While I had seen Opeth twice before (2001 and 2003), I was prepared for the worst tonight. Sure, their best days are behind them. I've known this since the utter disappointment of Still Life. However, their new record has sunk to new lows, and is likely worse than the aforementioned album. With tidings of only 2 new tracks from the new LP, and Mat's birthday imminent, tickets were bought for what would likely be my last Opeth concert. What followed was the proverbial nail in the coffin. I haven't even one good word to say about this show. Not an ounce of positivity.
Oh it was so dreadful.
As always we backtrack a few hours. Same deal here, pick up booze, get on train, smashed by NYC. The train was delayed a bit, and with a switch in Jamaice, we missed meeting up with Crew & Peggy. Mat and I stopped and got some food and chatted about our futures, which will set us many miles apart.
It was a good night so far, and we caught a cab to the venue, met w/ Chris and Peggy, just as the prior band finished up. Our wait was brief, so timing was pretty good. Webster Hall is an interesting place, very cool-looking and quite old. The crowd was a mix, a fair number of women. Interesting mix of black metal shirts and Dream Theater geeks. (side-note, I was wearing my Satyricon shirt) hehe.
After some O-Peth chants which didn't inspire me, the band emerged on stage. The venue had filled up nicely now and it was warm and stuffy, despite the cool November air outside. The opening notes of something new rang and the journey into darkness had begun. To reiterate, I find the new album so amazingly bad. After several attempts to listen, they all end as futile efforts. I simply cannot listen! So, the first song ended with welcome applause from me. Mikåel announces the next is from an album called, My Arms, Your Hearse. YES! I raise my fists in preparation! YES!!! When kicks in! Skipping the intro, straight into the double bass part. Hmmm....it's not very loud. I bob my head unenthusiastically. Hmm....it's not very good, either! Has my memory made this record better than it really was? The song continued on, even one of the best parts ("And I cryyyyyyy!") did nothing for me. HRMPH!
So, the set continues and I know there's nothing from 2 of the best records ever recorded (Orchid and Morningrise of course). The remaining song of interest (Demon of the Fall) is scheduled to end the set. Not feeling very good at the moment. The rest of the crowd didn't agree with me, though. A guy to my left was hugging his friend at how good the show was as The Grand Conjuration had one of its slow moments. People everywhere were freaking out. A pit even started during one of the newer songs. I looked around in disbelief. Does no one else realize just how unbelievably bad this is? Apparently not.
Now, I'm just bummed. The sound is pretty poor, the setlist is doing nothing for me, and did I mention that it was *SLOW*? Oh yes. Mat and I decided during Deliverance that it was time to go. The song started out slow enough (normally fast double bass), but the end! That awesomely-catchy ending was even slower. Why? I haven't a clue. The drummer, sitting in for their regular one, was from Witchery, so I don't expect that was the issue. Ultimately, the band managed to suck the energy out of the 2 songs I really cared to see. Mikåel continued on w/ his rants and then announced that Blackwater Park would be next. All 10+ minutes of it. Mat and I were done. He asked me earlier if I wanted to leave, and I declined. Being his birthday gift, when he asked again, I figured I'd let him decide. Off we went into the night, not regretting missing what would likely be a forgettable rendition of Demon of the Fall.
It was bad, I tell you. Bad! Nothing positive to say about this concert whatsoever. This makes 3 shows in a row too, that have disappointed me. Even with reduced expectations, it was just plain...bad. (Don't need elaborate adjectives, this one suffices.) The countless fans around me disagreed fully, but the show further assured me that this would be the last time I would see Opeth. Opeth, who could do no wrong. Opeth whose first three records stand in the annals of time among the best ever. Both the record and the tour were far worse than anything I could've ever imagined coming from this band.
The setlist, in order, reads as such:
The Moor and April Ethereal, both songs I would've liked, were removed from the NY show and replaced with Face of Melinda and Blackwater Park.
The long return journey complete, I dropped Mat off at home. I simply had to listen to the album version of When to be sure I hadn't gone mad. Were they really as bad as I thought? After getting more psyched listening to the record version of the song than at any stage of the show itself, YES resounded through my head. They really were that bad!
Testament has provided me with some incredible memories. Being the first band I ever saw live, back in '91, the subsequent tours (barring '97) were all simply incredible. After Alex Skolnick left, the band went back to their old songs, crafted new and incredible material and just killed with some of the best drummers on the planet. The Gathering stands in my 'top albums of all time' chart, Mat still feels that Metal Gods show is the best of his life and for me, the show in 1995 is one I'll never forget.
So, after The Gathering tour w/ Lombardo, James Murphy and Steve DiGiorgio (best lineup ever), and the First Strike Still Deadly tours with Tempesta on drums, they reunited w/ the original lineup. Good news huh?
Ehhh...I guess. I feel the band went through their nostalgia back in '95 w/ Live at the Fillmore, one of the best live records in memory. I can't say Greg Christian is better than DiGiorgio, the lead guitar duties were handled for the most part by most of the guitarists over the last decade, and well...Louie Clemente's return simply makes the band weak. You can't follow-up Bostaph, Dette, Hoglan, Lombardo and Tempesta with this guy. I'm sorry. That's all-star drum history succeeded by...oh geez, I can't even think of a suitable adjective! It's just bad.
So, with lowered expectations, we went to go see Testament in Farmingdale, just around the corner. Katherine and Travis took the trip up, we ensured tickets were available, got a bite to eat and headed to the venue. The band took the stage just after 11 and provided us an extended set that ended just before 1.
Beginning with energy and some classics, the first 3 songs were exciting. However, it didn't take long to realize that they were...slow! By The Haunting, I felt like this was Testament growing old! I don't fault anyone but Clemente, as cymbal hits were soft, fills were iffy and overall it just felt WEAK. TESTAMENT WEAK??? WTF has happened? After the initial trio, we were 'treated' to Electric Crown a song I swear the band promised to never play 10 years ago. Welcome Back Alex! SUUURE, we'll play that song. The next few songs were the low point of the show.
It's not all bad, of course, and the remainder of the show was exciting, but I think Testament has given up. They gave up on writing the inevitable successor to one of the heaviest, fastest and best produced metal achievements in history. Instead, let's go retro nostalgia and jump around with Sins of Omission with a drummer who may simply keel over if forced to play any faster. Forget ever seeing *ANYTHING* from The Gathering, a record even the band knows is their crowning achievement, w/ him back there.
After the weak middle of the show, they returned to the first 2 records for the remainder and things went well. The crowd singing Alone in the Dark was exciting, choruses of Into the Pit and Trial by Fire rocked and Chuck's voice bellowed like death itself as the show ended w/ Disciples. Then you had Over the Wall which ended the main set. Chuck invited everyone up on stage which led to what could've been a bloodbath, as suicidal people launched themselves onto the floor, not far removed from the Nobody's Fault video. People were diving headlong into 4 rows of fans up front and missing entirely, crashing into the pole conveniently placed in the middle of the floor. Diving on top of other people diving. Falling face-first onto the ground. It was sheer lunacy. Just don't grab my hair on the way down, that's rule #1. You will get treated to my wrath by doing so. Having someone grab hold and fall 7 feet with a handful of my hair = whiplash for me, and some gut punches for you.
The 4-song encore is one of the longer ones I've experienced and the band did look like they had a good time up there. Alex kept chatting away (though I didn't particularly want to hear him), and while Eric praised the lineup in interviews, he didn't seem too enthusiastic up there. Not too far removed from his normal demeanor, but I've seen him have fun before. Chuck appeared to feel as if he was lucky to have Alex back, something I didn't quite like, but he enjoyed himself which equals fans enjoying themselves. They busted out Raging Waters and by now I was front and center w/ Kath and Travis behind me. The next 2 they claimed they didn't know too well. How they aren't familiar with 2 of their classic staples, I do not know, but they came off well and Disciples of the Watch was pretty heavy. Chuck rules, but add a little speed and some more balls to the guitars and well...you have 1993-2003, I guess.
It's hard not to walk away with some sense of disappointment. IMO Testament reached their peak and remained there for a decade. But this truly feels like a HUGE step backwards. As Chuck spoke of a new album, no excitement sprang to life within me. I just envision a slow record w/ Alex's influence. The Ritual 15 years later? URGH!
On the other hand, the show was good, the crowd was into it, and the band had fun. Nothing even close to the disappointment felt in the review below this one, but if I had to chart the times I've seen the band live, this is a low rung. I'd have to say 95 > 99 > 03 > 91 > 05 > 97. At least in '97 they were heavy and fast.
Here's a setlist, which is likely almost precise in its order.
Sales figures for this tour were dismal, to say the least. Ozzfest just had their biggest audience and Iron Maiden was pelted by eggs and disrespected by the Osbourne camp. I have a feeling this may be the last summer 'festival' for a little while.
However, for the price of tickets, getting to see 90-minute Megadeth and Dream Theater sets seemed like a good value. For the 4th consecutive summer, we've seen DT perform an end-of-the-summer show at Jones Beach and the weather was about as good as it gets. Warm breeze, sunny skies, this is a great time of year.
As always, let's backtrack a bit. Upon arrival, Mat and I set up and Chris & Peggy arrived a few moments later. They brought the Southern Comfort, but not nearly enough! Mat & Peggy took my car while Crew and myself sat sipping our 100-proof cocktails. The duo returned w/ a huge bottle of 70-proof. Far too weak! However, it served its purpose and we listened to Amon Amarth and gazed to the horizon of shows coming this autumn.
The hangout was relatively brief and I didn't get all too drunk, probably a good thing. I need a break from SoCo anyways. We headed on in and split up to our respective seats. Got to see Fear Factory end their set w/ a classic from Demanufacture and had a long wait before the next band hit the stage.
The place filled up as Dream Theater appeared and the band sounded incredible. No surprise as this was my 8th time seeing them live. Highlights included Home, which always ends up in my highlights bin, the drum solo and the outro.
As the last last note in Home approached, Portnoy kicked into a somewhat familiar-sounding drum solo. A few moments later though, Richard Christy (Death/Control Denied/Iced Earth) was introduced as someone from the Howard Stern Show. He appeared wearing a Death shirt and shared Portnoy's enormous kit. At first it was simultaneous drumming, then trade-offs, and then the fun began! Blazing through some cover renditions, we got to hear familiar drum sections from Van Halen, Iron Maiden, Death, King Diamond (Grandma!!! Portnoy howled!) and Slayer's unmistakeable DUN DUN DUN from Raining Blood. Several sections were accompanied by guitars, including the latter, which sounded incredible! Probably my favorite portion of the show, I was going nuts as they did Welcome Home. So cool.
The encore began innocently enough as Pull Me Under but went into Metropolis Pt 1 and we were treated to the usual masturbation fest that is Dream Theater. Solos and drum fills and keyboard mania ensued, as it has in every show I've ever seen. A good time was had by all! Thet setlist, in order, is as follows:
I was pretty tired at this stage, not having gone home after work, and not sleeping much these days. Booze prolly didn't help either, honestly. With my preparation for Megadeth being as simple as, "This is going to suck so badly, surely I can't be disappointed!" the result shocked me. I purposely didn't check out the setlist as well.
The intro began and 3 figures emerged, all in black. As Mustaine entered, the opening music hinted to greatness and he came out, ego blaring. A loud bang kicked the first song into gear, but it sounded pretty bad. "Where are the BALLS?" I asked myself. The guitars were wretchedly weak. While the sound got a bit better after the first few songs, the quality remained. They sounded like shit.
The first song was good, and Set the World Afire was a *very* nice surprise! However...things went downhill fast, and even with the handful of good songs in the set, the lack of energy and a good guitar sound really made everything spiral quickly. I wish I could write a fair review w/out stating how Countdown to Extinction is one of the biggest disappointments in metal history. I know every Megadeth song from every Megadeth record, and can enjoy many tracks from the later records. However, with each successive song, my heart sank more. In My Darkest Hour was uninspired, the crowd weak, the sound tinny. She-Wolf's Iron Maiden-ending was good, but after each good song, a terrible one followed. Mustaine sure knows how to suck the fun out of the few remaining exciting moments in a show. Specifically his, "Now is the time of the show where we speed things up a bit." section. Hangar 18 rocked, but so much for speed as Sweating Bullets came next, and again, I hung my head. The crowd enjoyed this material, but it just got worse as time went on. Tornado of Souls followed, and up again I stood! But once again I was crushed w/ more bad songs w/ bad guitars following.
Peace Sells was another uninspired piece of trash. HOW could you ruin Peace Sells???? HOW? This answer I will never learn, but here is how you can ruin Holy Wars...The Punishment Due: You stick The Killing Road riffs into the middle of it. Surely some fan from the front enjoyed this sleep-inducing Youthanasia riff, but it stuck a dozen nails in the coffin of Megadeth. It managed to destroy the final moments that could've redeemed an iota of interest in a band that has 2 of the best metal records of all-time. Oh yeah, and that song sounded like shit too.
If you've read any of the dozens of reviews I've posted on these pages, you will rarely see me spew such anger and hatred towards a band. I wish it weren't the case, but this is just honesty. Again, I know every record from this band, and know every song. Just how it all was put together, the destruction of energy by a poorly-organized setlist, and the guitar sound that I bested w/ a 30-watt amp 15 years ago, all together made this a disappointment of monumental proportions. ON TOP of the fact that I expected it to be bad.
Sad I am to write all this, but I really shouldn't have gone in the first place. Should have kept my memories of Clash of the Titans in '91 as my only memory of the band live. This setlist is likely ordered correctly.
I can say with confidence that this was the cheesiest concert I have ever attended. It was utterly ridiculous, but we all had a good time.
Rewinding to 3:30, I head out of work, get a big can of beer and hit the LIRR. Arriving buzzed, I mosey on down to Twin's, a very familiar locale and find Mat and Crew doing the obvious. Drinking. So, one Bass Ale arrives, Katherine calls and we head out. Chklankey on that beer, and out into the evening air we go.
Don't think I've seen her since the King Diamond show, so it was cool to see her and Chris. A quick stop for, what else, beer, and a few blocks later we arrive at Chris' abode. A nice apt, great location, we hung out here for a bit before the show. Unsurprisingly, the beer and booze flowed. This is Crew we're talking about here. We got one snap of the lot of us before hitting the streets, reminiscing of other shows, other walks, other drunken experiences.
Stopping for McDonald's, my night of drinking ended. Good timing too, more would've been bad. A short walk later we arrived just as Edguy began. I'd never heard this band before, and to reiterate the word-du-jour, CHEESE. I'd say it in other languages as well to really convey the message, but I believe the meaning would be lost. I was really surprised. The band sounded good, but when the singer started prompting the crowd to say, "P-I-S-S" and "S-H-I-T", it was a bit much for me. If I'm not mistaken, the last one was "M-A-M-A", which just made no sense, yet it amused me.
Spoke to Katherine for a short while and as their set ended, exactly at 9pm, we moved up. Hammerfall hit the stage exactly at 9:30. Crew, Kath and myself began up front, but then moved back to the right of the stage where Mat was. An absolute perfect vantage point we had from here. It was loud too. The band ran through a number of songs, most I recognized in some form. I really only like the 2nd record and they played one track from this record, so I was happy. As the show continued on, Kath and I plopped at the tables (BB King's rocks) and I think we both dozed briefly. The bouncer woke me up. :) Crew sat with us and had the great idea for one of us to hop on stage and dive off into the crowd. It was apparently a good enough idea (in drunken logic at least) that I opted to hop up and do just this. Chris prepped me with some shoulder rubs (further casting doubt on his heterosexuality - jk!) As the bass player moved towards us, I took my chance, ran up the steps, gave the metal pose, and leaped into the crowd. In mere moments I fell to the ground and lost my shoe, which I saw flying overhead a few seconds later. After retrieving this, I met up w/ the buddies (bad influence or not) and the show ended a bit after this.
Quite fun, despite the cheese factor. To be honest though, I don’t need to see Hammerfall again. This was good, and I liked them when I saw them back in 2002. Ultimately though, I never really listen. But it was a great time and I can’t complain about a free ticket (Thanks again Chris!). Here’s the setlist as I saw posted on the Hammerfall forums:
Here's a snap of the last pic, cropped. One of the better metal pics in my life!
I was positively exhausted going into this show due to lack of sleep. However, that all wore off immediately as I got to the city and walked up to the venue.
Jake had gotten me tickets and we agreed to meet up @ the show, so it was a solo train ride, but a quick one w/ my PSP in hand. I arrived shortly before Hypocrisy came on...perfect timing! They started out w/ my favorite song of theirs, which is almost a downer, as nothing lives up afterwards! I was surprised by the number of fans into their music and had a fan to my right shouting for all old songs. The only thing that was lacking was the keyboard-fused vocals, for lack of a better description. They sounded inredible though and closed w/ a newer song that I particularly liked. A fair number of songs for an opening band too! Their setlist:
After a very quick turnaround, next up was Dark Tranquillity. This would be the first time seeing the band, after missing/listening to them back with In Flames 3 years prior. They sounded good as they pushed through a set packed with brand new material. 5 of the 9 songs were from the new LP, 2 from the one prior, 1 from Haven and merely 1 from the glory years. Punish My Heaven is still a staple of their set, and was the song that got me into the band many moons ago. The crowd seemed into it, a sign of their recent popularity in the US. Quite a good thing, but much was lost on me. I can't really complain about the new record, it is rather good, and their best since before changing their style w/ Projector more than 5 years ago. Just don't see myself putting it on. Much prefer listen to The Mind's I and backwards.
In any event, you can't please everybody and there were an awful lot of people singing along. The buzz afterwards was positive as well. The setlist is as follows:
Jake and I spoke w/ a guy from France for a bit before heading down to the floor. BB King's has been hosting many metal shows and it's really a pretty cool place. You have seats, the elevated section above and then the floor, so if you want to avoid any contact, you can do so. I didn't get too far up, but was close enough to enjoy and headbang w/out bothering nearby folks.
As they came onstage, I'll admit my expectations were rather low. Particularly after a band like Dark Tranquillity, basing a set on mostly new stuff would really leave me unsatisfied. In terms of new content, I'll take the bands of the night in order, as I really like the new Hypocrisy and I can't even stomach the new Soilwork. 2-4 songs from their first 3 records was my prediction.
After the title track from the new one, 3 of the next 6 were from the great records. I mean great b/c I truly consider The Chainheart Machine and A Predator's Portrait to be incredible metal records. Such is why the last 3 records were such disappointments.
As they played through the songs, there were really 2 factions, those bouncing to the new chorus-led songs and those banging their heads to the older material. This wasn't a bad thing, as I really feel everyone left impressed and satisfied. The band played with incredible energy, the crowds were singing all the tunes, old and new, and it was a great night! The setlist breakdown was just about perfect, playing 4, 3, 3, 4, 2, 1 (new to old records). More than 1/3 of the set was old and I was utterly impressed! The band seemed happy with the crowd, who was singing many of the choruses and they even stopped during the final "Right! Wrong!" part in Like the Average Stalker which was very cool! Even the songs I wasn't as interested in sounded good and were packed with energy. If I had one complaint it would be that they didn't play Millionflame. Universally heralded as their best song, that would've secured this show as simply brilliant. But again, you can't please everyone! Ok, enough rambling, here's the setlist:
Setlists courtesy of some posts at the Soilwork Forum and seem accurate to my memory. Soilwork closed some shows with Follow the Hollow, SO glad they changed that for the NY show!!!
After a nice walk back to Penn, the train was just a few moments out. Unfortunately Jake had an hour+ wait to precede his hour+ ride back. Then again, he doesn't work, so he can sleep all day. I had a nice PSP gaming session (which really makes the trip speed by!) and went home.
This was my first time seeing all of these bands, I had a great time and Soilwork did a spectacular job. The fact that they played (and closed with) older songs feels good as one of those bitter fans. Can't help liking what you like, and when you see bands completely abandon what got them there in the first place is disheartening. We knew that this, their first headlining US tour ever, would be the best chance at seeing older material. Very happy I opted to go!
After not touring in support of Abigail II, this was the 2nd time the band came around for The Puppet Master. It had been almost a year and a half, so we expected to see a completely different setlist, at least in terms of older content. Unfortunately this was not the case and it was the first time I left a KD/MF show w/ even a tinge of disappointment. But as always, let's go back to the beginning.
Left work early, picked up Mat, booze, Big-Gulp cups and hit the 3:18 train. Mat decided to make the strongest drinks in the history of this planet and I swear, he was bombed by the time we hit Amityville (one station later). Neither of us finished our beverages but both were sufficiently smashed...so much so that he forgot his wallet on the train! After 10 minutes of running up and down platforms, in and out of trains, I gave up and found him upstairs.
We headed over to Café 31 to meet up w/ the gang and Chris, Peggy and Katherine were already there. Drinks appeared almost immediately (somewhat of a trend when hanging out w/ Chris!) and Jake showed up shortly afterwards. Mat managed to get in touch w/ someone who said that his wallet (with tickets) was found and would be returned to him. What a relief!!! We picked them up before hitting the subway.
As we learned this, we loosened up a little bit. Having arrived so early, we were able to spend a good amount of time hanging out, which is often the best part of the night! Got some debauchery pics, and at some point left. I was pretty sick so I was bombed and can't say I remember leaving the bar...but while everything else may be a blur, I remember it all!
We parted from Peggy and Chris and arrived as Black Dahlia Murder was finishing up. We nestled into a seat in the corner, got me a cup of water and I proceeded to put my head down and almost pass out for Nile's complete set. As 11pm approached, we moved into the middle of the floor and awaited the show's commencement.
There was a different stage setup from the past, but unfortunately that's one of the very few things that changed. The moment the pit opened up, I pushed my way up front, right in the middle. By the end of the show I was one person in. I could see Andy's solos just fine, but Mike was out of view for the most part. The set began with the Abigail - Abigail II tracks just like the last tour. The old songs sounded great, and once again they played Black Horsemen w/ the acoustic intro (unlike the House of God tour.) One song was dropped from Abigail II, so they only played the intro/outro and Spirits which happens to be my favorite from the record.
Next up though was Come to the Sabbath! They hadn't played this since the pre-Mercyful Fate reunion days (~15 years), so this was quite a surprise! Of course, it had appeared on the live record from '91, but seeing it in the set kinda solidifies the death of MF. The crowd loved it, and sang along throughout. Next up was the Puppet Master material, once again, the same as the 2003 Show, with the title track being nixed.
Now that we've covered the new material, it's time for the classics right? One song from 3 of the band's best albums (all identical to the last tour) and the band left the stage. Hrmph! All 3 sounded great of course with the crowd really loving it...but that's it? The first encore was Halloween, again, the same...
So, at this point I felt like crap b/c of my cold, b/c of excessive drinking and b/c some guy pulled my hair on the way down from riding the crowd. I helped him along the way, b/c that just drives me nuts. :) I was pretty exhausted and suspected No Presents to be the last track and to close out the show. To my utter disbelief however, the opening notes of Evil played. OMG! Not one, but Two MF songs! I was absolutely shocked! The song sounded GREAT! Definitely the surprise of the evening, I was blown away and ate up every moment of it.
With this, the night ended. A long journey back to Penn, back home, all of us a mess. Jake had gotten a boot to his nose, and crusty he walked back to the station with us. Felt horrible that the first show we get him to come to w/ us ended up w/ a bloody nose.
Having seen the tour 17 months earlier, I definitely expected a little more. King had cancelled the night prior due to voice problems, so his Hungarian counterpart helped with vocal duties. Ultimately though, the setlist barely changed from the show @ L'Amours. Much like Tool did with their 2001/2002 tours, you feel a little bit cheated paying those dollars for the same set. The MF songs may have been worth it by themselves, but with such a large back catalog, the same 1 song from Portrait/Them/Conspiracy/Eye can't help but disappoint. Something I never anticipated King to do. Having said this, the performance itself was not lacking one bit and coupled with the hangout and good company, it was very far from an unsatisfactory evening overall.
The setlist is as follows:
Well...I was far too drunk to remember all of this, but according to some site somewhere, the setlist was as follows. Of course all I cared about was the second set.