Originally Posted by maidenpriest
I guess this a bit overdue:
Somewhere along the line of the past couple years I became pretty good friends with SX bassist Mike Lepond, so we got down to the Starland pretty early and hung out with him outside for over an hour before we doors. We were at the front of the line, but because of all the VIP tickets a lot of people got in before us. There were less than 10 people for the SX one, but about 25 for the Iced Earth one. Despite that, we still managed to get a spot on the rail, though really far over to the right-hand side. Fortunately some people left after Warbringer so we got to shift 2-3 spaces toward the center, which made a pretty big difference.
Warbringer were, in my opinion, awful. I can't really say whether or not I thought the performance was technically good, because I wouldn't really have anything to judge against, but their music just absolutely doesn't do it for me. Granted, I'm not the biggest thrash fan, as we all know, but I DO like some thrash. The thing is, I do need at least some melody or harmonic change within the music once in a while to keep me interested - the whole chromatic, a-tonal power chord thing gets really boring after a while, and it just felt like I was listening to a really bad old Slayer song on repeat for 30 minutes.
Iced Earth played about 85 minutes, minus one Dante's Inferno, much to the dismay of some, myself excluded. The truth is I have just never really loved that song the way everyone else does, and in a situation like this, I would've rather had a few other songs in its place - which is basically what we got. I'll have to wait and see other setlists from this tour, but I think it was due to a timing issue. Iced Earth came on around 8:10 instead of 8:00 as planned, so I think they needed to drop 5-10 minutes from their setlist. The sound for Iced Earth was pretty damn good, and Stu Block was, as expected, a great frontman. For years I'd been seeing him with Into Eternity, performing music I didn't like, and always felt as though his energy and charisma as a frontman was being wasted. Fortunately that is no longer the case, and he really completed the process of winning me over. The band sounded great and the setlist worked very nicely. All in all it was a damn solid performance, and they were very, very well received by the near-capacity crowd. (Lepond told me they sold around 1,000 tickets - and the venue can't hold many more, it was a full room)
Symphony X hit the stage just after 10pm and were fantastic as always. Sadly the sound for their set was a bit loud, distorted, and muddy. I wore earplugs to the show and I actually had to take one out during their set in order to hear the individual instruments better. The set was certainly not lacking in energy, as the band powered through a new material-dominated setlist. Russell Allen sounded great, Mike Romeo shredded and then some, and as always, Pinella's keyboards were way too quiet, haha. Russell won me over for the umpteenth time, retaining his title as my favorite vocalist and frontman. Despite how great the show itself was in and of itself, I really couldn't ignore the disappointment with the setlist, not just from myself, but from most other people around me. The one thing I found upsetting was how the band came out for the encore and Russell said: "Who wants to hear some old shit?"... before the band proceeded to end the show with 3 tracks off Paradise Lost. Yes, I understand, it's older than the new album, but that's about it. This is just getting upsetting at this point. I don't care that they're playing 7 new songs, I care that the other songs in the setlist never, ever change. It's getting to the point that most SX fans I know are starting to second-guess whether or not they want to see the band.
I bought a Symphony X Iconoclast hoodie for $45 (shirts from both bands were $25). I got a guitar pick from Troy Seele from Iced Earth and Mike Lepond's SX Setlist.