Nov 30, 2018

Remembering Mets History (1998) The Mets Catching Problem Before the Arrival Of Mike Piazza

1998 was the start of a good point in Mets history, with even better days to come in the near future as the club would make two consecutive post season appearances for the first time in franchise history in the next two years. When the Bobby Valentine era began in 1997, there were signs of good things to come. That year the Mets won 88 games, the most wins they had had in seven years & also the first time they were over .500 since 1990.

On May 22nd, 1998 Mike Piazza arrived & the Mets had their second team Hall of Famer. A superstar player who would get the team to the World Series two seasons later. But before the greatest hitting catcher of All Time arrived, the Mets were in turmoil at the catchers position.

Todd Hundley the Mets All Star catcher, had the position locked up since 1992. Two years prior (1996) he set the All Time HR mark by a catcher, as well as a Mets single season HR record with 41 round trippers. Hundley became a celebrity in the Big Apple, appearing on Saturday Night Live & enjoying the night life, something that didn't sit well with his managers.

Toward the end of the 1997 season, Hundley underwent reconstructive elbow surgery & wasn't ready to start the 1998 season. Before Piazza arrived on May 22nd, the Mets used five different catchers in the first 44 games of the season, with Piazza being #6 upon his arrival in the 45th game. Here's a look at who was behind the plate in 1998......................

Jim Tatum would play four games a catcher, getting one start. He would play in 35 games with the '98 Mets at the end of his five year career. He hit just .180 with 2 HRs & 13 RBIs.

Rick Wilkins was a veteran catcher who had played seven years in the majors, mostly with the Chicago Cubs (1991-1995). Houston Astros (1995) San Francisco Giants (1996-1997) & Seattle Mariners  (1998-1998). He was came to the Mets for minor leaguer Lindsay Gulin on May 8th, to help out the catcher situation. Wilkins would play in just five games for the Met, four full games, getting two hits & RBI in 15 at bats.

Alberto Castillo had been with the Mets since 1995, seeing limited action through the years. On Opening Day 1998, he drove in the game winning run, in a 1-0 Mets, 14 inning victory at Shea Stadium over the Phillies. Castillo saw the majority of time, with action in 26 of those first 44 games, but clearly he wasn't the answer. In 38 total games with New York that year he hit .205 with 2 HRs & 7 RBIs. On a positive note he threw out 54% of would be base stealers (15 0f 28). He was granted free agency at the end of the season.

Tim Spehr was in the Mets minors & would also see lots of playing time before Piazza's arrival, including being the starting catcher on Opening Day. But in 28 games he batted just .137 with three RBIs. He threw out 7 of 12 base runners trying to steal, 37%  a bit better than the league average. By the end of August he was gone too, getting purchased by the Kansas City Royals.

Todd Pratt would get two starts at catcher in early May, he would hit a three run HR in his first& have a three run triple the next day as well. Pratt would emerge as the best of the bunch, becoming Piazza's back up catcher the next year & forever being remembered for his walk off HR, in the NLDS over the Arizona Diamondbacks, advancing the team to the NLCS. In 1998 he batted .275 with 2 HRs 9 doubles 7 18 RBIs in 41 games.

Todd Hundley would return in July but only see two games behind the plate. The Mets experimented with him in the outfield but that didn't work out, in December he was traded to the Dodgers for Roger Cedeno & Charles Johnson.

Jorge Fabregas would come over on the July 31st trade deadline in exchange for Nelson Figueroa & Bernard Gilkey.

Remembering Mets History: (1996) Mets Fire Dallas Green & Hire Bobby Valentine As Manager

August 26th, 1996: On this day the Mets VP Joe McIlvane fired Mets manager; the 62 year old Dallas Green.

Quotes: Joe McIlvane: ''We haven't done as well as we anticipated. Progress has been slower than expected. Our hope with this change is the younger players will begin to blossom some more, to come up to that major league level, to begin to make more significant contributions."

Green had taken over as manager of the New York Mets, in May 1993 replacing Jeff Torborg who had taken the club to a 13-25 record. When Green took over the Mets went 46-78 the rest of the way finishing in last place. In the strike shortened 1994 season, the Mets finished third (55-58) in the newly aligned division. In 1995 they finished below .500 once again (69-75) but did end up in second place. In 1996 the club was in fourth place (59-72) at the time of Dallas Green's firing. 

Green, the oldest manager in the NL at the time, was an harsh old school type of manager who was labled as having with no patience for young players.

He criticized young Mets "Generation K" pitchers Jason Isringhausen & Paul Wilson publicly saying he didn't feel they even belonged in the major leagues. This was looked at by the players & organization as a betrayal to the team.

Quotes: Green said the next day: ''We got rid of all the bad stuff and truthfully that's what I've been. I've been the damage-control guy. I go in their and clean up the bad stuff and then I get fired. That's just where I am in baseball and I understand that. That's the way the game is. I'm proud to have helped the Mets through some troubled times and get them on what I think is the right track.''

Green had been in baseball for over forty years, starting out with the Philadelphia Phillies as a pitcher. He would manage the Phils (1979-1981)  taking them to their first World Series title in 1980. He served as the clubs GM after that & then did one year as manager of the A.L. New York club.

The Mets hired Bobby Valentine as the new manager ushering in the "Bobby V" Era. Valentine would be the teams fifth manager in the past seven seasons.

The Valentine era would certainly be a successful, as the club went to two straight post seasons for the first & only time in team history in 199 & 2000.

Valentine brought the Mets to their first World Series since 1986 & the first New York Subway World Series since 1956. He also took the club to it's first Wild Card title as well.

On this date the Mets also promoted Bob Apodaca to pitching coach. Apodaca had pitched for the Mets in the 1970's but had a bright career ruined by arm troubles. He had been pitching coach at AAA Norfolk under Manager Bobby Valentine.

An Original 1962 Mets Player: Gus Bell (1962) & His Baseball Family

David Russell Bell was born on November 15, 1928 in Louisville, Kentucky. The six foot left handed hitting Bell became known as Gus, in honor of Italian / American catcher Gus Mancusco. 

Gus Bell was signed by the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1947. He hit .325 at A ball Albany in 1949, followed by a huge start to his minor league season in 1950. He was batting over .400 with 6 HRs after 38 games when he got the call up to the big leagues. 

He batted behind Pirate slugger & future Mets announcer Ralph Kiner for three seasons. In his rookie year, Bell hit .282 with 8 HRs & 22 doubles. In 1951 he had his best season in Pittsburgh as he led the league in triples (12) hit 16 HRs & batted .278 while driving in 89 runs with a .330 on base %.

On June 12th he hit for the cycle in the first game of a double header against the Philadelphia Phillies. After the season he was sent to the Cincinnati Reds for Cal Abrams, Gil Henley & Joe Rossi.

He was thrilled to return to his hometown area, near Louisville as a local star. He had some good seasons in nine years at Cincinnati playing in the shadows of Reds sluggers Ted Kuzewski & Frank Robinson. 

In Bell's first year in Cincinnati he had a career high 30 HRs (7th in the league) with 37 doubles (5th in the league) & 105 RBIs while batting .300 for the sixth place Reds. it was the first of three straight seasons he drove in over 100 runs. He would make his first two All Star games in 1953 & 1954. 

Bell would have three seasons where he hit 20 or more HRs, as well as four seasons with 100 plus RBIs, coming in the league’s top ten in both categories three times. Besides hitting .300 twice he hit over .290 four more times with the Reds, as well as having two 100 plus runs scored seasons.

Gus Bell made four All Star teams and was one of the league’s top players during his years. He led all centerfielders in fielding % twice & when he played in right field he led right fielders in fielding twice as well. 

His arm got him double figures in assists eight times including a high of 18 in 1951. In 1955 he batted .308 with 188 hits (third in the league) with 27 HRs (10th in the NL) 30 doubles (5th in the NL) & 108 RBIs (10th in the NL) posting a .361 on base %. 

On May 26th, 1956 he hit HRs in three consecutive at bats in a game at Wrigley Field against the Chicago Cubs. That day Bell along with team mates Ted Kluzewski & Bob Thurman became just the second set of players from the same team, to hit three HRs in a single game. That day Bell had five hits with seven RBIs in the 10-4 win.  

Later that year, on September 21st he drove in eight runs in a 14-5 win over the Milwaukee Braves. That day he gathered up four hits with a grand slam HR, a double & a walk. Bell made the 1956 All Star team, as the starting centerfielder going 0-1 in the NL's 7-3 win. 

In 1957 he was included with six other Reds players that made the All Star team. The Reds fans were accused of stuffing the ballot boxes illegally with their votes. Bell remained on the All Star team as a reserve player, although his team mate Wally Post was removed completely from the roster. 
Bell entered the '57 All Star game as a pinch hitter for Frank Robinson in the 7th inning. He singled off future Hall of Fame pitcher Early Wynn, driving in Willie Mays and Ed Bailey in the 6-5 NL loss.

Over the next few years his numbers fell off, although he did drive in 115 runs in 1959, his fourth season with over 100 plus RBIs.

For the 1961 NL Champion Reds he played in 108 games, with 235 at bats as his career began to wind down at age 32. He hit .255 with 3 HRs 10 doubles & 33 RBIs as a back up to outfielders to Frank Robinson, Vada Pinson & Wally Post.

Post Season: In the '61 World Series he went 0-3 as a pinch hitter.

In the off season, although he was way past his prime, he was chosen as the eighth pick by the New York Mets in the 1961 expansion draft. He became an original Met, batting in the fifth position playing right field in the teams inaugural 1962 Opening Day lineup. 

He made Mets history getting the first franchise hit, a single in the 2nd inning at St. Louis, off pitcher Larry Jackson. On April 17, 1962 he hit his only Mets career HR, it came against the Houston Colt 45’s in the Polo Grounds. Bell would only play just 30 games in New York, batting only .149 (15-141) with 1 HR, two doubles, ten walks, & six RBIs while scoring eight runs. 

On May 21st, he was sent to the Milwaukee Braves as the player to be named later for Frank Thomas. He returned back to the Polo Grounds with the Braves in late June for a three game series. On June 20th in the first game of a double header, he hit a three run HR off Mets pitcher Ray Daviault, leading his team to the win. He finished his playing career in 1964 at age 35.

Retirement: After 15 seasons he batted .281 with 1823 hits, 206 HRs, 311 doubles, 66 triples, a .330 on base % & 942 RBIs. In the outfield he posted a .985 fielding % with 57 assists (94th all time). 

Family: Gus Bell is the first in a long line of family members to play baseball. His son is long time player & MLB manager Buddy Bell, who was born during his dads second season playing with the Pirates in Pittsburgh. 

In 18 seasons Buddy Bell made five All Star Teams & won six Gold Gloves at third base. Buddy played for the Cleveland Indians as one of the teams few stars during a dreary era in Cleveland (1972-1978) Texas Rangers (1979-1985/ 1989) Cincinnati Reds under manger Pete Rose (1985-1988) & Houston Astros(1988). 

In 2405 career games (85th all time) Buddy Bell batted .279 with 2514 hits (99th all time) 201 HRs 425 doubles (145th all time) 56 triples 836 walks, 1151 runs scored & 1106 RBIs (208th all time) 80 sac flies (93rd all time) with 8995 at bats (75th all time) a .341 on base %.

He played 2183 career games at third base (7th all time) winning six straight gold gloves, leading the league in fielding % three times, turning 430 career double plays (6th all time).

After his playing career Buddy was a coach for both the Reds & Indians. He then managed the Detroit Tigers (1996-1998) & Kansas City Royals (2002-2007).

Family: Gus Bell's grandson is former MLB infielder David Bell, who played 12 seasons with the Cleveland Indians (1995 / 1998) St. Louis Cards (1995-1998) Seattle Mariners (1998-2001) San Francisco Giants (2002) Philadelphia Phillies (2003-2006) & Milwaukee Brewers (2006) batting .257 with 123 HRs & 589 RBIs in 1403 games.

He played in three post seasons getting to a World Series with the Giants in 2002. He has been the St. Louis Cardinals bench coach from 2015-2017.

His other grandson Mike Bell played briefly (2000) with the Reds.

Passing & Honors: Gus Bell passed away at age 67 in Montgomery, Ohio. Every year, the Gus Bell Celebrity Golf Tournament is held in his honor in the Cincinnati area.

Proceeds benefit the Down Syndrome Association, his granddaughter Traci, to whom he was very close, suffers from Down Syndrome.

Nov 29, 2018

Remembering Mets History: (1991) Howard Johnson Leads the NL in HRs & RBIs

The 1990 Mets had finished in second place once again, winning ninety games (91-71) once again as well. But for the second straight year & the fifth time in time in seven years they finished in second place. That cost Manager Davey Johnson his job, as he was replaced by long time Mets favorite Bud Harrelson. Harrelson would fare much worse as the 1991 club fell to 77-84 fifth place finish, the teams worst since 1983. Harrelson would be replaced by Mike Cubbage at the end of the season as well.

These Mets were different than the power hitting team of the mid to late eighties. Howard Johnson was the sole slugger left, as Kevin McReynolds on the down side of his career would hit 16 HRs & Hubbie Brooks, doing his second time around as a Met also hit 16 HRs. These three hitters would be the only Mets to hit double figures in HRs. Darryl Strawberry had left New York for Los Angeles & was the only the second Mets player who had ever led the league in HRs. Dave Kingman did it first with 37 HRs in 1982.

In 1991 Howard Johnson would be one of the few bright spots on the New York Mets. In the sixth game of the season, the last on a 4-2 Mets home stand, Hojo hit his first HR of the year. The next day, Hojo helped David Cone to his first win of the year, as he first  had a two run single later followed by a two run HR in the 9th inning. He would close out April with four HRs batting just .211.

In May, Johnson started out with a May 4th walk off HR against Mike Lacoss & the San Francisco Giants. Two days later, in Darryl Strawberry's debut at Shea as a Dodger, Hojo homered again helping the Mets in a close 6-5 win. Strawberry also homered in his Shea return.

Hojo would then homer in back to back games in San Francisco as he totaled four HRs with 10 RBIs in the first two weeks of May. He would belt three more HRs that month, including a May 27th, 8th inning HR at Wrigley Field which was the game winner in a 2-1 contest.

On June 11th, he hit another game winner, this one in the top of the 11th inning off Mike Capel in Houston beating the Astros 4-3. Hojo would hit HRs in back to back games on a road trip to Cincinnati, he would hit six HRs in June.

As July began he started out the month with back to back HR games in Montreal, both Mets wins. On July 3rd he helped lead the Mets to a 4-0 shut out win, it was the last win Ron Darling would record as a Mets pitcher. Hojo  would enter the All Star break with 19 HRs & 63 RBIs, making his second All Star team. He went 0-2 in the game playing from the 6th inning on.

As the season rolled on, the Mets losses mounted & most of Johnson's HRs in August came during Mets losses. On August 31st he had a big day in Cincinnati, where he hit two HRs driving in three runs in the Mets 8-7 win.

September would be Hojo's biggest month of the year as he went on to win the NL Player of the Month Award. Unfortunately, the Mets were not in any pennant race, he hit ten HRs drove in 31 runs, passing the 100 RBI mark for the second time in his career.

He closed out the Cincinnati road trip with another HR & three RBIs on September 1st. On September 4th, he had just his second multi HR game of the year, getting him to pass the 30 HR mark on the season as well. It was his third 30 plus HR season.

Hojo hit another the next day & another the next week. On September 13th he homered driving in two runs leading the Mets to a 4-2 win. He would also lead the Mets to a 3-2 win against Montreal four days later hitting a two run HR.

On October 1st, he stole his 30th base of the season , joining the 30 30 club for the third time in his career. He is just one of five players ever to accomplish that feat.

Johnson ended the year leading the league in HRs (37) RBIs (117) extra base hits (76) & sac flies (15). He was second in slugging % (.535), runs scored (108), at bats per HRs (14.8).

Back issues would haunt Howard Johnson & he would never have another season as he did in 1991. The next year he would play in 100 games hitting just seven HRs. The next year he hit seven more HRs but played in just 72 games. That year he was let go to free agency going to the Colorado Rockies & then the Chicago Cubs in 1995. He then retired at age 34 with 228 career HRs. 

2006 N.L. Eastern Champion Mets Reliever: Aaron Heilman (2003-2008)

Aaron Michael Heilman was born November 11, 1978 in Logansport, Indiana. The tall six foot five right hander was a star pitcher at his Logansport high school. He was the team MVP leading the school to two regional titles.

He attended the University of Notre Dame majoring in management information as well as philosophy. He was drafted by the New York Mets in the 18th round of the 2001 draft. He pitched just seven games at A ball St. Lucie in 2001 getting to AA & AAA the next year. In 2003 he was 6-4 getting promoted to the Mets staff a bit too soon.

Then the team hyped him up as the starter of the future and none of this ever worked out. He made his big league debut on June 26th at Shea Stadium taking a 6-1 loss to the Florida Marlins although he only allowed one earned run. He took another loss before getting his first win on July 21st against the Philadelphia Phillies. He went 2-7 in his first season, with a 6.74 ERA in 65 innings pitched.

The next season he spent fine tuning himself at AAA Norfolk going 7-10 with a 4.12 ERA, before getting a late August call up. In his first game the San Diego Padres knocked him out in the 4th inning as he took a loss allowing four runs. He went 1-3 the rest of the way, posting a 5.57 ERA.

In 2005 he pitched the fifth game of the season getting beat by the Atlanta Braves at Turner Field. He got a surprise start in place of a scratched Kris Benson on April 15th against the Florida Marlins, pitching the game of his life throwing a one hit shutout while striking out seven. There was hope he may have finally come into his own, but it was short lived. He went 2-2 with a 4.37 ERA, with two no decisions as a starter before getting sent to the bullpen as a reliever in May.

He didn’t like the move & complained about it at first. But then things worked out for a while, he posted a 2.14 ERA in relief, posting the best ERA in the NL after the All Star break at 0.68. He earned five saves, striking out 106 batters in 106 innings.

In 2006 he was on a bullpen staff with a lot of good pitchers. In the first two months of the year he was credited with nine holds and two blown saves. In June he was credited with five more holds, but blew three saves & took a loss. The fans got restless & they were getting fed up with his walks (28) & HRs allowed (5).

On May 29th he blew a two run lead at Shea against Arizona giving up a three run HR to Chad Tracy. He was bailed out on David Wrights walk off base hit in the 9th. In June he blew two saves in interleague play, one against the Baltimore Orioles & the other against the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park. On the year he was credited with 26 holds and went 4-5 with a 3.62 ERA. In 87 innings he struck out a lot less batters than he had in the past (73).

2006 Post Season: In the NLDS he pitched in three games against the Los Angeles Dodgers allowing one run in three innings. 

2006 NLCS Disaster: In the NLCS he will forever be remembered for One fatal pitch, The biggest HR he ever allowed. It came against the St. Louis Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina in the top of the 9th inning of Game #7.

It was what turned out to be the game winning run & Series clincher. Molina had hit just six HRs & batted .216 all season in 417 at bats. Overall in that post season Heilman allowed three runs in seven innings pitched. His fate was sealed as he heard boos, especially from me for the rest of his time in New York.

In 2007 he went 7-7 with a 3.03 ERA, allowing 8 HRs with 20 walks in 86 innings (63 strike outs).On June 6th he blew a Mets 2-0 lead against the Phillies at Shea Stadium allowing a three run HR to Jimmy Rollins, as he took the loss.

On August 16th he allowed three runs & six hits in two innings of relief at Pittsburgh taking his 5th loss of the year. He pitched a bit better only blowing one more save the rest of the way.

In 2008 manager Jerry Manuel attempted to make him the teams closer when Billy Wagner went down for the season. Heilman was terrible he blew five saves, went 3-8 with a 5.21 ERA on the year while allowing a career high 10 HRs. On May 30th he gave up five runs to the Los Angeles Dodgers in the 8th inning blowing the lead & losing the game. On August 11th he blew a 9th inning save, against the Pittsburgh Pirates, allowing two hits & a walk before exiting to a tie game. Scott Schoenweiss came in & gave up a two run single sealing the loss.

On September 10th he allowed a 6th inning two run HR to Carlos Guzman tying the game and giving him his last blown save as a Mets pitcher. The only bright spots on his season was his 15 holds & 80 strike outs in 76 innings.

In December of 2008 the organization heard the fans boos, he was part of a three team, eleven player deal that sent him to the Seattle Mariners.
He was soon shipped to the Chicago Cubs where he went 4-4 with a 4.21 ERA in 2009. In 2010 he signed with the Arizona Diamondbacks going 5-8 while blowing eight save or win opportunities. On a positive note he did get credit for 12 holds.

In 2011 he was 4-1 but had an ERA of 6.88 and got released in mid July, as the Diamondbacks went to the post season without him. He signed with the Philadelphia Phillies, Pittsburgh Pirates, Seattle Nariners & Texas Rangers but was released by all teams.

In his nine year career he was 35-46 with 16 saves, 548 strike outs, 256 walks, 72 HRs  & a 4.40 ERA in 630 innings in 477 appearances.

Nov 27, 2018

Halestorm / In This Moment / New Years Day @ Hammerstein Ballroom New York City: Concert Review

November 24th 2018- Hammerstein Ball Room New York City- Concert Review: Halestorm / In This Moment / New Years Day.

An exceptional bill of some of the leading ladies on the female fronted hard rock/ Heavy Metal scene. Me, being a big fan & supporter of the genre for many years, thought this was an outstanding night & a concert for the ages. 

My friend Jimmy & I were pleased to see many people beyond the millennial age in attendance as well as us. Seasoned veteran rock & roll fans know good stuff & anyone who says there's no good rock music out there today, certainly doesn't know these bands exist. In a genre that has been fading with new talents, this is the crème of the crop.

Ashley Costello (NYD)  / Lzzy Hale (Halestorm) / Maria Brink (In This Moment)

Halestorm: The headliner was Halestorm, a hard rock outfit from Red Lion, PA. featuring sister & brother combo, the Hales- Lzzy Hale (vocals/guitar) & Arejay Hale (drums). 

The band released their first album back in 2009 & have gotten better & bigger thru the years, constantly touring & now a major force in rock music, one of the best if not THE best. This tour supporting their latest album "Vicious" the years best album release by far.

Tonight was an incredible performance by the this awesome band. Lzzy Hale is rock & rolls best front person of the current era, male or female. This girl can rock, belting out the lyrics, almost effortlessly, with a raw but yet melodic vengeance on their hard rock classics- "Love Bites' "Black Vultures" "Uncomfortable"  "I Miss the Misery" "Vicious" "Amen"...…..

Lizy also sings the ballads with her versatile vocals, moving over to the piano for a surprising rendition of - "I Will Always Love You". She also did a couple of fine ballads, acoustically with guitarist, Joe Hottinger- " Dear Daughter" & "The Silence". 

Not to get overlooked as a musician, Lzzy Hale is one hell of a guitarist too. 

The energy that she spews as she dominates the audience is amazing. It seems she can do it all as her amazing stage presence locks the crowd in, with full fist pumping, sing a longs & plenty of vocal support.

Donning her latest short hair style, reminiscent of Joan Jett, Lzzy donned an open slited leather skirt, fishnet stockings & black thick ankle high, high heel boots KISS would be proud of.

 The band overall is pumping with raw energy, they are a tight unit, confident & blistering out pure hard rock. This may very well be the best band in rock today!

Lzzy's brother Arejay Hale, is an incredible drummer who beat his butt off all night, his drum solo was outstanding, with full audience participation. At one point he bashed away with giant drum sticks then led the crowd to a "Why Don't You Get A Job" sing along. 

I thought I heard a bit of the Beatles, The End drum solo in their as well. Also singing back up vocals, he is major forces behind the Halestorm sound. 

Joe Hottinger was great on the lead guitar, he seemed to have an almost calm, laid back relaxed look while he played, almost surpring at the rocking notes coming from him. 

He sported his long beard & donned a stylish hat, keeping off to the side buy Lzzy did give him main spotlight on many leads, as she backed off toward the drums.

Bass player John Smith a (member since 2004- taking the place of Roger Hale Lzzy & Arejays dad) did a fine job as the other part of the rhythm section. He & Hottinger also provided backing vocals on stage.

Halestorm Set List:

I Am the Fire
Love Bites (So Do I)
Black Vultures
I Get Off
Do Not Disturb
I Will Always Love You
Dear Daughter
Drum solo (with the Offspring Why Don't You Get A Job)
Freak Like Me
Killing Ourselves To Live

The Silence
I Miss the Misery
Here's To Us (with In this Moment / New Years Day members)
I Like It Heavy

In This Moment: The second band on the bill, was- In This Moment. An fantastic, outrageous theatrical stage performance led by lead singer Maria Brink, who can be described as an erotic, Heavy Metal Lady Gag Ga.

 The stage show is something Alice Cooper & KISS would be proud of, in all it's erotica & theatrics. 

Maria Brink's elaborate stage performance offered costume changes after each song. 

An exceptional performer, with a choregraphed show that brings theatrical rock & metal to new heights. 

The only negative was the smoke effects may have kept the audience from witnessing the true performance thru its haze. Lucky I had my trusty binoculars, able to witness this incredible stage show from afar thru the smoke & fog. 

Maria Brink is surrounded by two sexy masked female dancers,"the Blood Girls" who perform around her, almost answering to Maria's gyrations & stage theatrics. Like harem girls responding to their mistress' orders. They are as important to the live show as anyone in the band. It was incredible, a must see.

The guys in the band are not to go unmentioned, certainly not as lovely as the ladies, they look like they just crawled out of the grave. Dirty, long haired, evil make up, leather & flying V guitars. The bass player even wears a studded leather face mask adding to the horror.

They did a Metallica instrumental medley of For Whom the Bell Tolls & Creepy Death, it was certainly another highlight. Amazing how the crowd responded with the Creeping Death sing along " Die- Die " some 35 years after Metallica released the song, their impact, huge" 

The stage featured plenty of crosses & pentacles, flashing light show, lots of smoke & fog. On the final song "Whore" Maria stood at a podiem wearing a long dunce hat with whore written on it. 

During "Oh Lord" with the girls holding large lighted globes & during a cover of Phil Collins "In The Air Tonight" it gave the sense of attending some kind of a ritual or mass.

This band may be the current best thing in Heavy Metal & metal stars noticed. On record, their song "Black Wedding"  featured Judas Priest's, Rob Halford sharing vocals with Brink. Former Ozzy guitarist, Guitarist Jake E. Lee, shocked everyone on "That Metal Show" a few years back, when he said this was a band to look out for. Well they are here now & are a force to reckoned with.

As mentioned, the bands biggest song "Whore" ended the show with red & white balloons unleashed to fill the theater. 

Brink says Whore is about defying what other people call you & proving them wrong to succeed. 

In This Moment Set List:
River of Fire
(Band Introductions) Whom the Bell Tolls/ Creeping Death (Metallica Instrumentals) & Rock You Like A Hurricane (Scorpions Instrumental) 
Drum solo
Black Wedding (with Ashley Costello)
In the Air Tonight
Big Bad Wolf
Oh Lord


Lzzy Hale- Maria Brink- Ashley Costello
New Years Day: Ashley Costello led her band New Years Day in a short opening set, getting lost in all the greatness of the next two headlining acts.

New Years Day set list:

Killed or Be Killed
Fu@*ing Hostile
Defame Me