Once again, J-Fell put together a winner. Just imagine, all you lovers of 80s rock, being able to get up close and personal with The Scorpions, Van Halen, and Ozzy! That is a rockers wet dream come true! Well, if you were in Portland, Oregon this past weekend and not one of those in attendance at the sold show at Dante's...you missed out. Lovedrive, Unchained, and Crazy Train hit the button on Mr. Sherman's Wayback Machine and brought on some of the best rock and roll money can buy.
Lovedrive opened and set the bar high. No worries, having seen both Unchained and Crazy train a few times, I had no doubts that the marks would be hit. However, let me get back to Lovedrive for a moment. Having seen the Scorpions at what I consider to be their prime (the Blackout tour), I feel qualified to say that these guys bring all the energy and a sound that will blow your mind. This was my second time seeing Lovedrive, and I am now a BIG fan.
The benchmark for me comes from a vocalist that can give me Klaus' unique vocal sound. No problem here. And the guitar attack is hard, fast, and loud. This is your father's Scorpions! I would highly recommend that you scour the Portland metro scene and find their next show. If you love the Scorps and wonder what it would be like to stand so close that you can literally reach out and touch the band...well, get a ticket!
The middle act was one of my personal favorites: Unchained. I have said it before, and I will say it again. These guys are amazing. They bring you with them on a journey through everything that you loved about the original Van Halen. The big difference is that these guys know you are there and they sincerely appreciate their fans.
I will say that the gang has made some changes. Change is always scary, but when a band does it, they have to try and gauge the crowd to see how it plays out. For Unchained, this change included adding a few "B-Side" songs to their set. As a fan of Van Halen, I was totally thrilled to hear my personal favorite song "Take Your Whiskey Home". The band stepped out on a ledge and, in my opinion, found a bridge to an entire new level of FREAKING AWESOME!
There is nothing I can tell you about Unchained that would do the band justice. Don, Brad, Harry and Dirk will give you a show that will make you remember exactly why you fell in love with this music. They become Dave, Eddie, Michael, and Alex. If you let go for just a moment, you will believe that you have indeed gone back in time and stumbled into something magical.
Many tribute bands have to really go through a transformation to try and look like the icons they are paying homage to on stage. Tim Tugg leads Crazy Train on stage and you will believe to the very end that Ozzy has a secret life. Yes, he is just that convincing. And while Dan Bates might not have the flowing blond locks of Randy Rhodes...he is a shredder with the talent to make you wonder why Jake E. Lee got the gig instead of this guy. Bates, in short, kills it on guitar.
This is another band that you need to put on your "Must See" list if you have an ounce of love for Ozzy, Sabbath, or just some good old kick ass rock. The stage can barley contain this band, and unless you were camped out in front of The Paramount or the Memorial Coliseum back in the day, you have never been this close, and there is something amazing about watching this band perform.
I saved this last bit for the end. I do not know how the hell Rick Lepinski (slap me next time you see me if I spelled it wrong) is not playing bass in stadiums. As the bass player for Crazy Train (and Maiden Northwest) he is perhaps one of Portland's best kept secrets. I also think he must have fingers made of titanium. Thee way he hammers that bass is hypnotic. Seriously, see him once and I defy you to not be impressed.
A big tip of the hat to all the bands for a night to remember. And if you are getting tired of reading about all this amazing live music...THEN GET TICKETS! See you there.