Flotsam And Jetsam @ Reggies, Chicago (US)

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FLOTSAM AND JETSAM / HELSTAR / HATCHET

Date: 15th November, 2016
Venue: Reggies Rock Club
Ticket:
$18/$20 (€17/€19)
Promoter: n/a


This was a killer package even if it was put together kind of the last minute in place of the planned tour featuring FLOTSAM AND JETSAM with DEATH ANGEL. However, DEATH ANGEL had been added to the SLAYER tour, so FLOTSAM AND JETSAM had to either cancel their plans or figure something out. And I am glad they chose the second option for two reasons: a) “Flotsam And Jetsam” turned out to be a killer album, and b) it was the 30th anniversary of “Doomsday For The Deceiver”. A bonus and personal reason was the fact that it had been a long time since the last time I had seen them live, so getting at Reggie’s that Tuesday night was a no-brainer.

The club was nicely filled the moment HATCHET got onstage with their Bay Area Thrash that was a perfect fit to the headliner’s style. “Come on, Chicago, let’s see some action out there” Julz Ramos said but his words did not have a strong effect on the gathered metalheads. I mean, it was a Tuesday night, so all of us needed something more than just a couple of words to get going... Yeah, the shredding action of the setlist opener “Living In Extinction” did the trick, especially when combined with the band’s always adrenaline-pumped performance. HATCHET put the pedal to the Metal from the get-go, being fully aware that if they wanted to get the crowd going, they'd have to break up some sweat first. And it really worked; watching the Ramos / Cagle guitar duo shredding their way during the solo, bassist Devin Reiche moving from side to side (although there was kind of limited onstage space) and Ben Smith sweating his arse off behind the drum kit was all the energy boost I / we needed to dust off that day’s fatigue. The EXODUS-like vocals and the high bpms saw some headbanging action during “Fall From Grace” and “In Fear We Trust” and I think it was before this one when the band’s singer acknowledged the audience’s reaction saying something like: “Alright, you sound a little bit better now”. During “The World Beyond”, the always-smiling guitarist Clayton Cagle stepped off the stage and roamed inside the venue challenging the metalheads to show more action. The fast snare-driven “Vanishing Point” was the last one for the night and also the icing on the Thrash cake that HATCHET served like a well-oiled machine and with the right attitude to get everyone on the proper mood for the rest of the billing.

HATCHET setlist:

01. “Living In Extinction”
02. “Fall From Grace”
03. “In Fear We Trust”
04. “The World Beyond”
05. “Vanishing Point”

HATCHET

Hatchet @ Reggies Rock Club (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Hatchet @ Reggies Rock Club (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Hatchet @ Reggies Rock Club (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Hatchet @ Reggies Rock Club (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos)
Hatchet @ Reggies Rock Club (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Hatchet @ Reggies Rock Club (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Hatchet @ Reggies Rock Club (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Hatchet @ Reggies Rock Club (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos)

(click to enlarge)


It was something less than a month since the last time I saw HELSTAR and they left me with the best of impressions. However, the small setting of that venue (it was more like a pub / dive bar) and the muffled sound did not let us fully enjoy the Dracula-inspired set, so I was really excited to get a second chance. The clean guitar taped-intro sounded the charge for the absolutely fantastic “Baptized In Blood”. James Rivera showed up wearing a Dracula cape (you know, the black one with red liner) and started delivering the singing goods with his powerful vocals and, at the same time, adding some theatrics in his performance. Yeah, this time was ten times better and, most importantly, the sound was great from the beginning. “Let’s go crazy, Chicago”, James suggested before the killer “Blood Lust” from the band’s most recent effort, “Vampiro”. It is true, this album is so good that can stand side by side with “Nosferatu” and if the studio recordings are not enough to convince you, then you should listen to this stuff live and see how well the songs from the different eras fit together. “To Sleep, Per Chance To Scream” was awesome and you’ve got to love James’ Dracula-cape moves and I believe mixing theatrics with a Metal performance is a close-to-extinction quality since it is rare to see a Metal band serving the music’s needs and if you don’t know what I am talking about then think what King Diamond is doing.

“Black Cathedral” dropped the curtain for the Dracula suite that went down really fast and this means everyone had a great time. With and without Nosferatu, HELSTAR sounded tight and super-heavy with “Fall Of Dominion” seeing some headbanging and also some singing-along action.

James used the same age-related joke to introduce the setilist-closer, “Run With The Pack”, by saying: “This song is from 1984 when I was five years old”. This was the best way to close this extremely tight performance from a band I believe is super-underrated and really deserves more recognition. There are not many bands out there which can revisit an '80s concept by putting out an equally amazing album. And having the great live performance really tops everything off.

HELSTAR setlist:

01. “Baptized In Blood”
02 .“Blood Lust”
03. “To Sleep, Per Chance To Scream”
04. “To Their Death Beds They Fell”
05. “Harker's Tale (Mass of Death)”
06. “Black Cathedral”
07. “Fall Of Dominion”
08. “The King Is Dead”
09. “Run With The Pack”

HELSTAR

Helstar @ Reggies Rock Club (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Helstar @ Reggies Rock Club (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Helstar @ Reggies Rock Club (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Helstar @ Reggies Rock Club (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Helstar @ Reggies Rock Club (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos)
Helstar @ Reggies Rock Club (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Helstar @ Reggies Rock Club (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Helstar @ Reggies Rock Club (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Helstar @ Reggies Rock Club (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Helstar @ Reggies Rock Club (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos)

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Everything was going as planned, with each band adding something to the anticipation for the headliners. Indeed, HATCHET warmed us up and got us into the proper concert-going mood, while HELSTAR added the old-school flavor with an awesome performance and a solid setlist, so it was the right time to bring FLOTSAM AND JETSAM on the Reggies stage. As I said, “Flotsam And Jetsam” turned out to be a fantastic album that has earned the nod of approval from the first two legendary albums. After thinking more about this, I believe FLOTSAM AND JETSAM share the same type of success with HELSTAR by revisiting something from the old days. Be careful, because I am saying that these bands tried to re-create the magic of the '80s but they approach this with respect and with a modern twist.

Anyway, these are taste-related issues, so let’s move on... The band from Phoenix, Arizona opened up the set with the amazing “Seventh Seal”. The first half of a minute of this song works like the perfect intro setting up the stage with a nice guitar riff and pounding mid-tempo rhythm section. And then, it explodes under Eric’s trademark reading. His voice is getting better and better with age, and to get to hear this also live is ten times better than on the record. “Thank you for having us back. We are going to play some old shit if that’s ok”, the charismatic singer said and, of course, it was more than ok to get “Dreams Of Death” and “Hammerhead”. It was time to get the mosh-pit going and the latter song was the perfect occasion to do so. The granite-solid rhythm section of this thrasher was a most welcomed trip down to memory lane when “Doomsday For The Deceiver” was torturing my young eardrums...

The setlist progressed pretty much in the same way HELSTAR’s did, by going back and forth in time, visiting albums from different decades, something that made me appreciate the new material even more. I mean, “Monkey Wrench” kept the energy in the same high levels and I loved that the metalheads inside Reggies seemed to be fully aware of the band’s latest studio doings. Because, I am sure you have witnessed cases where only the old-school stuff gets most of the audience attention. Ok, no new song could match the energy surge during the massive “Desecrator” which saw most probably most of the action that night, even though we were not even half into the setlist.

“You wake one morning and your car has been towed, your wife has left and your life is a mess...” were the most fitting words to introduce my favorite “Life Is A Mess” from the band’s latest album which - by the way - I got to buy on vinyl right from the merch table.

The between-songs breaks were kept as short as possible, so we got served a hearty dose of FLOTSAM AND JETSAM classics, like the neck-snapping “She Took An Axe”, the hard-hitting “Hard On You” and “I Live You Die” from the fantastic “No Place For Disgrace” album. Oh my, the guitar leads on the last one threw me straight to the '90s when I was discovering this great US band, being on the other side of the Atlantic by watching a crappy reception of those US and UK TV stations. Yeah, it was back then when MTV was still a music TV station and was one of the few ways for us to see what was going on the US Metal scene and to record on VHS tapes video clips like the sing-along “Suffer The Masses”. By the way, this one works amazingly well live, with the hard hitting groove! This song was the last one before the encore; the band left the stage and soon enough returned with the second and last one being “Doomsday For The Deceiver”. The 105 minutes flew by annoyingly fast and, judging by the looks of the metalheads leaving Reggies, I was not the only one feeling like this. So, I hope FLOTSAM AND JETSAM will soon do a rerun and - why not? - change the setlist a bit - but even if they don’t do drastic changes, I will still be happy to see them.

FLOTSAM AND JETSAM setlist:

01. “Seventh Seal”
02. “Dreams Of Death”
03. “Hammerhead”
04. “Monkey Wrench”
05. “Desecrator”
06. “Me”
07. “Life Is A Mess”
08. “She Took An Axe”
09. “Hard On You”
10. “I Live You Die”
11. “Smoked Out”
12. “Iron Maiden”
13. “No Place For Disgrace”
14. “Empty Air”
15. “Suffer The Masses”
16. “Doomsday For The Deceiver”

FLOTSAM AND JETSAM

Flotsam And Jetsam @ Reggies Rock Club (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Flotsam And Jetsam @ Reggies Rock Club (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Flotsam And Jetsam @ Reggies Rock Club (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Flotsam And Jetsam @ Reggies Rock Club (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Flotsam And Jetsam @ Reggies Rock Club (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos)
Flotsam And Jetsam @ Reggies Rock Club (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Flotsam And Jetsam @ Reggies Rock Club (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Flotsam And Jetsam @ Reggies Rock Club (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Flotsam And Jetsam @ Reggies Rock Club (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Flotsam And Jetsam @ Reggies Rock Club (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos)
Flotsam And Jetsam @ Reggies Rock Club (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Flotsam And Jetsam @ Reggies Rock Club (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Flotsam And Jetsam @ Reggies Rock Club (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Flotsam And Jetsam @ Reggies Rock Club (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Flotsam And Jetsam @ Reggies Rock Club (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos)

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