Getting up before noon on a Sunday seemed an impossible task after the late night at the afterparty, but we couldn’t miss our first opportunity to see Burning Witches live here in the States.
Burning Witches members Romana Kalkuhl and Larissa Schuster on guitars, Lala Frischknecht on drums, and Jay Grob on Bass, hail from Switzerland, with dutch frontwoman Laura Guldemond leading the charge. These lovely ladies were tearing it up with some lively European metal while most festival attendees were still in bed. But, anyone who missed them can find Burning Witches on their US tour which will include shows with the Iron Maidens and another festival date at Rocktember in Minnesota this September.
Their six-song set concluded with their namesake “Burning Witches,” but sadly they didn’t make room for their killer cover of Savatage’s “Hall of the Mountain King” from their 2021 release The Witch of the North (Nuclear Blast) that I was hoping to hear. Suppose they’d saved it for when special guest Chris Caffery caught up with them later in the week.
Leatherwolf’s line-up for M3 featured Keith Adamiak on lead vocals (Michael Oliveri had been fronting the band the last time I caught them live in the United Kingdom at that same Hair Metal Heaven festival where I’d last seen Tony Harnell with TNT).
Keith brought great energy to the band and was joined by Rob Math, Luke Man, and Wayne Findlay on guitars, Brice Snyder on bass, and Dean Roberts on drums. Made famous for their ‘triple axe attack’ approach to melodic metal, the band brings a unique orchestration that is rare but not unheard of (think Generation Axe).
Highlights from their set included “Street Ready” from the album of the same name, which will be reissued on CD later this month by a Dutch company called Music On CD. The import will be available later this week at the usual outlets including Amazon.
The wolves had just as much hair twirling as the witches, and were so fun to shoot. It wasn’t until later that I realized that I somehow missed my opportunity to snag a picture of veteran drummer Dean Roberts. You can however find video in our group @ThePureRockShop that I shot from the audience, and find Dean in the group shot below.
Line-up changes were expected with Covid running wild and travel restrictions debilitating bands from outside of the United States, but the biggest change was the apparently now permanent departure of Quireboys frontman, Spike. Spike was missed on the Monsters of Rock Cruise last February, but Guy Griffin proved himself then as he took over lead vocals along with his guitar duties.
There’s no question that the show is different without Spike, but the songs remain the same and I was simply too excited that the Quireboys were finally playing in the United States again to allow myself to get caught up in any related drama, but happy to hear that Spike is planning to continue on his own path along with Guy Bailey.
Guitarist Paul Guerin’s groove has always made me dance, and this show was no exception. And I count myself lucky for having the opportunity to get up close with Keith Weir behind the keyboards and Pip Mailing behind the drums, both from the perspective of a photographer and also from the perspective of a fan (who wouldn’t love hearing those keys jumping at close range!).
Perhaps the worst kept secret was the addition of bassist Chip Z’Nuff, who’s keeping busy as his bandmates Torry and Dan are on the same tour with their sometime guitarist Steve Ramone’s band performing in support of the Quireboys.
I did have one problem with their set, it was simply too short. I practically missed “Misled” as I was so focus on shooting the band from the pit, but thoroughly enjoyed “There She Goes Again,” as well as a new classic “This Is Rock ‘n Roll.” The song that got everyone singing was “7 O’Clock.” And, I can still remember that video, and like the girl in it, I never seem to have anything good to wear (not that it mattered much on this chilly Sunday because jeans and leather were everyone’s weapon of choice!).
XYZ was fronted by Terry Ilous with original drummer Paul Monroe filling in for the festival. The veteran rockers were joined by All or Nothing’s Ian Smith on bass, and Jacob Mann on guitars. They were also accompanied by All or Nothing’s Brett Carlisle and singer Dee Sawyer on back-up vocals.
The set list had special meaning for a special announcement, it kicked off with “Maggy,” a nickname for Gia, who would later find herself saying ‘Yes!’ enthusiastically to now fiancé Eric just before “Don’s Say No.”
While Gia thought her friend Terry was going to sing happy birthday (she even had a cupcake in hand), XYZ’s manager Eric had other plans. It may have been hard to top a proposal, but the band finished strong with favorites “Face Down in the Gutter” and “Inside Out” to much applause.
Zebra, featuring the trio of Randy Jackson on lead vocals and guitar, Felix Hanemann on bass, and Guy Gelso on drums, is a band that was popular before I hit my teen years. In fact, this progressive rock ensemble was founded before I was even born. Much respect to these pioneers for many reasons. Their musicianship is stellar and the fact that the original three still remain is just as inspirational as a couple who celebrates a monumental anniversary.
While I really couldn’t name a song, the one that grabbed my attention was “Bears,” but perhaps that was due to the crowd response. Playing guitar growing up, I certainly had heard of frontman Randy Jackson, and I was honored that he took a minute for a photo despite having his hands full of gear and luggage. Definitely one of the highlights of the weekend as we all know so well how unheard of it is for a band to stay together for nearly half a century.
I must say that when it comes to Yngwie Malmsteen attitude seems to be just as much of his performance as the arpeggio’s are to his fretwork. Whether it is all a facade or not, it can be a turn off for some and can be easily ignored by others (like those of us in the photo pit, who had no clue he was yelling at us). Is he talented? without a doubt, and do we know his work? of course…
I don’t think there was a musician in the house who couldn’t name cuts like “Rising Force” or “Valhalla,” but is his demeanor necessary? certainly not. We heard some Bach and a bit of our national anthem, and while Deep Purple’s “Smoke on the Water” is always a favorite, the instrumentals were the main highlights, with no true frontman in the band.
You may not have even noticed them with all the distraction from flying guitars, punted guitar picks and raging fire on the screen behind them, but this M3 performance featured Nick Marino on keyboards, Emilio Martinez on bass, and Brian Wilson on drums. And as you look at the mountain of crates below and watch the videos from the show, you’ll likely agree that the Yngwie Malmsteen road crew deserves some serious applause (especially Yngwie’s guitar tech, who clearly must be tough as nails to tolerate the “show.”)
I was really looking forward to Stryper and super excited about shooting them on a big stage (since Rocktember didn’t allow media last September). I usually catch them at our local club Jergels (where they’ll be playing on July 23rd), and you can imagine what Robert’s kit looks like cramped into such a small space.
The black and gold stripes were in bull force with Michael Sweet on lead vocals and guitar, Robert Sweet on drums, Oz Fox on guitar, and Perry Richardson on bass.
Some of my favorites from the set included “Sorry” from the 2018 with the controversial title God Damn Evil (get the backstory from our interview with Michael here) and “Soldiers under Command,” as well as “Free” and the finale of “To Hell with The Devil,” from the band’s historic album of the same name.
Nice to see Michael without the eyepatch these days, but we certainly did enjoy his performance with Frontiers label supergroup Iconic, and can’t wait to hear more from their album.
In fact, we told founder and lead guitarist Dave “The Snake” Sabo that it was the best decision that Skid Row could have made just hours before that initial performance. After they stole the show at M3, I think most fans would agree. Snake is joined by longtime bandmates Rachel Bolan on bass and Scotti Hill on guitar, as well as Rob Hammersmith on drums.
It was exciting to watch Erik warm up for the show with some shadowboxing backstage, and even more exciting to watch the excitement of the crowd that had continued to gather throughout the day. While still not a headlining slot, it sure seemed like one as the set list grew from the eight songs we’d seen in Vegas to a total of thirteen cuts included at the festival.
And as if we weren’t already mystified, the band encored to deliver “Darkened Room” before blowing our minds with “The Gang’s All Here,” from the band’s upcoming release and the anthem we grew up on, “Youth Gone Wild.”
I really do feel for Tesla because they are by far one of the band bands of our era, but when Skid Row closed out their set, it felt like the night was over. Then, you look at those pearly white’s as Jeff Keith flashes a smile, and you are instantly drawn in to the magic.
Jeff of course was joined by bass player, Brian Wheat, (who we’d caught up with back in 2020 to discuss his book Son of a Milkman), guitarists Frank Hannon and Dave Rude, as well as Steve Brown on Drums (who has been subbing for Troy Luccketta since 2021).
Special thanks to our friend Jody Wilk, who got some great shots of the band as they kicked things off with “Modern Day Cowboy.” Amidst the photos you’ll find special guest JT Loux, a singer/guitarist from Hannon Media Group, who also joined the M3 party.
Quite honestly, the band didn’t have our full attention that evening, but that didn’t mean that they didn’t deserve it. I wish I could have seen more, and have already revisited the set as some generous fans have the whole show on YouTube already.
As they finished out the night with their classic cover of Five Man Electrical Band’s “Signs, I couldn’t help but chuckle, remembering Brian’s sign pictured below.
We also have new interviews from Chip Z’ Nuff (Enuff Z’ Nuff) and Adrian Vandenberg (Vandenberg) with Monsters of Rock Cruise recaps, as well as interviews with Chris Caffery (Spirits of Fire, Savatage, Trans Siberian Orchestra), Roy Cathey (Cold Sweat, The Fifth), Pete Evick (Bret Michaels Band)and a video interview with Olli Herman from (Reckless Love).
Follow us @ThePureRockShop on Facebook and Instagram for more local show coverage including Steel Panther and Jeff Scott Soto and Jason Bieler in Cleveland, as well as festival coverage including the recent Monsters of Rock Cruise and upcoming Masquerade in Philadelphia this July.