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Message From America

June - Fall 2014


Back again, after another long hiatus, but I have been busy busy and keep looking for that golden window for retirement (some day).

Let’s roll back to the Summer of 2014. Fairly quiet on the home front, but when July rolled around it was time for the Queen and Adam Lambert show (the Jesus Christ Superstar extravaganza with Johnny Loudon was canceled). It was definitely entertaining, rocking and a flash back to the past, as they played quite a bit of hits. I really would have called it the “Brian May” show as he rocked it pretty solid and to me, stole the show. Roger Taylor was great, as was his son who played with him. I would say Adam Lambert was no Freddie Mercury, but he did not try to be. Some of his “shtick” was a little much, but overall there were more good moments than not.

The hits flew out from “Fat Bottom Girls” to “Killer Queen” to “Tie Your Mother Down” to “Bohemian Rhapsody” and of course closing with “We will Rock You/We are the Champions”.

Check out the full setlist here that also links to some You Tube videos of the songs played at different venues.

The light show was good and Adam was flamboyant. Lots of tributes to Freddy Mercury, but the crowd, music and Brian May stole the show.

It was a classic line up of Queen songs, but they have so many, they could not cover them all.

The rest of the summer was fairly quiet but September rolled in Tom Petty and the Heartbreaks, with an opening act by some British bloke named Steve Winwood. So now I will digress a bit on Steve Winwood. This is only the third time I have seen him live-once at Shepherd’s Bush Empire in the late ‘90’s when Jim Capaldi also joined him on stage, once with Eric Clapton, both playing together and solo, and now this solo set. Steve always entertains, has great musicians, a great voice and a great playlist. In this set he took the audience through Spencer Davis Group, Traffic, Blind Faith and of course Steve Winwood. Great set list with everything from “Gimmie Some Lovin’”, “Can’t Find My Way Home”, “Low Spark of High Heeled Boys”, “Dear Mr. Fantasy”, “Valerie”, “Higher Love” and classic jams.

However, having not seen Tom Petty since my childhood (yes the late ‘70’s) I was ready for some of that Florida swamp rock (though he now lives in LA). Again, he did not disappoint, hit after hit was as tight as could be and Mike Campbell is one underrated guitar player for sure.

From the Byrd’s classic “So You Wanna Be a Rock and Roll Star” to the encore of “American Girl” the crowd was on their feet the whole time. Classics like “Into the Great Wide Open”, “Free Fallin’”, “Refugee”, “I Won’t Back Down”, and “Learning to Fly” were all played to perfection.

Check out the local review that says it all.

So my birthday came along, yes 21 again, and who was in Houston, but some bloke from the UK named Ringo Starr and his all Starr Orchestra. He played with a band I am sure you all remember, but this time he was with his all stars: Steve Lukather-Guitar (from Toto), Richard Page-Bass (from Mr. Mister), Gregg Rolie-Keyboard (from Santana), and Todd Rundgren. What a show with many songs back and forth between Ringo’s old band and plenty of Ringo hits (“It Don’t’ Come Easy”, “ Don’t Pass Me By”, “Yellow Submarine”, “Photograph”) as well as classics from Toto (“Rossana”, “Africa”, “Hold the Line”), Santana (“Black Magic Woman”, “Oye Como Va”), Mr Mister (“Kyrie Lyieson”, “Broken Wings”) and Tod Rungren (“I Saw the light”, “Bang the Drum all day”). From his old band he did include “ A Little Help with my Friends” and ended with a rousing “Give Peace a Chance”. Great show with a classic rock twist.

Next stop lead me back to San Antonio for the Dave Mason Traffic Jam tour. You don’t realize the Dave Mason legacy until you see this tour. Hits from Traffic, Bonnie and Delany, solo work, his work with Eric Clapton, Jimi Hendrix all played tight and neat. Again, like Steve Winwood it was a walk through rock and roll history. A few of my university buddies really wanted me to join them on the East coast of the US for the tour, but I did not make it. They raved about it so when I had a chance to see it with a buddie in a 600 seat out door venue on the river in San Antonio and I am glad I jumped at it. Classic early Traffic hits like “Pearly Queen” and “Medicated Goo” as well as “Dear Mr Fantasy”, and then others such as “Only You Know and I Know”, “We Just Disagree” and of course “Feelin’ Alright” (which everyone remembers the Joe Cocker version, but Dave actually wrote it). Encore of “All Along the Watchtower” as a gift.

So the fall closed out with The Revivalists on their Texas tour. They made a stop in Houston less than a mile from my new digs, so we had a fun pre-party and gathered a crowd to go see the boys rock Houston. They never disappoint. This show’s highlights included a few Who covers, including “My Generation”, and their encore was “Baba O’Reilly”. They really rocked it and were hitting on all cylinder’s with a classic Revivalist line-up that included one of my personal favorites. “Masquerade” and the usual “Criminal”, “Not Turn Away”, “Catching Firefly’s”, “Concrete” and “Souls to Loud”. As usual would have loved more, but ready for the next show when they come through. No signs of them hitting the UK, but we’ll keep plugging at them.

Until next time……Rock on!

Rick Menniti

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