It has been over a decade since fans last saw My Chemical Romance perform in Minnesota. The band disbanded in 2013 and it seemed the black parade had packed up all its floats for good. What we have found out about modern day musical entities, nothing ever truly goes away, it just momentarily fades away until the right moment hits for a reunion. In 2019 it was announced the band would reunite and tour but covid kept the brake pedal down until now, 2022, and once again it was time to strike up the band and bring the parade to arenas across the country. People packed the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, Minnesota to welcome back one of the most influential bands of the 2000s.
The anticipation and energy could be felt throughout the arena, this was a big deal to a whole lot of people, and when the lights dropped the screams echoed in a frenzy of excitement. Things were kept very simple as there was no pyro or laser lights cutting through the darkness, the stage was pretty simple with a red curtain draped down as backdrop that later opened to reveal a destroyed city. This was a night about the music and the connection between the band and its devoted fans.
They opened with the latest single “The Foundation of Decay” which really came to life in the live setting. It’s a song like no other in the catalog and showcased that this unit has always been a band that could offer more musically than the emo label they have aways been tagged with. They didn’t leave the fans waiting for long to hit with the song that exploded on the scene back on September 13, 2004, “I’m Not Okay (I Promise). If there was a moment the roof lifted off the arena, that was it, every single person was singing every lyric of that song as loud as they could. It was as fun and fresh as it was when it was released and has become a timeless classic of the era.
The band still maintains its core nucleus that catapulted My Chemical Romance to commercial success. Singer Gerard Way is still the ring leader on stage and vocally hasn’t lost a thing on his voice. The energy of the band has always come from the duo-guitar players Ray Toro and Frank Lero. Both are fun to watch and the intensity in which they approach their craft plays right along with the music they play. Holding the low-end down is Mikey Way on bass. The band utilized a couple of touring musicians on drums and keyboards. Overall, it sounded like they never left although during many of songs like “Teenagers” and “Welcome to the Black Parade” the crowd just about over took the band in volume. What has been interesting about this tour is how they are not sticking to the same set-list each show. While most bands never change things up from night to night, My Chemical Romance has taken its own liberties with song selections and the order in which they are played. Some of the highlights for me in St. Paul were “Famous Last Words,” “Vampire Money,” “Give ‘Em Hell Kid” and “Helena.”
It was a magical night for thousands of My Chemical Romance fans. Many got emotional with tears streaking down their face as the band roared through the set. When they finally closed with “Desert Song” fans had given everything they had. People left the arena feeling good about the band and the show they just saw but it is already being asked, when will see the My Chemical Romance again? That answer remains to be seen.
After a two-year wait, The Stadium Tour has finally been making its way through the United States. The line-up features Def Leppard, Motley Crue, Poison, Joan Jett And The Blackhearts and new comers Classless Act. Around 50,000 people made the journey to USBank Stadium, located in Minneapolis, Minnesota, to relive some of the biggest acts from the decade of decadence known as the 80’s.
Before the reminiscing could begin, the new kids on the tour called Classless Act took the stage. The band formed in Los Angeles in 2019 and released the album ‘Welcome To The show’ in 2022. The bands energy starts with the flamboyant lead singer Derek Day. From the opening note, it was his mission to get every eye in the building to lock on to the stage. Along with Day, the band features a two-guitar attack with Dane Pieper and Griffin Tucker, bassist Franco Gravante and drummer Chuck McKissock. The band had a short five-song set but utilized every second to introduce themselves and kicked out songs that included “This Is For You,” “Give It To Me,” “All That We Are,” “Time To Bleed” and closing with “Classless Act.” This is my second time catching these guys and once again they delivered a fantastic and fun set encompassing good old fashion bombastic rock-n-roll. Hopefully, as people were still filing into the venue, buying mech and drinks, they stopped and soaked in what Classless Act is about and what they have to offer as they are one of those bands that have the material and live flair that can make a mark on the musical landscape.
Still riding strong after a career that spans over 46 years, Joan Jett and the rest of her Blackhearts took the stage with ‘Victim of Circumstance’ and then the Runaways classic ‘Cherry Bomb.” She was an interesting choice for the tour as she is far removed from the glam metal movement and has always harnessed a punk vibe laced with a radio rock melodic sensibility. She brings her own stack of hits to the table like “Crimson & Clover,” “Everyday People,” “I Love Rock ‘n’ Roll” and the sing-along classic “I Hate Myself for Loving You.” She remains a timeless classic and the response for her was over whelming throughout the set. Ending with the timeless punk classic “Bad Reputation,” it was a giant reminder to me just how many fantastic songs she has and just how important her contributions and legacy are to the history of rock music.
If your listening to the ongoing opinions of people that have attended previous shows on this run, the consensus seems to suggest, Poison, has been the band that has stolen the show. The all-original glam metal kingpins featuring singer Bret Michaels, guitarist C.C. Deville, bassist Bobby Dall and drummer Rikki Rockett were once again out to prove themselves as they opened with the banger “Look What the Cat Dragged In.” Dall raced down the stage ramp pumping up the crowd while that vintage C.C. guitar tone cut through the excited crowd. Once Michaels came out, it was on, and Poison’sinfectious energy was felt throughout the stadium. Sounding exactly as they did in their heyday, they stuck with the hits, “Every Rose Has Its Thorn,” “Fallen Angel,” “Talk Dirty to Me,” and “Ride The Wind.” Poison’s cast of characters are uniquely fitted together and without those four, those Poison songs don’t sound quite the same. They truly brought a fun and exciting atmosphere to USBank Stadium and as they closed out the set with “Nothin’ But A Good Time,” which summed up the entire vibe of their show and for my money, that’s all anybody ever wanted from a Poison show. I really think this band needs to play more, not over saturate the market like many of their contemporaries do, but pick your spots to headline some of the festivals that celebrate the glam genre. It’s a shame we don’t see this very much and I think Poison are missing some really good opportunities and we as fans are also missing out.
Back in the 2015, one of the biggest bands of the eighties, Motley Crue, signed a “cessation of touring agreement,” which stated the end of touring for the band. Well nothing lasts forever and that document was cast aside in 2019 as Motley Crue announced a reunion for this Stadium Tour. Controversy and speculation have always swirled around this band, and the biggest hurdle seemed to be how well Vince would be able to perform on this run. A string of bad performances plagued his solo shows which left a lot of fans clamoring for his retirement. With the tour starting, Vince had gotten into better shape and also his singing was stronger than his solo shows. But this is Motley Crue, Tommy had broken ribs and couldn’t finish a full show when the tour kicked off and then added further attention to himself with a “selfie” on Instagram. There is no Crue without the four members that created it, Vince Neil, Nikki Sixx, Mick Mars and Tommy Lee. They have a deep catalog of hits and showcased everything from “Wildside,” “Home Sweet Home,” “Primal Scream,” “Looks That Kill” and “Dr. Feelgood” just to name a few. The reality is Vince still struggled to hit notes and sing the words in spots and there is just no way of getting around it. The Nasty Habits which doubled as pole dancers and back-up singers probably should have been moved up in the mix as they could have helped more than what they did to help the vocal situation. With all that said, I would add, how many in the crowd actually cared? We all have YouTube and knew exactly what the vocals would be, yet there were thousands of people wearing Crue gear to support them. People were still rocking hard and singing along with all the songs. Mick Mars was still a force and continues to be one of the most underappreciated guitar players of his era. Hearing that “Live Wire” riff at that kind of volume, I couldn’t help but smile as that all-time classic ripped through the venue. Maybe it’s the covid lay-off speaking, but I still enjoyed this moment with Motley Crue, warts and all, one last time.
Def Leppard would close out the show at our Stadium. Both Motley and Def Leppard have been alternating closing the shows. There are not a lot of eighties era bands still recording and releasing new albums, but Def Leppard remains active in the creating process and released ‘Diamond Star Halos’ this year. Opening up the set was the lead track off that record “Take What You Want,” for those fans that hadn’t been keeping up with the new material, it didn’t take long for the guys to settle in to the songs that made Leppard mainstays of rock radio and MTV. Songs like “Animal,” “Armageddon It,” “Rocket,” “Love Bites” and “Pour Some Sugar On Me” gave everybody a chance to perform eighties karaoke together. Vocalist Joe Elliot maneuvered through the set splendidly and sounded in fine form. The band was as tight as ever both musical and the backing vocals that are so critical in the band’s music. Drummer Rick Allen along with bassist Rick Savage and guitarists Phil Collen and Vivian Campbell delivered a crisp sound for Elliot to sing on top of. My allegiance to Leppard goes back to the earliest of days, ‘High ‘n’ Dry’ and ‘Pyromania’ and as much as I would love some deeper tracks from those albums, I’ll take what I can get with “Let It Go,” “Switch 625,” “Bringin’ On The Heartbreak,” “Foolin’,” “Rock Of Ages” and “Photograph” which were included in the set. Overall, I was more impressed with Def Leppard than I thought I would have. They really did sound amazing and they certainly have the hits people want to hear. A very good set to close out a long day of music but a day that I would say was a complete success after a two-year wait.
Ninety semis rolled into Minneapolis, Minnesota carrying 1,350 tons of stage equipment for the long-awaited concert by German industrial metal giants Rammstein. After four days the stage assembly that measured 200 feet wide, 100 feet deep and a height of 120 feet was ready for the thousands of fans that would fill USBank Stadium for one of the most anticipated concerts since its initial announcement back in 2020. The band has embarked on a 12-city North America Tour and Minnesota was the first stop in the United States.
Rammstein has put much of its effort into growing its audience throughout Europe and not North America. It has been a decade since the band traveled to Minnesota, and despite singing in their native tongue and only having one minor hit with 1997’s “Du Hast,” the band has now moved into the city’s biggest venue. The exist in their own vacuum, make their own rules, and are oblivious to musical trends and styles. While most expansive tours involve multiple bands and artists to fill venues, Rammstein pulled the talents of Duo Avelard, a pair of classically trained pianists, who warmed the crowed up with Rammstein songs played on the piano. On the surface, it doesn’t make sense, but with this band, it all make sense.
The stage came to life as they thundered into “Armee der Tristen,” “Zick Zack,” and “Links 2-3-4.” Once things got moving it was impossible to take your eyes off the stage, you didn’t want to miss what was coming next. USBank Stadium has never been assaulted with so much pyro and fire and sound that had to push the loudest decibel reading for a concert there. The sound was thunderous as it pulverized it way through the flames, smoke and confetti that blanketed the crowd throughout the night.
The whole idea of the brilliantly constructed stage, the antics and pyro were to deliver the most outrageous and over the top concert experience anyone could have in a two-hour set. From the oversized baby carriage, in the song “Puppe,” that is lit on fire and singer Lindemann using a flame shooter to set a cooking pot on fire with his bandmate inside during “Mein Teil,” to the impressive and fan-favorite backpack that shot out nine bolts of fire in a circle as Till Lindermann wore it during the song “Rammstein.” For the song “Engel” the band made its way out to a small Stage B, a platform about 150 feet from the goliath stage. They were greeted by the pianists that opened the show for an entirely different version of the song. Every moment was planned to give the fans the greatest visual performance possible but all done with a clever tongue-n-cheek approach. Through the twenty-two song they maneuvered through songs from seven different albums which gave a great balance of new and old songs. Some highlights for me were “Deutschland,” “Radio” and “Ich Will.”
Rammstein lived up to their reputation and the hype that surrounds the massive show. The stage was like nothing I have ever seen. The mere size of it and the tower in the middle was both ominous and impressive. The non-stop attack of fire and pyro was mind blowing. It just kept coming at you, where most shows have packed it in after a few bursts, this onslaught went through the entire set. What is often forgotten is the music as the visual is so overwhelming, but the songs sounded as bombastic and aggressive as anything I’ve ever head live. This music was created to be played at ear breaking decibels. The heaviness of the songs are truly felt with this band playing them on stage with a full onslaught of sheer volume. It was night that was truly unforgettable and let’s hope it is not another decade before they decide to come back to North American soil. Whenever that day comes, there will be fans waiting to fill the stadium once again.
Anthrax is celebrating four decades of being metal thrashing mad and moshed into the sold-out Fillmore in Minneapolis, Minnesota and brought a whole lot of noise to the venue. Joining the party were Black Label Society and Hatebreedwhich made for an unbelievable night of fist crushing music.
Hitting the stage first was Hatebreed and it is no secret what they do. Hit you fast and hard and cause as much destruction as possible. Led by frontman Jamey Jasta the band launched into an assault of heavy pounders that included “Proven,” “Destroy Everything,” “Perseverance” and “Looking Down The barrel of Today.” Hatebreed are no strangers to thrash scene and have toured with everybody except the biggest band of the big four. With that type of history, it just made sense for them to rip a smoking version of “Bonded by Blood,’ the Exodus classic cut. I’ve seen these guys on so many different tours over the years and every time they deliver the goods, the vibe is so positive and they use every second of their time on stage getting every person involved in the show.
Black Label Society led by Zakk Wylde hit the stage with the song “Funeral Bell.” The band, along with Wylde, feature another guitar shredder in Dario Lorina along with bassist John DeServio and drummer Jeff Fabb. The band dropped ‘Doom Crew Inc.’ in 2021 and the set featured “Destroy & Conquer,” “You Made Me Want to Live” and “Set Me Free” from that album. Some other highlights included “Overlord,” “Fire it Up” and “Suicide Messiah.” I’ve seen Black Label Society on many occasions but this show was something different, the energy was palpable and it looked like a band on a mission to leave its mark on the Minneapolis Chapter fan base. It was like a jackhammer to your head reminding you just how good this band is and the electricity that Zakk brings as he shreds the frets off his guitar. With Zakk casting such a large shadow you sometimes forget the talent of Lorina but this tour is highlighting his ability throughout the set. He is getting plenty of time to showcase his fret burning ability as he trades off solos which created a nice dynamic between the two. Towards the end of the set the two takes to the center perch and put the guitars behind their head and rip solos and harmonize with each other which really gave the feeling that is was a band and not just one man. They ended with the classic “Stillborn,” which ended one of the most entertaining Black Label Society shows I have ever seen.
Anthrax was my gateway into thrash music. ‘Among the Living’ was an album I couldn’t get enough of back in 1987, its break-neck speed, moshing and infectious hooks was ground breaking to my ears and it still stands as one of the most important metal albums of all time. Here we are, with Anthrax, celebrating forty years as they open with that title track from that iconic album. The band still has its key nucleus of Scott Ian, Joey Belladonna, Frank Bello and Charlie Benante which introduced Anthrax to the masses. Filling the roster was Jon Donais who has been axe slinging for the band since 2013. This stage production, with its ramps and stairs, is the biggest thing they have done in a long time and it really felt like an old-school Anthrax show. I think the lay-off gave the band a chance to recharge the batteries as they looked like an inspired group of guys proving why they belong in the Big Four. Belladonna sounded as good as ever and Bello never stopped moving as they ripped through classics like “Madhouse,” “Metal Thrashing Mad,” “Caught In A Mosh,” “I Am the Law’” and new cuts like “The Devil You Know” and “In The End.” A couple cool gems from the set included “Only,” the only John Bush era song to be played and Scott Ian handling the lead rap on “Bring the Noise” was really fun. The fantastic night ended with “Indians” as it capped one of the best Anthrax performances I have seen in years.
The Warning brought the ‘Mayday Tour’ to the Fine Line in Minneapolis, Minnesota. A loyal and dedicated fan base packed the venue to witness the trio’s first performance in the city. You could feel the excitement and anticipation for the band to finally hit the stage after rescheduling the date due to covid.
The Warning features three sisters from Monterrey, Mexico that have been quietly building up momentum since blowing up YouTube back in 2014 with their version of “Enter Sandman” by Metallica was put on the platform. The Villarreal sisters, Daniela (guitar, lead vocals), Paulina (drums, lead vocals, piano), and Alejandra (bass guitar, piano, backing vocals) formed the band in 2013 and now, with almost ten years behind them, the secret of this bands talent and infectious sound is about to be unleashed into the rock world. They signed a record deal with Lava Records in 2020 and dropped a new E.P. called ‘Mayday’ in 2021 which contained half of the upcoming third studio album. Based on the success of the singles and being able to get in front of people to showcase their music, the sky is the limit for this young trio.
The set opened up with a couple of rockers, “Z” and “Animosity,” that set the table for a blazing hour set. Both songs are laced with high octane energy that show the power and the heaviness of the band without sacrificing melody and hooks. What you quickly realized was just how tight the music was and synergy the sisters have on stage. The play off each other in such perfect unison which brings a dynamic boost to the songs are they come off the stage with a lethal strike. The new tune “Money” has been an immediate fan favorite since its release this year and got a massive reaction from the crowd. This show wasn’t just about the songs on the newest release but also a time for fans to hear some of the older material off the first two studio albums ‘XXI Century Blood’ which was released in 2017 and ‘Queen of the Murder Scene’ which dropped in 2018. Songs like “Dust to Dust,” “Dull Knives (Cut Better),” “Survive,” “Queen of the Murder Scene” and “When I’m Alone” were met was as much enthusiasm as the newer tracks were. The also pulled out a couple songs sung completely in Spanish called “Narcisista” and “Martirio.” The Warning also have a track on “The Metallica Blacklist” album as they performed a new cover of “Enter Sandman” for the album that also featured Alessia Cara on the recording. I would have to admit I am always skeptical of covers and hadn’t heard this version on the record but when they played it live, I was blown away on how they took that song and made it their own. Some of the backing vocals really gave it a much darker and haunting atmosphere that really sounded great. The grunge crushing “Choke” was another big song that had the crowd moving and another definite stand-out moment. “Disciple” and the set closer “Evolve,” both off the ‘Mayday’ release rounded out the set.
Despite being so young, The Warning performed like seasoned pros. Daniela flourishes in getting people involved in the show and is that perfect bridge between the band and the crowd. Her energy and spirit are the catalyst that make the live show go although Paulina, back on the drums, is quite entertaining as well and brings another great voice to take over lead vocals which frees up the guitarist to shred. Alejandra isn’t as demonstrative as her sisters but delivers her bass parts with precision and completes those three-part harmonies that gives many of the songs such a strong dynamic. As good as the individual pieces are in this band, it’s the collective unit that makes The Warning so impressive and for the first show ever in Minnesota, it was a big win for them and the crowd that came to see them. This headlining club tour is an award for the fans that have been supporting them since they began. It’s a chance to see them play a full set and celebrate how far they have come since the band’s inception. In July they will hit the road as an opener for Halestorm and The Pretty Reckless in bigger venues and with audiences that may be getting their first taste of The Warning and I suspect they will turn a lot of those people into fan despite playing a shorter set. I think you will this bands popularity rise very quickly and my only regret is this tour in not coming to my state as it will be a great night of music.
The lights went down, at the near compacity Target Center in Minneapolis, Minnesota, as drummer Danny Carey, sporting a Minnesota Timberwolves jersey, took to his throne. The crowd took to their feet as guitarist Adam Jones and bassist Justin Chancellor took to their positions and the journey, that is known as “Fear Inoculum,” began to pulsate through the arena. The stage was wrapped with a translucent curtain that projected images that circled around the stage. In the darkness, a mohawked Maynard James Keenan, took to one of the two platforms that flanked the drums, and let the crowd know he was there with his instantly recognizable voice. We had all officially been welcomed to the world of Tool.
The band is still in full support mode for the album they dropped in 2019 called ‘Fear Inoculum.’ The set was built upon the album, along with the title track, they took us through “Pneuma,” “Invincible,” “Descending,” “Culling Voices” and “Chocolate Chip Trip.” The second song in the set was the real gem of the night. A reworked version of the song “Opiate,” which was originally released back in 1992, has been given new life three decades later. It is a perfectly blended mix that still contains the essence of the beginning of the band with a heavy injection of where Tool is today. The rest of the set just touched on past albums, songs played were “The Pot,” “Pushit,” The Grudge,” “Undertow” and “Hooker With A Penis” that really got the crowd going before the intermission.
Watching a Tool show is like no other. There is almost no interaction between the band and the crowd. Only an occasional comment from Maynard, but besides that, the band itself, the players, almost become a secondary afterthought. The music being made on stage engulfs the venue and simply takes centerstage away from any anything else. Once that curtain was removed, about midway through the show, the stage seemed much more open and a very impressive laser show shot across the arena. Even with that, it was still the about the music and the atmosphere it created. People reacted in various ways, some looked like they were at a Metallica concert and were banging heads, some did the air-drums, an impossibility to shadow Carey, but some good attempts, while some just stood up with their arms in the air and eyes closed, letting the music move their body. This show didn’t have the pyrotechnics, fire, explosions and lights that left you blind for three days after the show. This show was about the creation of music. The other thing is the material they are playing are not three-minute burners that come and go in heartbeat. It’s like they are slowly constructing a building with each song and at the end, it all comes crashing down and they have to start all over again with the next song.
Tool are truly one of the most unique bands out there. They operate on their own musical plateau without any rules that adhere to many other popular acts. The fanbase supports them and give them full autonomy to create music they want to make, not what is popular or the latest fad. As I watched the band close out the night, I think back to when I first heard them, that iconic bass sound from the song “Sober” echoing through the dorm halls from a room down the hall. I had to know what that was so I pounded on the door to get the answer. I didn’t have a crystal ball, I would have never guessed that decades later I would be sitting in a packed arena watching Tool play and hoping for that song that got it all started, “Sober,” would be played, but in true Tool fashion, they didn’t’ play it. That’s exactly how this band rolls and judging by people tonight, nobody would have it any other way.
The Darkness dropped the album ‘Motorheart’ in 2021 and are currently supporting it in a tour that is going across North America. The Varsity Theater in Minneapolis, Minnesota welcomed the band with a full house of loyal fans anxious to see them, especially since previous bookings had been cancelled due to covid.
Before the headliner would take the stage, a band called The Dead Deads would accept the task of warming up the crowd. They are based in Nashville and what was once a five-piece band has now settled into just three members. Being fans of sci-fi has led to a stylized face make-up that each member wears. The trio consists of Meta doing lead vocals and guitar, bassist Daisy and drummer McQueen. They dropped a full-length album back in 2021 as well, ‘Tell Your Girls It’s Alright,’ and it features a track that one of rock and metals biggest voices, Corey Taylor, sings on called “Murder Ballad II.” The band has a sound that encompasses many different styles and influences. When you dive into the catalog, you’re going to get rock, hard rock, punk, metal, alternative and indie all being blended into the formula that makes up The Dead Deads. This was my first time encountering them so I had no idea what to expect or any of the songs they played. I found myself being swept into the performance and the songs were catchy with addictive melodies that kept things really fun. They got a great crowd reaction and Justin Hawkins of The Darkness was standing side stage rocking out as they played, just like the crowd in front of them. I’ve since checked out the album and there is some great stuff on it, songs like “First Tooth,” “Deal With Me” and the heavy nineties alternative rocker “Hey Girlfriend” stood out immediately. It’s always a great bonus moment when you’re hitting a show and a brand-new musical gem pops up before the headliner plays. Check out The Dead Deads as they have a really cool thing going on.
The Darkness struck first with the opening cut off the newest record “Welcome Tae Glasgae.” The quartet consisted of drummer Rufus Tiger Taylor, bassist Frankie Poullain, guitarist Dan Hawkins and the flamboyant and unforgettable lead singer and guitarist Justin Hawkins. The song got people jumping with its hard rocking attack and from that moment on, the band held the Varsity Theater in their hands for the next hour and a half. When Frankie walks out with the cowbell, you know two things are going to happen, first off, everybody starts yelling “more cowbell,” the second, “One Way Ticket” is going to be the next song. Two of the biggest sing-alongs of the night were that song followed by “Growing On Me.” The Darkness sounded absolutely fantastic as they juggled a setlist built around seven studio albums, the debut record, now almost twenty years old, ‘Permission To Land,” provided seven of the sixteen song set. So many good songs went by in a heartbeat, “Solid Gold,” “Open Fire,” “Heart Explodes,” “Barbarian” and “Friday Night” were some of the stand-outs but quite honestly, nothing in the set was less than amazing.
Justin Hawkins is always the wildcard when you discuss The Darkness with any rock fan. It is impossible to ignore his signature voice, costumes and stage antics. You are either against him and that wicked voice or a willing passenger on his musical journey that refuses to be defined or boxed into any specific genre, except good old rock-n-roll. A good example of this can be found in a couple songs in the bands show. They played the title track from the new record, ”Motorheart,” it is a song that pushes in different directions, sounds and tempos which completely breaks away from the simplicity of another popular song in the set, “Givin’ Up,” which drives with an AC/DC type vibe. I always appreciate artists and bands that push the envelope and the fan base to listen to different styles and not simply repeat what has already been done over and over again. With all that said, everything they do, sounds uniquely The Darkness, and I’m always ready to continue that musical journey in any direction the band decides to take.
The night really flew by fast and before I knew it, they ripped through “Get Your Hands Off My Woman” to a rousing response but the best was yet to come. After returning to the stage they had one song left, the enviable closer. They launched into the song that put the band in our laps, “I Believe In A Thing Called Love.” However, shortly after they started it, they stopped. Justin asked to people to put away the phones and simply enjoy the song and the moment. They started the song again and the people were absorbed by the moment, the song and enjoying live music once again. What The Darkness truly understands, and this show is another testament to that, a live experience is not only about how well you can play your material, and rest assure, they play it well, but it’s also about performing and entertaining. They deliver such a high energy show that pulls people right on the stage. Even if you were not a fan, you couldn’t help but to sucked into its atmosphere the show creates. Anytime these guys book a show in my town, I will be there, they may truly be the last of their kind.
The Metal Tour of the Year came to its conclusion at the Armory in Minneapolis, Minnesota after a little over a month run across the United States. The bill featured co-headliners Megadeth and Lamb Of God with special guests Triviumand Hatebreed. Thankfully this tour didn’t succumb to cancellations like many other tours trying to cross the country. A sold-out venue waited for a heavy dose of fist pounding metal and this tour didn’t disappoint.
Hatebreed came out with every intention of destroying the place. Led by vocalist Jamey Jasta the band blistered through a ten-track set that opened with “Empty Promises.” Jasta told the crowd it was Hatebreed’s job to warm up the crowd, and they did a lot more than that. Circle pits ignited to counter the massive energy coming off the stage. It’s impossible not to love and appreciate what they bring to the table every time they step onto the stage. The only thing that matches the intensity is how much fun they have and how they attack every second they have to play. The music is aggressive but the attitude is 100% positive and they have a way of uniting everybody in the building. The only true way to experience who and what they are, is too take in show and hear the material in its truest form, loud, unapologetic and without mercy. A couple of my favorite songs made the cut with “This Is Now” and “Looking Down the Barrel of Today” were highlights. The band ended the night with “I Will Be Heard.”
Trivium has a brand-new album set for release called ‘In The Court Of The Dragon” and that’s where the band started as they took the stage. Kicking off with the title track the Florida based unit hit with a musical precision that sliced though the building. I thought the bands last release in 2020, ‘What The Dead Men Say,” was one of the best albums released that year and this was our first taste of hearing some of those songs live. Along with the title track we also got “Catastrophist’ which sounded amazing and left me wanting to hear more of that record. Plagued with a shortened time-slot and so much material the play, they went with “Strife,” “The Heart From Your Hate” and another brand new song off the upcoming album “Feast Of Fire.” It’s hard not to get anything from ‘Ascendancy’ or ‘Shogun’ but understandable giving the slot they are in. This set delivered everything you have come to expect from a Trivium show, lots of passion, energy and songs executed with perfection. The show ended with “In Waves” and now we wait for the next album to drop (October 8th) and I would assume there will be a tour right around the corner to support it.
To put into the simplest words, the band that took over the stage next, was an absolute beast! Lamb Of God took the roof off with a set that any adrenaline junky would have enjoyed. The cement floor was bouncing like a mini-trampoline because everybody was jumping up-and-down as the chaos that was on the stage was seeping into the crowd. The energy that engulfed the Armory is something you just have to feel, and be part of, to understand its magnitude. They opened with “Memento Mori” and never looked back as they obliviated a twelve-song set. When vocalist Randy Blythe introduced the song “Walk With Me In Hell,” the stage became a fiery inferno. Flames shot up into the air throughout the stage as he stomped from side to side. The band provided its own fire that didn’t need pyro to fuel it. They were tight and ferocious and built the musical landscape to which Blythe used as his own personal playground as he leaped off anything, he could use to take flight and taking moments to windmill his dreadlocks. Some of songs that made it on to the list were “Now You’ve Got Something To Die For,” “Set To Fail,” “512,” “Ruin” and “Laid To Rest.” It was an explosive set that had fans absorbing every note as people sang, screamed, fist pumped and jumped into circle pits. The closer, “Redneck,” brought the house down and whatever energy people had left, they spent it happily. Lamb Of God put on an exhilarating show and after a long period of no concerts, people were clearly ready to go from the moment they took the stage.
The legendary and proud member of the Big 4, Megadeth, would take the stage to close out the night. They opened the show with a track from one of the most important albums in metal history, ‘Rust In Peace,” the thrash classic “Hanger 18.” Just like the bands before them, you could hear the roar of the crowd as they took the stage. Dave Mustaine is the only original member left that created some of the most iconic and influential metal every recorded but the band he had assembled was flawless. Kiko Loureiro on guitar, Dirk Verbeuren was on the kit and James LoMenzo, recently tapped to cover bass for the tour, excecated the material that met the high standards of Megadeth fans. It was really a breath of fresh air to see Mustaine on stage and ripping through those massive riffs and shredding those blazing solos. We all know of the cancer battle he went through and then the pandemic shut the world down from concerts. I wondered if we had seen the last of Megadeth, but this tour, and seeing this band back on stage, is a heavy indicator that there is still gas in the tank. The perfect set-list could be debated for days but to close out the final date we got “The Threat Is Real,” “Sweating Bullets,” “Trust,” “She-Wolf” and the massive hit “Symphony Of Destruction.” The best was saved for last as, for me, the two most important songs in catalog came next. “Peace Sells,” was the tune that pulled me into the band, and “Holy Wars…The Punishment Due,” a genre defining song, that never gets old live. As the lights went down on this show and the tour, I can only hope that this is just the beginning of tours to come. If you were born metal, live and breathe metal, this is exactly where you needed to be and where you need to go in the future.
After eighteen long months, the Target Center in Minneapolis, Minnesota, opened its doors for its first concert. Greeting the thousands of people that flocked into the venue was the 93X Family Reunion which featured Shinedown along with special guests Seether, Mammoth WVH and Ayron Jones.
Hitting the stage first was Seattle’s singer, songwriter and guitarist Ayron Jones. He is out supporting his fantastic album ‘Child of the State.’ From the opening note of “Boys From The Puget Sound” he had my attention. Immediately his connection to the guitar and what came pouring out of it took hold of me and held me memorized. He is a product of so many influences and through that he encompasses various genres to create a sound that is uniquely him. There are elements of rock, grunge, soul and hip-hop fused throughout his songs. It becomes trivial to try to pin-point who or what he sounds like because as soon as you think he is this, he quickly morphs into something else. The real tragedy of the night was his extremely short set. He only got four songs that included “Supercharged,” “Mercy,” “Take Me Away” along with opening cut. He assembled a fantastic backing band that brought a ton of energy and fun to the stage and allowed Jones to take control with his singing and playing. I would suspect Ayron Jones was the unknown entity on the bill but hopefully more people become aware of him as he is a fantastic artist that needs to be heard.
The biggest buzz about the night hit the stage next. Mammoth WVH, featuring Wolfgang VanHalen, struck with “Don’t Back Down” to a rousing cheer from the crowd. The self-titled debut album was released back in June and Mammoth WVH have been on the road ever since supporting it. Just like the artist that played before him, Wolfgang knows there is strength in numbers and has put together a fantastic band to help bring his song to life on stage. Mammoth WVHblistered through six songs that included “Mammoth,” “You’ll Be The One,” “Your To Blame,” the ballad “Distance” and closed with “Epiphany.” The musical attack was precise and Wolfgang, playing both guitar and keyboard, sounded great vocally. There has been a real thrust of new bands playing rock/hard rock music but many of these young acts tend to pull form the seventies vibe for influence, but that is not the case with Mammoth WVH. They are an unapologetic arena rock band that have crafted songs with all the musical trappings, big choruses, catchy hooks, infectious melodies, that fit nicely on rock radio and appeal to mass audiences. This was another set that ended way too soon and I’m sure many people are hoping they come back on a headline set real soon.
The band that formed in 1999 in Pretoria, Gauteng, Seether, took to the stage next and opened with ‘Gasoline.’ The bands longest serving member, lead vocalist and guitarist Shaun Morgan was flanked stage right while bassist Dale Stewart roamed the center section. Stage left was guitarist Corey Lowery and on the kit was drummer John Humphrey. The band’s style revolves around post-grunge, alternative, nu metal and hard rock. They have built up a tremendous mainstream audience with continued success of numerous singles that have charted on various charts. Many of those hits, ‘Country Song,’ ‘Fine Again,’ and ‘Fake It’ were scattered throughout the set. The song ‘Broken’ was stripped down with just Stewart on acoustic guitar and Morgan with his electric guitar while the other two guys left the stage. Seether released their eighth studio record, ‘Si Vis Pacem, Para Bellum,’ back in 2020 and that album was represented with ‘Bruised and Bloodied,” “Wasteland,” and ‘Dangerous’ all included in the twelve-song set. Seether has been a very consistent band and has a very loyal following and you could hear those people throughout the night and especially when the band cranked into the big hit ‘Remedy.’ It was a solid set that I’m sure fans of the band were delighted to see them and hear those songs again.
The crowd let out a tremendous roar as the lights went out with the anticipation of Shinedown taking the stage. That anticipation quickly changed into euphoria as the song ‘Cut The Cord’ ripped through the Target Center air. The quartet featuring Brent Smith(vocals), Barry Kerch (drums), Zach Myers (guitar) and Eric Bass (Bass), despite the layoff, seemed like a well-oiled machine. The energy they had was infectious and it came right off the stage and engulfed the crowd. The band was all in and so was the crowd, it had a been a long eighteen months since the last show here and everybody was determined to take the roof off of the place. Shinedown has a thick catalog of chart success that built this machine to the arena level act they are.They have been a Billboard Mainstream Rock chart mainstay and have generated a mass appeal to people of all ages. The setlist contained so many favorites, songs like ’45,’ ‘Diamond Eyes,’ ‘Bully’ and ‘Enemies’ are brilliant and people sang every word with the band. I can truly appreciate a small intimate club show with one of my favorite artists but there is also something to be said about arena shows. It wasn’t that long ago that rock and metal acts made up the bulk of the music schedule for arenas across the country but things have slowed down and big shows like this are getting less common. It’s such an amazing experience and environment, the sound thundering through the crowd while the lights dance around the sound. That massive stage with the pyro and explosions, all these are staples of a live music show that only can happen here, the big venues, and its magical. Shinedown understands that, when your giving this opportunity, built up a tremendous fan base like they have, you must deliver every night, and this performance did just that. The night came to close with ‘Sounds Of Madness’ with fists pumping from the front row to the ceiling and flames shooting into the air…that’s what it’s all about.
Beartooth brought the highly anticipated ‘The Below Tour’ to The Fillmore Minneapolis in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The tour also featured Wage War in support. Dragged Under, who is also featured on this run, was unable to perform as they have momentarily stepped away from the tour for safety reason and hope to rejoin it in the near future. It was a packed house and you could feel the anticipation building as fans counted down the minutes until the lights went out.
Coming to the stage to a tremendous roar from the crowd, the band hailing from Ocala, Florida, was Wage War. Knowing the energy the headliner would bring, they were determined from the opening note not to be outdone. Opening with “Stitch” and then into “Who I am” the onslaught was on. The crowed returned that energy as a circle pit was quickly put into motion. Vocalist Briton Bond paced the stage as he ignited the fans to give the band everything they had. Flanking the singer were guitarist Seth Blake and Cody Quistad. The rhythm section consisted of bassist Chris Gaylord and drummer Stephen Kluesene. Two of the highlights from the set were the tracks “High Horse” and newly released single “Circle The Drain.” Both songs are featured on the upcoming album release, ‘Manic’, that will be dropped on October 1, 2021. Powering through a blistering set consisting of ten cuts, the band said goodnight with the closer “Low.” This was my first-time catching Wage War live and they were impressive, I look forward to hearing the new record and hope to catch them again real soon.
With the intermission over, the lights dropped to the sound of ‘Break Stuff” by Limp Bizkit blaring through the sound system of The Fillmore. What came next was nothing short of a purple tidal wave that engulfed the room with a sonic audio assault that could that hardly be contained by the walls that held the venue together. The energy in the room took over and that circle pit Wage War started earlier, was now twice as big and moving to the intensity of the music. Beartooth was now in command as they ripped into the opener “Below” and then “Devastation.” Not to be outdone by the sheer aggression of the sound, the lightshow coming off the stage was just as tenacious as the music was. It cut through the smoke with precision and at times you could barely see the stage.
Beartooth mastermind and vocalist Caleb Shomo took advantage of every second he had on that stage. He was non-stop movement as he ran from side to side igniting the crowd, that quite frankly, didn’t need any more inspiration to fully throw themselves into Shomo’s world. The fans were all in, singing every word as the crowd surfers made a steady stream to the stage. It didn’t matter what they played as Beartooth maneuvered through a set that included songs from all the releases. Songs from ‘Disgusting’ included “Body Bag,” “In Between,” “Beaten In Lips” and “In Between.” Tunes from the album ‘Aggressive” were “Hated” and “Sick Of Me.” Three songs from ‘Disease’ included the title track, “You Never Know” and “Bad Listener,” but tonight the celebration revolved around the fantastic 2021 release simply called ‘Below.’ Eight songs anchored the set highlighted by “Hell of It,” “Fed Up” and “The Past Is Dead.” The guys that were asked to deliver the musical goods were completely on task. Guitarists Zach Houston and Will Deely along with bassist Oshie Bichar and drummer Connor Denis provided the soundscape that powered the engine that brought the songs alive. As the night went on the crowd never let up, the pit just kept spinning and heat and humidity in the building built up to the point where the ceiling was dripping moisture. The brilliant night of music ended as they closed the show with “The Last Riff.”
The biggest take away from seeing Beartooth for the first time wasn’t the explosive energy of the band or the blistering aggressiveness of the music that pulverized everything within earshot, and it wasn’t the bombastic light show that worked in unison with the music. All those things were impressive that made for an awesome concert. That thing that stuck with me was that connection between Beartooth and the people that jammed into that venue to see them. That connection is real, it’s something that can’t be manufactured, all those people screaming those lyrics and locking into every movement and word that came off that stage wasn’t lost on Shomo. He was so appreciative of those fans and just being on stage again. He, and the rest of the band, gave everything they had because every moment counts. We have learned over the past year that this can be taken away instantly. Let’s hope we get more moments like this in our futures.