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Headbangers

Live in NYC: Iced Earth, In Flames & Jag Panzer

By Mick Stingley, Contributor
Tuesday, April 23, 2002 @ 4:02 PM


Live At The World, New York Ci

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1. It is just after four o’clock and I have returned to my apartment with a ticket for tonight’s show. 3 bands, 25 bucks cash. Not bad. I have only heard of these bands, and own none of their work. I have known of Iced Earth for about three or four years, but whatever one or two songs I once listened to at a record store didn’t stick with me as much as their awesome CD graphics. The recent KNAC interview with Jon Schaffer was part of my motivation for seeing Iced Earth; these guys are from Indiana, and they are evidently a big deal in Europe, but couldn’t get arrested here. Interesting. I suppose I could have purchased some CDs and done a crash course on any or all of these acts; but I want to attend this show with no expectations, short of cruising their websites, and write about it as a challenge to myself. Maybe true fans of these groups will chastise me depending on the outcome of my opinion, but I submit that, if only as a long-time resident of New York Fuckin’ City, all attitude aside, I love music and I am open to new experiences. Other concerts I am seeing here in NYC this month alone include: Lesion on the 13th, Siouxsie And The Banshees on the 18th, Ice-T on the 25th, and Motorhead on the 30th. Read or don’t read, and draw your own conclusions.

2. I feel I should explain that I didn’t randomly choose tonight’s show as a “writing challenge;” I have nothing to do tonight, and they happened to be playing. I have no use for free time lately, as I am an emotional train wreck since my girlfriend broke it off with me. Anyone who read my review of the Tesla NYC show in “Headbangers” can understand. So I would do just about anything to keep busy on my nights off, which I would probably just spend sobbing like DeNiro when ‘Tommy’ got whacked in Goodfellas. Not pretty. So, this seemed like a cool distraction from panic. Plus, I love all things rock.

3. Well... not all things rock. Anyone who has read my “Retro Reviews” on Metal Sludge knows I have a dim view of Swedish bands. That really applies more to ‘80s-style pop-rock, I suppose. But for journalistic clarity, I have no preordained angst towards “In Flames,” whom I have just learned from their site, are Swedish.

The doors open at 7 PM, so I will head out early to make sure that I get to see all the bands. I have never seen a show at The World, which is the old Paramount Theatre in Times Square, now owned and operated by The WWF. I’ll be seeing Motorhead here in three weeks, so I am curious to check out the venue.

THE REVIEW

“Well, here I am…” I wrote in my 5”x 3” notebook, “and it’s now almost 8 PM. What the hell is going on?”

What is going on is a line backed up west on 43rd Street, past the entrance to The New York Times building, and going on, I think, until 8th Avenue. Is this a security issue?

I will never know unless someone from WWF/The World emails me and tells me. There is no explanation as to why ticket holders (like me) are standing out here for almost an hour after doors have opened. Granted; it’s a beautiful evening, t-shirt and jean jacket weather, but this is ridiculous. I try to make the most of it. I look over the abundance of t-shirts worn for the concert.

Who’s the most popular? Well, I see Opeth and Fear Factory; Iced Earth and In Flames tour shirts are ever-present… who else? LOTS of Maiden shirts, old and new. Cannibal Corpse and Pantera… some Ozzfest shirts… one Mercyful Fate shirt (“Don’t Break The Oath,” a personal favorite of mine)… a New Jersey Nets tank top. But of course, The Nets are doing very well this year. Anything else that I see? Actually, I see a few girls, come to think of it. A super-hard metal show like this is usually a “guys only” kind of thing -- not tonight. Some goth girls with backless black tops sporting wicked tattoo creations. Nice. A little eye-candy for The Heartbreak Kid. Thank you, God. My ex-girlfriend would never attend a show like this. Too heavy; too “op-rock” she would say. But she was a good sport, nonetheless, and loved live music as much as I do, and might have come if only to make fun of the bands. Too bad -- I have to go it alone.

Anyway: if reading this far is annoying to you, imagine what it’s like to stand in line for so damn long with no explanation given. Hey! I’m not employed by KNAC, and I don’t have the kind of juice to get in with a press pass; I only contribute like everyone else, so I have to tough it out just the same.

FINALLY, the line moves, and after a fashion, I am in. First time in the venue and I start heading downstairs to get a look at the place -- AND WHAT IS THIS??? Jag Panzer IS ALREADY ON? WHAT THE BLAZES IS GOING ON? DAMN IT. I rush through the masses, and past the t-shirt booth to get inside. Sight lines are terrible, and the place is already packed! (Note to self: Come early- like two hours early for MOTORHEAD ON THE 30TH!).

Well, Jag Panzer is onstage, and they sound like Iron Maiden. I seem to recall they were part of “The New Wave Of British Heavy Metal.” But that was back when Def Leppard were fairly new, so if you’re not at least my age (34, *sigh*), you might not remember this music-media term. Whatever. Jag Panzer was part of a slew of new groups that came out of England at the same time as “New Wave,” I think, and…well, I don’t remember them. But I think it would be worth it to see them now, and here I am, just in time for- THE LAST SONG! ARRRGGGH! Why do I feel like Charlie Brown? They thank the crowd, and remind everyone that they will be back! Great. I hope they play another club that lets people in when they’re supposed to let people in. Already I hate this club.

I make my way to the crowded bar, and investigate the draft beer situation. I am thinking it is a night for Jack and Cokes, but I want to stay alert, and beer has less of an effect on me. Especially most concert beer. I have a theory about “concert beer.” I think that some government agency has, for no reason, ordered all Ticketmaster concerts to water-down whatever brew is being served by whatever corporation has it’s hooks into whatever venue is screwing the masses by making you go to Ticketmaster and pay a SURCHARGE for HANDLING the tickets. If you saw the schmuck who issued my ticket to me this afternoon, you would have thought you deserved a kickback just for tolerating the tortoise -- like HANDLING of pushing a few buttons to make THE MACHINE print out a ticket. BUT I DIGRESS…

As I am livid about more or less missing Jag Panzer, I decide that watered-down concert-beer is the way to go. Too much attitude will spoil my “tabula rasa” for the evening. I opt for Miller Lite for no reason other than I see it. Twelve ounces, six bucks. Ah, The Official Beer of “Smackdown” or whatever. Thanks WWF.

ONWARD.

The In Flames banner has just been dropped behind the drum set. I can see this on the flat-screen TVs that adorn the whole club. It is a “state-of-the-art” club, I will give them that. I think the In Flames logo, yellow letters on black, is a little to gimmicky, but I resist the notion, as I want to like them, if only to prove that I can like Swedish bands after all. “Open mind, open mind,” I keep thinking, and nurse my beer.

After what seems like a lot of fuss setting up the drums (a huge kit, with double-bass, and way, way too many cymbals), In Flames takes the stage. Can’t tell you what the opening number is, but it’s heavy. And so is the singer, sort of. Noticeable paunch, but this is not about looks. Still, what kind of rock band touts an out-of-shape singer? Don’t count Fear Factory. Their fans will kill you. Isn’t the singer supposed to be a lean and trim rugged adventurer of music? Maybe I’m asking too much. I couldn’t care what the guy looks like as long as they’re good. Ho-hum.

I notice around me some people heading towards the stage. They are sporting brand new In Flames t-shirts; black, with their logo across the top, and an image of a match that has been struck. Very cool shirt, I think. Very cool. There must be something to this band. I wait… The singer, whom I am starting to dislike because he seems winded after ONE SONG, calls in the next number, something, I think he says, from Jester. Not bad. Pretty much heavy rock the way heavy rockers like it... The next one is a good one. “Clayman,” from the same album, I gather.

Again, I’m trying to remain optimistic. The crowd loves them, but I think I am a few years older than most people here. NOT TOO MUCH OLDER… but older. *sigh*. Nothing special here, though. If I was 15, I would “so love” this band. But I’m not. They need more than cool graphics and run-of-the-mill chord changes to get me going nuts. They’re not terrible; they’re just not anything special. And now I can imagine my ex- saying to me: “We should have stayed home and watched Law And Order reruns…” She would have been right.

The singer, now drenched in sweat about his chest, and brushing his hair back, calls out, “I CAN’T HEAR YOU!” Bad sign. Either you’re as deaf as Helen Keller, or you are a weak showman who can’t suck up enough to a crowd that is totally loving you. Now I AM hating them. He calls in a song called “Gyroscope” that rocks pretty hard, but I can’t help wondering: why is it that every Swedish girl I have ever encountered in my lifetime is a drop-dead gorgeous knock-out, and why all Swedish men (in music, anyway) seem to suffer from Geoff Tate/Ronnie James Dio long-hair male pattern baldness? OOOPS! The guitarist on the left of stage just SMILED! About what? What are you smiling about? Such perfect teeth. I wonder if dentists in Sweden are like Maytag repairmen here in The States? Always with the perfect teeth, those Swedes. Who knows? Incidentally, this band is weak. I saw Ratt last fall, and the lead singer, Jizzy Pearl, while not a “super-heavy metal-ly rock GOD,” might curry more favor with this crowd had they seen him “rock out” on stage instead of this bum. But again, I don’t want to be a jerk or whatever.

The singer calls out to the crowd: “I want to see you jump up and down!” and then names a song that sounds like, “Only For The Swedes,” but I think is “Only For The Weak.” It sounds totally heavy and has a nice groove, but might be a “Dead Or Alive” song from the ‘80s, just ‘heavied-up.’

“ARE YOU GUYS PSYCHED FOR ICED EARTH?” Of course we are, dink. I’d be psyched for The Backstreet Boys at this point. They play whatever song they played, and thank the crowd. I guess if you’re an In Flames fan, it is a good show. You know all the songs, you know the background, you wear the shirts, you hate your teachers… whatever. I guess I just can’t imagine anyone going to class tomorrow and bragging, “Dude! We went SICK at the In Flames show! We started the pit! Dude! They were the bomb!” Or whatever the kids are saying. Sorry. Swedish bands still suck. Swedish girls kick ass. Too bad Jag Panzer had to open for these clods. NEXT.

I have a second beer.

ALL RIGHT.

Maiden’s “Rime Of The Ancient Mariner” is playing over the P.A. during breakdown and set set-up. A good sign. Now, all I know about Iced Earth is that they’re from Indiana, and they’re huge in Europe. Well, so is Michael Jackson. Also, David Lee Roth is from Indiana, And John Cougar Mellancamp. I have been to Indiana, a couple of times, and had a lot of fun by the way, at a strip club in Muncie called, “Joker’s Wild.” I saw a girl named “Devon Michaels” dance there. I also saw a girl named, “Niki Knockers” dance there. Both were amazing, and could kick the shit out of the In Flames guy. Easier on the eyes, too, if you follow.

Iced Earth. I’m waiting…

At ten minutes past ten, Maiden’s “2 Minutes To Midnight” comes on… and then: People in the crowd start chanting, “Iced Earth! Iced Earth!” Over and over. LOUDLY, I might add.

I make my way to the floor. I have to see… Iced Earth banners over the stage. One on the left is a ‘Wolfman’ silkscreen, and the one on the right is…I am told “Damien” from the movie, The Omen. Behind the drums is a Frank Miller or Frank Frazetta-like character who’s perhaps somewhat similar to Maiden’s “Eddie.” Nothing wrong with that. At least their logo doesn’t look like a Swedish beer label. Their latest album, according to the guy and his date next to me (who are smoking a POWERFUL joint) fill me in on the Horror Show CD info, as the crowd chants. The couple I am talking to is shouting above the crowd into my left ear and all I can make out in the din of the bouncing, cheering crowd is bits and pieces. Plus, I am now inhaling second-hand trip-weed that would fell a Jamaican lumberjack. When in Rome… or whatever.

Now the audience is doing this cheer-leader thing singing, “Iced Earth” and then clapping twice after shouting. It goes like this:

“Iced Earth!”
Clap-clap
”Iced Earth!”
Clap-clap
And so on…
It is mesmerizing, and I am starting to do it, too.
And then…
WHOA!

I thought I had seen all the metal I had ever needed to see in my life. I saw Metallica with Cliff Burton, and later on the “Black” tour. I have seen Iron Maiden, Priest. Megadeth. And Danzig. And Type O. And the Ozz-stuff. And so on. If it was HEAVY METAL, I probably saw it. I have even seen Deicide (Awful, just awful…both times!)

But this was something else, this Iced Earth! They come out. No frills, playing “The Star-Spangled Banner,” but heavy. Heavy -- skull-crushing heaviosity, I would say. Someone in the band is waving an American flag. Nice. Not speeches, not trying to suck up to the NYC crowd. Almost subtle in it’s grand way. Hard to explain. But rockin! And good old-fashioned headbanging ensues. They open with something, but I can’t read my notes: is it from Jeckyll And Hyde? Go to your favorite “Iced Earth chatroom” for more details, I guess. It’s awesome.

The singer -- Matthew Barlow? Has a voice born of Rob Halford meets Geoff Tate meets James Hetfield meets Dave Mustaine meets -- I’m gonna say it, John Mellencamp -- meets Bruce Dickinson. Wow, that’s a lot, isn’t it? Well, I’m right as rain on this one. They call in the first track from Horror Show, and all I have written in my book is, “Metallica should change their name.” (More on this later.)

These guys are clearly Maiden meets Metallica meets Queensryche meets Priest/Halford. How do I describe seeing this show as a first timer -- a virgin, if you will? When they play, “The Hunter” (I think), I am awed. I am running out of superlatives to properly review this band. Too cool for words. I think, in an R-Rated way, I would say this: Have you ever made love to a woman so passionately and intensely that she looked at you red-faced and winded and whispered through clenched teeth, “Oh my God, you are amazing!” Well, neither have I, ha, ha. (Maybe that’s why I have an EX girlfriend… *sigh*) But seeing this band live would feel as cool as that sounds. More PG-Rated? Okay. Have you ever had a moment in life where you had a day off from work, a pocketful of cash and a car with a full tank of gas, and thought to yourself, “I can go anywhere I want!” Well, that’s what seeing this band is like. Completely liberating and wholly enthralling. The whole crowd, including me, is with them. They can do nothing wrong. We can go anywhere. Amazing.

They announce something called “Melancholy,” and the crowd responds the way a Maiden crowd would cheer for “Rime.” I think it is about Jesus Christ. Okay. It’s cool. Better than Creed, that’s for sure. The lead singer is all hair, way down to his waist. Reddish, like Mustaine, I think. And the whole band is in jeans and a couple of members sport jean jackets with sleeves up. What did I say about the weather? The show continues with more songs from Horror Show, and the next is “Jack,” about Jack The Ripper. Well, that is, I think, just fine. Very Maiden, some might say, but what’s wrong with that? JESUS! This motherfucker has got some pipes! Rob Halford, eat your heart out!

Next, the singer announces a “Trilogy,” and it begins with “Scarred”. Is this from Something Wicked This Way Comes? I can no longer hear the stoner couple over the music. “Watching Over Me” is said to be a song by Jon, the founder/guitarist, and is clearly a favorite among the die-hards. Good song. Mellow and I think of mid-tempo Queensryche. After that is “Dracula,” and I think Rob Zombie needs to find new material, as they have him beat on this one. More? How about another “Trilogy” either from The Dark Saga Or Something Wicked…; but again, this is my first show and I know nothing about Iced Earth except the genius I am seeing. Maybe I have the song titles all screwed up, but that’s what you get. Tomorrow, I will buy some Iced Earth CDs to sort it out, And ROCK...!

When the song is finished, Iced Earth thank Jag Panzer, and, kindly, In Flames. But the crowd will have none of this “time to go” nonsense. And, of course, they come back. How could they leave us without JUST ONE MORE?

In spite of In Flames, I feel as if I got my money’s worth, that’s for certain. But an encore -- “and the song is called, ICED MOTHERFUCKIN’ EARTH!” Yeah. That’s all I need to say, I think. Band rocks. Crowd goes nuts. Exit Stingley.

I need a cigarette and a long nap, I think. As I pass by the swag set-up, I notice that the In Flames shirts are selling well, and…whoa! Iced Earth has a baby-doll for $20. Imagine the lucky guy who dates a girl who wears an Iced Earth baby doll!!! How F’N cool is that? Not a “Bon Jovi” baby doll. Not a “Korn” baby doll. Not even an “ICP” baby doll... but an Iced Earth baby doll? *Sigh* If only I could meet a girl like that…

After the show, I am standing on the south corner of 43rd and Broadway, looking north at Times Square, all I see is the frozen wasteland of empty hearts and beguiling lights. Was there ever a better place to see Iced Earth?

Lucky me. An Iced Earth FAN.

Final note: Metallica, you are finished, in my book. I have been disappointed for too long. You ought to change your name to “ICED CHAI LATTE” and go home and play with your vaginas. You are a bunch of girls.



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