Saint Vitus @ Reggies, Chicago (US)

SAINT VITUS / THE SKULL / WITCH MOUNTAIN

Date: 10th October, 2016
Venue: Reggies Rock Club
Ticket: $20 / €18
Promoter: n/a


Is there any other remedy other than taking some pain meds and eventually going to the dentist to make the tooth pain go away? Hell yeah there is and that is going to a Doom Metal concert, at least until the scheduled appointment, because seating at home trying to wait it out is impossible. And to make this work, a solid billing is needed, so in my case SAINT VITUS with THE SKULL and WITCH MOUNTAIN did the trick and turned out to be more effective than the usual over-the-counter medications.

Ok, I am overselling this but the truth is that we would not miss this show come hell or high water, so the unstoppable METAL KAOZ team was on the front rows well before the show-starting time.

The first band that took over the stage around 9pm was Portland's WITCH MOUNTAIN, so Rob Wrong was to do double-duty since he is also in THE SKULL. There was a healthy number of people inside Reggies the moment the tight and slow guitar rhythm section of “Psycho Animundi” lifted the curtain. Sure, this is kind of an odd (and slow) way to kick off a setlist but a few minutes into the track, you get what this band is all about. Yeah, Doom Metal was the band’s main trade topped off by the impressive and most expressional singing by Kayla Dixon. Her wide-ranged vocals and powerful high pitches were at the spotlight throughout this solid song which - by the way - clocked around 8 minutes. Yeah, I think this was a bold move by WITCH MOUNTAIN who chose to show us their Doom Metal teeth with a long and slow song instead of a fast and easier-to-go-down one. In my book, this showcases a band with performing confidence and with a clear musical direction. I guess the loud round of applause that followed proved that I was not the only one feeling this way.

“Can’t Settle” increased the bpms and I think there was some growling in the vocals aside from the killer SABBATH-ian riffs and the hard-hitting drum work. I just love how the bass steps up and holds the rhythm section intact during the guitar solo following the letter the traditional Doom Metal norms. “We are WITCH MOUNTAIN, thank you so much for being here” Kayla said before introducing “Burn You Down” as the new song which is on the first side of the vinyl single which saw the light of day in the mid of September. The massive guitar sound and the groovy bass-driven rhythm made this one as the highlight of the set. “Shelter” with the almost Soul-type singing (or should I say Jazz-y) was the final song by WITCH MOUNTAIN who did a great job getting the audience in the right Doom Metal mood and warmed us up for THE SKULL who were next in line.

WITCH MOUNTAIN

Witch Mountain @ Reggies Rock Club (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Witch Mountain @ Reggies Rock Club (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Witch Mountain @ Reggies Rock Club (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Witch Mountain @ Reggies Rock Club (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Witch Mountain @ Reggies Rock Club (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos)
Witch Mountain @ Reggies Rock Club (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Witch Mountain @ Reggies Rock Club (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Witch Mountain @ Reggies Rock Club (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Witch Mountain @ Reggies Rock Club (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Witch Mountain @ Reggies Rock Club (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos)

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I have lost count of how many times I have seen THE SKULL live but it is (still) not enough. As I have said before, this band has been in a roll being in a top condition and in high spirits, so getting songs from the massive “For Those Which Are Asleep” LP and then some TROUBLE tune sung by the one and only Eric Wagner can be nothing less than pure delight. Without wasting playing time, THE SKULL skipped the pleasantries and hammered us down with “Trapped Inside My Mind” which I think sounds better each and every time. I am fully aware I will be in the crosshairs of most TROUBLE fans the moment I’ll say that I’d prefer a set full of THE SKULL songs because the band’s debut is that good. The way “Till The Sun Turns Black” came out from the venue’s amps spoke louder (literally) than anything else I could say to further defend my opinion. Ok, I think Eric was a bit tired from the constant touring although this did not take away something from his always playful attitude and his unique way of approaching the audience. I mean, his anti-superstar and down-to-earth character are two more things to love aside from his trademark singing. “Chicago, it’s good to be home and the Cubs are winning” Eric said just before rocking our shocks off with the groovy and riff-driven “The Longing”. Listening to this one made me wonder if and when THE SKULL will go back to song-writing because it would be such a shame to not tap to this momentum these guys have gathered through the constant touring both sides of the Atlantic. To my delight, “Send Judas Down” and my favorite “For Those Which Are Asleep” closed the THE SKULL chapter and then, it was time for... Ron and I used to be in a band called TROUBLE were Eric’s exact words which opened the TROUBLE suite. The way “Pray For The Dead” and “Assassin” came out were awesome enough to make me eat my words about having more THE SKULL songs and less TROUBLE ones... No, I won’t compare THE SKULL with TROUBLE because as a fan I am getting more songs from two killer line-ups, so this is a win-win situation for me and I will use the VENOM vs VENOM INC. as another example of getting more from what I love, and that’s the end of any other discussion.

The power duo of the sing-along “At The End Of My Daze” and the massive headbanger “The Tempter” marked the end of THE SKULL’s time onstage, and man, it felt way too short, but on the other hand, this was SAINT VITUS' headlining tour with the original singer, so there were good / headbanging times ahead of us.

THE SKULL setlist:

01. “Trapped Inside My Mind”
02. “Till The Sun Turns Black”
03. “The Longing”
04. “Bring Judas Down”
05. “For Those Which Are Asleep”
06. “Pray For The Dead”
07. Assassin”
08. “At The End Of My Daze”
09. “The Tempter”

THE SKULL

The Skull @ Reggies Rock Club (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) The Skull @ Reggies Rock Club (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) The Skull @ Reggies Rock Club (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) The Skull @ Reggies Rock Club (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) The Skull @ Reggies Rock Club (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos)

The Skull @ Reggies Rock Club (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) The Skull @ Reggies Rock Club (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) The Skull @ Reggies Rock Club (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) The Skull @ Reggies Rock Club (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) The Skull @ Reggies Rock Club (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos)

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I know what you’re probably thinking right now; if this billing was presented somewhere in Europe, it would have been definitely a sold-out, no matter the day of the week (or the late hour), but since for the Chicagoan show-goers is a bit difficult to attend a concert on a Monday (for a various reasons that is not the time to analyze here), here we were, about a hundred of fans waiting for the ¾ of the original SAINT VITUS lineup to hit the stage, few minutes before 11:30pm. Personally speaking, not even in my wildest dreams I would have guessed that the day I’d watch and experience this historic band live would have become a reality, so I was really anxious (and curious at the same time) to see if they’d chose to visit the band’s early material or they’d stick to the ‘play-it-safe’ Wino-days material. Henry, Mark and Scott Reagers took their place on Reggies’ cozy stage with Dave following last but not least, wearing pretty quickly his axe and getting prepared for a SAINT VITUS ‘blast from the past’ set. “Dark World” and “One Mind”, both from the “Die Healing” album, hit the speakers back-to-back, and even though the band seemed to be pretty tired from the extensive US touring, all members’ spirits and morale were thriving, and to me, it was obvious that they were enjoining being on the same stage with Reagers after all these years. Scott’s voice was on perfect shape, although his initial interaction with the crowd was a bit awkward at first giving me the impression he was really anxious about how he would had been welcomed, but once “War Is Our Destiny” had kicked in all his worries went down the drain and he started to enjoy the whole ‘band-becomes-one-with-the-fans’ experience.

“How are you doing, Chicago? Thanks for coming out, what a line-up!” were Reagers’ first words for the night and was greeted by a massive wave of enthusiasm by the fans who had the opportunity to hear some of the early days stuff sung by the original vocalist. “White Magic / Black Magic” hit us right before “Zombie Hunger” that Dave introduced like this: “this goes out to everyone who is hungry”, but couldn’t prepare us properly enough for the following crazy headbanger that actually saw the first mosh action of the evening. “Ok, dokey Chicago, do you wanna dance around a little bit?”, Scott rhetorically asked, and that’s when we became sure that “White Stallions” was next. Now, what could I probably say for this song, backed up by this eerie and theatrical voice... Sure, I like Wino’s reading too but I believe that Reagers’ performance just puts this song to another category – simply amazing!

As you can imagine, the setlist contained most of the first SAINT VITUS album, a few picks from the other two Reagers albums, of course “Born Too Late” and even “Fear”, off the “C.O.D.” LP. Even though I truly missed songs like “I Bleed Black”, “The Troll” or “Dying Inside”, I’d say I can die a happy person having heard “Saint Vitus” live from a band that sounded exactly like it did nearly 40 years ago, and from almost the same line-up. And now that I took this off my chest, do me a favor and try to think how many other bands can do that. Just think.

“Thanks for showing up on a Monday”, acknowledged Dave before hitting us mercilessly once more with the fast-screeching guitar intro of “Born Too Late” that dropped the curtain of this fast-served set. Of course, Reagers delivered the goods at ease with his characteristic timbre, backed up by Chandler’s trademark teeth-guitar solo and Vasquez’s heavy drumming, but I’d expect a couple more songs from my beloved band, the set of whose counted a bit shy than an hour. On the other hand, there is no doubt that this was an historic evening for the band’s die-hard fanbase in Chicago, so let’s cross our fingers and pray that they’ll make another album delivered by this exact line-up.

"So if you're breeding wickedness
Keep this in mind
Vitus' soul is watching you
Through the veils of time
Well, people always stay the game
They never seem to learn
'till they all have lost their faith
and their souls have burned"

SAINT VITUS setlist:

01. “Dark World”
02. “One Mind”
03. “War Is Our Destiny”
04. “Look Behind You”
05. “White Magic / Black Magic”
06. “Zombie Hunger”
07. “White Stallions”
08. “Fear”
09. “Mystic Lady”
10. “Burial At Sea”
11. “Saint Vitus”
12. “Born Too Late”

SAINT VITUS

Saint Vitus @ Reggies Rock Club (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Saint Vitus @ Reggies Rock Club (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Saint Vitus @ Reggies Rock Club (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Saint Vitus @ Reggies Rock Club (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Saint Vitus @ Reggies Rock Club (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos)
Saint Vitus @ Reggies Rock Club (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Saint Vitus @ Reggies Rock Club (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Saint Vitus @ Reggies Rock Club (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Saint Vitus @ Reggies Rock Club (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Saint Vitus @ Reggies Rock Club (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos)
Saint Vitus @ Reggies Rock Club (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Saint Vitus @ Reggies Rock Club (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Saint Vitus @ Reggies Rock Club (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Saint Vitus @ Reggies Rock Club (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Saint Vitus @ Reggies Rock Club (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos)

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