The music scene of many cities is finally getting back to more of a normal sense of business in this post-pandemic world and while the scourge that is/was COVID-19 is still very much a thing, there is more safety thanks to vaccines and precautions. This let’s artists that have sat at home get back to work and the venues that house their performances get back to business. Sony Hall in Hell’s Kitchen off of Times Square has been bringing in some cool acts and it was fantastic to find that the Michael Schenker Group was one of the artists making a visit. I was in attendance at this much anticipated show which found the lead off band of Images of Eden starting off the night but traffic into the city was horrendous due to a nearby street festival. When I walked into the venue the band was closing it up with a cover of the Triumph classic “Fight The Good Fight”. It’s a great number and perhaps the way we should all be living nowadays as we strive for normal once again. I will hopefully catch them at some other time.
Though the ladies in Scandal from Japan have been a band since their formation in 2006, tonight’s performance at the Sony Hall in Hell’s Kitchen would be my first time witnessing them in action. I had heard them a few months earlier when the press releases were discussing upcoming music and a live-streaming show. I didn’t participate in the streaming event because after doing a couple of them during the pandemic craziness I found that I couldn’t keep my attention to them. Let’s not forget that folks like myself are glued to the computer all day long which always made escaping the cyberworld for a live show very appealing. Despite some absolute favorites doing streaming shows like KISS and Trans-Siberian Orchestra I only managed to watch two of these kinds of things for the purpose of show review and that fell to Anthrax and Hollow Mellow, the latter one also being a Japanese artist that was very interesting.
Artist: William DuVall Venue: The Cutting Room (New York, NY) Date: 10/23/2019 Label: Independent Artist
You know his voice as being the crushing register behind the music of Alice In Chains these days but tonight singer William DuVall was going to be celebrating a different sound altogether. He recently released an acoustic solo album called “One Alone” and had locked in a string of performances at the City Winery venues across the country. With the NYC City Winery relocating at the time, this particular show would be held at The Cutting Room, a venue with a similar vibe to The Winery. Thanks to our supporting both venues with our events calendar for a number of years I found an invitation being extended to our outlet and we even held a fun contest for others to come on out and enjoy the show. I was excited to come since I had never managed to see William perform yet. Now as I mentioned this was to celebrate an acoustic album and solo show so there was only William and no band joining him on the intimate stage. There wasn’t even an opener to the set this evening, so it started at 8PM sharp.
Now before I begin let’s discuss the layout of The Cutting Room. This is pretty much a completely seated venue with a table service happening throughout the performance. A quick comparison is with how the now shuttered B.B. King Blues Club and Highline Ballroom used to do the seated shows and kept a minimum charge per set or per show. I arrived just before DuVall would hit the stage and would be sitting towards the back of the space since all of the closer tables were filled to the max. It was nice to see a healthy crowd ready to absorb the singer’s new music.
William started off with a number that was originally a Comes With The Fall song called “Waiting Out The Breakdown” and I will admit that this was a brand-new name to my mental music database. In a nutshell this was a band that DuVall had formed in 1999 and over time they became connected with Alice In Chains Jerry Cantrell which set the wheels in motion for their eventual collaboration. I love when stuff like this happens as it makes learning music history all the more fascinating. Next up would be the sole Alice In Chains number with “Never Fade” which is a song that he was actually a part of. There would be no “Greatest Hits” of AIC this evening and while some folks I spoke to found this to be disappointing I was completely pleased by this. As the show continued, William took us through his personal music history with more songs by CWTF and then a number by Madfly with “Chains Around My Heart”. This was a band that preceded CWTF and was more of a Glam Pop outfit. I had to say that it was interesting to hear all of this stuff done with a single voice and an acoustic guitar. William’s register was glorious tonight and cut through the silence of the room as all in attendance kept focused and let the music move them.
William spoke briefly at points about where his head was for some songs but overall he kept the banter to a minimum and instead let the music do the talking. He revisited some of his earliest output with “I Know” which was a song that he wrote for singer Dionne Farris and everyone seemed to like it. The show would feature two covers this evening with one by David Bowie “Lady Stardust” and another by Aerosmith with “Seasons Of Wither” and while I felt that they were an odd choice to do when promoting a new solo album, I had to say that they worked out rather well. The diehard Bowie fan in me preferred the way he did the Aerosmith number since I am rather fussy about covers of David’s stuff. Sure it sounded good but its one of my own quirks.
William mentioned a few times over the course of the night that his new album “One Alone” was available for sale this evening and this album comes care of his own DVL Recordings, so I hope that everyone was purchasing one before they left the show. He would close up the thirteen-song night with the albums first single “Til The Light Guides Me Home” and after a humble thank you left the stage and that was it. The whole show was just over an hour and I stuck around a little bit in hopes of seeing William make an appearance at the merchandise table. This didn’t seem to be the case and if I was reading the room properly, there was going to be a later evening performance by a popular area music personality. Overall this was a good time and I’d likely come out to see him again and I think that you should as well.
1. Waiting Out the Breakdown
2. Never Fade
3. Smoke and Mirrors
4. White Hot
5. Lady Stardust
6. Chains Around My Heart
7. Still Got a Hold on My Heart
8. So Cruel
9. Seasons of Wither
10. I Know
11. Keep Driving Me Away
12. No Need to Wonder
13. ‘Til the Light Guides Me Home
Artist: The Aristocrats Venue: Gramercy Theatre (New York, NY) Opener: Travis Larson Band Date: 8/3/2019 Label:
Since I don’t always find myself getting to Progressive Music shows, I was really happy to be able to be on point for the recent appearance by a collective that I would say falls into the realm of Supergroup in terms of each members background. I am talking about none other than The Aristocrats, a group that formed in 2011 and features Guthrie Govan on guitar, Bryan Beller on bass and the inimitable Marco Minnemann on the drums. They would hit the ever popular Gramercy Theatre for an evening of mind-altering Progressive melodies and be joined by The Travis Larson Band. Going in I had no idea about the sound of either group, so I was very much looking forward to the musical education that I was in store for. Here is how the night progressed.
Artist: Slipknot Venue: Northwell Health at Jones Beach Theater (Wantaugh, NY) Opener: Behemoth, Gojira and Volbeat Date: 8/28/2019 Label: Roadrunner Records
The mega-concert event known as “The Knotfest Roadshow” was rumbling through cities of these United States and laying waste to anything that stood in its way. One could not expect anything less from a touring package that brought together bands like Behemoth, Gojira and Volbeat who lead off the day before a crushing/thrilling/energetic set by the one and only Slipknot. The weather report was on the grim side which made the long haul out to Wantaugh in Long Island a bit of a bother as the Northwell Health at Jones Beach Theater venue is an outdoor space but once sufficiently prepped and packed for the adventure I girded myself properly for a sure to be fun time. The show started early, and I mean 5:30 early which was the slot held by Behemoth and there was no way that I was missing them so here is how their set and the rest of the event took place.
Behemoth: Now according to my concert playbook, I have caught Behemoth a few times over the last couple of years and I didn’t mind this at all since I absolutely love what they do on the stage. It was going to be interesting to see the Metal Blade artist in the daylight this afternoon and with their hitting the stage at this early a time if you were stuck in that Long Island traffic you were not going to catch them at all since they were only going to give us about a thirty minute set. After a brief audio playback, the incendiary might that is Behemoth were on the stage and sporting the masks one would see during a full headlining set. Though this was to be a brief performance the band was on fire and quite literally as jets of flame shot from the rear of stage while singer Nergal also brought some out and offered up some homage to the Dark Gods at one point. To say that they crushed would be an understatement and since this was really early the venue was not yet full so far too many people missed a really overpowering set. I cannot wait to catch this band when they headline or co-headline with another superpower in the future. Gojira was coming up next.