Venue: Gramercy Theatre (New York, NY)
Opener: Dommin, The Sleeping
Label: Frontiers Records
I remember clearly when the publicist that was working on the album “Guitar Gangsters & Cadillac Blood” contacted me about the band Volbeat. She was so passionate about the bands sound and was confident that by submitting it to me that she would make me an instant fan. I cannot say that she was 100% correct because at first I had rushed through my listen and didn’t properly absorb it the way that I did on the second, third and fourth go round. Needless to say I greatly enjoyed the bands “difference” and felt that they would be something interesting to see in concert. I was able to see them open up for Nightwish a few years ago, and then had hoped to catch them doing the same for Metallica at Madison Square Garden, but the papers were not in order for me to do so and hence I would miss them. It was a shame because I really would have liked to support them on such a big stage. That being said I knew the band was building a rapidly growing following and it was great to see this taking place especially when one considered they really didn’t have a consistent “presence” over in this region as opposed to their homeland in Denmark. Fast forward a number of months to where we are today for this sold out show at the Gramercy Theatre we would find the band returning to NYC and bringing along both Dommin and The Sleeping for the tour. Since I was not sure who was up first, I made sure to arrive early to not miss anything. Here is how it went.
Dommin: When I walked into the venue I learned that Dommin was going to be the first band up and while such a premise made sense for a show like HIM or The 69 Eyes, it did not for this one and I felt that they should be acting as direct support for the guys in Volbeat. Instead a band that no one seemed to know about would be doing that. Based on having seen them do their thing a number of times, I admitted a little surprise at finding these Melancholy Rockers not only coming on first but playing a brief six song set. They opened up with the song “New” and led us into their biggest number of “My Heart, Your Hands” which is a really powerful tune in the live sense. Singer/guitarist Kris Dommin really keeps his banter to a minimum and that was a good idea this evening considering time was of the essence. “Dark Holiday” is a little bit more of a quirky mover and tonight they would once again offer up their version of the Cutting Crew’s “I Just Died In Your Arms Tonight”. I really like the way that they slightly rework covers and feel they added just a little bit more darkness and sorrow to this classic 80’s number. I’ve seen them do a Depeche Mode tune as well in the past and hope they keep bringing stuff like this to the table as they really do give it a different light, or perhaps I should say “dark” in their case. They picked up the speed with “One Feeling” but when “This Is Closure” was performed that was it. One had to find amusement in such a tune being their final number for the night. From there the guys went down to the lounge area of the venue and met with fans and hung around their merchandise table. Now it was time for The Sleeping, and I was curious to see what they were all about.
The Sleeping: As soon as these Long Islanders began playing I felt that they were an odd choice of band not only for the show but for the direct support slot. It was more of an Alt-Rock than anything else if I had to quickly determine a genre qualification and I was just unimpressed as they did their thing. That surprised me since I always try to be open to new things. Yes I was excited for Volbeat, but that was not going to prevent me from watching everything else and making some mental Metal notes. The singer came off as arrogant to the crowd and I could see in their faces that they did not appreciate his stating how “you might hate us but too damn bad”. That kind of stuff gets remembered and finds people not bothering with you when you are doing other shows. It’s easier to turn the audience ire around than you think so a little studying from the past masters might be in order for them. The band is apparently signed to Victory Records and while they showed themselves as capable musicians, I can safely say that the larger part of the crowd viewed them as a big so what. Maybe more shows and a keener focus on delivering an entertaining live show will find them making a difference in the future. Only time will tell. Fortunately Volbeat would be coming on soon enough. Let the games begin.
Volbeat: The Gramercy Theatre was quite packed when the band took to the stage and this was refreshing to see, as I had witnessed a number of killer bands at this same space performing to less than inspiring crowds. The immediate difference that one noticed was how guitarist Thomas Bredahl was not among them and instead the bands singer Michael Poulsen would be playing the lead guitar. At the beginning of the show I did not know what prompted this, so had hoped to learn as the night went on. They opened with the song “The Human Experiment” into “Radio Girl” and “Sad Man’s Tongue”. All of these were still rather new to my ears as I only own the “Guitar Gangsters” CD and nothing else at this time. It was great to hear them and of course the bands unique blend of Hard Rock, Traditional Metal and Rockabilly was winning over any of the people in the audience who might have been here out of curiosity.
They delivered a brand new song entitled “Fallen” tonight and that was a good one. I hope the rest of whatever they are going to deliver on the next album keeps me as interested as “GG” did. At this point or close to it, Michael mentioned why their guitarist Thomas was not joining them for the tour. Apparently a number of years ago or the last time around he had gotten arrested for stealing a bar stool. That put him on the US Government list with all of the other terrorists. Thank you very much you idiotic players with the red tape. Keep the musicians from making a living and entertaining while at the same time letting in threat after credible threat. One has to wonder if the Rolling Stones or The Who would have been allowed stateside had they been new touring bands in this timeframe. Probably not, but I have said enough about this. With Thomas being absent the band was joined for a tune by their drum tech Casper who helped out with some rhythm guitar. He did a solid job of it, but through it all I bet he was hoping nothing was going to happen to the drums being bashed behind him.
The band was very clearly happy to be here and with the turnout. One could not blame them after all because this particular evening was only the second of the bands headlining appearances ever in the USA and its got to be hard to not find pleasure in the faces of an enthusiastic audience like the one they had in front of them. They did a rendition of Dusty Springfield’s “I Only Wanna Be With You” and people were moshing about during it and while they offered up the albums title track and a couple of others from it, they would not pay heavy attention to its content and instead really mix it up. I was really surprised that we would not get what were considered to be the albums “hits” with “We” and “Maybelline” or that releases covers I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry” or “Making Believe”. As the set drew to an end they said they were going to give us some classic Punk and they did a Misfits tune with “Angelfuck”. Poulsen wanted to get a Wall Of Death going during this one but it failed miserably with the fans that scattered quickly instead of pressing forward in the expected melee. The bands final song was “Still Counting” and as they finished Poulsen announced how they wanted to meet and have a drink with everyone. I didn’t stick around to see if they managed to do this, but I sure hope some people got to shake their hands or take photos with them.
From the beginning of their set to the end this was a good time, and while I did not enjoy The Sleeping I did love the brief Dommin set. Afterward I was asked by a friend in Metal how a band like Volbeat can sell out a show with no real music easy to find over here while the recently performing Obituary did not sell out their show. I responded that while Obituary were Metal leaders that they were playing a far less accessible kind of Metal and that sort of thing is to be expected. Volbeat are on a terrific rise in the States and I really hope that they continue to grow and surprise us with their concert adventures. At the time of this writing the band was also delivering a new live concert DVD entitled “Live Sold Out”. Be sure to check that and their CD out and if at all possible go to see them in concert. Just be sure to get your tickets early since you don’t want to be left out in the cold when they come a calling.
Dommin Set List:
2. My Heart, Your Hands
3. Dark Holiday
4. Died In Your Arms
5. One Feeling
6. This Is Closure
Volbeat Set List:
2. The Human Instrument
3. Radio Girl
4. Sad Man’s Tongue
5. Hallelujah Goat
6. Mary Ann’s Place
8. I Only Want to Be With You (Dusty Springfield)
9. Boa [JDM]
10. Pool of Booze, Booze, Booza
11. Rebel Monster
12. Caroline Leaving
13. Guitar Gangsters & Cadillac Blood
14. River Queen
15. A Warrior’s Call
16. The Garden’s Tale
17. Angelfuck (Misfits)
18. Still Counting
Here’s the sight that the folks arriving at the venue would see brightly lit up. For some this would be a pleasure and on the other hand for those who had waited until the last minute to get tickets this would suck eggs.
I know what you are saying to yourselves. What? Volbeat is Sold Out? How is that possible when I have been to so many Metal shows that were empty. Well, it is what it is and that is all I can say about it. Check out some of the stage decor that the guys had going on.
The stage backdrop for Volbeat was a giant sized rendition of their album cover. If this didn’t reinforce the drive to go home and purchase a copy of it, I don’t know what else could. This was solid advertising in my book.
DRUMS!!! That’s a nice kit. Just enough to hit and make your point. Nothing over the top.
Some of the amplifiers had banners draped over them that said the album’s name while others showcased the artwork on the cover. Either way, both visuals worked in my book.
Since there was a little time for me to do so, I headed downstairs to see what was brewing and we snapped a shot of the Dommin merchandise table. They had their CD’s and a couple of cool shirts.
I don’t generally get the chance to share some photos of the fans behind the barricade but lately I have been trying to do so if the mood strikes me. This was a special case because the young lady you see here actually remembered speaking to me at the Metallica show back in November of 2009. I was impressed because I was one of fifty media in the photo pit and since that time have seen something like 200 shows. Maybe she and her friends only saw a few but it impressed me so we wanted to give them some attention. My hope is that they are all site fans.
A slightly different view of the packed house from the barricade to the exit sign. There was little give.
…and a final shot before we got back to business. As you can see these folks were going nuts for Volbeat. I had to say that I was digging it a lot myself so who can blame them.
Even though at this particular show I did not find myself singing the praises of what The Sleeping was doing tonight I did snap a couple of photos of their stage tech setup. Take a look.
This was taken right from the photo pit while the next one was more of the same from a different view