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and not only had the Blackhearts lineup changed since then (most notably former Billy Idol drummer Thommy Price had been replaced by Bouncing Souls drummer Michael McDermott), but so had her set list, which was apparent when she went into “Light of Day” next from the 1987 film of the same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: 35 Years Since the Ultimate Heavy Metal Horror Film ‘Trick or Treat’ By Jesse Striewski

Loud heavy metal guitars shooting lightning. Backwards subliminal messaging. And humpty dumpty exploding from a second story rafter. These are just a few of the things one gets from 1986’s Trick or Treat, the ultimate outcast horror film, and quite possibly, the best of its kind.

Directed by Charles Martin Smith and originally released on October 24 of that same year, it followed teenage rebel Eddie “Ragman” Weinbauer (played by Marc Price of Family Ties fame), a high school metalhead fed up with his jock bullies (lead by Doug Savant). When his rock n’ roll idol Sammi Curr (played by the late Tony Fields) dies unexpectedly, his world is thrown through a loop.

But thanks to a local DJ named Nuke (played brilliantly by KISS bassist Gene Simmons in his best Wolfman Jack impression), he’s given the last known recording by Curr. Upon playing the record backwards, he soon finds he has the power to communicate with – and even bring back from the dead – Curr. At first Curr aids Ragman in standing up to his tormentors, only to regret it when things quickly become deadly.

Ragman is then tasked with stopping Curr’s destructive path, and sets out to do just that with the help of some friends; the nerdy best friend Roger (Glen Morgan), and the lovely young maiden he has a crush on, Leslie (Lisa Orgolini). This eventually leads to a huge showdown at the high school Halloween dance, and the ensuing carnage make for some of the film’s best moments.

Hands down the music is one of standouts of the entire film. Rock supergroup Fastway, which originally featured ex-Motorhead and UFO members ‘Fast’ Eddie Clarke and Pete Way, respectively (as well as future Flogging Molly frontman Dave King) provided the soundtrack that acts as Curr’s music, and composer Christopher Young adds an extra eerie layer with his score (special effects wizard Kevin Yagher also cameos at the high school dance as one of the band members). And aside from Simmons’ previously mentioned cameo, there’s even a brief appearance by the one and only Ozzy Osbourne as a televangelist. I’ve been lucky enough to personally see Simmons, Osbourne, and even King all perform in concert since the film’s release (see photo below).

I can vividly recall watching Trick or Treat for the first time at one of those middle or high school sleepovers where someone brought a VHS copy they rented at the local video store. Not too far off from the character of Ragman myself at the time, I was easily able to relate to the film’s material, and have been a lifelong fan ever since. So if you’re staying in this Halloween and looking for something festive to watch that perhaps you haven’t seen before, fire up the old VCR, and get ready to Trick or Treat!

Gene Simmons (who appeared in the film as “Nuke”) performing on stage with KISS in Tampa, FL on 7/28/12 (photo courtesy of author’s personal collection).

Retrospective: 20 Years Since Mark Wahlberg Became a ‘Rock Star’ By Jesse Striewski

Few fictional ‘rock’ flicks have ever perfectly captured the essence of sex, drugs, and rock and roll as well as 2001’s Rock Star. Tagged with the line “The story of the wanna be, who got to be,” its source inspiration was drawn from the real life fairy tale of Tim “Ripper” Owens, who landed the dream job as frontman for heavy metal legends Judas Priest after being discovered singing the band’s material in a cover band.

Directed by Stephen Herek, the film uses this idea to tell the story of Chris “Izzy” Cole (Mark Wahlberg), who goes from singer for a Steel Dragon cover act, to the real deal almost overnight. He instantly feels all of the highs and lows going from obscurity to the big leagues, with many of his personal relationships ultimately straining as a result, including his romance with girlfriend/manager Emily Poule (Jennifer Aniston).

Having previous experience as lead singer for Marky Mark and the Funky Bunch, Wahlberg pulls off playing Cole like a pro. He’s surrounded by more ‘real life’ musicians throughout the film, with guitarist Zakk Wylde (Ozzy Osbourne/Black Label Society), bassist Jeff Pilson (Dokken), and drummer Jason Bonham (Led Zeppelin) making up the rest of the lineup of the fictional Steel Dragon.

The author (left) with former Judas Priest singer Tim “Ripper” Owens in 2019. Owens inspired the plot of Rock Star.

Outside of Steel Dragon, there’s use of many other notable musicians in the film; Slaughter drummer Blas Elias, Alter Bridge frontman Myles Kennedy, and even one time L.A. Guns/future Steel Panther lead singer Ralph Saenz (a.k.a. Michael Star – see photo below) all pop up at one point or another. There’s even an homage of sorts to the 1984 classic This is Spinal Tap, when the band is seen photographed on the same rooftop featured in said film.

Aside from featuring many original songs by the likes of KISS, Motley Crue, and Def Leppard (among many others) throughout, it also contains a number of covers re-imagined as Steel Dragon originals, such as the Steelheart track “We All Die Young.” And while the other members of the fictional outfit perform on these songs, oddly, Wahlberg does not sing on them. Instead the vocal duties are handled by Steelheart vocalist Miljenko Matijevic, and one-time Journey singer Jeff Scott Soto.

Making under $20 million on a $50-plus million dollar budget, Rock Star fell short of making the impression filmmakers had hoped it would; this could likely be attributed to the fact it was released just days before the September 11 terrorist attacks. Still, the film has since maintained a life of its own among fans, and remains a go-to, rags-to-riches rock journey to this day.

Steel Panther performing live in 2013; vocalist Michael Star makes a brief appearance in the film (photo courtesy of the author’s personal collection).

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: Zakk Sabbath – Vertigo (Magnetic Eye Records)

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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

Album Review: Ozzy Osbourne – Ordinary Man (Epic Records)

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By: Jesse Striewski

It may have taken him some time, but the Godfather of Metal himself, Ozzy Osbourne, has finally unleashed his twelfth studio album. To say it was worth the wait would be an understatement.

It was apparent last November when the world received first listen to the album via the cryptic “Under the Graveyard,” that old Ozzy had put something truly special together here. Granted, most of the singles released since haven’t been as impressive; “Straight to Hell” is somewhat generic, the ballad “Ordinary Man” (featuring Elton John) a tad predictable, and “It’s a Raid” (with Post Malone) somewhat of a strain itself.

But it’s the non-single tracks that pack the heaviest punches (isn’t that usually the way though?) – “Scary Little Green Men,” “All My Life,” and “Holy For Tonight” all echo the epic levels of forgotten classics in Ozzy’s catalog such as “Devil’s Daughter (Holy Wars)” or “No Bone Movies.”

Although longtime guitarist Zakk Wylde might be missing in action here, there’s plenty of other rock icons that more than make up for his absence; Chad Smith of the Red Hot Chili Peppers and Duff McKagan and Slash of Guns N’ Roses (among others) all make appearances throughout.

I don’t mean to get too sappy, but for as long as I can remember, Ozzy has been there almost like a second father of sorts to me; the first riff I ever learned to play on bass was “Crazy Train,” and the second concert I ever attended was Ozzy, both doing a solo set, and performing with a reformed Black Sabbath, in 1997. I can’t remember a time when his music was not deeply ingrained in my mind, and I’m glad he’s still making music comparable to his most classic of material.

Rating: 4/5 Stars

Interview with Last in Line Bassist Phil Soussan By Jesse Striewski

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You’ve seen him onstage with such rock giants as Ozzy Osbourne and Billy Idol. Now, legendary bassist Phil Soussan has stepped in the shoes for the late Jimmy Bain (R.I.P.) in Last in Line – the band made up of former Dio bandmates that originally included Bain, guitarist Vivian Campbell, drummer Vinnie Appice, and newcomer Andrew Freeman on vocals.

Last week, the band dropped their second studio album (and first with Soussan on board) simply titled II. Just days before its release I was able to speak with the ever-so-gracious Soussan over the phone about the new album, as well as taking over for the previously-mentioned Bain shortly after the band’s first album, which he says; “Well, I never really considered myself ‘taking over’ for Jimmy when I came in. It just seemed like the right thing to do for him, to at least perform that album, because he worked really hard on it, and I know it meant a lot to him. Jimmy was also a friend of mine that I knew for a very long time. We were all counterparts in our respective bands, cut from the same cloth. So I felt privileged to be able to get out there and honor him by playing those songs and bringing them to the fans. That was something I could do for my friend.”

Knowing Soussan is no stranger to songwriting himself (perhaps his best known writing credit is co-composing Ozzy’s 1986 hit “Shot in the Dark”), I inquired how the songwriting for II went, which he explained; “We wrote songs in what’s considered today to be a very unconventional way…together (Laughs). These days everybody has their own studio next to their coffee machines, but we did it collectively, as a unit. All of the songs were written equally between the four of us, which is why there’s no individual songwriting credits, and that’s how things really should be done.”

I also asked him how the new material has been going over so far live, to which he says; “Well, when you have bands together that have been established over many years (I like to call them “heritage bands”), a lot of the time you do have people that go to their shows just to hear the hits that they’ve grown to love, and the band doesn’t really get a fair crack at the whip when it comes to new material. Usually when the band says, ‘here’s a new song,’ everybody heads to the bathroom. But in our case, we’ve been very fortunate that the fans have wanted to hear new material, and we don’t take that lightly or for granted at all, and it’s probably the reason we’re still doing what we’re doing.”

He goes on to elaborate, “I’ve done a lot of records, and by the time you’re finished recording one, the last thing you wanna do is listen to it again. But every time I listen to this one, I hear something new I rediscover, and for that reason I have an element of confidence in it, and hopefully I’m right (Laughs)!”

Aside from music, Soussan, has also tried his hand at cooking over the years, having even owned his own restaurant in the past. I asked how he got involved with local Central, FL rocker Kenny Wilkerson’s upcoming cookbook “Rockin’ Recipes for Autism,” and he says; “Ken had basically contacted me asking if I would be interested in submitting something. I thought it was for a great cause, and cooking is something that is very near and dear to me, so it was something I jumped on right away.”

Unfortunately there are no Florida dates for Last in Line at the time of this writing, though those in other parts of the world will have a chance to catch the band in the very near future. Soussan informs me, “We’re very excited to have just gotten announced on the Download Festival in Britain this June. Vivian’s going to be doing double-duty that day, headlining with Def Leppard. The last time I played there was in 1986 (when it was still known as “Monsters of Rock) when Ozzy headlined, and the band opening for us at the time was Def Leppard, so it’s funny how life kinda flip things around on you sometimes!”