Concert Report by Gregg MSG at the Stone Pony, Asbury Park, NJ, U.S.A. March 10, 2012 Added on 03/12/2012
Great Site! Been enjoying reading all of the reviews of the current tour, and wanted to give a review of the March 10th show at The Stone Pony in Asbury Park, New Jersey for those who weren't there.
Having been a fan of Michael's for 30 some odd years, I always make sure to see him whenever he comes to the area. (One of the best shows of the many concerts I have been to remains UFO on their "Strangers In The Night" tour at The Palladium in NYC with AC/DC opening up, June of 1979- Incredible!).
The Stone Pony is located in Asbury Park, New Jersey, an Oceanfront City that has hosted pretty much every Major Band you can think of over the years, (perhaps you have heard of the story of how Led Zeppelin actually had turned down an appearance at Woodstock to play Convention Hall in Asbury Park the same weekend!). It is directly across from the Ocean and Boardwalk, a quick walk from Convention Hall).
The Club is one of the few remaining "Legendary" Clubs here in the United States, and is a Great place to see bands, as you can pretty much see the band from anywhere in the club, and they upgraded to a new sound system recently, so the acoustics are good from almost anywhere you are at in the club.
Years ago, the only way to know which songs the bands were doing was to actually go to the show, or talk to a friend who had seen the band at a previous show. Now with the internet, we can find out in advance what the Set List is, and with that in mind, we saw the Set List from this tour, and were really excited about the show, as it included many of the UFO/SCORPIONS Classics. We knew that it was going to be a Great Night!
When we arrived at the venue, the parking areas that were usually easy to get into were filled up, so it was Great to see that so many fans had come out to support MSG.
Before we knew it, the lights were dimmed, the William Shatner theme music came on, (nice string arrangement!), and the anticipation began to build as all eyes were on the stage to catch a glimpse of the man who had inspired all of us for almost 40 (!) years.
We were lucky enough to get a good spot up front on Michael's side of the stage, and soon enough the opening chords of the MSG Classic "Into The Arena" filled the room. Having seen MSG for many times over the years, it was great to hear Michael in top form- It has been said many times before, but his tone, vibrato, and feel is as Incredible as ever. He is directly connected to the instrument, and every note comes from the center of his being- You really feel that!-It is interesting how he does very technical runs and passages without making them sound very technical.
Soon, the instrumental had ended, and Vocalist Robin McCauley came out to lead the band through the MSG Classic "Armed and Ready"- Like many others had commented before, one of the real treats and surprises on this tour was the Vocal Prowess that Robin delivered on all of these UFO/SCORPIONS/MSG Classics. Having been a huge fan of all of the UFO material, as well as the Gary Barden/Graham Bonnet era MSG albums, I wasn't expecting the Vocals to be as great as they were for those period songs. After this show, we were all converted, and would look forward to any shows in the future with the same lineup.
(*Having said that, the Japan 2010 Dvd with Neil Murray, Simon Philips, Gary Barden, and Wayne Findlay is Incredible, a must own Dvd)
It should also be mentioned that the entire band was really tight, and it was really great to see everyone on stage smiling, having a good time, and playing the songs so well. Wayne Findlay, Elliot "Dean" Rubinson, Pete Holmes, and Robin McCauley all did an outstanding job of delivering the songs note for note, true to the recordings...
Also want to mention that it was great to see the Stone Pony crowd so into the band- The audience were singing to every song like it was 1979 in Chicago all over again:) (Funny enough, there were a couple of times during the show where people were doing some of the same "screams" in the same parts as from the Classic "Strangers in the Night" album! Those of you who have listening to the SITN album countless times, and are Music Fanatics like we are know every nuance of that Classic record! Listen closely during "Love to Love" and "Rock Bottom" and you will hear them!
For those of you interested in the setlist, it is pretty much the same as the other shows on the tour:
*Armed and Ready
*Another Piece of Meat
*Let Sleeping Dogs Die
*Rock My Nights Away
*Love to Love
*Too Hot To Handle
*Let It Roll
*On and On
*Attack of the Mad Axeman was on the Stage Setlist, but not performed.
Personal Highlights for me were getting to hear the SCORPIONS songs, as well as "Love to Love", and as always, "Rock Bottom", as the middle solo section is always one of the best couple of minutes in music for me! If you listen carefully, over the years Michael stays fairly consistent with a handful of melodies, but then introduces some new ideas to the section. For those of you out there who know a little about Music Theory, you may enjoy those Dorian Mode tonal notes that he goes to! If you ever saw the Anvil Movie, ("The Story of Anvil") you may remember the scene where Lips meets Michael at a Festival backstage, and he says to the camera how Michael is "The Beethoven of Guitar"- that always stuck with me, because I get where he is coming from. There are so few, (really just a small handful) of Guitarists who one could give that moniker to. A true Master of the Instrument...
There are moments where it all comes together- How this man playing less than 20 feet away from you is a Living Legend, who has written and played some of the most incredible songs and solos in the History of Music... There are only a handful of these Living Legends left, and we are so lucky to have them around to catch some inspiration from with their playing...
As Wayne started with the familiar intro from "Doctor, Doctor", Michael began to play the Classic Intro solo, which had the audience singing every note of the melody, and soon the band was playing the final notes to the crowd who were sang every word until the last chord.
The band shook and tapped some hands, took a final bow together from center stage, and were off into the night to bring the music to another crowd in another city...
Thank You Michael for all of the music over the years!
Old Bridge Music Center
Old Bridge, New Jersey, USA