Nightwish’s “Decades” 2018 US Tour – Opening Night

Nightwish, live at The Tabernacle in Atlanta, GA, March 9, 2018

Finnish symphonic metal band Nightwish performed live at The Tabernacle in Atlanta on March 9. This was the opening night of the band’s “Decades” World Tour 2018, with initial tour dates covering most of the US and Canada. Decades, the album on which they are touring, is a compilation of many of the band’s earlier works. Many of the songs on Decades have not been performed live in several years, so this tour has special meaning to long-time Nightwish fans worldwide.

Find out more about Nightwish at their official website,or on Facebook.

Awolnation’s “Here Come the Runts Tour” stops in Atlanta

Atlanta welcomed back AWOLNATION February 27, filling The Tabernacle with fans of the versatile, genre-spanning band out of L.A., best known for the 2011 smash hit “Sail.” Earlier in February 2018, the band released its third studio album Here Come the Runts, driven by lead single “Passion,” an upbeat dance/rock song that is one of the best AWOLNATION has ever produced.

After a short but passionate set from opener Nothing But Thieves, AWOLNATION’s front man and founder Aaron Bruno took the stage in a straw hat and a long cape flaunting the album title, and started the night with the title track of the new album. Trading the cape for a pair of rather comfortable looking denim overalls, Bruno launched into “Hollow Moon (Bad Wolf)”, the epic hit from 2015’s Run, inspiring a sing-a-long throughout the crowd, which continued with “7 Sticks of Dynamite” and “Passion.” Bruno was a nonstop ball of energy on stage all night, darting from side to side and keeping the crowd hyped. 2011’s debut album Megalithic Symphony got some love with “Kill Your Heroes,” and fan favorite “Soul Wars,” which had everyone dancing almost uncontrollably. (AWOLNATION songs tend to have that effect.)

Fantastic new songs “Miracle Man” and “Stop That Train” kept the energy high, until things slowed down with current single “Handyman,” during which Bruno took to the balcony to sing among some lucky fans who were loving every minute. Bruno’s easygoing, fun vibe spread through the crowd as they sang along, creating a one of a kind camaraderie and many happy faces throughout the room. After a short break, the fans demanded an encore, and the band obliged, returning to the stage with the electronic, bass-driven “Run,” the chaotic and heart-pounding “Burn It Down,” and ending the night with the incomparable “Sail.”

 

Nothing But Thieves

Awolnation

Concert review: Alter Bridge at The Tabernacle

Alter Bridge, live at The Tabernacle, Atlanta, GA, January 22, 2017

Sunday, January 22, 2017 is now a special day in the history of Atlanta. Not only will it be remembered as the day that the Atlanta Falcons football team clinched the NFC championship, gaining a birth to the Super Bowl, but it will also be remembered as the day that the hard rock band Alter Bridge returned to Atlanta during their “The Last Hero” tour of the US! Ok, honestly…I’m a Pittsburgh Steeler fan, so I’ll remember the day more for the Alter Bridge show!

I’ve been a fan of the band for quite some time, and it was my first chance to see them perform live, so expectations were high. After a short intro sound clip, the band made their way to the stage, acknowledging the crowd with smiles and waves. The band really does put all of their emphasis on the music. There was no bombastic stage show, no over the top theatrics, just four guys who causally walked out on stage and got to it.

Speaking of the music, Alter Bridge is touring to support their latest album The Last Hero, and in my opinion it’s probably the most well-done release in their catalog. The songs sound epic, with just the right mix of melody, crunch, hooks and substantive lyrical content. “The Writing on The Wall” from The Last Hero kicked off the show. Lead singer Myles Kennedy, guitarist Mark Tremonti, bassist Brian Marshall and drummer Scott Phillips wasted no time, digging in on the song’s head-bobbing intro.

“Come to Life” and “Addicted to Pain” completed the hard-hitting intro to the show, before slowing down just a little to perform the melodic “Ghosts of Days Gone By.” The band’s set list leaned heavily on their new release and 2007’s Blackbird, pulling five songs each. “Cry of Achilles” launched the show back into heavier territory, with Kennedy and Tremonti sharing both guitar and vocal duties. The tightly intertwined guitar lines between the two is one of Alter Bridges major strengths. The other major strength? Lead singer Myles Kennedy.

Alter Bridge, live at The Tabernacle, Atlanta, GA, January 22, 2017

Not to take anything away from the rhythm section of this band – they are stellar – but lead singer Myles Kennedy is a force, and it’s easy to see why he’s one of the most sought after front-men in rock. He’s an excellent singer with great range, and oh, guess what, he’s an excellent guitar player as well! I did not know how much of their recorded music featured his guitar playing, but he kept up with the talented Tremonti riff by riff. The pretty acoustic ballad “Watch Over You” performed solo by Kennedy was also stellar, and turned into a sing-along by the Atlanta crowd.

Speaking of the crowd: way to go Atlanta! This was one of the most receptive and vocal crowds I’ve ever experienced. I guess since the show started only about an hour or so after the big football game, spirits were generally very high (and a little intoxicated), and that good feeling carried over into The Tabernacle. Fists and metal horns in the air, sing alongs and several extended rounds of applause between songs seemed to catch the band a little off guard. Hell, there was even an onstage marriage proposal!* Good times were definitely had by all.

Hit single “Isolation,” the emotional “Blackbird” and the very, very crunchy “Metalingus” brought the show to a close before the band returned to perform an encore of “Show Me a Leader” and probably their biggest rock radio hit to date, “Rise Today.”

Alter Bridge, live at The Tabernacle, Atlanta, GA, January 22, 2017

Be sure to catch Alter Bridge on tour through May before they head for Europe this summer. Catch up with the band at their official website or on Facebook page.

*She said “yes”

 

Full gallery of Alter Bridge

Live Review: Steel Panther at The Tabernacle

Steel Panther 2

It was 1986 all over again Wednesday, April 27, at The Tabernacle as the comedic, glam-metal tribute band Steel Panther stopped in Atlanta on their “All You Can Eat” US tour. Lead singer Michael Starr, guitarist Satchel, bassist Lexxi Foxx and drummer Stix Zadinia have built quite a cult following in their years together as a band, and their performances seem more like a gathering of friends than a traditional rock concert.

The general idea is that Steel Panther mixes raunchy humor and songs about sex acts and drugs with 80s-inspired “hair metal,” all to poke fun at how indulgent, cliche and over the top the music scene got back in the late 80s before Nirvana sent everyone packing. I myself was and still am a fan of many of those bands, so I guess I can appreciate Steel Panther’s tongue in cheek take on the scene.

I saw the band a few years ago, and since then not much has changed with their live set. Was it fun? Yes. Did they sound great? Yes. Did they perform well? Yes. Did they tell penis jokes and make fun of people in the audience? Yes. But now in their 8th year as Steel Panther, I guess I was hoping for something a little different. Here’s an example: the band has just released an all-acoustic live record called Live from Lexxi’s Mom’s Garage. Why not add a three or four song acoustic set in the middle of the show to promote the new album? Sure, they performed their acoustic song “Girl From Oklahoma,” but why not keep going? You know, have a sing-along with the audience, like they used to do years ago at The Viper Room in Los Angeles when they were known as Metal Skool. Sadly, it was basically the same show that I saw three years ago. But, like a good fart joke, even though you’ve heard it a million times it’s still pretty entertaining.

All of the band’s most popular songs were there, including my personal favorite, “Just Like Tiger Woods.” “Party Like Tomorrow Is The End Of The World” should probably be the band’s theme song, because it sums up their vibe and the late 80s better than any other song in their catalog. “Girl From Oklahoma” started another long-lasting trend for the band’s live shows: inviting 20 to 30 of the ladies in the audience up on stage to dance, sing and flash body parts as the band performs.

So overall, a fun and entertaining night of adult humor and rock and roll.

Coheed & Cambria bring down the house at Atlanta’s Tabernacle

The Tabernacle played host to Coheed and Cambria on Monday, March 14 as they tour supporting their new album, The Color Before the Sun. Though the crowd started a little cold for Silver Snakes, with the exception of two die hard fist pumping fans, their come on hard, driving intro proved that there couldn’t have been a better choice to open tonight’s show. The bassist has more energy than any bassist I’ve seen outside the thrash metal scene. He rides the music like waves, but never stops below a slow simmer of energy. The grabbing hook of Silver Snakes is their seamless transition into electronic styles and back, it’s unexpected and well done. Silver Snakes saved their best for last and by the end had the crowd, which had doubled in size, enthralled. It is my hope that those guys made some new friends tonight. At any given point, I only counted an average of five cell phones during their set.

I The Mighty followed Silver Snakes. Their style is a blend of heavy, moshing thrash and plaintive emotional sung harmonies.  They have a very broad dynamic range, going from barely there whispers to full out thrash between measures. They kept up a high energy set, nothing dragged and the audience loved it.  I the Mighty is so tight because the singer and guitarist have been playing together since high school.  They have a new album coming out,
Connector, and have been trickling singles out over the last few months on Spotify and soundcloud.

Glassjaw has been around since 1993, through some lineup changes around the core of the band: singer Daryl Palumbo and guitarist Justin Beck.  They had a decent following in the late 90s post-hardcore scene, but they were never my cup of tea. That’s okay, though, because I heard plenty of people eager to see them before the show.  The singer and bass player were energetic, prowling the stage and engaging the audience.  I thought the guitar player was a little bit subdued for the music, wearing a heavy raincoat (for some reason) and standing still the entire time. They are showcasing some new material on this tour, their first actual tour, aside from a few performances here and there at major festivals around the world (Again, they’re not my favorites, but don’t think they don’t have a big following) in preparation for an as-yet-untitled forthcoming album.  You can hear their latest song, on their soundcloud page.  Their latest EP is 2011’s Coloring Book.

Alright folks, I’m not going to lie to you. I LOVE Coheed and Cambria. They’re probably my favorite band of all time. So I can sit here almost all day and talk to you about how incredible their music is, how in-depth and well thought out the story behind the music is, how crazy the lead singer’s hair… blah blah blah. Like any other Coheed and Cambria fan, my interest in the band is rampant, hysterical, and un-ending. That’s why I’m not going to sit here and talk about the band, because while the band may be who makes the music, and who plays the songs. Coheed and Cambria is not what makes a Coheed and Cambria show… that job belongs to the fans.

The call and response from band to audience is like nothing I’ve ever seen before. It’s not as simple as the guy playing the least amount of notes telling us to clap our hands, and we the people obeying. No, this participation is premeditated without practice. If you’ve ever wanted to be in a movie scene when the school breaks out into the same choreographed song spontaneously, this is where you want to be. With the rise and fall of each song and chord, everybody in the sea of fans shifts and sway in a way all their own, that always fits with everyone else. You don’t have to be in the middle of the small ocean of bodies to feel the tides change. You can feel it in the explosive energy when the band lays it on thick with floor toms, bass, and power chords, or in the absolute chorus of voices when the band drops out completely and the “Children of the Fence” cry “MAN YOUR OWN JACKHAMMER!”.

In short, if you go to a Coheed and Cambria show, whether it’s your first time or you’ve been going for years on end, whether you’re on the floor with hundreds of others, or in the balcony. Expect to see, no, to FEEL a spectrum of emotions from the entire building. Coheed and Cambria are not the show, YOU are the show.

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Live Review: Anthrax at Atlanta’s Tabernacle Jan. 19

Scott Ian of Anthrax

Considered one of the “Big Four” classic thrash metal bands (along with Metallica, Slayer and Megadeth), Anthrax has gone through their share of line-up, recording label and stylistic changes during their 30-plus year career. With that much experience under their belt, it’s no surprise that Anthrax knows how to throw a party. The band appeared to be enjoying every minute of their time on Tabernacle Atlanta’s stage during their opening slot on the current Lamb of God Spring tour, which arrived in Atlanta Tuesday, Jan. 19.

Anthrax, live at The Tabernacle, Atlanta, GA, 2016There’s no denying that this band has personality, and it shows in their performance. Head-banging bassist Frank Bello gets the “Metal Thrashing Mad” award for being the most gregarious of the crew, smiling and bouncing around the stage, only briefly stopping to add background vocals. The “new guy,” ex-Shadows Fall guitarist Jon Donais, blends in well with the band, providing a quick-fingered counterpoint to Scott Ian’s aggressive rhythm playing. Underrated drummer Charlie Benate lays down the pummeling beat with ease as classic-era singer Joey Belladonna (back with the band since 2010), takes center stage as the ringleader, smiling, throwing guitar picks and constantly interacting with the crowd.

The band’s setlist concentrated mainly on their classic Belladonna-era material, and unfortunately only included one new song, “Evil Twin” from the soon-to-be-released album For All Kings. I was really hoping to hear some more of their new material, but only one song is understandable considering their abbreviated opening time slot.

“Fight’Em ’Til You Can’t” from their 2011 release Worship Music started the set, before the band settled into that familiar, bouncing thrash groove of their classic anthem “Caught In A Mosh.”  It was at the beginning of that song that I leaned over to the security guard in the photo pit and said: “This is when the bodies start flying.” And fly they did. “Got The Time,” “Antisocial,” and the fabulous “In The End” filled out the middle section, before the band once again went back to their critically acclaimed 1987 masterpiece Among The Living for the big ending: a double shot of “Indians” and “Among The Living.”

Anthrax, live at The Tabernacle, Atlanta, GA, 2016

As far as metal concerts go, this is how it should be done. A great venue, tasteful and colorful lighting, and a classic metal band performing at the top of their game.

 

Full gallery of Anthrax

 

Full Gallery of Lamb of God

 

Live Review: Tesla at the Tabernacle

Jeff Keith and Frank Hannon

Just after the band Tesla finished their rendition of the song “Signs,” lead singer Jeff Keith turned to the audience and said:

“Do you want a sign? I’ll give you a sign…”

He then turned to face the band’s enormous the backdrop, pointed his finger and said:

“ T-E-S-L-A. Plain and simple, just how we like it.”

Simplicity. It’s the name of their latest album and it’s a philosophy that’s always worked for Tesla. No over-the-top stage show filled with explosions or confetti, no flashy clothes, just five unpretentious guys who play honest rock ‘n’ roll. Tesla was unfortunately lumped in with whole “hair band” movement back in the 80s, but I never thought that was fair. Sure, they had the hair, but their music and lyrical content was more akin to the now classic rock bands of the late 60s and 70s, not the cliched “party-all-night until the morning light” outlook of their 80s contemporaries. Whatever they are doing is working just fine, as they proved during their career-spanning 17-song set in front of a near capacity crowd at The Tabernacle.

The band opened with the song “MP3” from Simplicity, and that might have been the only misstep of the night. While a perfectly good song in its own right “MP3” is a mid-tempo rocker, and I was expecting something a little more up-tempo to get things rolling. No harm, no foul though. “Edison’s Medicine” and “Gettin’ Better” did a perfectly fine job of getting the crowd up and moving.

The more well-known songs such as “The Way It Is” and “Love Song” turned into massive sing-alongs, while the crowd was just as happy watching the band turn up the guitars and rock the hell out of Tesla classics like “Heaven’s Trail,” “Mama’s Fool,” and “Hang Tough.” Lead guitarist Frank Hannon sprinkled generous slabs of his always tasteful playing throughout each song. Friends will know that I’ve flown the Frank Hannon flag for years, and how he’s not more widely recognized as the monster musician that he is is beyond me.

Despite recent hip surgery, singer Jeff Keith looked surprisingly spry. He’s got a very animated stage presence, at times very Jagger-esque. He remained in constant motion, punctuating lyrics with hand motions such as starting a motorcycle or lighting a fire, each usually followed by a huge grin. He and bandmates Hannon, bassist Brian Wheat, drummer Troy Luccketta and guitarist Dave Rude seemed to be genuinely enjoying themselves and the warm reception they received from all in attendance.

The band finished out the night by going all the way back to their beginning as a band and performed “Modern Day Cowboy” and “Little Suzi” from their debut album Mechanical Resonance, but not before playing what I’ve always felt was their finest moment: “Song And Emotion” from their 1991 release Psychotic Supper. Written as a tribute to the late Def Leppard guitarist Steve Clark, “Song And Emotion” captures all of the classic Tesla staples: the meaningful, emotional lyric; the dynamic instrumentation; the passionate delivery. It’s all there.

Tesla is a band that seems to be firing on all cylinders, 30 plus years into their career. They are writing some of the best music they’ve ever written, they remain a powerful live act, and despite little radio airplay (of their newer material that is), they continue to tour and win over fans worldwide.

Simplicity works.

If you missed Tesla at the Tabernacle have no fear. The band will be returning to the Atlanta area on June 28, part of a triple-bill with Def Leppard and Styx.