2/19/93 – Reunion Arena, Dallas, TX
Let’s Get Rocked, Tear It Down, Women, Too Late For Love, Hysteria, Make Love Like A Man, White Lightning, Foolin’, Animal, Gods Of War, Rocket, Bringin’ On The Heartbreak, Have You Ever Needed Someone So Bad, Armageddon It, Rock Of Ages, Pour Some Sugar On Me, Love Bites, Photograph, Back in Black
Def Leppard was touring for the Adrenalize album and thankfully they didn’t have an opening band. Like their previous tours, the set stage was “In the Round”, which meant that the stage was set up in the middle of Reunion with the audience on all sides and the 4 non-drummers all had wireless mics. This was the first tour with new guitarist Vivian Campbell after Steve Clark’s death a few years before. I thought he was a good enough replacement; he has his own style and also still sounded good with the rest of the band. The above setlist isn’t exact, but it’s the general setlist from the US tour in 92/93 so that’s the best I can do. The only cover I remember was AC/DC’s Back in Black, where Joe Elliot donned a cowboy had and they started off playing a countrified version (since they were in Texas after all). I’m not sure if this was the closing song, or planted in the middle of Rock of Ages (where they do a medley of covers in the middle), but it was definitely in the encore. I was disappointed they didn’t open with Stagefright, as it’s the perfect opening song of theirs and they actually did open with it on the European leg of the tour. So, just scanning over the setlist we see that they did 5 songs off the new album, compared with 8 from Hysteria. It’s too bad they only did one old song in Bringin’ On The Heartbreak, but I guess they figured the audience wouldn’t request stuff from On Through the Night.
The guitarists both did solos, and truthfully I don’t remember them. Good job, guys! I remember paying specific attention to drummer Rick Allen (he of the one arm) to see how he played with only one arm and how good he was in general. For their tour for Hysteria, Allen had a lot of electronic triggers to make things easier. For this concert, he had a totally acoustic kit. The kit was designed a bit different than most drum kits, but everything was done by the hands and feet. His feet would trigger a bunch of drums and stuff, but it was nothing electronic. I have to say, he really impressed me. He’s a good drummer anyway, but to have to nearly re-learn the instrument is pretty crazy. He pulled off everything and it never sounded strained or difficult. If I came away with anything from this shows, it was a new appreciation for Rick Allen. As for the rest of the band, Joe Elliot was just fine, sounding like he does on the albums. Bassist Rick Savage doubled on keyboards and actually did most of the background vocals. He had one of those wireless “Madonna” microphones. His bass lines aren’t too complex, so switching over to keys was no problem. Plus he had plenty of time to go around the stage and act like a rock star. Anyway, overall I had a really good time at this show and I’m happy I got the chance to see Def Lep at least once.
8/5/1994 – Starplex Amphitheater, Dallas, TX
Ecstasy of Gold, Breadfan, Master of Puppets, Wherever I May Roam, Harvester of Sorrow, Welcome Home (Sanitarium), God That Failed, Kill/Ride Medley, For Whom the Bell Tolls, Disposable Heroes, Seek & Destroy, Kirk solo, Nothing Else Matters, Creeping Death, Fade to Black, Whiplash, National Acrobat (jam), Sad But True, One, Enter Sandman, So What!
This is an interesting show to review. Know why? Because I didn’t go! The deal: I had a ticket to this show (I was strangely going by myself) and I remember being in Austin for freshman orientation at UT and calling my guitarist Bryan. He had news for me…he got us a gig! Naturally it was on August 5th. Since I had never told him, “hey, I’m going to see Metallica on 8/5″ he had no idea that it was a bad night. So I made the split decision right then that a gig with Miniver Cheevy (which was our 3rd gig) was more important than going to a Metallica concert. So, I had this ticket to a Metallica show. I didn’t want to give or sell it to any of my friends, because I wanted them to come to *my* show. I could have just sold it to someone else (because I’m sure the concert was sold out), but I held on to the idea that since we were opening at our gig, I could head over to Starplex after it was over and all would be good with the world. Well, it didn’t happen that way.
Bryan drove us all to the gig in his “love mobile” (his parents’ old VW van with no power steering) so I didn’t have a car. But besides that, after we finished playing our drummer Dave wanted to leave with his friends and that left Bryan and I in charge of watching all of the equipment. I think the place had some strange rule that the equipment couldn’t be removed until after the headliner was done. So Bryan and I were forced to watch our equipment while I sat there thinking there was a cool Metallica show going on a few miles away and here I was being forced to sit through this horrible cover band.
The truth, though…I’m glad I played that gig, because Miniver Cheevy was (and is) still WAY more important than Metallica. It was a hard gig, because we played mostly to a bunch of SMU frat guys and gals and they had no clue what to do with a prog rock band. I thought we played really well that night though. Even if most of the crowd didn’t respond, our friends loved it and I had a great time.
Project/Object, featuring Ike Willis
7/16/02 – Cat’s Cradle, Carrboro, NC
Set I – Packard Goose Vamp & Band Intros, Easy Meat, Peaches En Regalia, Echidna’s Arf (Of You) > Don’t You Ever Wash That Thing?, Stick it Out, Brown Moses > The Evil Prince, Montana, Absolutely Free > Flower Punk, Strictly Genteel
Set II – Black Page #1 > Black Page #2 > Black Page ’77, Cruising for Burgers, Fembot in a Wet T-shirt Nite > On the Bus Vamp, Big Swifty, Apostrophe (‘), SyBorg > Keep it Greasy > Outside Now, Cheepnis, King Kong, Andy > Inca Roads
Encore – Jones Crusher
(this was sent as an email to some of my friends who couldn’t make the show)
As for former members of the Rocking Teenage Combo, only Ike Willis was there. It was initially advertised as having Napoleon Murphy Brock as well, but I guess he couldn’t make this tour. I think he was on the last two before this. But regardless, it was Ike, so that’s cool.
Ike doesn’t move around too much, has a pretty long beard (partly gray) and had to wipe the sweat from his brow about every two minutes. He had a towel on the mic stand. His voice wasn’t what it was back in ’79, or really what it was in ’88. He didn’t sing solo much during the first set, but he did for the 2nd and it sounded good enough. He’s still no Ray White though.
Ike’s a better guitar player than most people give him credit for. I mean, I don’t really think he can compete with FZ, or Vai, or Keneally, or Belew, or probably even Cucurullo (Ingber?)…but he did do some nice solos. Let’s see, he did ones in Packard Goose, On the Bus, and Outside Now. Those were his big guitar moments. The rest of the band, however, was phenomenal. They were all about our age, but they were some BAD ASS musicians. 6 of ‘em: guitarist Andre who appeared to be the leader of the group. He did most of the non-Ike vocals as well as most of the guitar solos. He was a BAD mother. The other 5 guys were guitar #2, keys, bass (new to the group) and the drummers…they switched between drum set and small electronic percussion board. All did vocals. Like I said, all exceptional musicians.
Peaches! Echidna’s/Wash was note-perfect. Well, the bit at the end of Echidna’s was significantly slower than the recorded version (at least the Stage 2 version…they could have been basing it on the Roxy version, which is slower and I haven’t bought it yet) but as for all the fun bits of …Wash they hit them perfectly. It sounded like the ’74 band playing on modern equipment. Beautiful. Oh, and the drum solo in Wash was incredible.
I was pleasantly surprised by Stick it Out. Even though they played a ton from Joe’s Garage, I was really happy they did the less popular ones. Evil Prince & Brown Moses are both from Thing Fish and are two of the better new tracks on there; both performed perfectly.
They NAILED the middle section of Montana. The whole song was amazing, but the middle section (instrumentally AND vocally) was perfect. Nice to hear the Only Money medley…the piano part before Ab Free was gorgeous. Strictly Genteel was played like the ’82 band did it. I was hoping for a possible vocal version like 200 Motels, but they just did the instrumental. Oh well, it’s still a cool song. The first set was pretty short (compared to #2) so it threw me for a loop when they started Genteel (since it was always a set closer with FZ).
I love that for set #2 they started off with the Black Page, but 3 versions in a row was too much (yeah, it’s a short song, I know). All 3 versions were perfect, but since the sound system at the club was crappy BP #1 (drum/percussion version) sounded kinda bad. Not the band’s fault, they were hitting everything just perfect. Burgers I again was hoping for the vocal version, but they went with the ZINY instrumental one. Eh, still a cool song.
Wet T-shirt Nite was a surprise. Ike sounded pretty damn good on this and it was funny as hell. Thankfully they didn’t attempt the Zappa/Dale Bozzio dialog as on the recorded version, after the “Big Wet Ones!” line Ike went straight into the On the Bus solo with the band vamping as always behind him.
Big Swifty kicked ass. Awesome. And as for Apostrophe, holy crap was it incredible! I’m kinda indifferent on the recorded version, but hearing it live made me really appreciate it. Like on the record, the bassist was louder than the rest of the band (I attribute it to Jack Bruce’s ego on the recording), but his solo was long and jaw dropping. Damn, damn good.
Syborg was another surprise…very cool to hear Ike sing “Blow-ow Jooob” in person. Greasy was solid, but I don’t think anybody can top Vinnie’s version on the record. OK, I don’t understand the attraction of Outside Now. I mean, yeah, Frank does a nice solo in it and it’s in 11 or something, but as a song it doesn’t do anything. Deathless Horsie is a better soloing song anyway. But I always hear about Ike playing this and everyone going nuts for it. Can you guys explain the attraction to it? It’s just OK to me.
Anyway, Cheepnis was cool but not as tight as Ruth Nappy and Duke did it. King Kong was the typical monster that it always was. I’m VERY happy they didn’t turn it into a reggae as FZ did back in the 80′s, they played it pretty traditional. For the improv in the middle, one of the percussionists took the ‘leader’ spot and conducted the band for a while. Much better than Ike was at that (more on Ike’s ‘conducting’ in a sec). One cool thing is that he’d point to a band member and they’d have to play some very short pop melody. It was cool as hell to see the guys play so quickly on the fly like that. But the whole song was just one long Super Jam. Maybe like 20 minutes or so? Very long, and very cool.
Then for the ending they did a perfect version of Andy (the guitars sounded great on the solo section!) and ending the set with a DEAD ON, NOTE PERFECT, ABSOLUTELY NAILED version of Inca Roads. It could not have been more perfect if it was Frank, Ruth, Chester, Nappy, Duke & Tom doing it. Andre the cool beanie guitarist played a solo that was based on the recorded (OSFA) version Frank did but he embellished a bit on it and it was perfect. But they so nailed that whole ending bit. That was the best song of the night.
And Jones Crusher for the encore was a big surprise, but a welcome one no doubt (I was hoping for Dickie’s Such an Asshole, but maybe they’ll do it next time). There were many requests all through the night for Bobby Brown, but they thankfully didn’t do it. Like a typical Zappa show, many audience members yelled out songs in between each one. I don’t think anybody yelled for Dwarf Nebula, that woulda been cool though!
Like a normal Zappa show, there was PLENTY of improv’d humor. Ike likes to keep things political so there were frequent ad-libs about Dick Cheney, Prez Dubya, Martha Stewart, Enron, Haliburton, stocks, more Cheney, more Martha. Sometimes they seemed really forced, but most of the time the jokes were spot on and left the audience dying with laughter; the band as well.
Lots of people on the internet have a problem with Ike ‘conducting’ the group like Frank used to. In theory I don’t have a problem with it, but the reality of it is that the band paid NO attention to the things Ike was doing. He was basically just waving his arms around trying to look like he was doing something important. I think it was very obvious that he was just conducting *to* the music (like the guys can’t tell musical time on their own, jeez) and not actually leading the group. He resembled an old, sweaty, hefty puppet. But when the percussion dude conducted during King Kong, he actually had the band’s attention and they responded beautifully.
In my opinion (like it matters), they really only need Ike for his name to get people into the show. Talent-wise they have everything down solid and can do everything themselves, instrumentally and vocally. They all had great vocals. And yeah, I really can’t imagine a more fun band to play in.
After the show I talked very briefly to Ike and told him how much fun I had and how they should come to Texas. His reply was “Hell Yeah!” So, we’ll see what happens. He seemed honestly enthusiastic about it. I also signed up for their mailing list on their website (projectobject.com) and told Andre that there are a ton of FZ fans in Austin and Dallas. I don’t know if they’ve ever been to Texas or not.
So, anyway, it was an incredible show and SO much fun. If you ever get a chance to see them, don’t even think about it, just go. It’s all about Frank.