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M3 Rock Festival 2011 http://rocktopia.co.uk/media/reviews/photos/thumbnail/200x200s/2f/e7/9c/1441_M3Splash_1310670262.jpg Hot

Added by Central Electronic Brain     July 14, 2011    
 
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M3 Rock Festival 2011 - Merriweather Post Pavilion, Columbia, Maryland (USA)  - 13th and 14th of May 2011.

(Intro & main text - Mark Warburton (MW) & Andrew Heywood (AH), Reviews (MW) Photos (MW))

Having attended the inaugural M3 festival in 2009 and having had a blast of a weekend at a very well run event, as soon as I heard the announcements for the line up for year 3 were released I felt a road trip coming on. The first trip in 2009 was around a 10 hour drive from Canada, through Pennsylvania into Maryland on the East Coast between Philadelphia and Washington. However once word filtered back to Mark in the UK of the awesome line-up it wasn't long before alternative plans were made. (AH) 

So with this mouth-watering line-up beckoning I took my flight out to Toronto on the Tuesday, had a couple of days with my Mum, who also lives in Ontario, before hooking up with Andy on the Thursday night, and we headed for the US border and Buffalo airport to stay overnight . After a couple of short early morning flights via Philadelphia, we touched down in the lovely City of Baltimore early afternoon (MW)

The venue itself is a typical North American spring/summer concert affair, set up with the front section pavilion being seated and covered, with a walkway around the back of the seating area and a lawn embankment running beyond the walkway, where people could bring picnic blankets and lawn chairs. To either side and running around the back of the venue were rest-rooms, facilities, merchandise stand, food and drink, and of course alcoholic beverages to get the party atmosphere going! Anyone who has been to either Darien Lake or the Molson Amphitheatre would instantly recognise the layout of this venue, the neat difference with the Merriweather is that it is situated in the middle of a park and from any access road in it is virtually hidden from view by the trees. The second stage was situated at the back of the site on what would normally be a car park, and therefore had good asphalt to stand and watch the bands playing over there, this was also where some of the side shows such as "meet the freaks", drum clinics and radio station stalls were located. (AH)


Friday 13th May (Day1)


So we finally got to the lovely Merriweather venue late afternoon, and after picking up our passes courtesy of Bill, CJ & Mark from Firehouse, we made our way to our seats. We were a little late to catch opening act Black Mambooza and had just sat down before LA Sleaze Rockers Jetboy hit the stage. As a Jetboy virgin I was very eager watch the guys play live , especially as Andy had told me they played a storming set at the inaugural M3 he attended a couple of years ago. The band really kicked the Festival off in style with brand new singer DK Revelle in tow (following long standing frontman Mickey Finn's decision to quit the band), Revelle quashed any concerns that fans may have about Jetboy with a new lead singer. 'The Kix-off party' as the friday night was billed, found the pavilion pretty full by 7pm as the band whipped through a nice tight setlist with tracks mostly featured from their second album, the very underrated 'Damned Nation'. They truly seemed to be enjoying themselves, particularly guitarist Fernie Rod and new vocalist Revelle who's impact was immediately felt, with his gravelly growly singing style that fits perfectly with Jetboy's sleazy sound. Two new songs were performed for the M3 crowd, the first, 'Strip Down', which is a real gem of a tune with its bluesy and sleazy vibe, and for me could have featured on the bands classic debut 'Feel The Shake', and the second, and a real stand out for me, was the sassy 'Little Miss Sin Eater', a real fun rock n roll tune, and hearing both these tunes live gives me confidence that Jetboy's next album could be up there with the debut. The band close their excellent 30 minute set with their best known track, the rousing Jetboy anthem 'Feel The Shake', and Revelle performed this tune with vigour and passion and got the M3 crowd rocking and singing along as loud as they could. This was a great start to the weekend and Jetboy received a much deserved standing ovation from the gathered masses. The new look Jetboy have a bright future. (MW)

Up next was the Phil Lewis version of L.A. Guns, and to be honest I have seen both versions many times over the years, with both having their good and bad points to them. The band kicked off with the sleazy classic 'Slap In The Face' which totally kicked ass, and Lewis sounded pretty good despite the sound issues that were going on and for a lot of the set. A personal favourite of mine, 'Sex Action', was aired next with the band full of energy and dancing around the stage, before ripping into third song of the night, 'Never Enough'. Following track 'My Koo Ka Choo' from 1991s 'Hollywood Vampires' album, showcased just how good a guitarist Stacey Blades really is, and when people say to me you cant have LA Guns without Tracii Guns, they are so wrong.The crowd went wild when second to last song 'Electric Gypsy' cranked into life, and Phil Lewis came out with some sparklers on his head ??, he was wearing a type of construction-hat thing with lit sparklers shoved in the top, and I'm not sure why,other than the fact that this was cheaper than pyro or something. LA Guns played hit after hit as you would expect, and ended their short but very enjoyable set with probably their biggest hit to date, 'The Ballad Of Jayne' from 'Cocked & Loaded', with the very appreciative crowd singing along and really lapping up the atmosphere. This was a strange song to end the set with, and I'm sure it wasn't planned, they were cut off short as I expected them to end with 'Rip And Tear' so I'm not sure how this happened. However the festival was already behind its schedule by this point in the shown only a couple of bands in! Nevertheless, a great performance which was mirrored by the enthusiastic M3 audience. (MW)

During the heyday of MTV Warrant ruled the video airwaves and I think it was every boys dream to date video sweetheart Bobby Brown,and over the course of the late 80's and early 90'S they were at the top of their game. But during the dark age of metal Warrant never gave up on their musical style. In 2004 Jani Lane left the band to be replaced by Black 'n' Blue singer Jaime St. James, who rescued the band and they released 'Born Again' in 2006. Jaime stayed with the band for 3 years until Jani re-joined for a short re-union in 2008. That was then and this is now, and in 2008 former Lynch Mob singer Robert Mason joined Warrant and the rest is history, and for me the missing link to the puzzle was found as we now have a band full of quality musicians waiting for the right break to regain their crown in the Melodic Rock arena. Tonight Warrant with Robert Mason were exceptional, and probably the best Warrant show I've ever seen, they were that good. The sound was better than it was for L.A. Guns but still not perfect. They kicked off their storming set with 'Sure Feels Good', and Warrant took the audience down memory lane performing such hits as 'Sometimes She Cries', 'Big Talk', and 'Down Boys' , guitarists Joey Allen and Erik Turner excelled themselves, whilst the rhythm section of bassist Jerry Dixon and drummer Steven Sweet sounded as good as they have ever done. For me this band has evolved so much since their late 80s, early 90s heyday. They performed with a new found confidence and showcased this with my all time favourite Warrant tune 'Uncle Tom's Cabin' which they absolutely nailed. We were also treated to the title track of their classic debut 'Dirty Rotten Filthy Stinkin Rich' before they played their most famous and much played tune, the hair metal anthem 'Cherry Pie'. Singer Robert Mason did a remarkable job tonight, especially on the ballad 'Heaven',and I feel he worked the crowd better than Jani Lane ever did, he has loads of energy and gives the original guys in Warrant a new lease of life. This was an outstanding performance, and I for one cannot wait for the band's headline show on Firefest Saturday. (MW)


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Friday night though was all about Baltimore's own favourite rock n roll boys Kix, who are a band I had always loved since the mid 80s but never had the chance to experience their amazing show live, until now. So with the band finally getting the M3 headline spot they so much deserved, they blasted off their energetic set with the classic 'Ring Around Rosie' with frontman Steve Whiteman looking and performing like a cross between Mick Jagger and David Lee Roth, and although the sound was much better than the previous sets by Warrant and LA Guns, it was far from perfect. This did not distract the band from delivering an outstanding performance and for me I feel they were so damn good because the band was excited to be headlining in their home town. Steve Whiteman kept saying how scared and nervous he was and how he couldn't believe how many people had come out to see them. So what else was played in this greatest hits set? We were offered 'Atomic Bombs', 'Lie Like A Rug', 'Sex',the mega MTV hit 'Don't Close Your Eyes' and my personal favourite, the rousing 'Girl Money' from 1991s 'Hot Wire' album. For whatever reason, the band were especially tight and seemed to play with a renewed vigour and energy, especially on the epic and extended 'Hot Wire', which featured 10,000 people pounding their feet in unison, it was a truly magnificent sight to see. Kix actually got to have a proper encore with many songs, which included, 'Cold Shower', 'Midnight Dynamite' and another favourite of mine, the classic 'Cold Blood' from 1988s 'Blow My Fuse', and the band then even came forward and did a great acoustic version of 'For Shame'. The Merriweather venue has a strict curfew of 11.00 pm but Kix played until 11:30 and the crowd loved every minute, they really did lap it up. The band ended with 'Yeah, Yeah, Yeah' which features Steve Whiteman's classic rap, also then there was an over-head balloon drop and Steve had a giant mallet that he pounded balloons with from the stage. So the next time you go to a show, watch the faces of the musicians closely, and you can tell if they are happy, annoyed or bored, because every member of Kix looked actually happy to be on stage - you can't fake that - and it came through in this outstanding performance. It stands true in live performance as with all things in life: if you're happy with your job, you excel. I have to say that this Kix show rivals some of the best performances I have ever had the pleasure of witnessing in over 30 years of attending live gigs, they were that good. So as Saturday was set up to be another monster of a day……. it was more beers and time to party! (MW)


M3-Kix


Sat 14th May (Day 2)


Arriving at the venue early, with a slight hangover I might hasten to add, day 2 got underway with up and coming new bands Modern Superstar on the Main Stage and Korupt on the second, whose sets we unfortunately didn't get the chance to see, before kicking into a rocking assault of a line-up that will probably never be witnessed again, which included Danger Danger, Firehouse, Slaughter, Great White, Black 'n' Blue, Big Noize, Mr Big, Sebastian Bach, Tesla, Lita Ford and Whitesnake (phew) (AH)

Danger Danger kicked off our main day in style and matched the impact of Jetboy, who opened proceedings the previous day with their normal fun-filled show. These New York boys never need an excuse to party, and with Ted Poley at the helm they delivered their usual larger than life self. 'Boys Will Be Boys' from the excellent debut album opened the proceedings with Ted voice sounding great, the band quickly blasted through the MTV hit 'Monkey Business' and the very catchy and Journey-esque 'Hearts On The Highway' from the bands latest release, the excellent 'Revolve', which also showcased just what an exciting and very talented guitarist Rob Marcello really is. The sing-along hits from the first two albums came thick and fast with the catchy whoa whoa's of 'Blame It On Love' and the outstanding 'Rock America',which was dedicated to Seal Team 6 which took Bin Laden out for good. Up next was the mesmerising classic 'I Still Think About You', which got the Merriweather crowd singing along and reminded me of some of the great Danger Danger performances from Firefests over the years,this song is very poignant to me personally and always reminds me of a certain person from many, many years ago. The rousing anthem 'Bang Bang' brings this short, fast-paced set to a close, and featured Ted Poley jumping into the crowd, running round high fiving fans and having his pictures taken whilst still singing, what a great showman this man is, the crowd absolutely loved it. There was a chance that the band would then run out of time and not play their most famous song, but thankfully the Danger Danger anthem 'Naughty Naughty' brought this fun filled party set to a suitable close. Danger Danger always deliver the goods in the live arena and are a real treat to catch live, and were a great start to the day. (MW)


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We didn't bother to catch Pretty Boy Floyd on the second stage as I had seen them last year at Hard Rock Hell and wasn't overly impressed, but up next were one of my all time favourite hair metal bands from back in the day, the excellent Firehouse, who feature a plethora of very talented musicians including the criminally underrated guitarist Bill Leverty. I had seen the band many times over the past 20 years and never get tired of their outstanding harmonies, choruses and mesmerising hook laden Melodic Rock. By the time the band cranked up opener and title track from the second album, 'Hold Your Fire', the pavilion was pretty full, and people were up standing and cheering to the catchy 'Shake & Tumble'. Which is quickly followed by one of my personal favourites and rock club dance floor filler, the awesome 'All She Wrote', with CJ Snare making it look so effortless to sing this well. This man has a monster of a voice and mixes power with melody, and even after all these years his voice is impeccable and sounds just as good today as it did on that debut release 21 years ago. Up next was the hit record and mesmerising ballad 'When I Look Into Your Eyes', which is a real keyboard heavy crowd pleaser and made a real impact with the M3 crowd. 'Overnight Sensation' from the bands magnificent self-titled debut release followed and got the very appreciative crowd rocking to their feet, and lead guitarist Bill Leverty truly came into his own on this track and is an absolute pleasure to watch play live, whether he is rocking through the Firehouse classics or just jamming with the rest of the band, watching his fingers fly effortlessly up and down the fretboard is a treat for fans and musicians alike. When your being backed up by long-time Firehouse drummer Michael Foster and the newest member of the band, bass player Allan McKenzie, it drives the band even more than just with any old average rhythm section. We are then treated to the US smash hit single 'Love Of A Lifetime', which has a real personal meaning for me as I had it as my 'first dance' tune at my wedding 12 years ago, and was delivered as always with real passion and meaning, a truly magical song. Unfortunately this short lived set was now coming to an end as the band cranked into up-tempo rocker 'Reach For The Sky' from the bands 'Hold Your Fire' opus from 1991. So with the crowd back up on their feet, Firehouse ended their outstanding set with crowd pleaser and one of their best known tunes over the years, the melodic classic 'Don't Treat Me Bad'. One of the bands of the weekend for me, Firehouse are just an outstanding live band, they always have been, and always will be. (MW)


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When Slaughter hit the stage the place was electric and it was like that for their entire set! The current Slaughter line-up is; Mark Slaughter on vocals (and some guitar), lead guitarist Jeff Blando , bassist Dana Strum and wildman drummer Zoltan Chaney from Vince Neil's band. More on him shortly. The Merriwether Pavilion sound was excellent and the issues that blighted some of the bands on the previous day had thankfully been sorted out. Now, I missed the first couple of tracks due to finishing an interview, but got back to my seat as the band cranked up the excellent 'Burning Bridges' from their self-titled debut. The band played all of their hits... mostly stuff from the first 2 albums. Up next was the poignant hit single 'Spend My Life' with the band sounding just like I remember when I first saw them play live way back in 1991 supporting Queensryche. Following track 'Mad About You' was a real crowd pleaser and got the M3 Audience rocking, before one of the most memorable highlights was when Mark Slaughter walked through the crowd high-fiving everyone during 'Eye To Eye', getting pictures with fans and even taking a drink before making his way back to the stage. Slaughter had the entire crowd in the palm of their hands and everyone was going crazy...including three very excitable Canadians in front of me who were dancin' away like nobody's business! Also worth noting is that Mark Slaughter's voice sounded surprisingly good to me and hit all the notes very well, and to be honest didn't look much different than he did 20 years ago! I can't forget Zoltan Chaney..he was absolutely crazy on the drums as a lot of the time the drummers kind of blend into the background, but he really stood out, and you can tell that he was having a blast and that he loves what he does.As expected, the band closed their enjoyable set off with probably their 2 most well known staples... the mega US hit 'Fly to the Angels' and Slaughter's anthem 'Up All Night'. 'Fly To The Angels' featured some more Bin Laden bashing together with the raising of the American Flag, very patriotic, and 'Up All Night' with its exploding pyro intro was breathtaking. A great performance from a great band and was highly enjoyable. This day was just getting better and better. (MW)

We unfortunately had to pass on Gary Cherone's Hurtsmile on the second stage as it had been many a year since I had seen Great White, and i really wanted to see the band perform live again, even if today's set featured Terry Ilous from XYZ on vocals filling in for Jack Russell, who's still recovering from bowel surgery. Great White have always been a band who were heavily influenced by the blues, and todays performance was no exception. I must say that Terry IIous has an R & B kind of sound that works very well with the band, and I have been a long term fan of XYZ too since their debut album in 1989. Terry can sing but it's weird hearing things like 'Mista Bone' from a different voice. I'm not sure it was even fair, Terry singing. But still. It wasn't like the band was advertised as Great White featuring Terry Ilous. But Terry did say at the beginning of the set "Jack sends his love", which was nice. I think everyone is pulling for Jack Russell to get well. I have no problem with the band using a fill-in singer to get through gigs, but some people were perplexed, asking what was going on. Terry demonstrated his bluesy vocal style very well though and I was really excited to be able to see him. While I had high expectations for him going in, he blew them away! Terry is one of the most charismatic, energetic, fun loving frontmen that I have seen on stage. You can just tell that he (and all the members of Great White for that matter) were having fun and love what they do. Along with Terry, guitarist Mark Kendall, rhythm guitarist Michael Lardie, bassist Scott Snyder & drummer Audie Desbrow rounded out the band. I loved every second of their set, and they opened with 'Desert Moon' and went on to play favourites like 'Lady Red Light', my personal favourite 'Rock Me', 'Face The Day', and the Great White signature tune 'Once Bitten Twice Shy'. Terry did an amazing job with the ballads as well, 'House of Broken Love' and the unforgettable 'Save Your Love' from the 'Once Bitten' classic from 1987leaving the entire M3 crowd very, very impressed! A great set from an impressive band. Get well soon please Jack! (MW) 

We made our way quickly over to the second stage as next up were the band I had been looking forward to seeing the most of all, Black 'n' Blue, featuring original members Jaime 'The Saint' St James on vocals, Jeff 'Woop' Warner on guitar, Patrick Young on bass, Pete Holmes on drums & Tommy Thayer's replacement, guitarist Shawn Sonnenschein. I had never had the fortune to catch these hair metal gods from Portland, Oregan live before, so was it worth the wait? Most definitely! They kicked their energetic and entertaining set off with 'Cmon Cmon' from their recently released comeback album 'Hell Yeah', with the Saint sounding in great voice and the second stage sound was near perfect. We then went on a Black 'n' Blue fans whistle stop tour of all their greatest songs ever released, the pumping ' Chains Around Heaven' from the bands self titled debut in 1984 got the very appreciated crowd rocking, before another debut album track, the excellent 'Autoblast' was aired. It's hard to believe that these guys had only played a handful of gigs together in the past couple of years as they performed with ease and composure. Without time for breath we get the first of two songs from the very underrated 'Without Love' opus, 'Stop The Lightning', which is a real gem of a track with Warner & Young head banging in unison, and was a real delight to see. Up next is probably one of Black 'n' Blue's most famous and much played songs, the title track from the Gene Simmons produced 'Nasty Nasty', it was belted out with such vigour from the consummate frontman that my ears were ringing, it was that good. I was beginning to think I was witnessing one of 'those' once in a lifetime performances that will never be surpassed, before St James introduces 'Heat It Up, Burn it Out' from 1988s 'In Heat'. The catchy 'Miss Mystery' quickly follows before my all time favourite tune, the awesome 'Live It Up', blows the gathered M3 crowd away, it was a magnificent sight to see. Another new track, 'Target', slows the pace down a little before 1984s 'Wicked Bitch' sees the crowd participate in some trade off singing with the band and brings this outstanding set to a close. St James then says to the gathered masses "we couldn't go without doing this one" and they launch into the song that broke them into the big time over 25 years ago, the Black 'n' Blue anthem 'Hold On To 18', as the crowd go nuts, including myself, I turn to Andy and say "I wish they could play another hour". This crowd pleaser finally brings this rousing set to a close. An absolutely brilliant performance which made my whole weekend. Kieran/Bruce, please, please get this band on at Firefest. (MW) 

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We decided to give Faster Pussycat a miss on the second stage as we were not going to miss one of Andy's favourite bands. Formed in 1988, Mr. Big features guitarist Paul Gilbert, bassist Billy Sheehan, drummer Pat Torpey, and vocalist Eric Martin. Each member entered the band with their own already-impressive resume, which includes stints with everyone from David Lee Roth to Robert Plant.Although they enjoyed a string of successful albums and even a number one single with the 1991 ballad 'To Be with You', Gilbert left Mr. Big in 1997. Now reunited, Mr. Big are back on a world tour in support of their new and quite excellent 'What If...' album. Bang on 4pm the band storms the stage with 'Daddy, Brother, Lover, Little Boy' from their 'Lean Into It' album, and the crowd seems to know every word of the song. Everyone around me in the crowd is singing along with the group. Eric Martin's voice sounds crisp as ever as he belts out one tuneful line after another. The singer struts around the stage like he owns the joint, taking complete command over the song. By the time Mr. Big launch into the pristine pop of 'Green-Tinted Sixties Mind,' the guys are firing on all cylinders. Gilbert and Sheehan trade off improvised guitar and bass licks while Torpey locks into every groove with expert ease. The musicians in attendance tonight watch the band's every move as if they're trying to decode some kind of rock 'n' roll mystery, even Ted Poley from Danger Danger was sat in the photo pit to watch this magical spectacle unfold. While Mr. Big definitely deliver the technical fireworks we all came to expect from them, the band's songs remain the true stars of the evening. New numbers such as 'Undertow' and 'Still Ain't Enough For Me' stand proudly alongside classics like 'Just Take My Heart' and 'Take Cover.' Torpey, Sheehan, and Gilbert also lend pitch-perfect backing vocals throughout the night, giving Martin extra support and letting the frontman spend a little more time connecting with the room. Mr. Big run through all of their big hits 'To Be With You,' and an outstanding 'Addicted To That Rush' as they make it all look easy, turning the song's flurry of intertwined notes and speedy drums into the anthem it's meant to be. By the time the last note of the set rings out I cant help feel that Mr. Big are one of the best live rock acts on the planet right now. By the big smiles on the faces of each band member, it's obvious that deep inside, they feel it too.(MW)


M3-MrBig


The set list for Sebastian Bach was a Skid Row fans dream and focused very heavily on the bands self-titled debut and 1991s 'Slave To The Grind' as each song performed brought out the inner madman in Bach as he clearly was honoured and thrilled to be performing in arenas once again. The energy brought by Bach and his band could not be denied as they kicked off and delivered heavier renditions of Skid Row classics 'Slave To The Grind' and 'Big Guns'. Bach has no intentions of mellowing with age and although he receives a lot of bad press, one has to admire him because he is who he is. He doesn't pretend to be something he's not or follow a bandwagon of genres that are currently popular. He is a rock n' roller at heart whose personality can cue crowds into hysteria. There is more than just a pretty face to this poster boy for late 80's metal. Deep in his heart lies a determination and love of rock 'n' roll and no matter what is riding atop the Billboard charts, expect a first rate rock show anytime you plan on seeing Bach. The M3 crowd absolutely lapped it up as the band thrashed into a rousing 'Monkey Business' and supercharged the already excited fans into a frenzied audience. As the set progressed, Bach became more and more confident as he belted out the classics of 'I Remember You' and '18 And Life' and the crowd absolutely loved it. At one point during second to last track 'Piece Of Me ', Bach got the crowd riled by dedicating a song to Seal Team 6, and started a "USA! USA!" chant and mocked the bullet through Bin Laden's brain. It was all very patriotic... for a Canadian?? So despite the glories of yesterday, Bach was focused on the present even while he delivered a passionate performance of 'Youth Gone Wild", his final number of the evening. Despite being in his mid forties, Bach sung the song with total conviction making you believe this wasn't just a trip down memory lane. One of the reasons so many 80's rockers have been unable to reclaim the spotlight is because they haven't stayed true to themselves. Many of them abandoned the metal genre and have hopped on numerous bandwagons, and when those ventures failed they came back to metal with their tails between their legs. Despite witnessing the highest highs and the lowest lows the music business has to offer, Sebastian Bach respects his audience and gives them his all for the time he's on stage. Say what you want about Bach, but he's never attempted to be anyone other than himself and as a result has not only stayed true to himself but his music as well, another great performance. (MW)


M3-SebastianBach


The surprise of the day? Big Noize, who are a new supergroup featuring singer Joe Lynn Turner, guitarist Carlos Cavazo, bassist Phil Soussan, and drummer Vinny Appice,with perhaps the best setlist of the weekend, as Big Noize dedicated their set to legend Ronnie James Dio and proceeded to rip through many Dio and Rainbow tunes. This classic rock super group brought a conglomeration of Ozzy Osbourne, Dio, Black Sabbath, Quiet Riot, Rainbow and Deep Purple to the second stage at M3 on a rainy early evening.Big Noize, as vocalist Joe Lynn Turner pointed out, is not a cover band!It's a group of seasoned musicians who cover their own stuff from the aforementioned bands that they were a part of.Vocalist Joe Lynn Turner also sang for Deep Purple and Rainbow. Lead guitarist Carlos Cavazo was one of the founding members of Quiet Riot (Er…, no I'll leave that in to teach you a lesson! – reviews ed). Phil Soussan played bass guitar for Ozzy Osbourne.Drummer Vinny Appice played for both Dio and Black Sabbath.Erik Norlander was an unexpected and welcome addition as he rounded out the band on keyboards. Big Noize took the stage shortly before 7pm and played a nearly 60 minute set of classic rock anthems that began with the Sabbath classic 'Mob Rules', as the audience sang along to every song, Joe Lynn Turner worked the crowd. Following anthem after anthem, including 'Rainbow In The Dark' and a magnificent 'Stone Cold' that took me back to my youth with great memories as a young boy watching Rainbow.We were also treated to my all time favourite Dio track 'Last In Line', it was just hit after hit and was a truly breathtaking performance by these seasoned performers.They finished up the set with two Quiet Riot Tracks, the cover of the Slade classic 'Cum On Feel The Noize' and the 80s metal anthem 'Bang Your Head (Metal Health)' at which point Warrant singer Robert Mason jumped on stage to assist Joe Lynn Turner on vocal duties. This all star line up of classic rock musicians served as a reunion, of sorts, to the many loyal followers of the bands to which this show paid great tribute, and was one of the most memorable points of the weekend for me. (MW)

Up next were a band who I saw perform a storming set in Dublin a couple of years ago on a bill that included big hitters Def Leppard, Whitesnake & Journey, so I was really looking forward to the bands 'special guest' slot on the main stage. Tesla may have surpassed 25 years as a touring entity, but everyone from singer Jeff Keith to newcomer guitarist Dave Rude appeared as eager to be playing as ever. Those who have attended multiple Tesla concerts in recent years can testify to the band's unchanged abilities in laying down each song with studio quality. The fact that their singer has a signature rasp that is immediately identifiable, and the feat of maintaining 4 out of 5 original members, surely helps in that department, but it's also refreshing to hear more than a simple 'greatest hits' set from a band that's willing not only to write new material, but to let the songs be heard live. Keith and company; drummer Troy Luccketta, bassist Brian Wheat and guitarists Frank Hannon and Rude, brought their top game to M3 and served up their signature roots-laden, '70s-inspired hard rock upon the crowd. Tesla performed for nearly and hour and a half and beat the ominous, suspected down pour of rain, that thankfully turned out to be a light rain shower beginning three songs before the end of their set. The band kicked off with the title track from the excellent new album 'Forever More' before quickly airing 'Too Many' and the great 'Second Street'. The showmanship and musicianship of Tesla is not lacking on any front. Guitarist Dave Rude appears to not only fill the role left by Tommy Skeoch, but now after recording and touring, he has become an integral part of the band. Together, Hannon and Rude play off each others riffs and rhythms with ease and fluidity, and they performed harmony solos to perfection. Also impressive was their acoustic guitar work that opens up 'Love Song' with Rude playing a bluesy lead and Hannon playing a classical arrangement underneath, they showcased the melodic softer side of the band. Keith's voice may not be as sharp as it was in the '80s but he still had enough edge to deliver the new and older material with purpose, whilst Lucketta's drumming is loud and powerful, and he and Wheat provide the bottom end and pulse of the band. Obvious crowd favourites included the Tesla anthem 'Modern Day Cowboy' as well as 'Paradise' and the aforementioned 'Love Song' , this great set never seemed to hit a lull as the band rocked, whether doing their hard, faster songs or slower mid-tempo songs. Encore 'Signs' got the M3 crowd up on their feet and singing along to every verse, and brought this well delivered and very professional set to a rousing close. (MW)

When the time finally came,the lovely Lita Ford walked out to headline the second stage, and it didn't take long for the appreciative crowd to show their sign of approval for the 'Queen Of Metal', together with her all star backing band which included Michael T Ross of 'Hardline' on keys, 'Trixter's' PJ Farley on bass and the outstanding Gary Hoey on guitars. In addition, the trio of songs that were chosen to begin her performance could not be better, so with a title that perfectly describes a Lita Ford concert 'Larger Than Life' from 1991s 'Dangerous Curves' kicks it into gear with pounding drums and aggressive guitar, and gets the crowd into the show in a flash. Up next is the sexy and sassy 'Hungry' from 1990s 'Stilleto' opus before 'Gotta Let Go' balances things out as a stand-out song from the album that brought her into the mainstream way back in 1984. Her band couldn't be tighter on those songs and there was plenty of group jamming on stage. It was easy to see from their facial expressions that everyone was having a great time, as another 'Dancing On The Edge' track, 'Dressed To Kill', is offered up to the appreciative masses. 'Back To The Cave' from Lita Ford's biggest selling album to date, 1988s 'Lita', got everyone singing along and rocking out with the band. We were then treated to another 'Dangerous Curves' hit, the excellent and mesmerising track 'What Do Ya Know About Love', and Lita's voice was in fine form as the M3 audience lapped it up. The final salvo of 3 songs from 1988s 'Lita' record blew me away and really demonstrated to me how much I had missed seeing 'Lita Ford' in the live arena. 'Falling In & Out Of Love' is up first before the mega US Hit 'Close My Eyes Forever', which featured the duet with Ozzy Osbourne, and brought this very entertaining set to a dramatic close. There was a brief respite before the band cranked out Lita's most famous song of her 25 years plus career, the MTV favourite 'Kiss Me Deadly', the crowd went wild and were jumping about all over the place, and brought back some great memories of when I last saw Lita perform live back in the UK supporting Bon Jovi in the late eighties. A fantastic song to end a fantastic set, and on this performance I really hope she makes the effort and comes back to play the UK for a long overdue visit (MW)


M3-LitaFord


So, with our very enjoyable weekend coming to an end we made our way back to our seats early to make sure we witnessed the full set from one of my all time favourite bands, Whitesnake, led by one of the greatest frontmen of all time, and the king of rock royalty, Sir David Of Coverdale, with the 2011 version of his band featuring guitar wizards, Doug Aldrich and Reb Beach, together with new boys Michael Devin on bass & powerhouse drummer Brian Tichy, with Brian Ruedy on keyboards. I think 'Forevermore' is Whitesnake's best album since 'Slip Of The Tongue' and were treated to 90 minutes of thrills, chills and, at times, massive audience sing–a-longs, which made for a real fun evening filled with outstanding arena rock of the highest order. The band kicked off with an unexpected track, 'Best Years' from the very underrated 'Good To Be Bad', and set the tone for what would be a terrific set ofboth old and new tunes that didn't lose any momentum with the crowd as the night wore on. We were then treated to three classic Snake tunes back to back, starting with 'Gimme All Your Love' from the '1987' opus, on which Coverdale had the crowd absolutely rocking. My all time favourite Whitesnake track followed, the unforgettable 'Love Ain't No Stranger', which always pleases the older fanbase that seem to sing out this one with as much feeling and emotion as David himself. 'Is This Love' soon followed, with the packed M3 crowd belting out the chorus as loud as any other song all night long, and brought back great memories of the best Snake show I saw way back at the Birmingham NEC in 1988. Up next was a mix of the last two albums with 'Steal Your Heart Away' showcasing what a future classic this song will be, which is swiftly followed by another melodic masterpiece, the excellent 'Lay Down Your Love'. Title track 'Forevermore' showcases what a truly awesome guitar player Doug Aldrich really is, with some outstanding acoustic guitar for the first half of the song, with some very complex percussion parts from drummer Brian Tichy and solid bass work from Michael Devin.This was the most demanding song of the band all night and they delivered it bang on. Another new song 'Love Will Set You Free' is graciously appreciated before Doug and Reb duelled it out on stage six string vs. six string, and although I'm not generally a fan of guitar solos, this was one was outstanding.'My Evil Ways' went right into a Tichy drum solo which ended with no sticks and just Tichy playing the kit with his bare hands, very primitive but so entertaining at the same time as this guy is one the best drummers I have ever seen live in over 30 years of going to gigs. The final four songs of the night were all Whitesnake classics, including the excellent crowd pleaser 'Ain't No Love In The Heart of the City',which I have witnessed so many times but never get tired of hearing as the 'Whitesnake choir' were in fine voice. Up next was the first single I ever bought way back in 1979, the unmistakable 'Fool For Your Lovin', which featured great harmonies from Devin, Beach & Aldrich and thrilled the awestruck audience. MTV mega hit 'Here I Go Again' followed without pause for breath as Coverdale cranked out this immense hit single with all his might as the Snake frontman was on top form tonight, and brought this immense set to a rousing close. We then waited with baited breath for predictable set closer 'Still Of The Night', which Coverdale hit every note on, even at this latestage, and finally brought this set and an immense weekend to a close. I was extremely pleased with the amount of newer material aired even at the expense of some 'Snake classics like 'Slide It In' and 'Ready & Willing', and Mr Coverdale has the unique ability of getting the most out of his players, and this line-up is no exception. I think it would be unfair to compare Beach/Aldrich to Vai/Vandenberg or Devin/Tichy to Sarzo/Aldridge, but if you did you could make a good argument for either era, but you can bet Coverdale, who has always surrounded himself with top talent, will make sure Whitesnake remain what it has always been, just an exceptionaly great hard rock band. Roll on the next time I can get my fix of this band, a brilliant end to a brilliant weekend. (MW)


M3-Whitesnake


To sum up, the main stage had a lot to live up to and did not disappoint one bit, I can honestly say there was not a single low point of the festival and these memories will be forever engraved. So if your a fan of 80's metal, it doesn't get much better than the M3 Festival in Baltimore. Year on year they bring a host of quality acts to a bill that has yet to disappoint us as a whole. Obviously some bands are better than others, but overall, if you're a hair metal fan, this festival should be on your bucket list. There are rock festivals all over North America & Europe, but not too many true 80's metal themed ones, and me for one says if it aint broke don't fix it, so stick with what works and keep this theme going. We truly loved our enjoyable weekend and cannot commend the organisers enough for providing us with two days of great music, we had a fantastic time and highly recommend this festival. Great job M3 and we will definitely see you next year! (AH)

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