Round Two of The Maestro’s Birthday Shows took place on April 26, my ACTUAL birthday! And who better to spend it with than my favorite Thrash Metal band in the land, OVERKILL, and at the TLA?? This was the second night of the tour, plus it was on a Friday…I win!! As a bonus, my close friend of 30 years Steve was coming along for this one, and our brand new team member Sammi LaFlamme was making her photography debut for A&GS. My friend and neighbor Roman also came out to rage, so we were raring to go.
Wasting no time OVERKILL got right to business with “Last Man Standing’, opening track from their brilliant new album The Wings of War. Vocalist Bobby “Blitz” Ellsworth was in top form, as he is at each and every show, and the band behind him was fully en fuego! The addition of drummer Jason Bittner has given these boys a shot in the arm, kick in the ass, or however you wanna put it. The point is he really brings it when he plays, and I think that pushes Blitz, bassist D.D. Verni and guitarists Dave Lisk and Derek Tailer to go harder, and that’s wonderful!
“Electric Rattlesnake” and “Hello From the Gutter” were up next and I really can’t think of a better way to kick off an OVERKILL show than with this triumvirate of tunes, can you? “Elimination” kicked everybody in the ass and then longtime favorite of mine, “Deny the Cross” from 1987’s Taking Over showed up. Not that there’s anything wrong with the studio version, but the live rendition leaves it squarely in its rearview. The classic songs from this band sound so much better now in a 2019 live setting, and I know I’m not the only one who thinks so.
Another new track “Distortion” followed and as I predicted, it destroyed live. And then….oh, and then here comes “Necroshine,” a song I haven’t heard them do live in a while, so naturally I screeched my head off. From here we were thrown a pair of curveballs in the form of “Under One” and “Bastard Nation” from the W.F.O. album. That record isn’t exactly one of my favorites, but once again in a live setting these tunes fucking killed. If ever a band knew how to put a setlist together it’s these guys.
The Grinding Wheel made its lone appearance with “Mean, Green, Killing Machine” and of course it rocked balls. Then, from the “I didn’t see THAT coming!!” files, we were treated to “Feel the Fire” from the landmark album of the same name. It’s like they KNEW it was my birthday or something! “Rotten to the Core” closed out the main set before “Ironbound” kicked off the encores. Seriously, if you don’t love this song you’re dead inside. The show ended with “Fuck You” into new anthem “Welcome to the Garden State” and back into “Fuck You.” Perfect!
When all was said and done yeah I was spent, but I could have gone another two hours or as long as OVERKILL wanted to play into the night. It never fails, there is always a kickass show around my birthday and this one ranks up there among the best of them. Thank you boys for consistently delivering a great performance every time I see you. There’s a reason why I haven’t missed a tour in the last seven years. And thank you to my friends who came out to rock with me, have a beer with me, and help make #46 a great birthday!!
LIVE IMAGES: SAM LaFLAMME PHOTOGRAPHY
LIVE WORDS: THE MAESTRO