FIREHOUSE – LITA FORD – WARRANT – DOKKEN – BRET MICHAELS
MID-AMERICA CENTER, COUNCIL BLUFFS, IA – 3/31/18
“You've got to see the show, it's a dynamo. You've got to see the show,
it's rock and roll” - Emerson, Lake & Palmer
When Emerson Lake & Palmer wrote Karn Evil 9 and referenced a “show” this damn well may have been the show they were thinking of. Unless you’re at some huge two day out-door festival it’s not often you will see bands of this caliber on the same stage on the same night. Firehouse, Lita Ford, Warrant, Dokken and Bret Michaels collectively took the energy at the Mid-America Center
in Council Bluffs, IA to levels that will hard to duplicate. March 31st, 2018 will be a day that many of the people in attendance will look back on and proudly acclaim -- “Hell yeah man, I was at that show!!”
C.J. Snare (vocals), Bill Leverty (Guitar), Michael Foster (Drums) & Allen McKenzie (Bass) make up the band FireHouse. Twenty-seven years this band has been around and excpet for McKenzie, who joined in 2004, they’ve kept the same line-up. Now you tell me, If you do something nearly everyday for twenty-seven years, wouldn’t you be great at it? (get your mind out of the gutters). No different for these fellas, but great doesn’t quite cover it. Let’s see if I can do better… amazing? Nah, maybe fabulous? Nope..how bout excellent…No wait I got it. They are FXXing GREAT!!! Hmm how about that, I didn’t need to change the actual word, just needed to add an adjective. You simply could not ask an opening band to do more than these guys did. The crowd was loving everything that the band gave us. Foster was flipping and tossing sticks in air like he’s been doing it for twenty-seven
years. Oh wait, yeah. HE HAS!!!. It was incredible how magnificent Snare sounded. His voice was phenomenal. Leverty is as polished a guitar player as you’ll see and even the ”new” guy McKenzie likes to sneak in some bass lines from his old prog rock days. When they left the stage, they left to a very thankful audience who were now properly prepared for the rest of evening’s entertainment.
OVERNIGHT SENSATION – SHAKE AND TUMBLE – ALL SHE WROTE – LOVE OF A LIFETIME –
REACH FOR THE SKY – DON’T TREAT ME BAD
She’s been called the Queen of Metal and I’m sure possibly a few other things during her illustrious career, but I’ll bet you she doesn’t care one iota. Some people are born to do certain things. Lita Ford was born to be on stage and to share the stage with her, she brought some incredibly talented musicians. Marty O’Brien on bass (I honestly don’t think this guy stopped moving all night), Patrick Kennison on guitar (his backing vocals were right on point), and drummer Bobby Rock (A Berklee College of Music alum). Lita has a presence about her that makes you follow her as she moves about the stage and when she talks, you feel like she is talking with you, not at you. After "Cherry Bomb," Lita told us about her mother’s passing, then presented a tribute to her with "Lisa / Only Women Bleed." It was a touching and moving moment. Next song was "Close My Eyes Forever." Kennison took the Ozzy parts on this, and he was perfection. The show closed with "Kiss Me Deadly." It was raw rock and roll and Lita's voice sounded strong. In the end, the band waved and walked off to the sounds of cheering and chanting fans.
GOTTA LET GO – LARGER THAN LIFE – CHERRY BOMB – LISA / ONLY WOMEN BLEED –
CLOSE MY EYES FOREVER – KISS ME DEADLY
So far, we’ve seen FireHouse and Lita Ford and so far, the concert has been amazing. Yet, we were all in the mood for something “Louder, Harder, Faster”. Right on cue out came Warrant. It was obvious from the moment they hit the stage that this band was here to have fun. Their music blasted through the sound-system like a runaway train. Every strum, pluck and hit was done with aggression and lead vocalist Robert Mason, was running all over the place. Up the cat-walk, down the cat-walk, stage left and stage right. They truly were "Louder, Harder, Faster." Guitarist Joey Allen was exceptional on lead as was Erik Turner on rhythm and Jerry Dixon on bass. Steve Sweet was killer on drums and his kit was stunning. The energy from the band washed over the crowd and you couldn’t help wanting to return this energy. During the entire set it was give and take. They were so engaged with crowd that just before the song "Heaven," we were instructed to take out our smart-phones and hit record and sing along. Mason, left the stage for a moment and came back with a bottle of Patron, chatted a bit with the audience then took a big swig. To top it off it was Turner's birthday and we all got to wish him a happy birthday. He and Allen were trading off licks all night and both were featured several times. Warrant is the definition of a hair band. Ballads, anthems, and middle finger rock and roll. This is a very solid band and Mason fits right in and with all due respect to Jani Lane, he can legitimately be called the lead singer of Warrant.
32 PENNIES – DOWN BOYS – D.R.F.S.R. – BED OF ROSES – LOUDER HARDER FASTER –
HEAVEN – UNCLE TOM’S CABIN – CHERRY PIE
Don Dokken (vocals) and Mick Brown (drums) may be the only two original members of Dokken but lead guitarist Jon Levin has been praised for his style of play which was influenced by former Dokken lead George Lynch and bassist Chris McCarvills energy and technique are unrivaled. The band came to stage and got in their positions and started playing. About thirty seconds later their leader Don Dokken hit the stage like he freakin’ owned it. For the next hour this was going to be his stage. He was in complete command. Dokken could have easily headlined this show as they were in great form. They overcame a minor microphone issue and treated us to some classic rock and roll. The back and forth between Don and Mick was very entertaining in itself as they were constantly cracking jokes and telling tales of days gone by. I personally really enjoyed everything that each member had to give. I especially enjoyed watching McCarvill on bass. This guy is going to be around for a very long time. Dokken has plans to continue to tour and I’m thankful for it. I would love to see them again as a headliner and performing a full set.
(Couldn’t quite get entire set, but included)
KISS OF DEATH – INTO THE FIRE – BREAKING THE CHAINS – IN MY DREAMS –
TOOTH AND NAIL
Bret Michaels and his band emerged from behind the curtains and as soon as the crowd spotted Bret, they went mad. Pete Evick (guitar), Eric Brittingham (bass), Rob Jozwiak (keys) and Mike Balley (percussion) make up the BMB band. Right from the start these fellas were having a blast, but not as much at Bret was. First song was "Talk Dirty to Me" and it was a raw and raunchy as ever. Next
was "Look What the Cat Dragged In." The band had tons of fun with this song. The third offering was a Skynyrd cover of "Sweet Home Alabama." Now as you may or may not know, as a photographer I’m lucky enough to be down front inside the photo pit. We are normally allowed to shoot the first three songs, then we must leave. I thought I’d be Mr. Smart Guy and leave in the middle of the third song and head to the back of the arena to get some longs shots. I did this and as I’m looking through my camera and down my lens I start to see all the photographers being helped on stage. Well damn if Bret didn’t call up all the photographers up on stage. He has the house lights turned up and directed them to shoot the audience. There I was way in the back taking pictures of photographers taking pictures. Wasn’t all bad though, I got one shot with all the photographers and all the band members on stage. Bret really rocked the Mid-America Center. He had everybody clapping and singing to the music. The thing about Bret that makes him so special is he is dead on genuine. He really is a nice guy and wants everybody to be happy. He believes in giving his all and giving to charity. His meet and greet this evening helped raise money to fight diabetes. A disease Bret has lived with his entire life. Bret deserves to be patted on the back for his hard work and efforts not only on stage but off it as well. He is a high-energy performer who leaves his fans yearning for more.
TALK DIRTY TO ME – LOOK WHATTHE CAT DRAGGED IN – SWEET HOME ALABAMA –
SOMETHING TO BELIEVE IN – YOUR MAMA DON’T DANCE – UNSKINNY BOP – EVERY ROSE HAS
IT’S THORN – DRUM SOLO – NOTHING BUT A GOOD TIME – ROCK AND ROLL ALL NITE