On this past cold, rainy Thursday in Deep Ellum one of my favorite bands, Fates Warning, came to play at Trees Dallas. For those of you keeping score, I have lost count of how many times and how many different ways I can sing the praises of this establishment. It’s so easy to get to, the beer is ice cold (and cheap!), and the staff just kicks ass. I love it there. Anyway, back to Fates Warning. I have been a fan for over 20 years and have never seen them live. Last chance I had, I was in a stupid wedding party and I missed out on the show of the year, or so I’m told. Well, not on this night, no way. The torrential downpour could not keep me away, nor dampen (see what I did there?) my enthusiasm!
Since I was there by myself I quickly befriended a young man named Justin who turned out to be the perfect concert buddy, as did his cousin Misty who arrived just before the set. Opening with “One Thousand Fires” from just-released album Darkness In a Different Light followed by the song that cemented my love of the band “Life In Still Water” they were in full take-no-prisoners mode right from the outset. I wondered what to expect from Ray Alder’s voice and truth be told he exceeded all expectations over the two hour set. “A Pleasant Shade of Gray, Part III” from the album of the same name was next, and Parts VI and XI also popped up later on. If you’ve never heard this one, the entire record is one song in 12 parts. Ambitious? You betcha. But does it work? Fuckin-A right, it does!
“Another Perfect Day” from FWX and “One” from Disconnected soon followed, and if I didn’t know better I’d swear these guys were looking into my mind for the perfect songs to represent each record. The guitars on “One” are especially killer, with Jim Matheos and Mike Abdow (filling in for Frank Aresti) just going to town. That Abdow guy, holy shit, he can play his ass off! When he soloed I couldn’t look away, and when he and Matheos harmonized it was heavenly. The rough and tumble “Pieces of Me” and new song “I Am” showed me EXACTLY why Bobby Jarzombek is the perfect drummer for Fates Warning, and why he’s occupied that seat since 2007. He can go from balls-out to intricate in a heartbeat before you even realize what’s happened. His work on “I Am” is the biggest reason for it being my favorite off this latest album, and it was mesmerizing live.
The biggest treat for me though, was about to come: “The Eleventh Hour” then “Point of View” off of my favorite album, 1991’s Parallels. There’s really no way to describe these two to the uninitiated, but I’ll try. The former is an eight-minute epic that features the guitars going from slow and moody to a blitz attack. The latter is more of a straight-ahead rocker, but the off-beats and bass line really separate it from the pack, and Joey Vera’s bass coupled with Jarzombek’s drums really show just how tight this band is live, in case you had any doubts.
One of the great things about Fates Warning is that they have remained unabashedly who they are through the years, something harder and harder to find in 2013. New song “Firefly” is proof of that, and it’s the kind of song a lot of these silly new bands only wish they could write. It also wouldn’t sound out of place on an older record. Speaking of which, 1989’s Perfect Symmetry made an appearance in the form of “Through Different Eyes” which definitely was a nice surprise, as was “Quietus” from 1988’s No Exit album. If you told me I’d be hearing these songs at a Fates Warning show all these years later I would have told you to get off the crack, but man did they sound great!
Another high point of the evening was getting to hear “Down to the Wire”, my favorite track from 1994’s highly underrated (and my second favorite) Inside Out album. I was out of my chair and singing top of my lungs for that one, then crowd favorite “Monument” from the same record closed out the regular set. For the encore the guys hit us with the 16-minute opus that IS “Still Remains” from Disconnected. This song is just…I can’t even tell you how great it is; you’ll have to seek it out and listen for yourself. Ray even snuck out from backstage and came up behind us at our table to say, “Oh wow! Sounds good from back here!” I almost died!
I get to see a lot of shows since I started A&GS. I am very lucky and I know this. And certain ones just stay with you for all the right reasons, whether it’s good company, great sound and presentation, or the perfect setlist. Well in this case it was all of the above. Fates Warning gave everything they had and then some to a crowd who roared their approval after each and every song, and I am so glad I got to witness them in action. And I have to give BIG thanks to Natalie over at Adrenaline PR for setting me up with the perfect evening! I can’t wait till next time!