Monthly Archives: December 2010

Top 10 Concerts I’ve ever been to

There’s something about concerts that you can’t experience anywhere else. The vibe, the anticipation, the mounting excitement to see your favorite artist, the quality time spent with friends and the great night (day) out. It’s also pretty awesome to see the magnitude of the production going on on-stage, and to what extent a band is willing to go to put on a triumphant performance.

One of my goals since getting out of high-school (I’m a working man now, btw) was to attend as many rock concerts as possible – and I gotta say I’ve been fortunate enough to catch quite a few bands in action in the past decade – so without any further babble, here are the top 10 concerts Ive ever been to:

10 – Sepultura – Dubai Desert Rock, Dubai – March 2005

Now that’s an odd choice! but ill tell you why. This was the first ever true Rock/Metal show to take place in the region .. the hunger of the audience was palpable. When the Sepultura logo was raised as their backdrop, the crowd exploded .. saluting a friggin logo! For the first time, I felt being a part of real fans awaiting an arrival of a real band. The guys excelled when they played – one of the tightest performances I’ve seen, and most ‘metal’ if I may boldly state.

9 – Rage Against the Machine – Rock im Park, Germany – June 2008

After a 7 years hiatus, Rage made their return to europe and I was there to catch it. it was obvious that the majority of folks who came out to this particular festival, came out to see RATM. The field was full, and as the band kicked off their set, it was absolute awesomness … the havoc that was created was intense. the stage set-up was very simple, just a ‘Rage’ logo as the backdrop, and .. well, that’s pretty much it. the band relied on their skills and the strength of their songs to get people going .. and damn, they got people going hard. Zac Dela Roca surely has a way to get the audience fired up, and it isn’t through his crowd interaction, it was purely on his lyrics.

8 – Iron Maiden – Dubai Media City, Dubai – February 2009

This was the second time i had ever seen Maiden! But man, starting a show with ‘Aces High’ can never get you off to a bad start. The show seemed like it needed 3 generators to keep running! it was THAT energetic! the band were spot on, playing a mix of Maidens classics and some of the later tunes. Dickenson (Vocals) is a performer at heart – the man acts like he’s still in his mid-twenties, he runs around the massive stage in full speed, he sings off the top of his lungs with absolutely no off-notes and grabs the crowd in his palm! A great frontman, and a true legend. Not to mention the crowd ruled every song.

7 – Bon jovi – Emirates Palace, Abu Dhabi – May 2008

I had mixed feelings about attending a Bon Jovi concert at the beginning, but with tons of classics under their belt, a bunch of friends and a mini-road trip to Abu Dhabi – how on earth could this go wrong!? and thank God almighty, it was a blast. Singing along to ‘You gave love a bad name’ was probably one of the most memorable experiences of my life. the band played a great and lengthy set, and the audience was as loud as any other BonJovi fanbase across the planet. Classics like ‘Livin on a prayer’, ‘Dead or Alive’, ‘Bad Medicine’ and ofcourse the flagship ‘You gave love a bad name’ rang across the arena. The sound was great, the fans were great, the vibe was immense, and the performance was pure Bon Jovi.

6 – Machine Head – Dubai Desert Rock, Dubai – March 2005

The year of anticipation. Machine Head made their Middle East debut in 2005. At a time when Machine Head albums weren’t even being sold in the country a month prior, the expectations were pretty low on the band front .. However, come 8 pm Dubai time  … as the legendary Machine Head played their first riff, it was evident that they were the true headliners of Dubai Desert Rock 2005! The crowd went into a state of absolute frenzy, singing every song they knew, jumping collectively as one, and rockin’ hard like their life depended on it. Flynn (vocals) is a great frontman, he interacted with the crowd, played with passion and prepared a surprise to the audience: He brought out Andreas Kisser of Sepultura to perform Metallicas Creeping Death with MH. I remember reading a review the next day in 7-Days (local paper), praising the performance of MH and the fans who, for the first time, showed journalists that these were real fans, and not random people coming to spend a day out. What made the show was the real connection between the band and the audience.

5 – Slipknot – Sonisphere Barcelona, Spain – July 2009

When I was a toddler .. well not a toddler, but younger, I used to be a huge Slipknot fan. As I grew up though, my interest decreased and I pretty much dismissed them for my later discoveries in music. But standing amongst 60,000 people in Barcelona, I was pretty excited to revisit my younger years, the excitement was infectious. as the 9 members of Slipknot walked on stage and kicked off with their brutal ‘Sic’ – I knew this was going to be something special. The production was massive, the band where pretty much insane .. and I mean insane in a ‘not-mentally-right’ type of way. Theres something about watching 9 masked men destroy a stage and play heavy music that makes a show really damn fun to watch. The crowd interaction was awesome, Corey Taylor really knows how to pump up some angry teenagers and .. well, post-angry teenagers trying relive the good ol’ days

4 – Guns n’ Roses – Yas Island, Abu Dhabi –  December 2010

Watching Axl scream the words ‘Do you know where you are!? Youre in the jungle baybeh, and youre gonna diiiieeee” is probably one of the most Rock n’ Roll moments I have ever witnessed. Axl Rose is one of the last true remaining Rock stars out there today, and seeing him live only confirms that notion. The man pulled a 2.5 hour set in the utmost sense of rocking – his voice still intact, and his gear as rockin’ as ever … did i say rockin’ enough? the (new) GnR were a power house in every sense. relentless playing, running, jumping, jamming and bowing (yeah, bowing) to fill the 2.5 hour slot they were assigned. In all of my concert-going experiences, I have never seen a reception to a song as loud as it was for ‘Sweet Child O Mine’ … that blew me away. Axl, you still got the pipes, and the larger-than-life rocker charisma that is lacking in many artists and bands today. A special mention goes out to the breathtaking outro of Paradise City, which put an amazing ending to a superb show.

3 – Cold Play – Emirates Palace, Abu Dhabi – March 2009

This was one of the most special musical events Ive ever been to. It was perfect. The Rain, the sound, the music, the band, the crowd … the planets had aligned for this one night, and it was pure and absolute magic. This was one of those rare occasions where you feel a 20,000 strong audience actually felt like a small intimate setting. Cold Play performed like they were our heroes, and the crowd sang every word. goosebumps moments were plenty on that day – from the rain falling while we all sang ‘Fix You’ .. to the butterfly confetti falling as Mr. Martin played on his Piano. I’m not the biggest Cold Play fan, but this was a special night … everyone who was there still speaks of that show, nearly 2 years on.

2 – Roger Waters, The Wall Live – Madison Square Garden, New York – October 2010

A paragraph does not do this show justice. The brilliance of Roger Waters is portrayed excellently throughout every second of this 2 hour show. From the pyrotech, to the actors, to the massive .. MASSIVE production, to the building of the wall, to the projections on the wall, to tearing down the wall, to the absolutely flawless performance of the Roger Waters band. It was exceptional. This was a visual experience as it was a musical one – the HD visuals on the wall complimented the classic Pink Floyd sound and took it to another level. The music was remarkable, watching the Comfortably Numb solo being played on the top of the wall, with 3D surround sound was something soul satisfying. this was closer to a broadway show than it was a concert – definitely a great tribute to the 70’s masterpiece .

1 – METALLICA – Rock Im Park, Germany – June 2008

I was hoping Waters could top this – but by God, There is not one band on this planet that could come close to the might of James Hetfield and his comrades. Metallica makes a statement when they play, and that is: We’re the biggest band on the planet, and we’re going to prove it. As the ‘Ecstasy of gold’ started filling a field of 80,000 strong … the audience became one, it was remarkable. everyone’s eyes were glued to the stage in anticipation of the metal kings to come out – As Hetfield made his way to the center, it was – by far – the most memorable concert experience I have ever had. After 13 years of being a fan, there he was .. in the flesh .. standing there doing that ‘Hamster smile’ we all know and love, with his arms open and accepting the 80,000 roars … it … was … earth shattering. The band performs as a tightly-knit unit, with absolute fluidity. Hetfields presence was immense, commanding and determined. the sound was large, thanks to Metallicas long-life engineer, Big Mic. The massive screen that covered their backdrop displayed awesome captures of the concert as it was happening. Hetfield, Ulrich, Hammet and Trujillio all have their own big personalities which makes the show even larger, and more entertaining to watch. The lights and production at many Metalli-show is sure to drop jaws .. but the most awesome part was, the true fans. 80,000 singing every single friggin word uttered by Hetfield .. it was great to be able to enjoy it with such a passionate fanbase.

there ya have it – my top 10 experiences! Ofcourse there are honorable mentions going out to Megadeth, Queen + Paul Rodgers, Korn, Motorhead, Kanye West (2005), Aerosmith (2009), Alter Bridge, Opeth, and Robert Plant. But the above were the ones that had a profound impact on me ..

Ah yes, concerts … a feeling of unity amongst thousands who couldn’t have been more different from you, a feeling of family amongst fans who attend a venue for the same purpose. A sense of connection with musicians you’ve grown up listening to. and ofcourse, an amazingly memorable and great time with your close friends and family.

Heres hoping to see the legendary David Gilmour one day!

Thats all I got! enjoy

The essential ‘4.5-minute-guide’ to Guns n Roses in Abu Dhabi

alright .. so its no secret that I am a closet Axl Rose groupie (and everything Guns n Roses) – it also isnt a secret that my excitement cannot be contained with regards to the upcoming uber-awesome Guns n’ Roses show taking place in our very own back yard (Yas Island, Abu Dhabi) in 2 weeks.

So as a responsible rock citizen of the world, it is my duty to answer the FAQs .. that’s right, i get FAQs (Frequently asked questions) about who the hell is in Guns .. why should i care .. what are they going to be playing .. and where in the world is Slash!?

Without further babble .. here are the essentials:

Who is GnR 2010?

GnR was initially founded by one W. AXL ROSE in the late 1980s .. as he searched Hollywood for the perfect band, he came across a few musicians that would become the classic incarnation of Gun n’ Roses.

Mid 90s .. the boys started leaving the band (or were fired) for various reasons. Main reason was Axl Rose – the man had a vision, and it had to be met with or without the members. Slash left .. followed by Duff and Matt Sorum. Izzy quit prior to the ‘Illusion’ albums and Adler was straight up fired.

So who remains from the original lineup?

AXL MU’FUKIN ROSE!

… thats it

as for the rest ..

Guitar – Ron Thal (lead guitar, also known as a shredder for his solo band ‘Bumblefoot’ – played and recorded on Guns latest Chinese Democracy)

Guitar 2 – Richard Fortus (been playing with Guns since 97, he replaced Izzy Stradlin – Played and recorded on Guns latest Chinese Democracy)

Guitar 3 – DJ Ashba (replacing a wide array of guitarists, most notably Slash. he formed Brides of Destruction with Motley Crue founder; Nikki Sixx)

Bass – Tommy Stinson (original bass player of rock outfit ‘The replacements’ .. been playing with Rose since 97. he replaced Duff – Played and recorded on Chinese Democracy)

Keyboards 1 – Dizzy Reed (been with GNR since the early 90s as part of the ‘classic’ lineup. he recorded on the Illusion albums and Chinese Democracy)

Keyboards 2 – Chris pitman (hes more of a backup musician and a new addition to the band – played and recorded on Chinese Democracy)

Drums – Frank Ferrer (a beast on drums replacing Matt Sorum and Brain Mantia .. who both played for GNR. been with Axl since 06 – Played and recorded on Chinese Democracy)

WHAT WILL THEY PLAY?

Yes, they will play the old stuff. I friggin guarantee it!! Axl likes to mix things up a little bit. Hes going to throw in a few new ones to help introduce the world to the current incarnation of Guns, he will also allow the other members a few solo spots and maybe a collective live-Jam session. but the dominating aspect of the set will come from the classic albums ‘Appetite for destruction’ (best rock album known to man) and ‘Use your Illusion I and II’.

Here are the songs I recommend you get into, as I guarantee you will know atleast 90% of the setlist if you know the following:

Welcome to the jungle

Mr. Brownstone

Nighttrain

Chinese Democracy

Out ‘ta get me

Patience

Civil War

November Rain

Sweet Child O Mine

Paradise City

Sorry

My Michelle

You could be mine

Rocket Queen

Live and Let die

Better

Its so easy

Knockin’ on heavens door

Dont cry

Street of dreams

Go on iTunes and download these tracks .. burn em’ and make them your essential CD for the coming two weeks.

If you truly cant be bothered to download .. then get your hands on ‘Guns n Roses: Greatest hits” and a copy of ‘Chinese Democracy’. I do not guarantee itll be as awesome as my list, but you’d still get a good bunch of songs under your belt.

GEAR!?

Going to GnR show means you need to look the part! the obvious thing to do is to dress up as Slash, which is highly and utterly unrecommended … if Axl spots you, he is likely to throw your ass out, hes known for throwing asses out.

So bring out your denims, and any band shirt you may have (unless its Velvet Revolver) – match those with that leather jacket you KNOW you want to wear but never had the right occasion to. Converse is a universal must .. but the ‘deal sealer’ is that bandana .. oh that sweet red bandana that takes you back to 1980 and will make you look like a complete douche, but its ok .. for one night, its all ok!

Will it start at 9 as stated?

Well, to put it simply: No chance, No way. Rose is known to being fashionably late like yours truly. So I would suggest you stick to your group of friends, get some Pop-eye chicken, maybe a ‘tableh’ and estimate atleast an hour delay before the mayhem begins.

I do suggest being there on time though, estimating by the amount of people showing up .. youre going to need a good spot. Plus, as Arabs .. we should be used to being late. Axl should feel right at home.

Why should I care?

Because Axl Rose is the most bad-ass vocal-monster to ever front a band .. and not any band, but one of the greatest rock bands in history. In a world filled with poser-wannabe rockstars, Axl Rose is the real deal … and one of the few remaining true rock stars out there today. Think the same league as Robert Plant, Mick jagger, Ozzy Osbourne and James Hetfield.

Also, this is the man responsible for some of the biggest sing-alongs in rock n roll .. especially Paradise City and Sweet Child o’ Mine. Not to mention the ‘larger-than-life’ Rock show they put on!

Get ready, and welcome to the jungle! Guns n’ Roses live in Abu Dhabi, December 16 – see you there friends

And Happy UAE national everyone!