Alice In Chains – 2018 Tour, 30.06.2018

Blog, Gig Review

Alice In Chains played Vienna’s Open Air Arena on Saturday, June 30th in course of their 2018 world tour. The Seattle grunge legends were supported by local rockers Mother’s Cake.

Mother’s Cake started out in 2008, signed with Gab Music and released their debut Creation’s Finest in October 2012, which was produced by Georg Gabler and featured by Ikey Owens of The Mars Volta. After playing support shows for Iggy and the Stooges, Deftones and Limp Bizkit, they can now tick Alice In Chains off their list as well.

It is not hard to see why the band enjoys growing success – the stage suits them extremely well. They behave in the same way their music works. Very straight-forward, but then again psychedelic, dreamy and slightly off track. Mother’s Cake are an unpretentious, talented and very sympathetic bunch of musicians with lots of potential yet to be reached, and set the perfect mood for the main act of that evening.

Great expectations

After Lane Staley’s tragic death in 2002, the band went through a rather long pause. In 2006, the singer William Du Vall joined the group. Together they recorded the well-known studio albums Black Gives Way to Blue and The Devil Put Dinosaurs Here. Their newest studio album Rainier Fog, from which they played the song The One You Know, will be released on August 24th.

Of course, the expectations were extremely high. The pressure has been on Du Vall to live up to what became Alice In Chains‘ trademark, the twin vocals, from minute one. Yet in my eyes, he masters this task superbly. The audience’s opinions on the topic definitely differed. Some fans felt he failed to transport the feeling of Staley. But imagine having to step into shoes like that – and still performing the entire set without a single mistake, which is exactly what Du Vall did. He was not only very present and attentive to the audience, he also delivered 100 percent. My assumption is that in fact his natural timbre is warmer and fuller, yet he mastered the technique he needs for the songs‘ vocals, which tend to be colder and flatter, fully, which makes his performance even more impressive.

Props to mastermind Jerry Cantrell

There probably is not one single negative thing that can be said about this show. All musicians performed on an extremely high level. There were no uncertainties, allures or bad vibes coming from this band. Ex-Ozzy Osbourne-bassist Mike Inez was at least as energetic as drummer and founding member Sean Kinney. Yet the most inspiring was guitarist, singer, lyricist and mastermind Jerry Cantrell.

The four-piece opened their set with Bleed the Freak from their album Facelift, but most of all played songs from the Dirt album, including Them Bones, Dam That River and Down in a Hole. Toward the end of the set, Cantrell announced Nutshell, dedicated to Staley, former bassist Mike Starr and Pantera-drummer Vinnie Paul, before concluding the show with Would? and Rooster for the encore’s finale shortly after.

And even though they decided not to play one of their most famous songs Angry Chair, it certainly was an evening that let all fans‘ hearts beat faster, so fast each of the musicians was presented with a flower bouquet by one fan at the end of this truly brilliant show.

Author: Robin Frank

More info / photo credits:
Mother’s Cake
Alice In Chains

Gig Review: Robert Plant & The Sensational Space Shifters, 28.07.2016

Blog, Gig Review

Truly Sensational

It was Thursday, July 28th, that I got to see who is in my mind one of the greatest rock singers of all time: Robert Plant. Famous as Led Zeppelin frontman, the artist is currently touring Europe world with his Sensational Space Shifters, with whom he also recorded his latest studio album Lullaby and… The Ceaseless Roar (review here).

Just in time for the start of the main act, I arrived at the well-filled Arena Wien and found a great spot on the lawn near the stage with excellent view. Just as good as the view was the sound that night, which was lengths better than of Wolfmother’s concert at the same location.

Then and now

At about 9 pm, Robert Plant emerged with a huge banner carrying his feather symbol in the background. Himself on vocals and diverse membranophones, he brought five other musicians with him: Juldeh Camara on nyanyeru (an African one-string fiddle), Liam „Skin“ Tyson on guitar, Justin Adams on bass, John Baggot on keys and Dave Smith on drums.

What’s known is the different musical approach of the ensemble (compared to Plant’s earlier times). Not focusing on one specific genre, the artists freely mix styles and rhythms. The result is a colourful medley with folk and country elements as well as foreign African sounds paired with Led Zeppelin classics and the well-known mighty riffs.

Diverse and versatile

This diversity lead to an interesting setlist that included Poor Howard, Rainbow and Turn It Up from Lullaby and… The Ceaseless Roar, a cover of Willie Dixon (Spoonful), the traditional Little Maggie, and lots of Led Zeppelin medleys that included (parts of) What Is and What Should Never Be, No Quarter, Dazed and Confused, Whole Lotta Love, Babe, I’m Gonna Leave You and Rock and Roll for the encore.

The band not only convinced the audience by its versatility and range of styles, but also by the quality of performance. Robert Plant still has a great voice and a very individual approach on singing that one recognizes immediately. Furthermore he really secured a great atmosphere by continually including the audience and performing with lots of energy. This concert meant a great deal to me – and without any exaggeration: it was truly sensational.

Author: Robin Frank

More info / photo credits:
Robert Plant

Gig Review: Wolfmother – Gypsy Caravan Tour, 11.05.2016

Blog, Gig Review

Garage Wolves

Perfect weather, great location and tons of fans: the evening of May 11th had a promising start for the Australian rock act Wolfmother at Vienna’s open air Arena. I arrived only a few minutes before they started their set (the support band I unfortunatley missed beforehand was Electric Citizen).

To be honest, I never really got into Wolfmother that much, but I am aware of who they are and what they do – and have always liked their sound. I was thus very excited to go to this concert without any expectations at all – which is probably the best way possible if you dig the unexpected. You just end up with lots of surprises – good and bad. So here they are.

Restless and energy-driven

First surprise: the band’s tempo and dynamics. Man, they played a set of twenty songs and took but three breaks (one to say hi, one to say thanks, and one before the encore), which lasted only a few seconds each. Which leads me to the next surprise: they hardly said a word to the audience. Apparently, Stockdale is not much of a talker, but it would definitely have been his role to communicate with the fans a bit more. However, the band did not seem as if they did not enjoy themselves on stage – so even though there was no communcation, there was still a lot of energy in the performance. Which is probably what saved them from an angry crowd.

Third surprise: Alex Carapetis is a damn great drummer. In fact, the drums were the only instrument that sounded as they should all the way through the show. The others, from guitar to bass and vocals sounded horrible most of the time. That night’s horrendous sound was yet another surprise for me. I do not know who was responsible for it, but honestly I’d rather not know – it was a real shame. The guitar sounded bad, the bass was too loud at times, whereas bassist Ian Peres‘ backing vocals were hardly audible at all. Well…drums and keyboard were fine, at least.

Monotonous but special

I already mentioned that Wolfmother have a cool sound. The main reason behind that is Andrew Stockdale, who is basically the brain behind this music project. The other musicians are rather professionals hired to play along. Big part of the sound, however, is Stockdale’s special voice, which mostly reminds one of Jack White’s (whose, in turn, reminds one of Robert Plant’s). What I did not know, though – and that’s surprise no. 5 – was that besides its cool and bright timbre it is pretty monotonous, too. I haven’t heard Stockdale sing much more than five notes during that show. It’s not like he tries and fails – the songs are just composed that way, without exciting melodic vocal lines. And they are fine like that, just a bit monotonous after a while.

To summarise all of that, I was most impressed by their efficient way of performing, playing one song after the next without even considering to take a break. This is naturally the most professional way to play a gig and shows that the band is really tight and knows what’s going on. On the other hand, there is not much space left for interaction with the audience or spontaneous improvisation on stage. Still, they played well, and the bad sound was not their fault. So all in all I did enjoy this gig, and I am glad to have seen Wolfmother. They do make cool music that definitely comes from the right source of inspiration and surely motivate tons of young garage rock bands to continue doing their thing, which is exactly what today’s music needs.

Author: Robin Frank

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