Concert Review – Disturbed (Scotiabank Arena, Toronto, ON, 03/04/2019)

David Draiman and his henchmen took Toronto by storm once again, providing us all a touching and memorable night of heavy music, life and friendship.

OPENING ACTS: Three Days Grace

Monday night in Toronto was damn cold, windy and, even if it was sunny and hot, it was still Monday. However, there’s nothing better than a good rock and metal concert to warm us up on such a boring day, right? That’s exactly what over 20,000 fans got at the now named Scotiabank Arena (formerly known as Air Canada Centre) during the Disturbed: Evolution Tour, featuring Three Days Grace as the opening act and, obviously, Disturbed, spearheaded by the iconic David Draiman. I was surprised with the amount of very young people at the venue, proving that rock music is far from being done (and I’ll talk more about it later), and not even that annoying bitterly cold wind was capable of stopping us all to raise our fists in the air to one of the most important bands in the history of Alternative Metal.

I must confess I’ve never paid too much attention to THREE DAYS GRACE, mainly because their music is not my cup of tea, sounding way too radio-friendly at times. That doesn’t mean I didn’t enjoy their performance, though, as those Toronto-based rockers put on a very energetic and fun concert, still promoting their 2018 album titled Outsider. Frontman Matt Walst didn’t stop running around and jumping up and down for a single second, demanding the audience to sing along with him and to ignite some circle pits. A few songs stood out from their setlist, like The Good Life, Pain, Riot and, of course, their biggest hit I Hate Everything About You, all working as a good warm-up for the main attraction of the night. In other words, if a fan of Thrash, Death and Black Metal like me enjoyed their show, I can imagine how happy they made their diehard fans playing in their hometown.

Setlist
Intro (Livin’ On a Prayer)
The Mountain
Home
The Good Life
Pain
Infra-Red
Painkiller
Break
Right Left Wrong
I Hate Everything About You
Animal I Have Become (with “Seven Nation Army” interlude)
Never Too Late
Riot

Band members
Matt Walst – lead vocals, rhythm guitar
Barry Stock – lead guitar
Brad Walst – bass, backing vocals
Neil Sanderson – drums, keyboards, backing vocals 

DISTURBED

It was around 8:50pm when the lights went off and the humongous screen at the back of the stage started showing scenes from several DISTURBED concerts through the years, also presenting some rebellious and inspiring messages to the crowd, and that video worked flawlessly to pump up every single person at the venue for the opening track Are You Ready, from their 2018 album Evolution (which is definitely not their best effort, but it still has some very good moments, I might say). And although the whole concert might not have been as electrifying as their latest performance in the city in 2016 with Breaking Benjamin while promoting their 2015 album Immortalized (partially due to the extreme cold outside, as their 2016 show was outdoors in the middle of the summer), David & Co. kicked ass with a very solid and diversified setlist, proving once again why they’re still relevant after all those years on the road.

It was indeed a feast of classic tunes from the band, with crushing hymns like Stupify (where David gave a short speech about how the media wants us to believe we’re divided, when in fact we’re all united no matter our color, race, gender or sexual orientation), Voices, Ten Thousand Fists and their cover version for Genesis’ Land of Confusion (my favorite of the night, by the way) inspiring everyone to jump, headbang, mosh and sing together with the quartet. Dan Donegan, John Moyer and Mike Wengren were on fire with their instruments, providing David everything he needed to blast his unparalleled screams. Furthermore, despite the biggest part of their setlist being comprised of heavy songs, it was when they played their ballads that they truly connected with the audience, and that happened for a very simple and delicate reason. It was visible that all four members of the band were very sad and touched by the death of their longtime friend Keith Flint, the wicked frontman for British electronic music trailblazers The Prodigy, who committed suicide at the age of 49 at his home in Essex earlier that same day, turning the concert in Toronto something very special for the entire band.

When they played Hold On to Memories on the main stage, showing photos and images of their entire career including some pictures and old footage with their friends Chester Bennington (from Linkin Park, who also committed suicide in 2017) and the unparalleled Pantera brothers Dimebag Darrell and Vinnie Paul, who died in 2004 and 2018, respectively, it was already a memorable moment for everyone at the venue, a celebration of life and friendship by Disturbed, but it was when they moved to the smaller acoustic stage at the back of the floor section to play A Reason to Fight and Watch You Burn that we could clearly see a lot of tears falling down from their eyes. David took some time to give a very meaningful speech about how depression is not something people choose to have, but a very serious disease that can consume even the most famous and richest people on the planet, dedicating that part of the show to Keith Flint just like what he had done a week before remembering the lives of Chris Cornell, Scott Weiland and Chester Benington during their concert in New York. There are (several) other people out there either suffering from depression or who had already reached the unfortunate point of suicide, like the talented Huntress frontwoman Jill Janus who passed away in 2018, and as David said we need to reach out to those in need to win this battle against such horrendous illness.

The other three unforgettable moments for me (and for most people at the venue) were first and foremost their already classic tribute to Simon & Garfunkel with their flawless version for their ballad The Sound of Silence, the insane fire on stage during Inside the Fire (for obvious reasons), and the amazing kids with their parents on stage to celebrate rock music during The Light, proving once and for all as David said that rock is not dead like the media enjoys “vomiting” in our faces every single day. And lastly, as the icing on the cake, how about two of my all-time favorite Disturbed songs, the superb Stricken and the demented Down With the Sickness, which ignited a big, fun and frantic circle pit that took over a significant part of the central area of the floor section? That’s what good rock and metal music is all about, right? Having a good time with your loved ones, enjoying a nice beer while watching a great band like Disturbed perform, and resting assured that while bands like Disturbed are alive and kicking, our beloved Rock N’ Roll will never, ever die.

Setlist
Are You Ready
Prayer
The Vengeful One
The Animal
Stupify
Voices
Land of Confusion (Genesis cover)
Hold On to Memories
Ten Thousand Fists
The Game
A Reason to Fight
Watch You Burn
The Sound of Silence (Simon & Garfunkel cover)
Indestructible
Inside the Fire

Encore:
The Light
Stricken
Down With the Sickness

Band members
David Draiman – vocals
Dan Donegan – guitar
John Moyer – bass
Mike Wengren – drums

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Album Review – U.D.O. / Decadent (2015)

“Decadent” is a word that definitely doesn’t fit for the German Tank Udo Dirkschneider when it comes down to Heavy Metal.

Rating5

UDO-DecadentAfter over 40 years on the road, either with his former band Accept, his solo career with U.D.O. or lending his one-of-a-kind voice as a special guest to bands like Lordi and Raven, one thing must be said about the iconic Udo Dirkschneider: the German Tank is indeed an unstoppable Heavy Metal machine. And now with Decadent, the fifteenth studio album by his solo band, despite the endless feeling of “been there, done that” found in the entire album, he proves once again that he’s far from being a decadent artist.

And how has this Teutonic metaller managed to stay relevant in the world of heavy music until today? Well, you might not be a fan of his raspy and screechy voice or the way he looks, but you have to admit he surely knows how to craft good metal music no matter what, just like other veterans such as Motörhead and AC/DC, always loyal to his roots and beliefs. Decadent might not be a masterpiece or something that will be an essential part of your playlist in a not so distant future, but it’s a decent display of old school Heavy Metal and, especially if you’re a diehard fan of his solo career, an album that will keep your faith in the German Tank.

However, it’s when Udo and his crew get down to business that everything makes a lot more sense, starting with the opening track, Speeder, a more-than-pure traditional Heavy Metal tune with no shenanigans, nothing new, just good old straightforward heavy music. Udo’s voice might not be as potent as before and the lyrics are as “generic metal” as possible (“It’s faster than the light / You better step aside / The speeder of the night”), but the song is very enjoyable anyway and one of the top moments of the album. The title-track, Decadent, talks about old issues that are still among us like greed, politics and violence (which by the way are themes many bands sadly forgot they existed, or simply ignored them in their most recent albums), and its extremely catchy riff and rhythm will please all fans of both U.D.O. and Accept.

Udo_PainThe following track, House Of Fake, has a very promising start with fast and thrilling riffs, and its chorus is a lot fun. Unfortunately, the rest of the song doesn’t vary much from that, which hampers it from being a lot more interesting. Then we have what’s probably going to be the worst metal song of 2015 in my opinion, a horrible attempt of sounding “different” entitled Mystery: despite being a heavy track, it’s annoying as hell, with its bridge, chorus and everything else being such a joke it makes me wonder what Udo and the rest of the band really wanted to do in this song. They failed miserably, unless of course they purposely wanted it to sound so bad, and I dare you can listen to this song more than once like I had to. At least the excellent Pain erases that nasty impression left in the air with a journey back to the 80’s, where inspired by old school metal music each element found in this song works extremely well. Besides, Udo smoothly declaiming the beautiful words “Try eating some of your own shit – for once / Cos’ I’m not taking it – anymore” is one of the top moments of the song for sure, deserving to become one of those memes with famous quotes from celebrities. Well, why not doing that myself as a tribute to Mr. Dirkschneider?

A ballad with Udo on vocals is always a mystery, with the final result being either amazing or a more-than-epic disaster. Luckily, Secrets In Paradise doesn’t fail to deliver, mainly due to its decent solos and a chorus that suits Udo’s raspy vocals pretty well. The band speeds up things again in Meaning Of Life, which is nothing more than an average metal song that is far from being memorable, but that doesn’t do any harm to the album either; and in Breathless, which despite not being very creative, it’s a very good metal song, with highlights to the nice work on drums by Francesco Jovino, the adequate blend of Udo’s voice and the guitar riffs in the background, and its sing-along chorus (“We are so breathless all the time / So breathless / Cos’ we are restless in the mind”). The digipak version of the album has two bonus tracks inserted randomly amidst the other tracks, with the first one being Let Me Out, and let me tell you this song is a lot better than almost everything in the entire album. It’s a song for hitting the road with your bike, with those basic drumming, lyrics and riffs that together sound powerful and exciting.

UDOAnother great moment in Decadent is Under Your Skin, where the music flows nicely and enhances the overall quality of the album. It should be one of the chosen songs for live performances, especially due to its “Fast as a Shark” accelerated rhythm. Regrettably, the rest of the album is a collection of uninspired songs, starting with the tasteless Untouchable, which is so generic it could have had any other name and lyrics and it would have sounded exactly the same still, and the other bonus track, Shadow Eyes, completely opposite to “Let Me Out” so boring it is. Rebels Of The Night, despite its fast rhythm, is another average song where even Udo doesn’t have a good performance, and lastly we have Words In Flame, a huge “orchestral” failure that will make you beg for it to be over just a few seconds after it actually starts. Why such a tiring and shallow song had to go over 7 minutes is beyond my comprehension.

Anyway, as previously mentioned, do not expect the birth of a new metal classic with Decadent, but do not expect to be disappointed with it either. U.D.O. are still good in what they do, of course led by the one and only Udo Dirkschneider, and while they release decent and honest material like in Decadent, we can rest assured old school Heavy Metal will keep pleasantly piercing through our ears for many years to come.

Best moments of the album: Speeder, Under Your Skin and Let Me Out.

Worst moments of the album: Mystery, Shadow Eyes and Words In Flame.

Released in 2015 AFM Records

Track listing
1. Speeder 3:45
2. Decadent 4:49
3. House Of Fake 4:26
4. Mystery 4:36
5. Pain 5:10
6. Secrets In Paradise 5:00
7. Meaning Of Life 4:34
8. Breathless 5:21
10. Under Your Skin 4:22
11. Untouchable 5:09
13. Rebels Of The Night 4:41
14. Words In Flame 7:36

Limited edition digipak bonus tracks
9. Let Me Out 3:56
12. Shadow Eyes 4:21

Band members
Udo Dirkschneider – vocals
Andrey Smirnov – guitar
Kasperi Heikkinen – guitar
Fitty Wienhold – bass
Francesco Jovino – drums