Saturday, February 13, 2016

Phantom Of The Paradise - Gerrit "Beef" Graham Post Screening Q&A - Alamo Drafthouse 2015 NY

On December 4, 2015, Alamo Drafthouse in Yonkers, NY showed "Phantom of the Paradise" and had a half hour post screening interview/audience Q&A with Gerrit Graham who plays "Beef" in the film. Interview was conducted by Michael Gingold of Fangoria.

Full Interview/Q&A relates to Phantom although he does talk a little about his lyric writing for Mickey Hart of the Grateful Dead. 

Note:  The audio on all of this is fine. About 2/3 of the video is nice and steady, about 1/3 is shakey or blocked because of the audience and staff moving around, but really this is a listen more than a watch. At about the 27 minute mark there's a cut where at most 15 seconds of the interview was missed.

After the interview, Gerrit came out to the lobby to meet, take photos and chat with fans.  I had him sign this flyer for one of my monthly "Double Feature Fest"' 's.  I always have a theme and this one paired sequels Escape from L.A. with C.H.U.D. II: Bud the Chud (where Gerrit played the title character).  He personalized it "To Paul - Bite Me! Gerrit Graham - Bud the Chud" - AWESOME!

If you dug this go to the MostPeopleAreBlank Facebook page by following this link and click the "Follow" button to join to be kept up to date on future posts, to comment, share and take part in our giveaways and contests! Click any photos to enlarge them to full screen.  Also follow on twitter @MostPeopleBlank   Then, of course, as always - Rock on and Enjoy - Paul

Michael Sweet - The Loft, Poughkeepsie, NY - February 5, 2016 Live review, videos and photos

All the Michael Sweet fans who attended this show at The Loft in The Chance complex in Poughkeepsie on Friday February 5, 2016 got a reason to cheer extra loud just prior to the show when it was announced Michael would be back with Stryper in the summer.

Stryper always packs the fans into the Chance and I thought this would be a standing room only show, so my first surprise on entering was that was literally impossible as the Loft had actually set up seats and those that had them were mostly determined to stay in them throughout the show!  I've never seen them do this before and considering we got there about ten minutes before Michael was to start, there was not an empty one to be found.

It caused an odd, way too mellow vibe for this show. (Granted it was a solo acoustic show so I wasn't expecting a most pit or anything of that ilk)  The seats were set up about ten feet back from the 2' high stage, so everyone who wasn't in a seat kind of felt they couldn't move into the open area in front of the stage because the majority of those seated stayed seated throughout the show and you'd be blocking was absolutely the most amazingly polite rock audience EVER.  Usually everyone is right up against the stage two feet from the performer which raises the excitement level.

In the end a minor complaint as we got right next to the stage against the wall just before Michael came out.

When the Loft is completely packed I'd say it holds about 200, my guess is there were 120 or so here this night, very surprised it wasn't sold out considering how well Stryper do in this area, but Michael seemed all good with all of it.

Michael was solo the whole show with the exception of two songs in which he was joined by a guest.  He played acoustic guitar, sometimes with percussion backing tracks and sometimes creating rhythm guitar loops live and so he could solo over it during the song.

This show had a very "Story Tellers" vibe to it and felt as if it was Michael just entertaining his friends.  Considering the close connection he has with his fans, you could say that's exactly what it was.

He opened with "Dying Rose" off "Only To Rise" the Sweet and (George) Lynch album released almost exactly a year ago.  I happen to own this album because I won it by "Stumping the (Eddie) Trunk" (at this show last year - Click this link to read that review of That Metal Show live).  Good memories and a great album!

Next up was one of about a half dozen Stryper songs that would be performed, "All For One" from Stryper's 1990 album "Against The Law."

Michael then went back to his 1998 solo album "Truth" for "All I'm Thinking of (Is You)" and then a great story about Stryper in the early days of Heavy Metal Hollywood led into "Calling On You".  Here's a video of that one:

As you can hear, Michael's voice is fantastic and the audience (many of them still seated so not visible and making it look much emptier than it was) was vocal and ready to sing along anytime they were asked through out the night.

A couple of times during the night, Michael reminded of us of his stint touring with Boston and his version of "Amanda" showed he must have been a strong fit and made we wish I had caught that tour when it came around.

The title track off Michael's 2014 solo album "I'm Not Your Suicide" was one of the highlights of the night for me.  I did not own the album before this show, but picked it up after hearing this live. Michael stayed around to sign any merch (and threw in the 8x10 photo) and take pictures with all the fans.

Next up Michael brought out a special guest for a pair of songs.  

If I remember the story correctly, Michael heard 15 year old NJ native Moriah Formica sound checking while he was in a backstage room and ventured out because he was so blown away by her voice.  She's going to be appearing on Michael's new solo album and also has her own six song EP coming out soon.  

Michael had Moriah plug in and he took a back seat just playing guitar along with her as she did a cover of Skid Row's "I Remember You" followed by Heart's "Crazy On You."  Here's the video of the Skid Row cover and I imagine you'll understand why Michael is so impressed.  She received quite an ovation.

Once it was back to just Michael,  we were treated to one of Stryper's biggest hits with "Honestly" followed by a couple of covers.

First up was an emotional cover of Bon Jovi's "Living on a Prayer" which Michael calls "the greatest song about prayer ever written."  Here's the video below.  It was followed by a great rendition of Boston's "Peace of Mind"

Back to the "Against the Law" album, this time for Stryper's "Lady" after which Michael asked for requests where he was inundated yells for everything from Black Sabbath covers to songs he had already previously played in the set!

He settled on abbreviated versions of two Stryper classics, first a basically acapella version of "Soliders Under Command" (got the album signed after)

Then the popular single "Sing-Along Song" in which the audience did just that as you can see in this video.

The set ended with a full version of "To Hell with The Devil" after which Michael said he would hang out and meet and take photos with anyone and most of the audience stayed to take him up on his offer.  

He really is very humble and gracious and appreciative of his fans.  I look forward to seeing the full band come back through in June.

If you dug this go to the MostPeopleAreBlank Facebook page by following this link and click the "Follow" button to join to be kept up to date on future posts, to comment, share and take part in our giveaways and contests!  Also follow on twitter @MostPeopleBlank   Then, of course, as always - Rock on and Enjoy - Paul

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band - Albany, NY - February 8, 2016 Review, Photos and Videos

When I saw one of the last shows of Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band's "High Hopes" tour less than two years ago in May of 2014 at the Times Union Center in Albany NY, I figured it would be quite some time before I got to see them again, so I'm somewhat shocked to find one of the first shows of "The River" 2016 Tour was taking place so soon in the same arena.  Bruce must have love for Albany.

When Bruce announced this tour I was excited to hear the band was heading out on the road so soon, but when I heard they would be playing all of "The River" in order in its entirety at every stop, I really had to think about getting tickets.  I would say I'm a more than average Springsteen fan.  I know and love a lot more than the singles, but I for instance am not buying the deluxe box sets with the dozens (hundreds?) of previously unreleased songs and I'm gonna say it...I don't LOVE "The River."  I think it's a good album, hell a really good album with some great songs I do love, but it's not nearly my fave Springsteen album (that would be "Darkness On The Edge of Town" which I did get to see in its entirety at Giant's Stadium on October 2, 2009).  So did I want to see a show where 20 of the probably 30 to 35 (on a good night) songs would be a bunch that weren't my faves...and then what were the chances of hearing others I really wanted to hear...would this be a tour more for the true diehards with lots of outtakes from The River sessions to fill in the set?

Well common sense told me to go for it and I scored 4 tickets straight back from the stage about ten rows from the top, but Times Union Center is small for an arena and the straight on view was was the set list.

I'm a total set list watcher and this was the eighth show of the tour and this is what we knew from the previous seven going in:

  • Every show opens with the great rockin "Meet Me In The City" which actually is one of the outtakes I spoke of above from the new River collection.  
  • Then you get the 20 songs from "The River"
  • Then you usually get seven songs (eight at one show), a super quick "encore break" (I wouldn't even call it a break in Albany, it was just Bruce doing an announcement, but maybe it's been longer at other shows), then four to six more tunes.  
  • So after the standard 21 song opening to start the show, there has never been less than 11 and never more than 13 additional songs where you hope to hear the say 25 songs you've narrowed it down to that you're really dying to hear.

Now of those remaning 11 to 13 the following had been played at every show...and were in Albany as well:

  • Born To Run - I'll always take it and want to hear it
  • Thunder Road - ditto above
  • Dancing In The Dark - I could totally do without this, but the Albany version was actually the best live version I've ever seen
  • Rosalita (Come Out Tonight) - again always good
  • Shout (The Isley Brothers cover) - A cool fun way to end the show
  • The Rising - I like it, but I could name so many other classics I'd rather hear

Which leaves only five to seven other songs in the set.  At 4 of the seven shows these three were played so we knew there was a good chance we'd get them and we got them all in Albany:

  • Because the Night - Totally dig it
  • Wrecking Ball - This is simply a toe tapper for me.  I don't dislike it, but never need to see it on a setlist
  • Badlands - LOVE

So assuming I would hear all 30 of the above songs, this left only two to four remaining slots for all the other classics I would have loved to hear.  I really hoped for "Candy's Room" which is my all time fave (and thankfully I've been lucky enough to catch it quite a few times prior) and thought I had a good shot.  It was played at three of the seven shows prior to Albany, but it was not to be. We did get the full 34 song setlist though and the remaining four were:

  • Backstreets - great
  • Be True - first time played on tour, I could have done without 
  • Bobby Jean - I don't mind, I don't love
  • Detroit Medley - a sign request from the front and always awesome
Well you know what was played, but not what order and I haven't even talked about getting in yet, so let me fill you in so you can go enjoy the photos and the videos.

I took both my sisters to this one along with my future brother in law.  My older sister has been to three other Springsteen shows with me, the last one being the aforementioned "Darkness" show at Giant's Stadium while my younger sister and her fella had never seen the Boss before.  All were duly impressed.

We got up to Albany just before five just as the first snow flakes were falling.  Not sure anyone expected snow, but in the end it wasn't too bad, maybe an inch fell from the time we parked til the time the show ended at 11:30pm on the dot.

There has to be a ton of bars in Albany, but on the main street the arena is on all we found was Jonathan's Pizza Bar which's's a Bar...they played Springsteen non stop.  We ate and drank for a couple of hours and started walking back to the arena right about 7:00pm.

The tickets said 7:30 and I had my camera with me. It's got a super zoom built in, so it's not one you can sneak in and I was hoping to get it in so I'd have some shots to share.  Normally you can bring in a camera as long as the lens can't be removed, but about two months ago I heard Times Union put out a release saying absolutely no cameras at all.  So the plan was we go and see if security is enforcing that and if they turn us away, I'd just drop it off at the car.

So we get to the entrance and there's stairs and escalators up to the second level and it's just totally packed and backed up with hundreds of people barely moving.  This was not good as it was now looking like it would take a half hour to get in and if I needed to then go put it back in the car, I would have to somehow fight against the crowd down the stairs.

So we're just about at the top of the stairs where the real mob is gathered to go through security and we look over at the glass doors to exit the arena and there's no security by them.  They just say "No Entrance" but a few brave souls who don't want to wait walk up, try them and walk right in.

So did the dudes in front of did we.

I've been to this arena a ton of times and I don't know what was going on with security...of lack of.

You know how at every section there's always an usher to check your tix if you need help.  On the whole second level we counted three ushers.  It was so odd, but perfect for getting in a camera.  I have a feeling the massive backup was caused by whatever new security methods they have to get in, but still you would think that wouldn't affect the security/ushers at each section...or at every exit where you can simply pull the door open from the outside...but anyhoo

We're in and seated by 7:30.  The show started about 8:10 or 8:15 and ended exactly at 11:30 so a nice long three hour plus show and here's the actual order of the songs

  • Meet Me In The City
  • "The River" Full Album
  • Badlands:

  • Wrecking Ball
  • Backstreets:

  • Be True (First time played on this tour)
  • Because The Night
  • The Rising
  • Thunder Road

  • Born to Run
  • Detroit Medley

  • Dancing In The Dark
  • Rosalita (Come Out Tonight)
  • Bobby Jean
  • Shout (Isley Brothers)
I guess the only thing I didn't talk about was the actual performance of "The River".  

Well the "hits" off it are a blast (at least what I consider the "hits" or songs you'll hear on the radio: "Sherry Darling" "Cadillac Ranch" "Out in the Street" and of course "Hungry Heart").  Hungry Heart saw Bruce venture into audience (which he also did for "I'm a Rocker") and then saw him crowd surf back to the stage - as you can see from the photos rather enjoying himself.

The rockers on the album of course had the folks a rockin and then there's the emotional heart of The River, which includes the title track and songs like "Independence Day", but the real standout of the performance is "Drive All Night" - a stunning highlight of the whole show.

Bruce would share thoughts behind the songs every four or so and introduced the album as his transition from the underground to embracing the mainstream and really hitting home on the themes of youth and age and time and their effects on hopes and dreams and love.  Prior to seeing the show, I had almost felt it described as a "Storytellers" setting where he talked after almost every song, perhaps at other shows he has, but it was just the right mix of music/commentary to give you the feel for what the creative process behind the album was without wrecking any of the natural flow of the songs which should be played together uninterrupted.

So that's about it.  I dug it and I hope in two years the full band is back at it again.  Until then enjoy the photos and videos.  Click on any photo to supersize it.

If you dug this go to the Most People Are Blank Facebook page by clicking here and click the "Follow" button to join to be kept up to date on future posts, to comment, share and take part in our giveaways and contests!  Also follow on twitter at @MostPeopleBlank   As always - Rock on and Enjoy - Paul