by MIKE CHAIKEN EDITIONS EDITOR Let me tell you a story about myself. I like the music of Britney Spears. There, I said it. Yes, I like metal music. I like old school punk rock. I like R&B. I like…
by MIKE CHAIKEN
The power and fury of Lamb of God was evident two songs into their set at The Dome at Oakdale in Wallingford Sunday, June 3.
Prior to Lamb of God’s headlining set, Jasta and Behemoth set the heavy metal table.
As both bands whipped through their sets, the audience was enraptured and hypnotized by the action on stage.
Jasta, a local favorite because it’s a spin off of Connecticut’s own Hatebreed, played its own brand of heavy metal filled with tight grooves and a grass roots vibe. Lead singer Jamey Jasta clearly enjoyed the opportunity to play to tightly packed crowd under The Dome at Xfinity Theater. He relished his role to establish the communal atmosphere of a metal show.
Behemoth, who has been touring with Slayer as has Lamb of God been, carried the torch of mysterious, magical, mythical and epic metal. With their monkish hoods and makeup, they looked and played like demonic gods from medieval mythologies. They were larger than life and their set was hypnotizing.
But Lamb of God, playing in a rare smaller venue, upped the energy level to 11 in the building.
Lamb of God, touring behind “Legion: XX,” an album of punk rock covers under the original name Burn the Priest, took no time at all to set a fire underneath the crowd’s collective feet.
During Behemoth and Jasta, there were a few isolated incidents of crowd surfing that put security on alert. But they clearly were part of the metal ritual.
And as Lamb of God ripped into “Omerta” upon their stage entrance, the crowd was still grounded– albeit more enthusiastic and stoked than they were during the openers.
But as soon as the first notes of “Ruin” sounded, the energy level in the crowd exploded and had nowhere to go but up.
And soon, security took formation as fan after fan bombarded the stage as they soared across the hands and arms of their fan-mates.
All the commotion was understandable as Lamb of God lead singer Randy Blythe was primal and powerful as they launched into his vocals. And the band as a whole marched forward as a tightly primed metal machine—musically taut and tight and intent on a metallic groove.
Lamb of God clearly must feel blessed to be part of Slayer’s farewell tour, which set down at the Mohegan Sun in Uncasville two nights before.
But Lamb of God proved their true element is under the spotlight where they not only provide the fuel for the fire in the ardor of metal fans, they are also the match that ignites the bomb of the fans’ adulation.
PHOTOS by MIKE CHAIKEN
by MIKE CHAIKEN
The great thing about a Trans-Siberian Orchestra concert is that you don’t necessarily need to know every song of theirs prior to your arrival at the arena.
The stage and special effects, and the power of their singular combination of metallic prog rock holiday tunes will keep you enraptured throughout the whole night.
TSO (which performed at the Mohegan Sun Arena on Nov. 26) is at the end of the day, a show. Its orchestral rock and roll power play has a rock musical feel to it (especially when they revisited their “The Ghosts of Christmas Eve”). Think “Jesus Christ Superstar” or “Evita.” The light shows and pyrotechnics have as much in common with classic heavy metal and arena rock. Think Motley Crue or early era Styx. The projections and videos (along with the stylistic nods to classical music) gave the show a definite progressive rock feel to it, a la Yes or Pink Floyd.
Essentially, TSO is a full-blown sensory experience.
The musicianship is key to pulling off a Trans-Siberian Orchestra show. The members of TSO clearly are all superb players who can pull off the complexity of the music in their sleep—albeit a very energetic and hyper sleep. And they all know the trappings of rock and roll showmanship… from the guitar hero poses to the way the backup singers/ dancers strutted their way onto the stage.
But there are no “stars” on stage. Everyone, from string players to the vocalists– all bow down to the greater good of the TSO experience. They work together as one rather than in service to one.
Some of my favorite musical moments were “Christmas Eve (Sarajevo 12/24),” TSO’s heavy metal approach to “The Nutcracker,” “A Mad Russian’s Christmas.” and “Siberian Sleigh Ride.”
For this tour, TSO has put so much special effects power on stage, it’s like one big giant amusement ride. There are plenty of bands who use pyro—such as Slipknot or Slayer. But often the pyro is used in a spot here or a spot there. At this show, pyro had a permanent place at the table throughout the night. Thermostats in the arena probably had a night to rest with all the heat generated by the explosions and flame throwers on stage.
The lighting of the show also went above and beyond anything you’ll see at most rock shows. There were lasers, moving lighting trusses, trusses that lowered from the ceiling with video screens and spinning spots that also served as catwalks for band members to play above the floor crowd.
Then the gigantic video screens behind the band offered up three dimension effects that often transformed the stage into an entirely different world.
From the back of the auditorium, the set for “The Ghosts of Christmas Eve” looked like an old theater. But up close, it was all just a projection on a flat screen.
The TSO show is like a special effects wizard’s Christmas list. If the technology exists, TSO was using it.
Clearly, Trans-Siberian Orchestra has hit a chord with audiences. The matinee show I attended was sold out. The evening one, I was told by Mohegan Sun officials, was as well.
And given the Wow Factor I experienced, there unlikely was any member of the audience at Mohegan Sun Arena who went home disappointed.
I give Trans-Siberian Orchestra at the Mohegan Sun Arena on Nov. 26 four out of four stars.
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