Riot V @ Reggies, Chicago (US)

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RIOT V / JUDAS RISING / SCARS OF ARMAGEDDON / CRUSADER

Date: 08th July, 2016
Venue: Reggies Rock Club
Ticket:
$17 (€15) in advance - $22 (€20) day of show
Promoter: n/a


I don’t really like concerts on Fridays because the combination of getting off work and then fighting the evening Chicago commute can spoil your appetite to party by losing part of a nicely set billing. In this case, CRUSADER were the victims and that was a huge shame because their live performances and, most importantly, their music was a perfect fit for the almighty RIOT (a.k.a. RIOT V). Anyway, I’m sure I will catch ‘em again in the not so distant future, so onward to the next band on the billing that was SCARS OF ARMAGEDDON whom I have seen in the past. Although this is young band, it has already established a quite strong following, so during the intro, there was lots of enthusiasm inside Reggies that - by the way - was nicely filled. And yeah, the four piece band did not let anyone down and, in fact, raised the spirits with their highly energetic Power Metal in the vein of DRAGONFORCE. This is a tricky Metal genre because the songs are super-fast with lots of guitar shredding, so if the guitarists are locked on their guitar, then the entire band looks total disconnected with the audience and not at all fun to watch. But in the case of SCARS OF ARMAGEDDON, the guitar duo was super-engaged, got everyone’s attention and eventually earned their approval/ applause. “Nuclear Christ Elves” sounded great in the CHILDREN OF BODOM kind of way and was also the last song of the band’s setlist that had absolutely no low moments and, in fact, was a great appetizer for what was to follow. This is definitely a band to keep on your radar, if you fancy this guitar-shredding, up-tempo Power Metal.

SCARS OF ARMAGEDDON setlist:

01. “Dead End”
02. “Never Sleep Again”
03. “Our Dying Day”
04. “Nuclear Christ Elves”
05. “Lockdown”

SCARS OF ARMAGEDDON

Scars Of Armageddon @ Reggies Rock Club (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Scars Of Armageddon @ Reggies Rock Club (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Scars Of Armageddon @ Reggies Rock Club (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Scars Of Armageddon @ Reggies Rock Club (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Scars Of Armageddon @ Reggies Rock Club (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos)

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I am definitely not a covers-band fan but I have to admit that a setlist full of hits can be a great mood-lifter, especially if JUDAS PRIEST is on the menu. Yeah, you don’t have to be a psychic to see what’s JUDAS RISING about, especially after seeing the “Angel Of Retribution” cover as a backdrop. This would be my first time seeing this band, so I had no prior knowledge of their singer and how good he would be in imitating Rob Halford. Because a good set of guitarists and a bunch of effects can get really close to the original sound, but the singer has to have the entire package. On the other hand, being a tough judge on a covers’ band is kind of lame, so having some fun with JUDAS PRIEST hits was a great deal, if you’d ask me.

Having a light show (ok, it was minimal) and the taped version of “Hellion” as intro was a nice touch and I’m sure drew many metalheads closer to the stage. And how could they not with songs like “Electric Eye” and “Metal Gods” so singing along came almost naturally from everyone, especially when considering that the old-schoolers had a big chunk of the audience percentage. The band’s singer wore the appropriate Halford-gear of the “British Steel” era, although the sneakers looked kind of inappropriate (he he) but most importantly I think he did quite well delivering the goods. I mean, I don’t think there are more than a handful of singers who can get close to the Metal God. The only complaint I can think of is the setlist; sure, it had all the crowd pleasers but I’d prefer to have some rare PRIEST songs that are nowhere to be found in the band’s current shows. If I wanted to be more specific, I’d be extremely excited to have something from “Rocka Rolla”. Anyways, nitpicking over just details has no place when a covers band is onstage and I believe I speak on behalf of everyone inside Reggies when I say I had a great time singing-along, fist-pumping and headbanging during this goldies. By the way, having RIOT’s drummer Frank Gilchriest guest-playing for “Hellbent For Leather” really spiced things up and kind of showcased the overall party mood.

JUDAS RISING setlist:

01. “Electric Eye”
02. “Metal Gods”
03. “Heading Out To The Highway”
04. “Running Wild”
05. “Breaking The Law”
06. “The Ripper”
07. “Diamonds & Rust”
08. “Green Manalishi (With The Two Pronged Crown)”
09. “Hellbent For Leather”
10. “Dissident Aggressor”
11. “Victim Of Changes”

JUDAS RISING

Judas Rising @ Reggies Rock Club (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Judas Rising @ Reggies Rock Club (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Judas Rising @ Reggies Rock Club (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Judas Rising @ Reggies Rock Club (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Judas Rising @ Reggies Rock Club (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos)
Judas Rising @ Reggies Rock Club (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Judas Rising @ Reggies Rock Club (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Judas Rising @ Reggies Rock Club (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Judas Rising @ Reggies Rock Club (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Judas Rising @ Reggies Rock Club (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos)

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It took something less than 20 minutes to get the stage ready for RIOT and really there was no fancy stage-crew but just the band members setting up their gear. Yeah, there are no egos in RIOT and only pure will to play these great tunes and at the same time pay homage to way early departed Mark Reale. Still, this lineup is not some sort of a tribute band, especially if you consider the presence of bassist Don Van Stavern and guitarist Mike Flyntz who have been in the RIOT ranks more than three decades. And not only that RIOT V have recently the impressive “Unleash The Fire” with Todd Michael Hall behind the mic who - I believe - has a most powerful set of pipes and can sing the band’s entire catalogue. So, having in mind how awesome “Unleash The Fire” is, I was kind of disappointed when I overheard two old-timers talking about the setlist - which had been taped over the stage monitors - and had trouble identifying RIOT’s latest material. Newsflash people: sometimes bands can still make great music despite tha fact that the year of release is way past the golden ‘80s. Moments like this make me realize how stuck to the past metalheads can be and this is really their loss...

Anyway, Metal was on the menu, so all these thoughts went down the drain the moment the taped intro and the dimmed lights welcomed the band onstage. Yeah, the sound was loud but clear and the mood was already high the moment the drum roll marked the time for “Fight Of The Warrior”. There was one change in the lineup and Mike Flyntz did not share the guitar duties with Nick Lee but with Lance Barnewold who I’ll say right away did a great job handling the rhythm and, most importantly, some of the leads. If I compared this show with the previous one in the Chicago area, I’d say that the Reggies show was way better with the higher number of metalheads present being one of the main reasons. And not only that, RIOT sound tighter and clearly the fact that they have been doing shows have helped a lot. As expected, Todd sounded absolutely fantastic, although sometimes he looked like he did not know what to do with himself when he was not singing… However, this is an insignificant detail, especially when considering his performance at “Ride Hard Live Free” and the way he attacked all those high-pitches. Yeah, this is a new one, but man, how killer does it sound live with all those chant-along leads and the pounding drums - really amazing! Every time I watch RIOT live, I get a sense of nostalgia with a pitch of sadness that enhances all the emotions that surface up with songs like “Fight Or Fall”. “Is everybody in the mood to sing with us tonight?” Todd asked rhetorically because everyone started singing-along and fist-pumping like it was the ‘80s all over again (ok, late ‘80s for the “Thundersteel” LP).

This show was one of the three US live dates RIOT had lined up and this tends to become the new norm with bands playing live during the weekends, so they can use days off work to make this happen. I guess this is why there was an intense party-mood all around with the focus being on the music and I think you can imagine how great “Altar Of The Kings” and the killer “Johnny’s Back” went down (you’ve got to love the opening basslines and the way they ‘smooth’ the way for the main riff). Of course, the spotlight was on the I-have-to-sing-along lyric line “Don't look now, but Johnny's back again”… Speaking earlier about old-timers, I’m sure there were none of them (myself included) who did not have the time of their life the moments the characteristic riff set the stage for “Fire Down Under” that was uniquely paired with the groovy (in a headbanging way) “Hard Lovin’ Man”. Like I said, the sound was killer, so we got served with a massive guitar sound that blew our socks off (well, not literally but you get my drift, right?). Even though with the next one RIOT jumped in time three decades forward, “Metal Warrior” fit perfectly the previous two ‘80s hits and I think got the same loud response from the audience. I really hope that the band will forge on and make another album because I truly believe there is some strong chemistry between the lineup members that is highlighted in every show.

The ‘slower’ part of the set happened with “Sign Of The Crimson Storm” and “Outlaw” but still the metalheads were going strong regardless of the time getting closer to curfew… During the latter song, Todd introduced the band and each and everyone got a loud cheer and a warm round of applause. “Black Leather And Glittering Steel” and the amazing “Angel Eyes” brought back the higher bpms and I think there some mosh-pit action in the back… I know that I am repeating myself when talking about Todd’s singing capabilities but it would have been such a shame not praise the way he delivered “Bloodstreets” which is another song that makes feel a little bit nostalgic (for whatever the reason(s)), especially during the double guitar harmonies just before the solo. Maybe this is why RIOT have placed “Take Me Back” right after this and made me sing my lungs off “Come, take me back / To the time / We were young and headstrong”. I mean, no matter your age, at some point in your life you can resonate with these lines and if you are young now, you’ll understand me after a decade or so. The tight rhythm section of “Road Racin’” (that Todd dedicated to a fan who had his birthday) saw more mosh-pit action and then let the pounding “Warrior” to drop the curtain for a setlist that went by extremely fast like 30 minutes had only passed. In case you’re wondering, everyone joined singing the “shine on” part.

Like I said, we were getting closer to the curfew, so the band did not waste too much time off stage and under public demand returned with Donnie holding a bottle of tequila which soon enough was on the hands of the fans. Yeah, it was about the time to raise a glass for Mark Reale and underline that he will never be forgotten. After all, the music lives on forever. “Swords And Tequila” and - of course - “Thundersteel” with the massive riff ended the night on the highest of notes and really I am already looking forward for the next RIOT show. When a band plays from the heart, then there is absolutely no way to not have some genuine Heavy Metal fun, so if you get the chance, go and watch these guys live and you’ll definitely found yourself on the same page with me.

Shine, shine on, through the darkness and the pain.
Shine, shine on, Warrior.
Shine, shine on, through the wind and the rain.
Shine, shine on, Warrior.”

RIOT V setlist:

01. “Flight Of The Warrior”
02. “Ride Hard Live Free”
03. “Fight Or Fall”
04. Altar Of The King
05. “Johnny's Back”
06. “Fire Down Under”
07. “Hard Lovin' Man”
08. “Metal Warrior”
09. “Sign Of The Crimson Storm”
10. “Outlaw”
11. “Blak Leather & Glittering Steel”
12. “Angel Eyes”
13. “Bloodstreets”
14. “Take Me Back”
15. “Road Racin'”
16. “Warrior”
17. “Swords And Tequila”
18. “Thundersteel”

RIOT V

Riot V @ Reggies Rock Club (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Riot V @ Reggies Rock Club (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Riot V @ Reggies Rock Club (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Riot V @ Reggies Rock Club (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Riot V @ Reggies Rock Club (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos)
Riot V @ Reggies Rock Club (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Riot V @ Reggies Rock Club (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Riot V @ Reggies Rock Club (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Riot V @ Reggies Rock Club (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Riot V @ Reggies Rock Club (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos)
Riot V @ Reggies Rock Club (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Riot V @ Reggies Rock Club (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Riot V @ Reggies Rock Club (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Riot V @ Reggies Rock Club (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Riot V @ Reggies Rock Club (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos)

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