29 April 2009

Disturbed Live (Music as a Weapon Tour IV)

What can I say about Voodoo Dolly? He is my academic colleague, sometime drinking partner, fellow prankster, and quirky individual. We have always shared music (literature, personal writing, war stories, etc…), and he has always been someone I could bounce the most profound and inane ideas off of. Supportive of the blog from the beginning, he finally agreed to do some writing. Enjoy.

This is Voodoo Dolly… the new guy… and this review should have been done last week but I am not going to bore anyone with my sob story… let’s get to the point:

What? “Music as a Weapon Tour IV.” Where? The IZOD Center in Rutherford, NJ (to the older metal-heads: The Continental-Brendan-Byrne-Meadowlands Arena). Who? Chimaira, Lacuna Coil, Killswitch Engage, and Disturbed (in order of performance). Show started a little after 7:00p.m.

Chimaira (homepage, MySpace) had a very nice, heavy on the bass sound… Kick-drum and bass guitar punched me in the face. I showed up late from a tailgate party and only caught the last two songs. From what I heard, it’s apparent they had a good set. I’m not too much into the screaming growling side of metal, but musically they were tight. On a side note: there was a mom with her 14-year-old son and his friend. The son turned to his buddy and said: “Dude, they sound a lot better than I was told.” The friend replied, “Definitely; I really like them now.” The mom: “What? You liked them?!” Gotta love moms…

Lacuna Coil (homepage, MySpace) played the second act. Oh my fucking god… Cristina Scabbia’s lungs are as hot as her body. She didn’t miss a note; nor did Andrea Ferro. I was really impressed that the vocals sounded clearer and crisper live than on the studio recordings. Their sound was balanced heavy and when the bassist slapped it, you heard it. I was pretty disappointed that their set was short. I like them more than Killswitch... but that’s my opinion… and as the new guy: who cares?!

Lacuna Coil clips

Act 3 introduced Killswitch (homepage). I never got too partial to them on CD. But I will admit: they are great live. They had a great sound and a lot of movement on stage. Howard Jones, Mike D’Antonio, and Joel Stroetzel rocked out not just on the stage proper and side posts, but they made sure to get up on a walkway running left to right above and behind the drummer. Beneath the walkway were LED screens to flash the band name and other eye-catching visual effects. At one point there was a reverse “Matrix” thing going with the green pixels going up instead of down. At least, that’s what it reminded me of.

Killswitch Engage pictures and clip

The climax for this band had to be their closer: Dio’s “Holy Diver.” Now, I’m old school…. Screw it… I’m old… but not that old… and Dio is a touchy area for veteran metal-heads. I was very impressed with the upgrading Killswitch did: adding some double kick and a definitely heavier edge. The vocals weren’t Ronnie’s but for the heavy edge, it all worked out. The only surprising, or jarring, point was the breakdown: Killswitch made it into a downbeat crunchy stomp. I didn’t expect such a change up, but the crowd loved it. MOSH PIT!! MOSH PIT!! Those who were there will remember this quip: “This is the IZOD, not the I’M A PUSSY Arena.”

I have to make a quick reference to the crowd and attendees. It was mentioned that ticket for the concert sold out, but only sold out the “allotted” seats provided for the show. The floor and first levels where sold out, but there was no behind the stage or second / upper deck seating. But, that’s probably irrelevant…

The headliner and host of this tour finally took stage (Disturbed homepage). The rumble of the crowd (for its size) was pretty damn deafening. They opened with “Believe,” and the audience, which was loud before, grew even more so. And yes, there were mosh pits in the general standing area. Every few seconds, there were crowd surfers riding the rockin’ waves. It sounded excellent, better than the studio album. Then they jumped into “Enemy” and “Voices” and they ripped up the stage. “Liberate” followed, and “Prayer” was a hell-bent heaven-send that led to “Psycho.” As an added touch the backdrop curtain would change to display the cover art for the corresponding album.

At one point, David Draiman spoke to the crowd and called us all brothers (I’ll assume sisters too, for the female rockers in attendance). He even spoke about how we are all united by music and it doesn’t matter who we are or where we come from. He even made a brief joke about being an Israeli Jew and how he’s probably going to hell. That brief monologue led into their cover of Genesis’ “Land of Confusion.” That’s a great song…and hearing Disturbed cover it live was sweet. They followed up with “Remember” and then “Stupify.” After that, they played a medley of songs including their redubbed cover, “Shout 2000,” and their original “Deify.” It was nicely executed with the change up after choruses.

Other songs included were “The Night,” “The Game,” “Heaven,” “Indestructible,” and “10,000 Fists”—the title track. During “Fists,” about two dozen fans came on stage on the walkway mentioned earlier and stood with their hands in the air behind the drummer. Behind the fans the back curtain changed to the cover art from the title album. It had a really nice effect.

Then, the drum solo: from a drummer’s point-of-view, it was decent. Before anyone gets pissed at me, let me explain. I say decent because if you listen to the songs, Mike Wengren can play a lot. He’s not a Neil Peart or Mike Portnoy, but he kicks ass just the same. I felt he was holding back. The drum solo was more of filler while security cleared a walkway thru the general standing area for Draiman to access a platform lift. This led to the encore of “Down with the Sickness.” Draiman got on the lift, not more than 20—25 feet from where I managed to move from my seat in section 3. A friend of a friend thing allowed me to get up closer.

Wow, man. I really appreciate it when the musicians remember they’re humans like us, their fans, and come down to jam with us. The audience lapped it up like starving devout followers seeing their icon of worship. And, even more impressively, us humans (the fans) weren’t assholes trying to storm the stage or make a raid on Draiman. Everyone enjoyed themselves. This concert was one of the best concerts I’ve been to in five years. I definitely plan to see them all again when they return and suggest you to do the same. That is, of course, if it’s your style of music. Rock on.

Set List:
1. Believe
2. Enemy
3. Voices
4. Liberate
5. Prayer
6. Psycho
7. Land of Confusion
8. Remember
9. Stupify
10. Shout
11. Deify
12. The Night
13. The Game
14. Heaven
15. Indestructible
16. 10,000 Fists
17. Drum Solo
18. Down with the Sickness

Disturbed pictures and clips