Archive for July, 2012

Live Review – Killinger – Rams Head Live (Baltimore) – July 19th (support to Volbeat)

Posted in Gig Reviews with tags , , , , on July 26, 2012 by novametalreview

Scoring a support slot on tour with one of the hottest metal bands of the moment, namely Volbeat, is a trick that any up and coming band would do almost anything to make happen. Sold out shows all over the country, concert halls full of anticipation and potential fans to reach with your music – what an opportunity! The band in question is a relatively new hard rock band called Killinger from Canada. This is likely a name that is unknown to the majority reading this, but, for those ‘in-the-know’ and in particular everyone that was inside Rams Head Live on July 19th around 6.30PM, they are a band rapidly rising up the ranks of the rock scene. They recently won the People’s Choice Award at the Edmonton Music Awards so it is clear they have a good fan base from which to build on.

Killinger are a 4-piece band that draw from the sleaze and groove from all that was good from the 80’s rock scene, minus the spandex and big hair, but with a shot of adrenaline from all the years since then.  To be honest I can’t give you a “sounds like” comparison, because there just isn’t one that makes sense to me; I think the best I can say is Killinger are what you would get if you took all your favorite bands from the 80’s (perhaps excluding some of the thrash bands…), threw them in a blender and hit the smoothie button, and then let all the good stuff rise to the top. What I can tell you is they have a classic line up of vocals, guitar, bass and drums.

I have always believed that the core of any great band is the vocalist, and Killinger will not let you down in this department. Dave Williams is exactly what you need up front and center, with an eyelinered, flamboyant character, leading the band, but, with an added bonus; yes, he can sing. And what a voice! I’ve had the Killinger CD since late last year, so I know their material really well, but live, Dave really delivers, and in my opinion vocally he was better live than on the CD. What I felt was a passion and slight aggression that the studio managed to smooth out. In my book this is really good thing. Rock is all about the live show, so if you can be better on stage than on record, you get my vote.

The rest of the band doesn’t disappoint. On guitar Doc K-Mo is a master, wielding a vicious Dean guitar (fitted with my personal favorite guitar trem system from Kahler…) and he delivers a precision melodic drive to each track with blistering solos, while Justin Craig on bass provides a monstrous push that you can feel in your whole body. I rarely pay much attention to the bass, but at this show it was definitely the motor that got my feet tapping and head nodding. On drums we have a bit of a monster! Chris Challice is the center of all time once the band kicks into action, and I can only compliment his drum kit, complete with in-built lighting effects! A nice touch that caught the eye and drew everyone to pay attention! More info on the band can be found here: http://killingerrocks.com/

Now Killinger were working with the minimum amount of stage space, so it would be hard to judge what we might have gotten otherwise, but effectively we had Dave and Justin on the left, with Chris’ drum kit just fitting on the stage, but effectively isolating Doc K-Mo to the right of the stage. Whatever the limitations Killinger made it work as best they could.

Opening the evening is never the easiest task, but once Chris was situated behind his drum kit and the opening refrain from “Never Change” blasted out of the PA the ride was off and rolling. As mentioned, Dave was in great voice and Doc was bringing it from the opening riff, harmonics and hammer-ons spitting from the fret-board without restraint. The rhythm machine that is Justin and Chris immediately kicked into gear, and what we got was 100% Killinger, no holds barred. While most of the audience were clearly new to them, it was clear that the great majority were entertained and rocked. Unfortunately time was short, and we only got five tracks: Never Change, We Are Here, I Don’t Care, The Gun, and King Of The Kill. These are all taken from the debut CD which you can find here: http://www.amazon.com/Killinger/dp/B003UV4X0O/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1343270416&sr=8-1&keywords=killinger

The CD is a nice piece of work, made all the better with the addition of Rick Plester handling production duties. Not only is Rick a wicked producer, but he is also a monster on guitar (I last saw him handling lead guitar duties on tour with Blaze Bayley and that was an amazing show indeed!) and he delivers a couple of guest appearance solos on the CD. I believe that Doc K-Mo and Rick are good friends, so this undoubtedly led to a great working relationship. More about Rick here: http://www.rickplester.com/

So, to close, Killinger really delivered the goods and fired everyone up for what was to come later (and Volbeat had that place rockin’ from top to bottom). I thoroughly recommend checking out their CD, and if you get the chance to see them live, definitely go see them – you will not be disappointed, of that I am sure. My score for their performance: 9/10

Dave Williams – Vocals

Doc K-Mo giving it some!

Chris and his eye-catching light-up drum kit

Dave (arm waving extraordinaire) and Justin (bass)

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Live Review – Night Ranger – Meriweather Post Pavillion – July 12th (supporting the Scorpions)

Posted in Gig Reviews with tags , , on July 17, 2012 by novametalreview

Rarely do I find it worth dedicating an entire review to the support act, but when Night Ranger hit the stage at Merriweather last Thursday night it was clear these guys had come to deliver 100% or perhaps more. The Scorpions were headlining and that review will follow shortly, but this was the last night of the tour and for some reason Night Ranger were substituted for Tesla who had handled support up until this one date. So in many ways Night Ranger were dropped in the deep end – I still haven’t figured out why Tesla weren’t able to play this final night, which, as a Tesla fan, was a bit of a disappointment, especially as the original advertising for the show listed them as support for this date.

Anyway, whatever the reason, we got Night Ranger. To be fair, I was pretty much OK with the switch since I had previously seen NR a short 8 weeks back at the M3 Festival in May (another long overdue review, trust me it’s coming!). At M3 NR was one of the surprises, turning in a heavy, guitar-fueled slice of metal, easily putting them in the top 3 acts of the festival for me. So, what would they make of this opportunity?

Basically they hit the stage hard and simply powered their way through their set with such obvious enjoyment and sheer energy that it would be hard not to get sucked in. The first thing I will note was the sound quality was top notch, which is not something I always find true at these larger ‘stadium-style’ venues. Sometimes it is pretty clear the main act has restricted the support band to some subset of the capability of the sound rig, but as far as I can tell, Night Ranger got access to everything on offer and sounded loud and heavy.

As with most bands that have been around since the very late 70’s (NR formed in ’79) the band’s line-up history is better researched on the web (hello Wikipedia!), but the current version of NR includes the original three founding members: Brad Gillis (guitar), Jack Blades (bass and lead vocals) and Kelly Keagy (drums and lead volcals). They are joined by Joel Hoekstra on guitar, who is an admirable replacement for Jeff Watson from the classic 80’s line-up, bringing 8-finger tapping to the fret-board (which he makes look annoyingly easy…) and on their most recent recruit, Eric Levy on keyboards, who joined in 2011.

The show opened with “Lay It On Me” from the latest Night Ranger album, “Somewhere In California” (an excellent CD, go buy it), followed by “Sing Me Away” from “Dawn Patrol”, the very first NR record, and both were as fresh and busting out with energy as you could ask for. That in itself is a great testament to the band – two songs separated by 29 years, equally popping you between the eyes. Next up we were treated to a “Touch Of Madness” from the excellent “Midnight Madness” CD from 1983, again coming over as heavy, but laced with that undeniable catchy melodic edge that is a Night Ranger trademark.

Then things got really interesting with Jack Blades asking the crowd if they remembered that Brad Gillis had stood in for Randy Roads after his death in a light aircraft crash…? Sure we remember, but… then Jack asks Brad if he remembers any of the guitar licks and before you know it we’re being treated to a version of Ozzy Osbourne’s “Crazy Train”. This was a very cool moment and it sounded amazing. One song later we were treated to a smokin’ version of “High Enough” from the Damn Yankees back-catalog, which was equally welcome.

Of course any Night Ranger show wouldn’t be complete without their smash hit “Sister Christian” and we were not to be disappointed. It seems this song cannot avoid being turned into a massive audience sing-along and I’m not sure that is necessarily a good thing, but I guess there would be too many disgruntled ballad-lovers to leave it out. Personally it wouldn’t bother me in the slightest as the song reeks of 80’s bubble gum-rock just a little too much, but I’ll take it just so long as they crank out tracks like “You Can Still Rock In America” which closed the show. This is always a guitar master class and sounded as heavy as it ever did.

So, we got eleven songs, which was a good length set; just enough to get everyone jumping, but not too many to drag out the arrival of the Scorpions. For me Night Ranger have cemented their position as one of those must-see bands from the 80’s that you just can’t miss. They are cranking out new music (go buy “Somewhere In California”) that updates exactly what they were good at doing in their heyday and live they are really delivering the goods. My score: 8/10

 

Joel Hoekstra (left) and Brad Gillis (right) enjoying some guitar action (photo credit: Fred Bauer)