home | concerts | 2003

Primus:
25th November, 2003 - Roseland, New York, NY


A fantastic show. Review forthcoming.

Setlist:

Set I
    My Name is Mud     6:56
    Bob     11:54
    Over the Electric Grapevine     9:51
    De Anza Jig     4:25
    Pilcher's Squad     2:50
    My Friend Fats     9:01
    The Toys Go Winding Down     9:10

Set II
    Seas of Cheese     3:34
    Here Come the Bastards     4:23
    Sgt. Baker     5:32
    American Life     14:16
    Jerry Was A Race Car Driver     3:16
    Eleven Drum Intro     17:11
    Eleven     8:33
    Is It Luck?     8:15
    Grandad's Little Ditty     1:00
    Tommy the Cat     7:14
    Sathington Waltz     4:28
    Those Damned Blue-Collar Tweekers     6:56
    Fish On     7:21
    Los Bastardos     6:03

Encore
    Mr. Knowitall     5:04

King Diamond:
7th November, 2003 - L'Amour, Brooklyn, NY


The band was scheduled to play Long Island the following night, but my trip to South Carolina didn't allow this, so fortunately I got to see the Brooklyn show. This was my 3rd time seeing King Diamond (w/ 2 MF shows on top of that) and probably one of the best.

After hanging out all night, we headed to Brooklyn for the midnight start time. Got there with about 10 minutes to spare and squeezed our way in. I've never seen the venue this packed and I'm almost certain it was beyond max capacity b/c there was literally no room to even move. I managed to sneak in my camera, which was allowed actually, and so I'll toss some images up below soon.

The setlist was impressive and the way it was laid out was good. They started w/ several from Abigail, then Abigail II and then The Puppet Master. Going through the set this way gave the crowd an excellent intro, then all the new material at once, then all the classics to follow. Here's the setlist:

  1. Funeral
  2. Arrival
  3. Family Ghost
  4. Black Horsemen
  5. Spare this Life
  6. Mansion in Sorrow
  7. Spirits
  8. Sorry Dear
  9. The Puppet Master
  10. Blood to Walk
  11. So Sad
  12. Sleepless Nights
  13. Eye of the Witch
  14. Welcome Home
  15. E: Invisible Guests
  16. E: Burn
  17. E2: Halloween
  18. E3: No Presents for Christmas

I believe this is the complete set list and in proper order. The crowd was really into the Abigail songs and they played the acoustic intro to The Black Horsemen which they did not do on the House of God tour. Andy came out and played his acoustic on a stand and it sounded amazing.

The new material was less welcomed by the fans, but again, getting it out of the way was the way to go. Spirits is one of the better songs in recent years but overall the newer songs were just average IMO. What's striking is that aside from the last 2 records, there was nothing from the past decade. Nothing from House of God (2000), Voodoo (1998), The Graveyard (1996) or The Spider's Lullaby (1995). This didn't disappoint many I don't think, as the rest of the show was just amazing.

This was my first time seeing Hal Patino, and along with the rest of the band, they sounded fantastic. King announced that they were taping every show for a potential live DVD, and Brooklyn was roaring the entire night. Judging from some other reviews of the US dates, the crowds were smaller and so I'm hoping they choose this night to release. The place was nuts, it was fantastic.

As the moved through the remaining songs, they covered all the classic records and came back for 3 encores which blew my mind. Only once before have I seen 3 encores, and that was Sarah McLachlan in '95. The band came out with Christmas hats on for the finale and in all it was a phenomenal show. One thing to mention is that King had double vocals going on in some points. Whether it was by tape or what I do not know...but it was curious.

He never manages to disappoint, and showed enthusiasm towards the energetic crowd as always. The band sounded great this evening and I had a blast. About 2 hours after hitting the sack, I was up to fly to South Carolina. It was well worth it.

Here are some snapshots.

Slayer / Arch Enemy:
18th October, 2003 - Roseland, New York, NY


Took the train in with Mat and Dave for my 8th Slayer show. We drank our beers and headed for the subway and got off at 50th. A short walk to the venue, we stopped off to meet some people at TGIFriday's but they weren't there, so we chilled out a bit and headed in.

What was almost perfect timing, Arch Enemy took the stage just as we got in. Quickly we headed up front and were able to get really close and as the pit opened up towards the end of their set, I ran all the way up and got maybe 3-4 people in. Their setlist:

  1. Silent Wars
  2. Heart of Darkness
  3. We Will Rise
  4. Dead Eyes See No Future
  5. Dead Bury Their Dead
  6. Ravenous

This is in order. Angela was awesome and the Amott brothers shredded as expected. Sharlee was way too low, could barely hear the bass, but in all they rocked. Only played 6 and they were all from the last 2 records (featuring Angela). I understand, but Pilgrim would've been nice!

As the short set ended, I caught a pick tossed out by Mike Amott which was awesome. Here's a scan:

I really regret not having seen them all those times they came around. Angela is an incredible frontwoman, great presence and that voice! Couldn't understand much of what she said through the German accent, but their music said it all. Fantastic.

After waiting around and missing Hatebreed, we once again muscled our ways up front and there I would stay. All night, right in the middle of it all. Just the way I like it. I ended up sweaty and battered, but hey, it's a Slayer show!

They opened w/ the songs that they've been playing on the God Hates Us All tours and went into a barrage of old material. After War Ensemble they kicked into At Dawn They Sleep and then...Necrophiliac!!! I had seen these two songs way back in '96. To make 3 from that album they whipped out Hell Awaits and also...OMG...Fight Till Death! I was in utter shock! No matter how many times I see this band, they always pull something out of the archives that I never expected. Never in a thousand years would I have expected that.

I got a bit ahead of myself there...after Necrophiliac they played some newer material so I headed back and found Mat sitting at the side. In the middle of the song there was a scrum (heh) behind us, bodies tied together, fists being thrown. Next thing I see, what seems to be the instigator, gets a boot to the face...square across the face. It was pretty impressive actually. The bodies were separated and everyone went back to their respective pits. As the song ended, God Send Death came on and I needed to be in the middle for the double bass ending, so back to the middle I went.

The next few songs were generally the expected ones, but as I had heard the 'news', I wasn't surprised by the lack of Reign in Blood content. Eventually, Angel of Death kicked in and kicked ass. Looking back over the past decade, I think Paul Bostaph was a perfect replacement for Dave Lombardo. He did a great job...but with Dave back behind the kit, it's even better. Angel of Death is the defining song for this band. The lyrical content, the riffage, the sheer speed. And as it rips apart, screaming solos it all ends with Dave Lombardo, one arm high in the air, lights shining solely on him, straight double bass. What ensues for those final measures is typically the end of an incredibly violent night. Here it felt as such. The pit was alive and healthy and there's nowhere to hide, not that I was loooking for such a place. You see, because the band left the stage for a few moments, and having expended most of their typical encores (barring Chemical Warfare which was not to be heard this evening). Their return brought the remainder of speed metal's finest moment...in it's entirety.

That's right...had anyone not known by now, we were treated to the 27-minute masterpiece in order. Reign in Blood - straight through. O..M..G!!!

The place was fucking (you) insane. 5 songs I had never heard from this record, and probably never would have. Necrophobic is less than 100 seconds on the album, and I'd wager it was even shorter this evening. Lombardo teased us with an extended ride intro for Criminally Insane and everything was positively brutal from the pit as the final songs continued. I have to say that as the show ended, things got worse. The entire floor was open. One of the biggest pits I can recall and bodies were flying everywhere. As Raining Blood ends, things get faster and faster. Lombardo was going a mile a minute up there, I couldn't believe it. I've never heard Slayer at that speed.

Sweaty, exhausted, broken...the exodus to fresh air began. Here's the night's setlist:

  • Darkness of Christ
  • Disciple
  • War Ensemble
  • At Dawn they Sleep
  • Necrophiliac
  • Stain of Mind
  • God Send Death
  • Payback
  • Mandatory Suicide
  • Fight Till Death
  • Dead Skin Mask
  • Hell Awaits
  • South of Heaven
  • Angel of Death
  • Piece by Piece
  • Necrophobic
  • Altar of Sacrifice
  • Jesus Saves
  • Criminally Insane
  • Reborn
  • Epidemic
  • Postmortem
  • Raining Blood

As if Dave Lombardo's return back in 2002 wasn't enough, they put on what I might consider their best show (though again the Undisputed Attitude tour was nuts). One gem from the first record, 3 from their second and the entire third album! Then from the other end, barring the intro, only 4 songs from the past decade! It was insane, ridiculous, brutal, phenomenal. Any doubts that Slayer is still the king of speed metal were dashed this evening, and every evening that they hit the stage. 8 times, and never once have they disappointed. Far from it...8 times and each time they surprise and thrill and perform like no other.

The Kings of Metal they are, and for 20 years they've reigned.

Helloween / Jag Panzer:
12th October, 2003 - BB King's Bar & Grill, New York, NY


Comments to come...

Iron Maiden:
26th July, 2003 - Jones Beach Ampitheater, Wantagh, NY


Iron Maiden at the beach! Never thought this would happen, but after their last trip to MSG, I simply could not sit any further away. After all those years seeing them up close in small venues, the Metal 2000 tour had me sitting a mile and a half away. That's just not right.

So, when tickets for this tour went on sale, I had no interest in getting MSG tickets unless I could be close. Getting tickets for Jones Beach was much easier and so I bought a pair in the 14th row, and another set of 4, also in the orchestra section, as I knew I'd get rid of them. One went to my co-worker Dave, one to my drummer Doug, and a pair to Tom and his brother-in-law Brian. Cool gang to hang out with, and that was just the beginning!

Motorhead and Dio opened, but I've never been a big fan of either, so I was glad to miss them. The plan therefore was to get inside a little after 9. By comparison, we arrived in the parking lot at 12:45. That's a whole lotta partying!!!

Mat, Tom, Brian and myself all arrived early, unpacked the coolers and set up our chairs. Southern Comfort and cranberry juice again for me. My cup wasn't less than 1/3 filled all day. As the hours passed more people trickled in. In all, we had over 15 people hanging out, and that's give-or-take a few. The pic below has a whole bunch of us, some of whom I still don't know. Brian took the pic, and Evan had already gone inside, but there's still 15 in this snapshot taken just before Motorhead took the stage.

I tried to sneak in the digital camera but got caught and so no camera for this show. :( Would've gotten great seats b/c we were really close. Anyways, around 9pm those remaining packed it up and headed on in, drunk beyond belief. We met up with Kim and her gang as somehow they got tickets in our same row. An incredible coincidence, as she bought her tickets from Texas, ours from New York and we got to sit next to her.

After a short wait, the lights went out, and the old familiar intro began. This was my 5th time seeing the band, every tour since 1996. The setlist was cut from the European selection, much to my dismay. 22 Acacia Avenue and Heaven Can Wait (I'll never see this song) both were removed and those would have been excellent additions. However, so was Brave New World, a very long song that didn't need to be in the set. In any event, much was familiar but 3 stood out and truly warranted the price of admission: Die With Your Boots On, Revelations and The Clairvoyant. All 3 kicked ass and would have been unexpected if I hadn't known the setlist prior. Here it is in full, and probably in about the correct order:

  • The Number Of The Beast
  • The Trooper
  • Die With Your Boots On
  • Revelations
  • Hallowed Be Thy Name
  • Wildest Dreams
  • The Wicker Man
  • The Clansman
  • The Clairvoyant
  • Fear Of The Dark
  • Iron Maiden
  • E: 2 Minutes To Midnight
  • E: Run To The Hills

I'd heard their new one, Wildest Dreams several times, so the catchy chorus was sung by many a hardcore fan and was a lot of fun. That kicked off their 'new' section of the set, as it was followed by The Wicker Man and The Clansman, an awesome song when sung properly (read: by Bruce).

All in all, there were a few "surprises", but there were no complaints from most about the familiar setlist. They sounded incredible, including those dual solos, 3 part harmonies, and Bruce's trademark bellow. I heard some say that this was the best that Maiden has sounded. I'm not sure if I could say that, as by setlist alone, the Ed Hunter tour ruled. And there was nothing from Somewhere in Time, a fact that I might have considered inexcusable if the rest of the show wasn't so amazing.

Final Thoughts
The tailgate party was as much of a draw as the concert itself IMO and both proved to be a highlight of the summer. Wonderful weather, great company, lots of booze and one hell of a concert! I simply could not have asked for anything more.

Overkill:
19th July, 2003 - L'Amour, Brooklyn, NY


Ahhh...good ol' Overkill. This is #8 seeing them, definitely the most of any band. As usual, they rocked, however, the setlist wasn't as full of old classics like the last few times I've seen them. In any event, it was a great night.

Traffic sucked but since they didn't go on until 1, it wasn't so bad. We got there as the band prior was finishing up and so we found a corner right next to the stage and stayed there for the whole night. Couldn't see the guitar solos from that angle, but had a good shot at Tim on drums and it was the perfect position as we were literally right up against the stage. I could reach out and touch Dave at any time had I wished to do so. That man sweats a lot by the way.

This time, rather than guess the order of the setlist, I grabbed it from the stage and scanned it in.

   Unholy
   Necroshine
   Bastard Nation
   Hammerhead->Infectious
   Hello from the Gutter
   Damned
   Long Time Dyin'
   E.vil N.ever D.ies
   Supersonic Hate
   Devil By the Tail
   Battle
   In Union We Stand
   E: New Machine
   E: Elimination
   E: Fuck You

It was nice to see some different old material, Hammerhead->Infectious and New Machine were the highlights. In Union We Stand is their new staple song, especially after 9-11, but unfortunately, that really rounds out their first few records. 3 from the new one yet nothing from Bloodletting. 1 from each of the albums prior, but 2 from W.F.O.. It was an interesting song selection and not one of their better setlists, but the band ripped, always tight and heavy as hell. It's just that much was the same from the first 7 times.

There's little to say that I haven't said before. After seeing the current lineup several times, it's definitely their strongest lineup to date, and it's hard to believe Tim has been with them for so long. As always, a crushing show, complete with a Blitz stagedive. Barring common setlist complaints, I have nothing bad to say about the show. Additionally, there's nothing memorable beyond our awesome vantage point.

Opeth / Porcupine Tree:
17th July, 2003 - Irving Plaza, New York, NY


Opeth was touring in support of their Damnation record and therefore were only playing their 'mellow' songs. I missed out on the band's Deliverance tour in January, so I got tickets in advance for this one. It's essentially a once-in-a-lifetime chance to see them do songs that they regularly wouldn't, and I was all over that. Especially that one rumored song from Morningrise...

But to begin, I rushed home from work, got some cocktails made (Southern Comfort and cranberry juice) and Stacy and I just made the train. We met Doug and his friend Tom in Massapequa and sipped our tasty drinks all the way to Manhattan. Since the weather was so nice, we walked downtown, and went a little further than necessary, but arrived at Irving Plaza shortly after doors opened. Passing the hordes of black t-shirts, the line wound around the block, but the wait was reasonable and we were shortly inside. The first round of drinks were on Doug and immediately Porcupine Tree's intro music was playing. Having never heard them, I didn't quite know what to expect but both Tom and Doug raved about them. After a few songs, I wasn't as interested and was highly intoxicated, so Stacy and I went downstairs and relaxed for a little bit as they ended their set. The tour is a co-headlining event, so each band got 90 minutes.

We headed back up, got another round of drinks and waited a few minutes for Opeth. The band arrived on stage as a 5-piece, with a keyboard player in the back. I can't recall what band he was from, but it added that necessary depth to the mellow set.

The show started with the entire Damnation record essentially. I think they may have skipped one song (Ending Credits?), but they did at least 7 of the 8. For Weakness, Mikċel sat on stage alone with the keyboards. They swapped guitars several times which sometimes delayed segments of the song but the effect was perfect. The ending of Closure (fantastic) was delayed by at least a minute, building up and building up prior to finally hitting the ever-catchy outro.

At 2 points during the show, the band members teased with some classic parts. Martin Lopez teased us with the double bass portion of the ending of Deliverance (of course with only one bass drum) and Peter Lindgren toyed with one of my absolute favorites, the acoustic intro to The Apostle in Triumph, definitely one of those OMG experiences.

After covering the entire record, the band moved into some older material, which was of course welcome by many. I had heard the rumors of it but wouldn't give in to the possibility of them playing what is perhaps my favorite song by the band. As Mikċel mentioned an older album...from 1996, that's when I allowed myself to freak out. To Bid You Farewell was phenomenal, and like the rest of the set, they sounded incredible. Almost album perfect, the wall of sound thrown at you was crystal clear and positively perfect. The end of my favorite song didn't have the outright punch of the album, but it was a mellow show after all and I could not mention disappointing in this review, yet for some reason I have.

After that, my night was done b/c nothing could live up to that...however they went on, playing 2 other mellow songs and Soldier of Fortune, a Deep Purple song. To my left, Doug just jumped up and down, as he had called the song and this is apparently his favorite DP song! It was shortned a little bit, but not to Doug's disliking, I think that just about made his evening.

Here's a general setlist, with the first songs in the order of the album, not how they played them:

  • Windowpane
  • In My Time of Need
  • Death Whispered a Lullaby
  • Closure
  • Hope Leaves
  • To Rid the Disease
  • Weakness
  • To Bid You Farewell
  • Benighted
  • Soldier of Fortune (Deep Purple cover)
  • Face of Melinda

As a huge music fan, I enjoy many different bands and genres, however at one point in my life I could probably point to Opeth as my favorite band. That was until Still Life, but regardless, I have never had favorite bands. The fact that they landed atop that list truly shows how much I respect and admire this band. Seeing them in a completely different light (I had seen them in 2001) offered a newfound appreciation for an outfit that is simply amazing, and one of the most incredible bands I've ever heard.

Dream Theater / Queensryche:
11th July, 2003 - Jones Beach - Wantagh, NY


I Love shows at Jones Beach. Get there a little early, open the folding chairs and drink a few beers in the parking lot. Enjoy good company and good weather. There's really nothing quite like it.

Mat and I met up with Doug in the lot, cracked the cooler and chilled out for a few hours. Fates Warning went on first so we finished up and headed in as they were ending. Never been much of a fan.

Our seats were in the first section up, not bad really. Jones Beach now has the big screens so you can watch there, however, during the day it's not bright enough to see.

Queensryche came on first. As they went through the rather boring new songs I thought of how long ago I listened to Operation: Mindcrime. Turns out that I got the record in 1989 and therefore it is more than half of my lifetime ago. Incredible to imagine such things.

The set started out slowly, with a few new songs and then one of my choices, Screaming in Digital. Pretty damn cool! After that, interestingly enough, they ran through their albums in reverse, doing 2 from Promised Land, 3 from Empire and 4 from Mindcrime. Of course this led to an exciting finale, as they truly got better as the night went on. I'm not so big on Empire, some good songs, but in no way does it compare to their conceptual masterpiece and doing Speak was a highlight for myself.

The downside to this was that after the place was going wild with excitement, their encore was positively horrible. I *think* the first song was called Desert Dance, and the band obviously enjoys playing the new material over those from the past, but the venue sat silent as Geoff Tate did some sort of dancing and almost rapping the unbelievably painful chorus. The finale was a little better, but it was a lesson in how to disappoint. The energy level prior to the chorus was enormous, and then dwindled to nothing for the finale.

Rough setlist:

  • Open
  • [a few newer songs]
  • Screaming in Digital
  • I Am I
  • Damaged (i think)
  • Empire
  • Silent Lucidity
  • Jet City Woman
  • I Remember Now
  • Revolution Calling
  • Speak
  • The Eyes of a Stranger
  • E: Desert Dance
  • E: Best I Can

Dream Theater was next and man, I've seen them a lot these last 2 years. The show was great, but I feel like I've seen it all before. At the end of the show though, I had a blast and they played some great stuff including my old favorite Under a Glass Moon and Metropolis Pt 1.

The middle of the show saw them doing a couple of covers, Rush and The Who. Not a big fan of that stuff, but the Rush song was pretty cool. As always the band sounded great and put on a fantastic show, but little more can be said that I haven't said before, so here's the setlist:

  • Home
  • Under A Glass Moon
  • Peruvian Skies
  • Only A Matter Of Time
  • Erotomania
  • Voices
  • The Silent Man
  • The Necromancer (Rush cover)
  • Baba O'Reilly (The Who cover)
  • Metopolis Part I
  • E: Through Her Eyes (DT)
  • E: Take Hold of the Flame (QR)

The encore had all the members of both groups hitting the stage doing one song by each band. It was pretty wild seeing so many musicians on stage, but quite fantastic. LaBrie hit all of Geoff Tate's notes perfectly, I couldn't really tell that it wasn't him singing Take Hold of the Flame. In other shows, they played the cover songs as an encore, I was happy to see them doing the band's originals.

Overall a very good show and a perfect night at the beach.

Derek Sherdian:
18th June, 2003 - The Downtown - Farmingdale, NY


The Downtown is a pretty cool place, spacious and right near home. No expensive train rides or anything.

I've never heard a moment of Derek Sheridian's solo material, but he was on 2 Dream Theater records and Tony MacAlpine was playing with him, oh and it was only $11 to get in! Can't turn that down!

Arrived in time to catch one band prior, which was just one long guitar solo. Met up with Mat, Doug, Evan and Scott who I met a few times at other shows. Had a few drinks and the band took the stage.

They were incredible, though Derek shouldn't talk...he's not a frontman. An excellent keyboard player he is though, and his playing was pretty incredible. I didn't know Tony MacAlpine was playing with him so that was an extra special treat, having never seen him. I love his solo material, and he was fantastic on stage, sweeping, tapping and generally just shredding as usual. The bass player switched between a 6-string and a nice fretless, but the drummer had a dead sounding kit and was the weak point of the equation.

Since I'm not familiar w/ Sheridian's solo material, I don't know what they played, but he did a song from Jeff Beck's 'Blow by Blow' and I was pretty shocked to see that. Such a fantastic album, and I got the treat of hearing it with almost 3 decades of technological advancements. Just awesome. To end the set, Derek did his solo from 'Once in a Livetime' and went right into 'Lines in the Sand', up until the vocals at least. That really got the crowd going. The encore was called 'Atlantis' and something else (I guess the same song on the Planet X cd?) and was simply absurd. Super speed, crazy timing and stops...impressive to say the least.

Testament/Immortal/Amon Amarth:
3rd May, 2003 - BB King's Bar & Grill - NYC


This was the Metal Gods tour that was cancelled right after our performance.

One of the best packages in metal, and no I'm not talking about Halford.

Mat and I met up with Doug on the train and we were all equipped with a lot of alcohol. All 3 of us were pretty much stumbling by the time we reached Manhattan. We walked up to BB King's and within 10 minutes of entering the venue, Amon Amarth hit the stage. Pretty perfect timing!

They were excellent! I sat through the first song before moving down. I was front and center, about 3 people back. There was a little moshing, and I feared getting kicked in my new tattoo, but all went well as they churned out 5-6 tracks, including what I can remember:

  • Death in Fire
  • Versus the World
  • Victorious March
I hope to find the other titles. In any event, they were phenomenal and made me wish I was Swedish.

Next up was Primal Fear. If every song wasn't Painkiller or some other Judas Priest song, it wouldn't be so bad...however, every song was identical. Bah.

Next - Immortal. Somehow I never got into this band through all my years in radio and black metal fandom. Recently though Doug introduced me to them so I've collected everything and have been blown away by them. They appeared on stage in their traditional corpse paint and simply ruled the stage. How they got such a great sound with one guitar eluded us all, but it mattered little as they stormed through some killer songs. Everything sounded amazing and they played most of the songs we wanted. I found this setlist from a message board and while it looks correct, I don't know if I recall them playing 9 songs.

  • Sons of Northern Darkness
  • Damned In Black
  • (another song)
  • One By One
  • Tyrants
  • Battles in the North
  • Solarfall
  • (another song)
  • Withstand The Fall of Time

That list looks about right...they played One by One and Tyrants, two I really wanted to hear. The only other track I was looking for was When Dark and Light Don't Differ, but seriously, I could not complain in the least about their set. Quality Norwegian black metal touring the US is somewhat rare, so I enjoyed the set completely.

Next up was the Mighty Testament. It's been a long time since I saw this band, the first band I ever saw live (12 years prior). It was The Gathering tour in '99 to be exact, and much has changed in the 4 years since. Chuck Billy living through cancer only made this band stronger and they came out with all the intensity that they had in '95 and in '99. There's no question that Testament are survivors of time and leaders of the metal scene.

  • Eerie Inhabitants / The New Order?
  • Practice What You Preach
  • Low
  • Burnt Offerings
  • Chasing Fear
  • D.N.R.
  • True Believer
  • Into the Pit
  • Over the Wall
  • 3 Days in Darkness
  • Dog Faced Gods
  • Disciples of the Watch

That listing is somewhat jumbled, but it's generally in order. I was exhausted at this point, too much Southern Comfort and headbanging, but I soaked up every moment, every incredible note. Once again I met my old radio colleague Seth Diamond at the show, a trend increasing in frequency. Right up front the pit was pretty healthy, especially for a place like BB King's Bar & Grill! Chuck, complete with his suspiciously long braided hair extensions, loved it...no big surprise there.

John Tempesta was behind the kit and once again we were treated to an excellent display of speed and thrash drumming. I have yet to see the band's current drummer, but I don't think they've ever had a sub-par man for the job. In '91 it was Louie Clemente (who along w/ Alex Skolnick, were reportedly at the venue). In '95 it was Jon Dette. '97 was Gene Hoglan I believe while '99 was the highlight, Dave Lombardo. Typically I'd say that no one could follow someone like Lombardo, but Tempesta was incredible, just like his performance on First Strike Still Deadly. We were definitely lucky to see him, as he'll no doubt be heading back to Rob Zombie, underperforming for the rest of his career. The money is no doubt better, but we know metal still flows through his veins! :)

This was also the first time seeing Steve Smyth on guitar. While I was on the opposite side of the stage, he seemed to handle all the solos flawlessly and certainly fits into the mold created by the band over their 15+ year career. Eric was Eric...wearing a black metal shirt as always and doing his banshee vocals where necessary.

Barring their poor 1997 tour for Demonic, Testament has been at the top of their game for the past decade. Return to the Apocalyptic City came out in 1993 and really was the mark of the 'new' Testament. Having seen them on every tour since then, I can say with confidence that this band is as good as they've ever been, even without James Murphy or Dave Lombardo. This truly says something about the band that was once called "Metallica clones". And just imagine what their next record will sound like!!!

After such a performance, no band can follow. Much like Pantera trying to follow Slayer back in 2001, it simply is not right. While I Love Halford and heard rumors of more Judas Priest songs, I did see him a mere 2 months prior and we were all done for. The 3 of us took the subway back and passed out on the LIRR. What an incredible night!!!