January was almost over in Metal Year 2007 and what an ending it would have with another great show at B.B. King Blues Club. Tonight would be an appearance by the legendary Overkill – a band that for over two decades have always known the formula for making the audience insane, causing intense neck strain from mass head banging and capable of making the blood to flow faster in ones Metal heart. Are you excited yet? Well, imagine how those members in the audience felt tonight because it would also find Meliah Rage, Joey Belladonna from Anthrax, and the mighty Metal Church as well as newcomers Red Red Hand performing. The very definition for the evening would be Metal, pure and simple.
Read on for Ken Pierce's full coverage of this January 29th show!
Accepting no substitutes, we adventured into our familiar stomping grounds and found Meliah Rage completing their set. Sadly, we missed this new band RRH and by the sound of the last couple from Meliah we knew we had missed some worthy introductory thunder. Oh well, lets hope they come back around soon so we can make up for this. Joey Belladonna would come up next and this performance was almost immediately following the breaking news that he would no longer be taking part in the reunited Anthrax. We had reviewed the appearance of them at Starland Ballroom and the last time we saw Joey solo he was on the drums. Tonight he would remain in front of the microphone and command a very energetic group of musicians. There was a long turnaround time in setting up and I feared a cut back set as result of this, but as soon as he hit the stage, I worried no more since JB was kicking some ass once again for a hungry Metal crowd. He had a limited amount of room to perform on and this allowed the audience to be very close to him during this set. He was continually reaching over the photo pit on a number of occasions and slapping the hands of the fans. His set was made up of original numbers and a couple of Anthrax classics, but the slow setting up time caused him to play about five out of the seven listed numbers. He was entertaining, and still has the pipes for these songs and was met with a large level of approval so here is to continued success Joey. Be you with Anthrax or not we are waiting with excitement for more material from you.
Metal Church would come up next and while the name remains familiar it is an almost entirely different band in terms of members than it was in the beginning. Most know that Ronny Munroe stands in place as their singer, but also new to the fold is drummer Jeff Plate (Savatage/Trans-Siberian Orchestra) who replaced Kirk Arrington early in 2006. Together with Steve Unger, Jay Reynolds and founding member Kurdt Vanderhoof, they lead the charge of future Metal glories with a legendary name and a slightly modified Melodic Heavy Metal style. From the second that they hit the stage you could tell that while possessing a newer roster that the material was on point and sounding no different than it used to in the past. Munroe has a different vocal style and stage presence from both Howe and David Wayne (who Metal lost in 2005), but through it all this is a man who belongs on stage and seems to have a great effect on the audience. He is not the typical Metal singer and has a little bit more range in his overall style. I like that for it allows the music to have extended possibilities. The group would be supporting their latest effort on SPV Records entitled "A Light In The Dark", which while a Heavy Metal album, displays a stronger level of musicianship and experimentation than they have attempted in the past. Vanderhoof and Reynolds were shredding like mad through the all too short set and Plate was slamming the drums like no tomorrow. He is a visual player as well and manages to showcase some cool tricks in there while he plays. The crowd loved them, and it is always great to see a band still generating the interest years later. There is so much Metal to enjoy these days no matter what you hear different. With the short set against them, Munroe chose to keep the crowd banter to a minimum but still made sure to deliver as much of the music as possible before their time was up. Some might have thought this a bad thing, but in one sense it was not as it truly left the audience screaming for more and should very well prepare this band for a return visit. I am looking forward to such a possibility. After they were done, the members of the band were milling about the audience, which I am sure many people liked as well.
Overkill – the commentary for this part of the night can very well end with the simple speaking of their name. Showing Metal heads how it is done since about 1984 there is very little more that can be said about them at this stage of the game. I guess the best statement would be if you are hitting an Overkill show make sure you fasten your seatbelts and secure your belongings because this is a Metal roller coaster ride like no other. Recently we mentioned that there was a no moshing policy at this venue well tonight that would be almost impossible to enforce as the bodies were flying everywhere. Personally, I do not mind the surfing and the slam dancing but it is that idiotic kung-fu nonsense and the other moves that look like seizure-riddled video game fighting that has to end. If you are looking to hurt someone then your stupid ass deserves to be tossed out of a show. Lucky for the fans tonight there was not a lot of that happening but as soon as the band hit the stage - it was as if the floor was launching people from it. If you have never seen Overkill in concert, then a lot of this might not be making sense to you but it's very easy to understand that they command the live stage and are not only seasoned veterans but also absolute masters of this terrain. Last year, Overkill was one of the bands performing on "Gigantour 2" and this was a fantastic way for them to increase their reach to those fans of some of the newer bands who came after them. The Overkill of 2007 finds founders D.D. Verni and master of ceremonies Bobby "Blitz" Ellsworth still fantastic at what they do, albeit a little older. The guitars are handled ably by Derek Tailer and Dave Linsk who have both been with them for a number of years now, and new drummer, Ron Lipnicki. He joins the band from the band Hades and replaced long time skin basher Tim Mallare.
The best way to describe their set was that it was on point without any flaw or hesitation. Blitz is literally a hurricane of activity on the stage and he just riles the audience up to fever pitch during the songs. Verni crunches the bass and truly is one of Metal's most stalwart influences. Overkill rose to power in a scene that was still being realized at the time, and legions of Metal followers surely owe them loyalties for their accomplishments for the genre. The set was an intense one as well and covered a number of years in scope. Newer material was paid attention to but older classics such as "Rotten To The Core" still sounded like they were new songs themselves. When tracks like "Elimination" and "Hello From The Gutter" started off the audience literally exploded more than they were already doing and there would be no safe haven down on the floor. The audience was also of a wide age range, which is excellent to see, and we even saw the familiar faces of Jack Frost, Chris Caffery and Doro Pesch among our numbers. Each present to raise the horns high to the kings of neck wrecking. Blitz was quite talkative to the audience, which was very much enjoyed, and he spoke of how crazy it looked to him and that it was just like the old days before they launched into "Old School", a number that sings of how this used to be done back in the day. The band was even joined on stage by radio personality Eddie Trunk for this one. They would deliver three encores and one was actually a surprise to me since it was "Coma" from "Horrorscope", and album that I feel does not get a lot of attention. "Wrecking Crew" was next and then the show-stopping closer of "Fuck You" would follow. At the end of the song, Blitz jumped off the stage and began crowd surfing himself. It was truly a killer set of music that while no one was left wanting there was certainly very little interest in going home. That is a good Metal show.
Metal Church Set List
Light In The Dark
Ton Of Bricks
Start The Fire
Mirror Of Lies
Gods Of Wrath
Beyond The Black
Overkill Set List
Rotten To The Core
Hello From The Gutter
Thanks For Nothing
Long Time Dyin'
Nice Day For A Funeral
Deny The Cross
Coma - encore
Wrecking Crew - encore
Fuck You - encore
Official Web site: www.wreckingcrew.com
Official Web site: www.metalchurch.com
Official Web site: www.joeybelladonna.com
Official Web site: www.meliahrage.com
Official Web site: www.redredhand.com