Fozzy @ B.B. King Blues Club (4/28/2010)

Logo - Fozzy

Artist: Fozzy
Venue: B.B. King Blues Club
Opener: ZO2, Razer
Date: 4/28/2010
Label: Riot! Entertainment

Yes Metal fans your prayers have been answered and the Fozzman cometh to New York City to lay down the Metal justice in a fashion that only he can deliver. Of course its long been known that Fozzy is actually the brainchild of World Wrestling Entertainment’s Chris Jericho and guitarist Rich Ward (The Duke, Stuck Mojo) . For a number of years they played up an identity and back story about their origins but seem to have moved on from that premise for the sake of the Metal material that they have. I had to admit that even though the band featured the wrestler, when I first heard them I wasn’t very impressed and this would be around the time of their covers album. The reason was more based on at that point in my Metal life, I was more focused on the up and coming Power Metal bands from Finland and all of their output since it was so energetic and unique. I write this down based on the change of opinion that I had when the band released the “All That Remains” CD (not to be confused with the band of the same name) and now their latest effort “Chasing The Grail”. With these recordings Fozzy has really shown to be coming into their own and an interesting Metal force to be reckoned to boot. Their show this evening would be live at B.B. King Blues Club and it would also feature the band Razer from Phoenix, AZ and Brooklyn’s own ZO2. Going in I hardly knew what to expect and even wondered if it would be crowded but after observing the activities that happened tonight it was pretty safe to say that if you missed this one you will very likely be kicking yourself. Here is how the night went down for those who are among that number.

Razer: I swore that the name of this band was familiar to me but it had been awhile since I’d heard it so I stopped worrying about it and figured that it would come to me as the evening played out. As it stands I did know of the Phoenix, AZ based Alt-Metal rockers as I had interacted with their bassist Chris Catero when I first began doing my music journalist thing. However, I would not get their in time to see their whole set as they went on earlier than I had expected and this bothered me a little bit based on just how much of an ass kicking they were giving NYC. This was the bands first time here and boy were they making a good impression. The crowd was decent enough already and it was likely due to ZO2 coming up second, as the band has a lot of fans in this immediate area. The band is very energetic and singer Chris Powers proves to be really into what he is doing. Catero handles the bass with strength and drive and also helps to compliment the sound with some backing vocals. The group is rounded out by Jeromy Graves, Paul Sullivan and Eric Bongiorno on guitars and drums respectively. Their latest album is entitled “Dark Devotion” and after their set the crowd was snapping them up. Not bad for a first time visit to the Big Apple. Come back soon guys, we will leave the lights on for you. Now its time for a little ZO2.

ZO2: We recently caught the boys in ZO2 when they performed a free set down at J&R Music World’s “Record Store Day” event, and we have been fans of these guys for some time so it was going to be a pleasure to catch them once again. The guys were recently celebrating the release of their new CD “Casino Logic” and the fact that their IFC scripted reality show was getting its second season released on DVD. The crowd was certainly behind them as they began to deliver their set which began with their usual opener of “Isolate”. “Painted Lady” and “Red Line Highway” came up next from the new recording and I love the drive of that last mentioned track. It is probably my favorite from the album. “If You See Kay” got Paulie’s extended introduction and it was from here that the night took a very different and interesting turn. The band is known for doing their own version of Rush’s “Tom Sawyer” and bassist Dave Z. generally sings this, but tonight they would call out a special guest to do the number and guess who walked out? Mr. Joey Belladonna, former singer from the band Anthrax. Joey did a good job on the tune, and it sounded fine even though I am tough on any cover from the legendary Canadians catalog. The audience loved this little treat and were very friendly to Joey when he came out to mingle among them. ZO2 would mix up their set by doing something else from “Ain’t It Beautiful” (and that actual albums title track when it came down to it), another song from the new release and a long absent (from my ears at least) “Fly On Your Wings” from their debut “Tuesdays And Thursdays”. A solid set from these guys but they have always managed to impress me with their sets, I look forward to the next time that I will see them. If you like the groove of classic KISS and Aerosmith, then they might be up your alley. Now – Let there be Fozzy!!!

Fozzy: I really had to give the band credit for winning me over to their side since it usually takes a lot once I am “meh” on a band but the times had changes and here I was. The band was introduced by Eddie Trunk from That Metal Show, and he is often found at these types of shows when it comes down to it. The band was electric from the get go and opened up with “Under Blackened Skies” and crashed into “Martyr No More” as their second number. The crowd was at its peak and it looked to be in the 300 or slightly above range which was not bad considering there are others who had my original view and never knew what to expect. Most of the tunes came from their two recent releases which I am sure pleased the fans that had assembled and to look at this stuff musically, it’s a traditional level of Heavy Metal with some ties to the newer sound of bands like Sevendust in some sense. It works out well live that is for sure and the band was so into being here that the energy from them was feeding the crowd and being returned in kind. The band offered the audience a cover with Krokus’ “Each The Rich” and I was happy to see that band getting some props since they had some great stuff but were a group that only got “so popular” in the larger scheme of things.

There was a lot of crowd banter from the guys this evening and it was pretty much led by Jericho and Ward who paused between songs to joke or explain stuff to the audience. At one point they even brought up a kid from the front and they did a short thrash riff for him. Jericho thanked Trunk for not only introducing the band but also helping promote the show and then the surprises continued as drummer Vinnie Paul walked onstage with an entourage and handed the band shots. They all toasted and downed the drinks together much to the crowds delight. It seemed as though most of the band Hell Yeah was in the venue and this made sense since the band had just recently done a show over in Brooklyn. We didn’t attend that one though so cannot offer up any additional information on it. There was a lot of casual joking going on and when Chris found an issue with one of the vocal microphones, Ward replied how they needed roadies and busted into an impromptu “We Need Some Roadies” song. Don’t look for it as it is not a real song – yet.

The band continued to throttle our senses and I had to say how admirable a set this was proving to be. As the night drew to a close another cool surprise came to pass and that was the sitting in on drums of Dream Theater’s Mike Portnoy who destroyed the drum kit for the bands rendition of Judas Priest’s “Freewheel Burning”. I’m a fan of how Mike plays this track as he adds double bass drums in places that were not in the original and they very clearly work for this tune. This was one hell of a way to finish up the show. Afterwards a number of the Metal illuminati who had assembled for the show spoke to the fans that caught their attention and while I saw the Hell Yeah guys, I did not see Ron Keel who I heard was there as well. I did run into a guitarist of Dillinger Escape Plan and Ron Thal (aka Bumblefoot) but the biggest news was how a strong presence of the band Anthrax was in the room. We had Joey Belladonna who sang for us earlier, and also Frankie Bello and Charlie Benante. That night one could only have assumed that something was up and not known for sure and it was only a few weeks after the show before the Metal world learned that Joey Belladonna was once again among the ranks of Anthrax. While I know this narrative was focused on Fozzy, it bears mention that this news is perhaps the best thing for both sides at this point in time. We shall totally be following their adventures when they get to performing in this region.

If TMZ had a Metal team covering the various happenings, then they would have hated to miss the cavalcade of music personality that was present in the B.B. King’s venue tonight. After the show I learned how many of the performers were headed down to see Scott Ian’s wife Pearl perform at The Studio at Webster Hall. Unfortunately, I had no idea about her show being a late one or I would have adventured down there myself to bring you some coverage. I am sure she will be back as well. Closing up, this was a bombastic and fun show from beginning to end. Be sure to check out the new Fozzy release “Chasing The Grail” and give some support to both the ZO2 and Razer guys as well since they worked so hard at giving you a rocking show.

ZO2 Set List:
1. Isolate
2. Painted Lady
3. Red Line Highway
4. If You See Kay
5. Tom Sawyer (with Joey Belladonna)
6. Ain’t It Beautiful
7. Show Me
8. Fly On Your Wings

Fozzy Set list:
1. Under Blackened Skies
2. Martyr No More
3. Crucify
4. Eat The Rich (Krokus)
5. Wanderlust
6. Daze Of The Weak
7. Let The Madness Begin
8. God Pounds His Nails
9. Feel The Burn
10. Enemy
11. Paraskavedekatriaphobia (Friday the 13)
12. To Kill A Stranger
13. Freewheel Burning (w/Mike Portnoy)

There was a lot of activity going on at this show without question and luckily I was able to snare some visuals of what was going on backstage between the sets.  After a few minutes, I felt that I needed to start keeping a list based on how many people were popping in for the fun.

Chris Catero, unknown, Rich Ward

Here’s Razer bassist Chris Catero and Fozzy’s Rich Ward sharing some chit chat time with a lovely lady whose name I didn’t manage to catch.  Rich was certainly having a blast this evening, he clearly knew so many people and was glad to see them all in the venue.

The Fozz aka Chris Jericho

Such a great smile from WWE’s Chris Jericho who would be putting his musical moves on the fans in NYC tonight as opposed to the wrestling ones.  Of course they might still be the sonic equivalent of the suplex, piledriver or the diving stomp but there would surely be no sleeper hold this evening on the Metal fans.

Paulie Z. speaks to The Fozzman

ZO2’s Paulie Z. snares a moment of Jericho’s time before he does his set.

Rich Ward and Sirius XM's Jose Mangin

Here we find Rich Ward fighting over the guitar with Sirius XM Radio’s Jose Mangin. While Jose seems to have a better handle on it, I was keeping my money on Ward since he needed it for the Metal destruction that was going to happen in a short number of minutes.

Rich Ward of Fozzy

I love this shot because it just screamed Rock and Metal magazine at you ala Circus or Creem.  You might not remember those two since they’ve been gone for awhile and heck, some of you might not even remember magazines at all since they are not the medium that they once were thanks to the online realm.

Backstage @ B.B. King's: Chris Jericho, Rich Ward and Mike Portnoy

As the night came to a close for all, I managed to get these three luminaries of the Metal way together for a shot.  Mike is always so animated and I think a credit to the Metal scene from the level of support and genuine interest he has in a number of different things.  Did you know that he will be drumming for Avenged Sevenfold’s tour soon?  Well, now you do.  Sorry that there are not any candids of the Anthrax folks or Vinnie Paul, I was not able to snare them for your viewing pleasure and you will just have to stick to the live shots.  Maybe next time.

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