It's the morning after, and I've sufficiently recovered so that I can offer up some thoughts on the weekend show. Friday: Because I was teaching a class at a local college, I was unable to make it to Center Stage before 3:30 or so, and thus missed Need entirely. I also missed the Stratovarius signing. I did run into the security problems that were mentioned in the previous thread, and thus ended up ditching a granola bar. Caught the beginning of Ordon Ogan's set, and was not particularly impressed, so I perused the merchandise stands. Leprous was interesting and quite weird, but I liked it. The singer was fantastically strange, reminding me of early 80's British New Wave--until he went into the death metal growl. Overkill was awesome, and Bobby was on top of his game with the vocals--quite amazing for someone who is in his 50s. And the setlist was an exceptional mix of classic Overkill and relatively newer material. My only disappointment was that there was nothing from Horrorscope which was the first album I heard from the band back in the day. Although I love the album Mercy Falls, I couldn't really get into the Seventh Wonder set. Perhaps it was because early on, when the candle placed on a stand near the drum riser fell over, I was having flashes of the Rhodes Island fire during Great White's show about 10 years ago. Also, the sound mix wasn't that great, as the guitar was buried throughout most of the the show. Nonetheless, the band did have a particularly strong ending with an incredibly emotional performance of One Last Goodbye that nearly had me in tears. The video package for next year's PPUSA was amazing, although I was disappointed that none of the bands I hoped for was on the list. In fact, with the exception of Riverside, I had not heard the music of any of the bands. However, the video did make me curious enough to want to check some of these bands out, and possibly to attend next year's show. As a result, I picked up a few albums from Voyager the next day and would have gotten stuff from other PPUSAXVI bands if I had been able to find any. Stratovarius was another very good band, one that was actually better than I had remembered (having pretty much drifted away from the band in the mid 2000's. Doing Visions in its entirety was an excellent choice, and the crowd was very much into the all of the album. And Timo was another vocalist who was on that night. I did notice that security became looser as the night went on, and I was able to go back to my car and bring in some granola bars. I was very glad that I managed to do so just before the downpour started. I also got autographs from Overkill and JOP, and all of the band members were very cool. Saturday I got to the show a little bit late, and I immediately rushed to the main merchandise stand and got the JOP PPUSAXV shirt before they sold out. From there I checked out Withem, and I was impressed enough to pick up their CD later in the day. Divided Multitude managed to put on a decent set, even though their regular drummer had visa issues and thus they had to bring in two ringers (I know one was from Pagan's mind, but I don't know the other one). I do have to wonder if they could have found a better way to kill time than to have two drum solos, one from each drummer. On the other hand, their cover of Perfect Strangers was awesome. Voodoo Circle was a band I didn't know anything about before earlier this year, but I picked up two of their CDs and was very impressed. Live, they impressed me even more. However, the crowd took a while to get into their show, perhaps because they sounded a lot like Whitesnake. However, they did an awesome jam during their blues-tinged song Blind Man that won over the crowd. For me, the only problem with their show were the ongoing technical glitches, most notable with the singer's mic. I missed almost all of Masterplan's set because I was in line for the Seventh Wonder singing, where apparently a large number of fans were telling the band their life's story, because it took FOREVER for that line to move. BTW, I didn't make the same mistake again, as I hauled ass to the Voodoo Circle singing as soon as Masterplan's set was done. From what I heard of Masterplan and the few songs that I did see, they delivered a solid set, and I wish I could have seen more. I'm still not quite sure what to think of Pain of Salvation's show. It didn't help that the changeover took a while, and that they took another five minutes to even start the intro tape once the lights were out and the curtain was pulled. That pretty much killed the crowd to the point where Daniel abruptly decided to start the entire show over about a minute into the first song. However, I think he was also having problems with the vocals in the mix as well. Once the show started, it was very good, although not really my cup of tea. The closing was also odd, as the band didn't do an encore, but rather came back to the stage just for a final bow. Perhaps the redo played a role in that decision. Then for the reason I came--Jon Oliva's Pain. That was undoubtedly the highlight of the weekend, and indeed the highlight of the decade so far. To be honest, I wasn't sure Oliva could pull it off, as I've seen shows in which he really struggled on the vocals. And I will say he wasn't perfect, but he delivered when he needed to, and almost sounded like the Oliva of the early 90's. BTW, the band did slip up in the fact that they excluded A Little Too Far from the main set, and had actually moved up Heal My Soul into that place. However, Jon acknowledged that and jokingly blamed his bandmates for not reminding him. However, it seemed much more fitting that the song would be part of the encore. Jon deserves extra credit (and the bonus he kept joking about) for doing this with broken ribs. It would have been so tempting to cancel, but Jon wasn't about to destroy the weekend because of a little (or a lot of) pain. The show was pretty loose too, with Oliva joking around all the time, between and during songs. As I pointed out in another thread, I wondered if he was taking painkillers for the broken ribs because he was so goofy. In addition to Streets, the setlist featured several Gutter Ballet songs, including Of Rage and War (one of my favs), the title track, and the show's closer When the Crowds Are Gone. For the most part, an awesome weekend, with my only (relatively minor) problems being the security early on, and the fact that I had to pay $5 for a mediocre slice of pizza, which I only did on Friday (I snuck in a McDonald's burger on Saturday). Let me close out by ranking my top five performances from the weekend: 1. JOP 2. Overkill 3. Voodoo Circle 4. Statovarius 5. Seventh Wonder. Thanks to Glenn, his staff, the bands and their crew, and thanks to all of the fans for making this a great weekend.