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Top Live Performances of 2016

Joe Lynn Turner - Revolution - Amityville, NY - 2-27-16 - Hard Rock Daddy

By Adam Waldman

The calendar has finally flipped to 2017, but the scars of 2016 remain.  2016 may be remembered for the deaths of several musical icons, but there were some truly memorable live performances that proved that rock and roll is very much alive and well, most notably, Joe Lynn Turner’s stellar solo show.

As rumors swirled that Ritchie Blackmore was ready to step back into the rock arena for a “Rainbow reunion,” JLT seemed like a slam dunk to take center stage once again.  Not only was he the frontman featured on some of the band’s biggest hits, but he also is the only singer to have also fronted Deep Purple.  If Blackmore was ready to rock again, the first call should have gone to JLT.  Inexplicably, it didn’t.

JLT didn’t let Blackmore’s misguided decision stop him from giving the people what they wanted.  His show at Revolution on Long Island is everything that you could have asked for in a Rainbow show (even without the enigmatic guitarist present).  Not only did JLT deliver brilliant performances of the songs that he made famous with Rainbow, he also did so with the songs that pre-dated him joining the band (while throwing in Deep Purple and Yngwie Malmsteen classics for good measure).

JLT didn’t get nearly the hype that Blackmore got for his Rainbow/Deep Purple live performances, but he deserved it.  Amazingly, JLT’s vocals are as strong today as they were over three decades ago when he rose to fame.

CLICK HERE to read the full concert review.

 

HONORABLE MENTIONS:

SOTO

Jeff Scott Soto has a tremendous resume, but he still manages to fly under the radar.  In an intimate show on a cold winter night, JSS and his band SOTO delivered an inspired performance, showcasing chemistry that you usually find in bands that have been together for decades.

CLICK HERE to read the full concert review.

 

SONS OF TEXAS

The first time that I heard “Baptized In The Rio Grande” on SiriusXM’s Octane, I was instantly hooked.  With a seasoned sound that goes well beyond their years, the boys from a small Texas town near the Mexican border live up to the saying…“everything’s bigger in Texas.”  One of the best newcomers onto the hard rock music scene, Sons Of Texas showed that they are going to be a force to be reckoned with for many years to come.

CLICK HERE to read the full concert review.

 

ANTHRAX*

Anthrax’s inclusion on this list comes with an asterisk because it wasn’t actually a concert, rather a four-song, show-stealing performance at the recent Epiphone Revolver Music Awards.  It’s a testament to the band’s greatness that the crowd was as enthusiastic about the two new songs (“Breathing Lightning” and “Monster At The End”) as they were about the classics (“Caught In The Mosh” and “Indians”).

CLICK HERE to read a full recap of the event.

 

RELATED ARTICLES:

Top Live Performances of 2015

Top Live Performances of 2014

Hard Rock Music Time Machine – 12/15/16

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Hard Rock Music Time Machine – 12/15/16

Each Thursday, Hard Rock Music Time Machine takes a journey back in time to feature a variety of songs that date back as far as the ’70s, the ’80s (the glory days of hard rock), hidden gems of the ’90s and hard rock/metal songs of the new millennium (as recent as a few years ago).

Whenever possible, it will also contain interviews from featured artists discussing the inspiration and meaning behind their songs.   On the last Thursday of each month, we will be doing special themes that feature songs based on specific categories or years.

In addition to appearing on the embedded YouTube playlist below, all songs featured on Hard Rock Music Time Machine can be listened to individually by clicking on the hyper-linked song titles above each review.

 

 

 ADAM WALDMAN – (Publisher, Hard Rock Daddy)

JUDAS PRIEST – “United”  (1980)

After attending the Epiphone Revolver Music Awards this week (read full story), and being immersed in an environment of like-minded people, it took me back to a time when life was all about music, not politics.  Living in the U.S. these days, the “U” in the abbreviation has felt like something of a misnomer, as we are more divided than ever.  But for one night, all of the troubles of the world disappeared, and I truly felt like I was a part of one big group.  Metal has a way of bringing people together, and no one does it better than Rob Halford and company, with anthems like “United” that feel like much more than a song.  It’s more like a rallying cry to their throngs of fans.  The song is far from the most popular off of 1980’s British Steel, but it’s one of the most powerful.

 

JUDAS PRIEST – “Take On The World” (1978)

Judas Priest fans around the world know their 1978 release as Killing Machine.  In the U.S., the album was released as Hell Bent For Leather.  The title was changed in the U.S. because record company executives didn’t like the “murderous implications” of the title used outside of the country.  Regardless of where you live, or what you call the album, the one thing that is consistent for everyone is that it is a Priest classic.  “Take On The World” is another us-against-the-world anthem from these heavy metal legends that preaches the power of unity.

 

 

 ANDY CHEUNG – HRD Music Scout

GOJIRA – “Liquid Fire” (2012)

One of the best metal bands to have come out this past decade is France’s Gojira.  This band is so unique, it’s hard to fit them into a category.  Call them progressive metal or groove metal, but their style stands apart from the masses.  “Liquid Fire” is one of these songs that shoves the emotion of the song into your gut when you listen to it, with nihilistic lyrics that make the listener mourn for the destruction of our world.  From their fifth studio album, L’Enfant Sauvage, “Liquid Fire” is a masterpiece of a song with both technical uniqueness and social commentary.

 

TIAMAT – “Cain” (2003)

One of the best goth metal bands around is Sweden’s Tiamat.  Formed in 1987, the band’s albums have ranged in genre from death metal to gothic rock.  Johan Edlund’s vocals change with the style of the song, from a death metal growl to low whispers building to a crescendo of melodic vocals.  Their music sets the mood for any quiet, moonless night.  It’s dreamy at times, and oftentimes the keyboards give their songs a hypnotic ambiance.  Although I prefer their earlier works (when they were more of a death band), their slowed-down goth rock works for them too.  Fans of bands like Sisters of Mercy would enjoy Tiamat.

 

 

ROB DELL’AQUILA – HRD Music Scout

YNGWIE MALMSTEEN – “Don’t Let It End” (1985)

Guitar virtuoso Yngwie Malmsteen took the metal world by storm in 1984 with his debut album, Rising Force.  He followed it up a year later with another masterful entry into the genre with Marching Out.  This song nicely highlights Yngwie’s blistering riffs and Jeff Scott Solo’s soaring range on vocals as well.

 

IMPELLITTERI – “Stand in Line” (1988)

When forming the band Impellitteri, guitar virtuoso Chris Impelliteri originally recruited Rob Rock for vocals.  They released an EP together, but the band’s first full album was 1988’s Stand In Line, featuring Graham Bonnett (Rainbow, MSG, Alcatrazz) on vocals.  Since then, both singers have appeared on different albums, with Rock as the current singer over the past ten years.  Here on the title track to the band’s first full-length album, Bonnett and Impellitteri work some magic together, playing off each other beautifully.  Also, check out their remake of Rainbow’s “Since You Been Gone.”

Rock Lives at the 2016 Epiphone Revolver Music Awards

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Written by Adam Waldman

Rock music, particularly hard rock and metal, is virtually ignored by music awards shows.  At best, it is disrespected by most with a lack of coverage and nominees that boggle the mind.  We’re used to it in the rock world.  Quite frankly, we don’t even care anymore.  There is only one awards show that means anything to us anyway – the Revolver Music Awards.

Sponsored by Epiphone, the 2016 RMAs ignored all other genres and gave well-deserved respect to hard rock and metal artists.  For the first time in the seven-year history of the awards, the show was held in New York City.

The night began as artists, both established and new, shuffled in from the cold NYC night into the black carpet area in the narrow bar attached to Webster Hall.  None of us were there to ask the artists walking the black carpet about their outfits, as is often the case on the more glamorous (but far less interesting) red carpet of other awards shows.  In true metal fashion, we care much more about substance than style.  In tight quarters, you might expect there to be some level of frustration, but we all worked together, and the artists couldn’t have been more gracious.

It didn’t take long to realize that this event was about much more than accolades.  At its core, the 2016 Epiphone Revolver Music Awards were about members of one big rock and roll family coming together for a kickass event that celebrates a lifestyle more than individual accomplishments.  That’s what makes it different from other awards shows.  That’s what makes it better than other awards shows.

Other awards shows are about a polished product that strives for perfection, or at least the appearance of perfection.  Like the metal culture, this awards show was real.  There were mishaps ranging from glitches on the screens in Webster Hall cutting out, to the Teleprompters not working at times, to the category nominees being read out of order and the five-minute delay of Ace Frehley taking the stage to close the show because of a broken guitar string.  And you know what?  No one cared!  When you’re at the coolest rock event of the year hanging out with your rock and roll brethren, these imperfections just blend into the background.

Rock and roll is not about putting on airs.  It’s about embracing the chaos.  Other awards shows have seat fillers so that the audience always looks full for the cameras.  The RMAs didn’t even have seats, but if they did, you can bet your ass that they wouldn’t have been used.  Most of the attendees used their hard-earned money to be a part of the event, and they were there to rock just like any other concert crowd.

The beauty of the RMAs is that everyone in attendance (including the artists themselves) are passionate fans.  While walking the black carpet, when asked for his thoughts about the band being nominated for having the most dedicated fans, Anthrax bassist Frankie Bello replied…“We’re all about the fans.  We’re fans ourselves, so really, we’re just fans playing for other fans.”

Out of all of the performances, Anthrax is the one that left many of us wanting more.  Their blistering four-song set bookended two new songs (“Breathing Lightning” & “Monster At The End”) with two classics (“Caught In The Mosh” & “Indians”).  Each song was received with tremendous enthusiasm from the crowd.  Can you imagine a mosh pit or crowd surfing taking place at any other awards show?

It’s not surprising that Anthrax electrified the crowd, nor is it surprising that Megadeth did the same.  Both bands are legendary, and still at the top of their game.  There were also memorable, hard-rocking performances by Stitched Up Heart and Lacuna Coil.

The RMAs celebrated hard rock and metal in style, but the event was not without its more heartfelt moments.  Zakk Wylde, who opened the show with a rendition of the National Anthem that would have made Jimi Hendrix proud, gave the most emotional performance of the night.  As he performed “In This River” – a song that he regularly dedicates to his friend Dimebag Darrell – with just an acoustic guitar, the names of the people that we lost during the most tragic year in rock scrolled on the screen behind him.

It’s fitting that the Fallen Heroes All-Star Jam (featuring Bumblefoot) closed the show.  The band paid homage to Lemmy (performing “Killed By Death” with Butcher Babies) and Scott Weiland (peforming “Plush” with Pop Evil’s Leigh Kakaty and Red Sun Rising’s Mike Protich on vocals).

Ace Frehley is the epitome of an NYC musician, which made him the perfect choice to deliver the final performance of the night with the Fallen Heroes All-Star Jam.  Ace’s former bandmate, Gene Simmons, has been fairly vocal about the supposed death of rock music.  It should be noted that while Simmons and the rest of KISS were performing on The Voice with the winner of the competition in front of a non-rock audience, Ace was playing to a passionate crowd of rock and metal fans in a NYC club during the most important awards show of the year.

Rock lives because its artists are as dedicated as the fans to something that is bigger than any individual award.  Rock lives because the artists are also fans, as are the industry people who are indecipherable from anyone else in the audience.  Rock lives because it brings people together at a time when the country is more divided than ever.  For three glorious hours during the 2016 Epiphone Revolver Music Awards, we were all united as one.  Anyone who thinks otherwise should make it a point to attend the 2017 RMAs and see for themselves.  I’m already counting down the days until the next rock and roll family reunion!