The Skull @ Bada Brew, Crest Hill (US)

THE SKULL / DEADMAN'S HAND / KNOW TIME 4 PAIN / SPYDERBONE

Date: 01st February, 2013
Venue: Bada Brew
Ticket: $5 (€4)
Promoter: n/a


There was no better way to start the new ‘live concert’ year for METAL KAOZ than to attend a THE SKULL live show; yup, we love TROUBLE songs especially if those are served by Eric Wagner’s haunting and velvety voice. Even though it was a really cold night with tons of snow and low than freezing temperatures, METAL KAOZ took a mini-trip to Bada Brew bar in Crest Hill, IL just to listen to our favorite tunes from the early TROUBLE years.

But the Bulls game and the snow storm did not give enough time to watch the entire billing, so we just had time for DEADMAN’S HAND as far as the supporting bands are concerned. Apparently there was some delay in the schedule, so the three-piece band from Chicago (although their Facebook page presents four members on the lineup) had to hurry to set up the gear and minimize the time loss. Their music was heavy and groovy in a modern way, mixing Thrash with Crossover with some Death Metal finishing touches. But nothing to get impressed by, even I have to cut them some slack since they were rushed to the stage without enough time to properly set up their gear (Chris Williams had a rough time with the stability of the drum kit and his singing microphone). The band played two cover songs; one on LED ZEPPELIN’s “Immigrant Song” and the other on MOTORHEAD’s “Ace Of Spades” with the latter being the best one. It was amazing watching Phil Johnson playing the Lemmy-tunes without a bass pick (awesome stuff). Anyway, it was a good warm up for us.

DEADMAN'S HAND

Deadman's Hand @ Bada Brew (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Deadman's Hand @ Bada Brew (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Deadman's Hand @ Bada Brew (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Deadman's Hand @ Bada Brew (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Deadman's Hand @ Bada Brew (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos)

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The time clocked few minutes before midnight when the five gentlemen stepped on the cozy stage (well, it was not an actual stage being a few inches of the ground) of Bada Brew and everything seemed ready for a Doom-y night. The two axemen, Lothar Kellar and Michael Carpenter took their spots on the wings of the stage, while Eric Wagner and Ron Holzner stood in the middle, drawing the fans’ most of attention as they were having absolutely fun. There was an almost family atmosphere inside the bar since there were only fully dedicated TROUBLE fans and friends of THE SKULL, knowing all the lyrics and doing some singing along from time to time supporting Eric. I’d like to see more faces inside Bada Brew though (we were hardly about 40 attendees that that time) but if you consider the bad weather, the bitter cold and the fact that Crest Hill is almost one-hour drive south of Chicago, there, you have the whole picture. Back to THE SKULL live, now.

THE SKULL clan didn’t seem to have the mood to do discounts; they played a full live show, honoring their audience, including two songs never played before since the band’s formation. While the heavy-tuned intro of “The Tempter” outburst (yup, this song still sends shivers down my spine), there was no time to watch all the action onstage, since there was a lot of happening; Lothar, Michael and Ron looked pretty aggressive onstage, enjoying beating merciless their strings, and Eric’s figure, standing right in the middle of this guitar-tornado, was preaching the TROUBLE words of Doom and despair like always. The sound was perfect (yeah, even dive bars have excellent sound system, so kudos for that!) delivering the goods without mishaps or unwelcome incidents, even though there were times when the bass seemed to dominate everything (although I do like this). “Bastard Will Pay” and “Wickedness Of Man” took our breaths with no breaks in between, and then Eric thanked everyone for being there that night, giving few minutes to the rest of the band for some tuning. “Pray For The Dead”, “Psalm 9” and “Assassin” took us by the hand, reaching almost the show’s middle that had it all: lots of headbanging, fun and sweat, and on top of that Lothar and Michael’s excellent guitar-action, bringing in mind Bruce Franklin and Rick Wartell’s onstage figures of the middle 90s. Yes, that’s real magik, people!

Right before Eric introduced the next song that my ears had never before listened to live (I’m talking about “The Last Judgement”), a TROUBLE die-hard standing in the front row asked for a band’s reunion and Eric responded “you really think the world is gonna be a better place with that? Cause I don’t think so”, making me think “people have to stop asking all the time for reunions and start enjoying what you have right in plate”. Having Eric and Ron on THE SKULL driving seat, while the two guitarists and Kevin on drums were doing really a hell of a job is more than satisfying, giving the fans the opportunity to listen to some old school TROUBLE songs, so I’m quite grateful for that. “Truth Is What Is” and “The Skull” gave us the chance for some more Doom Metal headbanging, making my neck crack a bit, while “Revelation (Life Or Death)” and “Another Day” speeded things being the best groove for our ears. Yes, this was a dreamy setlist every TROUBLE fan could give an arm and a leg to get an opportunity to watch live, proving that these guys don’t sit tight on their throne, but try to improve and stir things up, making every THE SKULL show a unique experience.

“Plastic Green Head” passed the button to the equally psych-groovy “End Of My Daze” for even some more headbanging action, during which Eric gave the mic to the front row fans and let them do some singing and I tell you, they did good. You see, most of the times the fans sound awfully out of tune but this time we were fortunate enough to deal with a dissent throat. And then, the second and last surprise of the night came: the first tunes of “Tales Of Brave Ulysses” (yes, the CREAM cover) filled up the venue, bringing some of TROUBLE’s early days’ scent, reminding what this band is all about – serious heaviness, 70s groove and high quality guitar expertise. Fortunately, THE SKULL continue this legacy loud and proud, proving that it may be better having two bands dealing with the songs/era of one. Think about it...

PS: Eric, once more, you nailed it! Great performance, man!

“The tiny purple fishes run laughing through your fingers,
And you want to take her with you to the hard land of the winter”

THE SKULL setlist:

01. “The Tempter”
02. “Bastards Will Pay”
03. “Wickedness Of Man”
04. “Pray For The Dead”
05. “Psalm 9”
06. “Assassin”
07. “The Last Judgement”
08. “Truth Is What Is”
09. “The Skull”
10. “Revelation (Life Or Death)”
11. “Another Day”
12. “Plastic Green Head”
13. “End Of My Daze”
14. “Tales Of Brave Ulysses”

THE SKULL

The Skull @ Bada Brew (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) The Skull @ Bada Brew (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) The Skull @ Bada Brew (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) The Skull @ Bada Brew (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) The Skull @ Bada Brew (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos)
The Skull @ Bada Brew (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) The Skull @ Bada Brew (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) The Skull @ Bada Brew (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) The Skull @ Bada Brew (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) The Skull @ Bada Brew (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos)
The Skull @ Bada Brew (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) The Skull @ Bada Brew (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) The Skull @ Bada Brew (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) The Skull @ Bada Brew (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) The Skull @ Bada Brew (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos)

(click to enlarge)