Venue: B.B. King Blues Club (New York, NY)
Opener: Age Of Evil
Label: Independent Artist
When it comes to cover bands you either love them or hate them and that makes perfect sense because for every good one there are about twenty five that are bad. In some cases the cover band chooses to focus on a particular band or theme and only do material related to the artist and hence become a tribute act. The good versus bad in the tribute act realm is exponentially higher and I have to say that for every good tribute that I have been able to see that I can count ten times that many that make a mockery of the material that they are supposed to be paying homage to. Despite this the Metal Tribute bands have certainly come a long way and over the years we have enjoyed those that present us with full sets of material featuring Rush, KISS, Van Halen, Judas Priest, Slayer and Black Sabbath – the list goes on and one and would take too long to outline in this narrative so we’ll leave it at that. The act of Metal tribute makes one wonder what would happen if legends in their own right banded together and formed a tribute act of their own and with that in mind, ladies and gentlemen I give you “HAIL!”. The powerful name just makes you want to push your fist up into the air or raise the horns for the glory of the Metal and how could you resist when facing a lineup like Tim “Ripper” Owens (vocals), Dave Ellefson (bass), Andreas Kisser (guitar) and Mike Portnoy (drums). Together the guys would honor the giants of the Metal scene and most important of all – have a blast doing it. The show this evening would be at B.B. King Blues Club and find some new blood getting us all into gear. We’ll talk about them first and then get down to covering the cover band.
Age Of Evil: If you have been paying attention to some of the new bands on the Metal scene like Warbringer, Mantic Ritual and Black Tide, it will be clear to you that the future of the genre is in the hands of our youth and now its time to add Age Of Evil to the mix. These four teens are connected to the Metal in a way that many bands could only hope to be as their lineup consists of two sets of brothers. With this physical connection by blood the power of the Metal that they play together becomes all the more strong. Their latest release is an EP called “Get Dead” and the guys would deliver a lot of that this evening and hit the stage with a great amount of force. The brothers in arms are Jacob and Jeremy Goldberg who handle bass and lead vocals/guitar respectively while the drums and lead guitar come care of the Ziff boys Garrett and Jordan. Watching them play this evening was a fun experience for me because there was nothing amateur about them for while the band had never performed in NYC before they have been playing together for a couple of years already. They’ve even been over to Europe and have shown them that they mean business with their sound. Their originals are solid and very heavy when it comes down to it. I had a little trouble trying to find a comparison against their current industry peers and that was a good thing since it allows the band to remain unique in my eyes and ears. The crowd seemed to enjoy them and be very receptive so lets hope they return again soon to give us a slightly longer set. Their set was a brief one and it would end with their own cover of Skid Row’s “Slave To The Grind”. They did this on their EP and it was the perfect closer to warm us all up for the night of covers to be delivered by HAIL! Nice job boys, keep up the good work.
HAIL!: I have to start this by saying that even though I respected all of the players in this group a whole lot, I was unsure of how well a cover band would be received in the venue this evening. The reason being is because it was a higher priced show than many expected it to be and the city had just been invaded by Arch Enemy and Exodus the Friday before this evening’s appearance. Add to this the Paul DiAnno show that was coming to this same space tomorrow, I had some concerns about whether or not a crowd would even draw. This distress ended very quickly as the room began to fill up during the Age Of Evil set and that was great to see. I did have high expectations for the quality of sound that the guys would lay down but it was not a concern at all based on who was involved. They began the night after the introductions with Motorhead’s “Ace Of Spades” and it was interesting to hear Ripper stepping outside of a familiar vocal tone for this one. They did some Sepultura and while Kisser shined particularly during this one, it was clear that he is a fantastic guitarist and one that is capable of a number of different things outside of this band where many know him best from. A little Priest came via “Grinder” and put Ripper into a familiar zone and then it was onto “Stand Up And Shout” which found him wishing Dio well and a speedy recovery. Many might recall that the legendary singer was dealing with stomach cancer a few months ago and it is nice to be made aware of his doing well. Ripper did the song justice but you knew that this was going to be the case since the man seems to be able to sing the phonebook and impress people.
The Black Sabbath “Dio Years” would come with “Neon Knights” and this was a killer version that was great after the Pantera that had just been performed. “Wrathchild” was next up by Iron Maiden and unfortunately Paul DiAnno would not make a surprise appearance. If you wanted to hear him do that one you would have to come to tomorrow’s show it would seem. They called up their first guest of the night with guitarist Chris Caffery who we all know from not only Savatage but the Trans-Siberian Orchestra. Ripper said how they learned this particular next song for radio and television Metal personality Eddie Trunk, so you knew it just had to be UFO since he is always talking about them. It was fun to see Caffery doing his best Michael Schenker for this one since many interviews with him line out how he is a big fan. Caffery would also play “Metal Church” with the guys and there were nothing but smiles up on the stage and incredible levels of energy. It was clear that everyone up there was having a blast and this same energy was being absorbed by the crowd with every note. They called up lead singer of Overkill Bobby Blitz next and he took us through a couple of ACDC classics while Ripper gave himself a break and I had to say that he did a really good Bon Scott. Bobby in turn called up Anthrax bassist Frankie Bello and said how this was almost the complete bunch of guys that made up a fun side project called Turtlehead that he had with the bassist and Portnoy. They would do another Motorhead number together and then Ripper would return to the stage. They kicked into Anthrax’s “Got The Time” which is an old Joe Jackson number and a fun track and then they seemed to loosen up a little bit by jamming out on a Black Sabbath riff and most of “Cold Gin” by KISS. Ripper teased the bassist asking if doing that one was going to cost them more money.
“Run To The Hills” found both Blitz and Caffery helping out on the chorus and there would be no more guest stars for the night. Folks had mentioned to me that they saw Kip Winger in the venue but he wouldn’t come up and neither would drummer Richard Christy who I was lucky enough to run into. A little Metallica, some Ozzy Sabbath and Slayer looked to be the tunes that were leading us to the end of the night but you knew there would be encores and they came via a rousing Sepultura “Refuse/Resist” and Metallica’s “Whiplash”. This was one of two regional shows that the project was doing and while they had done some shows in the recent past it is not always possible to get this together and that made this a very special evening. Some of the songs that were not done this evening but had been reported as being performed by HAIL! at other shows were “Paranoid”, “Peace Sells (But Who’s Buying)”, “Black Metal”, and “Symphony Of Destruction”. To be honest I could care less about their doing the Sabbath staple as that has been done to death by every single other cover and tribute band of the world and as result we didn’t need to see HAIL! deliver it. I was a little disappointed to find the Megadeth numbers excluded from the festivities but it sure was nice to have the ACDC inclusions in their place. I was on the fence about their not doing the reported “Black Metal” by Venom since this was going to give Andreas Kisser the chance to shine vocally as he sings it. Another part of the night that was amazing was the chance to see Mike Portnoy emulating so many different drummers on a kit that is less than a quarter of the size of what he usually plays.
Let’s hope that they do more with this little project because it exceeded all expectations and really delivered high on the fun meter in the end. All of the players are to be commended for the idea and they truly raised the bar for their contemporaries if any of them are interested in doing something similar as well. This was also a great way to get people excited about the Paul DiAnno show that was tomorrow as many people I spoke to had said that they were coming. I hope that I can regain some of the energy that I lost this evening in time for that show.
Age Of Evil Set List:
1. Call Me Evil
2. Eye For An Eye
3. You Can’t Change Me
4. Living A Sick Dream
5. Guitar Solo
6. Get Dead
7. Cruel Intentions
8. Slave To The Grind (Skid Row)
1. Ace Of Spades (Motorhead)
2. Territory (Sepultura)
3. Grinder (Judas Priest)
4. Stand Up And Shout (Dio)
5. Balls To The Wall (Accept)
6. Mouth For War (Pantera)
7. Walk (Pantera)
8. Neon Knights (Black Sabbath)
9. Wrathchild (Iron Maiden)
10. Lights Out (UFO)
11. Metal Church (Metal Church)
12. Green Manalishi (Judas Priest)
13. Highway To Hell (ACDC)
14. TNT (ACDC)
15. Overkill (Motorhead)
16. Got The Time (Anthrax)
17. Cold Gin (KISS)
18. Run To The Hills (Iron Maiden)
19. The Four Horsemen (Metallica)
20. Symptom Of The Universe (Black Sabbath)
21. South Of Heaven (Slayer)
22. Refuse/Resist (Sepultura)
23. Whiplash (Metallica)
Tonight was a very special occasion at the time honored Times Square venue, so we snapped a shot of the B.B. King Blues Club marquee to help celebrate the arrival of HAIL! Let the Metal games begin.
We caught up with the young lads of Age Of Evil backstage and as luck would have it the one and only Tim “Ripper” Owens was nearby as well. Since this was such a great time we couldn’t resist snapping this shot of the lot of them. I felt like a Metal version of TMZ.
Here’s a shot of the front of the dressing room door but I am sorry that is as far as our cameras were allowed to go. If you are looking for anything more scandalous you will have to search a little more online for that kind of stuff 🙂