Tribute bands are everywhere. They are essentially cover-bands, but choose to focus on covering and paying tribute to specific artists. Often they will name themselves after a well known song, lyric, album or other theme easily associated with the bands they cover. I have heard of many of these kinds of bands over the years, but this was the first time I made it to an actual show since I began this blog. It was a great night of familiar tunes from some classic heavy metal artists. The tribute bands on this night: Lights Out, Judas Beast and Heaven and Hell-Chicago. The bands they were paying tribute to: UFO, Iron Maiden, and Black Sabbath/Heaven and Hell/Dio.
They changed things up from one track to the next, covering some power ballads along with the hard-rockers. About half-way through the set they switched to the Michael Schenker Group, covering 'Armed and Ready' and 'Victim of Illusion', among others. My favorite part of their set was the closing number 'Rock Bottom', which featured an extended guitar solo and instrumental jam! Lead guitarist Joe Mazzuca kept the audience captivated for several minutes during this closing number.
I've always felt that Michael Schenker is an underrated guitarist. For some reason he remains largely in obscurity from the mainstream perspective, as most of his following is relegated to 'cult' status. I feel he deserves more respect for his contributions to metal than he seems to get. Lights Out were paying some of that overdue respect, and did justice for these songs from UFO and MSG.
Next up was Judas Beast, prepared as always to deliver "The ultimate Iron Maiden experience!"
It could not go without notice that Dane had an uncanny knack to imitate the sound of Bruce Dickinson's voice to such a convincing degree it would fool many die-hard Iron Maiden fans. In fact, for much of their show I would forget that I was not listening to the REAL Iron Maiden, they sounded that good! I needed to remind myself that this was only a tribute band. However, they performed each song with such enthusiasm and power, I would be tempted to call them a world-class Maiden tribute band.
If you need proof, you can see and hear for yourself in this youtube clip of 'Infinite Dreams'.
My favorite song they performed on this night was 'Still Life', from the Piece of Mind album. More of an obscure song, it has long been one of my favorites. I find the mood and melodies so haunting in this song, it captivates my imagination. I had always hoped to hear Iron Maiden play it whenever I've seen them in concert, but I've been unlucky so far. I must thank Judas Beast for including it in their set. As they did with so many songs on this night, they nailed it!
Maiden England DVD, essentially re-creating that concert for the fans who knew of it. In the end only a couple songs were cut for time constraints. After all, there was still one tribute act left to perform...
...And then it was time for the headlining act: Heaven and Hell-Chicago!
Since Ronnie James Dio passed away from cancer in 2010, I have been listening to almost every era of his music with near-religious regularity. Now, I was hearing a band with that same level of admiration for one of metal's biggest icons, performing those songs with a dedicated passion that was apparent in every move they made, every note they played. When they played 'Holy Diver', and did the proverbial 'horns' salute, the crowd responded in turn. This cultural phenomenon, \m/, has taken on a new significance when bands perform the works of Dio. This crowd knew that significance, and showed the deepest respect.
I've never heard a few bands deliver as many timeless classics of heavy metal music as I did on this night. From the often overlooked classics from UFO, to a page from the touring history of Iron Maiden, to the nearly complete retrospective of Dio, Black Sabbath, Rainbow, and Heaven and Hell, it would be hard to ask for a better combo of tribute bands in one night! Lights Out, Judas Beast, and Heaven & Hell-Chicago are all on facebook, and they play frequently in the Chicago area. Check out any of their upcoming shows, and you will be thanking me for the suggestion in no time.
For now, see what the show was like for us on the evening of March 15th...
Set lists were:
-Hot N' Ready
-Only You Can Rock Me
-A Self Made Man
-Armed and Ready (MSG)
-Victim of Illusion (MSG)
-On and On (MSG)
-Too Hot to Handle
-Let it Roll
-Love to Love
-The Evil That Men Do
-Die With Your Boots On
-Can I Play With Madness
-Heaven Can Wait
-Number Of The Beast
-Run To The Hills
-Hallowed be Thy Name
HEAVEN AND HELL-CHICAGO
-Children of the Sea
-Faeries Wear Boots
-Sabbath Bloody Sabbath
-Don't Talk to Strangers
-Heaven and Hell
-The Man on the Silver Mountain
-The Last in Line
-The Mob Rules
Slide show of extra pix from the show: