Sixx: A.M. Live Review; Nikki Sixx hints at 4th album and second headlining tour.

Photos By: Vladislav Grach

Sixx A.M. performed at Philadelphia, Pennsylvania’s Electric Factory on April 28th, 2015. Sixx:A.M’s Modern Vintage tour is the first tour of its kind for the Los Angeles, California based Rock group. Sixx AM was formed by former Motley Crue bassist Nikki Sixx, Guitarist DJ ASHBA and lead vocalist and producer James Michael in 2007.  Let’s flash back to Nikki Sixx’s announcement in 2014 when Nikki Sixx said, “Fans have been asking for years “When is Sixx: A.M. gonna tour?” and we’ve finally announced our first headline tour. We can’t wait to play these songs live and put on a rock extravaganza for our fans. We’re excited to announce that we’re bringing along Apocalyptica as special guest because we are fans of their music and think this is going to be an amazing night of music from beginning to end”.

The group wrote and released 3 albums containing 7 singles before the announcement was made that the group would be going on a headlining tour in 2015 to support their third studio album called, Modern Vintage. Now let’s fast forward to April 2015 so that we could point out the obvious. Sixx:A.M. has delivered on their promise that they’ll be doing a limited number of live performances. As promised, Sixx: A.M. brought Helsinki, Finland’s own Classic and Metal mix act called Apocalyptica with them. Sixx: A.M. also brought Japanese Rock band The Vamps with them as well. The groups’ concert at Philadelphia, Pennsylvania’s Electric Factory was the second to last date on their Modern Vintage tour and marked the final stretch of the tour. If you missed one of the 16 fantastic concerts that Sixx: A.M. put on during their first headlining tour then you’ll have to wait until they announce their next tour to see them perform live. But, the least we can do is let you know what you might be able to expect.

Sixx: A.M’s live performance is a combination of wonderful musicianship, playful interaction between band members, raw emotional energy and fantastic production. If you’ve read Nikki Sixx’s book called “The Heroin Diaries: A Year in the Life of a Shattered Rock Star,” then chances are you are familiar with the entry called, “December 1986: Merry Christmas. Well, that’s what people say at Christmas, right?” Sixx: A.M’s performance began with an audio clip of Nikki Sixx reading that passage from his book. The band rushed the stage following the end of the audio clip and jumped right into, “Let’s Go,” from their latest album called Modern Vintage. 

Perhaps one of the more notable things about watching Sixx: A.M. performing live is noticing exactly how much heart and soul each member of the band puts into the performance. It is easy to notice how much fun Nikki Sixx, DJ ASHBA and James Michael are having because they’re so animated when they’re on stage.  If an audience member watches attentively enough they can catch DJ ASHBA’s expression of pure joy after playing and nailing a guitar solo. He literally smiles from ear to ear every single time. Furthermore, audience members can notice how much chemistry there is between each of the band members when they see DJ ASHBA run towards Nikki Sixx and playfully kick his right leg while Sixx lays down some bass riffs. Also, when James Michael walks towards DJ ASHBA and embraces him while he’s soloing on the guitar it becomes easy to tell that you’re not just watching any other band. When you watch a Sixx: A.M. performance it actually looks like you’re watching a band of brothers on stage. I’d be doing an injustice if I didn’t also mention the bands two back up vocalist whose names are Melissa Harding and Amber Vanbuskirk. They both lay down beautiful, melodic, and tone savvy vocals at just the right moments. Their harmonies add to the performance of each song immensely and without them the sound just wouldn’t be the same. 

Lead vocalist James Michael goes to extreme lengths to ensure that members of the audience are enjoying themselves. Let’s flash back to the bands performance of “Dead Men’s Ballet,” when lead singer James Michael sang the lyrics, “Don’t abandon me now, I don’t want to die,” and let Melissa Harding and Amber Vanbuskirk take the lead and sing harmonies for a minute so he could get audience members involved. James Michael told the audience, “Everybody in this room let me see your hands,” and started to wave his arm from side to side. Members of the audience started to follow James Michael’s lead while Harding and Vanbuskirk sang marvelous harmonies, DJ ASHBA soloed on guitar and touring drummer Dustin Steinke played the drums. When a band can create that much energy in the audience it is always beautiful. DJ ASHBA had some marvelous advice to give after the group finished their performance of “Dead Men’s Ballet.” ASHBA spoke of his childhood and growing up. He said, “This is a dream come true. It reminds me of when I was a little boy. I grew up in a little church town where they taught you not to follow your dreams. And they wanted you not to step outside of the bubble. And I was the one that said, “Forget the bubble.” And, now I’m up here thanking you all for being here. Dreams do come true and it’s a blessing to be on this stage with Nikki Sixx and James Michael. So, I guess the moral here is; seriously, go for it in life, do whatever you want. I am living proof that dreams do come true.” 

What ASHBA said is true and his words rang out in the auditorium and I’m sure they inspired. Audience members began to cheer him on and continued to applaud until Sixx: A.M. began to perform their next song called, “Accidents Can Happen,” from their album called, The Heroin Diaries.  Before this article comes to a close I’d like to mention a couple of words that Nikki Sixx said about the single that gave Sixx: A.M. its break. The single is called, “Life is Beautiful,” and at its apex it reached #2 on the Billboard Magazine U.S. Hot Mainstream Rock Tracks chart. Before the group continued their performance and jumped into “Help Is on the Way,” Nikki Six delivered a speech that matched DJ ASHBA’s in inspirational connectivity. Sixx said, “Sometimes the best thing that happens to you is the worst thing that happens to you. And, sometimes when you look down at your arms and your life you could have scars, wounds and you have damage and baggage and it’s at that time of your life that you realize that you’re really grateful for all of the messed up things that happened to you and the messed up people in your life; Whether it’s the chick that cheated on you your husband who beat you, or your mom and dad who abandoned you. You may have a scroll of stuff but the truth is if you’re here and I’m here that means that we can change our future in the blink of an eye. And I experienced that when I was putting together a book called “The Heroin Diaries,” and I think I was trying to figure out exactly what I told you guys. I started writing music with James and DJ. We were best friends, we respected each other and we had no agenda. And, out of nowhere we took a left turn and we did the right thing and we wrote a song called, “Life is Beautiful,” a spark happened and things started to change. Radio’s started playing that song all around the world. They played it in Europe, South America and right here in America. Somebody told me something. They said that song was the first opportunity that we’ve had in a long time to feel a little bit of hope. At the same time, you guys aren’t afraid because you’re telling the truth. And the truth will set you free because I am living proof that the most messed up human being on planet earth can turn out to be all right. I put a lot of people through hell but right now, on this planet, at this time, Sixx:A.M. is going to forge forward. Next year you’ll get a 4th record, you’ll get a world tour, and if you’ll put up with us we’ll go on to be your band, OK?”   

The excitement in the audience got explosive as die hard Sixx: A.M. fans applauded the news that Nikki Sixx is dedicated to Sixx: A.M. and will continue to help James Michael and DJ ASHBA write a 4th studio album and to plan a 2nd world tour.  When the applause for the big news began to die down, Nikki Sixx, followed up with another statement. He said, “And just when I thought I was going to retire. Fuck that, I’ve got 20 more years in me!”  And with that, audience members began a frenzy of applause again. With hundreds of their fans cheering them on, Sixx: A.M. moved onto the song, “Help Is on the Way,” and delivered an incredible performance of that track before moving onto “Goodbye My Friends,” and “Lies of the Beautiful People,” and “Stars.” During their performance of “Stars,” Sixx: A.M’s James Michael waited for the precise moment that DJ ASHBA finished off an electrifying guitar solo at the end of “Stars,” to begin singing the lyrics, “Do you wanna see heaven tonight? Underneath those lights you will look so beautiful. Do you wanna see the stars before they fall? See the stars before they fall,” as Co2 cannons located stage left and stage right shot Co2 into the air and thousands of golden cut out stars fell from the ceiling.   

Sixx: A.M. encored with one of the slower songs in their arsenal called, “Skin.” James Michael sat down at the piano and recited the words, “You are not your skin,” before he began to play piano. He skillfully sang the song on Sixx: A.M’s 2nd studio album called, “This Is Gonna Hurt.” It was just James Michael and his piano for 3 wonderful, intimate minutes. Nikki Sixx and DJ ASHBA joined James Michael on stage after his cozy recital. DJ ASHBA began to play a guitar solo that rang out and filled the room with the soothing tones of an intimate, well done, 1 and a half minute long Rock guitar solo.  But, as if that wasn’t enough of an exit. Sixx: A.M. waited until the very end of their set to play a second encore. Their second encore was the song that Sixx says gave them a reason to feel a little bit of hope again. Sixx: A.M. ended the concert by performing, “Life is Beautiful.” Sixx: A.M. had the entire audience singing the words to the song until the very end.

Open letter from the writer; Being a Sixx A.M. fan at the core since the bands inception and a professional journalist it has been hard to write this review from an unbiased point of view. I think I succeeded but here I would like to write an open letter revealing why I am a Sixx A.M. fan. I think that Sixx: A.M. is more than just phenomenal music. I think the music has the potential of creating a movement. Sixx A.M’s music will remind you that no matter how grim things are beginning to look you can and will get through it. I think Sixx: A.M’s music has the potential to remind each one of us that each human being on planet Earth has the fundamental right to live a happy and successful life. And, that each human being shouldn’t be surrounded by people who devalue them. Instead, they should be surrounded by people who love them regardless of their background and history. And, in order for that to begin all we have to do is show the people around us extreme love and kindness. 

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Stay in touch with Sixx: A.M. to find out official information on the bands progress by visiting their website, www.sixxammusic.com

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