As I made my way down to the House of Blues from my new home in Hollywood a few things were going through my head, “will my pass be there?” Was the first and most prominent as this show is my first in Hollywood in my official capacity as Planetmosh Los Angeles, next was “I wonder if they do things the same as the UK?” the answer to which is pretty much yes however slightly more efficient here at the House of Blues. First of all an entirely separate cue for press and guests with it’s own box office nicely indicated with a neon sign saying “Industry” I arrive at the counter to be very warmly greeted by the chap holed up inside. Next a first for me, he asked me very politely for my I.D which I produced and indicated that I should be on Metalblade’s industry list and that I should have a photo pass, all of which he confirmed and issued me with said photo pass, a ticket and also a lanyard (very nice) I then proceeded inside to check out the venue.
The House of blues is a two level affair however tonight the upstairs was roped off for V.I.P’s, around the venue there were various merchandise stands and the venue itself was surrounded by bars then steps down to the main viewing area. I firstly checked out the photographer’s pit, not a massive amount of space but more than some places I have seen. So onto the most important priority! And that’s quick pre-show beer. I relocated to the bar stage left and it seems I picked the correct side as I am quickly chatting away to another photographer who in turn introduces me to many others, Thanks Dirt!
Ten minutes to show time and time for a quick smoke, back in just in time to see the first of the tog’s (photographers) entering the pit so I duly followed. First up this evening are Gypsyhawk who are local four piece from Pasadena. They are no bullshit, balls out rock band. Their second album “Revelry & Resilience” came out earlier this year in August and has already received a mountain of compliments resulting in a large amount of interest in this relative new signing to Metalblade.
They opened up with the first track from the album “Overloaded” a fast paced pounder and excellent choice to begin warming the crowd, in fact the first three out the bag all hail from the second album as overloaded was followed by “The Fields” then “Hedgeking” both a great examples of why everyone reading this should go and buy a copy of the album. Next up the first track of their first album “Patience and Perseverance” and also the name of the band “Gypsyhawk” and by this time it was time to evacuate the pit, I watched the rest of their set from the bar and other points around the venue and they bought the audience up to temperature superbly.
Next up were Arizona’s finest thrashers Sacred Reich whose first studio album “Ignorance” came out Metalblade back in 1987 and who reformed in 2007 and although they bought with them an incredibly short set (three songs) it was still none the less a real treat to get up close to these guys, Phil Rind’s enthusiasm for the music is still as apparent as ever, with Wiley Arnett shredding the lead, Jason Rainey holding down the rhythm guitars and Greg Hall pounding out the drums their set (which consisted of “Ignorance”, “War Pigs”(Black Sabbath cover) & “The American Way”) was spectacularly received by audience (and me I caught myself throwing horns whilst trying to take pictures).
Change over and time for me to refresh myself and grab a quick breath of fresh air (ok you got me I was smoking). Now I must say I have been slightly (understatement) excited about seeing Armored Saint since I was informed they were playing in Hollywood shortly after I arrived from London as I had never managed to see them live before. I have however been lucky enough to catch John Bush with Anthrax but that’s a different story.
Armored Saint opened up with “Lesson well Learned” dressed up as you would have seen them back in the eighties, admittedly this only lasted a couple of songs before the “outfits” were dropped and Bush slung on a T-Shirt to continue with the show.
Normally at this stage I’d go through the set and describe the sounds but this is Armored Saint and we all know what they sound like and how they perform however on this occasion it becomes a musical feast as they are joined by special guests throughout the night the first of whom were Johan Hegg of Amon Amarth and Bernie Versailles of Redemption & Agent Steel to cover Metallica’s “Hit the Lights” and there to bear witness to the excellent cover were Metallica’s own James Hetfield and Lars Ulrich.
This was followed by a couple more Armored Saint originals “Human Vulture” & “Dropping Like Flies” before another special guest appeared, this time it was Fates Warning vocalist Ray Alder and Juan Garcia of Agent Steel, Abattoir and Evildead to perform Slayer’s “Die By The Sword” which was followed by “Little Monkey” and then the night, week, month, year, lifetime was made for a lucky kid from the audience as John Bush selected them from the audience to come up on stage whilst they performed “Can U Deliver” then “Chemical Euphoria” closed out the main set.
The crowd had not had nearly enough and began the encore call straight away with Armored Saint returning to the stage to play “Aftermath” before welcoming Doug Pinnick of Kings X, Nick van Dyk of Redemption and Eric Harris of Gypsyhawk on stage to deliver Thin Lizzy’s “Hollywood (Down on Your Luck)” next was “Reign of Fire” and they closed out the evening with Anthrax’s “Madhouse” still with Doug Pinnick.
As the crowds began to disperse the lucky ones (including myself) with V.I.P lanyards proceeded to make their way upstairs to the official after party in the foundation room, I could tell what went on up there however there are two things to consider here and they are A) the amount of whisky I then consumed could quite well have distorted my perceptions of everything said and done and B) it’s the after party which is a chance for the bands to unwind but it’s mostly reason A on this occasion and that my fellow metal head banging brethren is it for today…..
Full set list for Armored Saint: Lesson Well Learned, March of the Saint, Left Hook From Right Field, Long Before I Die, Control Issues (Live debut), Hit the Lights (Metallica cover) (with Johan Heg and Bernie Versailles), Human Vulture, Dropping Like Flies, Die by the Sword (Slayer cover with Ray Alder and Juan Garcia), Little Monkey, Can U Deliver (Played with child from audience), Chemical Euphoria.
Aftermath, Hollywood (Down on Your Luck) (Thin Lizzy cover) (with Doug Pinnick, Nick van Dyk &Eric Harris), Reign of Fire, Mad House (with Doug Pinnick) .