May 5, 2018

M3 Rock Fest 2018 - Merriweather Post

By Bob Suehs

 

M3 ROCK FEST 2018

5/4/2018 & 5/5/2018

Merriweather Post Pavilion

Columbia, MD

 The 10th annual M3 Rock Fest kicked off on Friday, May 4, 2018 at the newly renovated Merriweather Post Pavilion.  It was obvious that the venue was not 100% ready for operation when an entire section of seats were not installed and portions of the roof were clearly not finished.  The venue looks amazing despite the unfinished renovations and the sound/lights/stage were superb.

 

 I arrived late on Friday and heard the tail end of Y&T’s set as I entered the venue.  KIX started their set at 8PM and their set consisted of “Blow My Fuse” being played in it’s entirety.

 KIX Set List:  Can’t Stop, Midnight Dynamite, Girl Money, Red Light, Get Hot, Rosie, Don’t Close Your Eyes, Drop The Bomb, Cold Blood, Pie, Boomerang, Blow My Fuse, Dirty Boys

 KIX sounded clear, loud, and their overall sound mix was perfect.  Steve Whitman remains a Baltimore legend and his stage presence is unmistakable.  Brian and Ronnie trade guitar licks like 2 brothers while Jimmy and Mark keep the rhythm tight.

 During the song “Cold Blood” Whiteman allowed an audience member to sing the chorus with him and naturally the fan messed up his line by singing, “Cold Blood Is What You Need”.  Whiteman stopped and asked the crowd, “Does anyone know this fucking song?”.

 It was odd to see KIX perform a set that didn’t end with “Yeah, Yeah, Yeah” because that song has closed every KIX show for the last 2 decades.  The ceremonial balloon toss ended the KIX set thus signifying Tom Keifer was next.

 Tom took the stage with “The More Things Change” which set the pace for 70 minutes of hard rock n blues from the Keifer Band.

 Tom Keifer Set List:  The More Things Change, The Last Mile, Bad Seamstress Blues/Fallin’ Apart, Long Cold Winter, It’s Enough, Somebody Save Me, Shake Me, Don’t Know What You Got, Nobody’s Fool, Solid Ground, Night Songs, Coming Home, Shelter Me, With A Little Help From My Friends, Gypsy Road

 Tom Keifer has always known how to dress like a rock star; his slender frame, shaggy locks, covered in black from head to toe.  Nike athletic pants and Goth styled platform boots were an odd pairing but Keifer made it work well.

 Vocally Tom’s voice was strained at times but his guitar playing and super tight backing band made it unnoticeable.  Keifer performed all of the Cinderella hits with a few solo tracks and the closing song for Night #1 of M3 2018 was “Gypsy Road”.

 Day #2 of M3 started with Tyketto at 11 AM.  Warrant followed with an unplugged set that started at 11:45 AM.  Speaking of Warrant, they were selling a pink, autographed guitar at the merch table for $250.

 Great White took the stage at 12:30 PM and this version of the band sounded great BUT looked odd.  Mark Kendall is totally bald and looks like a member of the Blues Brothers band.  Rhythm guitarist Michael Lardie looks like he is transitioning from male to female, and vocalist Terry Ilous looks like Frankie Valli’s father.

 Last In Line were onstage at 1:30 PM and this is where the day truly started because Vivian Campbell and company sounded amazing and rocked hard! The stage set up was minimal while the musical output was intense!  Vivian looked healthy, played his ass off, and proved to the crowd that he could still play those amazing DIO tracks.  “Last In Line” and “Holy Diver” sounded absolutely amazing and this band slayed the crowd.

 Last In Line Set List:  Stand Up and Shout, Devil In Me, Holy Diver, Martyr, The Last In Line, Rainbow In The Dark, Starmaker, We Rock

 George Lynch and Lynch Mob were next and they were fronted by Robert Mason who joked that he got to perform 2 times that day since he also fronted Warrant.  

 Lynch and company sounded amazing and the crowd seemed to enjoy the bands hour long set.

 Lynch Mob Set List:  Street Fightin’ Man, She’s Evil But She’s Mine, River of Love, It’s Not Love, Solo, Alone Again, Sweet Sister Mercy, Jam, Wicked Sensation

 “Alone Again” was amazing and vocally this performance made Don Dokken’s vocals sound flat because Don can no longer sing the way that Robert can.

 Stryper took the stage to tweek their own gear prior to their performance and their set was fast and to the point.  For some reason Stryper cut their set short 10 minutes and they made it a point to tell the crowd that they would be back in town in a few weeks performing at a club down the street.

 Day #1 of M3 was hosted by Eddie Trunk.  Trunk brought all bands onstage and told the crowd that he would see them tomorrow just before Keifer took the stage.  On Day #2 of M3 Trunk was no where to be seen.  A Local radio host would eventually bring on the main acts but up until Ace Frehley there were no band intros.

 Slaughter used to be a solid band but over the years it had become obvious that the bands namesake is the weak link in the band.  Mark Slaughter took the stage in a ripped up RIP magazine shirt and his appearance is best described as fat and sloppy.  Mark had small man boobs and his belly was hard to ignore.  The Slaughter backing band, which is also the Vince Neil backing band, sounded great.  Mark Slaughter’s performance is best described as sloppy but fun.

 Sebastian Bach Set List:  Slave To The Grind, Piece of Me, 18 & Life, New Song, I Remember You, Big Guns, Sweet Little Sister, ?, Rattlesnake Shake, American Metalhead, Monkey Business, Shout at the Devil, Youth Gone Wild

 Sebastian Bach took the stage looking a tad pudgy with his bratty demeanor, long blonde locks, and studded pants.  Brent Woods is the secret to the Sebastian Bach backing band because he holds the group together with his blistering guitar work.

 “Shout at the Devil” by Motley Crue was performed in the middle of “Monkey Business” and this was one of the clear highlights of M3.  

 The most peculiar part of Sebastian’s set was watching old school Skid Row videos play on the jumbo screen as Sebastian performed “Piece of Me”, “Youth Gone Wild”, and “18 & Life” because it’s well known that Rachel Bolan does not care for Bas yet large images of Rachel were played behind Bas as he performed faithful covers of those Skid Row classics.

 Ace Frehley was next and his set was sloppy, loose, and chock full o’ KISS classics.  Ace opened with the KISS classic “Parasite” which led into “Rip It Out”.  “Love Gun” was sang by Ace’s drummer and after that song Ace asked the crowd to give it up for Paul Stanley who wrote that song.

 Ace had technical issues with his mic during “Rock Soldiers” which caused part of the song to be performed sans vocals.  At times Ace came off “out of it” which caused speculation as to whether or not he was sober.  One thing was very clear though, the hair on top of Ace’s head was NOT his “real” hair.  It’s unclear if he’s wearing a wig or had a hair transplant, it’s just obvious when you look at the top of his head that it’s NOT his “real” hair.

 Ace Frehley Set List:  Parasite, Rip It Out, Love Gun, Rock Soldiers, Strange Ways, New York Groove, 2 Young 2 Die, Shock Me, Cold Gin, Detroit Rock City, Deuce

 It was very surprising that Sebastian Bach chose not to jam on a KISS classic with Ace since it’s very well known that Bas is a huge KISS fan.  

 After seeing the slop that was Ace Frehley’s set the bar was raised when Classic rock heavyweights Night Ranger took the stage.  Jack Blades and the boys are consummate professionals and treated the crowd to a set chock full of hits as well as a few rare gems.

 

When they started the Damn Yankees song “High Enough” Jack told guitarist Keri Kelli to stop because he wanted to throw the crowd a surprise and they began to play “Come Again”.  

 Brad Gillis is a beast on guitar and his guitar chops have only gotten stronger with age!  Musically speaking, Night Ranger were one of the tightest bands at M3 2018.


“Don’t Tell Me You Love Me” was their closer and as an added bonus they tossed in a partial cover of “Highway Star” by Deep Purple!

 Night Ranger Set List:  Somehow Someway, Rock In America, Sing Me Away, Coming of Age, Sentimental Street, Rumors In The Air, Night Ranger, Come Again/High Enough, Four In The Morning, When You Close Your Eyes, Sister Christian, Don’t Tell Me You Love Me/Highway Star

 Queensryche Set List:  Best I Can, Damaged, The WHisper, Breaking The Silence, I Don’t Believe in Love, Silent Lucidity, Guardian, Empire, Queen of the Reich, Jet City Woman, Take Hold of The Flame, ENCORE:  Screaming in Digital, Eyes of a Stranger

 Queensryche were the main headliner for Saturday’s show and if I’m being totally honest with you, Queensryche were not a wise choice as headliner when you consider the fact that they are down to 2 original members (Michael Wilton - guitar & Eddie Jackson - bass).  Original drummer Scott Rockenfield has been absent from the band for over a year now and they have made no mention as to whether or not he will return.  

 Todd La Torre has given Queensryche new life and regardless of how fans feel about Geoff Tate being out of the band it’s undeniable that La Torre fills Tate’s role better than Tate did at the end of his tenure with Queensryche. 

 The worst part of Queensryche set was the part they couldn’t control; the outside temperature.  Once the sun set the temperature began to drop rapidly and by the time Todd and the boys took the stage there was a chill in the air that made the beautiful Spring day feel like a chilly Fall night.

 This was the tenth anniversary of M3, the crowd was much smaller than in years past yet on many level the vibe and feel of the show was stronger than ever before.