Friday, March 19, 2010

Killswitch Engage @ Irving Plaza 3/18/10

Everyone who knows me knows that I absolutely love Killswitch Engage. Every time they come around, I always try to see them. Thursday night I was lucky enough, at the last minute after it had been announced the show was sold out, to once again catch them in the city. Thursday night at Irving Plaza was no typical Killswitch show, though. For the fifth time, I saw this band like I never have, and probably never will, again.

Before I get to KSE, I have to mention the first opening band, Dark Tranquility. For the most part, I am relatively unfamiliar with DT so I went into their set wondering how they would be. Within the first few seconds of Ghost Town, their set opener, I was blown away. They continued to impress me right until the very end. They had a hard, edgy sound mixed in with a few melodic parts, perfect for moshing and even singing along at some points. They brought a great energy with them and I couldn’t ask for a better opening band. I will definitely be checking them out more in depth.

The Devil Wears Prada was up next. Again, it was my first time seeing them and they did not disappoint. When they hit the stage, everyone went nuts. Literally nuts. Keep in mind a sold out show at Irving Plaza, which is probably no bigger than my basement, means pandemonium. Everyone got moving, pits grew huge, and the crowd surfing commenced. I enjoyed TDWP’s set, but not so much being moved around the entire floor. I did get a kick out of the lead singer’s Penguins shirt, which just shows that after all this fame and glory, these musicians are just your average Joe. TDWP played a nice mix of their older material along with some newer songs and I’m sure everyone had a great time while they were on stage.

Finally, the moment everyone had been waiting for. Killswitch Engage took the stage to roaring shouts and cheers, except this time without their soulful, beloved Howard Jones. It has still not been explained why Jones had to unexpectedly leave the tour for personal reasons. In his place was Phil Labonte, singer of All That Remains and good friend to KSE. I’ve seen Phil before in his natural environment with ATR, but seeing him standing there with KSE was pretty awesome. I will admit things were very well rehearsed for him jumping onto the tour last minute and learning all the songs. His voice was just as great as it always is live and he was probably the best fill in for KSE. Adam, as usual, flaunted a cape and an “interesting” getup, while the rest of the band sported hairy, scraggly beards or hair. The chaos continued for Killswitch’s set, but this time I avoided it in the back of the room.

In the middle of their set came yet another surprise guest: Jesse Leach himself, the original KSE singer. How is that for a real treat! Leach and Labonte sang together for a song, which was cool. Right after that Killswitch played a few songs straight from Alive or Just Breathing while Leach continued to take over. This was an awesome experience to see Leach perform with the rest of KSE. He sounded great, just like he did all those years back. Overall I thought their performance was tight, well put together, fun, energetic, and just plain fantastic. Here is their set list:

Opened with: Rose of Sharyn
When Darkness Falls
A Bid Farewell
This is Absolution
My Last Serenade
Numbered Days
Self Revolution
Vide Infra
Temple Within
My Curse
Take this Oath
The End of Heartache
Encore: Prelude
Life to Lifeless
Fixation on the Darkness

The encore was, by far, the best part. Leach came back again after handing the mic back to Labonte, and performed a few more AOJB tracks. The coolest thing was Adam actually switched over to drums for these songs, so I witnessed the original lineup of my favorite band. It was beyond belief awesome. Everyone in the crowd was excited and really upbeat for Jesse and it was so nice seeing him perform. Life to Lifeless was fantastic live with Jesse. It’s definitely one of my favorite songs off that album and I was stoked to hear it, as was everyone else. I will never get tired of hearing Heartache either, which will always be my favorite KSE song. Overall, fantastic show. One that you definitely did not want to miss and one that will go down in history.

By: Gabby Canella
Photos courtesy of Will Hawkins Photography