The Meister’s 2015 M3 Experience: Day #2-The Evening of Saturday May 2, 2015 At Merriweather Post Pavilion
…And here we go with the grand finale of my experiences at the 2015 M3 Festival in Columbia, Maryland. If you recall from my last installment, I had just settled down for a little nap-sky in my pavilion seat, sunglasses on and hoping no one notices. Damn, it sucks getting old!
I was awake and as refreshed as possible in time for one of my all-time favorite bands (another logo that appears in my full sleeve tattoo), Krokus. Krokus was partly responsible for creating the Swedish Monster that has festered and taken hold inside me. You see every year (2015 will be my third) I make the long pilgrimage to Sweden for the Sweden Rock Festival. Krokus was a part of the absolutely killer roster there in 2013 that started it all. The reasoning quickly became: “There’s no chance of seeing these guys in North America, so I might as well go over there!”. That was (happily I might add) shot all to hell when they were announced as appearing on The Monsters Of Rock Cruise, M3 and also a few other select dates in 2015, none in Canada I might add. The Swiss rock giants began with their seminal classic “Long Stick Goes Boom” and never looked back as they ripped through a similar set to the cruise covering “Hoodoo Woman”, “Screaming In The Night”, “Heatstrokes”, “Easy Rocker”, “Eat The Rich” (which when emailing back and forth with vocalist Marc Storace last year he addressed me as “Eat da Rich”) and “Headhunter”. Also in the Krokus set were two cover songs, “American Woman” (The Guess Who) and “Quinn The Eskimo (The Mighty Quinn)” (Bob Dylan). While these were great versions it was a little disappointing that Krokus chose to include two covers as opposed to the plethora of their own work that they have to choose from. And yes, I’m aware that Krokus is known for including cover songs on almost every album. During “Hoodoo Woman” bassist Chris von Rohr‘s mike stand dropped down and during the chorus he was forced to kneel in front of it to provide the backing vocals until a stagehand noticed the issue and ran out to rectify it. I re-named “Screaming In The Night” to “Screaming In The Daytime” in my head since Krokus were rocking us at around 4pm in the afternoon and thankfully the crowd “hey, hey” bit usually present during “Easy Rocker” was kept to a minimum with the short set time…maybe a shorter set does have it’s merits after all! All in all another excellent performance from one of my all-time rock heroes, the only thing that would have made it better would have been Fernando Von Arb making the journey over but unfortunately he is limited in his travel abilities.
The Winery Dogs on the Festival stage, no thanks. I’ve just seen some of their set on the cruise last week, but unfortunately I just don’t “get” their music at all. With the trio of musicians in this band it should be the greatest thing I’ve ever heard, but it just isn’t. I do however go “gaga” when they rip into “Shyboy” showcasing the masterful talents of bassist Billy Sheehan. I better make use of this time to replenish the food and beverage levels and get back to my seat in time for Warrant, the only other band besides Dokken on this bill that I’ve not previously seen live.
Eddie Trunk and Jack Russell made the introductions for Warrant, starting by welcoming their special guest, Rick Savage. Probably this would mean something if I had any idea who this guy was! Since I don’t, his yammering only serves as an annoyance to me, damn I’m cranky in my old age! “D.R.F.S.R.” led Warrant‘s charge, and quite loudly I might add. Loudly not in a really good way either. Robert Mason, however, seemed very good and quite impressed me as a vocalist, even more so than the Warrant catalog of songs did. Mason led them through “Down Boys”, “Sure Feels Good To Me”, “Sometimes She Cries”, “So Damn Pretty (Should Be Against The Law)”, “I Saw Red”, “Sex Ain’t Love” and “Heaven”. Looking around I was a little surprised to find that it was not just the ladies in the audience that were singing along with Mason throughout some of these radio hits of yesteryear, but also a good portion of the men too. OK, I was singing as well, you caught me. “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” was the next on the roster, an absolute favorite song of mine that always invokes memories of youth and it was great hearing it live. Things then shut down with a bit of a cool disaster. For their biggest hit of “Cherry Pie” Warrant invited some guests out on stage, which could have been really cool. Jamie St. James and Jack Russell (who seems to be everywhere at the festival) were the guests in what basically was a disorganized and unrehearsed mess, but still very cool. I’m a little surprised that Bobbie Brown, the “Cherry Pie” girl, was not there for this song as well.
Now to hustle over to the festival stage for the first time in awhile today to catch Y&T. Always a phenomenal band live and super nice, personable gents as well, I never miss the chance to hear them play. And hear them is basically all that I could do. With there being only 5 minutes in between pavilion and festival stage starting times, things were already under way by the time my old bones got over there and therefore I couldn’t get right up front. This year M3‘s festival stage was not as high off the ground as it had been last year and so basically I could see only the tops of their heads on stage. I’ll just have to watch it on the big screen projection that’s hanging to the right side of the stage, could have stayed home if I wanted to watch TV though. In any case, hearing Dave Meniketti lead this band through more “classic soundtrack of my youth” songs is always a warm experience. We caught the tail end of “Don’t Stop Runnin'”, which was followed by “Black Tiger”, “I Want Your Money” and “Mean Streak”. It must be hard for these guys who normally play a set of around 2 and a half hours at their headline gigs to cram it down into only 45 minutes, but they failed a little to me with “I Believe In You”. Great song and Dave is a great guitar player, but a lengthy solo in a short set never sits well with me, might have been able to squeeze in another tune! “Contagious” and “Summertime Girls” followed and somewhere in here Dave announced that Y&T use no backtracks and are 100% live during their performances. “Rescue Me” came with a little history on the writing of the song and “Forever” wrapped up another “too short in my mind” set.
Intent on catching as much of Queensryche as possible even though I just saw them during the MORC experiences I became distracted and waylaid as I paused to chat with another Canadian friend. We quickly discovered that Bobbie Brown and Tawny Kitaen were doing a signing next to the merchandise booth. Queensryche who? After some time wasted there it was into the VIP bar area for beverages and look who’s here, the KiLLeR DWaRfS! Again I can’t stress how much these guys are in touch with their fans meeting, signing, passing out souvenir pics…haven’t seen any other bands out and about! Watching Tom Keifer through the video feed that is piped into the VIP bar while enjoying beverages seemed much more agreeable than another hike over the hill to stand at the back of the crowd and see nothing but the TV anyway and so it was done.
Europe was the final act of the weekend and it looks like Tom Keifer is playing an extended set as he’s still ripping away as we head out of the VIP bar to get ready for Europe. I really like War Of Kings, the latest Europe release and it’s bluesy hard rock sound showing great maturity and growth in this band since “The Final Countdown” days. Europe have continued issuing albums throughout the years in between and there’s a lot of great rock in their discography. That being said, their set tonight was, I felt, a little too heavy on the new material and little-known stuff for much of the crowd. They delivered four songs from War Of Kings including “War Of Kings”, “Hole In My Pocket”, “The Second Day” and “Days Of Rock n Roll” and two from Out Of This World with “Superstitious” and “Ready Or Not”. Last Look At Eden supplied the title track while Bag Of Bones gave us “Firebox” and “Scream Of Anger” came from Wings Of Tomorrow. That left “Rock The Night”, “Carrie”, “Cherokee” and “The Final Countdown” from the 1986 The Final Countdown album to fill out the setlist. I don’t care how dated or cheesy it sounds today, I’d have just been happy if they played The Final Countdown cover to cover! Bet you’re doing the tune in your head now eh? Vocalist Joey Tempest sure sounded good as he did aboard the cruise as well and despite what many have queried I think Europe was a great festival closer. It’s just too bad that Keifer extended his set, keeping a good portion of the attendees over there resulting in a half-empty stadium for Europe.
And so there ends my second, but definitely not last M3 Festival, another success overall. Yes, I had a few complaints, but really everything was wonderful, filled with excellent bands and great friends once again. The Merriweather Post Pavilion is a fantastic set up for hosting this event and I’m already making the plans for next year’s M3. Who was my top band of the weekend you might ask? Well, I have to say that all bands that I saw did a great job, some better than others of course, but nothing horrible. I’d have to take a close tie between Krokus and Y&T for the third spot and another close tie between The KiLLeR DWaRfS and Tyketto for first and second positions. Columbia, Maryland I will return!