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Michael Schenker Group @ Irving Plaza (7/31/2010)

Logo - MSG

Artist: Michael Schenker Group
Venue: Irving Plaza (New York, NY)
Opener: Lynch Mob, Sister Sin
Date: 7/31/2010
Label: Independent Artist

July had been a very excellent month for concerts so far but today the buzz across the Metal Republic was all intensely focused on the wedding of Chelsea Clinton………oh wait, I’m mistaken since none of us gave a rats ass about that stuff and instead we were all preparing ourselves for the return of the one and only Michael Schenker Group. MSG had performed over at The Gramercy Theatre last year and this killer show found a revitalized Michael Schenker which was a great treat as the musician had been dealing with “issues” for a couple of years prior to it. Now back on top of his game he continues to tour with singer Gary Barden at the microphone. This tour would continue to showcase the talents of guitarist/keyboardist Wayne Findlay as well and bring along the surprise new bass work of Elliot Dean and legendary drummer Carmine Appice. The tour also gave us two opening bands with Sister Sin and Lynch Mob. Here is how the hot night in NYC went down for those who were foolish enough to pass it by.
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Cactus @ B.B. King Blues Club (4/10/2010)

It’s been awhile since we found the American Led Zeppelin hitting the stage of B.B. King Blues Club and since we know that when they play how all are in for a rocking good time we had to help celebrate their return.  You can check out the full concert report by clicking the logo below, it will take you to the article on the main PiercingMetal.com site.  After that we invite you to enjoy some candid moments from the show by scrolling on down further in this post.

Logo - Cactus

Artist: Cactus
Venue: B.B. King Blues Club (New York, NY)
Opener: Funky Knights
Date: 4/10/2010
Label: unknown

This year’s “March Metal Madness” led us into April’s events like a ravaging hurricane and since there were only a few days left to get ones taxes in order, it seemed like the best medicine would be some classic rock delivered with expertise by the one and only Cactus. If you are still in the dark about this band, well please know that they were referred to as the “American Led Zeppelin” by many and were formed by the rhythm section of the legendary Vanilla Fudge (Tim Bogert and Carmine Appice). When this was all kicked into gear back in 1970 the band would release a few albums but sadly they were only active for a couple of years until their many decades long absence was ended in 2006 with a reunion. The reunion gigs found original members Carmine Appice, Jim McCarty, and Tim Bogert back in action, but with Rusty Day being dead since 1982, the vocals would now be handled by Savoy Brown’s Jimmy Kunes. The reunited lineup would tour in an on and off fashion and since that time would deliver a live concert DVD as well as a CD on the no longer active Escapi Music. There were also times when some players would not be present and had fill in members delivering the goods. Tonight we would actually find this being the case as Tim Bogert would not be playing bass and in his shoes (so to speak) would be Elliot Dean.

Tonight the band had the Funky Knights opening up but we would not see them. When we learned how the bassist from The Lizards was a member of the group (one Randy Pratt) we were a little saddened that we did not get to check out what they did. Oh well, perhaps next time. The band hit the stage with a rock solid groove and delivered “Swim” as their first number and this was followed by the classic “Long Tall Sally” which is a song I think that every Blues-based Hard Rock outfit did at one time or another in their career. They were definitely off to a great start and the sound was tight. It was also cool to find McCarty back on guitar as the last time we had done a concert review of them he was not present. Kunes spoke to the crowd often about how appreciative they were for the support and he thanked Elliot for standing in for Tim. Apparently Dean is the CEO of the famous Dean Guitar Company. I had to say that he played a pretty solid bass and did a great job. Also doing a great job as expected was singer Kunes. He does have a different register from that of Rusty Day, but I feel he does great justice to the bands legacy tunes and holds the banner high on their newer material and proves the band can be continued with limited difficulty. For me the highlight had to be watching Carmine Appice do his thing in such a small and intimate venue. OK, so B.B. King’s is not exactly small, but it is intimate and when they have a table setup, there are fewer bodies to have to navigate around. The drummer is now in his sixties and he does not show it when he is slamming it down. The showmanship and skills that he is respected and worshiped for were all there and to witness his talent is to get an education on how to make a career of it. We would get a brief but powerful solo from Carmine as the set reached its inevitable close.

Kunes sent a shout out to the departed Day citing how he is missed by many and I guess this was around the bands classic “Parchment Farm” but I might be wrong. As far as their set list composition this evening, they did keep it to their established classics but would touch upon four numbers from the reunion release “Cactus V”. The band’s earlier releases are very hard to find and fetch a pretty penny so if you sample some of their stuff and enjoy it, we suggest you start scouring the bins at any used CD shop you might happen to know about. The newer album is still easily found but with that record company gone, who knows what will happen when the supplies run dry. The evening would be closed out by “Rock & Roll Children” from their “One Way, Or Another” album and that would be it. I was unaware if the band would come out and meet their fans but there were many folks waiting in the wings with original vinyl albums and photos for them to sign if they happened to do so. It was interesting to learn how Paul Reed Smith was in the house tonight but I didn’t catch sight of him and while this was a little bit of a bummer we did manage to speak to Kings X drummer Jerry Gaskill who was present and enjoying the show.

If you like the kind of stuff that Vanilla Fudge or Beck Bogert and Appice did then its safe to say that you would enjoy the sound of Cactus since while different from each of these endeavors does follow some similar musical themes and has the same fan base. I was happy to see them perform for such a large crowd and I only hope that someone will make their older albums available again with some bonus tracks or live stuff.

Set List:
1. Swim
2. Long Tall Sally
3. Sweet Little 16
4. One Way Or Another
5. Bro Bill
6. Cactus Music
7. Alaska
8. Muscle and Soul
9. Oleo
10. Part Of The Game
11. The Groover
12. Evil
13. Boogie
14. Parchment Farm
15. Rock ‘N Roll Children – encore

It’s always nice to lend a little marquee love to announce what is going on down inside the venue.  This was a pretty decent night as far as the temperature so maybe this announcement would bring a few more people inside for some Blues-based Hard Rock tunes.

The B.B. King's Marquee: Cactus Is Back!!!

Just before the show was set to begin, we caught up with the guys only moments before they were hitting the stage.

Cactus Guitarist Jim McCarty

Jim readies his axe for a night of rocking Blues Hard Rock.  This man does a great job.

Jim McCarty gets Photographed by Arnie Goodman

The man taking the photo is Arnie Goodman from the one and only Elmore magazine.  If you are only just now hearing of that and his work, please do yourself a favor and look more into it.  Especially if you are a Blues fan.

It's Showtime...Ladies and Gentlemen - Cactus!

After the show we took a few candid photos of the guys and their friends and are happy to share this stuff with all of you.  Here’s Jimmy Kunes acting the clown with Carmine Appice and some of their long time friends.

Cactus' Jimmy Kunes, Carmine Appice & Friends

We mentioned how Kings X’s own Jerry Gaskill was at the show and it was great to meet him.  Here is a shot of the drummer and Jimmy Kunes.

Jimmy Kunes & Jerry Gaskill

We managed to get these four guys chilling out after the show and while you know quickly that we have Carmine and Jimmy present and accounted for, you might not recognize the third chap in the photo.  That’s Mark “Weiss Guy” Weiss and he is a long time photographer of the Rock and Roll and Metal scene.  He has been doing this for a long time and is regarded as one of the heavy hitters in the realm.  To his left is Mr. Gaskill.

Carmine Appice, Jimmy Kunes, Mark Weiss & Jerry Gaskill

Here is a solo shot of Mark and Jerry.  Mark was clearly having a blast tonight.

Jerry Gaskill & Mark Weiss

Being in the presence of two great drummers found me with the chance to snare a moment of their time and get this shot.  It was really an honor.  Carmine has long been an inspiration to my own percussive pursuits and who doesn’t like what Jerry lays down on the skins.

PiercingMetal Ken, Jerry Gaskill & Carmine Appice

We left the guys to their friends and family and on the way out caught a moment to speak to Elliot Dean who had played bass tonight.  He did great and we wanted to tell him so.  Plus its not often one gets to meet the CEO of a major company.

Elliot Dean & PiercingMetal Ken

Be sure to check out some of the band’s history via their Wikipedia entry HERE.

Official Website: http://www.cactusrocks.com
Official Website: http://www.funkyknights.com