Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Happy birthday to me!!! (Aftershock 2015, lineup announced, October 24-25th, includes Slipknot, Marilyn Manson, BMTH... superb!!!)

Officially announced at noon today: Aftershock 2015's dates and lineup! Well worth the wait!!!

And a fair number of my wish-list bands are included. Stoked to see Bring Me The Horizon, Slipknot, Marilyn Manson, Breaking Benjamin at last!

Monday, May 25, 2015

Five Finger Death Punch and Papa Roach tickets, on sale now! Run, run, run!

Ivan Moody, Five Finger Death Punch, Aftershock 2014
Ivan Moody, Five Finger Death Punch, Aftershock 2014
Tickets are now on sale for the Five Finger Death Punch and Papa Roach tour--including for the date in Reno, Nevada, at the Lawlor Events Center, probably the easiest show on the tour to get to by road from Sacramento.

Really looking forwards to this show! Last time I saw them at the same event was Aftershock in 2013, but that's not the same as touring together. This will be a not-to-miss show.

Also on the lineup: In This Moment and From Ashes to New. Better buy your tickets soon--they will sell out, fast.

Papa Roach, Aftershock 2013
Jacoby Shaddix, Papa Roach, Aftershock 2013, Sacramento
Wonder if they'll both be on the bill when Aftershock 2015 announces the lineup tomorrow?

(See also: review of Five Finger Death Punch from Aftershock 2014.)

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Frank Hannon Band, Concerts in the Park, Sacramento

Frank Hannon, guitar and vocals, Frank Hannon Band, CIP 2015
Frank Hannon, Frank Hannon Band, CIP 2015
One of Sacramento's much-loved rockstar sons: Frank Hannon (yes, he of Tesla), took to the stage at Concerts in the Park on Friday evening. Thank you Frank!!!

More photos in the Toon's Tunes Frank Hannon Band gallery, or click on the photos.

Aaron Leigh, bass, Frank Hannon Band, CIP 2015
Aaron Leigh, Frank Hannon Band, CIO 205

The Pressure Lounge with guest appearance by Erica Ambrin, Concerts in the Park

The Pressure Lounge, CIP 2015
The Pressure Lounge, Concerts in the Park, 2015
Starting off Friday evening at Concerts in the Park, getting everyone dancing, and setting the vibe for the evening: The Pressure Lounge.

The Pressure Lounge, CIP 2015
The Pressure Lounge, Concerts in the Park, 2015
With a guest appearance by Erica Ambrin. Don't forget: launch party for Erica's EP, at Lowbrau, June 28th!
Erica Ambrin with The Pressure Lounge, CIP 2015
Erica Ambrin with The Pressure Lounge, CIP 2015
For more photos, click on one of the pics or go to the Toon's Tunes galleries for The Pressure Lounge and Erica Ambrin.

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Alex Vincent Band, Concerts in the Park, Sacramento

Alex Vincent, Alex Vincent Band, Concerts in the Park, Sacramento
Alex Vincent, Alex Vincent Band
Nice to see and hear the Alex Vincent Band at Concerts in the Park last night!

Alex Vincent Band, Concerts in the Park, Sacramento
Alex Vincent Band, Concerts in the Park, May 2015
Oh and in case you hadn't noticed, I think there should be at least one band member with mirrored sunglasses at every outdoor concert. Makes this photographer happy!

Alex Vincent Band, Concerts in the Park, Sacramento
Alex Vincent Band, Concerts in the Park, May 2015
More photos in the Toon's Tunes Alex Vincent Band gallery--or just click on a photo above.

Memorial Day weekend, music!

There's a lot going on this weekend--a lot!

Main events:

First Festival, in West Sacramento's River Walk Park, with a great lineup of local bands.  This is a one-day festival, Saturday 23rd.

Sacramento Music Festival, in Old Sacramento and all around downtown, from Friday evening through Monday, with styles of music ranging from Orleans Jazz to Everclear (Saturday evening at 9 p.m.).

I'll be there if I get through packing to move...

Monday, May 18, 2015

FallRise show at the Ace of Spades, Sacramento, with The Alpha Complex, A Mile Till Dawn, Heat of Damage, and Dr. Luna.

Sammy Karlin, vocals, FallRise, Sacramento, May 2015
Sammy Karlin, FallRise
It's not so often that a local band headlines a date at the Ace of Spades, supported by several local bands, and pulls in a big crowd. FallRise did it on Saturday, and made the house rock! The Sacramento gig was early in their current California and Nevada tour--wonderful to see these local guys out on the road, taking the music outside of the comfort zone of their hometown!

FallRise, Sacramento, May 2015
FallRise heading the bill at the Ace of Spades
Ably supported by The Alpha Complex (don't forget the "The"!)--Been waiting to see them for a while. I really like these guys (and am hoping to see them on an Aftershock stage--is that on the cards?

The Alpha Complex, Sacramento, May 2015
Michael Woodruff, The Alpha Complex
Second support act was Doctor, or Dr., Luna. OK. So I'll start with the positive. Vocalist Rachelle DeBelle has a great voice. But... the show was all just... sleazy. Would have been better-suited to 3 a.m. in a drunken roadhouse. We were all waiting for the wardrobe malfunction to happen, as Ms. DeBelle squatted and wriggled and... you get the drift.

Dr. Luna, Sacramento, 2015
Dr. Luna
Dr. Luna: tawdry, and not at all a performance for midway through an all-ages show: and really compared very badly to the classy young singer from A Mile Till Dawn, Katie Robinette.

Katie Robinette, vocals, A Mile Till Dawn, Sacramento, May 2015
Katie Robinette, A Mile Till Dawn
A Mile Till Dawn continue to grow in musical strength (and in age, young adults now!), and it's a great thing to see. Really fun band with good music. Don't miss them... I think they'll be around for many years to come!

(Also on the bill were Heat of Damage, but I arrived too late... it was a very full evening!)

For all the pictures, click on an image above--it will take you to the Toon's Tunes gallery. I am biting my tongue about the lighting this time. See, I managed to reach the end of the post without mentioning the horrible combination of low-light and LEDs. Sigh. #failedtokeepquiet

See FallRise, The Alpha Complex, and White Knuckle Riot, on their summer tour throughout Northern California and into Nevada.

Saturday, May 16, 2015

The Invisible Man-of-a-Thousand-Faces' Diaries... a review

Steve Hogarth, Marillion, The Invisible Man, Marbles, Port Zelande 2015
(This is a merged review: The Invisible Man Diaries, part one and part two, (and part one now out on Kindle); the three Marillion 2015 weekends; Marbles, the album; live video recordings of The Invisible Man, for example this one... and more. As with many of my reviews, warning, this may ramble a little. Or a lot.)

I read, or try to read, quite a few musicians and performers' (auto)biographies. Examples: Keith Richard's "Life" (hard, but good, read); Jeremy Spencer's "Death Punch'd" (un-put-down-able, even the cringe moments were readable), being a couple of recent, memorable examples. Neil Young's book, I threw away after half a chapter (impossible to read), same with Nikki Sixx's Heroin Diaries; my daughter gave me Ministry: The Lost Gospels According To Al Jourgensen, but I am finding it  really hard going, it's so much like a conversation with an addict still hiding in lies and self-persuasion... I will persevere with that one, because there's supposed to be some redemption later, but... All these, to a lesser or greater degree (at least, the ones I managed to read more than half a chapter of), are all about the "rock'n'roll lifestyle", sex, drugs, drink, debauchery, and life thereafter, if the author/subject survives to the point of "after".

Mr. H., vocals, Marillion, PZ 2015, Sunday
Steve Hogarth, Marillion, The Invisible Man, Marbles, Port Zelande 2015
The Invisible Man Diaries are nothing like that.

Steve Hogarth, Marillion, Wolves, 2015, Saturday
Steve Hogarth, Marillion, The Invisible Man, Marbles, Wolverhampton 2015
Prompted to start keeping a diary by his father after a video-shoot on a glacier on a mountain in Iceland, Steve Hogarth's diaries are a day-by-day, month-by-month account of life on the road, in the air, on the train, with a band who tours almost non-stop. Reading them, you'll soon know his daily routine: how often he goes to the hairdresser, which airline he prefers (British Airways, my favourite too), favourite drinks; his routine before a show, doing the laundry when on tour, all the ordinary and often tedious parts of being a rock star; technical challenges to be worked through, the sound quality of empty venues, trying to sleep in random hotel rooms, on bunks in a tour bus, and going back home again.

Losing and forgetting things: socks, passport, jeans... The stress on family life, the love of the fans, the singer's own expectations versus the audience's appreciation of the show. An intense drive for perfection, and the respect for people who have achieved something special. And a burning need to set the world, or part of it, right.

Steve Hogarth, Marillion, Wolves, 2015, Saturday
Steve Hogarth, Marillion, The Invisible Man, Marbles, Wolverhampton 2015
At times, the diaries are utterly, utterly lonely. And that's not the same as alone.

You're not going to find a lot of raw-and-bleeding emotion on the pages of the Diaries--for that, you have to hear H's lyrics, watch a live performance (The Invisible Man comes to mind). There's no gossip on these pages, nor deep personal secrets, and nothing scandalous--not even a huge amount about H's interaction with the other band members (there's some, but that's not what the diaries are about).

Instead, there's an intimate glimpse into the thoughts of the man behind the words to the majority of Marillion's songs.

Steve Hogarth, vocals, Marillion, Montreal, 2015, Saturday
Steve Hogarth, Marillion, The Invisible Man, Marbles, Montreal 2015
There are parts of these diaries that really hit a chord.

"Lay awake most of the night, (again!) and at some point, something inside me gave up. All I want out of life is to live happily with my wife and my children, but I have long-since broken that particular dream. We've been trying to fix it for around ten years now and tonight, for the first time, I realise it's over. I'm too tired to do it any more." Paris, 2005.

Heartbreaking... the moment when you know, no matter what you do, no matter how hard you try, you can't mend a relationship. It might truly be the end, or you might keep fighting to save it for days, weeks, years longer even... but this is the moment you knew it was over. It's not blame: it's knowing.

There's another quote in there, somewhere, about feeling guilty about leaving the family again, yet also happy to be heading out on the road... and then guilty all over again for that happiness. I can't find the exact quote but that one... it rang so very true to me.

And then there are lighter notes, and funny stories, like the breakfast in Poland, and a nice surprise when drinking the coffee (I can confirm that yes, it is as described in the Diaries, and no, you really, really, really don't want to drink the dregs):

"The coffee, on the other hand, seemed to have been made with some kind of mud that had been dredged from the bottom of the Ganges." Warszawa, 1995

All said: the Invisible Man Diaries are insightful, entertaining, and a peep-hole into the often tedious and exhausting life on the road. A must-read for all Marillion and music fans... and many business travellers will identify with it, too. We're all hanging out in another hotel room after yet-another crowded plane... but our business "performance" is unlikely to match that of this singer!

Steve Hogarth, vocals, Marillion, Montreal, 2015, Saturday
Steve Hogarth, Marillion, "I am perfectly sane!", The Invisible Man, Marbles, Montreal 2015
Steve Hogarth is the most expressive and emotional vocalist you are likely to be lucky enough to hear ("Man of a Thousand Faces" really does sum it up!). Look out for news about Marillion's 2016 North America tour, "H Natural" shows in Europe and the UK, and more. And--if you were not able to be at one of the recent Marillion weekends in Port Zelande, Wolverhampton or Montreal--look out for news of a DVD covering tthe Port Zelande shows. The combination of Marillion's music, H's personification of the Invisible Man, and a wonderful light-and-video show are an absolute treat. All details on http://marillion.com

Buy the diaries through http://marillion.com, or find the Kindle version through Amazon.

Thank you for the music, Mr. H!

Steve Hogarth, vocals, Marillion, Montreal, 2015, Saturday
H, Marillion, Montreal 2015

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

My favourite pictures from the three Marillion weekends--which are yours?

Marillion, Port Zelande, 2015
So... three full weekends of Marillion: Port Zelande, The Netherlands; Wolverhampton, England, UK; and then Montreal, Canada. Incredibly-wonderful-weekends. So happy to have been there... and to have been allowed the access to shoot all of the shows. This is one very happy photographer :-)

I have (at last) finished editing all of the Marillion photos from the weekends, at least, the evening concerts. I still have many of the support acts, most of the fan photos, the Sunday afternoon Swap The Band and quiz sessions from PZ and Montreal, and a load of others to work on... please be patient a little longer, it all takes a while (and I will update this post to a link to them as I finish editing).

I'm picking out a few of my personal favourites here, from each of the nine shows. Click on any of the photos to go to that evening's gallery. And, if you see another that you like, feel free to use the "Share" button to share on social media (no copy-paste, please!). Just be kind enough to tag @alisontoon and @marillion when you share! (@marilliononline and @alisontoon on Twitter).

Marillion, PZ 2015
Marillion, Friday, Port Zelande
Friday, Port Zelande: I have no clue how this photo "worked". There are a couple more similar shots in the gallery. The incredible light show, the crowd cheering the band... the great atmosphere of a weekend in Marillion World.

Mr. H., vocals, Marillion, PZ 2015, Sunday
The Invisible Man, Marillion, Saturday, Port Zelande
Saturday, Port Zelande: Marillion's performance of The Invisible Man, indeed all of Marbles, was stunning. The video and lights, beautiful. Together? Something to be experienced. Again and again. Each time I saw the Saturday evening show--PZ, Wolves, Montreal--I saw, and heard, something else, another nuance, another memory. Bloody wonderful. Seriously.

When did you say the DVD will be out???

Steve Hogarth, vocals, Marillion, Sunday evening, PZ, 2015
Marillion, Sunday, Port Zelande
Sunday, Port Zelande: I know everyone loves the photo of H doing the walk.. but there's something about this one that I love, too. It's also not a perfect shot by any means, but... I like it. Oh and the ones with the shadow in the spotlight and the smoke. OK, Sunday is difficult to choose.

Marillion, Wolves, 2015
Marillion, Friday, Wolverhampton
Friday, Wolverhampton: I'm going with this one, just-because it's almost identical to the one on the cover of The Web UK magazine from 2013 (yep, that's mine too). It wasn't intentional... oh OK, maybe just a little intentional.. audience not quite as worked up yet (but it didn't take long at all... the Wolves shows, all three, were unforgettable!)

Marillion, Wolves, 2015, Saturday
Ocean Cloud, Marillion, Saturday, Wolvehampton
Saturday, Wolverhampton: All of Marbles, wonderful. Ocean Cloud? I'm running out of superlatives... beautiful, beautiful, beautiful, beautiful, beautiful.

Marillion, Wolves, 2015, Sunday
Sunday, Marillion, Wolverhampton
Sunday, Wolverhampton: The three Sunday shows, many singles, oldies and newbies, a lot of singing along, laughter and tears and a whole lotta love...

Ian Mosley, drums, Marillion, Friday evening, Montreal, 2015
Friday, Marillion, Montreal
Friday, Montreal: Yes, that's Ian Mosley, drummer, not hidden behind cymbals, sunglasses or anything else!!!!

Fantastic Place, Marillion, Montreal, 2015, Saturday
Saturday, Marillion, Montreal
Saturday, Montreal: "Put your arms around my soul, and take it dancing"... (shivers down my spine, how I love Marbles...)

(Pull yourself together woman. Not here.)

Marillion, Montreal, Sunday 26 April 2015
Sunday, Marillion, Montreal
Sunday, Montreal: Steve Rothery, serene as ever, plays on... and H leaps around like Zebedee.

You ever watch the movie, The Last Samurai (the only good movie with Tom Cruise)? At the end, Ken Watanabe's character, Katsumoto, who had been searching all his life for the perfect cherry blossom, sees the blossom falling, and finally realises: "Perfect... they are all, perfect". That's how these weekends were for me. Every moment, perfect. Gaza, Sympathy, oh darnit can we do it again please?????

If I go back through the photos again tomorrow, I'll choose nine different ones, because they'll each bring back another memory.

If you were there--I hope they do that for you, too. If you were not: I hope they share something of the music you missed. Go to http://marillion.com, and take a listen. And if you're on this side of the pond--North America--look out next year for a Marillion gig near you. If you see a tent outside, or a gypsy caravan, that'll be me, Alison.

(And if you enjoy these photos and those of the others who were shooting the weekends, check out the book, A Million Photo Flashes, which contains the work of seven photographers, yours-truly included, and the words of the band. There are copies available, while they last, on http://marillion.com)

Monday, May 4, 2015

Riotmaker opens Concerts in the Park 2015 with happy Calirock!

Riotmaker and Jeffrey Harris, CITP 2015
Riotmaker, with guest Jeffrey Harris, CitP 2015
Sacramento's own Riotmaker opened up this year's Concerts In The Park in style: happy, infinitely-danceable Calirock: a blend of reggae, dub, alternative, cheerful rock. Their album is aptly titled, "Welcome to Calirock", and you can obtain a copy from iTunes, Amazon, or wherever else you buy your music. It's great roadtrip-to-the-beach music--go get a copy!

It's official: with the start of the Concerts in the Park, summer is here--and so is outdoor music!

Riotmaker, CITP 2015
Riotmaker, Concerts in the Park, Sacramento
If you haven't been to a Concert in the Park, they happen every Friday evening throughout the summer (except July 3rd)--the lineups are on the website, together with info about finding the location, parking, etc. The concerts are free--yes, free!

There's room for dancing in front of the stage. There are food trucks for all tastes, gourmet, sweet, snack, hearty... and a beer tent too.

People having fun, CITP 2015
Yes you can dance, Concerts in the Park
Even Slamson, the Sacramento Kings' mascot, was there, challenging the dancefloor.

Dancing with Slamson, CITP 2015
Dancing with Slamson, Concerts in the Park
And don't forget Kenny the Dancing Man. He was there, he was dancing... and rumour has it that you'll soon be getting Kenny-the-Dancing-Man tattoos.

More pictures of Riotmaker in the Toon's Tunes Riotmaker gallery. And people-having-fun pictures too--I'll be adding to these during the summer.

Sunday, May 3, 2015

One-Eyed Doll, and you need to read (and see, and hear) this!

One-Eyed Doll, Orangevale CA, 2015
Kimberly Freeman, One-Eyed Doll, The Boardwalk, Orangevale
I took a few hours out of editing my remaining Marillion weekend photos (yes, I'll share soon, no, they are not ready yet, yes, the weekends were absolutely-brilliant) to see one of my favourite bands, One-Eyed Doll, back at The Boardwalk for the second time in a few months.

One-Eyed Doll, Orangevale CA, 2015
One-Eyed Doll
You haven't seen them live yet, I'm sure, otherwise you'd be raving about them as much as I do. Kimberly: great guitar, huge stage presence, multiple personas, full control of the crowd, bendy as all heck... and a beautiful voice. Junior: driving the sound from behind the drums. Together: an extremely entertaining and fun and heavy and metal and halloween sound.

One-Eyed Doll, Orangevale CA, 2015
One-Eyed Doll
Someone once told me that you can't paint abstract art well, until you've mastered classical drawing. It's the same with music: you can't put on this kind of show, unless you're a master of the underlying technique. Listen to Kimberly's voice. It underpins all the theatrics and show. Same with the guitar and drums: One-Eyed Doll is built on true rock (in both senses of the word).

One-Eyed Doll, Orangevale CA, 2015
Kimberly Freeman leaping from the drum kit, One-Eyed Doll
Those of you around the world, outside the USA: you've not been lucky enough to "meet" One-Eyed Doll yet. You should. So go check out their website, and here's an intro.

More photos in the Toon's Tunes gallery (and back up a level to see the other shows Toon's Tunes has covered).

Friday, May 1, 2015

TBD Fest dates announced: September 18th-21st!

Dates are announced: lineup coming soon. If you really want to participate in the "TBD" spirit, you can buy early tickets right now--without knowing the lineup--at a bargain price.

Now... Aftershock???  Dates please?  #waitingimpatiently #prettyplease