The times they are certainly a changin’.
The record industry is struggling with poor record sales and illegal downloads, but there is one thing that they can still cash in on, something that will never go out of style: The magic of LIVE SHOWS.
There are people in less famous bands and in local bands that “have IT” : that spark, that natural ability to work a stage and a crowd, that makes you come back for more time and time again. It’s not a competition and you can’t really compare musicians because they are all so different – it’s not the Olympics of Rock – but these are some of my personal favorites. Note that this is 100% a list of people who I think are outstanding LIVE PERFORMERS (which is not necessarily the same as favorite musicians or bands)
When this man walks out on a stage – he OWNS every single person in the crowd.
He has a unique quality of making every individual feel noticed and a part of the show. Although he is a larger-than-life rock star who works best on the biggest stages of the world, he always makes it feel like he’s playing just for YOU.
He mixes a sense of humor and self-distance with sex, confidence, authority and pure professionalism. Not to mention the way he moves on a stage like a rock’n’roll-emperor, using the micstand as his #1 tool. There is only one David – Coverdale be thy name. :)
When he’s about to hit the stage, he’s like a missile! The man oozes of pure, raw energy and rock’n’roll, nothing and nobody comes even close…! I’m not the biggest Twisted Sister-fan in the world, I don’t even have all their records, but watching this man on stage is a kick beyond belief! He is genuine and a real punch in your face.
If you could take everything that rock’n’roll is all about, and transform it into human shape – Dee Snider would be IT!
The ULTIMATE frontman. The one and only King of the Stage. The energy and the raw frenzy is beyond what I’ve seen ANY other artist produce on a stage – ever! He is the only frontman I can think of that was truly BORN to do this. If you took it away from him, he would languish, stop breathing, cease to exist. In 23 years I’ve only seen him suck ONCE. Don’t even ask how many shows I’ve seen with either Skid Row or Baz solo, but it’s more than enough to state that this guy is very unlikely to let you down if you’re looking for an action-packed show.
Entertainment personified. It’s enough to just mention the name David Lee Roth and people will immediately start thinking of a rock’n’roll strutter with his body as his main tool. He was THE sex-symbol back in the day, moving in a way that would make the ladies blush.
He would impress us all with the martial-arts high kicks while at the same time looking like a kid in a candy store who LOVES what he does. His sense of humor is contageous, and even to this day he hasn’t lost much of all that. He’s never been the world’s greatest singer, but it’s safe to say that he’s most definitely one of the world’s greatest entertainers!
The one and only ULTIMATE guitar hero – and probably the only one who turns a prolonged guitargasm into a show unlike anyone else! He was (and still is) WILD on stage!
Like a super-model, he will strike 30 different poses in one minute, yet continue playing that guitar like nobody’s business. How can you do all that running and posing and headbanging and still play making it look like a piece of cake??? The man is a guitar god and a top notch live performer in every sense of the word!
Those are my Top 5 live performers, but the list goes on – and on…Joe Elliot of Def Leppard had an amazing charisma on stage, he just caught your attention from the word go and kept it there for as long as it took. I was mesmerized the first time I saw Def Leppard. Fantastic frontman. I don’t know what happened though, because the last few times I’ve seen Def Leppard, the magic wasn’t there. I guess there’s a peak in every band’s career and a fall – sooner or later. After 30 years of kicking ass on stage, I guess they are entitled to lose the spark.
Same goes for my #1 hero Rob Halford (Judas Priest). He was never a “run-around-the-stage-like-a-marathoner” type of singer, but he had “IT”. All he had to do was stop and LOOK at his crowd and they would go freaking CRAZY! He just had what most entertainers don’t, it’s within your personality and he would make me forget that there was even a world outside whichever arena Judas Priest would be playing….However, just like Joe Elliot, Rob Halford has lost some of his magic. I can still see it when he’s with his own band Halford, but it’s like he’s a parody of himself when he’s with Priest nowadays.
There is a reason why this man has been on the top for more than 4 decades! It’s not because he’s Pavarotti, but because he has this wonderful way of truly loving what he does, just being OZZY.
Watch this and try NOT to smile! :-))
Speaking of Ozzy automatically leads me to another, fairly new, aquaintance and favorite performer: Gus G (guitarist w. Ozzy & Firewind, in case you’ve managed to miss it)
I was stuck after the first time I saw him with Ozzy. He walks onstage and becomes a true old-school Rock Star!
He owns the stage in a very natural sort of way, with a charisma that few “new” musicians possess. This guitar wiz handles Madison Square Garden just as well as the smallest, tiniest little dark club in the middle of nowhere.
The posing, the hair-fan, the guitar-hero moves all that stuff makes Gus a true arena-entertainer.
Another kick-ass live-performer is Kevin Rothney (Circle II Circle, JOP) who played bass with Jon Oliva’s Pain on the 2006-2010 tours, when I saw the band countless times.
Jon Oliva might be the songwriting genious, but Kevin was the one who brought rock’n’roll to the live performances of JOP.
I’ve always been impressed with Kevin. When you see musicians like that, you realize that the music business is all about being in the right place at the right time, there are amazing showmen (and -women) out there that don’t get the recognition they deserve.
Moving on to a more local level, where singer Andy Pierce (Nasty Idols) without question, makes it to my list of favorite performers. It was his natural talent as a frontman that made me notice the band in the first place – 25 freaking years ago! He was a real rock star before people even knew it and he will be till they have to roll him out on stage in a wheel chair!
When it was time for Twisted Sister, the crew-guy Rob (who had invited us as his guests) showed up with a funny smile on his face. “Come on, I wanna show you something!”
So we followed him to the right side of the stage where he had placed a road-case on wheels right in front of the sound guy, yet still so perfect that we weren’t in anyone’s way. The BEST seats in the house! “This is reserved especially for you guys!” Jesus, I had to laugh, Vera couldn’t believe it either, that was just so great.
It didn’t end there. Only a few minutes before Dee & co were about to enter the stage, someone PUSHED the case so hard that I thought we were gonna end up ON the stage in front of all those thousands of people! I’ve got it on video – when I start screaming, that’s when the case is being pushed!
It was Twisted Sister’s manager Danny Stanton – a guy that I think everybody knows. He’s also managed Sebastian Bach, Lita Ford, just a bunch of bands over the years. “You can see EVEN better now!” he laughed. My god – crazy dude! :-))
Dee showed up and I could tell he was totally psyched. He was jumping and by the concentrated look on his face it was like a bomb ready to explode. “Let’s DO this!!”
And off he went – like a missile! When Dee enters a stage, it’s full speed ahead and he never stops!
I don’t know WHERE he gets all that energy from, but he’s amazing. Dee Snider is the epitome of rock’n’roll – he is the last genuine rocker out there. He will join anyone on stage if invited, because he LOVES what he does. Other rock stars won’t do shit unless they’re paid or unless they see a huge PR-value in their participation. That’s not rock’n’roll. Dee will do it because he honestly and truly LOVES being on stage and my god how we love him for that!
Not only is his VOICE better than ever – it’s strong, clear and powerful, but he also has an endless energy, at 57 he is in far better shape than dudes half his age!
Watching the crowd was also a fantastic experience. I almost got tears in my eyes, it was mindblowing. Dee had every single person’s attention. Such total control of thousands of people, that’s something that you don’t see every day.
You can see some of it in this video for instance. First he introduces Mike Portnoy (ex-Dream Theater, now with Adrenaline Mob, among others…) – we were all standing there watching the show in awe. Mike P had his family with him, his beautiful daughter Melody and his son Max, and their mother. :) They were sitting right next to me on the road case, and I thought it was so cool to introduce the kids to the world of rock’n’roll at such a young age. :)
So anyway, after Mike & band were introduced, Dee barely even got a chance to start singing. Thousands of people started singing “The Price” with their hands and cellphones up in the air. At THAT point I was really glad that I had the privilege of being up on stage! What a sight that was! You don’t see that every day.
I got to hear some of my favorites – You Can’t Stop Rock’n’Roll (and nobody sings it with more conviction than Dee Snider!) Stay Hungry, Burn In Hell (another big favorite!) S.M.F and of course the Twisted Sister anthems that no TS show could ever be without: I Wanna Rock and We’re Not Gonna Take It.
The Graspop-crowd loved Twisted Sister – so much that when he introduced the headliners of the evening – Limp Bizkit, people booed…!
We went backstage after the show cause Limp Bizkit apparently didn’t allow anyone back there when they were preparing for their gig. Rob escorted us back to the artist room and the Twisted Sister band+crew, plus the Adrenaline Mob-guys had just ordered pizza – so there was a PILE of pizza boxes in there!
Vera stopped Dee as he was passing by, cause she felt she wanted to tell him how much he had affected her life with his writings and his music. Dee was super-cool, really took time to listen. There’s just something with his whole persona that makes you like him and respect him. He is tall and walks straight, he is confident without being arrogant, and he’s very bright.
One of the Twisted Sister guys brought me a glass of white wine in a champagne-glass, but I couldn’t drink it – I was driving. :-( I tried a little sip though and regretted even MORE that I was driving because the wine was fantastic! So the guy got up, went back to the room where he got me the glass of wine and came back with a whole bottle of it. “Here you are, you can have a bottle. Nobody’s gonna drink that now anyway, we’re leaving as soon as they’re done here….”.
[Gift from the Twisted Sister-guys – we couldn’t even keep it]
At first I was happy about the gift – then I realized that I couldn’t take it home because I wasn’t checking in any luggage and you can’t bring a bottle of wine on board in your carry-on. So…. we had to leave that great wine to whoever cleaned the AVIS-rental car the next day! :-(
We couldn’t even get out to the buses and vans because the whole area was closed until Limp Bizkit started playing. So we were just hanging there, and I was checking my Twitter on the Graspop artist-WiFi. Mike Portnoy was doing the same. Suddenly one of his Tweets showed up on my Twitter-timeline. I laughed and said “You just Tweeted!”. He leaned over to check my phone “Oh, it’s up now? Can I see how it looks on your cell?” Total nerding, lol!
If you think that people are partying and taking drugs and screwing groupies backstage in 2012 – forget it. They are TWEETING and updating their FACEBOOK-statuses! :-)
[Empty backstage-area, everybody’s leaving for the next gig]
When they finally opened the parking we went with everybody to the buses and vans to say goodbye and then continue on our own way back to the hotel. Said byebye to Rob who was really a cool and generous guy – we had a great time thanks to him. AND – he had worked for Lita Ford too, that gives him a few extra points in my book, lol! :)
The NEXT day (Sunday, last Graspop-day) was just RAINY – I’m surprised I didn’t get sick after that ordeal:
SEBASTIAN BACH, UGLY KID JOE, JON OLIVA’S PAIN, MOTORHEAD, EUROPE, GUNS N’ ROSES
THE GRASPOP BLOGS:
Rockers have often been brushed off as stupid airheads with nothing in their heads but chicks and parties. You know – bad vocabulary, bad choices, not much to contribute with. Kind of like these guys:
But after almost 25 years in the business, interviewing more bands and artists than I can even remember, it hit me that I’ve rarely thought of anyone as “stupid”. Some have formal educations, some are street smart, and some are just naturally intelligent. You don’t always have to be a rocket scientist to be smart. Very few have been total airheads actually.
Then I started digging into it. You’d be surprised how many rockers you’ll find that have fancy titles and impressive degrees to brag with.
Brian May (Queen) for instance… PhD in astrophysics from Imperial College in London. He began working on it 30 years prior to completing it in 2007, but got sidetracked when Queen hit the big-time. Apparently its never too late to finish what you started…!
Offspring’s Dexter Holland: He has a Bachelor’s degree in Biology and a Master’s degree in Molecular Biology, both from the University of Southern California.