The time had come. I was finally gonna see SKILLET live on their Unleashed Tour after almost a decade of fandom. I love this band so much. As I’ve said before, my buddy M-ROD (R.I.P.) turned me onto them some years ago with this, “You gotta check this band out!” mentality. Well, he was right. The best thing about them is that they are Christians, but they don’t shove their beliefs down our throats, so everyone can enjoy their music no matter what gods they pray to. SICK PUPPIES and DEVOUR THE DAY had already whipped the crowd into a frenzy, and they were eager for more. Well, ask and ye shall receive…
Opening with megahit and The Maestro’s #1 Song of 2016 “Feel Invincible” the band was on fire and the crowd was insatiable looking for more and more. Singer/bassist John Cooper, his wife Korey Cooper (guitar/keyboards), lead guitarist Seth Morrison, and hottest drummer on the planet Jen Ledger meant business from note one.
I mean, THIS was a rock show, the kind you pay money for and leave with your hair blown back. “Whispers In the Dark” was next, followed by “Sick of It” and the title track from 2013’s Rise before we came back to the new album Unleashed, and hit single “Back From the Dead.” Ba-ba-ba ba ba ba ba ba baaaaa never sounded so good!
“Awake and Alive” from 2009’s Awake and “Not Gonna Die” followed. Then Jen Ledger came out from behind the drum kit to sing co-lead vocals on “Hero” and the Electric Factory erupted like Mount Vesuvius!! Ledger had a smile on her face all night, and when she was in the spotlight she used that time to smile and wave at everyone in attendance.
New tune “Undefeated’ was sandwiched between “Those Nights” and “Comatose” from the album of the same name which brought a ton of cheers from the SKILLET faithful, the Panheads. I envy those who were attending their tenth, twelfth, or sixteenth show from this amazing band, as it was only my first.
“The Last Night” was especially moving in a live setting, with Korey Cooper showing off her vocal chops in a call-and-response with John. This led seamlessly into “Stars”, one of the new album’s best cuts and it was so stirring I could feel my heart swell and I was moved to tears.
I found myself raising both arms skyward like those around me as I was swept up in a truly magnificent moment.
One more new track kicked us back into heavy gear with “Out of Hell”, Ledger’s vocals on the hooks capable of cutting glass. The whole band was rocking hard on this one, and Morrison totally shredded his solo. That dude is all business, and his business is rocking your face off with his guitar.
Of course the night couldn’t end without us hearing “Monster” and set closer “Rebirthing” both of which brought lightning and thunder into the room! Korey was awesome singing on this. For the encore we were treated to “The Resistance” which also happens to be the closing track from Unleashed.
Once again Jen Ledger’s vocals really made the song come alive and it was a perfect way to end the show. When it was all said and done I literally stood there in stunned silence.
I knew I’d have a good time, I knew that. But I was totally not prepared to see what a well-oiled machine SKILLET is live.
From the ease with which John Cooper works the crowd (he’s a natural born frontman) to the way the whole band plays off one another and with the Panheads, these guys are consummate pros all the way. As I said before this was a true rock show in every sense of the word, and you can bet your life on me being in attendance at every SKILLET tour from now on.
Those of you who have caught them live you know what I’m on about. For those of you that still haven’t gone to see them, I urge you to remedy that posthaste. You’ll thank me!
LIVE IMAGES: MIKE SIEVILA PHOTOGRAPHY
LIVE WORDS: THE MAESTRO