Author Archives: Matthew Belter

TVD Live Shots: Scorpions with Queensryche at Five Point Amphitheatre, 9/2

I can vividly remember rocking out to the Scorpions as a 12-year-old kid in the back of the family station wagon courtesy of KCAL FM in my hometown of San Bernardino, CA. The blistering guitars of Matthias Jabs and Rudolph Schenker made drives to and from school bearable and helped create the metal monster that I am today. Fast-forward 35+ years and the Scorpions still transport me back to that childlike state—one that I am sure most fans were also in as the Scorpions took the stage in front of a sold-out Five Point Amphitheatre. This show was going to be special.

Opening the show on Sunday night was none-other than progressive rock superstars Queensryche. Fronted by Todd La Torre, the band quickly ignited a powder keg in Irvine with “Best I Can” off 1990’s triple-platinum album, Empire. Guitarists Michael Wilton and Mike Stone along with bassist Eddie Jackson and drummer Casey Grillo slayed their 9-song set and kept fans out of their seats with classics such as “Silent Lucidity,” “Jet City Woman,” and “Eyes of a Stranger.” The best song of the night was a toss-up between two Rage for Order standards, “The Whisper” and “Screaming in Digital.” La Torre’s vocals were simply incredible and brought both songs to life in a way that few vocalists can.

After a brief intermission to gather what senses had I had left, the Scorpions finally took the stage. As this could be their final tour (yes, we have heard that before), it was fitting for them to start off the show with “Going Out with a Bang.” Klaus Meine’s voice sounded spectacular (for a guy who just turned 70 in May) and showed no signs of aging as he manhandled a 16-song set that took fans on a journey across the Scorpions 50+ year history. Matthias Jabs and Rudolph Schenker killed on guitar and proved once again why they may be the best guitar tandem in rock and roll history. Add the killer bass chops from Pawel Maciwoda and Mikkey Dee’s ridiculous drumming, and you have all the ingredients for a “bucket list” show for the ages.

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TVD Live Shots:
Rob Zombie, Marilyn Manson, and Deadly Apples at Five Point Amphitheatre, 8/29

Whether you are a lifelong Rob Zombie follower or a hardcore disciple of Marilyn Manson, there was something for everyone who attended the final stop of the 2018 “Twins of Evil – The Second Coming Tour.” Fans of both bands were treated to a high-energy spectacle that scorched the earth in and around the Five Point Amphitheatre and left the sold-out crowd wanting more when the flames finally subsided. It was an unbelievable night of metal mayhem under the stars in Irvine, CA and will go down as one of the best metal performances at the venue since it opened its doors in August 2017.

Opening Wednesday’s performance were Canadian rockers, Deadly Apples. Led by frontman Alex Martel, this alternative metal quartet lit the fuse in Irvine and took spectators on a wild ride that delivered on all levels. Their seven-song set was just what the doctor ordered to get everyone out of their seats and on to their feet as the show began. On top of some amazing vocals, Martel caught many off guard with his wild stage antics ranging from high-intensity stage jumps to demolishing numerous microphone cables. All in all, this set was simply killer and the perfect precursor to Manson and Zombie.

Next up on the docket was co-headliner, Marilyn Manson. I’ve always heard mixed reviews about his live shows, but never actually had a chance to see him perform. Going into this show, I had high hopes and Marilyn did not disappoint. From his opening salvo on “Irresponsible Hate Anthem” to his incredible cover of The Eurythmics’ “Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This),” the show was jam-packed with 12 incredible songs that took fans at Five Point to a whole new level. My favorite from this ridiculous set was “The Dope Show” from 1998’s Mechanical Animals. This song is Marilyn Manson personified, and captured the true essence of this amazing performer and artist.

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TVD Live Shots: Foreigner, Whitesnake, and Jason Bonham’s
Led Zeppelin Evening
at Mattress Firm Amphitheater, 7/31

1977 was undoubtedly a very important year in rock ‘n’ roll history. The Billboard charts were packed with hits from well-established artists such as the Eagles, Kansas, and The Steve Miller Band, while newcomers such as Cheap Trick, Eddie Money, and The Clash were just beginning to emerge onto what was already an incredible musical landscape.

It was also March of that same year that Foreigner exploded onto the scene with their self-titled debut, Foreigner. It became an instant classic and has withstood the test of time as one of the most iconic and best-selling debut albums ever.

On Saturday, July 31st, Foreigner teamed up with Whitesnake along with Jason Bonham’s Led Zeppelin Evening (or JBLZE) for their highly-anticipated Juke Box Heroes Tour in beautiful Chula Vista, CA. For those who have never attended a Foreigner show, it truly is a “bucket-list” type of experience not to be missed. Fans from all over the country travel thousands of miles to be part of magic, and Tuesday’s performance was no exception.

As the sun began to set over the foothills surrounding the Mattress Firm Amphitheater, Jason Bonham took center stage and launched into a killer set of Zeppelin classics including “The Immigrant Song,” “Rock and Roll,” and one of the most iconic rock songs of all time, “Stairway to Heaven.” Throughout the performance, one could only imagine what it would have been like to Zeppelin in their prime.

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TVD Live Shots: Jeff Beck, Paul Rodgers, Ann Wilson, and Deborah Bonham at FivePoint Amphitheatre, 7/20

On Friday July 20th, Jeff Beck, Paul Rodgers, Ann Wilson, along with special guest Deborah Bonham, joined forces for their long-awaited Stars Align Tour at FivePoint Amphitheatre. For classic rock aficionados, this was a “bucket-list” tour that brought together these legendary musicians for one incredible night of music mastery under that stars in beautiful Irvine, CA.

Kicking off Friday’s show was blues vocalist extraordinaire, Deborah Bonham. While many know her as “the late John Bonham’s sister,” I don’t feel the reference truly gives her the respect warranted as a world-class musician. Although her set was abbreviated, it was evidently clear that she deserved to be on the same stage with the likes of superstars Beck, Rodgers, and Wilson.

Next up was the multi-talented musician and front woman of Heart, the incomparable Ann Wilson. I was blown away by her incredible vocal range as she covered several tracks from her 2018 release, Immortal. Although fans seemed to resonate with the 1977 classic, “Barracuda,” I found myself hanging by a thread as she killed The Who’s “The Real Me,” from their 1973 masterpiece Quadrophenia. It was an amazing tribute and left me wanting more from this once in a lifetime talent.

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TVD Live: The Struts
at The Roxy, 5/31

Ready to embark on their 2018 Summer World Tour, The Struts descended on West Hollywood for a series of four sold-out shows at the legendary Roxy Theater. For most bands of this size, a residency like this would be simply unheard of. But we’re talking The Struts here. Since 2009, this dynamic band from Derbyshire, England has taken the world by storm and was about to do the same for its legions of fans here in Southern California. Glam was finally making its triumphant return to the legendary Sunset Strip!

Thursday evening’s show was the 3rd of a 4-day residency for The Struts and could not have come soon enough. Driving in from Long Beach, I had plenty of windshield time to get my head right for the upcoming show by cranking up a playlist chock full of Struts classics, many from their 2014 debut album, Everybody Wants. This has been one of my go-to albums since its release and was excited to see how it would translate on stage at the world-famous Roxy Theater in West Hollywood, CA. I was literally hours away from finding out and couldn’t have been more jacked up to see The Struts live.

As I walked down Sunset Blvd to pick up my tickets, I couldn’t help by notice all the die-hard Struts fans waiting in line. Many had been there since noon, waiting patiently for their chance to be up close and personal with their favorite band on the planet. Some of the diehard fans were dressed to the nines while others looked look liked they just gotten off from a long day at the office. Regardless of disposition, most were the same die-hard fans that had also lined up early the previous two evenings. To say these were Struts “super-fans” would probably be an understatement.

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