musicality in this.

But as the song actually gets going, I’m not sure what kind of song this one is trying to be. The guitar riff and the instrument layering at the start is very rock, but when we finally get going, it’s decidedly different pop sound that we’re greeted with for the bridge, but that leads right back into a really rocking verse. I’m a little confused by that, but even when you add it all together, it all still sounds just awesome.

But then, as we get into the middle of the song, it’s like it’s a Festivus miracle. The lead in to the guitar solo is a different kind of low-end riff with some more Dave over top, and then Eddie proceeds to blast our faces off with another excellent solo, leaning on a wah-pedal for most of it, adding yet another tasty layer to this wonderful cake that VH is serving up.

Coming out of the guitar solo, Dave absolutely TEARS. IT. UP. Forget what I said in the previous post about him not having the high registers – maybe he sounded that way on purpose, but DAMN he tore it up in this song. I’m not talking the squeals and yells of yesteryear, but Dave was blasting out high end vocals with the power of a freight train rolling down the tracks. Absolutely tremendous. Add Wolfgang puts a giant exclamation point on the end of the song with some wicked high-speed runs, and we get another perfect performance on drums by Alex.

Overall:  This song has Edward’s signature all over it. I love the riff at the start. The solo is damned sweet. Wolfgang’s part is minimal in this one, but he still finds a way to leave his own statement at the end of the song, and once again, Alex lays out another solid performance. However, the star of this one is David Lee Roth who blasts out a top-notch Dave-esque show on vocals, and shows us at nearly 60 that he’s still got the goods.

Score: 9 out of 10


VH ADKOT Day 2: “She’s The Woman”

The second song on the new Van Halen album “A Different Kind Of Truth” is one of those songs from the late 70’s/early 80’s that was redone for this new album, and you can tell. This sounds like something you might have heard on the first or second album, and personally, this sounds very much like the style of the songs from the first Van Halen album.

This song opens up with Eddie playing a quick lead over a quick repetitive bass run from Wolfgang, and leads into the first time the album really rips your face off as this one kicks in HARD. Wolfgang’s pounding bass line underneath Eddie’s staccato riff along with Alex’s drums really makes you get into this one straight from the beginning. I can see where this would be a fantastic song to play live – the way the song is structured and even the simple mechanics of playing this song would be HUGE in a live setting in an arena. It just sounds very raw and powerful, the essesnce of a great VH song.

Eddie’s licks and runs between the verses tie the song together very well, and the chorus is a classic repeated vocal line over some big power chords, and Edward has a nice solo in this song as well – it’s more musical than the one in “Tattoo”, and then Edward finishes it off with some quick scales reminiscient of the solo in “Jump”. All the way through the song, Wolfgang lays down a very solid foundation, but he gets his moments to shine and he nails some excellent runs and licks as exclaimation points in between the rest of the parts of the song. Alex is solid as ever, and Roth sounds perfect.

Overall: “She’s The Woman” would have been an excellent choice to open the album with rather than “Tattoo” – the song is heavy, fun, and vintage Van Halen. Each of the band members adds their own mark to the song, and it’s an excellent listen.

Score: 9 out of 10


VH ADKOT Day 1: “Tattoo”

Alright, here’s Day 1 of my review of the new Van Halen album, “A Different Kind Of Truth”.

One of the questions that faces the “new/old” Van Halen is whether Edward’s son Wolfgang would be able to replace Michael Anthony’s legendary backup vocals. C’mon folks let’s face it… Anthony is irreplacable as a background vocalist in any rock band.

As VH opens the album up with the harmonious repeats of “Tat-too, Tat-too”, you can hear not only how tight vocally this band is, even with the replacement of Anthony, Roth’s age, and Edward’s oral cancer issues, but they SOUND GREAT. As I mentioned above, Wolfgang isn’t a replacement for Anthony, he is his own musician, and he’s his own vocalist, and you can clearly hear Wolfgang hitting the high registers that Anthony was known for, and it sounds awesome. That’s all I can ask for.

Edward then continues kicking things off with a grungy pick slide and a nice short guitar lead to open the song, and then we’re introduced to the new sound of Van Halen. Edward’s tone is amazing. The drums sound great. Unlike most other albums, the bass is way up in the mix. Almost impossibly, Roth sounds the same as he did 25 years ago, minus a little bit of weakness on the high end. The production values are instantly high-quality.

In short… the “new old” Van Halen sounds AWESOME. In 2012.

The ripping introduction quickly settles into a drum and bass groove along with Roth’s vocals and some subtle keyboard and guitar in the background to accent before the rythym guitar is added to round out the sound, before song settles into it’s cycle of groove in the verse, punch in the bridge, and full blown sound in the chorus.

We get to the first guitar solo, and folks… Edward is back. He’s in fine form on “Tattoo”, hitting harmonics, deep bends, and his iconic mix of tapping and quick picking is prevalent. Musically, it’s a pretty good solo, and the band heads into it’s swelling crescendo and Roth’s ad-libbing to close out the song with Edward busting out some more licks and soloing over top of Roth before ending up with some guitar swells reminiscent of Diver Down’s “Cathedral”, yet this is full of distortion and crunch and it’s a nice taper-off to counter the giant build and swell of the prior 30 seconds or so.

Overall: As I mentioned earlier, the band sounds amazing, and the production is top-notch. Edward is on fire, Wolfgang can obviously keep up. Alex bangs out a solid rythym but nothing spectacular on this particular song, and Roth is in fine form. You can tell he doesn’t have the high end any more, but his spoken word in this song is great.

I don’t know if I would have chosen this song overall for the first single and first track on the album, as if I were VH, after nearly 15 years I would have wanted to come out and blast everyone’s faces off rather than go with a more groovy styled song, but “Tattoo” is a solid song in it’s own right.

Score: 8 out of 10


Look At All The People Here Tonight!

Well, in case you’ve been living under a rock for the past few months, you couldn’t have possibly missed what happened just a few days ago.

Rock legends VAN HALEN released their first studio album since Van Halen III in 1998 and their first album with iconic frontman David Lee Roth since 1984. “A Different Kind Of Truth” dropped onto store shelves and into the waiting hands of legions of fans who have been waiting with baited breath for well over a decade  for a new album by arguably the biggest rock band that’s ever walked this planet.

Today’s Van Halen looks a lot different than the last version of Van Halen yet the band returns to it’s rock roots, as Edward Van Halen (guitar) and his brother Alex Van Halen (drums) reunite with the band’s original lead singer David Lee Roth, and the trio also gets an injection of youth as Eddie’s son Wolfgang Van Halen (bass) plays on his first studio album (although he has previously toured with the band).

“A Different Kind Of Truth” is the band’s 12th studio album, and as 3/4 of the band approach their mid-to-late fifties, the album is filled with music that sounds like it was made when they were in their 20’s. Six of the album’s 13 tracks are reworked songs from the band’s early years, while the other seven are brand new songs.

This post is an introduction; over the next 13 days, I’ll be reviewing every single one of the tracks from the new album, one every day until I’ve covered them all. Check back every day to see what I think of each new track, and on Day 14 I’ll wrap things up.

Run out and grab “A Different Kind Of Truth” right now and follow along!


Me? On iTunes? You Bet!

Alright everyone, I need to make an announcement.

*stands up and addresses the crowd*

My name is Jarret, and I’m a pro wrestling fan. I have been for an awful long time.

I watch wrestling on television. I’ve participated in fantasy wrestling federations where we role-play as wrestling characters and developed our own wrestling tv shows. I’ve been to many live professional wrestling events, and for a while, I wanted to BE a pro wrestler, and even started training to do just that.

<begin plug>I own a professional wrestling web site that amalgamates wrestling and mixed martial arts news from around the world, and the site also features an awesome message board with a fun community.

Make sure you check out!<end plug>

A few months ago, some members of the site and I began a new project. We were going to venture into the world of digital media and internet content, and such was born the PODCAST.

Each week, myself and four friends from the web site get together over Skype, and we talk primarily about the world of pro wrestling. What happened over the last week? What do we think is going to happen in upcoming storylines and shows? We dissect the art of pro wrestling. Our most recent episode delved deep into the art of the wrestling promo. The trash talk. The interview. We played clips of our favorite promos and talked about why we loved them.

But we don’t just talk pro wrestling. We have an awesome Buy Or Sell segment, we talk tech, gaming, current news, pop culture, and anything else that comes to mind.

But now, the whole point of this post.

I’m pleased to announce that you can find the Podcast on iTunes! Check out the iTunes store to subscribe for free, or check out our iTunes web page, or the Podcast page to stream the podcasts in your browser.

Announcement Part 2: The Podcast, in just a few short months, has already reached over 5,000 downloads!

Thanks for all your support! You can be part of the podcast! Leave us a voicemail at 206-338-2228, email us at!

If you’d like to join us as a special guest, we record the podcast Tuesday evenings at approximately 10 PM, and is available Wednesday afternoons for downloads. You can hit me up on Skype @ octopusprime99 and join in on the fun!


Let Me Hear You Scream

Alternately: A date with Ozzy Osbourne

I’ve been on a pretty good streak the last couple weeks. On the 13th, I got a phone call to tell me that I’d won a draw to be one of the first 25 in line to see The Dog Whisperer himself, Cesar Millan, in a meet in greet on the 15th. On the 14th, it was Cesar’s seminar (more on that coming up), and on the 15th, Stephanie and I got to meet him!

Then on the 17th, I got an email from the folks at LiveNation, informing me that I’d won a pair of tickets to see none other than the Prince of F**king Darkness, Ozzy Osbourne on the 20th! The seats turned out to be awesome – row 10, in the first available section to the left of the stage. What a view!

The show opened with a montage video of Ozzy replacing several popular characters in film and television. Ozzy “took over” the roles of the lead character in Avatar, Jersey Shore, Iron Man (him taking off the Iron Man mask and proclaiming “I AM IRON MAN!” was CLASSIC), among others, including the wildly popular Twilight series.

The line of the night came from a scene in one of the Twilight movies where a female character (I haven’t seen the films or read the books) tells Ozzy’s rendition of the main character “You’re a vampire!”, to which Ozzy responds “A vampire? Vampires are pussies. I’m the Prince of Fucking Darkness!”

I’m not the hugest Ozzy fan, though he’s brought us some classic tunes that I really enjoy. I found a whole new respect for him when him and his family appeared on “The Osbournes”, where we got an inside look into his life and career. He’s gone through an awful lot, and seeing him overcome a lot of it is nothing short of awesome.

Back to the concert; I have to be honest. Ozzy is 61 years old. He’s not a spring chicken any more. He can’t move the way he used to. Actually, he’s been reduced to a pretty fast shuffle back and forth across the stage. He needs a teleprompter to make sure he doesn’t forget the lyrics. He can’t hit every note he used to.

But you know, it doesn’t really matter.

Ozzy has a new, young band behind him, and WOW, these guys are AWESOME. I wasn’t thrilled with the bass guitar players’ sound, but the guy can go. The drummer hits like a freaking monster. The guitar player? WHOA. The guy RIPS it up. I thought that during his extended solo, he’s maybe not as naturally musically inclined as other master guitar players, but there’s absolutely no doubt that when this guy straps on that guitar, he gets down to BUSINESS, business is all about rocking as hard as he possibly can. The guy can PLAY.

Ozzy and Co. SCORCHED through two and a half hours of great music, featuring classics from his time with Black Sabbath and his own solo career, as well as material from his latest album, including the smash single “Let Me Hear You Scream” (which, coincidentally, is the title of this blog post. See what I did there?).

The set included songs such as “Iron Man”, “Mama, I’m Coming Home”, “Crazy Train”, “Fairies Wear Boots”, “Mr. Crowley”, “Bark At The Moon”, “No More Tears”, “I Don’t Want to Change the World”, “Fire In The Sky”, “Shot In The Dark”, “Suicide Solution”, among others.

As per usual at a rock concert these days, the band was loud, there was a bunch of pyro explosions, and one of the cool things was that Ozzy had this giant hose next to him on stage, and every once in a while, he’d pick this hose up and unleash this MASSIVE torrent of foam all over the crowd (and the security guards in front of him!), quite often deliberately spraying himself as well. It was hilarious to see that every time Ozzy used the foam, a crew member would come roaring out from off-stage with a squeegee to wipe down the teleprompter so Ozzy could see the upcoming lyrics!

Here’s some pics shamelessly plucked from the web to better illustrate this, cause words just can’t do it justice:

Pretty awesome!

Throw in a sold out crowd and the prerequisite hot drunk chicks next to us, and this was a pretty fun event. Thanks to LiveNation and Twitter for the free tix! We’d seen Ozzy before when he was here at the old Winnipeg Arena, but we were waaaaaay at the back, and the experience wasn’t nearly as awesome as this one was.

Thanks Ozzy and gang for a great show!


‘No Doubt’ about it…

… last night’s concert was an amazing show. Featuring warm up act Bedouin Soundclash, special guests Paramore, and headliners No Doubt, the concert brought the wide range of aural assault.

While the concert itself was fantastic, there were also some lessons to be learned about the whole experience. On with the explanation / show review…

Lesson #1: Come Prepared

Stephanie signed up with the No Doubt Fan Club to get special floor tickets that allowed us entry to the venue before the general public. Sweet! We got ready; I brought a t-shirt and shorts to work so I could change after work and be ready for the throng of people. We both brought only the essentials: bank card/cash, identification, ticket order form. Excess keys, purse, etc are all left in the car. You can’t be weighed down when you’re in a pit.

But as well as you prepare, sometimes it just all goes wrong and falls to shit.

After work, we realize we forgot the camera in the car, so Steph heads off to get it while I head over to Moxie’s to meet our friend Angie and not keep her waiting too long. As I get there and she asks where Steph is, Angie fills me in on these huge signs on the MTS Center doors that say ‘absolutely no recording devices’. So I call Steph and tell her to leave the camera in the car. There’s a wasted trip.

Steph shows up at Moxie’s, and we all have a drink and share a spectacular plate of double-cheese nachos. The doors are apparently going to open for the fan club at 6 PM, so about 5:30-ish we head out to the arena and get in line. Not too many people ahead of us, so we’re all good. We’re pretty much guaranteed guard rail, which is essential if you’re going to be on the floor.

It’s at this point Steph realizes she’s left her ID in the car, so just minutes away from getting in, she has to run BACK to the parking garage, a trip that’s going to take her at least 15 minutes. So I wait in line, striking up a conversation with this guy and his girlfriend (who were really nice) as she and Angie make the trek, and then hilarity ensues. They get to the door of the second level of the parkade – which is locked – and Steph realizes the key is in the car, where we left everything else. So, it’s off to find a security guard to open the door.

Meanwhile, I can’t get the tickets, since Steph used her name to order them, so I wait as the entire fan club line passes me to get into the arena. That’s it. We’re screwed. We’re going to be stuck in the middle of the pack of people, and we’re going to get crushed. Both Angie and I have bad backs, and Stephanie’s going through a knee injury. Cue up: horrible concert experience.

Finally, the girls return, and we make our way into the arena. Stupid arena person writes ALL over my COMMEMORATIVE fan club ticket, and I look out onto the floor. There’s all kinds of room at the stage! We head up to the guardrail, just right of center, and we’re beside the guy and his girlfriend that I met in line. CRISIS AVERTED!

Lesson #2: Stay Strong. Hold your ground.

Through the magic of insane MTS Center security policy, we’re not actually allowed to stand against the guardrail until the bands come on the stage. Something about they don’t want us getting squished. Do they really think an extra hour is going to kill us, considering what’s about to happen when the bands come on stage?

Anyway, Stephanie, Angie, myself, and “dude and his girlfriend” (heretofore indicated by “dude” or “DAHG”) strike up a conversation with the security guards.

Jarret’s Concert-Going Tip #1: Make nice with the security personnel. You never know when you’re going to need them, and also, they may just turn an eye aside when you want to use your camera, or beat up the stiff behind you.

That’s blatant foreshadowing, people. Stay tuned.

So anyway, we’re seated on the freezing concrete floor, as it’s an hour and a half until show time, and then all the people start streaming in. Up to our feet we go to protect our spots, and it’s still just under 90 minutes until the show starts. Mine and Angie’s backs curse at us, and the wait begins as we talk to the security guy about what it’s like for him at concerts, about different acts he’s met, what are some of the people he’s met like, we all talk about our different musical tastes, etc. Really nice guy.

Then, we’re minutes away from show time. The crowd’s getting fired up. The energy’s building. We all go lean against the guard rail even though we’re not supposed to, and my back promises me to buy me a Coke when the show is over. Some random woman (further noted as ‘SRM’) comes up with her little kid, maybe 5, and taps me on the shoulder. SRM asks if I mind moving aside so her kid can see.

Do I mind?

I may be being a bit of an asshole here, but quite frankly, I don’t care. I’m the one that paid well over $100 for the special fan club ticket that allows me early access. I stood in line and in front of the stage for 2 hours. I *earned* this spot, and I’m supposed to allow you, SRM – who obviously didn’t pay for the special privileges that I am about to enjoy – to show up at the eleventh hour and wave your kid in my face just so you can weasel your way up to the front? Take a freaking hike, sister, and take your sob story with you. I’m about to be less than 10 feet away from some great music, and not Atlas himself is going to move me from this position.

Jarret’s Concert-Going Tip #2: Once you have earned your three square feet of space on that guard rail, you DEFEND that sucker with your very life.

Lesson #3: Keep an open mind, and have fun.

It’s show time. The lights drop, and the pretty much sold out arena POPS as we’re all programmed to when the lights go out.

First up is Bedouin Soundclash, (BSC from now on) who I’m positive I’ve heard one song of theirs on the radio, and didn’t mind it, so I have a small inkling of who these guys are. In my mind, either this is going to be a complete train-wreck, or I’m going to be pleasantly surprised.

The band comes on stage, and launch into their first song right away.

Jarret’s Concert-Going Tip #3: A rock band + saxophone + trumpet = GENUIS.

BSC plays a real nice 30 minute set. They’ve got a real nice sound, not rock as I originally guessed, but more of a ska/reggae feel to their music, with a real nice groove to everything. Their singer has a nice rasp to his voice.  I may even pick up a CD if I can find it. When they played their signature song "”When The Night Feels My Song” (the one I knew from radio) the entire arena LOST IT, and it was super loud.

BSC leaves the stage to a happy crowd, and the anticipation for Paramore starts to mount. I know these guys mostly from their hit “Misery Business” and their giant smash “That’s What You Get” (not to mention playing it at least 100 times on Rock Band).

The teenage girls all around us start to get pushy, all trying to wiggle their way up to the front, and DAHG and I, Steph and Angie all raise shields and prepare for the onslaught, bracing ourselves on the guardrail against any invaders. We chat up the security guard some more and kill the half hour between sets.

The crew is really efficient at getting things torn down and the final sound check done for the next act. Paramore has a really neat setup with their guitar and bass cabinets all covered in massive photographs that look like artsy newsprint.

Again, the lights drop, the crowd POPS, and Paramore hits the stage and immediately assault us with huge guitars and big sound. I can’t believe how YOUNG this band is (the singer, who looks about 20, herself, later tells us one of the guitar players will turn 22 in September). “Misery Business” rips through the arena, and they’ve caught my attention. Two guitars, bass, drums, and female vocals. I take note of the aforementioned guitar player’s muting technique – it sounds nice and heavy, but not TOO much.

Jarret’s Concert-Going Tip #4: When it’s there and it’s real, soak up the atmosphere.

There’s a fantastic vibe about this band. The music isn’t too complicated, so I don’t want to go out on a limb and say they’re great musicians, but they’re very good at what they do. Very high energy, as evidenced by the bass player – who nails down an exceptionally solid rock bass groove throughout the set and pulls off a seasoned look as he rocks around – does two running side flips over top of one of the guitarists!

DAHG, Steph, Angie and I increase power to the aft shields as the pushing and shoving gets more intense. Everyone wants to get as close as possible. Using the guardrail like a giant pillar, we push back and hold our ground, even as some chick behind me is using my ass and back as her own personal bass guitar.

More about Paramore… one thing that really came across about these guys is that stardom hasn’t hit yet. They’ve only release two albums, with the third coming out in September, but you can tell by the way this group carries themselves that they’re having FUN. There’s no “rock star” attitude here. They have a blast playing their music and performing in front of a crowd, and every time the crowd would pop, both the guitarist and bassist in front of me would blush and smile, shaking their heads in disbelief. It really seems genuine, folks. Everyone in the band has gigantic smiles on their faces throughout the entire set. They’re happy to be here and it shows.

Several songs later into their 45 minute set, including new ones from their upcoming album, “That’s What You Get” is unleashed upon us, and we all divert emergency backup power to the aft shields as the crush continues, and by this point, Dude and I (I can’t believe I haven’t gotten his name yet) are regularly fighting women off from trying to squeeze between and knock us off the guard rail, but sore, sweaty, and tired, we manage to hold our positions as Paramore wraps up their set and thanks us before leaving the stage.

Time to take another breather, and prepare for what is going to be the final onslaught on our ears, minds, and bodies. The No Doubt crew comes out to roll some shiny white floor across the stage, the rest of which is being dutifully held behind curtains. We’re all wondering what the hell is going on with the floor, when the security fellow warns us that he’s going to be too busy pulling people out of the crowd to get anything off the floor for us (Paramore fired out some guitar picks and drum sticks). People regularly get crushed in these pits and have to get removed from the crowd – they just can’t take it.

Remind me why I’m here again?

Oh yeah! The lights drop and so does the curtain, revealing a very white stage with a set that makes you think you’re on the bridge of the Starship Enterprise from the new Star Trek movie this year (do you finally get all the talk about the shields? WITTY, HUH?), and No Doubt (noted now as ND) is standing there all in white costumes. The place looks rather sterile, but that all changes as the crowd LOSES THEIR COLLECTIVE MINDS and we’re further pounded against the guardrail.

Lesson #4: Survive. Fight back if you have to. Do what you must to live.

ND LEAPS into action, launching into “Spiderwebs”, and the arena foundation cracks. It’s big. It’s loud. The crowd found their minds that they lost earlier, put them back inside their heads, and then proceeded to lose them all over again. DAHG and our group are now regularly being pounded against the guardrail. We fight back by pushing off the guardrail and squishing those people against the crowd.

Did I mention that Gwen Stefani is gorgeous in person? It’s easy to look good on TV, but at 39 and a kid later, this woman is still HOT. She’s got the midriff showing, and Shania Twain can eat her heart out as she WISHES she had abs like Gwen does. Very nice! And it’s not hard to see why. From the opening note of the concert, right through the set, both Gwen and the bass player are literally leaping, bouncing, kicking, and stretching their way across the stage. A ND concert is effectively a 90 minute cardiovascular workout for these two. She may have been a bit short of breath at times, but for all that work, Stefani never missed a beat, nor did she miss a word. I mean, the woman is throwing kicks that almost nail herself in the CHIN, and she doesn’t miss a beat or a note.

Here’s a quick word to all those so-called “performers” like Britney Spears and the like that lip-synch their way through their careers (like they’re going to READ this), but folks, THIS is how it’s done. THIS is a performance. I don’t want to sit there for 90 minutes or two hours and watch you dance to a CD track. I want to hear you PERFORM. And Stefani is nothing but a PRO. Wow. She does it all, and STILL sings live. Amazing.

What else can you really say? The band played all the signature songs, from the aforementioned “Spiderwebs” to “Bath Water” to “Don’t Speak”. The whole while, DAHG and I are being physically destroyed. We’re taking shots to the ribs, legs, knees, back, and head. The shields have been breached, and there’s been several hull breaches reported, and casualties on several decks. We’re being crushed even further, and the inertial dampeners just simply can’t compensate.

Jarret’s Concert-Going Tip #5: When the going gets rough, the rough has to get going.

Finally, I’ve had enough, and as I take one more shot the ribs, I grab on to the guard rail and SHOVE BACK with all I’ve got, and a couple girls are rocked like only I can rock them. One of them took major exception to this. How DARE I defend my territory? How DARE I draw the line in the sand? This beey-ATCH reaches out, and like the catty whore she probably is, tries to rip the hair out of my head.

Now, I must digress here, and point out that I just got a fantastic hair cut last weekend (highlights and all), and now my hair is about two inches long. There’s nothing to grab. Obviously, this woman is used to fighting other females, and isn’t intelligent enough to adjust her game plan and try something different against the Alpha Male.

One small problem through all of this, is I’m a pretty instinctive kinda guy. I get attacked, and my first reaction is to wheel around and throw a left forearm that would have made Hulk Hogan cry with pride. Right in the face. And lo and behold, that was the end of it.

If there’s any law enforcement officers reading this… it was in the heat of the moment. And she started it. If you take me, you take her too.

Speaking of law enforcement, you know that security guard we were chatting up? He saw the whole thing and just nodded. The tips work, folks!

Anywho, it was pretty surprising after that. We had our space, and the crushing, pounding, and grinding were all but gone. Although, I rather enjoyed the grinding. Just kidding.

ND continued tearing through their set, and the walls of the MTS Center threatened to collapse in upon themselves and crush us all into some kind of mix of bone fragments and human jam on the concrete floor. The band played “Sunday Morning”, Hey Baby”, Simple Kind Of Life”, among others, and through the entire set, I’ve noticed the bass player (being a bassist myself) and how this guy was just in the ZONE.

His playing was spectacular, his fingers flying over the strings when needed, and holding down the signature riffs and grooves which are the foundation of ND’s songs. Often, he played for minutes on end with his eyes closed, just enjoying the vibe and the playing, and others, he broke into miles wide smiles at the joy of the fans, and he and I connected a couple times, and I’d invariably give him the traditional two fingered rock and roll hand sign to let him know his work was not only appreciated, but recognized for the skill he was displaying. Other times, we’d just smile at each other.

This guy had a look on his face like he was so deep in the zone… he had a Lou Diamond Phillips/John Travolta look to him, slightly darker, and with a little eye shadow on for effect, when he stared out over the audience, his whole aura projected that he was the most bad-ass mother-trucker in the arena, and every single note he played was the most bad-ass bass note ever released by a human being.

THAT’S how cool this cat was.

Ahh, being in the front row.

Anyway, at the end of the concert, where the encore included “Rock Steady” and ended with the gigantic “I’m Just A Girl” (where the guys totally SUCKED when asked by Gwen to sing the lyrics) which all but popped the roof off the top of the building, the cheering went on forever, and the bass player actually came down front off the stage, and came up to me and DAHG and personally handed us each a signature bass pick, his gesture of thanks for appreciating what he did. We thanked him profusely and sincerely before he was ushered away by security to keep the now near-rioting fans away from him.

Despite the physical abuse, this was a tremendous show from top to bottom. The only real complaint I had was the vocals were really tough to hear for most of the night, but I attribute that to us standing face to face with a couple giant speakers that played mostly bass and guitar through them.

Lesson #5: I’m too old for this shit.

No more floor / pit / moshing for me. I get beat up too much.


This was a really fun show. I don’t know about Angie, but my back’s pretty sore today. So are my feet, and as I’m wrapping this up around 3:30 PM, and my ears are STILL ringing. The last two fingers on my right hand are still numb from leaning on the guard rail.

But it was all worth it. All the pounding and hell we all took last night, the quality of show justified it, and I’d give everything a 9.5 out of 10, just losing a bit of a mark due to our placement and the vocals. This was a really cool show to be at.

Stephanie took lots of pictures with her cell phone, but as I haven’t got those yet, I’ll just rip a few from the MTS Center web site.

I hope you enjoyed reading as much as I enjoyed being there. That’s right, folks… we were this close. ;)



It’s HERE!!


No, just kidding.

After a couple weeks of waiting and worrying, I finally got our picture of Stephanie and I meeting Nickelback.

Way cool.

Nothing much more to say about it – if you read my previous blog post about it, then you’ve got it all.

So, here’s the pic!