Metal Church @ Arcada Theatre, St. Charles (US)

METAL CHURCH / DORO / IMAGES OF EDEN

Date: 05th May, 2019
Venue: Arcada Theatre
Ticket: $39 - $69 / €35 - €62
Promoter: Onesti Entertainment


An amazing series of Metal shows was about to end with a bang and unofficially close the circle that opened three days ago with the same lineup. Well, not exactly the same, because in this case, it was METAL CHURCH who would be the last band out. The 2-hr drive from Milwaukee, combined with the early start at Arcada Theatre (first band would start at 5:30pm), meant that half of IMAGES OF EDEN set would be missed (again). However, this time I got the chance to watch half of the band’s set and even though the sitting arrangement created an almost awkward setting (this is a theater after all), especially for an opening act. Yeah, seeing everybody sitting must be hard for the first band of the night that has the heavy duty to warm up the audience. Still, the five-piece lineup from Pennsylvania did really well and in fact managed to “fill” the theater’s big stage, looking more experienced tour-wise than singer Gordon admitted. I believe he said that the tour with METAL CHURCH and DORO was the first for IMAGES OF EDEN, even though the lineup does not sound like a rookie one. Yes, these guys “owned” the stage and, in the end, helped the audience to get away from the Sunday relaxation and into the Metal-concert mood. If I were to pick a song, I would go with “Only Human” that Gordon introduced by saying a couple things about struggling with addiction. Unfortunately, there are a lot of people going through that terrible ordeal and the message was that no one has to do this alone.

Aside from the early start, I had to get used to seeing DORO before the headliner. After squeezing my brain a bit, I believe last time this had happened to me was in Europe when DORO opened for SAXON most probably during the “Metalhead” or “Killing Ground” tour. Ok, in all fairness this was not a genuine supporting slot because both bands were sharing the same time on stage. “St Charles, please welcome to the stage with her band, Doro Pesch were the words I needed in order to get rid of the fatigue from the last days full of Metal. Even though it was early (a couple of minutes past 6:30pm), the audience seemed to wake up in an instance the moment Doro kicked off the set with “I Rule The Ruins”. The Metal Queen tried to approach the front rows but the theatre setting was not that helpful, meaning that there was some space separating her from the fans. You may think that this is not a big deal but for Doro it was, because getting close to the audience creates an energy-feeding line increasing the intensity of the performance on and off stage. The double bass drum of the heavy “Earthshaker Rock” hit us hard and got an increasing number of people involved either by singing or fist-pumping. And speaking of fists, the next one gave us the proper nudge to do more. That’s right; Doro asked the audience to do what the song from the band’s latest album says; “Raise Your Fist In The Air”. As it happened in the Chicago show three days ago, Tommy Bolan seemed to be running on high-octane fuel and I think only Nick Douglas was a powerful contender for the title of the most sweaty musician on stage... Again, compared with that show, Chris Caffery looked more involved and he did a good pairing with Nick. In fact, I believe the veteran bassist happens to be the backbone in DORO shows with his never-depleting energy sharing the same dedication with Doro as far as ‘doing this for the fans’ attitude.

Once again, “Blood, Sweat And Rock ‘n’ Roll” worked like charm in concert and really shed a different light to the latest DORO album, “Forever Warriors / Forever United”, that was written having in mind to play it live. Add to this the fact that it turned out to be powerful pairing to the oldie headbanger “Burning The Witches” followed by my favorite from the “Fear No Evil” LP and WARLOCK-sounding “Night Of The Warlock” (no pun intended). Can you really resist singing/chanting along this one? I bet you cannot.

Tommy Bolan stepped into the limelight for a guitar solo that seemed to be the proper introduction for double-bass drum driven “Hellbound” and the explosive “Metal Racer”; oh yeah, we were into the headbanging red-zone alright and I think lots of metalheads did what Doro suggested: “bang your head like there’s no tomorrow”.

You may hear Doro repeating the same things in concert and for some, these would sound as ‘make believe’ but this musician has some unique honesty that is impossible to fake. “You are always deep inside my heart”, said Doro and you could feel that this was coming straight from her Metal heart. And this is why there were a lot of voices singing-along “Für Immer” making it feel like it was a Friday night out. “East Meets West” kept us going, but seeing Doro asking the stage crew how much time was left meant that the set was approaching to an end. Damn, that felt extremely short, especially when the next one was a drum solo. Still, Jordan Cannata got a chance to show why Doro chose him as a step-in for Johnny Dee. The last two songs made sure to keep the energy going because METAL CHURCH were about to follow on stage, and prepping the stage with “All For Metal” and the must-have, must-sing and must headbang “All We Are” was the best way to do this. I am so happy that I got to see DORO twice in this tour and if I had one more chance to do so, I would do it in a heartbeat. Thank you and thank you again, Doro!

DORO setlist:

01. “I Rule The Ruins”
02. “Earthshaker Rock”
03. “Raise Your Fist In The Air”
04. “Blood, Sweat And Rock ’n’ Roll”
05. “Burning The Witches”
06. “Night Of The Warlock”
07. Guitar Solo
08. “Hellbound”
09. “Metal Racer”
10. “Für Immer”
11. “East Meets West”
12. Drum Solo
13. “All For Metal”
14. “All We Are”

DORO

Doro @ Arcada Theatre (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Doro @ Arcada Theatre (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Doro @ Arcada Theatre (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Doro @ Arcada Theatre (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Doro @ Arcada Theatre (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos)
Doro @ Arcada Theatre (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Doro @ Arcada Theatre (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Doro @ Arcada Theatre (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Doro @ Arcada Theatre (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Doro @ Arcada Theatre (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos)
Doro @ Arcada Theatre (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Doro @ Arcada Theatre (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Doro @ Arcada Theatre (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Doro @ Arcada Theatre (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Doro @ Arcada Theatre (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos)

(click to enlarge)


The small stage at Reggie’s Rock Club did not give all the degrees of freedom Mike Howe would like to have, but in this case, he had more than enough. On cue, the lights went out as it was meditation time the Metal way... That’s right; the amazing “Damned If You Do” brought METAL CHURCH onstage and once again Mike’s positive energy was impossible to resist. The hard-hitting and groovy as Hell “Needle And Suture” saw him busting his trademark moves while Steve Unger seemed to be having a hard time with this bass amp. There was some issue with the cable or with the amp itself and Steve had to endure this one and the oldie “Badlands” that followed without playing his bass. Although it was frustrated for him, it was a bit funny to watch him struggling without knowing what to do with his hands. It may sound silly to you but for an onstage musician, being without his instrument has to be distracting to say the least. Fortunately, the issue was resolved before “Gods Of Second Chance” that starts with some sweet bass lines, so that would have been impossible to start without Steve onboard.

The METAL CHURCH, METAL CHURCH chant put a wide smile on Mike Howe who said: “It is so great to see your faces tonight, so let’s carry on” and that’s exactly what they did with the sing-along “Start The Fire”. Even though the stage was big, it was not enough to contain the constantly-moving Mike who during the first chorus stepped off and kept singing among the fans. That was a solid indication of how much the audience on Metal shows affects the band’s energy levels and this is exactly what was going on that Sunday evening. METAL CHURCH had more time being the last band out, so compared to the show at Reggie’s, the band added “Date With Poverty” before “No Friend Of Mine” that Mike repeated that it is a song that means a lot to the band. “We are going back to an album called “The Dark”, said Mike as if no one would know what he was talking about... Oh my, everyone seemed into singing-along the chorus on the amazing “Watch The Children Pray” and I think the theatre setting boosted a bit more the sound of it giving the vocals the appropriate room to breathe. The clean guitar intro on the following “The Black Things” made a great pairing to the previous classic song and led us to the two-song-end of the regular setlist with “Beyond The Black” and the faster “By The Numbers”. It is proven METAL CHURCH have entered their second youth and it would be such a shame to let “Damned If You Do” slip through your music-radar.

The band left the stage but it didn’t take long to return by popular demand. “Thank you very much, this is a really nice place” was admitted by the founding member and riff-master Kurdt Vanderhoof who I think was competing with Mike who had the wider smile (I think Mike was the ultimate winner). “In Mourning” returned to action and was followed by the amazing “Fake Healer” from the three decades old LP “Blessing In Disguise”. The rhythm section and the bass lines on this one were the best way to close this great billing that we had the chance to see twice and would not mind at all if we had done it thrice... Until next time.

“I'm a healer
I will keep you all alive
I'm a healer”

METAL CHURCH setlist:

01. “Damned If You Do”
02. “Needle And Suture”
03. “Badlands”
04. “Gods Of Second Chance”
05. “Start The Fire”
06. “Date With Poverty”
07. “No Friend Of Mine”
08. “Watch The Children Pray”
09. “The Black Things”
10. “Beyond The Black”
11. “By The Numbers”
12. “In Mourning”
13. “Fake Healer”

METAL CHURCH

Metal Church @ Arcada Theatre (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Metal Church @ Arcada Theatre (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Metal Church @ Arcada Theatre (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Metal Church @ Arcada Theatre (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Metal Church @ Arcada Theatre (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos)
Metal Church @ Arcada Theatre (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Metal Church @ Arcada Theatre (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Metal Church @ Arcada Theatre (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Metal Church @ Arcada Theatre (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Metal Church @ Arcada Theatre (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos)
Metal Church @ Arcada Theatre (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Metal Church @ Arcada Theatre (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Metal Church @ Arcada Theatre (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Metal Church @ Arcada Theatre (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Metal Church @ Arcada Theatre (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos)

(click to enlarge)