The Darkness “Back to the USSA” Tour

 

April 18, 1775 Paul Revere warned the colonies of the British invasion during the American Revolution. April 30, 2016 Baltimore Soundstage brought the British back. Only this time it had nothing to do with lantern lights and war but to unite people under one roof with the power of music. This evening’s ambassadors of chords, beats, lyrics and in support of their 2015, 4th studio release, The Last of Our Kind were none other than the U.K.’s own The Darkness.  To help warm the crowd up, opening acts Raveneye and Baltimore’s own local hero’s Nightsbridge were brought along for the ride.

If Page and Plant had sex with Axl and Slash and they had a baby that’s Nightsbridge.  Although not from the U.K. Nightsbridge took the stage and wasted no time proving why they deserved to be one of the supporting acts. Donning a bowler hat and a British flag t-shirt lead vocalist Mickey Valentine did not stop dancing, shaking, and jumping around the stage.  Backed by a power house team made of guitarist David Weston Gregory Jr and Peter Fitzpatrick, bassist Bryan Krimes, and drummer Jack Ivins, it was apparent that they all came to have fun.  Working the stage and crowd like veteran rock stars, the band never stopped smiling, while going through each song in their set. Unfortunately time does fly and the three songs in the photo pit time was up and shortly thereafter NIghtsbridge was done performing for the evening. In good fashion all the members of the band made themselves available at the merch table where I was given a little inside tip on where they will be playing next.  If you want to know, head over to their Facebook page to see the official announcement:  www.Facebook.com/wearenightsbridge.com

Unlike the bright lights that Nightsbridge used during their set, supporting acts Raveneye had the stage scaled down a little and it worked perfectly. The trio from Milton Keynes, England brought a raw garage band gritty sound when they performed.  Raveneye is made up of Guitarist and vocalist Oli Brown, Bassist Aaron Spiers, and Drummer Kev Hickman. Before their set when asked about what songs could be expected Kev laughed and said “Man we don’t know what we’ll play til about five minutes before we go on. We like to keep things fresh and just go with it.”  Judging by how tight they were playing it was hard to believe. Having been on various tours the last few months, across several countries, Oli and company had the energy of a band starting for the first night. From hopping into the photo pit and singing to the fans up close, to standing on the bass drum and jumping into the air while never missing a note the rock never stopped. Raveneye quickly became a crowd favorite.  Raveneye plan on getting back into the studio once they return to the U.K. to follow up their five song EP Breaking Out. Make sure to follow Raveneye to keep up to date on the albums progress at www.Raveneyeofficial.com

The cheers and screams of the audience rose to deafening levels as The Darkness took the stage. First song on the set list was “Barbarian” from the 2015 album Last of Our Kind. It was the perfect choice to showcase lead singer Justin Hawkins vocal range.  Which sounded amazingly well considering they had to cancel their show in Indianapolis the night before due to a severe throat infection.  Justin gave a shout out to the doctors that treated him with a cocktail of steroids and antibiotics. Fortunately it did not seem to hinder his performance. Justin did seem to hold the mic over the audience for some crowd participation more than the he had the last time they played in Baltimore but the fans loved every minute of singing along.  Feeding off of the energy of the crowd seemed to the thing needed to keep Justin going so much so that halfway through the set he was doing head stands on the drum riser while guitarist Dan Hawkins and bassist Frankie Poullain enjoyed a mid-song jam session with drummer Rufus Tiger Taylor. Joining the band in early 2015 Taylor brings rock royalty to The Darkness.  Taylor is the son of Queen’s legendary drummer Roger Taylor. Rumor has it Rufus’s middle name was given to him by none other than Freddie Mercury himself.

Regardless of what you think about the state of rock and roll, one thing is certain, when you see The Darkness, you are guaranteed a great time. From watching Justin jumping off the drums, standing on his head, or riding the shoulders other band members, to having FUCK spelled out in the lights on stage during “Givin’ Up” or bringing a fan out of the crowd to dance on stage during a faux lounge club version of “I Believe In A Thing Called Love”. The five men in The Darkness embrace the classic rock look and the classic rock sound. Since 2003’s release of their debut album “Permission to Land” the band has gone through many phases. Between lineup changes and battling personal demons, no matter what life has thrown at them somehow The Darkness always finds the light and on April 30th 2016 that light burned bright.

Keep up to date with the happenings of The Darkness and follow them via their website and social media sites: http://thedarkness.co.uk , https://www.facebook.com/thedarknessofficial/

The New Regime and The Used Rams Head Live

A packed house restlessly awaited the show, but they woke up slowly once the show began. The crowd was clearly there for The Used, from the young kids in tight skinny jeans to the 30-somethings who knew every word to every song.  But before The Used began their set, the crowd had a pleasant surprise.  The New Regime brought a refreshing change to the concept of “opening band”.

Looking like “Every-man”, the trio took the stage with a simple set and a steady energy.   Visiting Baltimore on the heels of a South by Southwest appearance, the band brought a calm, comfortable vibe with them—they were no strangers to a stage.  San Diego veteran Ilan Rubin, best known for his work in Nine Inch Nails, contributed to write, perform and sing, weaving a classic rock sound throughout a modern band.  Drummer Hayden Scott brought the electronic sound into the mix with a Dub-Step type sound pounding behind an earnest guitar.  Ilan and bassist Daniel Rubin sang a tight harmony, their voices well blended and complimentary.  Bass and guitar were well matched as well, producing a much larger sound than is usually expected from a three-piece band.

What followed next was a dreamy, psychedelic San Francisco-in-the-70’s vibe that would be better performed for a group of California hippies than a crowd of Used fans—but the fans liked it anyway. An interesting guitar riff ended in a long, echoing note that faded as Rubin shouted “You ready for something heavier?”  The crowd clapped, but not to Rubin’s satisfaction.  “Now what am I supposed to do with that response?”  The crowd screamed.  “See I knew this crowd could handle it!” he laughed, and launched into another blend of modern sound backed by a 70’s classic rock groove that brought to mind Led Zeppelin and Queen.  Though not as heavy as anticipated, it was just right and the crowd responded well.

The next song started with a picking sound that was reminiscent of “O Brother, Where Art Thou”, but the cymbals then crashed right into a driving rock song. Heads bobbed as the rocking sound seemed to come from six or eight performers rather than the three unassuming members on the stage.  Rubin shredded the guitar, putting his body into it, playing old-school rock and roll.  He played sounds that were probably more familiar to the Used fans’ parents, but the crowd loved it and it struck a nerve.  Planting his feet, Daniel kept perfect pace with drummer Hayden Scott making the rapid tight rhythm look effortless.  Rubin raced through every fret on the guitar, breaking into a Queen-inspired jam but clearly making it his own.  The classic Zeppelin-Queen influence was prominent and clearly evident, but Rubin ENHANCED the old-fashioned sounds rather than copying them.  He blended new influences into old, and the effect was fascinating.  As he wound down to close the song, the crowd was his, and the room was fully satisfied.  They had seen a good show, without pretense or flashy gimmicks—just good, innovative rock and roll.

Following The New Regime, The Used immediately commanded the attention of the crowd. Red spotlights lit up nearly-naked manikins, and the completely packed crowd bristled with anticipation.  As the band took the stage, the roar rose to deafening.  Yes, this was a Used crowd for sure.

Jumping with controlled energy, singer Bert McCraken made it clear that this concert was a joint effort. The crowd was expected to sing along, and that they did.  Nearly every fan knew every word of every song.  The entire set was comprised of The Used providing the foundation within which the audience performed.  McCraken addressed the crowd, saying “after touring for 17 years, I’ve seen it with my own eyes—music really does change people’s lives and the world we live in.  I challenge every one of you to be your fucking selves!”  The crowd screamed, clapping frenetically along with him as he launched into The Case of Ink, singing along about savoring every moment of it all.

Fabric hung from the microphone stand “in solidarity for Palestinian people”, as McCraken spoke of over 15 years of The Used, which is “a big fucking deal!” The crowd belonged to him before he even stepped off the tour bus that evening.  Calling several times for a circle pit, he tried to wind up the audience but they focused on giving him back every single word he sang, fingers pointing forward, arms raised, passionately throwing themselves into each song.  Behind him, drummer Dan Whitesides sat in his own world, playing as if he were alone on stage.  The band then slowed down into a sexy groove for “Waste Some Time With You”, which led into an acapella sing along ending.

The Used owned the night and the crowd proudly performed right along with them, but that was a given. When The Used comes to Baltimore, Baltimore gives back.  Dependable, sturdy, and exciting, the show went as planned.  But the big surprise was the modern blend of classic rock from The New Regime, which is worth another look.  All in all, it was a great show, and another testament to the fact that Rams Head Live is filling the city with great sounds from greatest  local and national artists, keeping the music scene alive and well.

http://thenewregime.com/ https://www.facebook.com/thenewregime

http://www.theused.net/  https://www.facebook.com/TheUsed

 

Disturbed returns to Baltimore 4-1-16

The 2016 summer concert season could not have started in a better way. Ever since Chicago based metal band Disturbed announced a new album in July of 2015, show announcements quickly followed. Disturbed was joined by veteran rockers Nonpoint on a nineteen city tour across the U.S. Playing to sold out crowds in some of America’s most intimate venues, they proved that even with a five year hiatus, fans are still Down With The Sickness. The April 1st stop of the tour in Maryland at the Baltimore Soundstage started promptly at 8pm with Nonpoint taking the stage. With heavy riffs, flying dreads and steady beats, the members of Nonpoint wasted no time getting right to the heart of why Baltimore music fans were there, to throw up the horns and rock out.  The Florida rockers only played a forty minute set but they covered a lot of material from their seventeen year career including new music from their upcoming ninth studio album, their cover of Phil Collins debut single In The Air Tonight, and the hit single Bullet With a Name from their 2005 album To The Pain.

Disturbed took the stage at 9 with a warm “My Brothers, My Sisters, My Blood” from David Draiman followed by the screams and chants of the hot and sweaty fans in attendance. The rest of the night was a welcome blast from the past. One thing could be said about the bands hiatus– it definitely seemed to help bring them to a different place. Guitarist Dan Donegan and Bassist John Moyer were as tight as ever crushing the strings. Drummer Mike Wengren had an absolutely amazing drum set ups. Sitting on a four foot tall riser and surrounded by a cymbal cage, it was almost too big for the stage and did not leave much room for the other members to move around. But it helped add to the intimate feel of the show by keeping  the drummer closer to the crowd instead of hiding in the shadows of the wings. But the most impressive part of the night was David’s voice. It hasn’t sounded this strong since the Pop Sux tour in 2002.  The set list for the night read like a greatest hits album, with only two songs off of their most recent work “ Immortalize”:  The Light, and an amazing acoustic rendition of Simon and Garfunkel’s Sound of Silence.  The set finished with a ten minute medley of songs which, in Draiman’s words, “inspired us through our career.”  The medly included Nine Inch Nails- Closer, U2- Still Haven’t Found, The Who- Baba O’Riley, and Rage Against The Machine- Killing in the Name Of(with Elias from NonPoint). The “one more song” chant started almost immediately and it did not take long for the guys to answer the call, returning to the stage with Draiman asking “if everyone was still breathing?” before the opening riff to “Voices”.  The crowd was relentlessly swaying, throwing their fists in the air and showing appreciation to the band by singing along to every word. But all good things must come to an end, and Disturbed addressed this point. David addressed the crowd with another “ My Brothers, My Sisters, My Blood”, and went on to say “we will be back, you have all been infected and we love you. Can you feel that, that sickness rising, are you down?”,  as the iconic chugging of guitar strings in drop C# tuning rang out for “Down with the Sickness.”

Walking out of the Baltimore Soundstage, all conversations were about how amazing the show was. In an era of smart phones and internet, the public has instant access to music and has developed a need for instant gratification; as a result, five years is a long time to not be in the public eye in the music industry. Today’s flash in the pan quickly becomes yesterday’s forgotten leftovers.  Fortunately, this is not the case with Disturbed.  The band still holds the attention and adoration of many generations of hard rocking fans.  Rock isn’t dead; it just needed a break.

For the latest tour dates and news about the band make sure to check out: http://www.disturbed1.com/immortalized/na?ref=