I missed all of Kreator unfortunately and arrived to a packed house just shortly before King arrived. The show was earlier than I expected with the Danish legends hitting the stage around 9:15.
The Fillmore is a smaller venue with a comfortable-looking balcony on either side of the stage. However, the floor itself is quite small and I felt really far away at my initial landing spot.
I hadn't seen Mercyful Fate since October of 1996, the night the New York Yankees won the world series. Quite a long time.
Highlights were The Oath and Black Funeral, really. The setlist was a bit brief and the new song simply doesn't catch me.
A fantastic show with the family. Diverse crowd, some phenomenal songs and a nice speech at the end, before Helvegen. Some drunk woman was being obnoxious, unfortunately. Such a cool night with my wife and kids. I loved this show.
I purchased these tickets for Erin well over a year ago and the time finally arrived to cash-in on her birthday gift. The drive into the city was an easy one, arriving in just an hour but the search for a parking spot was easily half of that, driving to and fro seeking an available (and affordable) lot. One cost $80. No thanks.
Upon landing a garage, we walked to the stadium, the first ballpark I've ever visited outside of old Yankee Stadium. We were ravenous so we found a small place across the street. Two strong drinks each and some delicious burgers totaled about $100, not as outrageously-priced as I had expected. We finished up, crossed the street and started the long process of getting to our 300-level seats.
We sat on the 3rd-base line, with the stage set in the outfield and with huge screens, we had a great view of everything. It wasn't even five minutes after arriving when Sir Elton John emerged and the long show began.
As Erin is a much bigger fan, I expected to like, not love, this show. I was wrong. He blasted through decades of hits including several I knew - but didn't know I knew - and the 75-year-old was simply rocking. I was impressed throughout at just how rock-and-roll it all was. One highlight for me was Rocket Man, a song I don't particularly like. After the main song ended, it digressed into a peaceful piano piece with Elton John wailing - everything echoing through the massive venue. However, it then grew in intensity before returning back to a fantastic rock-and-roll ending.
The singer took moments to talk to the crowd, to reflect on his history and to properly say, “goodbye,” to the sold-out house. The fitting closer, Goodbye Yellow Brick Road was both beautiful and magical and was met with somber-yet-happy response from the thousands of fans, their blinking headsets and unique attire.
(unfinished review)(setlist link)
Progenitors of the much-heralded Gothenburg Sound, my At The Gates experience began with Slaughter Of The Soul, a near-perfect record and one that led to their breakup just as I discovered them. Almost two decades later, their return with At War With Reality was a phenomenal homecoming. Material since has been far more varied and much-less consistent, but I love that they're not chasing the unattainable.
I never got to see the band despite the years of adoration. That is, until Sweden Rock 2019. What a great show. Deep down, however, I don't think they're the best band live. But when it was announced they were playing all of SOTS, that legendary record, purchasing a ticket for the merely-an-hour-away show was a no-brainer.
I met up with Tim, Erin's co-worker from our time in Gothenburg and we caught Municipal Waste. I wasn't impressed. The opener, Enforced was actually really good.
At The Gates emerged with a newer song, one which didn't really inspire the crowd. They then moved into the title tracks of their first two re-grouping records - which are each album's best songs - and a lone, pre-SOTS track, The Swarm. A few more newer tracks got people hyped until the real draw started. Unfortunately, some of the crowd's hype dwindled as the set went on, but that's really a testament to how good the first songs from Slaughter really are.
Municipal Waste's drummer joined the band on Unto Others and the intensity stayed high the entire night, though the crowd was a little less physical than some of my recent metal shows. The circle pit was generally subdued and only during the biggest songs was it at full health. My ankle injury wasn't helped by this evening. See if that stops me from joining the fray at the next metal concert I attend!
They ended with The Night Eternal, one-by-one disappearing from the stage. Love that song.
Afterwards, I grabbed two beers for $20, chugged the first and grabbed Mat a shirt as I drank #2. I texted both him and my wife as I returned to the floor to await the headliner.
Testament followed and as I don't love their new one, I wasn't altogether too excited to see them. Dave Lombardo's return to the fold, however, changed that perspective and he was easily the best part of their set. His familiar sound, that consistency and just seeing him behind the throne - all felt great. I like Hoglan and his playing, but I love Dave's style. And I've been a fan for decades.
As a whole, Exodus was the superior set, but there were certainly some noteworhy portions of Testament's output. Unfortunately, they started with a new track and it was really just a disappointing introduction to the second "I've seen them in four decades" band. The next few tracks were hit-and-miss. Pale King = awesome. Practice always bored me. New Order was great! WWIII, while heavy and fast, just doesn't do anything for me.
What followed was a trio of songs from The Gathering. The first wasn't a great live song, but then Chuck told us about Eric and Dave jamming for the first time and coming up with DNR. It really is prime Testament. It gets no better. Well, unless you go straight into Legions Of The Dead - hands-down the highlight of their set. I was back in that pit, fired up, sweaty and roaring. It gets no better than this!!!
But what followed was almost tragic, with three songs I hate and all the energy sucked out of my experience. I felt bored as the crowd somehow managed to mosh to Electric Crown. Damn, that song brings me back to '92 and not in a good way. The song and the album are both terrible.
Fortunately, the trio of finale songs were neither unexpected nor disappointing. I finished the night back in the thick of it - at one point part of a wall of people, shoulder-to-shoulder headbanging as some strange brotherly ritual. The crowd was rowdy here and I took a pair of elbows to the face: one to the nose - I saw stars! - and another to the jaw. No blood, no foul - so back in I went.
As good as the good was, the bad was glaring, and I felt Exodus was just better overall. This was hardly terrible though, as the entire night was killer. I stuck around as the band bowed goodbye, Lombardo smling the whole time, and headed back to the car for the hour-long drive home.
It was the same bands I saw seven years prior - just with some different circumstances and a renewed view of the world. (Much has happened in these past seven years!) But the bay area veterans were all fantastic and I had a spectacular night. It's fucking good to be back!!!