Concert Security

Security can really help make a concert better or make it much worse.  I have had countless interactions with guards throughout the years and can say that I have generally been satisfied with the way that I am treated.  Exceptions, however, have certainly been pretty bad.

Probably the worst I was ever treated was at a Guns N’ Roses concert at the Sands Bethlehem Event Center in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, where the guards forced us to line up in the street for the general admission show, saying that it was against policy to line up on the sidewalk in front of the venue until 5 pm.  This was not printed on the ticket, and when I contacted the venue, they told me that they had been unaware that the rule existed!  These guards were extremely nasty, and several people had altercations with them.  Most of the guards inside the venue were extremely friendly and helpful, but those stationed outside were absolutely miserable.

One of the best experiences I had with security was at a Queen + Adam Lambert show in Atlantic City, New Jersey.  At the beginning of the show, my family and I were physically thrust off of the catwalk (which we had seats up against) as the show began.  This guard, however, was not seen again, and the gentleman who handled our section for the rest of the night could not have been friendlier and added to our overall experience, eventually allowing my sister and I, along with the woman sitting on the side of us, to come up to the catwalk.  I must also give credit to the security at the Slayer show at the Susquehanna Bank Center in Camden, New Jersey on November 29th, 2013.  The crowd in the general admission pit was extremely rowdy, and the security did a great job keeping everyone safe.  I will say, however, that other events that I have attended at this venue were marked by poor security.  It has really been 50/50 there for me.

I would love to hear your experiences, good and bad, with security guards at concerts – please discuss!

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Queen + Adam Lambert Spice Up Atlantic City

Synopsis

This was to be show two of two for me on the Queen + Adam Lambert tour.  After the astounding performance in Philadelphia, I was not surprised to be greeted by another show that blew me away. Truly telling is the fact that my mom and sister joined my dad and I at this show, and they enjoyed it enormously, despite not being big fans at the outset.

The Show

The curtain once again dropped a few verses into the criminally underrated “Now I’m Here.”  The curtain drop was just as exciting as it was in Philadelphia, except during this show I had to contend with a particularly nasty security guard physically pushing people off of the barrier of the catwalk.  I’ve never seen a venue where people were not allowed on the catwalk – I had secured seats right at the end of it and was really looking forward to this.  Luckily this nasty security guard was not seen in my section again.  Stationed there instead was a guard who could not have been friendlier, and did a damn good job keeping everyone in line while not being rude about it.  I actually called Boardwalk Hall to tell them how nice of a guy he was.  Back to the show: Adam’s voice seemed in even better shape then it was in Philly, and that is saying something.  “Stone Cold Crazy” seemed to possess a bit more swagger the second time, with Brian May riffing with great power and Roger Taylor laying down and indomitable beat.  “Another One Bites the Dust,” however, is where I really noted an improvement in Adam’s vocals.  During the Philly show, he sang “Without you when I’m gone” and “And kicked me out on my own” in a lower octave, while in Atlantic City, he sang it in the higher octave in which Freddie intended it to be sung.  A minor thing, no doubt, but I am pretty picky when it comes to vocalists, and I was very pleased with Adam’s near perfectionism.  “Fat Bottomed Girls” was brilliant once again, with Adam’s voice blending in beautifully with those of Roger and Brian.  It truly is a testament to the skills of Roger and Brian that their voices seemed to have changed very little through the years.  They still slay those harmonies!

“In the Lap of the Gods…Revisited” and “Seven Seas of Rhye” are such great parts of the setlist; that keyboard riff at the beginning of the latter never gets old, and Adam does a great job getting the crowd singing along with “Lap of the Gods.”  “Killer Queen” was quite the spectacle; the crowd really got a kick out of Adam strewn across a velvet, plush couch.  I could really see during this song how great of a time that Adam and Brian have playing together.  They really interact like they have been playing together for decades.  “Somebody to Love” and “I Want it All” were as killer as ever, with the sing-a-long during the latter always a great time.

Next up was the fitting tribute to Freddie Mercury that has happened during the middle of each show of the tour.  Brian May took to a chair at the end of the catwalk and broke into the beautiful “Love of My Life.”  This is another criminally underrated song that Brian May sang wonderfully.  Having Freddie come up on the screen to sing the final verse was quite a great touch as well.  The folky “’39” was next, with Brian, Roger, and the whole rhythm section coming down to the end of the catwalk for a fun performance that they definitely seemed to be enjoying themselves.  Sung by Roger, “These Are the Days of Our Lives” was another great touch, though Roger’s voice, in my opinion, is not as good as Brian’s.

After a fun drum battle, Adam retook the stage to rousing applause.  I enjoyed the slower tribute very much, but many in the audience, unfortunately, did not know the songs and were rather docile throughout it.  “Under Pressure” was amazing, with Adam and Roger doing a great job channeling Freddie and David Bowie.  That bass riff is certainly one of the most iconic in modern music.  While I expected “Love Kills” to be up next, Adam announced that they were changing up the setlist simply because the felt like it and unexpectedly broke into “Dragon Attack,” a very pleasant surprise.  Brian May’s riffing during this number coupled with Roger’s beat was a thrill.  Adam spit out those vocals unbelievably.  This was an amazing addition to the show.  Next up was arguably my favorite moment of the show, “Who Wants to Live Forever.”  That disco ball and the lighting during this number really add an untold brilliance to the song.  And the vocal performance is from another world.  I once again felt Brian May’s solo was a buzzkill; nearly every single member of the audience sat down during it.  He has certainly earned the right to play a long guitar solo, but the paying audience has earned the right to be bored by it.

After the long guitar solo, the mood was lifted instantly with the powerful “Tie Your Mother Down” which led seamlessly to the hit “Radio Gaga.” Everyone in the audience was clapping along as if it were their jobs.  It really was a sight to behold.  “Crazy Little Thing Called Love” was up next, another fun sing-a-long.  I was really hoping for “The Show Must Go On” next, as it is my favorite Queen song, but I was not rewarded.  What is really strange is that on the copy of the setlist that I was able to procure, it had “The Show Must Go On” listed, albeit with a bunch of question marks (see photo gallery).  I wonder what made them not play it?  “Bohemian Rhapsody” was a thrill; Adam and Freddie trading off verses was simply brilliant.  It was certainly the most fitting tribute of the night.  It really is amazing to think that “Bohemian Rhapsody” is the song that started it all for Adam; he tried out on American Idol singing that song!

The predictable, but nonetheless fantastic, encore of “We Will Rock You” and “We Are The Champions” had Adam coming out in a leopard print suit and sparkling crown.  The crowd must have sung every word to these songs.  Coming together onstage for a collective bow at the end of the show, I was amazed at how youthful Brian and Roger still look, even though Brian’s hair is long past its prime.  This certainly was not a tour to miss, and anyone that made it certainly was treated to quite the spectacle.

Conclusion

I truly hope that Queen + Adam Lambert decide to tour again.  I am sure this sentiment is shared by many!  Lots of friends were at this show, and it was great to be able to discuss it with everyone at the end!

Queen + Adam Lambert Bring the Heat to Philly

Synopsis

When Queen initially announced that they would be touring with Adam Lambert, I was quite skeptical; could Adam really even dream of living up to Freddie Mercury?  While admittedly Adam is certainly not Freddie, he truly is an astounding singer in his own right.  It was rather humbling when he proclaimed that he knew that there would only be one Freddie Mercury.  This is a show that will certainly go down in the books as one of the best that I have ever attended.

The Show

The show took place at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, PA on July 16th, 2014.  I was able to score front row seats, and their placement gave me an amazing view of what was one of the most elaborate stage setups I have seen.  Arguably only the Rolling Stones show I attended could top this stage.  The show commenced with the curtain dropping a few verses in to “Now I’m Here,” a lesser known, but brilliant, song off of the album “Sheer Heart Attack.”  Adam sang the lyrics effortlessly, sounding amazing the entire time.  Brian May and Roger Taylor look remarkably well for their ages, 64 and 66 (at the time of writing Brian is now 67) respectively.  It was also nice to see Roger receive some help on the drums by none other than his son, Rufus.  After the more obscure opening number, Queen kicked into some of the hits that put them on the map: “Stone Cold Crazy,” “Another One Bites the Dust,” and “Fat Bottomed Girls.”  The harmonies in the latter were executed perfectly, a true testament to Adam’s ability.  A bit later on, Adam lied down on a plush purple and gold couch at the end of the catwalk, performing a stunning rendition of “Killer Queen.”  Adam was really in his element here.  Following this up was another showstopper, “Somebody to Love,” which sounded as fresh as though it were written yesterday!

Towards the middle of the show, Adam left the stage for Roger and Brian to perform a quieter, more introspective set that involved many classic pictures of the late, great, Freddie Mercury.  It truly is wondrous how they honor him during the show; it is almost like he is still there performing.  [Fun fact: Last time Queen performed in Philly with Freddie was July 24th, 1982 at the now nonexistent Spectrum].  During this slower set, Brian May took to the mic for “Love of My Life,” a truly beautiful song, and the more folk-like “’39.”  Roger also got a stab at the vocals during “These Are the Days of Our Lives.”  While this little tribute was certainly fitting, the crowd was anxiously waiting the return of Adam and the spectacle that a Queen show normally encompasses.

After returning to the stage, Adam duetted with Roger on the brilliant “Under Pressure.”  That bass line has got to be one of the best in music, and get this, it is played on a real bass and not a computer – go figure!  Following this was a performance of the Freddie solo song “Love Kills,” that will soon be reworked for an upcoming Queen album (no word yet on whether or not Adam will lay down some vocal tracks on this album).  Next up was one of my favorite moments of the show; standing under a glittering disco ball at the end of the catwalk, Adam belted out “Who Wants to Live Forever” with as much emotion as Freddie did.  This song truly gave me goosebumps.

After these few songs Brian May broke into was definitely my least favorite part of the show.  While Brian is certainly an influential, pioneering guitar player, a 20-some-odd minute guitar solo is utterly unnecessary.  Most in the crowd were looking down at their phones and hoping that it would end.  It really was a buzzkill – add a song in that time (maybe two!).  Finally, everyone came back out for a powerful performance of the classic “Tie Your Mother Down,” following by arguably my favorite Queen song, “The Show Must Go On.”  Adam really put his all into this song and it showed to the amazed audience.  For the end of the main set, the ever-famous “Bohemian Rhapsody” was played, featuring a duet between Adam and Freddie on the screen.  Now this was the most brilliant tribute to Freddie of the night.  With Adam and Freddie trading off lines at the end of the song, everyone in the audience was surely emotional.

The show was rounded off with an encore performance of the anthems “We Will Rock You” and “We Are the Champions,” with Adam donning a leopard print suit topped off with a large crown on his head.  Throughout the show Adam went through between 5 and 10 costume changes!  Brian and Roger went more casual with white shirts and what looked like mildly-jeweled pants.

Conclusion

As I mentioned earlier, this is certainly one of the best shows that I have attended.  In regards to the setlist, I really wish they would have played “Don’t Stop Me Now,” as that is one of my favorites.  I know they played it earlier on in the tour.  Why drop a song and not add anything in its place?  “You’re My Best Friend” would have been nice as well, though to a lesser extent.  Luckily, I am going to see this show again in Atlantic City at Boardwalk Hall on July 26th, so I look forward to providing another review and comparing the two shows!

 

The Soundtrack of Summer Lights Up Camden!

Synposis
Back in March I bought tickets to this co-headlining show of Foreigner and Styx, with special guest Don Felder. I could not have imagined what a great night of rock I was in store for last night (7/3/14).

Opening Act

I missed much of the opening band, but I was able catch the fact that they were a cover band, and a damn good one at that. I heard their renditions of “Carry on My Wayward Son” and “Bohemian Rhapsody” and was blown away by both. As someone who recently saw Kansas in concert (back in October), I can say that this singer did “Carry on My Wayward Son” more justice than Steve Walsh did. This was definitely a fantastic way to warm the crowd up for what was to be such a prolific show.

Don Felder

After a moving rendition of the Star Spangled Banner sung by one of America’s own servicewomen (which was preceded by a crowd sing-a-long to the Pledge of Allegiance), Don Felder came onstage to a blistering rendition of Eagles’ classic “Already Gone.” Playing a multitude of guitars throughout his set, Don Felder impressed the crowd during every song. It was not, however, until the last few songs that the whole crowd was on their feet. “Heartache Tonight” and “Life in the Fast Lane” rounded out the set before an amazing version of “Hotel California” closed everything out. Tommy Shaw traded off verses with Don Felder through “Hotel California,” adding to the brilliance of the song. The crowd was clearly very happy with Felder’s set, and everyone was certainly itching for the next act to take the stage. Funny story, after Don Felder’s set, I walked up to try to get a copy of the setlist and one of the security guards at the Susquehanna Bank Center very rudely sent me away from the stage (though it would be another 20 minutes until the next act took the stage, and I was Row 2 in the Pit, so it was not like I had come far to get to the front of the stage). I never understand why security has to be so rude, sometimes they are very friendly, but I have been to countless shows, and I have encountered more rude security guards than I can count.

Styx

After Don Felder’s relatively stripped-down set, Styx came out with bunch of large screens and a great stage-setup that really added to the greatness of the set. Coming out to a flaming version of “The Grand Illusion,” Styx quickly got the whole crowd up upon its feet. All of the members of the band were quite “playful” with the audience, adding to the fun of the show. Lawrence Gowan’s spinning keyboards were quite the hit, and he cruised around the stage singing and performing like he had been in the band from the start. When one sees the chemistry of the band, it is hard to imagine that most of them are not originals. While not quite hitting all of Dennis DeYoung’s notes, Gowan did a fabulous job. A highlight of Styx’s set was definitely Lawrence Gowan joking around about their bus’ recently catching fire – he did a spur of the moment performance of The Doors’ classic “Light My Fire,” which led into the giant crowd-pleaser that is “Come Sail Away.” On a more serious not, many thanks were extended to the Philadelphia firemen who quickly put out the fire and prevented any injuries, so they definitely deserve a big shout out! Styx rounded out their set with an encore performance of “Rockin’ the Paradise” and the brilliance that is “Renegade.” The performance really was excellent, with Tommy Shaw, J.Y. Young, Chuck Panozzo, Todd Sucherman, Lawrence Gowan, and Ricky Phillips all in top form. It still is amazing to hear Shaw do those opening lines of “Renegade.”

Foreigner

Up next was Foreigner, who was closing out the show tonight. I believe it should be noted that every few nights, Foreigner and Styx rotate who plays last – THIS is true co-headlining, to me, when one band closes every night, they are the headliner, regardless of how the show is advertised. Foreigner opened up with the classic “Double Vision,” which immediately got the crowd up on its feet. Kelly Hansen sounds amazingly like Lou Gramm (in fact, these days he sounds MUCH better; I saw Lou Gramm back in February and he sounded horrible). I was a little disappointed not to see Mick Jones out at the start of the job, but Bruce Watson did an awesome job; he seems to have a great personality. Foreigner truly has a great bunch of musicians in the band right now. Thom Gimble has played with Aerosmith and Jeff Pilson has played with the likes of Dio and Dokken. The musicianship that is on stage during a Foreigner show clearly is incredible, despite what any naysayers may say about the lack of original members. After wonderful versions of “Head Games,” “Cold as Ice,” and “Waiting for a Girl Like You,” the legend himself, Mick Jones, took the stage. Immediately the band ripped into a blistering version of “Feels Like the First Time,” where Mick, despite being ill for some time, did not miss a beat. The founder of Foreigner is still going strong! Jones himself took to the mic for the cut from the eponymous first Foreigner album, “Starrider,” which received a surprisingly great reaction from the crowd. It was great to see him and Kelly Hansen trading off on vocals. After about a ten-minute long version of “Juke Box Hero,” which rocked the house, the band walked off the stage in preparation for the encore. They began with “I Want to Know What Love Is,” where the Cherokee High School choir was featured (this is not my town’s High School, but it is very close). The mandatory sing-a-long was a ton of fun. The set was closed with the crowd-pleaser “Hot Blooded,” which had the probably 8-10 thousand people in the crowd singing at the top of their lungs! What a great set from such a classic band. Foreigner belongs on these big stages, and I hope they can keep up the momentum that they have gathered over the past decade and keep themselves in venues this size.

The End

A guitar signed by the members of all 3 bands was the prize for the winner of the raffle that many in the crowd participated in. To get a raffle ticket, one had to buy the Soundtrack of Summer CD that many helpers in the crowd were selling. Proceeds would go to the Philadelphia Firemen’s Widows Fund. I really like to see big name acts taking up important causes, especially after the firemen did such a great job keeping the bands safe. I would recommend this show to any rock fan looking for a great time. Ticket prices are very reasonable when compared to most of the other big summer shows. This is not a tour to miss!