TROUBLE / SCIENTIST / SACRED MONSTER
Date: 01st December, 2018
Venue: Beat Kitchen
Ticket: $18/€16 (in advance) - $24/€21 (day of)
There was no better way to kick off December and melt the early snow away than a hearty dosage of traditional Doom of US origin delivered by the iconic guitar duo of Wartell - Franklin. If those two names do not ring 666 bells, then you have a boatload of homework to do, so you better start studying because you have missed a whole chapter in Metal history. For those who added the word ‘TROUBLE’ on the side of the two gentlemen, you totally understand that no harsh / cold / terrible weather would stop us from taking the long drive to Beat Kitchen to witness one of the two shows the mighty TROUBLE had lined up for the end of 2018.
Passing through the bar area and entering the concert area of Beat Kitchen, we met an almost packed place by TROUBLE fans and fake smoke… Yeah, it seemed like the fog machine was left running for too long because one could barely see the stage from the merch table. Fortunately, it took less than a song from SCIENTISTS for the smoke to get out of the way and start sinking into the concert atmosphere. Ok, SCIENTISTS were not exactly my cup of tea, but their onstage energy and highly skilled musicianship did put us in the right mood. Around ten o’clock, their set ended, giving the stage crew the green light to start prepping the way for TROUBLE. There is a special vibe in TROUBLE shows with some familiar faces occupying the front rows, creating this awesome feeling of being part of the clan, if you know what I mean. This instance though there were a lot of new faces, and this added another level of excitement before getting blown away by another setlist of new and old TROUBLE songs – although, I think it is about time to get some really new songs, right?
Some minutes after 10:30pm, the lights went out and the intro started blasting off the venue PAs, bringing one by one TROUBLE on the stage. No matter how many times I have witnessed this, it still gives me goosebumps seeing Rick and Bruce assuming their right and left stage spots, respectively. It feels like being part of Metal history being written each and every time, and this was no different. The guitar duo stepped at the center of the stage and the trademark double guitar sound kicked the door down with the main melody of “March Funèbre”; yeah, this is Doom Metal 101 and the best way to follow this is with “R.I.P.”. Like I said, this was my first time at Beat Kitchen, so I was not aware that the PA system was good enough to handle the rich guitar sound, but it did in full capacity. I think I say this in every TROUBLE report and this will not be any different; Kyle sounds better and better with the band, and he is always super-excited laying down all these classic tunes. “How are you doing out there tonight?”, he rhetorically asked before letting “The Wolf” and “The Eye” do the rest. Kyle effectively introduced the latter one by pointing at his eyes, adding a crazy look on the mix. “Hello Chicago, thank you for coming out to hang out with us tonight! The more you drink, the better we sound”, Kyle said as he joked a bit before getting back into the Doom Metal business with “The Sleeper” and with the most recognizable guitar duo action marking the time for “At The End Of My Daze”. Damn, that guitar sound served by the two Marshall stack proudly standing on the sides of the stage!
Standing at a ‘I can steal your wallet’ distance from Bruce Franklin gave me the unique opportunity to witness his most-recognizable and powerful guitar playing which shares a lot of similarities with Richie Blackmore and the way he is working the guitar neck. It is also amazing to watch how he pairs with Rick Wartell’s ‘70s more relaxed but equally solid guitar action. As I said, the setlist was a mix between new and old TROUBLE tracks - or should I say old and latest, because it has been five years since the release of “The Distortion Field” where “Paranoia Conspiracy” came from. On the other hand, after all this time, the song has grown into a full-fledged TROUBLE classic and this is exactly how it came out.
“Back in 1985, Rick and Bruce wrote a bunch of great songs together”, were the only words we needed to make a well-educated guess that the next song would be the hard-hitting “The Skull”. Again, Kyle nailed the vocals on this one with total respect to the original voice, while adding, at the same time, his personal touch. The last one for the night from the latest TROUBLE album was my favorite and crashing “When The Sky Comes Down”. Apparently, there was a mosh-pit going on a few rows at the back, and although there was some unnecessary pushing around, it felt really appropriate with the hard-hittin’ grooves TROUBLE were bashing out under the solid rhythm section delivered by Mark Lira and Rob Hultz on drums and bass, respectively. Yes, TROUBLE do sound great these days, so I hope they are indeed working in the studio as Kyle informed us just before the encore, but let’s get first things first, ok?
It was, again, time to “go back to the beginning” as Kyle said, just before the double treat of “Psalm 9” and the in-your-face feeling pissed-off “Bastards Will Pay”. The end of the set happened with the cover on BLACK SABBATH’s “Supernaut” which has become a stable in the latest TROUBLE setlists, and even though I am not big fan of covers, I have to admit that hearing this legendary riff being served by those two guitars does sound awesome. The band said a brief goodnight before walking at the back of the small stage, but it did not take too much time for TROUBLE to return. Rick and Bruce stood side by side marking the time for “Revelation (Life Or Death)”, giving us another chance to observe the different styles of the two guitarists that greatly serve this unique sound. But this was not the last time of the night we saw the two legendary guitarists side by side, as they started playing the opening riff from PRIEST’s “The Ripper” before getting into the smashing “The Tempter” and, the last one out, “All Is Forgiven”.
There were only happy faces leaving Beat Kitchen around midnight, and I would add that there was a pinch of excitement thinking that this band is working in the studio. Can we please have a new TROUBLE album in 2019?
02. "The Wolf"
03. "The Eye"
04. "The Sleeper"
05. "At The End Of My Daze"
06. "Paranoia Conspiracy"
07. "Psychotic Reaction"
08. "The Skull"
09. "When The Sky Comes Down"
10. "Psalm 9"
11. "Bastards Will Pay"
12. "Supernaut" (BLACK SABBATH cover)
13. "Revelation (Life Or Death)"
14. "The Tempter"
15. "All Is Forgiven"
(click to enlarge)