May 28, 2014 M3 Festival Day 2 Rocks Hard 4-26-14 Columbia, MD
After an amazing Friday night of classic 80’s rock at M3 Festival, Saturday April 26th would promise to be an even long day of fun for new and returning listeners enjoyment. While rain came early on Friday night, Saturday brought the sunshine and comfortable temperatures; which were perfect for an all-day festival. For 2014, day two of M3 festival introduces a new festival stage for a double assault of non-stop music without overlapping bands on each stage; allowing everyone to enjoy each act to the fullest. With the line-up lead by Tesla, Night Ranger, Sebastian Bach, Queensrÿche, Slaughter, Stryper, L.A. Guns, Jack Russell’s Great White, Keel, Autograph, Jake E. Lee’s Red Dragon Cartel, Femme Fatale, John Corabi, and Heaven’s Edge; this was going to be a killer day of guitar and powerful vocal driven music.
Starting the day nice and early at 11:40 AM, Heaven’s Edge took the festival stage. Coming together in the latter part of the 1980’s, Heaven’s Edge made their biggest mark in 1990 with the major label self-titled debut album on Columbia Records. The band, led by Mark Evans, remained actively touring for fifteen years before hanging it up in 2002. Coming to the excitement of long-time followers, over a decade since Heaven’s Edge said goodbye, they returned in 2013 to perform again, and now grace the stage at M3 Festival. Providing raging guitar and energetic vocals, the band woke up the early birds with a solid set of tunes including their hit “Skin to Skin”.
Next on the itinerary was accomplished vocalist John Corabi. Performing live consistently over the past two decades, Corabi brought his talents to the mainstream when he replaced Vince Neil in Motley Crue between 1992 and 1996. Providing Crue fans with a new sound, Corabi did an excellent job with the band and sang on the highly underrated self-titled album Motley Crue (1994). Keeping his creative juices flowing all these years, Corabi made a solid solo career for himself as well as playing with Union in the early part of the 2000’s. Corabi, with a strong band behind him including his son on drums, played a set of songs including solo pieces, Union, and Motley Crue as well. Corabi proved truly a rock veteran that the community respects and enjoys watching perform.
Directly following, New Mexico based band Femme Fatale took the stage. Many may remember the act from their 1988 self-titled debut album on MCA. Re-launched after twenty-five years away from the stage, original vocalist Lorraine Lewis picks up where she left off with a fresh new line-up of all females including guitarist Courtney Cox (from The Iron Maidens), guitarist Nita Strauss (former touring member of As Blood Runs Black), bassist Janis Tanaka (toured with artists such as Pink), drummer Linda McDonald (Phantom Blue), and keyboardist Katt Scarlett. While receiving heavy air-play on MTV all those years ago, Femme Fatale built a strong name for themselves and they were ready to show M3 Festival what they have missed. Full of energy, strong collective playing as a unit, and mesmerizing stage presence, the band rocked like nobody’s business. Lewis’ voice is as strong as ever and she treated fans to favorites such as “Waiting For The Big One” and “Falling In And Out Of Love”. The crowd showed appreciative cheers toward Femme Fatale and fans can only hope the band performs live more in 2014.
Many have anxiously awaited the return of Jake E. Lee for years and now he is back with Red Dragon Cartel. With his new bandmates bassist Ronnie Mancuso, vocalist Darren James Smith, and drummer Jonas Fairly, Lee has put together their debut self-titled album which is out now and making big impressions on audiences. Lee and company ripped onto the stage with a furious set of tunes ranging from some of the best from his time with Ozzy Osbourne, to Badlands, and Red Dragon Cartel tunes. The audience gathered around the stage showing love and respect for Red Dragon Cartel, and it was clear Lee’s axe work has been greatly missed.
The next band up was Southern Californians Autograph. Formed back in 1983, the band has put together seven full-length studio albums over the past three plus decades. Re-established last year by original guitarist Steve Lynch and bassist Randy Rand, the new line-up is completed with new vocalist Simon Daniels and drummer Mac Wieland. Having not released a studio album since 2003’s Buzz, not only is Autograph revamped to tour again, they will reportedly be releasing a new studio album in 2014. Amped and ready to go, the band put on a great performance of all their hits including “Loud and Clear”, “Blondies in Black Cars”, “Send Her to Me”, and closing with “Turn Up The Radio”. Daniels sounded excellent on vocals and the band, overall, sounded fresh and exciting. Autograph are one of those bands which do not get as much recognition as they deserve and it is great to see them active again.
With the afternoon wearing on it came time for one of glam metal’s most adored bands, L.A. Guns. Standing strong through the 1980’s with a series of memorable albums including Cocked & Loaded (1989), the core of vocalist Phil Lewis and drummer Steve Riley have remained through the reunion and departure with guitarist Traci Guns. With the announcement of Traci Guns deciding to put his version of the band to rest in 2012, Lewis’ L.A. Guns continues to tour with drummer Riley, bassist Scott Griffin, and new guitarist Michael Grant (formerly of Endeverafter). Taking to the stage in their typical high energy fashion, Lewis played through a series of killer songs including “No Mercy”, “Never Enough”, and ” I Wanna Be Your Man”. Mixing in their later material including tracks from Hollywood Forever (2012), L.A. Guns set was highlighted by fan-favorite “The Ballad of Jayne”. Kudos to L.A. Guns for remaining dedicated and relevant through the years.
As the sun began to go down and night came upon M3 Festival, the stage closed out with Slaughter. Begun in Las Vegas, NV back in 1988, Slaughter has been one of the harder working bands over the years. While the band has not released a studio album since 1999’s Back to Reality, they have continued to play live shows to sizable audiences. Led by the original force of Mark Slaughter (vocals/ guitar), Dana Strum (bass), and Zoltan Cheney (drums); Jeff “Blando” Bland took over on lead guitar back in 1998. With the lights kicking on and the smoke from the stage in the air, Slaughter dominated the stage with songs like “Burnin’ Bridges”, “Spend My Life”, and an excellent closing of “Fly to the Angels”, and “Up All Night”. With Slaughter’s voice as distinct and strong as ever, the band took the party to the next level closing out the stage.
Moving onto the Pavillion stage, a massive crowd gathered, settling into their seats and finding spots on the law to watch Keel start the night. Another LA-based band, Keel had five straight charted albums between 1984 and 1989. Celebrating their 25th anniversary back in 2008, the line-up of Ron Keel (vocalist, guitar), Marc Ferrari (guitar), Brian Jay (guitar), and Dwain Miller (drums) got back together with new bassist Geno Arce. Remaining active since then, Keel released Streets of Rock & Roll in 2010. Getting the blood flowing, the band played a brief six song set jam-packed with high-octane vocals and guitar songs like “Speed Demon”, “Because The Night”, and “The Right to Rock”.
Next was Jack Russel’s Great White. Formed back in 1977, Great White gained a storm of popularity in the late 1980’s into the early 1990’s, achieved two platinum selling albums, and a gold selling record in consecutive releases. Having faced a long and winding road, Jack Russel has weathered a great deal over the years and though times got tough, kept his vision of Great White alive. With two versions of the band around now, guitarist Mark Kendall is doing his own vision while Jack Russel refurbished his. Russel’s line-up is completed with Once Bitten (1987) alumni Tony Montana returning on guitar, new lead guitarist Robby Lochner, bassist Chris Tristram, and drummer Dicki Fliszer. Bringing their bluesy style rock to the stage, Russel and his band performed songs like “Mista Bones” and “Lady Red Light”. Russel, appearing to be in good spirits and sounding good, kept the audience going and ended the set with the mega hit “Once Bitten, Twice Shy”.
Keeping positive feeling flowing, Christian metal band Stryper followed. After leading the metal world as one of the first vividly Christian bands, Stryper made a huge name for themselves over a decade period in the 1980’s. Resurrecting the band in 2003 for good, the original line-up of Michael Sweet (vocals, guitars), Robert Sweet (drums), Tim Gaines (bass), and Oz Fox (guitar) came together to rock audiences once again. Actively making music in the new millennium, the band released their seventh studio album No More Hell to Pay last year. With the venue filled with dedicated followers, the cheering came in waves as Michael Sweet reached notes with ease. Playing through a larger than life set, Stryper’s highlights including “To Hell With The Devil” and “No More Hell To Pay”.
If Jack Russel’s Great White got the ladies moving, progressive metalers Queensrÿche got the guys on their feet and banging their heads. With the much publicized split between the band and original vocalist Geoff Tate, followers remain neutral parties inevitably caring that Queensrÿche carry on in strong fashion. With two versions of the band touring around for a two year period while legal battles took place, to avoid confusion, there is now only one Queensrÿche with Michael Wilton (guitars), Eddie Jackson (bass), Scott Rockenfield (drums), Parker Lundgren (guitars), and new vocalist Todd La Torre. Now with La Torre on vocals, the band released their thirteenth studio album titled Queensrÿche in 2013 and received rave reviews. Performing a great mix of their classic older material with newer material, Queensrÿche shined bright on stage. Old classics like “Nightrider” went into “Break the Silence” and “Walk in the Shadows” as La Torre’s voice amplified all the way with un-wavering pitch to the back of the lawn. Other favorites performed including “Eyes of a Stranger” and “Queen of the Reich” sounded potent and this audience was extremely satisfied with the performance.
Like a house on fire, Sebastian Bach erupted onto the stage. Known for his legendary vocal range, Bach came to popularity fronting Skid Row during the 80’s. While the idea of a reunion with Skid Row has all but dissolved over the years, Bach has made an extremely successful career for himself as a solo artist pumping out stellar albums and including his latest Give ‘Em Hell. Running around the stage at lightning speed, Bach sang through an amazing set that included “Slave To The Grind”, “18 and Life”, ” I Remember You”, “Monkey Business”, and closing with the timeless anthem of revolt “Youth Gone Wild”. Bach was a wild man on stage, swinging his mic around and belting out amazing note after note. This guy is a true performer and rock fans cannot get enough of seeing him perform live.
With the evening coming to a close, San Francisco based band Night Ranger were direct support for The Pavilion stage. One of the 1980’s strongest rock bands, Night Ranger continue to find themselves on big tours playing with the likes of Scorpions, Foreigner, and Journey in recent years. Returning to the studio for the first time in a decade back in 2008, the band continues to write and release new material including their forthcoming album High Road. Like an adrenaline rush, the band took their guitar driven rock to the stage with songs such as “Touch of Madness”. Vocalist/guitarist Jack Blade sang loud, clear, and full of passion through songs that touch the entire discography of Night Ranger. The band even played tunes from Blades time with Damn Yankees including “Coming of Age” and “High Enough”. Hearing tunes off the classic Dawn Patrol (1982) album, including the set closer “Don’t Tell Me You Love Me”, reminded the audience these guys can rock as hard and heavy as any band out there. Coming out for an encore, they played massive hit “Sister Christian” and “Can Still Rock It In America”.
For the closing of 2014 edition of M3 Festival, Tesla were roused and ready to go. Rocking hard for three plus decades, this band shows no signs of fading as they continue to tour and write new songs. Keeping the long-time line-up of Frank Hannon (guitar), Brian Wheat (bass), Jeff Keith (vocals), and Troy Luccketta (drums), the band saw the departure of Tommy Skeoch in 2006 and replaced him with David Rude. After the release of their well-received Twisted Wires & the Acoustic Sessions in 2011, the band is ready to release a new full-length album titled Simplicity on June 6th.
Arriving on the stage, Telsa went right into their gritty brand of rock-n-roll with “I Wanna Live”. Keeping the balance right between newer tunes and old classics had the audience on their feet moving throughout the set. Hits like “What You Gave”, “Love Song”, “Signs”, and “Modern Day Cowboy” rocked hard with killer guitar work by Hannon and Rude. The evening came to an end with the feel good rhythm of “Little Suzi”.
M3 Festival 2014 was a memorable experience for fans of all ages celebrating one of the best decades of rock-n-roll. Each band to take the stage did their legacy justice and it will be exciting to see next year’s line-up.