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29th January 2017

metal talk
Words: Steve Göldby, Pictures: Billy Esquibel

namm week

For those who are unaware, NAMM is by far the biggest and easily the best music conference, or exhibition if you prefer, in the world and as befits such an occasion, there is an unfathomable amount of live music to enjoy.

NAMM is not just about Metal, although a distinctly rock'n'roll air permeates the whole event. Every genre and style of music is represented and catered for and there's something for literally everyone here and far too much for most.

The sheer scale and size of NAMM is simply mind-boggling. It's held in the Anaheim Convention Center, just an hour's drive from rock'n'roll Central, Los Angeles, and runs from Wednesday, which is press day, to Sunday with an estimated one million people passing through the three floors of exhibits, shows, demonstrations and much, much more.

Attend NAMM and you will see the planet's most innovative, cutting edge products and technologies first hand and up close and you'll get to meet the major players in one of the most exciting industries on the globe.

But it's not all work at NAMM as the evenings not only deliver some serious quality partying, but the very best in live music too.

We're running a separate article on the products available on display at NAMM 2017 which you can check out right here. This one is purely about the amazing five days of live gigs we saw and that is scratching the surface of one truly astonishing schedule.

Wednesday night was the inaugural Hall Of Heavy Metal History inductions and you can check out the huge list of star names who were inducted as well as the official photos, exclusive to MetalTalk, from what was a truly glittery night right here.

Hall Of Heavy Metal History CEO and Founder Pat Gesualdo spoke to MetalTalk Radio on the night and you can check out what he had to say right here.

Thursday, and all Rhoads led to Santa Ana, to the Yost Theater for the Tribute To Randy Rhoads concert and the standout performance of the evening came from an Englishman, Judas Priest lead guitarist Richie Faulkner, who completely mesmerised those in attendance. This will come as no surprise to Metalworks regulars who have experienced Richie play 'I Don't Know' often but this was a long way from The Monarch.

It was also a long way from home for Kathy and Kelle, Randy's siblings, who were in attendance after their late brother was inducted into the Hall Of Heavy Metal History the previous night.

Kelle is a larger than life character and he clearly relished his moment on the stage, whilst being mindful that this was his brother's night and what a great night it was with a mega cast of stars all putting in stellar performances.

namm week

These performances included very special turns by many big names including Doug Aldrich, Rudy Sarzo (above) and event founder and Dead Daisies drummer Brian Tichy, who said about his decision to launch the event:

"I love Randy Rhoads! He came into my life right at the same time I was learning guitar: 1980. He made me want to learn every note he played. I was already a drummer, but the guitar was right there with the drums, and a lot of that initial inspiration came from Randy's playing on 'Blizzard Of Ozz'. I didn't know what I was doing, but I really wanted to play like Randy Rhoads."

Even Stryper joined in with Michael Sweet and Oz Fox shouting at the Devil on 'Over The Mountain', which you can watch here on this fan filmed video.

Friday and it's our first visit to The Grove, full name City National Grove of Anaheim, a very nice venue just a short ride from the main Convention Center, for Metal Allegiance. We caught MA at Bloodstock last year and we were impressed. MA offer classic tracks played by a rotating line-up of some of the very best in the business and with a supporting line-up of Marty Friedman, Gus G and up and coming New Yorkers Martyrd, a great night of quality music was enjoyed by a full house.

Martyrd guitarist, Michael Andreas, told us when this gig was announced that The Grove is a legendary venue but it had escaped our attention up until now. We had heard of the Yost Theater though and a quick glance at it's Wiki page confirmed that this venue is indeed 'historic', however four sucessive cab drivers claimed to never have heard of it so we settled on it being famous in London but unknown in California.

namm week

At The Grove meanwhile, Metal Allegiance paid tribute to a host of 'Fallen Heroes' that honoured some of Metal's biggest names. David Bowie's 'Suffragette City', Iron Maiden's 'Murders In The Rue Morgue', for Clive Burr, 'I Don't Know' for Randy Rhoads, Thin Lizzy's 'Emerald' and Slayer's 'War Ensemble', for Jeff Hanneman, amongst the songs on offer within a tantalising setlist.

The show also featured a very special guest in Ray Burton, father of late Metallica bassist Cliff Burton and the long list of performers included Richie Faulkner once again, Testament's Chuck Billy and Alex Skolnick, Billy Sheehan, Mike Portnoy, Anthrax's Charlie Benante and Marty Friedman, who performed alongside his former Megadeth bandmate David Elleffson for the first time in almost two decades.

Here's a taste of the action for you with the official Metal Allegiance 360 video from the night.

On Saturday night it was back to Santa Ana where we didn't mention the Alamo but instead enjoyed the Ronnie Montrose Remembered concert which was the big one of the whole NAMM week for many people and a quick glance at the cast list leaves you in absolutely no doubt why.

Here's more fan filmed footage of some of the evening's events to enjoy.

Sunday night brought a performance of sheer class and quality by one of the Masters Of Metal, Udo Dirkschneider, and you can see what we thought of the Arnheim performance, as well as the gig at Los Angeles' Whisky A Go-Go the following night right here.

Nobody gets to see absolutely everything they want to see during NAMM week as there are simply too many great things happening all at the same time and as well as the evening's concerts, a constant stream of top class artists performed upstairs in the various instrument departments and all live music fans would agree that a visit to NAMM is worth it for this alone.

The whole week was a huge experience which may never be bettered and one we are already looking forward to repeating next year.


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