Ross The Boss @ Reggies, Chicago (US)

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ROSS THE BOSS / Ethan Brosh / SCREAMKING

Date: 23rd March, 2018
Venue: Reggies Rock Club
Ticket:
$17/€14 (in advance) - $20/€16 (day of)
Promoter: n/a


I remember how jealous I had felt upon reading the news saying that ROSS THE BOSS would do a special set at ‘Keep It True’ in 2016, full of MANOWAR songs. And it became worse the moment I saw the songs they did, because some of them would have never been included on a MANOWAR set. So, I jumped through the roof (well, not literally) the moment the North US tour was announced, as I knew this would be a gig to remember. You see, I grew up listening to these songs and in some instances I drew power from them, and I do not give a damn if this sounds cheesier than a cheesecake...

Since METAL KAOZ would interview Ross The Boss, I had to storm the evening commute to successfully arrive at Reggies on time. However, I was shocked to see no more than 10 people waiting for the first supporting act to hit the stage... Damn, what’s the matter with the US metalheads? I mean, where is the hardcore base who would give an arm and a leg to hear those amazing songs one more time live? Anyway, I had to endure this agony thinking that it was a Friday, so people would eventually show up later on.

Still, it was unfair for SCREAMKING who had to overcome the cold atmosphere of the sparsely occupied front rows and be the first to lift the curtain of that Friday night’s Metal festivities. The band from Indiana started the set with the heavy “Into The Never” and I think the sound of music playing brought the people inside the venue closer to the stage, but I guess the working-week’s fatigue would require more effort to give its place to having-Metal-fun-on-a-Friday-night mood. SCREAMKING released their second LP “Tyranny Of The Sea” last year and the mid-tempo but still heavy “Instrument Of Death” was the first sample. Even though the band was still warming up, Joe Lawson proved its singing-worth by attacking those difficult to reach high-pitched scales with some serious power. “The Black Jackal” and especially “War Horse” made Reggies feel more like a concert venue and less like a bar on a Wednesday. Yes, there was some headbanding action, and when “Death Wish” kicked in, the front rows were occupied make it look more like a proper Metal show. If I am not gravely mistaken, bassist John Seyring dedicated this one to Ross The Boss and his music. This was a great way to start the night, especially when considering the extremely slow start from the attendance point of view.

SCREAMKING setlist:

01. “Into The Never”
02. “Instrument Of Death”
03. “The Black Jackal”
04. “War Horse”
05. “Death Wish”

SCREAMKING

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

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As the stage was getting ready for ETHAN BROSH, there were some off-stage preparations. Apparently, the band would do some filming, so there was a couple of cameras in the venue, something that added a bit of awkwardness as people were careful not to get in front of the technicians. Last time I had seen Ethan Brosh, he was alone onstage, meaning that some of the live feeling had been removed by the use of pre-recorded parts. This time around, the extremely talented guitarist had a proper band around him, so it had to be full on this time. The groovy instrumental “Tomb Of The Gods” saw the four-piece band getting warmed up and so did the by then bigger audience. Yes, there was a huge difference in Ethan’s performance, and with the presence of a second guitarist onstage, the sound was complete and most importantly alive. “It feels great being back in Chicago” said Ethan before stating the obvious that there was some filming going on. Apparently, there were some fans of the band at the front rows and soon enough there was some headbanging and fist-pumping signs that the atmosphere inside Reggies had been significantly improved.

“Escape Route” from the brand new “Conspiracy” came next and according to guitarist Nate Montalvo the album is available in the new format that sounds better than anything else… Yeah, he was referring to vinyl and, jokes aside, it does sound better. The band was in a top mood and it was fun to hear from Ethan that during the previous Chicago show there was a guy in the audience asking them to get a singer… and to compensate for this “loss” the cover on Ozzy’s “Bark At The Moon” came next. Of course and no sane man would blame drummer Dan Whitelock who failed to touch all those high notes Ozzy sings, but at least, he managed to get some voices from the audience involved, so this attempt was successful. The second cover of the set was tied to the cover artwork of “Conspiracy” that, as Ethan said, was created by no other than Derrek Riggs, and if this name does not ring any bells, then you have to do some serious IRON MAIDEN studying. “Wasting Love” was the cover and vocals aside, it came out awesome, but again, there is no room for blaming Ethan for not matching Dickinson’s vocals. By the way, I did not like the joke a guy who had too much to drink said about ETHAN BROSH getting Blaze Bayley for a singer, and I am sure he is oblivious about the awesome album Blaze is putting out. Anyway, you cannot blame others for their opinions, so this was quickly forgotten as Ethan showcased his sense of melody and groove with a nice solo during which I appreciated his finger-picking action.  “This song has a lot of notes, so I hope we won’t screw it up” said Ethan before “Sentimental Mood” which to my humble ears sounded perfect with indeed lots of ups and down the guitar neck. For the last song of the set, the band invited everyone to come closer as they would be filming this to make a video for “Road To Victory” and as people responded, this made the highlight of the night. I think the way the band performed piqued my interest to check “Conspiracy” out.

Ethan Brosh setlist:

01. “Tomb Of The Gods”
02. “Collision Course”
03. “Escape Route”
04. “Clean Slate”
05. “Space Invaders”
06. “Bark At The Moon”
07. “Sweet Evil”
08. “Hit Man”
09. “Wasting Love”
10. Guitar Solo
11. “Sentimental Mood”
12. “Road To Victory”

Ethan Brosh

Ethan Brosh @ Reggies Rock Club (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Ethan Brosh @ Reggies Rock Club (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Ethan Brosh @ Reggies Rock Club (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Ethan Brosh @ Reggies Rock Club (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Ethan Brosh @ Reggies Rock Club (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos)
Ethan Brosh @ Reggies Rock Club (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Ethan Brosh @ Reggies Rock Club (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Ethan Brosh @ Reggies Rock Club (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Ethan Brosh @ Reggies Rock Club (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Ethan Brosh @ Reggies Rock Club (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos)

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It did not take much time to get the stage ready for ROSS THE BOSS and I was a bit relieved that the venue had significantly more people than it did in the beginning. Still, it was not what I was expecting, but I guess not many people shared the same experience and feelings with these songs. Ross had promised me a raw and straightforward Metal show without long breaks, speeches or anything else other than loud music and a performance that would pay its respect to the originals. Of course, one would not expect from a musician to downplay his own performance, but in this case, his words described exactly what went down the moment the band showed up. Yeah, “Blood Of The Kings” skipped any warming-up period as the four piece band put the pedal to the Metal, while there was quite a loud singing-along. Without pausing, Ross The Boss kicked off the next one with the massive guitar intro of “Death Tone”. First of all, I loved how the guitar tone matched the original recording, sending me straight back to my teenage years. That’s one of the biggest chills I kept getting throughout the night; reminding me how awesome it felt listening to those songs at the loudest possible volume and boast with pride thinking that I belonged to a special group of metalheads who shared the same mentality. I am fully aware of how ridiculous this may sound to some, but that’s the plain truth. Ross stepped at the center of the stage to do the guitar solo and saw lots of fists pumping, following the massive rhythm section. Speaking of the rhythm section, it was impossible not to notice the huge difference in Mike LePond’s onstage presence; first of all, his bass playing sounds close to the T to DeMaio’s studio doings, and this should become even more impressive if you consider the fact that Mike did all this without a bass guitar pick. If this does not say much, then know that he did the same when he switched to the John Gallagher signature 8-string bass… On top of this, I believe this was the first show seeing Mike moving this much onstage; usually with SYMPHONY X he does not move a lot around his spot. And now for the million-dollar question; how did Marc Lopes handle all these extremely demanding vocals which introduced Eric Adams to the Metal scene? I will say that Marc managed to pull out “The Oath” where the vocals reach those high octaves and stay there for quite a while, putting an incredible stress to the singer’s lungs. Still, Marc did extremely well and, on top of this, he was moving around, provoking the audience to join in. By the way, his harsher voice (as compared to Patrick Fuchs, the previous ROSS THE BOSS singer) makes the songs feel more aggressive and rawer, so whatever Ross told me during the interview had been confirmed.

“Let’s have some singing-along fun”, said Marc before letting the trademark guitar groove to introduce “Blood Of My Enemies”. Yeah, it was easy to follow the chorus lines that’s exactly what happened and soon enough my vocals chords had given up on me but it did not matter at all. I was so happy being at the front rows and in that close proximity to the bass amp because the bass slides on this one make this song sound ten times heavier. “Great to be back! I’ve got a deep-dish pizza but haven’t eaten it yet. If I had, I would not be able to sing”, Marc joked a bit, giving Mike the time to switch to the 8-string bass. You see, it was time to put another challenge on Marc’s vocal chords with the amazing “Hatred” from the album that had not gotten much setlist time - at least during my years of watching MANOWAR live. That’s sad if you ask me because “Gloves Of Metal” is the most difficult, diverse and genre shaping album MANOWAR have ever recorded. Marc’s body language and facial expression as he was spitting / grunting these awesome lyrics was one more thing that should be credited to his performance. There was no time to slow things down with “Thor (The Powerhead)” and “Each Dawn I Die”, mixing emotion with the Metal pride that so many mistaken as something other than feeling confident and not letting people’s bad mojo mesh with your mentality.

It would be pointless to even try to put in words how happy this setlist made me feel, but at the same time I cannot highlight the title track of “Gloves Of Metal” which sounded as loud as it should and gave the perfect excuse (not that we needed any) to headbang along. If it had been up to me, I may have chosen another track in place of “Fighting The World” (maybe “Bridge Of Death”), but hearing the singing-along from the people inside Reggies made this a must-have and led to the massive two-song climax with “Battle Hymn” and “Hail And Kill”. Before the last one, Ross jammed a bit with some almost Blues soloing that soon got back to the characteristic riff of this song.

There is nothing to complain about this all-star MANOWAR setlist aside from the attendance which I was expecting to be in bigger numbers as it happens on the other side of the Atlantic. I would love to get one more chance with more (and maybe different) MANOWAR songs, although ROSS THE BOSS have a new LP coming out and it definitely deserves a touring cycle.

ROSS THE BOSS setlist:

01. “Blood Of The Kings”
02. “Death Tone”
03. “The Oath”
04. “Blood Of My Enemies”
05. “Hatred”
06. “Thor (The Powerhead)”
07. “Kill With Power”
08. “Each Dawn I Die”
09. “Gloves Of Metal”
10. “Sign Of The Hammer”
11. “Metal Daze”
12. “Fighting The World”
13. “Battle Hymn”
14. “Hail And Kill”

ROSS THE BOSS

Ross The Boss @ Reggies Rock Club (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Ross The Boss @ Reggies Rock Club (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Ross The Boss @ Reggies Rock Club (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Ross The Boss @ Reggies Rock Club (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Ross The Boss @ Reggies Rock Club (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos)
Ross The Boss @ Reggies Rock Club (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Ross The Boss @ Reggies Rock Club (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Ross The Boss @ Reggies Rock Club (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Ross The Boss @ Reggies Rock Club (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Ross The Boss @ Reggies Rock Club (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos)
Ross The Boss @ Reggies Rock Club (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Ross The Boss @ Reggies Rock Club (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Ross The Boss @ Reggies Rock Club (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Ross The Boss @ Reggies Rock Club (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Ross The Boss @ Reggies Rock Club (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos)

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