Around this same time last year, local rockers Nova Rex brought the thunder to the Amway Center for pre-game and halftime sets during an Orlando Predators home game. This past Friday, July 1, the band rocked the house again, this time with The Babys singer John Bisha behind the mic.
I’ve caught the band live several times over the years, but this was my first time seeing them with Bisha on vocals. The band – which is still rounded out by founder/bassist Kenny Wilkerson, Britny Fox guitarist Greg Polcari, and drummer Shawn Lowery – seemed as rejuvenated as ever on this particular night.
As usual, Rewind It Magazine arrived fashionably late thanks to I4 traffic and rain hit along the way. So by the time we did make it, the band was already well into their pre-game set with the hard-hitting “Break Away.” Shortly after the guys launched into the ’80s-esque power ballad “Alone Tonight,” one of my personal favorites of theirs that I don’t recall ever hearing them perform live any of the prior times I saw them. They rounded out their first set with the anthem “Turn it up Loud” before turning things over to the Orlando Predators to host the Jacksonville Sharks in their final home game of the season.
Things did not look too bad for the Preds as they went into halftime down by just two points 21-19, and Nova Rex took over the stage once again. This time they brought the big guns, launching into “Bring the House Down Tonight” and new track “Time Is Up For You,” complete with plenty of bangs and pyro explosions finish the night.
The Predators did not fare as well however, ultimately losing to the Sharks 37-34. But the action was far from over, as former F.L.Y. (Fast Life Yungstaz) singer Vee Fly, who now goes by 4MULA9, ended the night with some hip hop, including his most well known hit, “Swag Surfin’.” It was a fitting end to an already eventful night, one that will surely be remembered for a long time to come.
It’s taken three attempts and nearly two years, but after numerous false starts, the massive Stadium Tour featuring Def Leppard, Motley Crue, Poison, and Joan Jett and The Blackhearts finally rolled through Orlando via Camping World Stadium this past Sunday, June 19. And as Def Leppard frontman Joe Elliot noted at one point, “Third time’s the charm.”
Rewind It Magazine arrived fashionably late for the event, as Joan Jett was well into the hit “Cherry Bomb” from her Runaways days. The last time I saw Jett perform was actually at the 2006 Warped Tour, and not only had the Blackhearts lineup changed since then (most notably former Billy Idol drummer Thommy Price had been replaced by Bouncing Souls drummer Michael McDermott), but so had her set list, which was apparent when she went into “Light of Day” next from the 1987 film of the same name she co-starred in with Michael J. Fox.
More covers and originals like “Everyday People,” “You Drive Me Wild” (another early Runaways track), “Do You Wanna Touch Me (Oh Yeah)”, “Fake Friends,” “Crimson and Clover,” “I Love Rock n’ Roll,” and “I Hate Myself For Loving You” followed before finally closing things out on a high note with “Bad Reputation,” which some may recall served as the theme song to the late-’90s teen show Freaks andGeeks.
Poison were up next, and were the one and only act on the bill I had never seen prior, although frontman Bret Michaels’ solo shows have played a pivotal roll in the Rewind It family over the years (it was the first concert my wife/photographer Brooke and I ever attended together in 2013 while we were still dating, and a few years later in 2018 we covered one of his Downtown Concert series shows for Rewind It, which you can still read on here).
Bret was on fire on this night, with guitarist C.C. Deville, bassist Bobby Dall, and drummer Rikki Rocket behind him as they launched into “Look What the Cat Dragged In.” “Ride the Wind,” “Talk Dirty to Me,” and “Your Mama Don’t Dance” lead to a guitar solo from Deville, which found him briefly touching on Van Halen’s “Eruption” as a tribute to late guitarist Eddie Van Halen.
More hits including “Fallen Angel,” “Unskinny Bop,” and the epic power ballad “Every Rose Has Its Thorn” were up next before the guys ended it with the ultimate ’80s party anthem, “Nothin’ But a Good Time” (at this point, the only possible way for them to end a set), priming the crowd just right for the rest yet to come.
The first couple of times I saw Motley Crue live (in 2005 and 2012, respectively) were each mind-blowing experiences, and I never tire of seeing one of my all time bass idols – the one and only Nikki Sixx, of course – on stage. Ironically though, I always seem to miss the beginning of their sets. But this time I made sure to be there for the entire thing, as the band ripped through classics like “Wild Side,” “Shout at the Devil,” and “Too Fast For Love” right off the bat.
After the first trio of tracks however, drummer Tommy Lee vacated the stage due to his well-publicized rib injury (no rollercoaster drumsets this time around!), making way for Ozzy Osbourne/Black Sabbath drummer Tommy Clufetos, who quickly picked up the pace on “Don’t Go Away Mad (Just Go Away),” “Saints of Los Angeles,” “Live Wire,” “Looks That Kill,” and only their fourth performance ever of the 2020 track “The Dirt” from the film of the same name (and it definitely showed – frontman Vince Neil’s voice wavered a time or two while trying to reach some notes on it).
The guys then launched into a number of their most well-known covers, including “Rock N’ Roll Part II,” “Smokin’ in the Boys Room,” “White Punks on Dope,” “Helter Skelter,” and “Anarchy in the U.K.,” before going through some more original classics in the form of “Dr. Feelgood,” “Same Ol’ Situation (S.O.S),” and “Girls, Girls, Girls.” Tommy Lee then returned to the stage once more and fans turned on their cell phone lights for the massive power ballad “Home Sweet Home,” before they finally closed things out for the night with “Kickstart my Heart.”
And finally, Def Leppard came on stage…and initially sucked the life out of the room. When I first saw them back in 2003, they opened with a couple of early ’80s tracks in the form of “Let it Go” and “Rock! Rock! (Till You Drop).” There were no such classics like those to be found anywhere in their set this time around, instead opting to start off with a couple newer numbers (which I get they need to promote) in the form of “Take What You Want” and the uber-lame “Fire it Up,” both bad choices in my opinion.
By track number three, the band finally started to treat the crowd with what they really came for, the “classics.” “Animal,” “Foolin’ (tragically one of the very few songs performed from 1983’s Pyromania album, my personal favorite of the band’s along with the two before it), and “Armageddon It.” Another new track, “Kick,” was thrown in before more Hysteria-era tracks “Love Bites” and “Excitable.”
After which, the band stripped things down and went acoustic for a bit, with frontman Joe Elliot performing “This Guitar” solo before being joined by the rest of the guys again on “Have You Ever Needed Someone So Bad” and “Two Steps Behind.” “Rocket,” “Bringin’ on the Heartbreak,” and “Switch 625,” which featured a solo from drummer Rick Allen, got things back on track.
Finally, the band threw it all out there, unleashing “Hysteria,” “Pour Some Sugar on Me” “Rock of Ages,” and “Photograph” on the now-exhausted crowd (yours truly included).
I’ve since been asked who the best band of the evening was, and it’s far from easy to answer. Def Leppard were probably the strongest as far as overall sound is concerned, although their set list was merely “meh” in comparison to the last time I saw them, as previously noted. But I’d have to say Motley Crue were definitely the most exciting to watch as always, with Poison coming in a close second. And I’m pretty sure nearly anyone who was in attendance on Sunday night will agree they indeed got enough bang for their buck.
I can’t say that pop punkers Simple Plan have ever been at the top of my list of bands to see – and I’m pretty sure I actually have seen them at at least one of the many Warped Tours I made my way to in the early 2000’s (though can’t say I even remember). But, my teenaged kid wanted to check them out at Epcot’s Garden Rocks series, and knowing this is the band that does the theme song for What’s New Scooby-Doo?, I said “why not?”
It was quickly apparent after arriving in time for their second set this past Saturday, June 4, that this was obviously not the same crowd that were here with us for other recent shows like Starship Featuring Mickey Thomas. But still, there was no denying the amount of energy on stage, and it was no doubt infectious on tracks like “Nothing’s Ever Going to Bring Me Down,” “Jump,” “When I’m Gone,” “The Antidote,” “Vacation,” “I Can’t Keep My Hands Off You,” and “Crazy.” A brief guitar solo segued into the band’s biggest hit, “I’m Just a Kid” (which appeared in just about every clunker stoner flick back in the day like Grind and The New Guy).
When the band re-emerged for their third and final set of the night, they surprisingly played a completely different set (albeit still no theme from Scooby-Doo thrown in, unfortunately), and opened with the 2002 pop punk staple “Addicted” (one of the few songs in the band’s catalog I actually know well, thanks to it forever being tied to the memory of a break up at the time).
From then on the band continued to bring it with both old songs and new in the form of “The Worst Day Ever,” “Astronaut,” and “Iconic” before going though a trio of covers that the crowd went crazy over, including Smash Mouth’s “All Star,” Avril Lavigne’s “Sk8er Boi,” and The Killers’ “Mr. Brightside.” The band then wrapped things up with “Where I Belong” and finally, “Perfect,” which saw cell phones lighting up the night sky.
Although I probably won’t be rushing to see Simple Plan again the next time they come around, I can’t say I regret catching them this past weekend. And if their brand of catchy pop tunes is up your alley, by all means, check them out if you get the chance.
I’ve witnessed greatness on stage many times in the nearly three decades since I first started going to concerts. I’ve seen many early rock and heavy metal bands from “back in the day,” including pioneering acts such as Black Sabbath, Deep Purple, Blue Oyster Cult, Aerosmith, and even The Rolling Stones. But never before have I managed to catch one of The Beatles, the ones who started it all, and undeniably my earliest memory of rock music going back to when my parents had first introduced me to them so many years ago.
But that finally happened this past Saturday, May 28, when legendary former Beatle himself Paul McCartney took the stage at Camping World Stadium in Orlando, FL. I was there to witness this much anticipated event with my wife, son, mother-in-law, and extended family and friends of the Rewind It Magazine family. I don’t think a single one of us could issue a word of complaint if we tried.
Opening with the classic Beatles track “Can’t Buy Me Love,” I was instantly transported back to childhood memories of seeing old black and white footage of the fab four bobbing around on stage together. For the next two and a half hours, I found myself so transfixed on that stage, possibly the most lost in music I’ve ever been in my lifetime prior.
The next few songs, “Junior’s Farm,” “Letting Go,” “Got to Get You Into My Life,” and “Come On To Me” all served as decent enough warm ups that were paving the way to better things, the blues-ly Wings staple “Let Me Roll It” and the Sgt. Peppers-era “Getting Better” being a couple of said things. “Let ‘Em In” followed before McCartney dedicated “My Valentine” to his wife (who was in attendance for the show) and oddly enough featured actors Johnny Depp and Natalie Portman “signing” the lyrics on the video screens.
“Nineteen Hundred Eighty-Five” was up next with some retro lazer light work, while more classics like “Maybe I’m Amazed” and The Beatles’ “I’ve Just Seen a Face” followed. Paul then dug deep with a track from his pre-Beatles Quarrymen days, “In Spite of All the Danger,” as well as “Love Me Do,” each featuring a little history of their original recordings from McCartney.
The semi-newer track “Dance Tonight” was next before McCartney took the stage solo with an acoustic guitar to perform “Blackbird,” another chill-inducing moment. “Here Today” was next up, before McCartney joked about the lack of interest usually reserved for newer music, before appropriately going into a newer track in the form of “New,” featuring the refrain “We can do what we want.”
Another Beatles number, “Lady Madonna,” proceeded before the interesting “Fuh You,” and although the Sgt. Pepper track “Being For the Benefit of Mr. Kite” attempted to bring the psychedelic vibe with it, it was definitely one of the weaker moments of the night. A little backstory on late Beatle George Harrison preceded a ukulele-driven version of “Something” before picking things up again with the goofy but harmless “Obla Di, Obla Da.”
From then on it was nothing but the best, including some Abbey Road (my favorite Beatles album) era classics like “You Never Give Me Your Money” (which McCartney explained he and his current band had never performed live before) and “She Came In Through the Bathroom Window,” before launching into “Get Back.”
Another Wings track, “Band on the Run,” followed before McCartney took the piano again to serenade the crowd with “Let it Be,” blow everyone away (literally with various pyros and explosions) with the James Bond theme “Live and Let Die,” and invoke the entire stadium to sing along with “Hey Jude,” the unforgettable, massive Beatles anthem from 1968, and close out the first set.
It didn’t take long for McCartney and company to take the stage again for an encore, beginning with “I’ve Got a Feeling,” which he explained Get Back director Peter Jackson had isolated John Lennon’s vocals for specifically for the tour, and fans were therefore given a rare treat. “Birthday” and “Helter Skelter” got the crowd on their feet again, while the epic climax of “Golden Slumbers/Carry That Weight/The End” (hands down one of my favorite Beatles medlies) was finally enough to choke up an old dog like myself, as I became overwhelmed with emotion, knowing just what greatness I had just experienced.
As if this wasn’t all enough in itself, a chance encounter on the way out of the stadium found us actually crossing paths with Alter Bridge and Creed guitarist Mark Tremonti (see photo below), who was more than happy to briefly chat with us about the concert we had all just witnessed (among other things). I couldn’t possible write a better ending to an already epic story if I tried.
This was originally going to be a much different concert review than it is, but sometimes life has a funny way of working out. When I headed to Epcot with the family for yet another Garden Rocks concert I was expecting to see ’80s new wavers A Flock of Seagulls. But it became quickly apparent that was not happening when, after arriving, the older gentleman next to us quipped, “You guys don’t look old enough to know who Tony Orlando is!”
And so began our adventure at a Tony Orlando show, which was surprisingly more entertaining than any of us expected the ’70s performer to be. It’s doubtful that few in attendance were expecting Orlando to open with a blistering cover of Led Zepplin’s “Whole Lotta Love” either, but that’s exactly how it went down.
From then on, Orlando ran through his most popular hits including “Tie a Yellow Ribbon Around the Old Oak Tree,” “Candida,” and “Knock Three Times,” before going into a medely of “La Bamba/Twist and Shout.” In between all of this, there was a brief solo that found drummer Timothy Pope emerging from behind his set to continue playing his sticks on everything from a bar stool, to the very front of the stage itself.
There was also some interaction between Orlando and a female fan holding a sign with a photo of them from 1979 on it. Orlando promptly invited the fan onto stage, where he finally planted a smooch on her after all these years. This of course drew plenty of applause from the audience.
Next up, 18-year-old bassist Captain Sibley took over vocals for a cover of Paul Simon’s “You Can Call Me Al,” showcasing the young newcommer’s talent, before finally finishing the set with hyped-up version of Chuck Berry’s “Johnny B. Goode.” I can’t say I was ever a big Tony Orlando fan, but I also cannot deny how much fun he was to watch perform live, proving that nothing beats live music no matter what.
I really didn’t have intentions of going to yet another Garden Rocks concert at Epcot this past Saturday, April 30. But my wife/photographer Brooke insisted we each meet there after our schedules aligned, and I’m glad we did (ironically, I ended up seeing the whole show while she missed a good portion of it!). And truth be told, I didn’t even know much of Berlin’s material until I first met said lovely wife of mine roughly a decade ago.
The band took the stage right at 8:00pm (for the sixth and final time of the weekend according to singer Terri Nunn) opening their short set with “Masquerade.” More fan favorites like “No More Words,” “The Metro,” and the newer “Animal” continued the show before Nunn slowed things down a bit to tell a brief but teary-eyed story about meeting Walt Disney in person when she was a child.
This tender moment segued into the group’s most well-known hit, the synth-pop ballad “Take My Breath Away” from the 1986 Tom Cruise blockbuster Top Gun, which of course the crowd ate up with more than just a little bit of delight (and on a side note, I often point to said film as the movie that really “awakened” me to rock music with its soundtrack, so on a personal level it was great seeing another band that performed on it live, with Cheap Trick and Loverboy being the other two).
But it didn’t end there; a high octane cover of The Cult’s “She Sells Sanctuary” gave Nunn an excuse to run from the stage into the audience and continue singing among a stunned, ecstatic crowd. For the finale, bassist John Crawford put down his four-string to duet with Nunn on a PG-rated version of “Sex (I’m A…),” which if I’m not mistaken, contained some alternate, Disney-inspired lyrics to better suite the atmosphere.
After this, all of the band members gathered arm-in-arm on stage to take a gracious bow. It was a fitting, classy goodbye to an already appreciative audience, and a night few in attendance are likely to forget anytime soon. The only downfall of the entire evening? The lone young lady thrashing herself next to us and hitting us with her hair the entire time. A word of advice in the off-chance she’s reading this; when at a concert, have some courtesy for those near you, because you never know if those people next to are actually there to get coverage (like this) of the show for you.
There was never a shortage of pop hits from various different groups that I was exposed to as a kid growing up in the ’80s. And while I largely ignored much of that music once I hit adolescence and punk rock and heavy metal took over, I’ve since opened my mind more again in my older age (if you couldn’t already tell!), my musical pallet effectively coming full circle.
Last month, I caught ’70s prog rockers The Orchestra Starring Former Members of ELO at Epcot’s annual Garden Rocks festival; this past weekend, I made it back out there with the family, this time to catch Starship Featuring Mickey Thomas, who surprised us with a an out-of-this-world performance this past Saturday, April 23.
Those keen on their music trivia know that the roots of Starship go all the way back to ’60s rock outfit Jefferson Airplane, who evolved into Jefferson Starship in the ’70s, before finally settling upon just Starship in the ’80s (the “Featuring Mickey Thomas” part was added in the early ’90s, to avoid any confusion with the current incarnation of Jefferson Starship that’s also still active). And although original singer Grace Slick will always remain a favorite among fans, she’s been long-since retired for a good three decades now.
But Thomas – who originally joined during the ’70s Jefferson Starship era – has kept the name going nicely, with newcomer Cian Coey stepping into Slick’s shoes with ease, and adding a youthful sex appeal to the band. Also notable in the lineup these days is guitarist John Roth, who has also been with ’80s rockers Winger on and off since the early ’90s.
This past Saturday evening’s performances featured tracks from every era in the band’s history, as they opened their first set with “Jane” before going into one of their first number-one hits, “Sara.” They followed this up with the massive hit “Nothing’s Gonna Stop Us,” famously known for its use in the 1987 film Mannequin. After that, the band dug even deeper with “White Rabbit,” “Miracles,” “Count on Me,” and “Somebody to Love,” before ending things on an epic high note with the criminally underrated anthem, “We Built This City.”
During the band’s second set, my son Jacob and I sneaked off in the park to try the new Test Track ride, but were back in time to catch the third set of the evening after sunset, which was somewhat changed up from their first. This time around, the guys (and girl) surprisingly started out with “We Built This City,” but again followed with the one-two power ballad punch of “Sara” and “Nothing’s Gonna Stop Us.”
They wasted no time again to run through the Jefferson Airplane staples “White Rabbit” and “Somebody to Love,” before closing with “Rock Music,” which found Thomas belting out a line from Led Zepplin’s “Whole Lotta Love” during its climax. It was a great ending to an already great evening filled with timeless classics. I pity the closed-minded who look down on bands like Starship, they truly don’t know the good time they’re missing out on.
Earlier this month, Epcot kicked off it’s annual Garden Rocks concert series, which hosts a number of different artists spanning the course of numerous decades. This past weekend featured The Orchestra Starring Former Members of ELO, which not only features members from ’70s and ’80s prog rock outfit Electric Light Orchestra and ELO Part II as their name would suggest, but it should also be noted that former Styx guitarist/bassist Glen Burtnik is a part of the lineup as well. This past Sunday, March 27, Rewind It Magazine was able to make it out to catch one of the band’s many sets over their four day period here.
No doubt that some purists out there will likely scream there’s no ELO without Jeff Lynne leading it, but I’ve always been of the mindset that I’d rather have someone still performing the songs live, rather than no one at all. And after a full day of family fun spent at place like Epcot, what better high note is there to end on then to listen to some classic prog rock?
The band first took stage on this beautiful Florida day at 5:30pm, opening with the massive hit “Evil Woman.” More fan favorites in the form of “Sweet Talkin’ Woman,” “Hold on Tight,” “Can’t Get It Out of My Head,” and “Above the Clouds.” But nothing quite compared to the one-two punch they ended with of “Mr. Blue Sky” and “Don’t Bring Me Down,” at which point the band had the entire crowd standing on their feet.
As much as I wanted to stick around for their next set to see if they played my personal favorite (“Turn to Stone”) or not, we had other places to hit on our agenda before we left the park for the day. But as luck would have it, we had circled almost completely back around by the end of their second set to hear them performing just enough of said song. It was the perfect ending to an already memorable day, one I hope you can experience for yourself someday as well (the band will also be performing one last round of sets at Epcot tonight).
For some reason I was initially hesitant to brave the Bike Week crowds and catch Jackyl at Destination Daytona for a second year in a row (‘How different could it possibly be this time?,’ I originally thought). But I was glad I ignored those early instincts and had my wife/photographer grab her gear and get ready to cover them again for Rewind It Magazine this past Saturday, March 12. It was all the more special having our teenage son, as well as a friend of the family, with us to experience it this time around (not to mention running into some familiar friendly faces while there as well).
Maybe it was the surprisingly cold weather that night, but for some reason the vibe was much more laid back this time around. This was apparent when the Georgia-based openers and neighbors to Jackyl, The Angie Lynn Carter Band, took the stage. The six piece group had a definite Fleetwood Mac feel to them (and even covered one of their songs, “Dreams”). Other standouts were covers of The Allman Brothers’ “Midnight Rider,” and originals like “Rumors.” But to be completely honest, although the band was tremendously talented, I’ve never been much of a fan of that era/genre of rock, and was more than ready for some Jackyl by the time their set was finished.
Right at the nine o’clock hour, Jesse James Dupree and company took the stage to rock yet another Bike Week audience. Starting off with a virtual repeat of last year’s set, the band opened with a trio of heavy hitters in the form of “Blast Off,” “My Moonshine Kicks Your Cocaine’s Ass,” and “Mental Masturbation,” before debuting a brand new song for the first time, which for the life of me, I can’t remember the title of.
It wasn’t long before the guys got back down to business with more classics in the form of “Screwdriver,” “Down on Me,” “Back off Brother,” “Push Comes to Shove,” and one of my personal favorites, the blues-ly ballad “Secret of the Bottle,” which was omitted from their set last year. Afterwards, the band once again brought out a Harley and several contestants on stage, with yet another Wisconsin-based rider taking home the prize (if memory serves me right, I think the winner’s name was Tim?).
Once that business was settled, it was back to business for the band, with an array of hits that included “I Stand Alone,” “Dirty Little Mind,” “When Will it Rain,” and “Redneck Punk,” before finally closing things out with “The Lumberjack,” complete with Dupree’s chainsaw solo and onstage carnage of a bar stool, which he once again set on fire before promptly smashing on stage. This was capped off by yet another blast from his custom shotgun microphone stand. It was another epic conclusion to yet another great time hosted by Jackyl – an event truly worth witnessing firsthand if you haven’t yet had the pleasure.
Some bands and musicians I will never tire of no matter how old I get; Iron Maiden is one of those bands. Each and every time I revisit their catalog, I’m instantly transported back to being that fifteen year old kid, still trying in earnest to figure out any and every Steve Harris bassline I could in my old bedroom. And when I finally saw the band live in 2011 after years of admiration, I must have had the most visibly dopey smile around that night as I sat in the audience in complete awe.
So it didn’t take much to get me through the door at The Plaza Live for frontman Bruce Dickinson’s Orlando stop on his new spoken word tour, which just kicked off this week here in Florida. While worlds away from a Maiden or even solo performance, the charismatic singer spent the evening going through both his professional and personal life experiences with enough energy and one-liners to rival just about any stand up comedian.
Beginning with his early life and leading up to his joining bands like Shots and Samson during his college years, he eventually lead up to his induction into Iron Maiden and many of the adventures that naturally came with it, using slides along the way like a professor teaching his course. Of course he also discussed his career as an airline pilot and battle with cancer as well. But don’t expect to hear much singing at these shows; aside from brief a cappella lines from “Run to the Hills” and The Beatles’ “Let It Be” weaved within his storytelling, there was not a whole lot of it to be found.
After a brief intermission, where the video for the latest Maiden single, “The Writing on the Wall,” was displayed, Dickinson returned to answer questions from fans who turned in handwritten cards handed out before the show. This lead to some of the night’s most comical moments, with one particular, KISS vs. Slade inquiry posed from a Liverpool fan being one of the highlights.
I could see this perhaps not going over too well for a mere casual observer. But for a die hard fan, it was just the right amount of history (although I must confess, I was already familiar with many of his stories, having already read his autobiography). Dickinson has no doubt lead a fascinating life, and if you’re able to go in with an open mind, you might just be glad you did.