M3 Rock Festival – Day 2 – Columbia, MD – 5/7/2023

The second day of the M3 Rock Festival began with some schedule juggling as Mike Tramp announced that he would not be able to perform as scheduled due to illness.

The day began with a performance from Kill the Darkness, a local Baltimore band that perplexed us by wearing suits and tuxedos while roaring through a set of original metal. The band currently has a few singles available on Spotify with an album due out this year.

Kill the Darkness - M3 Rock Festival 2023 - Kara Uhrlen - TPRS.com
Kill the Darkness

For those who caught their Saturday performance, Heaven’s Edge encored on the main stage in the slot originally designated for Loudness, who has a known habit of cancelling the majority of their scheduled performances due to travel restrictions and other logistical issues.

As noted in our recap of the band’s record release party the evening prior, Heaven’s Edge was down two members for this show, but still brought the energy that we love them for with core members Mark Evans, Steve Parry, and David Rath bringing Percy Trayanov (bass) and Matt Stanley (guitar) along for the ride.  Their set included favorites like “Rock Steady” and “Skin to Skin,” as well as “When the Lights Go Down,” from the band’s new album, Get it Right.

Heaven's Edge - M3 Rock Festival 2023 - Kara Uhrlen - TPRS.com
Heaven’s Edge

The lovely ladies of Vixen opened their set with more energy than any other act that afternoon.  Adorned in leather and roaring through their own hits like “Rev It Up” and “Edge of a Broken Heart,” as well as some hard rock licks from Whitesnake in a mid-set medley during “I Want You to Rock Me,” designed for crowd participation, we were drawn in throughout their entire performance.

While it is noteworthy that the current line-up features only one founding member, drummer Roxy Petrucci, we can’t get enough of the current ensemble with Femme Fatale frontwoman Lorraine Lewis leading the band, Britt Lighting on guitar, Julia Lage on bass, and the sole male member, Tyson Leslie, on keyboards. Looking forward to catching the band on their tour this summer as well.

Vixen - M3 Rock Festival 2023 - Kara Uhrlen - TPRS.com

Riley’s L.A. Guns is one of two touring versions of L.A. Guns, and as the name indicates, this version is led by drummer Steve Riley who is joined by Kelly Nickels, who played bass in the original band’s classic line-up.  The two are joined by frontman Kurt Frohlich (missing from the photograph above) and guitarist Scott Griffin.

The quartet has remained consistent since their last M3 performance, and now has two albums under their new moniker, Renegades which was released in 2020 following the band’s 2019 debut, and this year’s release, The Dark Horse, which features their new single “Overdrive” which Golden Robot Records is packaging on limited edition vinyl along with a re-recorded acoustic version of “The Ballad of Jayne.”

The band’s set included a nice balance of old and new with “The Dark Horse” from the new album included along with renditions of L.A. Guns favorites like “Never Enough” and “Sex Action.”

Riley's L.A. Guns - M3 Rock Festival 2023 - Kara Uhrlen - TPRS.com
Riley’s L.A. Guns
Riley's L.A. Guns - M3 Rock Festival 2023 - Kara Uhrlen - TPRS.com
Riley’s L.A. Guns
Riley’s L.A. Guns (L to R: Steve Riley, Scott Griffith, Kelly Nickels)

Firehouse is always a fan favorite, with so many hits to choose from and a consistent line-up with original frontman CJ Snare, guitarist Bill Leverty, drummer Michael Foster, and long-time bassist Allen McKenzie who joined the band nearly two decades ago.

There set was enhanced by larger than life graphics on the big screen as the band rocked the crowd with favorites like “Shake & Tumble” and “Don’t Treat Me Band,” and slowed things down for those famous ballads like “Love of a Lifetime,” and “When I look Into Your Eyes.”

Year after year this band has consistently delivered live since I was a teenager, and this show was no exception.  Sadly we were out of town for their local performance at Jergel’s earlier this month, but Firehouse has a full list of tour dates all summer long and has been confirmed on the 2024 Monsters of Rock Cruise, so we expect to catch them again real soon.

Firehouse guitarist Bill Leverty also has a brand new single out called “Hey Mama!,” which you can check out along with the band’s tour dates at Leverty.com.

Firehouse - M3 Rock Festival - Kara Uhrlen - TPRS.com

Steven Adler was most definitely one of the highlights of the festival.  Like many, the Guns ‘n Roses album Appetite for Destruction is in my all-time top ten, and watching the band he’s assembled perform it with the velocity with which it was intended just makes me grin from ear to ear.  Add in that infectious smile of Adler’s from behind the kit, and one can become downright giddy.  In all seriousness, this band rocks! And, for the last few years Adler’s line-up has remained consistent aside from the departure of bassist Tanya O’Callaghan who is now part of David Coverdale’s Whitesnake ensemble.

It seems they have yet to find a permanent replacement, but their “go to” guys include Todd Kerns (Slash, Toque, Heroes & Monsters) who performed with the band at the 2021 Rocktember and in January at Rokisland, and Christian Sturba who performed with them at BLE’s Masquerade. Christian filled the void this year at M3, and for those who thought he looked familiar, you may recognize him from his work with singer/song writer Kurt Deimer, who opened for Geoff Tate on his 2021 tour.

Steven Adler - M3 Rock Festival - Kara Uhrlen - TPRS.com
Steven Adler
Steven Adler - M3 Rock Festival - Kara Uhrlen - TPRS.com
Steven Adler
Steven Adler
Steven Adler

Also holding on for some consistency since the band departed ways with original frontman Jack Russell, is Great White.  Leading the charge of this line-up is guitarist Mark Kendall, who seems to be very pleased with their decision to bring some youth into the band.  Mark has kept the line-up consistent with Michael Lardie on guitar and keyboards, Scott Snyder on bass and Audie Desbrow on drums, but finding a frontman with the right look, pipes and dependability has become a true challenge.  It seems All or Nothing frontman Brett Carlisle might just be the missing piece.  He certainly has some big shoes to fill when you consider the talents of his predecessors (and he chooses to do so with a pair of HEELYS).

This was the third and most powerful Great White performance of the week, having caught them twice on the Monsters of Rock Cruise, and now that we’ve heard Brett perform with the band a few times, it is notable that he not only has the range required for the role, but also the soulful delivery that is crucial to make things work, and it’s working!

Great White - M3 Rock Festival - Kara Uhrlen - TPRS.com
Great White
Great White (L to R Mark Kendall and Brett Carlisle)

We have certainly been loving on some Warrant lately with the band’s performance and M3 just weeks after a local show here with Skid Row at The River’s Casino, and a tribute concert in honor of Jani Lane just weeks after in Cleveland where the original frontman’s daughter Maddi made her live performance debut singing “Heaven.”

The band’s set at M3 included Robert Mason on lead vocals, guitarists Erik Turner and Joey Allen, Steven Sweet on drums and vocals, and Robbie Crane on bass as he’s been filling in for Jerry Dixon.

Their set wasn’t an album-specific anniversary recap like previous years.  Instead, they delivered a greatest hits performance that showcased lots of early singles like “D.R.F.S.R.” as well as dueling guitars at the center stage, and of course the ballads “I Saw Red,” “Heaven,” and “Sometimes She Cries” much to the delight of the crowd.

Warrant - M3 Rock Festival - Kara Uhrlen - TPRS.com
Warrant - M3 Rock Festival - Kara Uhrlen - TPRS.com

And, as the evening ended with local headliners, KIX, there were mixed emotions.  It was a highlight to see Jimmy Chalfant return behind the kit as Matt Starr (Mr. Big, Ace Frehley) was filling the void earlier in the week on the Monsters of Rock Cruise, but it was sad to hear that this would be one of the band’s final performances.

Somewhere between favorites like “Girl Money” and “Cold Shower,” frontman Steve Whiteman announced to the crowd that the and was ready for retirement.  Somewhat spoiled by festival performances, cruises with the band, and our close proximity to their home base of Baltimore, we were saddened to hear that their final performance will be September 17, 2023 at the Merriweather Post Pavillion.  Like many we hope to catch as many performances between now and then as we can.  And, Rocktember is already on the calendar for September!

KIX - M3 Rock Festival - Kara Uhrlen - TPRS.com
KIX - M3 Rock Festival - Kara Uhrlen - TPRS.com

And with that, we have wrapped up our M3 Rock Festival coverage, but we have lots more captures to come …follow us @ThePureRockShop for more KIX, Great White, and Winger coverage from the Monsters of Rock Cruise this week!

And if you want more M3 coverage now? Then, check out our official pre-party coverage here, and check out day one here, as well as previous years coverage at TPRS.com, including 2019, 2021, and 2022.

Lots happening this past month as well as upcoming captures, recaps, news and interviews from of local and regional concerts and festivals including Jackyl, Faster Pussycat, Chris Jericho’s Kuarantine, and more this summer so check back often…

Recap and Live Photos by Editor and founder Kara Marie Uhrlen for The Pure Rock Shop.  Posted on 5/30/2023.