It has been quite some time since the largest arena in Pittsburgh, Consol Energy Center, had seen a modern metal show in town. But all that changed Monday, May 9 when three well-established metal/hardcore acts brought the goods to the Pens home. Say what you will about these bands, but seeing them live, it is very hard to criticize these guys who bring full passion to the fans every time.
Show openers POD made a statement early on by launching into their hit “BOOM” right away. The well seasoned “metal” band formed in 1992 and have gained a huge following since. They don’t look like they have aged a bit and they certainly still kill it on stage with high energy focus and performance. The band only got to perform a six-song set, but were solid all six and provided a helluva warmup.
Co-headliner, Shinedown, started their set by first playing the opening to “Purple Rain” on the speakers, as a tribute to Prince. Lead singer Brent Smith came out wearing a Penguins Bo Bennet shirt and the crowd went nuts. And if that did not get everyone incensed enough, the second song on their set list was “Diamond Eyes” (Boom-Lay Boom-Lay Boom) and the entire arena sounded like a bomb bursting with happiness. The band knows how to play the crowd with constant movement, excellent lighting, and personal touches. Smith even made sure to shake every security person and camera people in the pit as he encouraged the crowd to turn to their neighbors and do the same. Once again the metal community shows how tight-knit they are and appreciate their ability to play music for a living more than most genres. Drummer Berry Kerch was highly visible behind his kit and put on a master class in percussion. Bassist Eric Bass is an absolute wild man on stage, jumping, running, and putting on his own show throughout the evening. And of course, lead guitarist Zach Meyers exhibited his talent by showing off his classic rock influences and fluid style. Highlights for fans were definitely the playing of their biggest hits and the inclusion of the cover of Lynyrd Skynyrd’s “Simple Man” (full setlist in pix), and a beautiful serenade to a woman in the front row.
Five Finger Death Punch are no strangers to a Pittsburgh crowd. So, it’s no surprise that they came out swinging with “Lift Me Up”, “Hard To See” and “Got Your Six” right away. The band’s current formation is certainly the one that has cemented them into stardom and also made them headline rock news at times. Singer, Ivan Moody, was quick to confront that fact and let the music do the talking instead of talking about his personal issues and a dispute with their record company. Say what you will about 5FDP, but these guys bring a show and play their hearts out. They all really appreciate their fans as well. Chris Kael (bassist) even came out before Shinedown’s set and shook hands and took selfies with a ton of people. As is a tradition at a 5FDP show, Moody also was very protective of the kids in the crowd. He even stopped the set after the third song to make sure a six-year-old was not getting hurt, even admonishing his dad by saying “great parenting”, and then whisking them to the side of the stage. When the band prepared to play “Burn MF”, they brought up a dozen or so younger audience members and their guardian to rock out and sing what may be questionable lyrics for some that age. But, any fan who comes to the show knows what they are exposing their child to, so no judgments.
Watching Jason Hook play is fascinating as he wields his guitar like an appendage. Using his signature style guitars and licks, Hook clearly loves what he does and has contributed greatly to the band since his arrival in 2009. The interplay of his leads with Zoltan Bathory’s rhythm and leads blends very well for their more commercial style of metal. Both are amazing players and any guitar enthusiast would have to be impressed by their showmanship. As for Chris Kael, who does not absolutely love Chris? He is so fun to watch as he plays to audience members, swings that beard with its own zip code, and pounds his bass to oblivion. Much like Pittsburgh Steelers Brett Keisel (retired), Kael’s beard is probably more famous than he is. looking like something out of Pirates of The Carribean. Percussionist Jeremy Spencer decided to paint his face like a skull and just ripped at the drums all night. His dynamic personality shines even from the cheap seats. Last but not least, Moody had the infamous red hand print on his skull (mimicking Bathory’s design), and used that distinctive and powerful voice to great effect.
All of these guys are great showman and know how to deliver an experience to their devoted. Love them or hate them, you have to respect what they are doing for the fans. It was great to see a metal show back at Consol and these three bands certainly set the bar high.
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