Iced Earth @ House Of Blues, Chicago (US)

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ICED EARTH / SABATON / REVAMP

Date: 06th April, 2014
Venue: House Of Blues Chicago
Ticket: $27,5 (€20) in advance / $30 (€22) day of show
Promoter: n/a


MariaV: No one can deny that Floor Jansen’s name is shining in the current nowadays’ Metal music industry, especially from the day she joined the Finnish symphonic Power metallers NIGHTWISH. The truth is though that Floor is a restless spirit who breaths and bleeds music also via her band REVAMP, after the unfortunate AFTER FOREVER split-up, plus she has already participated as a guest in many artists’ albums, like Arjen Anthony Lucassen and Timo Tolkki. The news that REVAMP would join the ICED EARTH US tour dates sounded like a pleasant surprise to my ears, since I had the chance to enjoy Floor’s band only once, back in 2009 at the glorious ‘Graspop’ festival in Belgium. The years have passed, the young Floor has grown enough and her appearance in the huge stage of House of Blues was something more than experienced; it was breath-taking. I have to admit that for some unknown reason I couldn’t connect to REVAMP’s demanding, progressive tunes till today, but I’ve always admired how a young woman like Ms. Jansen can own the stage and instantly grasp all the eyes on her – that was exactly what she did that night, the third in a row in REVAMP’s maiden appearance upon US soil.

The entire schedule had already pushed half an hour back, so REVAMP took the stage around 8:15pm under the sounds of their most recent super-hit and self-titled track of their latest album, “Wild Card”. The audience’s response was quite welcoming for the Hollandaise six-pack, while the entire band seemed to absorb the audience’s energy, delivering a super tight set. “We are REVAMP and we came all the way from The Netherlands” Floor kindly said as a salute to all the eyes fixed at her, admiring from the first moment her ability to switch between clean and growling vocals at ease. “The Anatomy Of A Nervous Breakdown: The Limbic System” and “Head Up High” found the entire venue to follow Floor’s commands for some rhythmic clapping and horn-throwing in the air, while her introduction to “The Anatomy Of A Nervous Breakdown: Neurasthenia” and the band’s collaboration with Devin Townsend saw another warm round of applause. Then it was time for my favorite REVAMP track, “Nothing”, which Floor nailed it; she unfolded her entire classical music background and gave us an excellent performance, full of passion and professionalism. I know I may sound a bit unfair to the other members of REVAMP, but the truth is it was a bit difficult to stop following Floor’s constant onstage movement, even though guitarist Jord Otto did extremely well on provoking the audience’s warmest response to REVAMP’s first on-stage time in Chicago. “Wolf And Dog” was the last chosen track for REVAMP’s set, leaving the HoB goers with the best of impressions, and clearly opened their appetite for an upcoming NIGHTWISH headlining show with the breath-taking Floor.

REVAMP setlist:

01. “Wild Card”
02. “The Anatomy Of A Nervous Breakdown: The Limbic System”
03. “Head Up High”
04. “The Anatomy Of A Nervous Breakdown: Neurasthenia”
05. “Nothing”
06. “In Sickness ‘Til Death Do Us, Pt.2: Disdain”
07. “Wolf And Dog”

REVAMP

ReVamp @ House Of Blues, Chicago (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos)
ReVamp @ House Of Blues, Chicago (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) ReVamp @ House Of Blues, Chicago (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) ReVamp @ House Of Blues, Chicago (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos)
ReVamp @ House Of Blues, Chicago (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) ReVamp @ House Of Blues, Chicago (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) ReVamp @ House Of Blues, Chicago (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) ReVamp @ House Of Blues, Chicago (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos)

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DimK: REVAMP did really well in warming us up, especially after the unwelcome delay that was caused once again by the Gospel Brunch hosted in House Of Blues every Sunday. SABATON have a loyal following in Poland, so there were some national flags and t-shirts in the front rows, something that made the show feel even more special, increasing the excitement and spreading good vibes to the ones who did not deal before with the Swedish band.

Even though I was well aware of the SABATON onstage doings, I was once again carried away by the way the band stormed the stage. Yeah, the always smiling Swedes run to their positions seconds after the taped “The March To War” intro (there was no time for “The Final Countdown”). It was quite funny looking at the reaction of those who had no idea about this band having a ‘what just happened?” look on their face. The explosive “Ghost Division” was the setlist opener, so there was no warming-up but diving headfirst into the SABATON universe. As always Joakim spearheaded the onstage commotion with all his trademark poses and his strange-at-first type of humor. You see, it’s strange watching a guy in military looks with a beaming smile on his face. I guess the “don’t judge a book by cover” saying is most appropriate here. Without pausing, “Gott Mit Uns” saw a lot of fists pumping in the air and the first ‘pushing-around-each-other’ mosh-pits made their appearance, causing a bit of frustration to the guys standing in front of the metal-protected sound-board console. Then it was about time to have a crash course on Swedish history with “Carolus Rex” sung in English and honestly I’d prefer the Swedish version, even though the singing-along during the chorus sounded awesome. I have to admit I was not impressed by the new song “To Hell And Back” that was streaming online a few days ago, but live it was a whole different case. “This is a song about the WWII hero Audie Murphy from Texas” said Joakim as a short introduction but I am not sure the young audience had any idea of what he was talking about. Anyway, the keyboard main melody got everyone jumping up and down or just dancing their shocks off. One could feel the floor vibrating in perfect synchronicity with what was taking place on the stage.

“There are three types of people here; the ones who know SABATON, the ones who have absolutely no idea and the ones who are wondering who put onstage the VILLAGE PEOPLE said Joakim before asking if everyone liked to hear some tunes of “YMCA”. There were some “yeahs” so then next thing for Joakim was to actually sing the chorus… Yeah, that was a lot of fun but things get more energetic with the trademark hit “40:1” and the Polish metalheads took the lead on HOB’s arena. No matter, your country of origin, you should always honor the fallen soldiers because they were fighting for their country, even if their leaders were nothing but greedy beasts.

The taped intro talking about Sun Tzu’s “The Art Of War” introduced for the same-titled groovy SABATON hit and then it was time for some aerobics Metal. Yup, you guessed right; “Primo Victoria” got everyone in jumping up and down mood at no time. It was extremely entertaining to watch and participate in this Metal gymnastics class with Joakim on the leading role and follow his lead the moment he was shouting “Jump!” before the chorus. Of course the time that SABATON had at their disposal was limited since they weren’t the headlining act, but this didn’t stop Joakim to ask from Thobbe to show us some Blues since we were at House of Blues. The blonde guitarist threw some Blues-laden short solo instantly and some ‘woo-hoos’ were heard from the crowd, but not for long; Joakim stopped him since the time was pressing and SABATON had to put an end to this tight set that really felt passing by superfast; it was time for “Metal Crüe” and some more dancing followed, both by the audience and the band who really looked happy and super-tight onstage. I convinced that SABATON will come to the US soon despite to what some have said to bassist Pär that their music is doomed in the States... yeah, right!

SABATON setlist:

01. “The March To War” (taped intro)
02. “Ghost Division”
03. “Gott Mit Uns”
04. “Carolus Rex”
05. “To Hell And Back”
06. “40:1”
07. “The Art Of War”
08. “Primo Victoria”
09. “Metal Crüe”

SABATON

Sabaton @ House Of Blues, Chicago (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Sabaton @ House Of Blues, Chicago (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Sabaton @ House Of Blues, Chicago (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Sabaton @ House Of Blues, Chicago (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos)
Sabaton @ House Of Blues, Chicago (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Sabaton @ House Of Blues, Chicago (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Sabaton @ House Of Blues, Chicago (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Sabaton @ House Of Blues, Chicago (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos)

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DimK: Despite the 30-minute delay, I was already feeling satisfied from the two supporting bands and honestly I started thinking what would ICED EARTH do to keep the same vibe with the SABATON set. Sure, some of the die-hard SABATON fans (those holding Greek and Polish flags) moved to the back after the end of the Swedish invasion, so the arena looked more relaxed. So, how the great US band (as Joakim said before the closing song of the SABATON set) could do to keep the energy flowing? Ok, I just overstated my thoughts because ICED EARTH have been super-charged after the addition of Stu Block behind the mic, something I had already witnessed during the “Dystopia” tour. Add to this the killer “Plagues Of Babylon” and you will understand the level of excitement inside House Of Blues the moment the intro of the self-titled song started blasting of the speakers. Yeah, it made the 30-minute wait look like an old and almost forgotten memory because it was time for some Schaffer-signatured rhythm guitar action. The sound, the lights and, most importantly, the band were on top of their game, so all my initial thoughts went straight to oblivion the moment the killer rhythm section took over and soon it was headbanging time. As expected, Stu nailed the vocals (especially the screaming part before the solo) and it was a non-stop party from the get-go. Without stopping, “Democide” was next, so it was time for Mr. Schaffer to sound the charge with his machine-gun guitar work that despite his neck issue (learn more about this in the audio interview with Jon HERE), he was once again like a human metronome never losing a beat; just amazing! As our fellow reporter Erika already pointed out in the recent live report (check it HERE), only Troy Seele looked rather disconnected with the constant energy flow of the rest of the band. Having said that, this lead guitar work was on the money, so I guess it’s his way of performing and I am perfectly fine with this. “It’s time to put up the victory sign” said Stu and it was obvious that “V” was next. The slower tempo and the catchy main melody were the perfect ingredients for some singing-along action and this is actually a benefit for having a young audience. You see bands like ICED EARTH that have been around more than two decades witness the classic separation of old-school and new fans. The former like exclusively the first 2-3 albums while the latter are mostly aware of the most recent releases, so having a mixed audience produces fair reaction to the entire setlist.

Having seen ICED EARTH many times both in the States and in Europe, I was more than happy to get more tracks from the latest album like the killer “If I Could See You”, that Stu said it helped him go through some rough times, and I had a couple of laughs whenever Stu introduced the songs from “Dark Saga” as “trip to the past”. In any case, “The Hunter” and “Burning Times” sounded super-heavy and especially the latter was a fine reason to form a violent mosh-pit where all the youngsters where pushing each other like bulls (I wish there was a “how to mosh-pit” seminar).

The lights turn red and blue as the perfect visual for “Red Baron / Blue Max” (by the way, Stu did very well during those ultra-high pitched screams) and honestly, I’d love to have more songs from the Tim Ripper era of ICED EARTH but at the same time there is not enough room when a band has more than a dozen of LPs. “You know that you can scream between songs”, said Stu as a response to the strange silence but this soon changed since it was time for more moshing action with “Vengeance Is Mine”. I will agree with Erika one more time and say that “Cthulhu” sounds better live, plus it was fun watching Jon and Stu doing the Cthulhu tentacles-joke during the chorus.

Jon and Luke stepped in the middle of the stage facing each other and kicked off the bass/clean guitar intro of the killer “The End?” and some chanting-along action before going back to “Dark Saga” (ok, too many songs from that album) with “Question Of Heaven” that also marked the end of the first part of the setlist. Sure, there were signs of fatigue in the US audience but not without reason; there was constant activity for more than 2 hours and not counting the longer than expected waiting time. The pre-recorded piano intro revealed it was time for “The Coming Curse” and honestly I was amazed by the amazing sound of the rhythm guitar; it was like having Jon’s amp in front of you, so it was non-stop headbanging all the way, especially after the slower break and the “I am your Antichrist” part. “Dystopia” and the must-have-on-setlist “Watching Over Me” were next but there was no way to leave House Of Blues without having listened to the song that established the ICED EARTH sound; yeah, I am talking about “Iced Earth” and the faster part where two decades ago Jon set the foundations of the band’s characteristic and trademark sound (I love the high-hat part of this one). By the way, kudos to Jon Dette for his solid and powerful drumming during the entire setlist and in my opinion he looks like a good match for ICED EARTH.

This was a killer show and I am talking about the entire billing. All the fatigue was put aside and I didn’t have problem battling my way while trying to get up the next morning because I had that happy buzz in my ears, the sore throat and the stiff neck which are solid indications for a successful Metal concert. Awesome show!

ICED EARTH setlist:

01. “Plagues Of Babylon”
02. “Democide”
03. “V”
04. “If I Could See You”
05. “The Hunter”
06. “Burning Times”
07. “Red Baron / Blue Max”
08. “Blessed Are You”
09. “Vengeance Is Mine”
10. “Cthulhu”
11. “My Own Savior”
12. “The End?”
13. “A Question Of Heaven”
14. “The Coming Curse”
15. “Dystopia”
16. “Watching Over Me”
17. “Iced Earth”

ICED EARTH

Iced Earth @ House Of Blues, Chicago (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Iced Earth @ House Of Blues, Chicago (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Iced Earth @ House Of Blues, Chicago (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Iced Earth @ House Of Blues, Chicago (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Iced Earth @ House Of Blues, Chicago (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos)
Iced Earth @ House Of Blues, Chicago (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Iced Earth @ House Of Blues, Chicago (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Iced Earth @ House Of Blues, Chicago (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Iced Earth @ House Of Blues, Chicago (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Iced Earth @ House Of Blues, Chicago (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos)
Iced Earth @ House Of Blues, Chicago (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Iced Earth @ House Of Blues, Chicago (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Iced Earth @ House Of Blues, Chicago (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Iced Earth @ House Of Blues, Chicago (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Iced Earth @ House Of Blues, Chicago (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos)

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