Day Two of the M3 Rock Festival at the Merriweather Post Pavilion came with another frigid, rainy, wind-filled morning, but the epic day of music that was ahead also filled the air with anticipation. Saturday’s lineup featured many of the most powerful voices of the ’80s, including TNT’s Tony Harnell, Ratt’s Stephen Pearcy, and Cinderella’s Tom Keifer.
M3 Festival, Merriweather Post Pavilion. Friday 6 May 2022.
Lineup: Enuff Z’nuff, Lillian Axe, Vain, Heaven’s Edge, Tony Harnell, Stephen Pearcy, Blue Öyster Cult, Tom Keifer
Words and photography: Shannon Wilk
Starting the day was Enuff Z’Nuff, the replacement band for Extreme, who cancelled due to Covid-19. The clock struck noon, and we were ‘in the groove’! The band’s notorious groovy sound, paired with their ’70s look, lent itself nicely to the warm-up slot of the day.
Their set included performances of two Beatles songs, Eleanor Rigby and Magical Mystery Tour, as well as Paul McCartney and Wings’ Jet, all from Chip’s Hardrock Nite album, and a couple of Enuff Z’Nuff hits.
“The Beatles, they loved the blues, they loved Chicago and Muddy Waters, Buddy Guy and Paul Butterfield,” Chip told MetalTalk in an earlier interview. “All those musicians would read and find records from the Chicago blues guys, and that would seep into their veins. They would find inspiration in those songs, and then they wrote songs around it too. Show me a band without influences, and I’ll show you a musician that hasn’t written one note.”
Next up was Louisiana’s Lillian Axe, ready to not only kick ass but ‘show a little love’ to their longtime fans. After the recent release of their triple album featuring tracks from their entire discography plus many bonus tracks, they took this show as an opportunity to promote this special release by projecting its’ album art on the massive screen behind the band throughout their set.
Despite not being in the band back during the reign of the original lineup, the band’s latest addition, vocalist Brent Graham, proved himself deserving of performing alongside some of the greatest vocalists of the ’80s with his powerful, soaring vocals.
At the 2 hour mark, it was time for the return of Vain to the M3 Rock Festival stage. After a very impressive performance at the festival back in 2019, fans were pleased to have back these San Francisco hard rockers.
As a big Vain fan myself, I was very excited to see the band with an almost completely original lineup, with the addition of rhythm guitarist Joel Proto. Not only did the set feature amazing, fiery performances of the best of the band’s iconic No Respect album, but they also included Breakdown for “the two fans who requested it.”
The fourth set of the day was Heaven’s Edge. This band has not lost any fire since the day they formed back in 1987 on the streets of Philly. Heaven’s Edge is one of the few bands you can go see live that still sound exactly like they did on those records back in the day.
Their performance was extremely impressive, with kicks up to their heads and choreographed moves. This band is certainly not to be underestimated.
TNT’s Tony Harnell took the stage and announced that his set would feature TNT songs exclusively. The audience erupted into excited cheers to hear their favourite songs performed by the band’s beloved vocalist.
Harnell is known for his impressive four-octave vocal range, and he certainly did not hesitate to show it off. Halfway through his set, Tony Harnell was very deservedly inducted into the 2022 Metal Hall of Fame.
Next was another one of the iconic frontmen of the ’80s, Stephen Pearcy of Ratt. There was much chatter among fans before the set wondering how the show would be because Pearcy’s past few years have been somewhat unpredictable when it comes to vocal performance.
After performing all the iconic Ratt tunes like Lay It Down, Round and Round and more, it was clear the weather was affecting his voice. Despite this, he still put on a fantastic set that was talked about for the rest of the day.
Somewhat different from the rest of the weekend’s lineup, Blue Öyster Cult were slated for an hour and 15 minute set at the M3 Rock Festival. You never know what is going to happen when you throw a ’70s band into an Aquanet-filled, alcohol-fueled weekend reminiscing on the debauchery of the ’80s, but Blue Öyster Cult did not disappoint.
Blue Öyster Cult released The Symbol Remains in 2020, and this date is part of their delayed 50th Anniversary tour. “I had no idea about what the arc of my professional life would be,” Donald ‘Buck Dharma’ Roeser earlier told MetalTalk, and I didn’t expect what began as the Soft White Underbelly and Blue Öyster Cult would endure all these years. But I’m happy that it did and I’m grateful that I’ve had a good living as a musician all these years.”
These guys have been kicking it since way back in 1967 in Long Island, and 55 years later, they’ve still got it. Musically, they were extremely impressive, and for being in their 70s, their performance was fantastic.
Headlining the night was Cinderella’s Tom Keifer. This was their first show back in action since the start of the pandemic back in March 2020, and it’s clear that they were well-rehearsed and ready to hit the stage once again. They didn’t miss a single beat. They hit the stage at 9:15 PM and cranked out a solid set of 16 ‘night songs’.
This 7-piece powerhouse band created a cohesive, entertaining performance of tunes from what was once considered Tom Keifer’s new album, but as Keifer himself said, the pandemic has aged the album a couple of years without being able to play songs from the album.
After absolutely killing it through a few iconic Cinderella tunes, Tom announced that this frigid night we were all experiencing was about to get colder. It was time for Long Cold Winter. This was definitely the highlight of the day.
MetalTalk’s coverage of the 2022 edition of the M3 Rock Festival can be found at metaltalk.net/tag/m3-festival-2022.