On July 11 I was treated to an incredible double bill of the mighty ARMORED SAINT and special guests ACT OF DEFIANCE. This was night two of the Symbol of Salvation Tour, which sees the band doing that landmark 1991 release from front to back. Also, AoD hit us over the head late last year with Old Wounds, New Scars, a spectacular record in its own right. The scene of the crime was PA’s own Sellersville Theater, a place I love but don’t get to nearly as often as I would like. Once inside I grabbed some merch (like I WASN’T gonna get an SoS tour shirt??), got a cold beer and made my way inside for the show. Before we go any further, I also have to give a BIG thank you to Paula J. Hogan for getting myself and Chris from Rockview Live situated. Great meeting you in person finally, Paula!!
ACT OF DEFIANCE came out swinging with “M.I.A.” and “Overexposure” off the new disc before 2015’s debut Birth and the Burial made the first of two appearances in “Legion of Lies.” This one here is without a doubt my favorite track from these guys and hearing it live was insane. Chris Broderick’s guitars (especially his soloing), Henry Derek’s vocals, coupled with the pounding rhythms of bassist Matt Bachand and drummer Shawn Drover come together perfectly, both on the studio version and right in front of me. Highlight of the set for sure.
Back to new stuff with “The Talisman” then to the debut once more for “Birth and the Burial”, another personal fave. The group closed their seven-song set with “Rise of Rebellion” that started off dark and moody before coming down on the crowd like a hammer, and then “Reborn”, which really had the faithful going crazy. With the musical pedigree in this band, it’s not surprising their live set was a well-oiled machine. All told an excellent outing from a band who is only going to get bigger and better with each passing release and tour. Can’t wait to see them again, that’s for sure.
Now it was time for ARMORED SAINT. I only got heavily into them within the last few years, but I’ve been all in ever since. And one of the albums I always keep going back to is Symbol of Salvation. In a recent interview singer John Bush told me how emotional making that record was, one of the things I love most about it. I wasn’t sure if they were just gonna tear right into it or do a couple of other songs first. Choosing to go in chronological order we were smacked upside the head with “March of the Saint”, “Long Before I Die”, and “Chemical Euphoria” from the first three albums, all of which sounded killer. I’ll say this now, and probably a thousand times more before this piece is finished: John Bush’s voice is PHENOMENAL live!! WOW!!
Bush introduced the SoS album and away we went with “Reign of Fire.” The guitar tandem of Jeff Duncan and Phil Sandoval were on a mission to kill everything in sight with their riffage, bassist extraordinaire Joey Vera was dropping sonic bombs, and drummer Gonzo Sandoval laid down the beats that would anchor the S.S. Battleship Saint. Everybody, and I do mean everybody was on their goddamn feet and screaming. “Dropping like Flies” sounded even heavier and meatier than its studio counterpart before my triumvirate of favorites showed up in order. On “Last Train Home”, again Bush hit a vocal home run; this is probably THE favorite of favorites for me. Between him singing and the band’s groove I was in Hog Heaven.
But wait, there’s more: “Tribal Dance” brought us some more guitar acrobatics, while “The Truth Always Hurts” wrapped itself around those in attendance like a coiled serpent. Such an excellent track, and you could tell the guys were really enjoying doing all these songs, some of which had never been played live. Other highlights from the record for me personally included change of pace slower tune “Another Day”, which shows just how diverse a vocalist Bush is. The title track, and of course crushers “Warzone” and album closer “Spineless” burned hotter than The Towering Inferno, and guess what? We weren’t done yet!
The Delirious Nomad album reared its head once again on “Aftermath” and then, oh then it was time for “Win Hands Down” from the 2015 disc of the same name. I was reeeealllly hoping they’d do this one and live it sure as shit did not disappoint! “Can U Deliver” from debut March of the Saint served as the perfect way to end the evening, although truth be told the boys sounded like they had at least another ten songs in them. ARMORED SAINT live was easily one of THE best shows I’ve seen in 2018; these guys played with a fire and intensity bands half their age couldn’t find with a map. There are still plenty of dates on this run (see HERE), so don’t you dare miss out. You’ll kick yourself for the rest of your days.
LIVE IMAGES: ROCKVIEW LIVE
LIVE WORDS: THE MAESTRO