Venue: Nokia Theatre Times Square (New York, NY)
Opener: Dir En Grey, Evaline
Label: Jive Records
Apocalyptica was back in NYC once again and this time the master Finnish cellists would be supporting their recently released “7th Symphony” album. The music found on the CD follows a similar premise as we found on “Worlds Collide” from a couple of years ago where the group is accompanied on some tracks by vocal personalities of note.
Evaline: I walked in on this independent group, and didn’t mind much of what they were playing but I had to admit that it was not enough of a dose to formulate a sound opinion on what they were all about. Had I hated the two songs I heard it would be unfair to lambast them and had I loved the two songs I heard it would be equally unfair to toss them roses at the end of the performance. That being said, they did not sound bad and I would check them out again in the future if the circumstances found me being able to do so.
Dir En Grey: I am one of those “really behind the times” people when it comes to the whole J-Rock thing and it was only about a year ago that I even heard what Dir En Grey sounded like. That happens when a lot of music comes at you from all angles and it’s the main reason I try to always see the opening or co-headlining act. Doing so lets you enjoy a greater level of what is doing on the stage and let’s face it, at the ticket prices today who wants to arrive late or leave early? When DEG hit the stage the response was amazing but not unexpected. There was a tremendous amount of diehards present and this band did sell out four nights of their own last year over at the Gramercy Theatre. While the band was second on the bill, the show was actually considered to be a co-headlining event and that made sense since this is a very popular band among their circle of followers. I might have been a tad clueless but I was clearly in the minority this evening. I would use this gig as a means to absorb it all and dig into them deeper in the future. The band is fronted by Kyo who was greeted by the screaming fans (mostly girls by the way) like Jim Morrison himself had walked onto the stage. I admit that his microphone could have been a little louder but perhaps it was just the loudness of the crowd in the venue. Someone mentioned to me that many if not all of the songs were the same ones performed on a previous night but that is to be expected on a tour. Most fans don’t realize this when there are continual dates and limited time to test things out during the course of a schedule. If a band is playing three nights in each town then you can expect difference but not often otherwise. They were certainly impressive and I was enjoying my first go round at the band. They had signed to The End Records not too long ago and I feel they are a good catch for the company. They do have fans and the ones I observed were going insane for them. I will definitely try to catch them again for sure since it was so interesting. Perhaps I need to start looking into the J-Rock stuff a little more even though this band is cited as more than just the quick label quantification. After they left the stage a good portion of the audience followed them and that surprised me. Tonight was one of those evenings where the curtain is drawn in front of the seats and that allows for a more intimate performance to take place since every one needs to be right up there with the stage. Depending on who does it is how I approach either liking or disliking it.
Apocalyptica: If I calculate my numbers properly I think this is the third time that I will have seen Apocalyptica in concert and the second at this particular venue. The band was in the middle of their “7th Symphony” Tour and for those who heard the “World’s Collide” album from a couple of years ago, they could expect much of the same as the band delivered their blend of vocal tracks and cool instrumentals. I really enjoyed the last few times that I caught them and was looking forward to this once again, especially when I saw all of the familiar faces from the last time the band was around. The stage was set with the backdrop of the new album, and this time we would only find the three main cellists of Eicca, Paavo, and Perttu handling their instruments and no longer calling upon the assistance of Antero Manninen who would often be seen sitting off to the side in sunglasses, never moving and only playing. They hit the stage with “Grace” which was nice and surprised me very much by jumping into one of their Metallica renditions as the second number. Believe me the band does not need to use any tricks to get you excited as they keep you on your feet from the moment they begin. This level of showmanship electricity makes me feel bad for those Dir En Grey fans that had chosen to not only move from the stage area but apparently continue on out of the venue. With ticket prices being what they are I am ever amazed at those who arrive late or leave early. I wish I had that kind of cash to waste. Moving along, the rest of us were in for some more thrilling musical moments.
The group is amazing and while there is some stage banter from Eicca and Perttu, they keep this to a minimum and let the cellos do the talking. Depending on how open you keep your musical mind this is a band that will surely leave you impressed and eager to catch their next show. The last shows I caught found the lead singer of Fuel joining the band for tunes like “I’m Not Jesus” and a couple of others but this time they had brought along their fellow Finn Tipe Johnson from the Leningrad Cowboys. You can see Tip singing with the band on their special edition release of “7th Symphony” as this one comes with a DVD. He has a solid voice for sure but I didn’t hear them say his name at all and it took a little research right after the gig to be certain. “Seek And Destroy” is always a popular one and gets the crowd singing along from the beginning but in my humble opinion they let this one run too long. I would rather hear more songs than one epic one that lets the audience scream their lungs out. “I Don’t Care” brought us to the end of the night and found singer Adam Gontier of Three Days Grace coming out to close out the show. I caught a glimpse of the performance set list and saw that “Hall Of The Mountain King” was supposed to end the night but they had apparently run too close to venue curfew to do it. Honestly, these bands just need to start earlier or cut one of the opening bands tunes in order for this to not keep happening. The set list was a nice mix and focused strongly on the newest album which made most sense. I think that there were about four songs played from the latest effort of the eleven performed in total. I was a little surprised that they left out the hit from the previous tour of “I’m Not Jesus” but since Corey Taylor was not a surprise guest to sing it I could forgive this omission. Let’s face it, they had new radio hits at their disposal and had to get these songs on our minds more than the now older stuff.
All in all this was a great time and I am sure that the band will be around for a second leg for the area as that is how they did it the last time. There appeared to be about 800 to 900 people in attendance which makes me think that the curtain setup in the rear of the room was a smart idea. If you like the boundaries that Metal sometimes can push against, be sure to check out Apocalyptica when they blaze through town. I don’t think you will regret the decision.
Dir En Grey Set List:
1. Red Soil
2. Agitated Screams Of Maggots
3. Gaika, Chinmoku Ga Nemuru Koro
4. Hageshisa To, Kono Mune No Naka De Karamitsuita Shekunetsu No Yami
5. Inward Scream
9. Inward Scream
10. Dozing Green
12. The Final
13. Reiketsu Nariseba
Apocalyptica Set List:
2. Master of Puppets (Metallica cover)
3. End Of Me
4. Not Strong Enough
5. Der Betrayal
6. Das Beautiful
8. Last Hope
9. Seek ‘N Destroy
10. Inquisition Symphony
11. I Don’t Care
12. Hall of the Mountain King (omitted)
There were some great marquee sights to enjoy for this one, so I stuck around on the corners of beautiful Times Square and snapped a few of them for your visual entertainment. Check ’em out.
I just love when this particular venue pulls out the stops and showcases these bands names in the bright lights. It definitely helps get their names out to more people even if many of the wandering about tourists have no idea what the names mean. You have to start somewhere.