Two bands, two live reviews, TWO cities!! Frank Zaber will share with you his SYMPHONY X experience from Dallas, TX, while I recount my night of killer thrash metal with OVERKILL in New York City. Ready? Strap in and let’s go!!
FRANK: Saturday night, The Bomb Factory, and SYMPHONY X live – what more could one man ask for? I’ve seen the band six times, and they’re one of the few groups that I simply will not miss when they come to town because they NEVER disappoint.
They kicked off their set with “Nevermore”, the first single from their new album Underworld, followed by an amazing presentation of the next five songs from the disc, with Russell Allen acting out the characters with the use of a cane and two theater masks.
Russell is one of my favorite front men in the business and it’s not hard to see why – he really draws the audience into the set and keeps their attention in a way that few can. They also had some really cool imagery on the screen behind the stage relating to each song, on the rare occasion that my eyes left the band.
After they played the first two-thirds of Underworld (they could have played the entire thing as far as I was concerned – I love the album that much, and I would have killed to hear “Legend” and “Swan Song” live!) Russell announced that they were going to take a walk through their previous catalog. This was a bit of an overstatement – they did play “Of Sins And Shadows” from The Divine Wings of Tragedy, but followed it up with “The Serpent’s Kiss”, “Eve of Seduction”, and “Set The World On Fire (The Lie of Lies)”, all from Paradise Lost.
They came back out for the scheduled encore (“Iconoclast” from the album of the same title), but Russell had apparently been dealing with some illness and they decided to cut that song from the set – that was a little disappointing, but he really laid it all out on the stage for the hour plus that they performed and the fact that he at least tried to soldier through means a lot (MAESTRO’S NOTE: In NYC they DID play it in its entirety and the crowd went ballistic!).
I’ve never stood on Mike LePond’s side of the stage before and that has been a huge mistake. The guy is amazing live, and really uses his presence to suck the fans in by making eye contact, smiling, and pointing at the people he sees that are really into the show. Michael Romeo looked the happiest I’ve seen him on stage in a long time; it seems that the time off from the road in recent years has rejuvenated him. Jason Rullo also looked and sounded great, and made my night by walking over in front of my spot on the rail and tossing me a well-used drumstick, which I will always treasure.
At this point in the evening, we headed over to a CD release party for a local Dallas band – I believe The Maestro may have a few words to say about the OVERKILL set, though…
MAESTRO: Thanks, Frank! And just for the record NYC was my FIRST time seeing SYMPHONY X, also on a Saturday, and I was truly blown away by everything you just described and more. You can bet I’ll be there from now on whenever they tour!
After a 30-minute or so changeover it was time for the All-Powerful OVERKILL to make Terminal 5 in New York City its bitch! This was the last night of the tour, on the band’s home turf and people were out in droves. As soon as the intro tape of “XDM” started you could feel it in the air, a palpable energy that showed tonight was gonna be something special. Opening with “Armorist” from latest record White Devil Armory the guys wasted no time reminding us who’s boss in this town, or any other for that matter. A nice surprise in “Hammerhead” followed and I looked at my best friend Joe (it was his first OVERKILL show; my sixth) who couldn’t believe they were doing such an old school track.
Blitz took a moment to remind us how great it was “To see all you ugly motherfuckers again!!” Live staple “Electric Rattlesnake” had twice the venom in this live setting and once again the boys unleashed some oldies with a cut from 1987’s Taking Over, “Powersurge” followed by “Rotten to the Core” from Feel the Fire, bassist D.D. Verni leading the attack.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: the amount of young metalheads I see singing and moshing to this one never fails to bring a smile to my face. Someone’s teaching them right, and it reminded me of the teenage metal crew I’m friends with from all the Dallas shows (Tankard, Jose, Parker, Zane…’sup, guys??). The pits reached full intensity during “Bring Me the Night”. For fuck’s sake, how could they not??
Drummer Ron Lipnicki sounded like a freight train crashing into a metronome…destruction meets precision. There were crowd-surfers galore, too. Everyone was having a monster time and the energy was contagious! A double-shot of Under the Influence in “End of the Line” and “Hello From the Gutter” was next, and all the longtime fans ROARED!! “Gutter” is one of my favorites and the way guitarists Derek Tailer and Dave Linsk attack it always make it a set highlight. It was at this point that I came dangerously close to losing my voice and Joe was banging his head and air jamming like a man possessed.
I swear, watching my buddy finally get to see one of the favorites we grew up with made all the songs even better.
New cut “Bitter Pill” is one of the best from this latest record and live it’s got more teeth than a Great White shark, so I was glad I got to experience it for the second time in just over a year. Of course when that opening guitar part to “Overkill” started the band and all of Terminal 5 shifted into sixth gear. We needed it because “Ironbound” followed and there was simply no stopping the locomotive for six minutes and change to close the regular set.
And then something truly wonderful happened for the encore: OVERKILL came out and did “Playing With Spiders/Skullkrusher”, a ten-minute epic from 1989’s The Years of Decay which featured all three guitarists playing double necks. From here we simply HAD to go to “Elimination” from the same record which saw everyone hit the afterburners and continue the mayhem through the perennial closer “Fuck You” at the end of which Blitz led us in a “LET’S GO METS!!” chant before saying goodnight.
When I looked over at Joe he was fucking stunned. Stunned that 30-some odd years later a band like OVERKILL can wipe the floor with any, and I do mean ANY younger band on that stage, spit them out and do it again.
SYMPHONY X and OVERKILL…a touring combination that might have seemed odd to some people, but one that fit together seamlessly. I hope these two revered, veteran acts do this again, because Joe, Frank, and I had an absolute fucking blast in both Dallas and New York and I can safely speak for all of us when I say that we WILL be there if and when a tour like this has a repeat performance.
(P.S. The Mets took Game 1 of the NLCS a few minutes later, and have now clinched a World Series berth…coincidence? I think not! – Thanks, Blitz!!)
LIVE WORDS: FRANK ZABER (DALLAS) AND THE MAESTRO (NYC)
LIVE PHOTOS: ANYA SVIRSKAYA