Raven @ Reggies, Chicago (US)

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RAVEN / AMULANCE / LETHAL SHÖCK / BEAST WARRIOR

Date: 18th May, 2017
Venue: Reggies Rock Club
Ticket: $18/€17 (in advance) - $20/€19 (day of)
Promoter: Empire Productions


If you are wondering what is the best way to get rid of jetlag, then know that going to a Metal concert will do the trick. So, that’s what I did that Thursday night and geared up for another hearty dose of NWOBHM served by the Gallagher brothers under the legendary moniker of RAVEN. Unfortunately, Joe Hasselvander would not be able to sit behind the drum kit and do his part delivering the so-called 'Athletic Rock', since he had suffered a heart attack a couple of days before this short US run, and - obviously - was forced to sit out, and in hindsight I’d say that there is a silver lining in this cloud because I cannot imagine what would have happened if he had joined RAVEN onstage... So, the band made a decision to go on with the shows (it is not easy at all to cancel agreements and obligations) and use fill-in drummers, and the Chicago show was the first one for this to happen, but first things first...

There was a decent number of people inside Reggies while LETHAL SHÖCK were prepping their gear for the second set of that night (I missed the BEAST WARRIOR set) and I guess having this show as the warm-up party for the ‘Legions Of Metal’ fest had something to do with this. The Chicago-based three piece band looked pretty old-school (despite their young age), so I was pretty much prepared for what was about to follow. Yeah, sometimes in Metal judging a book by its cover helps to get an idea of how things will go down musically. The band kicked off its set without bells and whistles, delivering the MOTÖRHEAD / VENOM-inspired dirty bass driven Speed Metal having the pedal to the Metal. The sound was loud and as clear as it is required by this type of Metal, and everyone inside Reggies was convinced to stop chit-chatting and get on with the headbanging activities. With minimal talking (sometimes there is no need of that to get the crowd warmed up), LETHAL SHÖCK kept pounding their songs from which I got stuck with “I Rock (In Hell!)” and “Evil Aggressor” with the rich guitar riffs, while the brand new track “Turn Up The Satan” sounded awesome (after all, everything that has 'Satan' in it works for Metal, right?). The bass’ volume was beefed up as much as it should to keep the rhythm section solid during the guitar solos something that if it is done well works great on live shows. The band threw a cover on the set which was on ACCEPT’s “Fast As A Shark” and I think it was came right on time just before the setlist closer dropped the curtain with a bang. LETHAL SHÖCK were great to get me on a concert mood by shaking off the dust from my shoulders after all this travelling above the big pond.

LETHAL SHÖCK setlist:

01. “Die” (it may not be the full title)
02. “I Rock (In Hell!)”
03. “Sulfur Heart”
04. “Fear (The Devil’s Child)”
05. “Endless Midnight”
06. “Evil Aggressor”
07. “Turn Up The Satan”
08. “Fast As A Shark”
09. “Storm Of Death And Fire”

LETHAL SHÖCK

Lethal Shöck @ Reggies Rock Club (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Lethal Shöck @ Reggies Rock Club (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Lethal Shöck @ Reggies Rock Club (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Lethal Shöck @ Reggies Rock Club (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Lethal Shöck @ Reggies Rock Club (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos)

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Next on the billing were AMULANCE from Aurora, IL and if you do some online digging, you’ll discover that this band was formed in the mid '80s. Yeah, that’s right, this is one of those cases where a band makes an impressive appearance in the scene with a solid debut LP but then gets silent for some years occasionally getting off and on the radar. So, having all these in mind, getting the chance to watch AMULANCE onstage was a tasty treat. However, there was an already scheduled interview with RAVEN’s John Gallagher that was a bit delayed, something that also meant I was to miss part of AMULANCE’s set.

After wrapping up the interview, I rushed by to the venue and to my relief, AMULANCE were still onstage and most probably were two songs into their set. The band looked absolutely pumped for the show and had a strong support from the audience that by that time had grown in number. And my timing was great, since I got to hear the headbanger “Feel The Pain”, the title track from the AMULANCE debut full length record. This is a fine example of the good old US Power Metal which I strongly believe deserved and (still does) more respect by the US metalheads who seem to have forgotten about it. The main riff on this one is a killer and I’ve got to underline how solid was the performance of the current AMULANCE lineup. Ok, Rick may not be hitting all those ultra-high pitches as he did almost three decades ago but his voice is in a great shape if you’d ask me, especially in the more melodic parts. Just before “Violent Victory” (love the opening double guitar action), Rick threw an AMULANCE t-shirt to the audience and joked a bit for having “Feel The Pain” t-shirt after 39 years... Talking about having the patience of Job, right?

AMULANCE spent little time talking between songs something I believe represents the band’s hunger to play all these killer songs which have stood the test of time. Yeah, “7th Son” came without pausing after “Witch’s Sin” and the groovy part worked like a charm getting everyone into headbanging. Ok, I commented on Rick’s performance on the higher pitches but I have to admit he did great on the extremely demanding “Black Moon Rising” which also was the last song out.

I have no idea what plans AMULANCE have for the near future, but if it was up to me, I would check what is the songwriting potential of the band’s lineup because from what I heard live, there is some serious excitement getting back on the music playing / making train. I hope they will!

AMULANCE setlist:

01. “Death Wish”
02. “At Your Grave”
03. “Feel The Pain”
04. “Violent Victory”
05. “Witch’s Sin”
06. “7th Son”
07. “Dearly Departed”
08. “Black Moon Rising”

AMULANCE

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

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Like I said, RAVEN had to go on with the already announced live dates (in the US and in Europe) and use replacement drummers, something that a huge undertaking, especially for the Chicago show, simply because there was not enough time to rehearse. Yeah, Jimmy Mess looked a bit nervous while setting up his drum-kit, but I am sure there were no hard-critics that night inside Reggies. Only a fool would be expecting him to play as Joe does, especially if you add the fact that some of the RAVEN songs (especially the older ones) have undergone some changes. Anyway, this talk is most appropriate for musicians and since I am not one, I would skip this.

Once again, it was interesting thing to see how the Gallagher brothers look before the show and during the show. I mean, backstage one could feel the heighten stress regarding their friend’s health and how the shows would go on without him, but the moment they set foot onstage, they look like 20 years younger. Especially Mark, he gets that crazy look on his face and each and every time makes the stage seem like too small to contain them. “Destroy All Monsters” lifted the curtain and John has occasionally looking towards Jimmy to help him a bit with the timing, the pauses and the extended ending, but to be honest, the song sounded great. Although I was not interested in spotting the drummer’s playing mistakes, simply because this song is the perfect representation of how RAVEN sound after four decades. Indeed, the craziness and the hunger to deliver the Metal goods to the fans are still there and there is nothing else a fan can ask for a band. I guess “Hard Time” sounded so fitting for Jimmy, and this is why John asked the audience to help and support the fill-in drummer. And yes, the song came out awesome and I think the people in the front rows were more excited as compared to the previous RAVEN shows at Reggies. After explaining Joe’s health condition and commenting on the ‘Legions Of Metal’ festival, John asked the trademark question: “Are we all together?” and in an instance everyone knew what was about to follow and how to respond. “All For One” kicked in and once again I got goosebumps singing along the chorus among the rest of the RAVEN lunatics, and I believe this response was an energy booster for the band. To my surprise, the singing-along went on with “Stay Hard” and the reason for this is that this song comes from the namesake album which is not considered as one of the highest moments in RAVEN’s backcatalogue. The guitar march-like groove was the proper introduction for the 36 years old RAVEN goldie “Rock Until You Drop”. Again, watching the two gentlemen walking around the stage already sweating their arses off, Mark’s one of a kind grimaces and listening to John’s over the top singing fill one’s heart with joy and gives you a sense of accomplishment for following this band all these years without being let down not even once. I guess, it is true what they say about "mind over matter", huh? Ok, pun intended since “Mind Over Metal” came after Mark’s insane and sweaty solo.

It was Mark’s turn to give kudos and additional credit to Jimmy by saying that he only had four hours to rehearse(!). I don’t know about you, but hearing this, I felt a bit of Jimmy’s stress... And then, John introduced Mark as the tank commander, giving the perfect assist for the pounding “Tank Treads (The Blood Run Red)”. Once again, the audience inside Reggies surprised me by singing along because - let’s face it - most of the times the older songs are the ones getting most of the attention in shows. The never getting (feeling) old singer said something about women and drinking a lot, as the proper introduction for “Crash Bang Wallop” and then praised Reggies for being “one of the best venues with the best people to work with”. I am sure that meant a lot for the people working that night and I think they deserved the credit, since the sound was awesome.

After the NWOBHM hymn “Don’t Need Your Money”, it was time for a short break during which John did his bass solo, fiddling a bit with the effects and recording short loops to create an ambiance that I think felt old-school all the way. I mean, it is kind of rare to get a bass or a guitar solo with character these days. “On And On” got us back to singing-along and made me a bit sad since my wife could not make it to this show and hear this song which happens to be one of her favorites. Anyway, life will throw you a curveball from a time to time. After this one, RAVEN said goodnight but before leaving the stage, they heard a loud "RAVEN, RAVEN" chant coming from the people inside Reggies, so an encore was definitely a must. Following another tradition and satisfying the requests of many RAVEN fans, “Break The Chain” was next, featuring the potpourri of cover songs spanning from AC/DC, BLACK SABBATH, STEPPENWOLF to SEX PISTOLS (!) with “Pretty Vacant”... Oh boy, it had been a long time since I have put the “Never Mind The Bollocks” vinyl on...

Considering all the hurdles RAVEN had to jump over, and the emotional stress by having a friend suffering a heart attack, I will brand this show as a huge success. Sadly, there are not many bands out there that live by the "the show must go on" motto and have the professionalism and the never-ending passion to satisfy the fans and all of those who came to watch a live show. If you get the chance, go and catch RAVEN live once more, and also note that these Brits are already working on a new studio offering!

RAVEN setlist:

01. “Intro”
02. “Destroy All Monsters”
03. “Hard Ride”
04. “All For One”
05. “Stay Hard”
06. “Rock Until You Drop”
07. Guitar Solo
08. “Mind Over Metal”
09. “Tank Treads (The Blood Run Red)”
10. “Crash Bang Wallop”
11. “Don’t Need Your Money” / Bass Solo
12. “On And On”
13. “Break The Chain” (plus covers medley)

RAVEN

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

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