Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Steelheart - Rock 'N Skull October 16th, 2015

What if I told you there was a band from the late 80's - early '90's from the "era of hair" that was known for its ballads that is completely underrated for their "non-ballads?"  Much of that era was a giant misnomer to begin with because many of the bands were only known for "ballads" but they were so much more.  Can a band from that era, known for one heck of a "ballad" still be putting out music that will make grown men sing along hitting the highest freaking notes they can whilst harboring the incoming groin pull?  Can it?  Well...

When attended "RockNSkull" in Pekin, Illinois on October 16th, 2015 (Day One of a three day festival) I knew a couple of acts very well.  Those acts were synonymous with great looking front men, both had killer ballads that made girls swoon and boyfriends roll their eyes.  As I got older I saw both of these bands a few times including TWICE this year for both.

Earlier this year I attended another rock festival and I saw a band that really had been an enigma for me, I knew of their music but I assumed that they were merely that "ballad band."  That really was a HUGE mistake for me to be honest.  The name of the band was "Steelheart" and I was blown away, they were incredible!  As I entered "Goodfellas" in Pekin, Illinois where "RocknSkull" was being held that night I was really interested in seeing the band again.

Steelheart on stage at Rock 'N Skull -2015 in Pekin, IL
©musicallead.blogspot.com - 2015
The thing I have learned over the time I have been writing about music and music acts is that there is always more to each and every band you see and/or hear.  While I stood there preparing for Steelheart to take the stage I took a few notes whereby I began to scratch the names of the songs that I knew and although many believe that there is only one or two songs that they know by Steelheart, they are incorrect.  Within the fabric of their catalog of music may reside "I'll Never Let You Go," and "Everybody Loves Eileen" but there are other songs, haunting songs like "She's Gone," and "We All Die Young."  Lead singer and composer Mili Matijevic has this deep rooted sadness in his lyrics at times but the power contained within the words is even more impressive.

Mili Matijevic
As "Steelheart" took the stage on Friday night October 16th, 2015 I expected a hardcore metal show, I really did.  That's exactly what happened too by the way and the simple reason is Mili Matijevic.  The energy that man puts into his performances is extreme with a capital EXTREME.  I seriously wish I could bottle that energy because it is obvious how much fun this man has as he performs and how much he really cares about their fans.  It was incredible to watch as he moves about the stage with a larger than life persona befitting that of a rock star.

During the show it was blatantly apparent that Matijevic does not stand still, well with one exception.  During the beginning of the song "I'll Never Let You Go" he played the acoustic guitar and began to sing the song itself in a slightly different manner.  Personally I thought the way he began the song was brilliant as it took people off guard but more importantly it provided extra depth to the song and the value of the lyrics.  For those among us that might think that this band is all about the ballads has never seen this band live because Matijevic proves he earned is metal stripes long ago.  He is simply a rock star which oddly enough is befitting as he was the voice of Mark Wahlberg in the movie aptly names "Rock Star."  It is incredible when you realize how little of his vocal range he has lost since that first album, the man can hit high note that dogs all of the way to Belgium can hear.  Amazing performer!

It is at times quite hard for me to actually enjoy a performance of an act because I am always looking at angles to approach a story and at times I am simply blown away by a performance or performer that I become transfixed.  I think its a safe assumption that while watching Uros Raskovski perform as lead guitar in the band could be the definition of the previous statement.  The man is exciting to watch because it appears that it is effortless for him to perform at that ridiculous level.  Raskovski is a treat to watch perform because he appears to feed off of the energy of the crowd and the music he is performing.  He is awesome!

It's with some certainty that few can name the drummer of heir favorite band, sure you can name the lead singer and probably the guitar player but never the drummer.  Why is that do you suppose?  I would think that the very reason they aren't remembered is simply because you just don't see them as clearly as those to the front of the stage.  That's a shame really, because if you weren't aware of the name of the drummer of Steelheart, Mike Humbert, you are really missing out on serious talent.  In Humbert you have the consummate professional, and a man that tears up the drums.  Humbert is high-energy and merciless in his performance.

Mitch Stewart - Bass (L) and Mike Humbert - Drums (R)
©musicallead.blogspot.,com - 2015
Inside the band there is another member whose presence is required or the sound of the band is just not the same and that would be the bass player.  Usually an article about Steelheart's bass player would be about one Rev Jones but when Steelheart performed at Rock 'N Skull, Jones was not with the band.  Filling the roster spot was Mitch Stewart, a man who looked the roll of a hair metal or heavy metal bass player.  He has that persona but more importantly he is one heck of a gifted bass player.  Stewart had the energy that seemingly was exuded by the other members of the band.  I was impressed by the way he interacted with the other members of the band and most importantly the fans.  Stewart was incredible.

The opportunity to attend live music shows or music festivals should never be ignored.  Throughout the past four years I have seen innumerate bands at music festivals and they all have one thing in common:  Excellent bands.  Yes there are some exceptions but by and large the bands are still as good as they once were.  Rock 'N Skull in Pekin, Illinois was a great example of a festival having excellent bands.  Steelheart appeared at Rock 'N Skull and they proved the point in my opinion that indeed excellent bands from our younger years are still viable, butt kicking machines.

When I attended Rock 'N Skull in October 2015 I knew exactly what I was in for.  I knew a vast majority of the bands and their music and I was sure that it would be a great three days of music.  When Steelheart came out to perform I can assure you that being "sure" wasn't nearly enough, I was blown away.  How else can I describe their performance, they were incredible!  While known by a vast majority of people for "I'll Never Let You Go," that song only scratches the surface of their depth, killer rock songs, music ability and vocal range.  Steelheart is more than just one or two songs, they are indeed a great rock band.

Steelheart is a band that you really have to see live!  Until you get the opportunity, dig into their catalog of music and prepare for something amazing.  I would garner a guess that you too will be blown away by this band.  What an incredible night of music, you really blew the roof off Rock 'N Skull.  Great job!

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