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Melodic Rock Festival 3
H.O.M.E Bar

Arlington Heights, IL

September 29, 2013


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Determined not to make the same mistake I did on day two by sleeping in a little too late, I figured after arriving back at the hotel a little before 3:00am, 9:00 would be a good time to get up so I set my alarm and even scheduled a wake-up call with the hotel… but even that was to no avail. By the time I crawled out of bed, I discovered Brian, Mark and Vinny had already been up for hours. Apparently Mark and Vinny hit the buffet early but Brian hung out for a bit and waited for me so as to not hold up anything any further, I decided to be a dirt-bag and postponed my shower just throwing some clothes on and hitting the buffet a little after 9:00am.

Over breakfast, Brian and I got to sit down and have an extended conversation with ADRIANGALE guitarist Eddie Campbell and bassist Matt Mahoney who would join in a short time later. All the while Vinny was running around from room to room in the hotel as giddy as a school boy because his friend Steve Augeri and his band had finally checked in while Mark went back to the room to shower and get ready for the day.

Well, the conversation lasted a little longer than we expected and we didn’t even end up leaving the buffet area until almost 11:00am and by then it was time for our morning ritual of downloading and swapping photos from the day before… “RADEMACHER VOID,” remember? So by the time that was all finished and complete, it was just around 12:30 and it was time for me to rush back to my room and get showered and dressed to head back over to the H.O.M.E. Bar for the third and final day of MELODICROCK FEST III. What happened next was a “little” unexpected… at least from mine and Brian’s perspective.

Apparently shortly after I left, Mark and Vinny were down in the lobby and ran into ADRIANGALE guitarist Vic Rivera who had just missed the shuttle bus over to the venue so Mark offered to drive him over real quick while Brian and I were getting ready with Vinny joining them for the ride. So we expected them to be back about 1:30 or maybe 1:45 at the latest but before we knew it, 1:30 had come and gone… then 2:30, then 3:00 so by that time after not being able to get in touch with either one of them, Brian and I eventually went downstairs and waited outside on a bench in front of the hotel lobby. FINALLY around 3:15 the car pulled up. Now, I’m just not gonna get into it and bore you with all the details but let’s just call it “The great HOT DOG emergency of MELODICROCK III.”

Enough said… so we were FINALLY off to the show…


Needless to say, the “casualties” of day 3 came early and there were many. By the time we actually got parked and into the venue, we had already missed LOVEBLAST, INNER SIEGE and CROSSING RUBICON’s sets entirely and only caught the closing notes to NO LOVE LOST’s cover of WHITESNAKE’s “Still of the Night” which sounded really, REALLY good and their set ender, the spirited “Little Things” which was a VERY cool track. Our apologies go out to all of you… hopefully we’ll have the opportunity to make it up to ya sometime in the future and from we heard from talking with some of the fans afterwards, we really missed some great performances.

For our first “complete” performance of the day, we were able to catch Swedish rockers COLDSPELL who REALLY impressed. Fronted by the thick, rich vocals of Niclas Swedentorp accompanied by drummer Perra Johansson, haunting keyboardist Matti Eklund, founding member, song-writer and tremendous guitar player Micke Larsson and the exciting, stimulating antics of bassist Chris Goldsmith who is not only an absolute NUT on stage but also bears a striking resemblance to Jason Lee’s character as the lead vocalist of the fictional band STILLWATER in ALMOST FAMOUS, these guys delivered a powerful set featuring tracks from all three of the band’s releases.

Starting off with the opening track to their “OUT FROM THE COLD” release “Heroes,” it didn’t take long to realize that this crowd was in for an absolute thrill ride with Swedentorp in perfect voice and the rest of the band sounding as tight as they do on the release itself. Surprisingly, with their new release “FROZEN PARADISE,” you’d think (as with most bands) that they’d REALLY be trying to push the new material but they only played the first two songs off the release “Paradise” and “Angel of the World” back to back towards the middle of their set. Instead, it was “OUT FROM THE COLD” which was CLEARLY represented as in addition to their set opener, COLDSPELL went on to perform five more tracks from the release including the title track, “Six Feet Under,” the energy-packed “Run For Your Life,” “One in a Million” and the pulsating, melodic, harmony-enriched “Time.”

Not to be overlooked, this wickedly invigorating set also included a spine-chilling rendition of the slightly more laid back “Night Falls,” the “classic-rock” inspired “Straight Things Out” and the heart-thumping, keyboard accented “Keep On Believing” all from their incredible debut release “INFINITE STARGAZE.” What an awe-inspiring performance from this relatively young band and a fine addition to the MELODICROCK FEST line-up. Kudos to you, Andrew for getting these guys on the bill!

Back for another performance at MELODICROCK FEST, KIVEL RECORDS recording artists BOMBAY BLACK took the stage shortly after for what was to be probably THE heaviest set of the entire weekend. Ya know, when you talk to people about “melodic rock” bands, a lot of artists names get thrown back and forth but BOMBAY BLACK certainly isn’t one of them although they’ve always seemed to be labeled as such. These guys are hard, heavy and aggressive… not exactly the kind of band you’d lump in with say JOURNEY, HAREM SCAREM or SURVIVOR which is why I never quite got how these guys fit on the bill. Sure, they’re a good band and I get the whole KIVEL RECORDS/MELODICROCK connection but there are plenty of other bands on the KIVEL label that “fit in” more to the theme. Like I said in my day II review when I was talking about the slot positioning of MECCA… it’s like “asking POISON to open for JUDAS PRIEST!” or in this case, MOTORHEAD to open for JOURNEY! It just doesn’t sit right.

But nonetheless, these guys took the stage with their searing guitar riffs, fierce bass-driven rhythms and double-bass drum pounding compositions shredding through tracks like “Dragon Tattoo,” “Love Like This,” the slightly more melodic “Helluva Time” and their heart-pounding opener “The Ride.” I absolutely love the heavy-bass propelled “The Angel and the Devil” as well as the more bluesier-influenced “Demons Down” as highlights of their set also included three covers… a “souped-up,” more tenacious version of NIGHT RANGER’s “Don’t Tell Me You Love Me,” a valiant pairing of their own “Bad Boy” with IRON MAIDEN’s “Wasted Years” and to end their set, a very cool version of the fictional STEEL DRAGON track “Stand Up” from the movie ROCK STAR.
All-in-all a great set from one of KIVEL’s finest but as I said, I just think these would come across SO much better lumped in with some more “aggressive-sounding” bands.

It’s been a LOOOooong time since I’ve been able to catch these next guys live! Over 6 years, as a matter of fact, when they tore up the stage at ROCKLAHOMA but although they have continued to release great music and great CD’s, their appearances here in the U.S. have been rare to say the least so it was an absolute THRILL to finally get to see one of my favorite lead vocalists James Christian and his band HOUSE OF LORDS again after all these years… and they did not disappoint delivering one of the most potent and prolific sets of the entire weekend.

After opening with an earth-shattering rendition of “Sahara”: from their 1990 release of the same name, what I REALLY loved about their set was that even with upwards of 8  studio releases under their belt spanning over two decades, these guys went out of their way to represent just about each and every one of them. Their set continued on to include such recent favorites as “SOS, “I Don’t Wanna Wait All Night,” the heavy, head-banging “Blood” from their latest release “BIG MONEY” as well as the title track, “These Are The Times” and just as they opened the album “COME TO MY KINGDOM,” the haunting instrumental “Purgatorio Overture No. 2” leading straight into “Come To My Kingdom.”  Additionally, the band reached deep into their archives to pull out such gems as “I’m Free,” the Stan Bush cover originally recorded on their debut release “Love Don’t Lie,” “Cartesian Dreams” and after a thundering bass feature showcasing Chris McCarvill, an excellent rendition of “Rock Bottom.”

All night long, Christian was just in PERFECT voice showing no signs (thankfully) of any recent health issues and talk about your guitar players! Jimi Bell was just incredible taking on and shredding through these HOUSE OF LORDS tracks both new AND old like he fucking OWNED them… just an amazing performer to behold.

This was just one HELL of a show that built and built and built finally climaxing beginning by whipping out the old acoustic for another shining rendition of BLIND FAITH’s “Can’t Find My Way Home” which has become almost synonymous with HOUSE OF LORDS ever since they covered it on their sophomore release “SAHARA.”
This opened the flood gates for what myself and this crowd were just drooling for… three songs, back to back, from their critically acclaimed, s/t debut release including “I Wanna Be Loved,” “Pleasure Palace” and after a searing guitar solo compliments again of the master Jimi Bell, “Slip Of the Tongue.” These guys certainly know how to close out a set with flair and style! Definitely one of the most memorable performances of the weekend… at least for me. My ONLY regret is that I have never gotten to hear these guys play either of my favorite HOUSE OF LORDS tracks live, “Remember My Name” or “Jealous Heart” but I guess I’ll just stash them away and hope for next time.

Now what can I say about this next performer that hasn’t been said before? Plain and simply… Ted Poley is not only THE voice of DANGER DANGER but the man just seems to defy age and time as his extraordinary vocals literally have only grown stronger and more impassioned as the years go by. Most recently, I caught him right here in my own backyard at DINGBATZ in Clifton, NJ as he was on his 23rd straight day of performing on the “80’s Invasion Tour 2013” and his voice couldn’t have sounded any better had he rested it for a month!... just unbelievable and as a front man, you’re just not gonna find one better in the business today. Arguably in their prime… David Lee Roth or maybe Steven Tyler but nowadays, NO ONE commands a stage better than Ted Poley.

Just watching this virtuoso at work alone is a thrill but then throwing in the likes of bassist Doug O’Dell and guitarist “MazMazza who are masters of their instrument in their own right, how could you EVER go wrong? The answer is… YOU CAN’T and tonight would be no different as Ted and the boys delivered another outstanding, yet shorter than expected performance jolting the crowd to life immediately with an invigorating rendition of the DANGER DANGER hit “Monkey Business.”

The set went on to include two songs from Ted’s days with BONE MACHINE “Man Alive” and “Missing You” as well as crowd pleasers such as the sing-a-long “I Still Think About You,” “Feels Like Love” and “Don’t Walk Away” during which Ted dared to go where not many performers venture to tread… into the crowd itself singing along with his adoring fans while keeping them riveted along the way. Throughout the set, Ted was on the top of his game not only in perfect voice but staking his claim as the perennial front man entertaining and constantly interacting with the audience, doing shots and making wise-cracks while always maintaining the composure of a consummate professional. Now I have seen a LOT of artists over the past few days but let me tell ya… no one and I mean NO ONE commanded an audience like Ted.

Of course, what would any Ted Poley set be without the DANGER DANGER show-stoppers “Bang Bang” and “Naughty Naughty” but there were some surprises thrown in for good measure as well. The first being a slightly “souped-up” version of Tracy Chapman’s “Baby Can I Hold You”  and closing with a song I never in a million years would have guessed Ted would take on… Ozzy Osbourne’s “Crazy Train” but not only did he take it on; he fucking OWNED it ripping out one of the best renditions of the song that I have ever heard. From start to finish… Ted and the band provided not only some great music and performances but, as always with Ted, this was a SHOW and something these fans won’t soon forget. My only complaint being as I said earlier, it was just too damned short and I definitely would LOVE to have heard some more of his solo material as well which should never be overlooked.

Being a HUGE fan of the “melodic rock” genre, one band always seems to come to the forefront more so than any other and is the epitome of what “melodic rock” is all about and that band is, has been and always WILL be JOURNEY. Fronted by one of the most distinguishable, versatile and powerful voices in music history, Steve Perry, from the mid-70’s and all through the 80’s, their music was simply ground-breaking inspiring thousands upon thousands of artists to follow in their footsteps and setting the bar just about as high as it can ever go. That being said, you can imagine the devastating blow it would be to ANY band even attempting to try and replace a voice such as Perry’s. An insurmountable task to say the least but with time, patience, persistence and eventual acceptance, JOURNEY made it happen landing the perfect complement, NOT replacement, in TALL STORIES front man Steve Augeri.

For upwards of eight years, Augeri commanded the stage for one of the most successful acts in music history performing to sold out arenas, stadiums and millions of fans worldwide. But as with most things in life, all good things come to an end as Augeri left the band in 2006 after a grueling and almost relentless touring schedule eventually began to take its toll on his voice itself. But here we are in 2013 and right here at MELODICROCK FEST 3, it was time for Steve Augeri to take the stage and his place in the spotlight where he belongs.

As the lights dimmed and the opening notes to “Separate Ways (Worlds Apart)” began to cascade over the crowd, those old, familiar chords sounded just as good as they ever have. Now backed by VALENTINE members Craig Pullman on keyboards, bassist Gerard Zappa and talented guitar player Adam Holland combined with percussionist Mike Morales these guys sounded DEAD ON and just about as tight as you can get. Which comes as no surprise since these guys were no strangers to these JOURNEY classics as in addition to VALENTINE, these guys have also been performing as the JOURNEY covers band EVOLUTION for many, MANY years now… although Holland has left that band behind in recent days. Throw in the beautiful backing vocals of Sally Blandon and Erica Iozzo to compliment Augeri and you get a performance which just about rivals any JOURNEY show that you have ever seen.

While the show was packed with JOURNEY favorites like “Stone In Love,” “Lights,” “Lovin’ Touchin’ Squeezin’,” the timeless ballad “Faithfully,” Wheel In The Sky” and the all-time classic “Don’t Stop Believin’,” it was the insertion of Augeri’s material outside of JOURNEY which really brought the whole thing together. I loved hearing “Hours In The Day” and “For the Rest of My Life”… two tracks Augeri released independently over the past couple of years as well as “Jamie” from his one release with TYKETTO and “Wild On The Run” from his days in TALL STORIES but the one really stand-out JOURNEY tune had to be “Higher Place,” one of the songs Augeri recorded with the band for their 2001 “ARRIVAL” release… I really wish he had actually done a few more and maybe omitted one or two of the older JOURNEY songs and representing his time with the band more completely. But no matter, it was just great to hear the old songs again and sung by someone who actually performed them with the band itself.

Rounding off the set was an energy-packed rendition of “Any Way You Want It” and then COMPLETELY taking me off guard, an absolutely superb performance of one of my favorite JOURNEY tunes “Be Good To Yourself” mixing in touches of LED ZEPPELIN’s “Whole Lotta Love” for good measure. Killer, KILLER set from an amazingly talented artist and musicians… but the evening wasn’t over yet as one of the biggest surprises of the entire festival were about to take the stage.

Initially the Swedish band ECLIPSE (who also provide the heart of Jeff Scott Soto’s W.E.T.) were slated to perform earlier in the day but ended up with the task of having to follow up the likes of Steve Augeri, HOUSE OF LORDS AND Ted Poley. Any ONE of those artists alone would be a tough act to follow but HO-LY SHIT did these guys deliver one of the most powerful sets of the entire weekend, if not THE (arguably) most powerful set. I always knew that these guys were good… I just didn’t realize HOW good as they completely blew the roof off the place and taking me and the rest of the crowd along with it!

These guys were heavy, edgy and aggressive but not too much as to overshadow their effective melodic harmonies and melodies. Lead vocalist Erik Martensson (who looks like he just stepped off the bus at high school) took just about everyone off-guard not only with his prominent stage presence but a voice so rich and powerful you would never believe it was coming out of him unless you saw it for yourself. Then the searing, shredding riffs and chords of guitarist Magnus Henriksson sent shock waves through the crowd electrifying them beyond just about anything I had seen all weekend.

Literally exploding onto the stage, ECLIPSE tore right into “Wylde One” from their “ARE YOU READY TO ROCK” release followed by four more intense rockers from their latest release “BLEED & SCREAM” including “Ain’t Dead Yet,” “Wake Me Up,” “Battlegrounds” and “Bitter Taste.” At this point, and you just KNEW this was gonna happen sooner or later, Jeff Scott Soto joined the band for a duet on one of my favorite ECLIPSE tunes, the high-intensity, melodic arrangement “Bleed and Scream.”

Without allowing you a minute to catch your breath and with no signs of slowing down, ECLIPSE continued to escalate in momentum tearing through their energy-packed set with tracks like “Under The Gun,” “S.O.S.,” About To Break” and “Hometown Calling.” Then after “Million Miles Away” and “After The End of the World,” the band finally slowed down for just a moment performing an acoustic version of “Battlegrounds.” But this breather was short lived as their more than impressive set closed just as it began with a petulant, octane-filled version of “Breaking My Heart Again.” WOW... my heart is literally still pounding just sitting here writing and reliving the set in my mind. ECLIPSE is certainly one HELL of a band to be reckoned with and I am so, so grateful I had this rare opportunity to see these guys perform.

By this time, we were just completely spent and there was still another act to go, KIVEL RECORDSMAXX EXPLOSION featuring most of the members of HOUSE OF LORDS minus James Christian but after a set like that and an early flight to catch back to Jersey in just a few hours, we just couldn’t do it and had to call it a night… one last time, OLD MEN! Keep that in mind next time around Andrew! But what a HELL of a weekend! So many memorable performances, so many memories and certainly a trip MORE than worth its weight in gold.

Rock Eyez: Melodic Rock Festival 3 Day Two 9/28/2013 - Live Review



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