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ConcertsSymphony X-Triumphant at The Chance & Starland Ballroom!

Posted on Sunday, September 23 2007 @ 08:02:47 CDT by Pete Pardo
Progressive Metal
In support of their excellent new album Paradise Lost, NJ progressive metal leaders Symphony X trekked across the US for a month long tour that saw them make a few stops along the New York Metropolitan area. Sea of Tranquility Publisher Pete Pardo was in attendance at both The Chance show in Poughkeepsie, as well as the final stop of the tour in the band's hometown of Sayerville, NJ, at the Starland Ballroom. Along for the ride were hotshot newcomers Echoes of Eternity and Sanctity, each of whom put in strong performances as well at both shows.

The Chance, Poughkeepsie, NY: It was a hot, sweaty night in July when Echoes of Eternity, Sanctity, and headliners Symphony X rolled into town. After a few local bands came and went, Nuclear Blast's new buzz band Echoes of Eternity hit the stage a little later than expected, and tore through a short but hot set of songs from their debut album The Forgotten Goddess. Led by the gorgeous Francine Boucher, whose charming vocals and equally mesmerizing looks provide the perfect foil for the commanding guitar talents of Brandon Patton, the band made the most of their barely 30 minute set. Pieces like "Towers of Silence" and"Expressions of Flesh" sound more alive and heavier on the concert stage, as the band demonstrated that they are no mere studio project. Sadly, time constraints whould not allow them to play their centerpiece and show closer "Voices in a Dream", but their set was a success nontheless. Roadrunner Records' Sanctity followed, and while it might seem that these North Carolina thrashers might seem the odd band out on this mix of progressive/power metal bands, the band kicked some serious ass and thrilled the crowd with a selection of songs from their debut Road to Bloodshed. Singer/guitarist Jared Maceachern has plenty of energy as both a vocalist and axe-slinger, and the rest of the band follows suit, as they blasted through a set that owed to the old school brigade (Testament, Overkill, Anthrax, Metallica) as much as the newer scene.

Talking with Francine and Brandon of Echoes of Eternity at the merchandise table between sets, they warned me of just how powerful and loud Symphony X had been so far on this tour. Seeing the X'ers on a few occasions in the past, I had no doubts about this statement at all. When they finally took the stage, the few hundred in Poughkeepsie were roaring on their feet, and the band flat out killed from start to finish. With a set heavy on the new album Paradise Lost, mixed with a few classics, the mix at The Chance was surprisingly excellent, and the band were perhaps louder than any other act in recent memory. Despite the decibel level, every instrument, and especially the vocals of Russell Allen, were crystal clear. It seems that the time is finally ripe for this band to take over the progressive metal world, and the band appears to sense it, apparent from their demeanor, stage design, and overall enthusiasm they gave back to the crowd. The new songs are even heavier live, Romeo's guitar and Allen's vocals sounding better than ever, and despite the fact that the band doesn't tour as much as your average metal band (although that seems to be changing now), they were tighter than most on this night. Highlights? Well, there were many, but for me, hearing these great new songs on stage for the first time made it all worthwhile, and the encore of "The Odyssey" was the icing on the cake. Word is that Allen quit smoking recently, and to these ears that seemed to have helped his singing, as he sounded better than I have ever heard him. His performance during "The Odyssey" alone this night was enough to convince me that he is now one of the top singers in the genre.

At just about 90 minutes, it was a strong, action packed set that could have gone longer for many of the fans in atttendance, but everyone left with a smile on their face. As excellent as this show was, the thought of the tour finale, the homecoming show at Starland Ballroom a few weeks later, was looming...

Starland Ballroom, Sayerville, NJ: While the Poughkeepsie show was well attended (as was the NYC show at BB Kings that kicked off the tour from reports I heard), the New Jersey faithful came out in droves to see their heroes in August for the grand finale of the US Paradise Lost tour. Filled with probably 1000 or so fans, friends, and family, the Starland Ballroom was bustling, as everyone was ready to give Symphony X an enthusiastic send-off before they head to Europe to support Dream Theater. After a few local bands played short sets, Echoes of Eternity played their full set, going over even better than they did at The Chance. Lead guitarist Brandon had a little problem with one of his guitars towards the end of the set (the axe was later smashed!), but it hindered the band not one bit. Vocalist Francine Boucher turned those who had never heard the band into immediate fans, wowing them with her angelic yet powerful vocals and stunning looks, while the rest of the band cranked through a 30 minute set of the strongest tracks from their debut album, including a killer closer "Voices in a Dream". After their set, the male contingent lined up at their merchandise table to meet the band, pick up some shirts, CD's, and especially get their picture taken with Francine. All indications are that this band is really going to be a force in the future. Watch for our upcoming interview with Francine & Brandon shortly.

Sanctity once again put on a rowdy, raucous set of modern thrash metal, proving that their time on the road the last year and a half with various tours is really paying off for them. The crowd seemed to really dig them, but it was obvious that they were really waiting for the headliners. Symphony X took to the stage like conquering heroes, playing the same set that they had perfected the entire tour, and it was amazing to see the entire crowd singing along to every note. Sure, many there that night were local friends, family, as well as friends, but it made the night all the more special. While the mix seemed to be a tad better at The Chance show, the band were still just as spot on. Romeo simply sizzled on guitar, Jason Rullo was at times maniacal on the drum kit, Michael Lepond showed why he is the best bassist the band has ever hard, Michael Pinnella added plenty of symphonic atmosphere and engaged in some stunning duals with Romeo, and Russell Allen wowed once again with his pipes of doom.

While it would have been nice to hear a few surprises on this last night of the tour, the show was spectacular nontheless. Symphony X is really hitting their stride at the moment, and no doubt are tearing up Europe with Dream Theater as we speak. If you missed the band on this tour, make sure you don't next time around, as they have become one of the best live acts around.

Pete Pardo

Symphony X Setlist
01. (intro) Oculus Ex Inferni
02. Set the World on Fire
03. Domination
04. Serpent's Kiss
05. Paradise Lost
06. Inferno (Unleash the Fire)
07. Evolution (The Grand Design)
08. Smoke and Mirros
09. The Walls of Babylon
10. Sea of Lies
11. Of Sins and Shadows
12. The Odyssey

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