RIOT V / COLD BEARDED KILLERS / BAND X / LYNCH
Date: 28th August, 2015
Venue: Q Bar
Ticket: $15 (€13) in advance - $20 (€18) day of show
Ok, I was extremely jealous seeing RIOT V playing live all over Europe, satisfying the hunger for genuine US Power Metal of those metalheads who can see further than their nose and are not whining whether this lineup is eligible to play all those RIOT hymns. So, it was with great pleasure seeing the recharged band adding some live dates just before the three-show visit to Japan and have an unofficial rehearsal run. Having in mind the images friends of mine had painted about how RIOT V did on their side of the Atlantic, I was almost stressed if Q Bar would be big enough to host the true Metal fans but alas, I had forgotten once more how strange things are in the States when it comes to older bands who have no strong presence at the social media and at those websites who are very much fond of posting news just to entice the usual opinion sharers who think they have grabbed the entire world by the balls.
Still, the attendance grew stronger as the time for RIOT V set was approaching and also, during the supporting acts most of the audience was scattered inside this rather big bar. By the way, we entered Q Bar while COLD BEARDED KILLERS were well on their set and the sound was loud and the lower frequencies were making the walls shake. Apparently, the sound was bouncing around this big place and the absence of the appropriate proofing felt like you had stuck your head inside a hard-working woofer. I guess this was one of the reasons why there was a no-man’s zone in front of the stage... Anyway, COLD BEARDED KILLERS received a nice round of applause and a couple of cheers from friends and then stepped off the stage because it was time for getting our “Thundersteel” fix.
The no-man’s zone in front of the stage was quickly filled with old and (fortunately new) fans (a band cannot survive only with the old-schoolers) who saw the RIOT V lineup getting on their spots and kicking in the setlist with “Narita”. There was a guitar case set in front of the drum-kit with Mark Reale’s name printed and just before playing Don Van Stavern spilled on it some tequila as a small token for the departed guitarist and RIOT leader. “Ride Hard Live Free” was the first song of the night but honestly I didn’t enjoy it as much as I’d like due to the rather muffled sound. In fact, Todd Michael Hall had some issues of feedback from his monitors whenever he was approaching the front edge of the stage. Still, the reaction from the about 60 metalheads was enough to make the experience way better and explosive as it should. The fast “Fight Or Fall” and the more melodic “Johnny’s Back” came without pausing but the sound was still troubling. Fortunately, by the time “Fire Down Under” hit the speakers, things got more balanced. I guess this was the reason why Todd left the stage for a while just to give some directions to the person behind the soundboard. As a result, the Rock ‘n’ Roll groove of “Hard Lovin’ Man” and the super-tight “Sign Of The Crimson Storm” came out loud and clear, so it was about time to enjoy some stress-free headbanging, lots of fist-pumping and - finally - some singing-along. Aside from my (usual) complaints about the attendance, I find it great when a band has only dedicated fans off the stage, especially in intimate settings like this one because the way the energy bouncing around makes the entire experience million-times better than every arena show.
“This is another song from our new album, “Unleash The Fire””, Todd said before the riff-driven “Fall From The Sky” that sounded truly awesome, especially during the ultra-high pitched singing parts that came out effortlessly and we were able to hear them since the sound was well-balanced by then. Of course, there were requests and it was nice hearing the band’s frontman addressing the fans with their first name, highlighting that RIOT V was among good friends and loyal fans. By the way (and in case you’re still wondering), the addition of the number “5” (in Roman numerals) represents that this is the fifth singer in RIOT whose continuation was encouraged by Mark Reale’s father, so please no more moaning about this is not the original lineup and even worse “they have no right playing all these songs”.
Most of the songs were coming back-to-back, something that kept the already built-up momentum going because after all it was getting late, even for a Friday night. But really I don’t think anyone moved an inch since the amazing “Angel Eyes” (yeah, Todd also nailed this one despite of the lower register of the original with Mike DiMeo), the you-can’t-resist-singing-along (and jumping up and down a bit) “Bloodstreets” and my new album favorite “Take Me Back” were more than enough to make the fatigue of another hard-working week to go down the drain.
“After a couple of shows we will be heading to Japan for three shows, so it’s appropriate to play this song” Todd said and RIOT V delivered “Tokyo Rose” and without stopping “Rock City”. Yeah, the metalheads in Japan have been loyal to RIOT from day one, so it really sounds appropriate to have those two songs back to back. The fast and sing-along-with-your-fist-in-the-air “Warrior” was planned to see the band leaving the stage and then come back but in such setting where there is nowhere for the musicians to go, it would be a mood-killer, so RIOT V remained onstage and ended this killer set with “Swords And Tequila” – Mike Flyntz raised the Mark Reale guitar case and bassist Don Van Stavern poured more tequila on it – and then with - what else - the fast headbanger “Thundersteel”.
This was the end of great show with such an intimate atmosphere that gave you the impression you were among good friends who remain loyal to an old-schooler band like this, no matter what. Sure, the digital days are something like a slow-death for our favorite music, but shows like this, pump fresh blood and I am sure fuel those musicians who are playing simply because they love what they do and not because they have a brand to satisfy and keep it profitable.
RIOT V setlist:
02. “Ride Hard Live Free”
03. “Fight Or Fall”
04. “Fire Down Under”
05. “Hard Lovin’ Man”
06. “Fall From The Sky”
08. “Black Leather And Glittering Steel”
09. “Angel Eyes”
10. “Altar Of The King”
12. “Take Me Back”
13. “Road Racin’”
14. “Tokyo Rose”
15. “Rock City”
17. “Swords And Tequila”
(click to enlarge)