The Rock Pit - Hard rock, Metal and Blues Interviews, news & reviews from Australia and around the world

The Rock Pit - Hard rock, Metal and Blues Interviews, news & reviews from Australia and around the world







DAY ONE - 20 APRIL 2013



The Stone Music Festival was always going to be interesting, and as it turned out it was on a number of different levels. Musically it was a bit of a split personality – a true out and out Rock Festival like they used to make them on the Saturday and something a little more sedate on the Sunday.


On paper it was hard to see the common ground that would have punters snapping up tickets to both dates, I mean there can’t be too many people that file their Guy Sebastian next to their VAN HALEN CDs? Looking at the two days I realised that I owned practically everything recorded by the main stage acts on Saturday and looking at Sunday I had a copy of Billy’s Greatest Hits and a couple of Diesel albums…


There were of course many more questions to be asked – it had been almost a full year since VAN HALEN played New Orleans in June last year - would they be up to the task? Would the notoriously unpredictable Eddie Van Halen even turn up? How would they sound? What would they play and that was only the headliner!


And then AEROSMITH came on board and all of a sudden there were more questions – for those of you out there who aren’t aware of the enormity of that double-bill you have to go back to 1978 to find the two greatest stadium bands of the late seventies to early eighties on the same bill!


Add to that the fact that it had been 24 years since AEROSMITH last played Australia and that VAN HALEN had never played Australia with Dave Lee Roth, only the far less glamorous line-up which included Extreme’s Gary Cherone had ever made it here and that was way back in 1998.


But who would win the battle of the bands?


The addition of AEROSMITH also came with ticketing controversy – people who had shelled out early for platinum tickets to STONE and been expecting a reserved seat were now going to be standing with everyone else in front of the stage. One lady in the ticketing queue on the morning was uncontrollably upset traveling thousands of miles only to find out she would not be seated in the seventh row – but standing - and at 5 foot tall and in here late sixties she stood no chance of enjoying the event.


There was more of course: the venue itself was strange choice, especially when only about a third of it was in use, the food as you might expect was more fitting for a footy crowd - with burger and chips not something today’s discerning concert goer is looking for, then there was the location of the second stage – not on any of the maps and so small I passed it twice without realising.  But what seemed to annoy people more than anything was the decision someone seemed to have made to let those who bought less pricey tickets into the Platinum area – now if there is one thing punters DO NOT like it’s feeling they have been ripped off or that someone has got as good as they have for less.


Then came the rain.


But that was only the beginning, where it mattered – the music – The Stone Music Festival was a triumph…







Getting in early the day before to catch the BUCKCHERRY sideshow at ‘The Standard’, things had already gotten off to a great start, with BUCKCHERRY owning the room and sounding amazing (SEE THE REVIEW IN THE LIVE SECTION). Staying near the Festival site meant that it was just a short hop to ANZ Stadium for what we were anticipating; based on the line-up; would be the show of the year.



Drawing back the blinds to be welcomed by a Sydney sky full of solid grey cloud and heavy rain didn’t even manage to put a dampener on things, after all we were only forecast light showers – it would pass.



It didn’t of course, and so plastic bags and gaffer tape came out to protect the hired long lens (Shooting Aerosmith and Van Halen at that stage was to be from the Soundboard which was a respectable 20 metres or so out). Never having shot a festival in anything but the lightest of showers before it was going to put an interesting slant on things unless the skies cleared.






Openers THE SUPERJESUS on paper had the gig of the day, warming up the crowd for what was to come. In reality things were a little different with most of the photographers still queued up outside as they hit stage and the rain falling heavily from the sky, keeping the punters that we’re filing in early at a distance. From the stands though they looked and sounded great, so sonically early days the Festival ticked off one of those most important boxes – it was loud. Down in the pit the word was the same – this was sounding good, and all credit to the Superjesus – they played like that place was packed to the rafters!








We had been expecting IAN MOSS up next but sadly he’s not on the bill and no one seems to know why, RICHIE RAMONE who follows and who supported BUCKCHERRY last night starts off as he did a few hours before belting out a ‘less punk more metal’ set as you might expect from the man who took the Ramones into heavier waters in the early eighties.



It’s entertaining stuff again dampened slightly by the heavy rain, but songs like ‘Someone Put Something in my Drink’ gets at least a section of the crowd moving, Taking a moment to come upfront for a sing and a sneer it’s hard to tell if RICHIE is pissed off or it’s all part of the punk act, still in the rain it’s hard to tell if the crowd is actually spitting or not. With a new album out imminently called ‘Entitled’ the title track sounds like something worth investigating.








Ridin’ | Rescue Me | Wrath | Lit Up | Gluttony | Crazy Bitch





As Josh Todd said last night when BUCKCHERRY played Sydney’s ‘The Standard’ club – what on earth were they thinking having Buckcherry on at the ungodly hour of 1.45PM!  If ever there was a band made for late nights (and Voodoo) it’s BUCKCHERRY so to see them take the stage in what was definitely heavy rain just after lunch was something of a sight, but as the water tipped down on the crowd and the pit alike the band managed to stay relatively dry.



In short Buckcherry is an amazing band live, and the perfect fit for this day headlined by two heavy weights of stadium rock. If ever there was a band that had the right vibe and you feel could fill a stage like this – it’s these guys. They may not quite be as straight down the line Hard Rock as the headliners but Todd has the moves, and manages to pull the audience right into the palm of his hand. Time and weather against them BUCKCHERRY did all they could to get the crowd going - a couple of hours later and they might have pulled it off.



For many to hear ‘Lit Up’ and ‘Crazy Bitch’ was all they  wanted – two songs that say it all about a band that last played this City in 1999 when they were still touring album no. 1. Now on album six it’s been a long time between visits for a band I still believe can make that move to the big leagues even 16 years after forming. Check out latest album ‘Confessions’ and tell us it’s not one of the most consistent Hard Rock albums you’ve heard in a long time.



The only surprise for the day in a way too short set is the opener which they omitted at their club date last night - ‘Ridin’’ was the standout from their second album ‘Time Bomb’ and kills it live.









Following a ‘lit up’ Buckcherry was never going to be easy for Jon Steven’s NOISEWORKS especially as the rain barely let up and a lot of the younger crowd seemed to disappear from the front of the stage, presumably to either dry off or have a smoke or a beer. If anything though, it seemed to rev the band up.  



The iconic Aussie singer proved one thing today – that even after all this time the voice is still in fine fettle which bodes well for his new band THE DEAD DAISIES who support AEROSMITH on the remainder of their Australian and New Zealand tour.
Belting out the classics the band looks like it’s having fun and the crowd is very much into it, matching Jon word for word. To be fair it’s a great set and one that the spare crowd really warms to, it’s also nice for someone not too familiar with the back catalogue to sink their teeth into so relatively early on.







Always entertaining THE LIVING END put on a set of classics that made you appreciate the caliber of band they really are. Packed with the hits they prove that they are a band that has not puled any punches over the years and even though their sound may have evolved over the years there’s enough of their Rockabilly roots on show to please diehards and newer acquaintances. Guitarist and vocalist Chris Cheney has the knack of finding a good tune and the good humour to enage the crowd, playing a bottleneck with a full stubby of VB is enough to get the crowd back out of the rain as they showcase a great new song amongst the tried and tested like: ‘Prisoner of Society’; ‘West End Riot’ and ‘Second Solution’. It may be simple three chord progressions, and on paper it may not be a crowd pleaser but today, here and now it just works.








Welcome to the Jungle  (Guns N' Roses cover) | Youth Gone Wild  (Skid Row cover)

Highway Star (Deep Purple cover) | Burn (Deep Purple cover)

Rebel Yell (Billy Idol cover) | Pour Some Sugar On Me (Def Leppard cover)

Paradise City (Guns N' Roses cover)




Kings of Chaos is the eighties rock super-group you always dreamed of with a secret weapon in Glenn Hughes. He may be best known for his stint in Deep Purple but in his sixties he can still eclipse anyone vocally on today’s bill. And when you have on stage members of Guns and Roses, Velvet Revolver, Billy Idol’s band and Def Leppard you van forgive any kind of self-congratulatory behavior on stage in this their first show. The rain may still be coming down but Sebastian Bach (of Skid Row fame) the first on the microphone is looking good and sounding amazing  plowing through ‘Welcome to the Jungle’ and his own old band’s ‘Youth Gone Wild’ before Hughes takes over to blow away the audience with a quinella of Deep Purple in ‘Highway Star’ and ‘Burn’ – the version we hear today would make David Coverdale (Deep Purple’s main vocalist during his tenure) weep.



When you add to the mix Steve Stevens (Billy Idol) and Gilby Clark (‘Illusion’ vintage Gunners) you know the guitar is being looked after more than capably. It’s Joe Elliot’s cameo though that most are excited about and ‘Pour Some Sugar On Me’ gets the reception of the day so far before a rather ramshackle version of ‘Paradise City’.



It’s clear that the band is enjoying themselves and on this showing we are likely to hear a lot more (We’re actually promised a come back next year). But the highlight of it all has to be the performance of Hughes who shows that seniority is no obstacle for sheer talent. In ‘Paradise City’ Elliott is a little lost, but then with Hughes and Bach at the helm there are few that wouldn’t be. As a brief moment to remember the glory days of ‘Hair Metal’ this is pretty close to perfect.  It’s certainly one of the highlights of the entire weekend.  








I'd Die To Be With You Tonight  | Lover Lover  | Lay Down Your Guns 

Ride the Night Away  | Merry Go Round  | Flame Trees | No Second Prize

Driving Wheels | Khe Sanh | Working Class Man 





JIMMY BARNES may not hit the notes he used to, and today in the rain he seems a little below par vocally but it matters so little to the fans it’s hardly worth mentioning. Belting through his solo hits with some Cold Chisel thrown in for good measure it’s hard to think that outside of Australia a ‘Special Guest’ slot on a bill like this wouldn’t even be contemplated, but back home Barnsey is king and he can do no wrong. Backed by a more than capable backing band and a decent stage show he earns his money even before he hits the bankers: ‘Chisel’s ‘Khe Sanh’ and his own ‘Working Class Man’.



He may not have had the intensity of KINGS OF CHAOS and he did lose a few getting to those final songs but hey, at the end of the day this is one Australian icon that is buried so deep in people’s hearts that he’ll never fade away.








Draw the Line | Love in an Elevator | Jaded | Oh Yeah | Cryin'

Livin' on the Edge | Last Child | Rag Doll | Stop Messin' Around

I Don't Want to Miss a Thing | No More No More | What It Takes

Come Together (The Beatles cover) | Dude (Looks Like a Lady)

Mother Popcorn (James Brown cover) (snippet) | Walk This Way

Encore: Dream On | Sweet Emotion





How a band chooses their set list will always be a mystery. With a first new album in over ten years only out within the last six months you might have expected a smattering of tracks to make the set list. On the other hand touring Australia for the first time in 24 years you might expect them to bring us up to date (with tracks from the four original albums from 1993’s ‘Get A Grip’ on).



The reality was we got neither – with a show that largely centered on their best known tunes we got eight tracks they played last time in Sydney – back in October 1990, and only ‘Oh Yeah’ from the latest album.



For long time fans too there were some glaring omissions – no ‘Mama Kin’ or ‘Train Kept A Rollin’’ for example. But you know what? It didn’t mean a thing. Tonight was a lesson in how to own an audience, how to rule a stage, and a demonstration of why Aerosmith is still one of the best Rock ‘N’ Roll bands in the World.



To see a band play with such control and intensity is a sight to behold and those that see the rest of their Australian Tour in a year when so many big names have hit our shores will be in for a treat. Steven Tyler has to be one of the greatest front men of all time and whereas so many great performers may not be the best vocally, Tyler has it all.



Over the years we’ve seen Aerosmith a dozen or more times but tonight they seemed like they had something to prove and if that’s what got this performance out of them they should bottle it. Steven Tyler is the ultimate performer, and on this evening’s performance there is little doubt: every move oozes Rock and Roll, and every nuance underlines that in BOLD. There were people in the front weeping, people in the stands crying as they sang along and as one the crowd was mesmerized, unable to look away.



At points in the set it’s impossible to imagine how you could top it, and despite the amount of time it took to set things up (It seems like an age between Barnsey leaving the stage and AEROSMITH beginning) it’s worth the wait – hell even the 24 year gap (or 28 as Joe Perry would have it) seems like it was worth it! It’s the kind of show that you wish would never end – the kind of show you find yourself wishing VAN HALEN had backed out on so they could have played twice as long!



In retrospect of course there were songs they didn’t play, and there were moments that could have gone differently – the Joe Perry showcase that was ‘Stop Messin’ Around’ for example could have been replaced by another song like ‘Train’ but it’s like picking fault for the sake of it.  To bring you back to the real world ‘Oh Yeah’ which the band dedicated to the people affected by the Boston Bombing took on additional meaning but if there was a high point it may well just have been the encores ‘Dream On’ and ‘Sweet Emotion’;  which saw Tyler on the bright white grand piano with  Perry stood on top.



As AEROSMITH left the stage everyone knew it would be impossible for Van Halen to follow that and it was…








Unchained | Runnin' With the Devil | She's the Woman | Romeo Delight

Tattoo | Everybody Wants Some!! | Somebody Get Me a Doctor

China Town | Oh, Pretty Woman (Roy Orbison cover) | Drum Solo

You Really Got Me (The Kinks cover) | Dance the Night Away | I'll Wait

Hot for Teacher | Beautiful Girls | Ice Cream Man (John Brim cover)

Panama | Eruption  | Ain't Talkin' 'bout Love 






Another of the logistical issues punters at the Festival had to put up with was the staging: VAN HALEN making it on stage an hour after AEROSMITH left, with few knowing or caring where the second stage was it’s something that certainly needs to be looked at next time round. You feel especially sorry for those bands that were giving their all out there, largely ignored and unseen by the last proportion of the crowd.



By the time VAN HALEN came out after what seemed like forever in setting up his wall of 5150s (Eddie’s signature amp) and laying down a dance floor for David Lee Roth they had to be big and had to deliver. The moment they hit the stage all that pent up anticipation in the crowd boiled over and opener ‘Unchained’ was lost in the wind and a wall of sound but it hardly mattered, Van Halen was here, and they were playing. 



With a set list that was essentially a slightly watered down version of their last outing in June last year it was immediately obvious that they were a little rusty, and following AEROSMITH who were all over the crowd and high energy from the off there was just something a little underwhelming about it all despite the considerable hype.



Eddie to be honest looked happy enough, and that was pretty much enough for some, but there just wasn’t the cohesion of the band they followed. Wolfgang wandered around the stage listlessly, and Dave grinned and chewed gum and shuffled his feet, and while that was cool enough to start with, that was all there was, and eventually it got quite… well dull.



In the back of my mind I just kept thinking, is this what they were always like? Is this all there was to Van Halen? Sure they had the songs and they kept coming: ‘Running With the Devil’ had us in ecstasy but then came the rather lacklustre ‘She’s the Woman’ from the latest album. Is that why Aerosmith only played one new song I thought as a miserable version of ‘Tattoo’ (my least favourite track from the latest offering and inexplicably the lead single) followed a wonderful version of ‘Romeo Delight’. So far so ‘hit and miss’.



And then it happened and things started to click as the older material clicked back in. The bass may have been way too loud and the vocals a little ragged but hell this was VAN HALEN and the pairing of ‘Everybody Wants Some’ and ‘Someone Get ME a Doctor’ probably musically set the high point of the set as far as cohesion went. But again like Jekyll and Hyde ‘China Town’ another new track broke all momentum and I found myself telling the person next to me that I would trade all of the new songs for one piece of Roth singing a Hagar era song – three people within earshot high-fived at that, though of course it would never happen.      



As a performance where AEROSMITH had started strong and kept going full throttle you wondered where the next peak and trough was coming from with VAN HALEN.  ‘(Oh) Pretty Woman’ sounded by-numbers as Dave chewed his way through, and then we had the mighty Alex Van Halen’s Drum Solo. Now if there is one thing I don’t miss about the stadium rock era its Drum Solo’s – if they are so damn good – stick them on your album and see how well it sells. It was at this point you noticed a reasonably steady stream of punters leaving the Platinum area in front of the stage. Now how much of that was the toll a day of rain was having, or a fear of Drum Solo’s or just a general reaction to the set I’m not sure.



VAN HALEN was at times in the set quite brilliant (anything from 1984 or the wonderful ‘Eruption’/’Ain’t Talkin’ ‘Bout Love’ for example); at times they were plain boring (‘Tattoo’ or China Town’) but most of all they seemed disjointed, Now whether that was the time between gigs, or the travel, or the rain, I’m not sure: and even despite this at the end of the day it was still VAN HALEN and still a great show. The problem was that it didn’t connect with the crowd the way AEROSMITH had. In fact maybe that was part of it – AEROSMITH had done so damned good a job how could they compare? And while not perfect and far from the youthful band back in the day AEROSMITH had somehow managed to retain some of that vital energy that VAN HALEN could only remind us of on the video screens. 




Most impressive was Eddie who sounded amazing and looked like he was having a ball. Conversely tonight it was Dave who looked like he was ‘phoning it in’ and for someone I always considered to never have been the best of singers but certainly the king of front men that was the hardest thing to watch. Alex was Alex and Wolfgang I guess just suffers from not being Michael Anthony.



By the time VAN HALEN left the stage there were certainly a good few that had already left the stadium, but nowhere near the numbers some reports were claiming. Normally a good judge of numbers I would guess at its peak the Saturday gate was anywhere between 12 and 14,000: probably closer to the lower end of that estimate. Whilst that the vast majority of those that were there will tell you that the music lived up to if not exceeded all expectations whether the numbers stack up to guarantee a 2014 vintage we’re not sure. One thing that was definite at the end of the night though, AEROSMITH ruled the day… Look out Melbourne and Brisbane.





words by Mark Diggins and Leslie Phillips

images by Mark Diggins