Vacation is over! Back to work…..

Well, vacation is over and I’m heading back to work this afternoon. How depressing!

It was a nice quiet 7 days off from work with the family. We went to the shore a couple of times and did a few other things but the main thing was that I got to relax. I did some things around the house and spent time with the kids without being exhausted but the thing I did for myself was catch up on some music.

Here’s a few albums I listened to on vacation, I didn’t keep a list but I pulled out a ton from my collection:

The Who – Tommy (1969): A legendary band, a legendary album. I happened to hear a block of three TOMMY songs on one of the classic rock radio stations so I pulled this out for a few spins.

Billy Joel – The Stranger (1977/2008 deluxe reissue): More Classic Rock! I picked this up last Tuesday when it came out (more on that when I post a Hunt!) and I have been listening ever since. My wife and I went to the Billy Joel concert on July 3rd so I’m still on a bit of a Billy Joel kick.

Judas Priest – Nostradamus (2008): The album that will not go away! I keep listening and finding something new but it’s still a long listen at close to 2 hours over two CDs. I’m trying to get ready for a review but there is so much music, and Priest is my second favorite band, that I want to give the album a lot of time.

Motley Crue – Saints Of Los Angeles (2008): One of the biggest releases of the year and I’m definitely still listening. There’s plenty of good songs here but I’ve had to hit the “skip” button on a few songs.

Avantasia – The Scarecrow (2008): So far, my album of the year. Tobias Sammet has really created a masterpiece project with Avantasia, something that was supposed to be a side project that’s now as big as his main band, Edguy. Best song is the Alice Cooper sung ‘The Toy Master’.

Rogue Male – First Visit (1985) and Animal Man (1986): Both of these are reissues from Metal Mind Productions and I have been giving both CDs some serious time. I haven’t heard FIRST VISIT in about 20 years! Reviews coming…..

TKO – Let It Roll (1979) and In Your Face (1984): These two albums are officially reissued CDs from Tribunal Records with tons of bonus tracks. Another time travel back to my early days because I haven’t heard IN YOUR FACE in over 20 years too! I always meant to pick up the vinyl on Ebay but Tribunal has done a solid job with the reissues. Look for reviews soon…..

Temujin – 1000 Tears (2008): The band was nice enough to pass a copy along for review and I have to admit, I was surprised by the excellent music. I had never heard of Temujin but I know them now! The music is like MANDYLION-era and NIGHTTIME BIRDS-era The Gathering with a little Lacuna Coil in there.

Infernophonic – Spark It Up (2007): Another solid Hard Rock band i missed out on in 2007. Solid album, review soon.

Benedictum – Seasons Of Tragedy (2008): It’s a really good album but I think their frist record, UNCREATION (2006), is better. I’m still enjoying it though.

Gene Simmons – Asshole (2004): I was picking through my KISS related albums and I decided that this deserved it’s annual spin to see if it’s as bad as I remembered. Unfortunately, this is just a bad album with maybe one or two songs I like. This ties with Peter Criss – One For All (2007) as the worst KISS related album ever.

Paul Stanley – Live To Win (2006): I had to pull this out to compare it to Gene’s album…..light years better! I haven’t given this a spin in a while but it’s obvious who the true creative force is behind KISS.

Griffen – Linked In Eternity (2008): Just reviewed this one and I thought it was great. Only a 5 song demo but professionally done and very cool to listen to.

There were so many more albums that I pulled from my collection that I hadn’t heard fro a long time. I started to pull out different albums from Ratt, Dokken, Scorpions, Alice Cooper, Megadeth, Deep Purple, Black Sabbath, UFO, ZZ Top, and Bruce Dickinson solo. I listened to a few live albums as well from KISS, Maiden, Priest, UFO, Sabbath, Royal Hunt, Motley Crue, Scorpions, Triumph because I want to do a “live album week” in the next couple of months.

It was a great week of music!

Billy Joel in concert at Mohegan Sun (Uncasville, CT) – 7/3/08

My second concert of the year was last night at the Mohegan Sun Arena (at the Mohegan Sun Casino) to see Billy Joel. OK, I know some of you have already said, “Billy Joel is not Metal!”. Yes, I know but he is Rock’n Roll, Classic Rock nowadays, and the man has timeless songs and superior talent. Plus there was a Metal moment in the middle of the show that was pretty cool. Say what you want about non-Metal music, good music is good music. Man cannot live by Metal alone and I always like a little variety and my tastes can run from Billy Joel to Billy Idol to Billy Squier! It’s good to have variety, it makes the Metal that much better!

My wife’s birthday was in April and I was able to score tickets for show #9 of Billy’s 10 date stand at the Mohegan Sun. We packed the kids off to her parents’ house and took the hour drive to the casino. It was my wife’s first visit to Mohegan Sun so we took extra time before the show to explore and have dinner. Mohegan Sun is a nice place to go for a concert, plenty of places to eat, plenty of shops to spend money in, and plenty of gaming if gambling is your thing. The arena is smaller than most arenas in my area, it holds 10,000 seats according to the website but it doesn’t feel like a 10,000 seater. I usually go to the Worcester Centrum, Providence Civic Center, or Boston Garden for big arena shows and those venues range from 12,000 – 20,000, the Mohegan is set up so compact that you feel like you’re in a 7000-8000 seat arena. Honestly, ther’s no bad seat in the house. Unfortunately, we were in the upper deck, three rows from the back (I like to be as close as possible!) but we could see everything and the band didn’t look like ants!

On to the show…..superb performance! I usually have a pad and pen to write the setlist down but I forgot it last night so I have cheated and taken the setlist from the message board:

Prelude/Angry Young Man
My Life
The Entertainer
New York State of Mind
Downeaster “Alexa”
Root Beer Rag
Don’t Ask Me Why
Room Of Our Own
Movin’ Out
She’s Always A Woman
Captain Jack
River of Dreams
Matter Of Trust
Highway to Hell****
We Didn’t Start The Fire
Its Still Rock ‘n’ Roll To Me
You May Be Right
Scenes From An Italian Restaurant
Piano Man

The running order might be off in a couple of places but these are the songs he played. There were a couple of songs I was hoping he would play and I got my wish: ‘Downeaster Alexa’, ‘Captain Jack’, & ‘New York State Of Mind’. Of course, you could take all of Billy’s albums and create tons of setlists, the man has such a solid catalogue of music with so many hits and album tracks that you are bound to hear something you didn’t expect. Billy pulled out a couple of album tracks (non-hits) for variety with ‘Zanzibar’, ‘Room Of Our Own’, and the instrumental ‘Root Beer Rag’…..I love it when artists pull out obscure songs!

Talk about obscure…..after ‘River Of Dreams’, the Piano Man donned his guitar and the band played ‘A Matter Of Trust’. Billy introduced the next song as not one of his and he pulled the guitar tech up onstage to sing. Joel’s lead guitarist (forgot his name) then started into AC/DC’s ‘Highway To Hell’ and the band performed the entire song with this guitar tech on vocals. Didn’t expect that at all and I didn’t expect it to sound so good! After the song was over the roar from the crowd was a bit louder to say the least.

It was a great show by a classic performer, Billy Joel gave the audience a 110% performance and played many of his big hits and a few lost nuggets for the diehards. What more can anyone ask for from a concert? I saw Billy Joel live back in ’93 in Hartford, CT and I would say he was better last night than he was 15 years ago. I know that my wife had a good time last night because three songs in and she was in tears, she cried through the entire show. Isn’t that great? Music has such a powerful effect on people that they cry… happened to me when I saw KISS back in ’87 on the Crazy Nights Tour and again on the KISS Reunion Tour in Boston 1996. No matter what style it is, no matter what artist/band is performing, Music is what bonds people together and to see that emotion, that love, made the night even better…..