Friday, October 17, 2014

Concert Review: Doro with The Mighty Swine October 14 @ The Agora, Cleveland, Ohio

This past Tuesday I had the good fortune to catch the Doro show at the Agora in Cleveland, Ohio. Up front I want to thank The Mighty Swine for providing me with a ticket and my pre-planned/post-show ride accommodations who provided me safe passage on my journey home (thanks Dad!). Having thoroughly enjoyed myself by way of one Angry Orchard after another I can honestly say that it was great not having to drive the 45 minutes back home! Like I always say kids, if you are going to rage away the night then do it responsible! As for the show? More honestly here, but I came to see The Mighty Swine and the evenings opening act, Julia Roberts Global Warning. But, here's the kicker friends. I stayed for Doro. And man was I ever glad I did! While I'll never claim to be a diehard fan of hers (or even really a casual fan as I don't have any of her music believe it or not!) she blew me away with her stage presence and more so her power! Wow! More on that in bit though as the evening's festivities actually started once I made my way through the front door and found the members of The Mighty Swine. Having pre-arranged an interview with Mike Skimmerhorn and his crew we briefly chatted by the club's back bar where discussions soon turned toward the importance of eighties metal of all things! You could blame that one on me although lead guitarist/world's other greatest Dad (as I would soon enough discover!) Stacey Donahue certainly helped me alone with that bit thanks to a shared love of Iron Maiden, Judas Priest and eighties heavy metal in general! As the main area of the club proved ill-suited to our needs we all made our way back-stage where thoughts quickly turned to past shows. When was the last time I was at the Agora I thought to myself as we worked our way down the stairs to the club's dressing rooms. Was it King's X? Slayer? Or how about Motörhead? None of that mattered as this evening would prove to be the most enjoyable one ever spent at the Agora and I have the band to thank for that! I've been around bands now for the better part of my life and it never ceases to amaze me how the metal ones are by far the nicest! And let me just say that The Mighty Swine are at the top of that list! Bassist/vocalist Mike Skimmerhorn, guitarist Stacey Donahue and guitarist Jeff Tong welcome me in and I was reminded of the brotherhood that is heavy metal. Here I was talking with Chastain's long-time bassist, but it is hard to be start-struck when everyone is so laid back, kind and sincere! That went for the band and crew as I had the pleasure of meeting Stacey's son Nick who is serving time as a roadie for The Mighty Swine. From father to son there was a lot of love packed with the group's tiny dressing room and as we all talked about the band and how great Doro had been with this Cincinnati group we occasional drifted off towards the subject of fatherhood. As far as chemistry goes this band has it and it really starts with the homegrown nature of this act. Even the band's new drummer Ric Martelino (a Cincinnati native) has familiar ties to The Mighty Swine. Originally considered for the group's latest release, Ric Martelino has stepped right into the fold. With the hint of special things to come we wrapped up the interview as the band was finally getting ready to the stage. After allowing me the extreme pleasure of introducing them to a crowd hungry for more metal the band tore through a powerful set featuring not only the fantastic title cut of their latest album ("Last Man Standing"), but a blistering cover of "Hell Bent For Leather" by Judas Priest! From where I was standing the band sounded great and considering the fact that new drummer Ric Martelino had only been with the band a short time he brought his absolute best out and was like a beast on the drums! Mike Skimmerhorn's voice is as strong live as it is in the studio and while this exception bassist might just always be associated with Chastain there is little doubt the The Mighty Swine is his top priority! As the band members themselves say they are not out looking to reinvent the wheel, but instead they want to make their band and their music be the best possible! To that end they are heading there the right way and with a solid line-up now in place and the kind of dedication that leaves little doubt as to this band's potential and drive they are getting there fast! OK, what about the bands on this bill and the evening in general? Without a doubt this proved to be one of the best shows that I've been to in a long time! The Mighty Swine helped see to that, but they were hardly alone in sounding good!  Let's break down the rest of the evening's entertainment!

Having long heard good things about opening act Julia Roberts Global Warning I was anxious to see them live. And let me just say that they did not disappoint! How is this traditional/power metal band not signed? Julia Roberts is one of Cleveland's best kept secrets and as a vocalist and guitarist her skills simply cannot be beat! Instantly winning over all who see her live, Julia Roberts sent the audience away craving more and I know full well that I wasn't the only one there that evening who wished for a longer set and some merch to take back home! Extremely underrated by the community at large (or at least those who have never witnessed how wicked a power trio like this one can be when given a chance to tear shit up!) , Julia Roberts Global Warning should have been snatched up a long time ago as they rank right up there with the best that traditional heavy metal has to offer! I plan to keep in touch with this band and  I urge all of you to do the same! Find out more here:

Next up to bat was Westlake, Ohio's Blackjack Symphony ( and while the band's own blend of hard rock and heavy metal didn't do a whole lot for me at first by the second half of their set I found it a bit more inviting. Not bad for what and who they are, but they proved to be outgunned by Vulgar Devils!

And speaking of Vulgar Devils (and wicked power trios!) where did these guys come from? This heavy rock and roll/ hard & heavy three-piece plowed through the audience with a balls-out set and while they might come from the same school district that spawned Motörhead, Valient Thorr, Against The Grain and Lucky Bastardz the guys in Vulgar Devils prefer taking their own bus to the big game. With a release planned for the near future I'll be keeping an ear out for this band's rattle and roll! You can find them here: 

Next we had The Mighty Swine and while I've touched on this band already let me just add that seeing them from the side of the stage as I did was a blast! These guys are going somewhere! "Last Man Standing" is such a good heavy metal album and with everyone now on the same page this could prove to be just the start of this band's ascent to the top of the heap. I sure hope so as The Mighty Swine deserve it!

So, what of Doro? In a word "wow"! I did not expect such a huge voice to come out of such a small frame! Seriously, Doro is not at all that tall and yet her stage presence is larger then life. The crowd loved her and she in turn returned the love with a set that made each and everyone in attendance raise their first to sky in appreciation. Doro has earned a reputation as one of heavy metal's finest vocalists and here in Cleveland she proved that she still has it and isn't planning on going anywhere anytime soon. If I wasn't a fan going in I most certainly left with a new appreciation for her and her backing band and it proved to be the perfect way to end my Tuesday evening out on the town! If I can part with any words it's got to be this. Heavy metal (real, God-given heavy metal) is an amazing thing. And whether it's local talent like Julia Roberts Global Warning, U.S. metal like The Mighty Swine or a national act like Doro it all comes from the same source and that voice inside all of us that wants to break out and be free! Believe in your local bands. Support the scene whenever and however you can. And finally go out and see your favorite bands live! Along the way you might just make new friends or discover new music that you previously never gave a chance to. Remember that the metal community is a brotherhood where everyone is invited in and welcomed. At the show I saw young, twenty something year old kids standing net to metalheads in their sixties! I personally witnessed a young fan in a wheelchair being treated to kindness from long haired biker types covered in tattoos! In-between sets I chatted with a gentleman old enough to be my father and some fans who could have been my kids! Everyone there was equal-young and old, black and white alike. If we can do that then maybe just maybe it can carry over to the rest of this world? That would be nice right? In the meantime though remember what I always say. Live life loud and proud friends. Loud and proud!  

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