On the North American Collisions tour 2011 feat, Evergrey, they came to Reggies Rock Club in Chicago. Along with them came Sabaton, Powerglove, Blackguard, and The Absence. You can check out our review after the break.
Most Monday nights are packed with the rigmarole of eating dinner and going to bed early for work the next day. This particular Monday at Reggie’s Rock Club in Chicago could not have been more opposite. A tour with a little something for every metal head came through, featuring The Absence, Blackguard, Powerglove, Sabaton, and Evergrey. It was a night of crushing riffs, explosive drums, crowd chanting, and enough energy to power half of the city for a week straight.
The Absence first took the stage, an aggressive thrash band from Tampa, Florida. Although they were borrowing drummer Peter Webber (of Havok) for the evening, they put on a fitting opening performance to set up the crowd up for the rest of the show. Between the bassist (Mike Leon) and vocalist (Jaime Stewart) running around the stage like madmen and their guitarist stage left (Peter Joseph) doing windmills with dreads running down his back, the crowd fed on every moment and gave that energy right back to the band.
Next on the bill would be Blackguard, a melodic death band from Montréal, Québec. They begin their set with “Firefight” (from their most recent release also entitled Firefight, on Victory Records), which captures everyone’s ears immediately with its singing guitar melodies and dancing orchestral parts. From the first note to the last, Blackguard was high energy through every song- quad-hairspins and epic orchestral and choir backing tracks littered their entire set. Songs like “Wastelands” had the entire crowd throwing their fists in the air and pounding their feet to the menacing marching beat.
I found out that they had been on a previous tour with Kamelot, Alestorm, and The
Agonist; but since that one has ended, they are finishing out this tour before finally heading home after a long time on the road. The band finished their set with the first track from their last release Profugus Mortis (on Nuclear Blast, also the band’s former name). This was really a treat for those of us who appreciate the band’s folk metal heritage.
Third to take the stage was the Boston based “video game” power metal band Powerglove. If you have ever seen this band play live, you know that the only way to fully understand their performance is to be there! Dressed in costumes and opening their set with quotes like, “we have come to fuck with your child hood,” this band is all about entertaining their audience. Songs such as “So Sexy Robotnik,” “Metal Kombat,” and the Pokémon theme song had the crowd banging their heads and singing the catchy tunes from video games’ past. They even passed out swords and blow-up hammers for the audience to battle to “Metal Kombat,” finishing the song by saying “flawless victory!”
Metalizing every song, but not beyond recognition, they add ripping guitar solos and insane blast beats, played with precision. To finish out their performance, they close with a song about a “smelly-ass Italian plumber,” which was the Super Mario Brothers theme song transposed to a minor key (instead of the normal in major). Overall, the band continued with feeding and receiving energy with the crowd, just as Blackguard, priming it for the onslaught that would ensue with the next band.
The fourth band on the tour was none other than Sabaton, the masters of wartime power metal. Hailing all the way from Falun, Sweden, this band took the stage to the entire venue chanting their name after hearing a power metal version of the song “The Final Countdown” (originally by the band Europe). Their first song opens with a short drum solo and the energy only intensifies as the show continues. During the song “Uprising” Polish flags could be seen hoisted all around the crowd, as the song tells a story of the Polish rebellion against the Nazis in WWII.
Sabaton had their live show down and tight, even pulling off studio-quality harmonies with ease. The band was so impressed with the Chicago crowd’s reaction and energy that lead vocalist Joakim Broden expressed how it was the largest reception they had received from an American city and that they “should come here more often.” And he was right! Being a rainy Monday evening on the near south-side of Chicago, the whole venue was jumping, throwing their fists and hair, and chanting Sabaton’s name in between every song.
He even thanked the United States of America for joining in to assist the European Allies during WWII before breaking into the song “Aces in Exile,” telling about foreign pilots assisting at the Battle of Britain. At one point, they even invited a young boy up on stage, where Joakim talked to him a bit and gave the boy his sunglasses. Sabaton’s performance was, without a doubt, the pinnacle of the evening, continuing with the energy poured out from the previous bands and giving the fans the show of a lifetime. However, the night was not over yet, as the headliner had yet to take the stage.
Evergrey is a melodic metal band from Gothenburg, Sweden. In my opinion, there could not have been a better act to close out the night. They had a perfect mixture of melodicism, vocal harmonies, and dark energy in their music. The overall aura in the room when Evergrey came on changed from white-hot to deep blue, as the band brought the crowd down gently from the head-banging madness of the previous bands. The band had one of the fullest sounds that evening as the guitars were significantly more present than the other bands and the keyboardist had a little more room to embellish, since the music was more chord than rhythm oriented. The crowd was entranced by their dark and almost morose sound, while the lead vocalist Tom Englund (arguably the best of the evening) and his band mates sung every song with true, heartfelt emotion. Songs like “Watching the Skies” and “Masterplan” had wonderfully detailed drum parts and a progressive bridge section. This helped engage the crowd a bit more and show their progressive power metal roots.
The band took a well-deserved intermission after a long set, but returned with a piano and guitar solo, backed with spoken words which moved the crowd into the final stretch of the evening. Evergrey finally closed with one of their biggest video hits, “A Touch of Blessing.” To the sound of an uproaring crowd, band took their bows for the evening and the lights went up as a fully worked and satisfied audience exited the venue.
Information about the review…
Tour: North American Collisions Tour 2011 feat. Evergrey and Sabaton
Bands: Evergrey, Sabaton, Powerglove, Blackguard, and The Absence
Reviewer: Vincent Ippolito
Date: September 26, 2011
Venue: Reggies Rock Club in Chicago, IL