Journey/Steve Miller Band

I saw this show at the Susquehanna Bank Center on June 22nd, 2014, my second time seeing Journey and first seeing Steve Miller Band.  I greatly enjoyed the show and hope everyone enjoys my review.

Synopsis

I bought tickets for this show back in December, so the anticipation for this show truly was a long time coming.  Additionally, the Susquehanna Bank Center is one of my favorite venues.  Though it is not located in the best of areas, the venue is very well maintained, and I just love the setup of it.  The only real problem there is the parking, which always seems to be a pain.

Opening Act: Tower of Power

Due to the parking situation, I only caught the tail end of their set.  They were entertaining, but I did not find them to be too extraordinary.

Steve Miller Band

As the founding father of the band and its only original member, Steve Miller led the band through a strong set.  Though I am not the biggest fan of the Steve Miller Band, they really grooved throughout the show, and I thoroughly enjoyed their set.  Towards the end of the set, they let loose these giant balloons, which were a lot of fun for the crowd, but I feel that it took away from the music a bit.  Additionally, the encore song of “Fly Like an Eagle” was drawn out way too long.  It seemed like it was never going to end – they might as well have played another song!  All-in-all, it was an enjoyable set, but it was clear that majority of the crowd could not wait for Journey to hit the stage.

Setlist via setlist.fm: http://www.setlist.fm/setlist/steve-miller-band/2014/susquehanna-bank-center-camden-nj-73c04afd.html

Journey

Let’s put one thing straight at the start: I understand singer Arnel Pineda is not the Steve Perry that everyone knows and loves, but he does a damn good job.  The band really has a great level of cohesion – it really seems like they have been playing these songs from the beginning.  I wish they had a curtain that dropped at the start of their set like the Steve Miller Band did – something about curtains that, to me, really adds to the excitement of the beginning of a show.  Journey went through a blistering set that kept everyone in the crowd on their feet for the majority of the performance.  Some lesser known tracks and one cut from one of the albums with Arnel Pineda were played, and while they sounded great to me, the audience seemed a bit less than thrilled.  Despite this, the performance was certainly incredible.  “Don’t Stop Believin” got the amazing crowd response that it surely gets every night.  What a classic.  Journey proved that they really still are carrying on strong.

Setlist via setlist.fm: http://www.setlist.fm/setlist/journey/2014/susquehanna-bank-center-camden-nj-6bc04afe.html

What a great double-billing!

Guitar Gods Tour 2014 – Yngwie Malmsteen/Gary Hoey/Bumblefoot

Synopsis

Went to this show on June 12th, 2014.  I could not have walked away any more satisfied.  These tickets were a gift for my dad’s birthday, as he is a huge Yngwie Malmsteen fan, and I was very happy to see such a big smile on his face during and after the show!  We were also lucky enough to score a meet and greet with Gary Hoey and Bumblefoot.

Getting to the Show

Being from South Jersey, I was dismayed to find that the Guitar Gods tour was not coming anywhere within a half hour from me.  I expected maybe the Tower Theater or Theater of the Living Arts (TLA) in Philadelphia.  Alas, I ended up buying tickets from the F. M. Kirby Center in Wilkes Barre, PA.  This was about a 2 hour drive from my home; with all the excitement from the show, it felt very quick.  Being so far from home, we ended up staying the night at the Best Western Hotel across the street from the venue.  The hotel was beautiful and certainly the nicest Best Western that I have ever encountered.  It also turns out that the artists were staying here as well – we saw Gary Hoey in the elevator!  The venue itself was quite a gem.  The staff were all extremely friendly, and the venue was beautifully maintained.  It did not necessarily look like a place to have a rock concert, but I actually really enjoyed the atmosphere.

Meet-and-Greet

Gary Hoey and Bumblefoot must be some of the nicest guys in the business.  They literally could not have been more friendly.  They signed everything we brought, and they actually seemed interested in what we had to say.  My dad and I must have had face-to-face conversations with each of them for 15-20 minutes.  Not all artists are this kind, and this was much appreciated.

The Show

Opening Acts

Unfortunately I missed the Opening Acts, as I was in the meet-and-greet.  I am not sure who they were, but from what I heard, they were very good.

Bumblefoot

What an interactive set!  Someone called out Iron Maiden’s “Run to the Hills” as Bumblefoot was dealing with technical issues, and as they finally got set up, the busted into this great tune.  Bumblefoot’s voice was great – Bruce Dickinson would have been proud!  Bumblefoot’s entire set was extremely impressive, and he certainly proved to the many in attendance at the show that he is a more than fitting replacement for Slash – I have seen him play with Guns N’ Roses twice and have been EXTREMELY impressed with his skill.  I loved how when he busted into “Guitars Suck,” he noted he wrote such a song due to frustration with trying to play like Yngwie.  I also had the pleasure of surprising my dad with a song dedication from stage.  In the middle of the song “Real,” Bumblefoot pointed out my dad and dedicated it to him for a Happy Father’s Day.  This was a reward for donating to his and Gary Hoey’s KickStarter campaign, which can be found at this link: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/garyhoey/gary-hoey-and-bumblefoot-guitar-gods-tour – help these great guys out!

Setlist via setlist.fm: http://www.setlist.fm/setlist/bumblefoot/2014/the-fm-kirby-center-for-the-performing-arts-wilkes-barre-pa-3c009eb.html

Gary Hoey

Another great set that I was blown away by.  Let me take a moment to say how nice Gary’s drummer Matt and friend Ron (who was helping out with the tour) were.  I met them both at the meet and greet, and they were just so kind, and they talked with my dad and I for awhile.  Gary was able to get some great tones out of his guitar throughout the entire set.  I loved the American Flag guitar!  I was also lucky enough to get a pick the Gary threw out, and thanks to Ron, I got a setlist off of the stage!  If you have not heard Gary Hoey before, it is really worth your while to check him out – great player and great guy!

Setlist via setlist.fm: http://www.setlist.fm/setlist/gary-hoey/2014/the-fm-kirby-center-for-the-performing-arts-wilkes-barre-pa-2bc0046a.html

Yngwie Malmsteen

Yngwie proved that he truly is The Maestro.  I can’t understand how he plays that fast and with that much passion.  Anyone with this much skill is sure to draw plenty of criticism, but there is very little about him that I, personally, can criticize.  The only thing I might say is that his guitar was too loud when there were vocals.  Sometime I wondered why the singer even bothered to sing, as you could not hear a word that came out of his mouth.  Ynwgie played a blistering 2 hour set, and he tossed out more picks than I could even count.  I was lucky enough to get 3 of them!  During Yngwie’s set all three guitarists came out and did a phenomenal jam to Deep Purple’s classic “Burn.”  I tried to get a copy of Yngwie’s set at the end of the show, but they didn’t seem to be as keen to hand out things as Gary’s guys were.  I never understand this, it’s just a piece of paper; if it makes the fans happy, why not hand the setlist out?  All-in-all, this show only solidified my opinion that Yngwie Malmsteen is the greatest guitarist of all time.  Check Yngwie out – you will not regret it!

Setlist via setlist.fm: http://www.setlist.fm/setlist/yngwie-j-malmsteen/2014/the-fm-kirby-center-for-the-performing-arts-wilkes-barre-pa-3bc00474.html

 

What a great show – would love to see all 3 of these guys again!

 

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Welcome to rockinconcertreviews!  Here you will find reviews from various concerts that I have attended.  You will also likely see many other music ramblings that I will engage in.  I hope you find this site useful and enjoyable!  Please be interactive 🙂

 

Thanks for reading!

Matt

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