–Review and photos by Keith Brake
Godsmack, Volbeat, Stitched Up Heart at The Ford Center, Evansville, IN.
Hello, Friends. My latest escapades in the world of concert review lands me at The Ford Center in Evansville Indiana for the very first time. The Ford Center is a smaller arena very similar to Chaefitz Arena and offers that unique vibe of larger productions with somewhat of an intimate feel. The venue was clean and well-kept and the staff is aces from what I could tell during my time there; a great place for a moderate road trip to see any band of interest.
On this night the lineup was pretty stacked as it included what could be viewed as a co-headliner in the form of Volbeat and Godsmack with support from Stitched Up Heart. If the name Stitched Up Heart is ringing a bell it should; “Lost,” the groups hot new release, featuring Sully Erna of Godsmack, has recently been showcased on Sirius XM Octane Test Drive.
The show kicked off without a hitch right on time, and Mixi (Vocals SUH) and the boys came out swinging! Though their set was somewhat abbreviated to allow plenty of time for the following acts the hard rockers from LA left zero doubt why they have been selected as support for this tour. Stage presence and charisma are not an issue for this group, as they command your attention throughout their performance, especially Mixi; when this powerhouse vocalist swings her hair and belts out her vocal stylings you will take note, she leaves you no choice. Decker (drums) and Randy (bass) keep the groove on lockdown while guitarist Merritt handles the axe. All in all I was quite impressed with this band and will certainly keep them on my radar from here on out.
Next to hit the stage were Volbeat. In contrast to Stitched Up Heart, I was quite familiar with the Danish rocker’s body of work. In my opinion, Michael Poulsen has one of the better voices going today and his live performance was nothing short of expectation. I am one who enjoys hearing a vocalist who can deliver a performance that holds up to the recorded material and Poulsen delivers in this regard, from the first note to the last. Musically Volbeat is as tight and cohesive as any band I have watched live, once again delivering on the powerful vibe that you get from their recorded materials. Although drummer Jon Larsen stays mostly hidden behind his drum kit he keeps the engine driving for this heavy metal rockabilly fusion. Larson, working in cooperation with bassist Kaspar Boye Larsen, they lay the groundwork for guitarist Rob Caggiano to play some great lead guitar while interacting with the crowd, both of which he does quite skillfully. Volbeat left the Ford Center crowd in a frenzy of positive energy putting those in attendance; exactly where Sully and the rest of the Godsmack boys wanted them.
The stage was shrouded with a curtain as Godsmack readied their set and there was no mistaking the moment they were under way; with a giant bang and some pyro the third and final set of this show was off and running. The evening to this point had been a great success and one could tell right away that the perennial rockers from Massachusetts were not about to let that change on their watch. Kicking off with the title track from their latest album “When Legends Rise” they took control of the crowd and never relinquished their grip until the last song. One thing that is particularly great about this bill as a whole is the fact that you get fantastic vocals from each band. Sully Erna has been belting out his powerful vocal stylings since the inception of the group and he is showing few (if any) signs of losing the slightest step. Godsmack, like Volbeat deliver in spades with their live performance never allowing a chance for anyone to mutter the phrase “Sounds better on the album”…because it doesn’t. I have been listening to Godsmack since their first offerings way back in 1998 on their self-titled album and I have to say that, as much as I love those recordings, I will take their live performance any day. The entire set was powerfully and masterfully crafted but a couple of moments stand out in my memory. Sully and Shannon’s performance of “Batalla de los Tambores” was insane and brought an incredible response from the crowd. Secondly the performance of “Voodoo” was incredible. Sully put those in attendance to work helping him sing and the production for this selection was spot on appropriate. Sully also announced the launch of their worldwide charity “The Scars Foundation”. The foundation is for the purpose of raising money to combat not only depression but all mental illness. After the announcement Erna sat down to his keyboard and the band proceeded with an emotional performance of “Under Your Scars”.
This tour is pretty much a can’t miss in my opinion as it is solid from front to back. For more information concerning The Scars Foundation or the remaining tour dates please visit https://www.godsmack.com/
As always thanks for all the continued support of Midwest Rewind and myself.