Saturday 28th September, 2013
*Please Note - Review updated / Public Apology added Dec. 12th 2013*
Well, it’s the dream melodic / hard rock festival for fans everywhere, that became a reality for the first time in 2007 for Andrew McNiece, the owner and founder of www.melodicrock.com a very tasty rock website, absolutely loaded with information that would take any newcomer to it, a lifetime to ever get through it!
Sadly for them, there were not too many people on the main floor to watch their set.
I’ll have to check out some of their material for sure though.
I think that really moved a lot of people at that time and must’ve been really tough on Brett’s wife who was present at the event and then next when the band played along with a Brett vocal track, which was kind of eerie, but cool of them to do.
Must’ve been tough …
I only know of the band’s last release ‘Identity Crisis,’ none of their previous stuff at all so I’m a little limited on my song knowledge of the band, I’ve also had a bit of a hard time really getting into the latest album ..., but part of that could be lack of time to listen to it ...
Lead singer David Reece (Ex-Accept, Bangalore Choir) though seems to expect the audience to know all their stuff, based on how he came across to the crowd.
Perhaps he should consider that this is a multi-band festival and not just Tango Down’s day … Maybe he was just playing with the crowd ...?
Perhaps that the opening two tracks, I now understand were from the latest album and I didn’t recognize them tells you something … Sorry guys …
‘Dream Child’ next though I did recognize and enjoyed!
David Reece though does seem to come across as if he wants to be Mick Jagger or Paul Stanley, it’s just a little too over the top sometimes IMHO and after all, this is just a bar - The Home Bar - in Arlington Heights, IL .. Where (?), some may say …
The overall songs sound kind of familiar but the presentation from Reece … Hmm …
The sampled keyboards on ‘Blame (it On Me)’ next are pretty obvious …, that said, it is a song I really like and am glad to hear it.
The next song I do know well, as it’s a cover of Jace / Chasing Magic’s ‘Corners of my Mind,’ written by the talented upcoming singer / songwriter Jason Pawlak.
I’m at a loss with the next track, sounded like ‘Open Your Eyes (?),’ but I’m not sure, but it did sound good, the big harmony vocals a little too good perhaps, when I only saw partial participation on backing vocals … Sampled?
More keyboard samples are obvious in the next track, again one I didn’t recognize.
I understand the next two songs were Bangalore Choir tunes, another band that I’m not familiar with but the last one though I understand was ‘Angel In Black.’
So Tango Down in my books were OK, maybe I need to listen to them more but learning that David Reece is their third vocalist on as many albums, who knows where they go from here?
Vic Rivera I know about and is a great player on guitar, but sorry AdrianGale the rest of the band I am not familiar with at all except vocalist Jamie Rowe who I've heard good things about, but likewise with the material, I'm pretty much at a loss.
In fact the opening track really reminded me of The Beastie Boys ‘Fight For Your Right (To Party)’ and to be honest I thought the harmonies seemed a little flat, but that just kind of echoed what I’d heard elsewhere about the monitoring.
As the set progressed, many of the songs sounded punchy with ‘No More Chances’ that was pretty solid too!
‘Getting Closer To the Weekend(?)’ I believe was next, good stuff.
They did seem to be greatly appreciated and came across as good strong players, but I just did not recognize anything and nothing was really outstanding, but was certainly good.
Stuart Smith is a guitarist who I had admired for a while too, especially since he is so strongly influenced by Ritchie Blackmore, who Stuart has some history with.
Over the past few years, I have got to know Stuart a little, through his playing with Steve Priest’s version of The Sweet and reviewing their live gigs in Detroit in 2011 and 2012 and some friendly phone calls here and there, before Stuart quit the band to focus on the latest Heaven + Earth release ‘Dig.’
The band now features alongside Stuart, Joe Retta (Sweet) as lead vocalist, Richie Onori (Sweet) on drums, Arlan Schierbaum on keys and Hammond B3 and guest bassist Tony Morabito.
The set was scheduled originally to be an unplugged set, but then then opted late in the day to plug in and rock out, a very wise choice and one that made many of their fans at the event, extremely happy including me!
My only beef was that they played quite a short set, all things considered and with the exception of their theme song from the first album – ‘Heaven + Earth.’ – all songs were from their latest - Although a very enjoyable release … - album ‘Dig.’
Stuart Smith at MRF3, the man behind Heaven + Earth
Photo: Alun Williams
The interplay between Stuart’s guitar and Arlan’s Hammond keys work, sounded so, so strong! I just love the track!
The rich sound these guys are getting between Arlan’s B3 and Stuart's almost Blackmore like style is just phenomenal!
Of course those that know Jeff Scott Soto’s background know that he has played with many other artists as well as Talisman too, such as Yngwie J. Malmsteen, Journey, Axel Rudi Pell, Trans-Siberian Orchestra as well as fronting Queen tribute bands.
Very talented guy, but then if you have ever listened to Eclipse or Work Of Art, you’ll realize the equal talents of both Robert and Erik!
On the night, Jeff of course took lead vocals, Erik on guitar, and Robert was on keys, they were also augmented by Eclipse member Magnus Henriksson on guitar and guest bass player and drummer who I'm sorry, I just didn't know?
Here's the thing folks for me, it was like with Jeff Scott Soto ...
He was the guy that I know would not disappoint, live he put's on a stunning show!
What a talent!
I have huge and utmost respect for the guy and would love to interview the man who's work I have greatly admired for years and is the guy that I love to tell people, 'You know that song in the movie 'Rock Star,' the 'Stand Up and Shout' song? Yeah, Jeff Scott Soto sung it!'
Sadly some poor souls watching the movie actually believed that Mark Wahlberg sung it and much as I admire Mark Wahlberg as an actor, no people, he did NOT sing that song!
'Stand Up and Shout' aside, what Jeff has achieved on his own merits is fantastic, but I'll let up on that and get on with the review as after all, that's all people are wanting know about!
As W.E.T. were getting ready to kick off their set, the intro tape or Robert Säll on keys started with a tubular bell type sound that led into the excellent 'Never Walk Away!'
I was in heaven!
These guys, from the first notes and the full sound were just great, although Jeff did seem perhaps a little shaky ...
'Learn To Live Again' put simply is just another masterpiece!
Sounds so good and 'Invincible' next, it's just killer stuff!
Can these guys do any wrong!
'I'll Be There' next is yet another strong, catchy song and it's pretty loud as well, but I'm not complaining. To get to see most of these acts is such a rare deal, but W.E.T. is a very unique mini super-group project.
W.E.T. what a band! Live at MRF3!
Photo: Alun Williams
With 'Love Heals,' there really aren't many power ballads that come close, certainly not this year, with the exception of the earlier mentioned H+E song, but Jeff's voice has got into a wonderful groove for the evening.
The whole band is so on their game, what talent though with Erik and Magnus from Eclipse and it's a shame that Robert Säll is simply covering keyboards, as he's quite the guitarist himself.
The monster title track of the latest album, 'Rise Up' is next in the set and the crowd does just that! Boy, is it special, as it seems is every track played tonight, I mean they are all winners!
Jeff Scott Soto and Magnus Henriksson rockin' Chicago!
Photo: Alun Williams
Jeff pulls a track from his Talisman days next in 'Break Your Chains' which slots in pretty well with everything else here.
He then takes a breather to pay tribute to all the great singers and bands that are at Melodic Rock Fest 3 this weekend and to Andrew (McNiece) for putting it all together.
Another gem from the 'Rise Up' album in the shape of 'Bad Boy' next, just class!
Then it's 'Still Unbroken' and then 'Broken Wings,' before another Talisman track in 'I'll Be Waiting' where he get's the crowd to sing along, as well as pulling some of the guys from other bands to try and sing the main line.
I mean I don't think he was trying to humiliate some of the other singers, where he was trying to get Gary Schutt, as well as Coldspell's lead singer and one other to try and scream (?) the main line from the song ..., but he was messing with them.
I guess it was just kind of funny and fun ...
'If I Fall' from the first W.E.T. album next was good but not perhaps as strong as the material from 'Rise Up,' but there is no faulting the band, it all sounds great still.
Dedicating 'Brothers in Arms' to his band mates was a great touch and so true.
They close with 'One Love' and it was one great set from a project band that really impressed me and clearly impressed most if not all the audience that had really packed the place out by now.
That was it for me I was beat, I had never seen Harem Scarem live before, I had looked forward to and am so sorry to have missed them but weariness - I had sat down for ten to fifteen minutes max in the whole time at the gig since I arrived at 12 noon - and a certain amount of guilt too, made up my mind to return to my family that had patiently waited for me at the hotel.
Melodic Rock Fest 3, just the Saturday show was great, wish I could've seen Harem Scarem and the Sunday show too, but it wasn't to be.
At least they are back together, so next time they're around this way or at a multi-band festival like this, I'll be there!
No matter, it was great to have been a part of it and catch up with meeting great people, old friends and new alike.
Roll on Melodic Rock Fest 4 ... Bring it on Andrew!!!
Please note - Public apology:
I would like to offer a sincere apology and retract some of the original statement made in my original review posting of this event that may have caused offence to John Kivel.
I have redressed certain areas of my review, that were badly placed originally and had no place in a concert review.
It is also always my intention to be as honest as I can be in my reviews and opinions, which at the end of the day is what my reviews are, my opinions.
People will not always therefore agree with them, that is just how it is.
I have in the past reviewed concerts by artists I really like and have admired for twenty / thirty years, who on the night have disappointed, so my reviews will tell it from my perspective on that evening, even if others see the concert differently.
When I am reviewing a festival event though, chances are there will be acts / artists playing that I may know little or nothing previously about. When that happens, often songs at the time may come across as not so memorable, so may not have that much of an impact, again that may just be at that specific time.
I do know that John Kivel is a professional record label owner, looking to promote and support the acts that he has put his time and money into, with a great deal of pride and justifiably so.
Kivel Records has some very good artists indeed that deserve a lot more attention than todays marketplace will often give them, of course this can be said of many labels.
I honestly wish John Kivel and Kivel Records artists, nothing but success.
The music industry is a tough game and many unsung heroes in many acts today, deserve to be recognized so much more than they are.
Thank you for your time.
Owner / Editor
Chambers of Rock
Official announcement on the full lineup of
MelodicRockFest 4 on Thursday 12th December, 2013!