What’s better than rock? PROJECT ROCK! (Live in Kaarina Finland, July 11th 2013)
The brainchild of guitar genius Keri Kelli (Alice Cooper) and drummer master James Kottak (Scorpions) is an all star band paying tribute to the best of the best from the world of Heavy Metal and Hard Rock in a way that one can truly say it’s paying tribute not just playing some covers.
This time James was out of the fold and on the drum stool was a man of great talent, mr. Jimmy DeGrasso who you might know from a little band called Megadeth. Other members of the group were Robbie Crane from Ratt and Vince Neil’s Solo Band on Bass, Teddy „ZigZag“ Andreadis from Guns & Roses and Alice Cooper on Keyboards and Harmonica and ofcourse the vocals are handeled by the best heavy metal vocalist out there mr. Tim „Ripper“ Owens.
It was clear from the very start that this was going to be not only a very special, but a very fun night. The band was in brilliant spirits from the very start, joking and goofing around with brilliant chemistry, especially between Tim and Keri and that also conveyed to the audience, which was rocking like there was no tomorrow….I know I was.
From the opening notes of of the Black Sabbath classic Neon Knights it fast became obvious that these guys surely know how to play. Keri nailed the song, added a lot of his own, but still made it sound clearly Iommish. Not something everyone can do…I knew Keri’s work with Alice Cooper and I was always very impressed with his playing. With both the old classics and especially on the heavier Brutal Planet stuff. He is a world class guitarist, there is no question about that.
Teddy ZigZag also proved with his many spotlight moments that he is one heck of a keyboard player and can give out truly stellar preformances. Nothing bad can be said about Robbie Crane either, a thundering bassist…and loud…I mean shake your pants loud. Jimmy’s drumming was top notch as well and the sound he got out of that rather small drum kit was incredible, so much punch you wouldn’t believe!
The set list consisted mainly of stuff from bands that Tim, Keri and Teddy had been in..but they also threw in some Scorpions (Big City Nights and Rock You Like A Hurricane) eventhough James Kottak wasn’t able to join the band on the Finland shows. As well as couple of Ozzy tunes, Crazy Train and Mr. Crowley, both which went very well with the crowd. Ofcourse Tim has preformed Mr. Crowley before on an Ozzy tribute album so that one again had a clear connection to him. Also Motörhead’s classic Ace Of Spades was a real highlight with the crowd as we got to do some singing again!
Black Sabbath’s classic Paranoid got a whole new interpretation when Teddy belted out his Harmonica and delivered a long and furious solo in the middle of the song! Which was a real highlight, that song has been overplayed to death but adding something new to it is a novelty, which I truly enjoyed!
The inclusion of Deep Purple’s Highway Star was a real shocker! (Granted I got hinted it was coming before the show by the man himself, but still what a treat!) Tim sang it to absolute perfection. Reaching highnotes that even young Ian Gillan would be envious of. Teddy introduced the song with a nice keyboard solo, which was very Jon Lordish (god rest his soul) and Keri belted out a solo that both Steve and Ritchie would have been proud of. Highway Star is one of my favourite Purple classics and this version left no one in the room cold.
Teddy got to do some more keyboarding as he played an instrumental of November Rain by Guns & Roses as an intro to Mr. Crowley…
The three Judas Priest tracks that were scattered in the set were the classics Hell Bent For Leather, Living After Midnight and the crowd favourite sing-a-long Breaking The Law and Tim delivered the goods on them like only he could. It’s hard to imagine it’s been over 10 years since he was with Priest, he hasn’t lost an inch of his voice…just incredible.
The two Alice Cooper tracks also proved to be real treats! Although I was secretly hoping for something from Brutal Planet, would have loved to hear Tim tackle the title track or maybe Wicked Young Man!
Tim took time to talk about Ronnie James Dio, the greatest singer who ever lived, before the band launched into a furious version of Rainbow In The Dark, which the crowd more than happily sang along with…loud.
We also got a bit of an improv jam as Tim asked Robbie to give him some bass and he went into the Iron Maiden classic The Number Of The Beast which Tim and Jimmy then joined in for a short while!
But the real highlight and the moment I was looking for the most was the last encore…I knew there was no way they would go off stage without preforming one of the greatest songs ever made, Black Sabbath’s HEAVEN AND HELL. Once the first notes exploded so did the crowd, singing along that iconic riff without Tim even asking for it. Then (just like Ronnie) he asked us to sing it again…loud…and we surely did. That was a very emotional thing. That song just always does it for me. Now that Ronnie’s no longer with us, the only person who can do that song the proper justice is Tim. What an amazing conclusion to an amazing night.
The crowd was truly into the music like only a bunch of true Finnish Headbanging Bastards could ever be, and Tim even noticed it and gave us some high praises. Like I’ve always said when it’s clear that the band is having a great time on stage, it’s so much easier for the crowd to join into the fun…and that surely happened on this summer’s night at Old Texas. It was one big party….with one hell of a band.
Considering the variety of the material played here it is more than clear why I consider Tim the best singer in the metal world right now…his versatility is incredible. If there is a song he can’t sing, I sure as hell haven’t heard it yet. The over 90 minute set flew by and the crowd was left with a sense of satisfaction that only a night of Heavy Metal extravaganza can provide.