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Melodic Rock Fest 2 - The Roadhouse, Illinois, USA - April 30th to May 2nd 2010

Before fingers ever made contact with the computer keyboard, I pontificated on how I was to present a thorough, accurate and engaging synopsis of the events surrounding Melodic Rock Fest 2. Not only is this my first contribution to Fireworks magazine, this event represents my first experience in journalism. Although I’m still not sure how, I am proud to have had the stamina to witness every set, and in their entirety for an overwhelming number of the bands that performed. I also managed to fill any downtime by conducting interviews with Jean Beauvoir (Crown of Thorns), John Kivel (Kivel Records) and the band, Bombay Black. {Author’s note: I also conducted one with Bruno Ravel, but too many beers and no recording device has now relegated that to the pile of lost memories…and left socks!} Add to that a round trip travel time of 26 hours from New Jersey (‘tis true, I traveled by car). Taken as a whole, one intense weekend that makes for any individual.
Art, in any form, is highly subjective and is always prey to the biases of the critic. I decided on a somewhat standardized format, so as to give each band the same attention and the ability for the reader to get a sense of how each band’s overall performance ranked as compared to the others on the bill. Although I refused to apply a primary school letter grade for each performance, the following criteria was considered: musicianship, stage presence and crowd reaction. In the same manner and much like recorded music, the Front of House (FoH) audio can definitely affect a performance both positively and negatively and unfortunately, some bands at MRF2 were the recipients of the latter. As such, I cannot rightly factor this element into my critique. What’s more, the guys running the FoH mixing console worked their asses off for 2-1/2 days and had to mix some 22 bands in that time…no easy feat and my hat goes off to them. But as you will read, there was nary a mediocre performance and better yet, there was no band on the bill that I would consider to having a less than average delivery. In summary, it was the high caliber and professionalism of the performances that helped me endure, kept me interested and ALWAYS left me wanting more from every band.

Before the bands, a bit about the venue, The Roadhouse in Elgin, IL: Technically, The Roadhouse is a restaurant/bar and attached to it is the actual performance space called The Main Event. With the separation, The Roadhouse gives you an opportunity to escape the decibels and offer your ears a bit of relief. The bucolic, unfinished pine wood décor is not only attractive, but provides an added sonic benefit by absorbing some of the sound and reducing the reverberation in the two-story high ceiling. Although spatial ability was never my strong suit, I would estimate The Main Event performance space to equate to 1/3 the size of Rock City (for all you attendees of Firefest) in Nottingham, UK. Two, flown speaker arrays flank each side of the stage and provide more than adequate coverage for the room.


Friday, April 30, 2010 – Acoustic/Meet and Greet

Considering all the action surrounding Melodic Rock Fest 2, Friday’s meet-and-greet was a bit of a disappointment. Although the bands scheduled to play all performed for their allotted duration, the meet and greet never seemed to have any direction. Musicians listed on the bill as being on hand to interact with fans were nowhere to be found while others (not listed as part of the meet and greet) who arrived early were milling about. Case in point…while the boys from Crown of Thorns were AWOL, Ted Poley shows up and is, well being Ted Poley (which we all know and love!) and making himself available to everyone.

Goodbye Thrill – An engaging set by the trio of Marc Ferreira (guitar and vocals), Dean Cramer (guitar and vocals) and Pete Eiselman (drums). Although my exposure to them was limited to mere soundbites and the occasional news feed from www.melodicrock.com, I had never listened to a proper recording or their material (eponymously titled and Keepsakes are the currently available CD’s from Kivel Records with Outrageous to be released shortly). Well, that all changed after their set, as I really enjoyed what I heard. Taking advantage of the Kivel merchandise area and finally acquiring copies of their music, I am forever a fan of these guys. They seemed to really enjoy themselves and will be enjoyed by any fan of the AOR/Melodic Rock genre. Set closer: “That Is What We Stand For”

Rock Sugar – The jury is still out for me with this band. From the buzz in the crowd, these guys were certainly in contention for the “Most Highly Anticipated” award. To wet the palate of those in need of a “sugar fix,” they performed a short acoustic set complete with a somewhat impressive vocal harmony covering the intro of Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody and an unplugged version of their homogenous combination of Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believing and Metallica’s “Enter Sandman,” with the clever appellation of “Don’t Stop The Sandman.” For me, this group sits squarely in the novelty category…clever, but the wears out its welcome rather quickly. Their 20-30 minute acoustic set was all I needed and nothing more. The review of their electric set can be found in following pages.

Rob Lamothe – Only being familiar with Rob’s vocals on the self-titled Riverdogs album, I did not know what to expect. As a matter of fact, I only learned shortly before he took the stage with Doug Odell (bass) and son, Zander Lamothe (drums), he has been active since his days in Riverdogs with a solo career spanning multiple albums. Although the crowd was audibly anticipating some Riverdogs material (as was I), Rob chose to perform mostly his solo material. Nonetheless, it was a great performance with his soulful voice in top form. A set highlight was his interpretation of The Beatles’ “Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds.”

Alias – Although not a fan during their heyday circa 1990, my interest and support of the melodic rock genre has enlightened me to a wealth of “classic, but forgotten” albums of which Alias’ self-titled LP finds itself. Originally released on A&M Records in 1990 and considered by many to be a epitome of the genre, this is one monster of an album. As with most of us, their look has changed considerably since the days of perms and Aqua Net (the pink can!), but it certainly did not compromise their abilities. They performed a set to an enthusiastic crowd, comprised of songs new and old. The clear set highlight for me was the performance of “Hungry Heart.”

Mecca – While the unplugged vibe ruled the evening’s proceedings, the night ended with an electric set from this band who is one of the few to garner a 100% from Mr. www.melodicrock.com himself, Andrew McNeice. Not only was this the only electric set of the evening, it was the first-ever live performance from the band. The ensemble consisted of (3) guitars, female background vocalist, keyboards, bass and drums. Unfortunately, I did not feel that the set was all that memorable. Firstly, no Fergie (which is understandable due to his health), but whose tunes on the album are my favorite. Second, the band seemed a bit unrehearsed and did not possess much stage presence. However, there is denying Joe Vila’s talents, as he has a wonderful voice, but a bit more preparation was needed for the band to really gel. Of the set, I would consider “Silence Of The Heart” to be its highlight.

After a 13 hour drive, I managed to finish watching Mecca and return to the hotel for some much needed rest for the 2-days ahead of me. No performance really blew me away, but the relaxed vibe of the evening made it possible for everyone to catch their breath from the pilgrimage to Elgin, IL and enjoy some music. All in all, the acoustic performances on Friday evening certainly made for a nice appetizer for the days ahead.

Aside from a stunning lineup of artists, accolades go to Andrew McNeice and his supporting cast for adhering stringently to the scheduled start time and duration for each set as not to short-change any band (or their fans).

Fireworks - The Ultimate Magazine For Melodic Rock Music

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Day 1 - Saturday, May 1, 2010

Like a gunshot, Saturday started with a bang. First up, Kivel recording artist Farcry. Again, another band which I had known in name only, these guys really performed really well despite the 12:30PM start time. Despite the cerebal palsy rendering his left hand crippled, that did nothing to hinder vocalist Mark Giovi from delivering the tunes with high energy and powerful voice. Their performance resulted in an immediate trip to the Kivel Records merchandise table and acquisition of their debut CD (which consequently, ended up staying in my CD player for the fist 3-4 hours of my return trip home). It is definitely worth your while to give this band a listen, either live or on CD. They premiered two songs, ‘Now It’s Over’ and ‘Nothing You Can Do’ from their upcoming release (July, 2010 and engineered by fellow labelmate Ty Sims of Bombay Black). While the former track featured a heavier, darker sound, the latter was pure modern melodic rock which is sure to please fans of American AOR. The set concluded with a great version of ‘Love Will Wait For You’ from their debut album ‘High Gear’.
Set #2 featured another Kivel Records recording artist, Talon. I was first exposed to their brand of melodic rock at Firefest V (2008) in support of the ‘Fallen Angels’ CD. Since I was not too impressed with their effort at that event, I was curious to see if they were able to improve their live act since then. Also, privy to the fact that Chandler Vogel has since moved on to join Outloud, a new singer would be leading the charge. Despite only a few minor pitch problems, replacement vocalist Dave Friday and band did not disappoint, delivering a strong set with plenty of bravura. At times, I draw comparisons of his voice to LA glam/sleaze bands Ratt, L.A. Guns and Vain. Additionally, I feel his voice is a much better fit for the material than Chandler. Eric Ragno was even on hand for a cameo role to support the band on keyboards. They delivered a very respectable set, and for this writer, redeeming themselves from their mediocre performance at FFV. Tracking for a new Talon CD featuring Dave was completed during the last week of April (recorded in Arkansas by, yet again, Ty Sims of Bombay Black fame) for a potential release this Fall. Two new songs were premiered (‘When Will I’ and ‘Last Time’) which certainly excite me about the upcoming release. I look forward to the new material and am glad to see the band find a perfect fit to fill the vacancy left by Chandler to deliver their version of melodic hard rock. Set Highlight: ‘Mother May I’
What’s better than listening to a band perform covers of your favorite rock anthems with a high level of musicianship? Answer: Cramming twice as many covers in a set of the same duration…two for the price of one! This is exactly what you get with Rock Sugar. Introduced by Andrew McNeice as a “metal mash-up,” Rock Sugar cross pollinate two recognizable tunes, and albeit from sometimes very diverse genres (i.e. Ozzy Osborne and Rick Springfield), into what I call a “Frankensong.” Although I may receive flak for this, I regard them as nothing more than a novelty act…and for me, the novelty runs out fairly quickly. However, what they do, they do very well. Jess Harnell, a very in-demand voice-over talent in Los Angeles, exploits his talents to juxtapose seemingly unrelated songs with conviction. Once used as a set closer for their alter egos Loud and Clear (‘Don’t Stop The Sandman’ from FFV), it is Rock Sugar’s entire raison d’etre. By applying to music the etho of two-for-the-price-of-one while exploiting every red-blooded American’s obsession with all things Greatest Hits, Rock Sugar have discovered a formula ensuring lifelong success (especially Stateside) with this new endeavor. However this certainly begs the question, what might this foreshadow for the future of Loud and Clear? Set Highlight and closer: ‘Queen/Motley Crue’
After the crowd pleasing set of the “buy 1 get 1 free” amalgam of covers from Rock Sugar, Terry Brock takes the stage with the boys from Valentine and together, deliver one hell of a set. Complete with a variety of moods and tunes spanning his entire career, the performance was utterly satisfying. As it stands, 2010 will undoubtedly prove to be a landmark year for this artist (along with Giant band-mate John Roth). A new solo album entitled ‘No More Mr. Nice Guy’ is scheduled to be released in August, a new Strangeways album in the works (with an upcoming performance at Firefest 2010) and the phenomenal ‘Promise Land’ from Giant has made Terry one of the most active artists on the scene to date. To add to the gala, Terry closes with an enjoyable rendition of ‘Soul Salvation’, the title track of Valentine’s album (and swan song) of the same name. Terry and the band were really firing on all cylinders this evening and the crowd responded enthusiastically to their efforts. Set Highlights: ‘Where Are They Now’ and ‘Don’t Bring Me Down’
While Terry Brock delivered an emotionally charged set, Eden’s Curse took the stage with one goal in mind: rock the HELL out of you. I feel that their performance was the one that raised the bar for the entire event. From the opener of ‘Masquerade Ball’ to the encore of ‘Angels & Demons/Judgment Day’, their first US appearance was massively impressive. Michael Eden, hailing from a little town in Indiana, delivered vocals that were spot-on and was never at a loss of words when it came to interacting with the crowd. Despite the absence of their regular keyboard player (replaced by a 2nd guitar), they were well rehearsed and performed an unrelenting set. Anyone a fan of the melodic metal genre best get to know this band and if possible, get to their next scheduled performance tout suite! Set Highlights: “After The Love Is Gone” and “Raven’s Revenge”
Again, I bestow accolades to Andrew McNeice for creating an event of such diversity, representing many sub-genres of the melodic rock scene…and the juxtaposition of Pride of Lions to follow Eden’s Curse was affirmation to this concept. An epitome of modern American AOR led by the prolific (and very eccentric) Jim Peterik and his muse Toby Hitchcock, the band took the stage and delivered one of the best sets of the evening. Dressed in full pirate regalia, the ensemble burst out of the starting gates with a cracking version of ‘It’s Criminal’. Toby’s voice was in top form throughout and it was clear he was enjoying performing to the enthusiastic crowd. In addition to presenting originals from the Pride of Lions discography (Sounds of Home, Unbreakable, Music In Us, among others), Toby revisited a few classics from the Survivor catalogue including: ‘Ocean’s Between Us’, ‘Living For A Dream’ and ‘Can’t Hold Back’. As if the set couldn’t get any better, Jimi Jamison joins the ensemble for Burning Heart (complete with an extended and inspired guitar solo from Mr. Peterik) and a set closer of (yep, you guessed it) ‘Eye Of The Tiger’. Equipped with a wireless transmitter and energy to burn, Jim Peterik gets up close and personal with the fans by frolicking through the masses, jamming out to one of the most recognizable tunes from the 1980’s. For whatever it’s worth, do yourself a favor and check out Pride of Lions, you will not be disappointed (especially their third studio recording ‘The Roaring Of Dreams’).
Although consistently active since their debut, the next group to hit the stage will forever conjure up the following memories: 7th grade (1989…gulp), MTV (Headbanger’s Ball w/ Adam Curry) and the beginning of the end for cassettes (in favor of CDs). Without further adieu, Danger Danger bursts onto the stage with Ted Poley fully dedicated to bringing their version of good-time arena rock to the population on hand. Not only was this a special night, being a rare appearance for D2 to perform in the Chicago area, it also happened to be Bruno Ravel’s birthday! For me, the celebration did not stop there, as the D2 crew performed my favorite set list ever! Starting with ‘Boys Will Be Boys’ they pulled out some more obscure selections from their discography including ‘Under The Gun’, ‘Crazy Nights’ and ‘Don’t Blame It On Love’. Although not very impressed with the sequenced keyboards or the amount of reverb applied to Ted’s voice, the fact that they performed three tracks (‘Hearts On The Highway’, ‘That’s What I’m Takin’ About’ and ‘Keep On Keepin’ On’) from their latest recording ‘Revolve’, made the set incredibly special for me, although it wouldn’t be complete if it wasn’t for their self-ordained anthem ‘Naughty Naughty’ which concluded the set in classic D2 fashion, complete with Ted making it personal and performing amidst the crowd (as well as risking life and limb with a stage dive into the mass of onlookers)!
Familiar with the name and the classic ‘Summertime Girls’, Saturday night’s headliner is a band that I am abashed to admit, never had much (if any) impact on me (I was probably born a few years too late to be influenced by their classic ‘Earthshaker’ album). As a result, I did not have any expectations of their performance. However, if waiting until this night to experience Y&T for the first time was what fate planned, then I am more than thankful to have waited. No frills, in-your-face, blues-drenched rock is what they do and what they delivered. A bit of research afterward applauded their prowess as a live act, and I am now a living witness to that postulation. Forget the “Y” in Y&T, as it was the “T” (as in Today) that mattered this evening, not only with a killer performance, but to celebrate the upcoming release of their latest effort ‘Facemelter’. They premiered two tracks from the recording, ‘Shine On’ and ‘I’m Coming Home’. Although no denying Dave Meniketti’s command of the guitar, I felt the only negative moment was the extended, slow blues jam conducted after the aforementioned ‘Summertime Girls’ which just seemed to slow the momentum of the set and I feel that maintaining a high intensity throughout would have been more effective. With this very minor exception, however, Y&T was more than deserving to conclude Saturday evening. You can be sure I will check them out the next time they come around. Set Highlight: I’m Coming Home

Day 2 - Sunday, May 2, 2010

Sleep the previous night was impeded a bit due to an impromptu after-hours gathering at the hotel restaurant which eventually spilled out into the lobby for an informal jam between two guitar heavyweights: Rob Marcello (Danger Danger) and Reb Beach (Winger). Little did I know that the individual participating on vocals was none other than the lead singer of Sunday’s opener, Strikeforce. Hailing from St. Louis, MO, I had never heard of them before, but despite the late night, singer Travis Wyant seemed to be in fine form and at times reminded me a bit of Jon Oliva’s vocal delivery. Although their brand of melodic metal was nothing revolutionary, they delivered a respectable set of original material. I certainly hope that this quartet continues to hone their skills, as they certainly have the tools to create high octane rock & roll…thanks for the introduction! Set Highlight: ‘On The Run’
Next up to bat was the first of two bands to perform I most anticipated seeing at MRF2. As a matter of fact, I have not seen (and am abashed to admit) and have not really followed these guys since seeing them perform on May 5, 2006 at the NY Kiss Expo in support of their (then) latest release, ‘Anger Management’.Since that time, the band known as Bombay Black has released two more long players, all the while delivering their brand of unabashed, in-your-face, kick your ass, rock & roll…complete with big guitars, big drums and anthemic choruses. When not performing, Ty Sims (bass) keeps busy behind the recording desk engineering other Kivel Records artists such as Tango Down, Goodbye Thrill, Farcry and Talon. Eric Turner (vocals and guitar) lends his vocal stylings to many of the same albums and Rob (drums) is printer extraordinaire and pumps out tapestries and drum heads sporting many band’s artwork/logos. Jim…well he’s Jim and sticks to what he knows best – ripping it up on lead guitar! Despite performing the previous night at a nearby club with a 1am stage time, the energy with which the boys from Arkansas served up was nothing short of impressive. Although they played to a relatively empty venue (set time: 1:30PM), their sound is as big as their physical stature...and if you weren’t aware, they grow ‘em big down in the South! Eric’s vocals were spot-on and the band was as tight as I remember them being in 2006. Their set consisted primarily of tunes from the last two albums (‘Psycho Magnet’ and ‘Love You To Death’ respectively) and can say that their sound and lyric has grown progressively darker as compared with the ‘Mercy’ and ‘Anger Management’ albums (for more details, refer to my interview with the band).
Set Highlight: ‘The Last Time’
Known to many of the Chicago melodic rock scene, 7th Heaven is a band that is often touted as “the hardest working band” in the Mid-West. Their version of radio-friendly, pop/rock beams with bright melodies and big choruses which proved to resonate with the entire audience. Only recently enlightened to their music through a very positive review of their USA/UK CD from 2008 (NTD Records) on www.melodicrock.com, their stage presence was captivating and the songs as equally enjoyable. Fronted by latest addition Keith Semple (born in South Africa and raised in Ireland) on vocals, the band proved to be quite juxtaposition to Bombay Black. The band has a very youthful appearance and was riding high after a recent appearance on American Idol as well as their upcoming performance opening for Bon Jovi. While the first portion of their set consisted of selections from the aforementioned USA/UK release, the second half was dedicated to promoting their latest release, entitled ‘Medley’. Taken as a whole, it contains three discs, ‘Pop Medley Vol. 1&2’ and ‘Rock Medley’. Each contains 30+ covers of easily recognizable songs from the 70’s and 80’s, all segueing seamlessly from one to the next. Before I tired of tracking all the tunes played, I noted the following (and what I discovered later as being from ‘Pop Medley, Vol. 2’): Let It Be> Piano Man>Juke Box Hero>Pour Some Sugar On Me>Sweet Emotion>Jack and Diane>Stayin’ Alive>Life In The Fast Lane>Under Pressure>Get Down Tonight, St. Elmo’s Fire, etc. The medley was executed perfectly, with a lot of enthusiasm and accompanied by an abundance of crowd participation. However, after my 2-for-1 set from Rock Sugar, I tired of the cover tunes and would have more thoroughly enjoyed an entire set of their original material.
For me, the next band was one which I got my first taste of the previous October during Firefest VI…and with nary an introduction, Crown of Thorns takes the stage at 3:55PM! Hoping to witness a reprise of their fantastic performance at FFVI, Jean and the boys (Tommy Lafferty: Lead Guitar, Michael Paige: Bass & Vocals, Hawk: Drums) did not disappoint. Blasting out of the starting gate with ‘Are You Ready’, the boys follow it up and deliver a visceral rendition of ‘Standin’ On The Corner Waiting For Ya’. Although the set concentrated mostly on selections from their cracking debut (Hike It Up, Hang On Sugar, Crown Of Thorns, Dying For Love - Interscope, what were you thinking not to release this in the US?). Although the FoH sound suffered a bit from Jean’s guitar getting lost, it did not detract from the overall performance of one of the most overlooked bands of the ‘90’s. Note to band: More please! Set Highlight: ‘Hike It Up”
The act to follow was not so much of a band, as it was an All-Star cast coming together under the same roof. Led by the talented Kevin Chalfant (The Storm/Two Fires), Voices of Rock Radio featured a plethora of trailblazing artists all hailing from the Chicago/Detroit region: Derek St. James (Vocals and guitar for many of Ted Nugent’s classic tracks), Wally Palmar of the Romantics, and the classic pairing of Jimi Jamison and Jim Peterik from Survivor. If you assumed that all the favorites were played, you would have assumed correctly, including ‘Cat Scratch Fever’, ‘That’s What I Like About You’, ‘Can’t Hold Back’, ‘I’ve Got A Lot To Learn About Love’ and ‘Running With The Wind’. Although the first three guests performed 2-4 tunes from their catalog, the set took on a new tone once Jimi hit the stage. After a couple classic tunes, he launched into what was a full set of his own material (and of course, interspersed with more hits from his days in Survivor). From his destined-to-be classic solo album, ‘Crossroads Moment’ (mostly penned by his partner-in-crime Mr. Peterik), he performed the title track along with Survivor classics ‘It’s The Singer Not The Song’ and ‘The Search Is Over’. Despite his fairly inconspicuous stature, Jimi delivered and the crowd responded most passionately.
What’s better than Ted Poley performing with D2? Ted Poley performing a set as a solo artist! Although it is almost impossible not to enjoy Ted fronting D2, I have been an acolyte of his solo material since the ‘Collateral Damage’ (Kivel Records) release back in 2006. As a matter of fact, I will admit to being a bit biased since I am blessed with Victor Rivera being a close, personal friend and had the fortune of assisting with the Poley/Rivera ‘Only Human’ CD (Angelmilk Records). However, this appearance was in support of his latest solo offering, a post-D2 career, 2CD ‘Greatistits’ retrospective…offered with two different versions of cover art of which the parody art is worth the price of admission itself! However, I digress…promotion for the CD aside; this review is about the performance at MRF2. Having attended five Ted Poley gigs before tonight, I was hoping for a bit of variety. As a result, I am thrilled to say that he did not disappoint! Backed by his band consisting of Vic Rivera (Guitars, Vocals and writer extraordinaire), Eddie Campbell (Lead Guitar), Doug Odell (bass) and Ed Faust (drums), Ted and Co. delivered a set that touched on just about every era of his career. Opening with ‘Horny S.O.B.’ and ‘Shot of Love’ from the D2 catalog, he launched into the first performance of the title track from the ‘Smile’ CD, and then ‘Maybe’ from the aforementioned ‘Collateral Damage’ CD. ‘Missing You’, ‘Lately’ and ‘Tokyo Nights’ were all tunes from his post D2 collaborations like Poley/Pilcher and Disappearing Inc. (all of which are included on’“Greatistits’). From the ‘Only Human’ CD, ‘Did We Just Have A Moment’, ‘Only Human’ and ‘Crossing This Ocean’ all got proper treatment during this relaxed, yet energetic set. Although the FoH sound was a bit bass-heavy at times, this was simply the best Ted Poley gig I have attended. Never at a loss for words, Ted’s genuine appreciation for the people making the show possible (sound engineers, stage crew, Andrew McNeice, and even the bartenders), was a sign of real class from the seasoned frontman. Ted was, is and will forever be a favorite talent of melodic rock fans, and am fortunate to know and have worked him. Some cameos by D2 guitarist Rob Marcello and keyboardist Eric Ragno finished off the set with versions of ‘Feels Like Love’ and the Journey favorite, ‘Stone In Love’…complete with Ted taking control of the drum kit and reliving his past as the drummer in the progressive outfit, Prophet.
Following the exuberant performance of Ted Poley was none other than a band also hailing from the Garden State…Trixter. I must admit never being an ardent fan and after revisiting their eponymous debut, think that the production negatively impacts the quality of the material (dare I mention Twisted Sister’s ‘Stay Hungry’ in the same breath?). Always touted as a live band, my first exposure to their live show was during their reunion tour in 2008 (at the now defunct rock club, Dexter’s in NJ) and am happy to report that all of the hype was true…they simply rocked! As such, their penultimate set at MRF2 was pressure to deliver the goods once again, not to mention filling the shoes of W.E.T. who were originally scheduled to play. Unfortunately for me, they did not impress as they did a couple of years ago, but certainly entertained the crowd with their version of high energy, good time, rock & roll. All the favorites were included as well as some of the lesser known tunes from the debut like ‘Line of Fire’ and ‘Ride The Whip’ which was, in my opinion, the set highlight. I will also state that Steve Brown is one of the most underrated guitar players on the scene. His command of the instrument and high-energy delivery make him a joy to watch. Whatever may be said, pro or con, Trixter stands tall with all original members and has left an indelible mark on the Melodic Rock genre…but will that be good enough to compete with the headliners, Winger? Set Highlight: “Ride The Whip”
Now with every concert headliner, there is an unspoken pressure bestowed upon the band holding this coveted position, even greater when it comes at the end of a multi-day festival. Armed with experience, a nearly all-original lineup and a remarkable new CD in ‘Karma’, Winger found themselves in a position to deliver. Not only did they deliver, they pummeled the crowd with a powerful set, bereft of any filler. I opine that this was their best performance I have ever witnessed. The set had it all…crowd favorites, deep tracks and new material all performed with conviction, enthusiasm and class. Being the culmination of a spectacular event, Winger takes the stage at 10:40PM and stampedes out of the starting gate with the following medley, segueing each track, eliminating the change to take a breath (for performer or onlooker): ‘Pull Me Under>Blind Revolution Mad>EZ Come, EZ Go>Stone Cold Killer’. To bring things back to earth, Kip positions himself behind the keyboard and begins ‘Rainbow In The Rose’…albeit a miscue required them to start again, this certainly did not negatively affect the momentum. Before you finished wrapping your ears around that tune (Kip voice was preternatural this evening), the boys were slamming through the next set of rockers: ‘Deal With The Devil>Down Incognito’ (John Roth guitar), ‘The Great Escape (Reb Beach guitar solo)>You Are The Saint, I Am The Sinner’ (Rod Mogenstein drum solo). The next “chapter” of the set consisted of the following: ‘Headed For A Heartbreak>Can’t Get Enough’ and ‘Seventeen.’ If that wasn’t enough for the faint of heart, the encore, joined onstage by Terry Brock, delivered a trilogy of songs, including: ‘Miles Away’, ‘Madalaine’ and the Beatles cover, ‘Helter Skelter’. I would also like to make special mention of John Roth, as 2010 seems to a banner year for him both with his contributions to ‘Karma’ as well as the outstanding release in Giant’s ‘Promise Land’. As of late, he can do no wrong and cannot wait for more to come…now only if Reb could follow up with another solo effort akin to ‘Masquerade’ then we’d really be on to something!
Simply put, Winger performed and looked completely rejuvenated this evening and really appeared to be enjoying every moment. Kip Winger is the most misunderstood personality in rock music…his soul is deeper than any casual (i.e. greatest hits) fan will ever realise. His solo discography is case and point (and should be investigated by any and all fans of Mr. Winger).

If you have had the patience to make it through the review, thank you for persevering and will now reward with my closing thoughts. Although improvement to the Acoustic/Meet & Greet could have been made, MRF2 was worth every effort taken to voyage to the Midwest and be part of this event. I’ve always held Andrew McNeice in high esteem, as it is clear the amount of time and effort he spends running www.melodicrock.com. However, after MRF2, his apotheosis has been confirmed. I cannot wait for him to begin working on a MRF3! Together with Firefest, Sweden Rock and all the other shows promoting the melodic rock genre, I can only hope that this music will continue to thrive and grow, one listener at a time. Thanks to everyone: event coordinators, stage crew, security, live sound engineers, bartenders and especially the artists and all of the fans for making events like this possible.

Brent Rusche

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  • yvesrock : Hi,I ordered the 11th june the new Fireworks' magazine (issue 87) and I didn't receive it. Can you see if you sent it ? Best wishes Yves
  • yvesrock : Hi,
  • Berny : @Gazza2005: Please accept my apologies for the delay in processing your order. You should have received a confirmation mail by now. We are really trying our best to fix the payment issue as soon as possible. Thanks for your patience! PS: It seems as if you sent the payment twice, we sent you a refund.
  • Gazza2005 : I have bought issue 80 and I still ha e not had confirmation of my download. Please could this be sorted out
  • Gazza2005 : Hello. Can someone direct me to my download please
  • Gazza2005 : Can someone help please
  • Gazza2005 : It’s Fireworks 80
  • Gazza2005 : Just paid for my online version / download but I keep getting failure message. All paid for so what is going on
  • Berny : Sorted! Thanks for your patience, enjoy the magazine! :)
  • HenningHallq : Hey guys! I purchased FIREWORKS #87 yesterday and paid by my paypal, but there is still no download link on my account. Can you help me with this? Thanks a lot!
  • Siodmak : Really thanks !!!!
  • Berny : @Siodmak: Pls. do not worry about the error message, we currently have to process orders manually because of a n issue with our payment system. I do not want to bore you with technical details, but the redirection from PayPal to our shop does not work as it should, that's why your purchase is not assigned automatically. We are working on it! Sorry for the troubles & thanks for your understanding. We hope you like the new issue of Fireworks! :)
  • Siodmak : Hello guys : - ) same problem as with previous number: just purchased Fireworks Mag. 87, and this is the message: "We are sorry, but it looks like your transaction failed". I've paid it with paypol. Thanks for your help!!
  • Berny : @Raphone @colorvine: You should have received your download instructions by now, if you haven't, pls. send a mail to «email» - Sorry for the troubles!
  • colorvine : Hello! Purchased FIREWORKS #87 yeasterday and paid by my paypal, but there is still no download link on my account.Can you help? Thanks
  • Raphone : Hello! Purchased FIREWORKS #87 yeasterday and paid by my paypal, but there is still no download link on my account.Can you help? Thanks
  • Berny : Fireworks Magazine #87 is out now!
  • SeaDog57 : Thanks again Berny
  • Berny : Hi SeaDog57: Apologies!Password can be found in the forum, link was (again) added to the "Fireworks" menu.
  • SeaDog57 : Berny; need a download link for #86 and the pg number for the Code
  • Berny : @Siodmark: Pls. check your mail! Apologies for the troubles, we hope you enjoy the magazine! :)
  • Siodmak : Hello guys! Purchased FIREWORKS #86 and paid by my paypal, but there is no download link on my account. Can you please help me? tnks ; - )
  • Hombre 444 : Got mine reading it now,best Rock Mag out on Market by far.
  • Berny : Fireworks #86 is out now!
  • Johns Band : Happy New year Everyone. Will the music film return.
  • Rocktopia Te : The Rocktopia Team would like to wish you a Merry Christmas! :)

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