Live Review: M3 Rock Festival, Day Two

Published on May 27th, 2012

RATT
May 12, 2012 – A RATT reunion along with performances from Queensryche, Dokken, Warrant, Great White, Stryper, Skid Row, and L.A. Guns to name a few provided more than enough to bring a swarm of fans of glam rock to the wooded Merriweather Post Pavilion for the second and final installment of M3 Rock Festival 2012. When we say RATT reunion, we mean that bassist Juan Croucier is back with the group on stage for the first time since 1992. Egos put aside, this mean and lean version of the band picked up where they left off all those years ago to the amazement of most in the audience.

The crowd at the M3 represents a virtual “Who’s Who” of ’80s rock fans. Everyone who was wearing band t-shirts in high school during the 1980s (the “lifers”) are out in full force and in some cases wearing the same exact t-shirt they sported in the day.

The high school and college kids (“young punks”) are sometimes in tow with their parents, but often spotted in their own gatherings cheering on the same bands their parents most likely raised them with.

There are Maryland natives, and there are couples who traveled from Europe and Asia.

Festival organizers clearly intended to create an experience worthy of a cross-country (or trans-ocean) trip, and they’ve succeeded. As Rocklahoma drifts further into the grunge scene with each passing year, M3 is filling a thirst for glam rock that may never be quenched. At least they can try.

Starting off shortly after Noon (yes, you read that correctly), Great White took to the stage to fuse glam and blues with the help of new frontman Terry Ilous. Although original guitarist Mark Kendall, keyboardist Michael Lardie, and drummer Audie Desbrow remain intact, Ilous is filling big shoes left by Jack Russell, who had a complicated divorce from the band last year.

While Russell tours with a new band he’s calling his own version of Great White, it’s clear this version is closer to the real deal. They’re embracing the change now with a new release titled “Elation” to arrive in stores later this year.

Ilous earned himself quite the task for the afternoon. Shortly after finishing up his duties with the sharks, he was off to the second M3 stage to sing with XYZ, an obscure band that never quite lifted off when he helped found it in 1989.

Christian metalheads Stryper were on next, with guitarist/vocalist Michael Sweet and his bandmates dropping the jaws of those who didn’t expect them to keep up with their secular counterparts. Think “To Hell with the Devil” won’t rock hard in concert? Think again.

The Phil Lewis version of L.A. Guns followed up shortly after. The headline here? An overtly British Lewis has kept much of his voice and his looks from the sunset strip era. And it’s fitting, because the band is coming forward with a new album this summer titled “Hollywood Forever”.

Two versions of L.A. Guns still persist, but we’ll take the one that’s fronted by the 55-year-old London-turned-L.A. rocker.

There’s a lot that can be said about the state of Dokken‘s lineup. We’ll sum it up in three sentences. Singer Don Dokken and guitarist George Lynch played a couple shows together and went on “That Metal Show” in 2010 to fire up speculation that they would reunite. Dokken and Lynch Mob (Lynch’s solo band) were both booked at M3 on the same day, firing up speculation that they would reunite. Dokken and Lynch did not reunite, despite much speculation being fired up.

But that’s hardly the whole story. Like Great White and L.A. Guns, Dokken is also coming out with a new album this summer. It’s titled “Broken Bones”, and is ‘up-tempo’ according to Don. Fans at M3 weren’t treated to any new cuts from this album, but they were treated to plenty of air guitar from Don Dokken, and real guitar from Jon Levin, who may or may not be George Lynch in disguise.

VH1 host and M3 emcee Eddie Trunk noted on Twitter that Lynch watched Dokken perform from backstage. An interesting dynamic, no doubt.

For the meantime, Don Dokken seems rather content charting his own path with or without Lynch, and proclaimed “let’s just pretend it’s 1987 again” to many cheers in the audience.

With Jani Lane’s passing, Robert Mason has taken the helm of Warrant, who were eager to please with their famous blend of pop and metal. Although “Down Boys” was an uptempo opener, a heaping of ballads set in for “I Saw Red”, “Heaven”, and “Sometimes She Cries”. But the crowd didn’t mind the band going for the softer notes – M3 like their power ballads, too.

A more disturbing than ever version of Queensryche was up next, and guess what? They also has a new album out. It doesn’t take a math degree to sense a pattern here – maybe Don Dokken is right and it is 1987. Note to self: for all intents and purposes, it is always 1987 at the M3 Rock Festival.

Queensryche is known for having an air of theatrical mystery that’s hard to put a word on, and this show was no exception. Geoff Tate was so into the show that he reached out and grabbed our camera (see photographic proof below!) Now there’s something that doesn’t happen at every rock show. We’re not sure what made Geoff put his hand over the camera, but it certainly added some shock value to his already dramatic performance.

Queensryche’s “interesting” performance was capped off to perfection with “Silent Lucidity”. We’re pretty sure that even Tate got goosebumps as he heard the crowd echoing back the song’s famous chorus. Search the United States high and low, there is no crowd that sings along better to ’80s hits than this one.

Last but never least, it was time for RATT. Let’s see if they pass the M3 inspection. Reunion with excommunicated bassist? Check. Stephen Pearcy raspy as ever? Check. New album coming out? Check. That last one is a major sticking point.

Instead of describing how RATT’s set was truly a blast from the past, setting the Twitterverse on fire with statements like “RATT N’ ROLL LIVES AGAIN”, it’s better to simply reveal the list of songs they played. This allows for a full understanding of how deep into the band’s catalog Pearcy and the gang chose to dive.

Spoilers, here we come.

Dangerous But Worth The Risk
Scene of the Crime
In Your Direction
Wanted Man
I’m Insane
Lay It Down
Lack Of Communication
Take A Big Bite
Way Cool Jr.
You Think You’re Tough
Nobody Rides For Free
Body Talk
Back For More
You’re In Love
Round And Round

If you don’t recognize half of those songs, you’re not a true RATT fan. But anyone who went out and purchased vinyl during 1983-1987 must have been shocked to hear some of these songs again.

A happy band made for a happy show. Juan Croucier is obviously psyched about being back on stage with his former bandmates, and the roaring fans were glad to see him there. For someone who hasn’t been able to play in front of somewhere between 10,000 and 20,000 fans in a long time, he clearly missed it.

The rest of the band was feeling nostalgic as Pearcy opted for the eye shadow and guitarist Warren DeMartini used up a can of hair spray. It doesn’t get much better than this.

This year’s M3 was everything a rock fan could hope for. Great bands, great fans, and great weather (thanks to a great decision to move the festival to May from June) all were at work here to create the ultimate hard rock experience. Judging by the attendance figure, the formula is working and there’s no need to change it.

Learn more about the M3 Rock Festival at http://m3rock.webs.com.

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Comments

  1. Posted by peter chrisp on July 30th, 2012, 07:14 [Reply]

    Good to see Ratt back at the scene of the crime, and their back for more,hopefully this time they have buried their egos or differences,always a blessing to have “The Ratt Pack Back”good stuff.

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