Iced Earth Live in Cleveland

By Tokemaster General, Contributor
Tuesday, May 4, 2004 @ 12:09 AM

Iced Earth, With Children of B

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REVIEW BY: Hellbeast

Ever since I first heard his voice on Judas Priest's Live Meltdown CD, I thought Tim Owens was one of the best singers in metal. After Matt Barlow left Iced Earth last year, I said on several occasions "Wouldn't it be great if Ripper sang for Iced Earth?" Well, my prayers were answered in the form of The Glorious Burden. The new Iced Earth line-up is the strongest to date. The Glorious Burden was very well received by most fans, and I personally think its one of their best albums. That said, I could not wait to see the new line-up live...

I was originally planning on seeing them in Columbus, but due to some strange scheduling issues, the dates were reworked. When I saw that their very first show with Tim would be in Cleveland, I immediately called my friend Ben to see if he wanted to go. We got our tickets, and prepared for the trip. When the day arrived, we set off from our small-town home of Batesville, IN. Cleveland is about five hours away, so we left bright and early. We had "Fans First" tickets that allowed us early entrance to the venue, thus ensuring our spots in the front row.

As we waited to get in, off the tour bus strolls Jon Schaeffer, the mastermind behind Iced Earth. He was really cool, signed my Glorious Burden CD booklet, shook my hand, and talked to those of us standing around. He headed into the club to begin the soundcheck, and we listened closely to try to pick out the riffs he was playing inside. Since Tim had never performed live with Iced Earth before, we had no idea what the setlist would be. I was sure Tim would pull off all the old songs well and silence his critics.

Once inside the early entrance area (which was a bar in the back of the venue), we could hear the band soundchecking through the door. They played the entire "Gettysburg" trilogy as a soundcheck. The song, which is the focal point of the set for this tour, sounded incredible through the wall, and Tim's voice sounded amazing.

Eventually we got into the venue, bought our T-Shirts and water bottles and ran up to the front of the stage. We took our spots and waited for Evergrey. I had only heard a couple of songs by them, but was looking forward to seeing them live, to see if they could "win me over" as a fan. They played a short set of about 40 minutes and kicked serious ass. The sound was very clear and they had a strong stage presence. The drummer was really cool and came over a shook my hand after the set. They really impressed me, and I plan on buying some of their CDs...

Children of Bodom then took the stage. The drummers both used the same drum set, so the change-over time was really quick. CoB were pretty good, though I thought Evergrey were better. A bunch of fans pushed up the front and moshed a little. I've heard quite a few CoB songs, though they didn't play any of my favorites. I wasn't really pleased with the setlist, but since I'm not a big fan, I'm sure I was only looking for their more popular songs. You'd have to talk to a fan to see whether the setlist was "good" or not. Either way, they were okay. I'm not a big fan of the vocals, but the guitar work was pretty amazing. I guess I was just expecting something a little cooler, but then again it was the first show of the tour, so who knows? And then...

The stage was cleared, and Richard Christy's massive Pearl drumset was uncovered. The large “Glorious Burden” backdrop became clearly visible, and all of the guitar amps were off to the side of the stage as opposed to at the back. This made the small stage seem a lot larger. The lights went down and the Iced Earth chants began. I saw Iced Earth a couple years ago on their tour with Megadeth, and I got the same chills now as I did then. “The Star-Spangled Banner” began to play over the PA as an intro (meaning “Declaration Day,” from the new CD, would be the opener). The band came onstage and the crowd went crazy. Jon's guitar did not initially work, so the sound was a little off for the first couple seconds of the song. That was quickly corrected and band played through the intro to "Declaration Day"...

When Tim came onstage, the crowd lost it. Immediately, I realized that he had a much better stage presence than his predecessor. I'd like to mention that I love Matt Barlow's vocal and think he's incredible. However, Tim has something extra in his performance, an edge to his vocals that Matt didn't have. He's much more animated on stage, and works the crowd very well. He came out with a huge smile on his face, clearly comfortable in front of his hometown crowd. His voice was clear and dead-on. He let the crowd sing the chorus of the song, not that you'd have been able to hear him anyway over the crowd's screaming. There was so much power and energy in this first song. I never once during the whole show thought about Iced Earth with Matt. THIS is the definitive Iced Earth line-up. Judging by the reaction of fans across the country, I'd say most people are pretty happy with the new line-up.

They went straight through three more songs without stopping: "Burning Times," "Vengeance is Mine" and "Violate." All sounded incredible and Tim was perfect on them. His voice really fits the material well, and he has a slightly different interpretation of them than Matt. Since Tim's specialty is his amazing screams, he used them here and there to add new life to the songs. “Violate” was especially incredible.

With his air-guitar and shadow boxing, Tim stole the spotlight without even trying. Jon was his usual evil presence on the left side of the stage. New guitarist Ralph Santolla's guitar was really hard to hear, so I missed out on a lot of the lead guitar work. The bass drum also could have come up a little, but those are minor complaints. Richard Christy was incredible as well, far more animated this time than the last. He even sang back-up vocals on some of the less complicated songs.

Despite some minor difficulties, like Jon's guitar not working at the start of "Greenface" and Tim screwing up the lyrics once or twice, the show went very well. They played the entire "Something Wicked" trilogy, which is incredible with Tim on vocals. I could not believe how great he sounded. I never got a chance to see him with Priest (though I was supposed to and the show was cancelled, damnit!) Other highlights included "Angel's Holocaust" and "My Own Savior."

The band played their obligatory ballads. "Melancholy" was fucking awesome, especially with Tim's vocals. A lot of fans had their doubts about how well Tim could sing the dramatic ballads, but rest assured, he kicks ass on them. "When the Eagle Cries" was also played. I know a lot of people roll their eyes at this song, calling it "too pro-American" or what not. Say what you want, the song was incredible live. Everyone sang the lyrics, and it was actually pretty powerful to hear 1,000 people drawn together by the song.

For an encore, the band played the entire Gettysburg trilogy. Jon and Ralph came out with Confederate and American flag Les Pauls, respectively. The stage was adorned with large Confederate and American flags, and Jon and Ralph even wore army jackets of their respective "side." I love metal theatrics, so I thought it was really cool. The song was incredible and very well executed. The band was locked in with the recorded symphony and cannon tracks. They wrapped up the show with "Iced Earth," which provided the coolest moment of the night. In the middle of the song, Ripper let out the most massive of screams, and just held onto it for as long as he had breath. The band stopped playing and just watched him and laughed. The chemistry of the band was undeniable.

Jon and Tim play off each other really well on stage. James did an amazing job as well. He has a really badass custom bass that he's using for this tour, and it looks and sounds great. The members really understand the idea of performing together, coming up to the front of the stage and lining up several times to perform for the crowd. They are the greatest metal band in the world, in my opinion. There is no other band who comes close to the power and feeling of an Iced Earth show. They are the perfect mix of music and show. This is what metal is supposed to be. I've seen over 130 bands live, and no one can put that "Goddamn, this is why I love metal" smile on your face like they can.

I got the set-list of Tim's monitor, so I'll give you the official set list. If you get a chance to see this show, GO! You will not be disappointed. This is heavy fucking metal. Tim is a fucking vocal god, and anyone that doubts him will be proven wrong. Goddamn, it’s two weeks later and I'm still fucking excited about it!

Iced Earth's set:

Star Spangled Banner (PA intro)
Declaration Day
Burning Times
Vengeance is Mine
Angel's Holocaust
Red Baron/Blue Max
When the Eagle Cries
My Own Savior
Something Wicked Trilogy
Gettysburg Trilogy
Iced Earth

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