Mastodon’s Brent Hinds Proposes at Iron City

Although based out of Atlanta, Mastodon’s concert at Birmingham’s Iron City was a homecoming celebration. Vocalist/lead guitarist Brent Hinds is a Birmingham native and his family was in attendance. His mother spent the show hopping up and down, leaning against the balcony and his 90-year-old grandmother sat in a chair on stage and danced with members of both Mastodon and Eagles of Death Metal during the show.

Fans turned out in full force and filled with enthusiasm. The audience packed in tight such that making your way from one side of the venue to the other was a harrowing journey. The crowd met nearly every song with dancing, fist pumping, sing-alongs and the occasional mosh pit.

“You guys are really incredible,” said EODM front man Jesse Hughes. “I don’t think we’ve ever had a reception like this.” Both EODM and Mastodon echoed this sentiment several times during the evening. Of course it’s the sort of canned response that most bands spout at every show, but it felt sincere given the high capacity, high-energy audience.

After Russian Circles warmed up the crowd with a quick opening set, Hinds joined EODM on stage for its first few songs after introducing his grandmother. The band’s feel-good dance rock only contributed to the festive vibes of the night. Hughes strutted around the stage like a redneck Mick Jagger and rocked out with a cover of Bowie’s “Moonage Daydream” amid the regular set list. Josh Homme rarely tours with the band and this night, unfortunately, was no different. But the touring band put on an excellent performance and Homme’s absence was barely noticed.

Mastodon’s stage show was no-frills/all business, which is fairly typical for the band. Four vertical monitors were positioned around the back of the stage and displayed dissected, colorful, psychedelic images as the band played. With the exception of the arrays of colored spotlights, the stage lights were kept low to emphasize the colored, whirling patterns. The only other form of theatrics was Hinds’ dancing granny.

Mastodon opened with “Sultan’s Curse” and proceeded to play nearly every track off the new album, Emperor of Sand, during the course of the night. The set was still filled with plenty of fan favorites like “Oblivion” and “Blood and Thunder,” but the new songs received as many whoops and cheers as the established hits. Crowd surfers were a frequent occurrence during Mastodon’s performance but mosh pits seldom appeared, spontaneously breaking out during heavier numbers like “Blood and Thunder” only to quickly peter out by the next song.

“You want an encore?” Hinds asked at the end of the night. The audience was still in high spirits and called for more. “Well how about this for an encore?” Hinds stepped backstage, reached for his girlfriend, Raisa Moreno, and led her onstage. He knelt and proposed to her. It was a bigger encore than the audience could’ve anticipated, a one-of-a-kind show. Hinds’ mom shouted from the balcony while her son and new daughter-in-law embraced. The band didn’t try to follow that with another song.

The concert was an intimate experience shared with fans. It was the sort of show that fans talk about for years. “Were you there the night Mastodon’s guitarist had his grandma dance onstage and then proposed to his girlfriend?” It was a treat to hear the band play the new songs and it’s definitely worth catching this bill on tour, but the remaining tour dates won’t compare to seeing the Iron City show.

Lynyrd Skynyrd’s ‘One More Time For The Fans’ at Fox Theatre Nov. 12

Red Carpet for Lynyrd Skynyrd's 'One More For The Fans'

Red Carpet for Lynyrd Skynyrd’s ‘One More For The Fans’

 

Review and Photography by Danielle Boise

 

“We love you guys. God Bless you! Thank you for supporting Lynyrd Skynyrd. Let’s keep it going for another 40 years.”  – Johnny Van Zant

 

The musical influence of Skynyrd ricocheted across genres, from Southern Rock to Country and Rock ‘n’ Roll all came out to honor the godfathers of Southern Rock on Wednesday, Nov. 12, 2014. A day that the city of Atlanta proclaimed as “Lynyrd Skynyrd Day.” A collection of musical greats, heavy hitters in their own right, took the stage at The Fox Theatre to honor and celebrate the magic and wonder of Lynyrd Skynyrd. Acts such as Trace Adkins, Alabama, Gregg Allman, Charlie Daniels, Peter Frampton, Warren Haynes, John Hiatt, Randy Houser, Jason Isbell, Jamey Johnson, Al Kooper, Aaron Lewis, moe., Gov’t Mule, O.A.R., Robert Randolph, Blackberry Smoke, Cheap Trick, Donnie Van Zant and of course, Lynyrd Skynyrd themselves.

The roots of Southern Rock shined at the Fox Theatre as “One More Time For The Fans” paid tribute to Lynyrd Skynyrd. County star Randy Houser started the night off with “Whiskey Rock A Roller.” The ever soulful, Robert Randolph was up next as he performed “You Got That Right,” followed by the hard rocking Aaron Lewis putting his own twist on “Saturday Night Special.” Georgia’s own Blackberry Smoke illuminated with “Workin’ for MCA.” O.A.R. infused their own rock roots into “Don’t Ask Me No Questions.” It was perfection to see Cheap Trick perform “Gimme Back My Bullets.” The ever so wonderful American singer, songwriter John Hiatt’s rendition of “Ballad of Curtis Lowe” was a moving moment.  “It’s an honor and a privilege to be part of this tonight,” declared moe.’s Chuck Garvey as they went into “Comin’ Home.”

By far one of my personal favorite moments of the night was when Gov’t Mule performed “Simple Man.” The nature of the song and the raw power in which Gov’t Mule pour their souls into the song left me speechless. “It’s was an honor to be here tonight and play one of my favorite songs” declared Warren Haynes right before he exited the stage before intermission.

The first half of the show, while each song out did the previous one, ran a bit long, as they had to break down and set up between each act. When the intermission was over, the second half flew by in record time; the house band was on stage for most of the remainder of the night.

Warren Haynes returned to the stage after intermission with “That Smell.” Country act Jamey Johnson followed him up with “Tabulaturi.” Jason Isbell joined the stage next for his rendition of “I Know A Little.”  Musical icon Peter Frampton never stopped smiling as he performed “Call Me The Breeze.” The ever so humble country star Trace Adkins graced the stage with “What’s Your Name.” Donnie Van Zant and Charlie Daniels sang “Down South Jukin” as a duo. With mellow grace, Gregg Allman serenaded the venue with “Tuesday’s Gone,” and was proceeded by Alabama, as they came out in all their glory and did “Gimme Me Three Steps.”

“These guys are making history here tonight. 40 years ago, Lynyrd Skynyrd recorded One More From The Road on this very stage” said the President of The Fox Theatre, Allan C. Vella, to the crowd of enthusiastic fans as he presented Lynyrd Skynyrd with the Marquee Award, an award that is given to artists that come to the Fox and make history. The live recording of One More From The Road would ultimately go platinum and helped save the beloved Fox Theatre from being demolished.

 

“What a great, great night in Atlanta, Georgia tonight. We love each and every one of you. We call you our Lynyrd Nation.” – Johnny Van Zant

 

When Lynyrd Skynyrd finally came out at the end of the night, the theatre lit up an array of elation from the crowd of fans who had been singing along all night the numerous acts that preceded them. It was Skynyrd that people were there to see and were ever so happy to see them take the stage. Skynyrd had all the bands and artists come out to join in and turn “Sweet Home Alabama” into the ultimate jam session. Skynyrd followed up the infectious song with an ode to “Travelin’ Man.” With a projection screen running in the background as Ronnie Van Zant sang along with Johnny – it was a heartwarming moment to see. Of course you cannot end the night without “Free Bird,” and that’s exactly what Lynyrd Skynyrd did. They played as they paid tribute to their fallen members in pictures and words displayed on the screen in the background. It was a beautiful, somber moment; the perfect way to end the night.

 

 

Full Photo Gallery of the Red Carpet Event

Concert Review of Alabama performing at Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre on April 27, 2014

Alabama performing at Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre on 4/27/14

Alabama performing at Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre on 4/27/14

 

Story by Jemille Williams Photos by Chuck Holloway

Sweet Home Alpharetta

 

After a picture perfect day Sunday, the bottom fell out a couple of hours before showtime at Verizon Amphithetre and made prospects dim for a comfortable evening for Alabama‘s All American Tour. There were still a good many empty seats when Will Hoge took the stage, but the sky stayed clear and everyone enjoyed a beautiful spring evening. It was cool enough not to need the huge overhead fans.

Alabama performing at Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre on 4/27/14

Alabama performing at Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre on 4/27/14

Hoge is typical of so many artists who have a great sound, but just somehow have missed that big break that propels them to the big time. With any luck, his exposure to legions of Alabama fans will give him the bump he needs. His group served up a heapin’ helpin’ of Southern-fried rock ‘n’ roll sounding a good bit like Tom Petty with top notes of Lynyrd Skynyrd, especially on Craig Pair’s piano work in “Suitcase Full of Empty Dreams” and the Oak Ridge Boys, when they sang an almost a cappella “I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry” with just an acoustic guitar accompaniment.

Alabama performing at Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre on 4/27/14

Alabama performing at Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre on 4/27/14

The band definitely had a good beat that you could two-step to it. The audience grew more respectful and less chatty as the show wore on, as they were clapping along on the last couple of songs. The enthusiastic drummer Ron Killen, was similar to Coldplay’s Will Champion in both technique and appearance. Jessie Isley’s bluesy guitar work was reminiscent of Stevie Ray Vaughan on the moving “When I Get My Wings.” Of special note was the rousing cheer when he introduced bass guitarist from Snellville.

Alabama performing at Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre on 4/27/14

Alabama performing at Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre on 4/27/14

Alabama Superstars Randy Owen, Teddy Gentry and Jeff Cook took the stage to a roar from the crowd. Owne had the faithful well in hand, at times getting them to wave their hands in the air like they just didn’t care and occasionally inciting couples to slow dance in the roomy rows at Verizon.

Alabama performing at Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre on 4/27/14

Alabama performing at Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre on 4/27/14

Alabama opened with a spirited “If You’re Gonna Play in Texas (Ya Gotta Have a Fiddle in the Band)” with Cook sawing away on a neon green instrument that looked more Stratocaster than Stradivarius. On many songs they fielded six guitars!

TAM-Alabama-HollowayALA00046

Alabama made mention of their latest album, Alabama & Friends, released last year and even took a tweet request of “Old Flame,” and dedicated a song to a couple, who like the group itself, was celebrating a 40th anniversary.

Alabama performing at Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre on 4/27/14

Alabama performing at Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre on 4/27/14

Alabama gave no less than four encores, rounding out their two-hour performance, which was full of their greatest hits. After a moving rendition of “Angels Among Us” Owen ended the show shouting “Peace and Love!”

 

Full Photo Gallery of Alabama