Sanctuary @ Reggies, Chicago (US)

SANCTUARY / GHOST SHIP OCTAVIUS / SCREAMKING / AXXIOS

Date: 21st July, 2019
Venue: Reggies Rock Club
Ticket:
$18/20 (€16/18)
Promoter: Empire Productions


In a bizarre coincidence, a day after the Wayne Static memorial show by STATIC X, SANCTUARY were celebrating the release of their legendary “Refuge Denied” debut as part of the tour tribute to Warrel Dane. I think there is always a bittersweet taste in shows like these, because on one hand you get a unique chance to listen to albums that otherwise would have remained buried in history and on the other, you are not getting the real deal since someone important is missing. Well, something is always better than nothing, and if the celebration is done with respect then, you are left with probably the most important thing; great memories and some sort of closure. Like closing a chapter after reading it one more time…

SANCTUARY have been extremely fortunate to have enlisted Joseph Michael (also in WITHERFALL) who has proven that he has the right set of pipes to deliver all these hard-to-reach vocals that were originally recorded by a young Warrel Dane (trust me, this makes a huge difference). Since I have seen this lineup in the past I did not need any convincing to hear the entire “Refuge Denied” album and in fact, I found myself wondering whether it would be a good idea for the band to write a new music with lineup. Anyways, I am just thinking loud and I am in no position to say what SANCTUARY should and should not to.

SREAMKING were putting the finishing touches when I entered Reggies and even though, it was on a Sunday the attendance was really good and I was sure, that more would come as time went by. This would be the last day of this tour and this meant a stronger party feeling and a more relaxed band onstage. I mean, there is always stress (physical and mental) when you know that after this gig, there is more traveling, another gig and so on. Although I have never done such a thing, I am sure this cycle takes a toll on you. But I am digressing here talking about things that I only suspect and have not personal experience.

GHOST SHIP OCTAVIUS where the direct support to SANCTUARY and right on time, they kicked off their set with the amazing “Turn Into Ice”. If I were to describe their music on one sentence then it I would be; “a heavier version of EVERGREY”. Adon Fanion has a wide-ranged voice and can easily switch between aggression to melody with the setlist opener being the best showcase for this. “Mills Of The Gods” is an amazing song with a golden balance between complexity and melody. I am saying this, because I lose focus whenever the music gets too Progressive for me. What I am trying to say is, if your brain is not primed for this type of music and the band likes to over-complicate things, it is almost certain to lose interest unless you are a die-hard of this genre. That is not the case with GHOST SHIP OCTAVIUS who deserve more attention by the Metal scene. Ok, their onstage presence can be characterized as rather stationary but their music did start to get through to those you knew little about the band.

Adon broke the talking silence just before the NEVERMORE-esque “Bloodcaster” to thank everyone for coming that was their last one on this run. Damn, “Edge Of Time” sounded awesome starting off kind of mellow and slowly building the tension through the early PARADISE LOST rhythm guitars and the expressional singing. Despite, the “seriousness” of the music there was some room to joke a bit. Before the fast “Saturnine” Adon introduced the band but did not include his name… “What’s your name? Who are you?” asked a couple of metalheads and without thinking much Adon revealed his identity… “Oh, I am Britney Spears in a total anti-star fashion. Adding to the fun and following the tradition of the last show of a tour someone from SANCTUARY (maybe Joey, I am not sure) showed up in a ghost outfit (ok, it was just a sheet with holes) and started dancing his way during “Delirium”. I guess, the pun was being a ghost on a GHOST SHIP OCTAVIUS set… At any case. that was a great set and reminded me that I had made note to check their records and this time, I’ll keep my promise.

GHOST SHIP OCTAVIUS setlist:

01. “Turned To Ice”
02. “Mills Of The Gods”
03. “Bleeding On The Horns”
04. “Bloodcaster”
05. “Edge Of Time”
06. “Saturnine”
07. “Delirium”

 

GHOST SHIP OCTAVIUS

Ghost Ship Octavius @ Reggies Rock Club (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Ghost Ship Octavius @ Reggies Rock Club (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Ghost Ship Octavius @ Reggies Rock Club (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Ghost Ship Octavius @ Reggies Rock Club (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos)
Ghost Ship Octavius @ Reggies Rock Club (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Ghost Ship Octavius @ Reggies Rock Club (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Ghost Ship Octavius @ Reggies Rock Club (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Ghost Ship Octavius @ Reggies Rock Club (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos)

(click to enlarge)


It did not take long to get everything setup for SANCTUARY and with more bodies inside Reggies the excitement was at the right level. The lights went out and one by one the 5-piece linuep entered the stage with the killer “Arise And Purify”. This one is from the band’s last album with Warrel on the vocals and you can feel the irony… Once the band had returned with such a massive album, Warrel “left”… “Frozen” followed without pausing only to affirm my thoughts about that album and I have to give the first set of kudos to Joseph for delivering this song’s moody chorus with such power and emotion. After being in this lineup for some time, he has gained lots of confidence because, it cannot be an easy task (far from it) to sing in a band that Warrel used to front. The love this guy has received from the fans is definitely one of the many reasons why SANCTUARY have kept touring with him.

After a joke about a ghost dancing during the GHOST SHIP OCTAVIUS set, it was time to enter to the main event of the night…Yes, it was time to open the history’s vault and enjoy “Refuge Denied” starting with the impossible to sing “Battle Angels”. Please, do check the studio version and try to imagine what set of pipes a singer must have to get this right. Before going on a pointless venture to compare voices, you should keep in mind that no one has ever claimed that SANCTUARY chose a singer to replace Warrel, but someone do justice to these songs without changing a lot of the originals’ atmosphere. And that’s exactly what Joseph has been doing and, as I said in the beginning, after gaining more confidence in this role he sounds even better.

“Is this an all-ages show? I don’t see people drinking” joked Joseph before the headbanger “Die For My Sins” and it was amazing to have Lenny at a spitting distance delivering the massive riff of this one. The chorus is perfect for singing-along (ok, trying to sing-along) and this is how it went down. Yeah, SANCTUARY seem to have seriously rekindled the scene’s interest so (again) I am hoping that this will transcribe into a new studio album. “Do you want more old-school?” was a rhetorical question but still, Joseph got a loud cheer to affirm the appetite of the people inside Reggie’s with “Soldiers Of Steel” being next. “I’ll just read the name of the banner for the next song” was the only hint we needed to understand that “Sanctuary” was next. “We are celebrating “Refuge Denied”; how many years was it released, Lenny?” the singer asked in a joking around way, and when some shouted the answer, Joseph added: “We have some Wikipedia editors with us” and aside from the fun side this exchange was a solid proof of how good the vibe is between the band and also between the band and the fans. After the end of the “Refuge Denied” part, the band left the stage but only for a while because the taped intro for “The Year The Sun Died” started blasting off the PAs. Have I already said that this album is amazing? The chorus on this one is so sad and hence, extremely powerful in concert. Extra kudos are in order for singing this one with the right amount of emotions. And to pair this with “The Mirror Black” sent massive shivers down my spine.

“Do you want a couple more?” was another rhetorical question and as soon as some shouted “play 10 more” Joseph’s response was “We are not GRATEFUL DEAD, to keep jamming all night”… Yeah, everyone was in high spirits that night with “Seasons Of Destruction” and “Taste Revenge” ending the set leaving everyone happy as a clam and in fact, there were a lot of fans who remained in the venue to meet the band afterwards. We have to hear more from these guys and to be honest, I am sure we will.

SANCTUARY setlist:

01. “Arise And Purify”
02. “Frozen”
03. “Battle Angels”
04. “Termination Force”
05. “Die For My Sins”
06. “Soldiers Of Steel”
07. “Sanctuary”
08. “White Rabbit”
09. “Ascension To Destiny”
10. “The Third War”
11. “Veil Of Disguise”
12. “The Year The Sun Died”
13. “The Mirror Black”
14. “Future Tense”
15. “Seasons Of Destruction”
16. “Taste Revenge”

SANCTUARY

Sanctuary @ Reggies Rock Club (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Sanctuary @ Reggies Rock Club (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Sanctuary @ Reggies Rock Club (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Sanctuary @ Reggies Rock Club (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Sanctuary @ Reggies Rock Club (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos)
Sanctuary @ Reggies Rock Club (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Sanctuary @ Reggies Rock Club (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Sanctuary @ Reggies Rock Club (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Sanctuary @ Reggies Rock Club (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Sanctuary @ Reggies Rock Club (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos)

(click to enlarge)