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ConcertsGrave Digger Make Rare New York Appearance at BB Kings 3/2/2008

Posted on Sunday, May 11 2008 @ 14:59:26 CDT by Pete Pardo
Heavy Metal

Grave Digger is one of those Metal bands who've been at the game for almost thirty years now and yet despite this there are regions of the globe that they just don't get to as often as they would like for performances and to meet with their fans. Musically, they have a very pure Old School Power Metal feel to them and their style would appeal the demographic that leans primarily in that direction. For instance if you like old Accept and vintage Judas Priest, you would definitely be someone who got into the sounds and tunes of the guys in Grave Digger. When the band announced their first-ever New York show I went in expecting quite a bit of a crowd based on this being a rather historic appearance. To my knowledge they had never even been to the States in a true touring fashion and had only appeared at an event that was held by the folks over at BWBK magazine several years ago. The guys would present their wares at B.B. King Blues Club and Grill, a venue that some Metal fans know very well based on the amount of such shows they present, and they would bring with them some of the local boys in the as yet unsigned Arctic Flame. I would miss the opener tonight but I had seen them perform on a number of other opening slots and for tonight I was primarily interested in checking out Grave Digger for the very first time. I had to admit that while owning a few releases from their catalog, they remain a bit of a mystery to me in terms of total absorption of their stuff.

When I walked into the club for this show and saw the turnout I found myself a little bit depressed because to say it was ill-attended would have been an understatement. There were a couple of factors that could have led to this and the first was that perhaps it was the fact that this was another Sunday show and lately I have found these to be on the sparse side every so often. It was also another cold evening, but I never view that as an issue since the show is inside but the one clear fact was based on the Metal legions not having enough background on the band or access to their music. The band is now signed on with Locomotive Records as they left Nuclear Blast Records with "The Last Supper" and it is not always easy to find the new labels output unless you go online for it. Let's face it there are still those fans who enjoy browsing the racks and picking and choosing that which will entertain them via this means. Of course there was a good hundred or so Metal heads here and they were loud ones so I am sure they would keep the band on their personal best while they performed. Having only some limited exposure to their tunes made me at the ready for tonight and when the lights went down the entire club stood stunned as the Grim Reaper himself came out and offered the band a silent introduction that really started off the night in a dramatic fashion. Of course this was only a member of the bands entourage in costume but it really did the trick in terms of effectiveness. The band hit the ground running and opened with the track off of their latest album, 2007's "Liberty Or Death" and those that were in the audience did seem to know the words and would sing along much to the delight of singer Chris Boltendahl. The singer was doing great this evening and he sounds pretty much like the record when it comes down to it. The voice he has is very rough and gravely and could best be compared to that of Udo Dirkschneider but with a little more melodic power behind him. The immediate thing I noticed was the bands tightness and strength of delivery during the tunes right from the get go.

It was interesting to find this show at B.B. King's tonight as it was originally scheduled here and then moved to their sister club The Highline Ballroom. Something in the final weeks found it moved back to B.B. King's and given the way that Chris and the rest of the guys were running around on the stage I think the Highline Ballroom would have offered them a little more room to do so since the stage is configured a little differently over there. Perhaps the next time around but only time will tell about that. Tonight their set would not only feature the latest album but instead cover a lot of ground and present a number of different releases. I had secured a copy of the bands anniversary performance "25 To Live" and recognized a number of the tracks from this live greatest hits show and definitely felt that those of us who made it down to the show had been witnessing something rather special. Guitarist Manni Schmidt (formerly of Rage) was doing his thing and tonight's show would also find the band presenting their new guitar player Thilo Herrmann, who was added to the bands lineup in 2007 and now compliments Manni as second guitarist. Drums are handled by Stefan Arnold while on bass we find Jens Becker. I had to say that I had a great time tonight even though I was one of those who didn't know clearly as much as the ones who were pressed up against the barriers of the gates that keep them from jumping on stage. In truth an intimate performance never hurts any band and if the crowd is screaming louder and louder with every number then the fact remains as those who missed it, very clearly just missed it. Some of my favorite songs tonight would be the rousing opener of "Liberty Or Deth", "Knights Of The Cross", "Highland Tears" and the anthem "Heavy Metal Breakdown". I did have an issue with their being the only signed band performing for the show and I thought that another heavy hitter as immediate support would have delivered us more of the Metal faithful tonight. Everyone left satisfied and I am sure that we will find the band returning for another appearance in the future. Make sure you check out the bands live DVD to get an idea about what you missed out on if you were one of those who chose not to come down. It was not until the day after the appearance that I discovered that this show at the New York venue was actually going to be their only US appearance until they set up more dates.

Ken Pierce

Set List
1. Liberty Or Death
2. Son Of Evil
3. Valhalla
4. Scotland United
5. The Grave Dancer
6. Lionheart
7. Grave In The No Man's Land
8. Excalibur
9. The Dark Of The Sun
10. The House
11. Rheingold
12. Highland Tears
13. The Roundtable
14. Morgane Lefay
15. Silent Revolution
16. Knights Of The Cross
17. Rebellion
18. The Last Supper encore
19. The Grave Digger encore
20. Heavy Metal Breakdown - encore

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