Symphony X @ Mulcahy’s (11/20/2008)

Logo - Symphony X

Artist: Symphony X
Venue: Mulcahy’s (Wantaugh, NY)
Opener: Lazarus
Date: 11/20/2008
Label: SPV Records

Symphony X was continuing their relentless support of their latest opus, the killer Progressive Metal album “Paradise Lost”, and after a solid dose of European touring the band had returned to the USA for a few additional dates. Tonight’s show would draw me back to Mulcahy’s in Wantaugh, Long Island – a venue that I haven’t been to in about two yeas. I think the last time I was there was when Stryper was doing their “Reborn” album tour and as you can imagine that band brings in quite a different audience that a knock you down Progressive Metal band like Symphony X. I had caught the guys when they played The Nokia Theater, and that killer show delivered a set from Epica and Into Eternity as well. Tonight there would be only one opener, the regional act Lazarus.

Lazarus: Despite their being around for a number of years I had only heard about this band in name from a dude that I see at almost every show I attend. This worked out well either way because they were the opener for the show and I would get to see a little more about what they were about in the best possible fashion. Even without seeing them before tonight I was able to find myself easily getting into the way that they were doing things. I discovered that the band was a very solid representation of your Classic Metal vibe with a little bit of an homage tossed in the direction of Iron Maiden and other legends of the NWOBHM. I enjoyed their set and made sure to pick up their available CD which is called “Episode One”. They kicked some ass and clearly had a lot of area support for them tonight since they are from the region. They sure deserved it as a solid set was delivered that kept those in attendance screaming for some more. Their lead singer is Glen DaGrossa and he periodically engaged the audience with charm and interest. He shows that he knows the rules of the game by being aware of who is watching you. After the set I learned that a new CD would be coming out sometime in 2009. If you like energetic Power Metal with a tip of the hat to the Old School then make sure you pay some attention to Lazarus. The bands set moved quickly and before you knew it Symphony X was getting ready to do their thing.

Symphony X: When Symphony X last appeared in my hometown NYC, their show was part of what I had been calling a “Metal Trifecta” since the gig was right smack in the middle of an appearance by former KISS guitarist Ace Frehley, and a gig the following day by legendary Bay Area Thrashers Testament. I had been to the Ace show which was in this same room, and was impressed to see many of the same faces there for Symphony X and the support acts. It was a great show and one that proved the band worthy of a larger stage and fan base. Their gigs in Europe done, only a few more regional gigs needed to be performed and then the guys could take a much deserved break for the holidays. Mulcahy’s is a great club for bands if you live out on the island, but to me the layout is a little weird because while the stage faces the main and second bar, the larger part of the room if a bit off to the side. Generally there are tables there and I found myself a spot right in front of the action to absorb it better. My concern was how one actually got “into” a show, if they were off to the side. Oh well, I am sure that the fans manage when this is what needs to be done.

The band hit the stage to the opening instrumental intro from “Paradise Lost” and it found the band arriving to a very eager crowd. Some of the people in my immediate vicinity had said they saw a number of the performances some months ago and then were hitting all of the regional shows. This impressed me because Symphony X while very good live, does not really alter the set list once it is established and makes any number of gigs the same exact show. The guys ripped right into “Eve Of Seduction” and as I looked at that earlier gigs set I noticed how while not much different in composition, the order had been changed up. They were tight as expected and showed just how locked into each other they were after so many months of touring the record and being a band together. I really enjoy what Mike Romeo does on the guitar, and feel he is one of the most impressive axe slingers since the days when Yngwie Malmsteen first came on the scene. He has the whole neo-Classical style down, but he also shreds like nobody’s business. It’s definitely interesting watching him do the riffs from the album in the live sense because he is also a very visual performer and doesn’t stand there looking at his shoes. He mugs for the audience and tosses guitar picks out to the outstretched hands and with such close quarters here this evening there were a lot of happy fans walking away with one of those in their pockets. Singer Russell Allen was as good as always, and wore a smile for much of the show. He is always a pleasant person on stage and really has what I consider one of the most appealing voices in Metal music. He is an all around singer, who can not only deliver some soaring high notes, but also some deeper tones and with it all he just wins you over. He is the only member of the band who talks to the audience but he would keep that at a minimum tonight.

The rhythm section of Mike LePond (bass) and Jason Rullo (drums) were so solid this evening that it seemed like a tangible thing. LePond was definitely enjoying himself based on the expressions I saw him making, but one could hardly see Rullo behind the massive drum kit he uses for the gigs. All you do is hear him, and in the case of a fine player like himself, that is really all that matters. I cant forget the master of the keyboards in the band, but it was really hard to see Michael Pinella based on the amount of smoke that was coming from the band fog machines tonight. The band is not as much of a visual as it is an aural thing outside of some of the antics that the players engage in, but I had to say that the lighting tonight was not presenting them well. It was far too dark but I guess this was done for a more dramatic vibe to the tunes. The set list was as I mentioned earlier not much different from the one that they did in April, and as expected a full seven songs came from “Paradise Lost”, and if you need to know more that album only has ten songs on it, so a gig with more than half of them being done just shows you how important they are viewing it. It’s worth mentioning that singer Russell Allen and his wife just welcomed a new baby girl to their family and Allen said that they were originally going to cancel the gigs but decided not to. I felt that was a great thing for their fans, and we wish the happy parents the very best with the little one.

This was a great but rather quick evening when it came down to it, as before long the band was offstage into the night. I didn’t stick around to see if they were going to do any meet and greet signings, but I was pretty sure none of that was going on. Tomorrow the band performs the final night of their tour on home ground at The Starland Ballroom. This “homecoming” of sorts is sure to be a night or rousing Metal. If you have not yet caught Symphony X in concert or even heard “Paradise Lost”, I suggest that you do so because it is required Metal for the discriminating listener.

1. Oculus Ex Inferni (intro)
2. Eve of Seduction
3. Evolution
4. Inferno
5. Serpent’s Kiss
6. Paradise Lost
7. Church of the Machine
8. King of Terrors
9. Smoke and Mirrors
10. Revelation
11. Set the World on Fire – encore
12. Domination – encore
13. Of Sins and Shadows – encore

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