Def Leppard, Motley Crue, Poison, and Joan Jett and The Blackhearts at Camping World Stadium in Orlando, FL on 6/19/22 By Jesse Striewski/Photos By Brooke Striewski

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and not only had the Blackhearts lineup changed since then (most notably former Billy Idol drummer Thommy Price had been replaced by Bouncing Souls drummer Michael McDermott), but so had her set list, which was apparent when she went into “Light of Day” next from the 1987 film of the same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 and Geeks.

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.

Retrospective: 30 Years Since we first entered ‘Wayne’s World’ By Jesse Striewski

Before Saturday Night Live became the embarrassing mess of mean-spirited, nasty nonsense that it unfortunately has, it actually gave us some great moments and memorable characters in TV history. In the ’70s the likes of the Coneheads stood out, while Eddie Murphy dominated the early part of the ’80s with multiple personas, including Gumby, Buckwheat, and Mr. Robinson.

But by the late ’80s, we were introduced to two guys who “rocked” out in a basement while filming a public access show, Wayne and Garth, potrayed wonderfully by castmates Mike Myers and Dana Carvey. The original Wayne’s World skit officially premired on February 18, 1989, ushering in a new era of pop culture phenomion. Shortly after, I began discovering many of the bands (Guns N’ Roses, Aerosmith, etc…) the duo would reference on their “show” on my own personal journey, so it made perfect sense for me to fall for these two lovable dimwits.

It didn’t take long for Producer Lorne Michaels and co. to cash in on their newfound hit skit, and by 1991, a film version for Paramount Pictures was green lit. Veteran rock director Penelope Spheeris, who at the time was best known for her Decline of Western Civilization films, was tapped to direct.

Released on February 14, 1992, Wayne’s World was an instant hit, eventually going on to gross over $180 million at the box office. Aside from Myers and Carvey, it also starred Tia Carre as Wayne’s sexy love interest, Cassandra, and ’80s brat packer Rob Lowe as sleazy television producer Benjamin, hell-bent on exploiting the show and stealing the girl all at once.

Wayne’s World was a one-of-a-kind ride like few others that came before it, with the two heroes stumbling upon a host of colorful characters along the way, with bit parts played by everyone from Meat Loaf, Ed O’Neill, Chris Farley, to even Alice Cooper himself (I couldn’t help but think of the film when I saw Cooper perform “Feed My Frankenstein” for the first time years later in 2005).

Aside from Cooper, it’s soundtrack also boosted many others who weren’t necessarily considered “in” by 1992’s standards, including Black Sabbath and Cinderella, as well as giving Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody” it’s highest ever chart position sixteen years after it’s original release (shortly before his death that same year, late Queen frontman Freddie Mercury actually gave his blessing for the song to be used in the film, reportedly loving the head-banging car scene it was used in).

I myself was not able to see the film during its original run in the cinemas; just two months after it hit theaters, I was involved in a car accident that would ultimately change my life forever and leaving me permanently disabled. But during the many months I spent recovering in the hospital, I watched the film for the first time with a fellow long-term patient shortly after it came out on video.

However, I was finally able to catch Wayne and Garth on the big screen the following year when Wayne’s World 2 was released in December of 1993. Although lacking some of the charm of the original (and the direction of Spheeris, who Myers reportedly butted heads with during production of the first film), the sequel did have some of its own memorable moments, including some stand out performances from the likes of Christoper Walken, Kim Basinger, and Oliva d’Abo, among others.

Still, even with all of its flaws, I will gladly take Wayne’s World 2 over ninety-nine percent of what passes as “comedy” these days. When the Wayne’s World films were released, there was still a sort of innocence that’s just been lost today; so much of what comes out now is either hollow, or contains a level of ugliness fueled by some need to push an agenda and/or criticize in the name of “social justice.” Society is indeed headed down an unfortunate path, and should really take a cue from Wayne and Garth, and just be “excellent” to each other again.

Book Review: Rainbow in the Dark: The Autobiography By Ronnie James Dio with Mick Wall and Wendy Dio (Permuted Press)

By: Jesse Striewski

Although I’ve seen two of the bands he fronted during his lifetime (Black Sabbath and Dio Disciples, a group made up mainly of former members of the Dio band), and have been lucky enough to even meet his former wife/manager Wendy Dio, I regrettably never had the chance to catch the incomparable Ronnie James Dio while he was still with us on this Earth.

This long overdue, posthumous autobiography, Rainbow in the Dark, describes the first half of the life of one of rock’s greatest warriors with amazing detail. From forming the foundations of early groups like Elf and Rainbow, to reaching epic proportions with Sabbath and Dio, it’s a fascinating look into the life of one of rock’s last true class acts.

Wendy Dio also helps add some personal insight along the way as well; whether discussing tumultuous break ups with former bandmates and business partners such as Ritchie Blackmore and Tony Iommi, or the invention of the “devil horns” in those early Sabbath days, everything is covered perfectly. The only downfall? Unfortunately the story ends (as it also begins) in 1986, with Dio rising to the heights of headlining Madison Square Garden. Although it does make for a perfect ending story wise, it does leave more to desire. One can only hope there is more material out there for a part two, and the gap is eventually bridged.

Rating: 4/5 Stars

Little Ozzy at Oasis on the River in Sanford, FL on 6/12/21 By Jesse Striewski/Photos By Brooke Striewski

I’ll be completely blunt here; when it comes to tribute and/or cover bands, I can sometimes border on the “snob-ish” side (my attitude has always been, ‘why would I want to see imitators, if I’ve already seen the original?’). But when it’s done right, a tribute/cover act can sometimes come close to being as fun as the real thing. Such was the case with 4’10 singer Lin Doak, otherwise known to the world as Little Ozzy, who along with his band, rocked Oasis on the River in Sanford this past Saturday, June 12.

Over the course of just a few years, Little Ozzy has climbed his way to the top as one of the world’s leading Ozzy Osbourne tribute acts, even appearing on such multiple TV shows including America’s Got Talent and Ozzy and Jack’s World Detour. And while I have already seen the actual Prince of Darkness himself before, both solo and with Black Sabbath (in 1997 and 2004, respectively), I knew there was something special enough about Little Ozzy to get me to put my usual reservations towards tribute bands aside for one night.

My gut instincts quickly proved right, as the band – which also consists of guitarist Johnny Lawrence, bassist Aaron Rowe, and drummer Draven Blaq – took the stage just after 9:00pm, opening with a one-two punch of “I Don’t Know” and “Crazy Train” (really the only appropriate way to introduce a set of Ozzy classics at this point). Adding to the overall decadence of the evening was the atmosphere of the venue Oasis itself; with a pool filled with bathing beauties directly in front of the stage, there was plenty for the eyes to behold.

I was pleasantly surprised when the band followed up with a bit of a deep cut in the form of “Believer,” before segueing into a number of Sabbath staples that included “Iron Man,” “Children of the Grave” (one of my personal favorites), and “Sweet Leaf.” Solos from Blaq and Lawrence sandwiched more hits like “Mama I’m Coming Home,” “War Pigs,” and “Suicide Solution,” before Little Ozzy told a brief story of meeting late Ozzy guitarist Randy Rhoads’ brother, Kelly.

The band then slowed things down a bit for a spot-on version of “Goodbye to Romance” (always a favorite), before finally calling it a night with epic renditions of “Mr. Crowley,” “Shot in the Dark,” and “Fairies Wear Boots.” Although their set was nearly flawless, I found it odd that mega hit “Bark at the Moon” was omitted from the set, and I would personally love to hear more forgotten tracks like “Breaking All the Rules” included as well (but that’s just me).

Still, there really wasn’t all that much to complain about Saturday night’s show. So the next time Little Ozzy comes through your town, be sure to catch him and his band if you can; it’s sure to put an Ozzy-size smile on your face!

Album Review: Dio – Holy Diver: Live (BMG)

By: Jesse Striewski

Ronnie James Dio might be gone, but the music he left behind across multiple decades and via numerous staple bands (including Black Sabbath and Rainbow) will forever live on. This latest reissue of a 2008 Dio show is a perfect example of just that, showcasing the immense talents of one of the greatest frontmen in rock to ever step up to the microphone.

Originally recorded live at London Astoria, this collection contains not only all nine tracks from the original 1983 masterpiece album of the same name (as it’s title suggests), but a number of other essential cuts from throughout Dio’s career. Classic’s like Sabbath’s “Heaven and Hell” and Rainbow’s “Man on the Silver Mountain” help make up this seventeen track collection. And even the physical editions come with some cool perks, including an album-sized, 3D lenticular art piece with the vinyl version.

There’s even another Dio reissue being released in tandem with this one, Evil or Divine: Live in New York City, but Holy Diver: Live is definitely the strongest of the two. But if you’re even half the Dio fan I am, you should be able to appreciate either of these collections.

Rating: 4.5/5 Stars

Book Review: Confess: The Autobiography By Rob Halford with Ian Gittins (Hachette Books)

By: Jesse Striewski

The metal god himself, Rob Halford, leaves no stone unturned in this tell-all memoir, detailing his life as frontman for one of the biggest heavy metal bands on the planet, Judas Priest. And with Christmas just around the corner, it’s the perfect stocking-stuffer for your favorite headbanger.

From his bleak upbringing in post-war England, struggling with his own sexualty, to joining Priest in the early ’70s (and everything in between), Halford bares it all from start to finish (it’s not called Confess for nothing!). Fans should no doubt delight in many a story here (the early Priest stories are by far the most captivating).

When I saw Priest on the same bill as a re-united Black Sabbath back in 2004, I knew I was witnessing something truly special. These are the guys who laid the groundwork for heavy metal (still the best music genre ever created, for my money), and their tales deserve to be heard. Do yourself a favor, and take the trip down memory lane with Halford.

Rating: 4.5/5 Stars

Album Review: Zakk Sabbath – Vertigo (Magnetic Eye Records)

Zakk Sabbath - Edited (1)

By: Jesse Striewski

I tend to usually shy away from tribute/cover albums (always found them a tad too on the ‘gimmicky’ side), but this track-by-track rendition of Black Sabbath’s masterpiece 1970 debut album arranged by Zakk Wylde and company was way too irresistible to pass up.

Backed by former Ozzy Osbourne/Rob Zombie bassist Blasko and ex-Danzig drummer Joey Castillo, Wylde does justice (both vocally as well as musically) to not only classics like “N.I.B.” and the title track, but equally brilliant (yet sometimes overlooked) numbers such as “Wicked World,” “Behind the Wall of Sleep,” and “Sleeping Village,” all of which are a welcome trip back through time.

What’s also interesting is that instead of releasing Vertigo digitally, the band is only offering physical copies in an effort to bring back a more ‘authentic’ feel to the entire rock experience. Fifty years since it’s original release, Black Sabbath is still just as timeless as ever, and this new addition serves as one more reminder of it’s enduring legacy.

Rating: 4/5 Stars

Dio Returns at The Plaza Live in Orlando, FL on 6/1/19 By Jesse Striewski/Photos By Brooke Striewski

Dio20

Ever since the Dio Returns tour had first been announced there’s been an abundance of backlash from some fans calling it a ‘cash grab’ (I’d almost guarantee most of those complaining are the same people who went to see Bohemian Rhapsody when it came out last year, too). You can write tours like this off as such (it should also be noted that some of the profits from the tour are allegedly going towards the Ronnie James Dio Stand Up and Shout Cancer Fund), or you can look at them the way I do; tributes meant to keep the memories alive of legends who rightfully deserve it. Ronnie James Dio was one such icon who I grew up admiring dearly, and unfortunately I was never able to see him perform live before his passing in 2010. The Dio Returns tour gives all those who never saw him the chance to finally experience his music live (and the last time I can remember looking forward to a tour as much as this much was probably when I caught the original lineup of one of Ronnie’s former bands, Black Sabbath, back in 2004).

Essentially, the band itself is one of two current versions of the Dio band that has been going for nearly ten years now (the other being Last in Line, with Vivian Campbell and Vinnie Appice at the helm) called Dio Disciples. This version of the band (which features Dio alumni Craig Goldy, Simon Wright, and Scott Warren) has been performing for years with multiple singers in place of Ronnie, including ex-Judas Priest/Iced Earth vocalist Tim “Ripper” Owens, and former Lynch Mob singer Oni Logan, who were both there trading off vocal duties (along with live recordings of Ronnie when his hologram was present) when the band came through The Plaza Live in Orlando this past Saturday, June 1.

Jizzy Pearl’s current incarnation of Love/Hate opened the show, and I was actually looking forward to finally catching Pearl live as well after interviewing him for Rewind It Magazine just last year (I found it strange however that none of the material from Pearl’s recent album that I interviewed him for made it into the set list).  At this point, the club was still fairly empty, and the band received only a modest response. But still, they played with all their might on tracks like “Straightjacket,” “Tumbleweed,” “Spinning Wheel,” “Fuel to Run,” “Mary Jane,” and “Wasted in America.” A seemingly set up (and awkward) moment found the band being told to leave the stage before declaring they were doing one more song, which ended up being “Blackout in the Red Room.”

After Pearl’s set, there was a sort of calm before the storm as the crowd sat anxiously to finally see what awaited them (this was only the second night of the tour, after all). It was quickly revealed as Ronnie’s hologram made its introduction by way of “King of Rock and Roll.” From there, it was one amazing moment after another from beginning to end.

A pair of Sabbath-era classics in the form of “Mob Rules” and “Children of the Sea,” sung by Owens and Logan, respectively, followed before Ronnie’s image made its way on the screen again for the classic Dio tracks “The Last in Line” and “Holy Diver.” After Owens belted out one more Dio classic (“Stand Up and Shout”), the stage was cleared for a drum solo by Wright, which was a tribute of sorts to Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture.

A tagged-team rendition of “Don’t Talk to Strangers” by Owens and Logan followed  before more Dio/Rainbow classics began making their way into the set, including “Rainbow in the Dark,” “Egypt (The Chains Are On),” “Gates of Babylon,” and “Invisible” (another duel effort from Owens and Logan). Goldy then treated the crowd to a guitar solo before a couple more Rainbow tracks (“Catch the Rainbow” and “Stargazer”) preceded an unforgettable version of Sabbath’s “Heaven and Hell” (which briefly segued into the classic “Man on the Silver Mountain”).

Owens and Logan then took the stage along with Ronnie’s hologram to close out the night on an epic note with “We Rock,” and finally (after a short reprieve) “Neon Knights.” The only thing I might have changed (other than include tracks like “Time to Burn” or anything off the Sacred Heart album in place of some of the other chosen tracks in the set, but that’s just my own personal taste!) would have been to market the tour itself a bit differently; even though the hologram does indeed play a prominent role, there’s so much more to the entire show than just that. Still, every person in attendance that night seemed to be in agreement of just how well-executed this show truly was.

After the show itself, my wife/photographer and I were extremely lucky to be invited backstage, where we were able to briefly meet and talk to every member of the band, as well as Dio’s own former wife, Wendy. It was apparent that this tour was a collective labor of love from all those involved, and the feelings resonating backstage were that of celebration, and triumph. And as far as all the closed-minded critics of the tour go, to quote Aesop; “The ignorant despise what is precious only because they cannot understand it.” I think if Ronnie were still here today, he would fully approve of what is being presented on stage in his honor right now.

Dio6