Friday, February 25, 2011

WSOU Presents: Times of Grace, The Gramercy Theater, 02.22.2011

When asked to describe what a recent concert I attended was like, a whole bunch of words are readily available: awesome, brutal, fun, etc. I have yet to use the word beautiful for a metal show, but I can’t think of any other word than this to recap Times of Grace.

Photo credit: Gabriela Canella

This past Tuesday night, when I entered the Gramercy Theater and watched Adam and Jesse perform, accompanied by their live band, "beautiful" is the only word that kept running through my mind. I have seen them both perform with Killswitch Engage in the past and I know they bring their A-game, but this was something totally different that yielded something totally spectacular.

One of my favorite parts about their new album, The Hymn of a Broken Man, is the lyrics. They are totally uplifting and relatable; Jesse and Adam have a way of taking their pain from their darkest moments and, rather than making their songs complete downers, they turn their experiences into something inspiring and positive. Backed by some of the heaviest musical parts, the album is one of my favorite new releases of the year.

With that being said, the whole live show really intensified all of my prior listening experiences. Anyone in the crowd who listened to Times of Grace play that night felt Jesse and Adam’s pain, made it their own, and released it along with them. Adam and Jesse put so much passion and energy into each word, riff, and beat mading the entire experience truly beautiful. When moments got too serious, Adam lightened things up by doing little dances with Joel or just making funny faces, but even his usual laid back, jokester personality seemed more mature for this project.

One of the most beautiful moments during their performance occurred shortly after their opening song, "Strength in Numbers." The band just finished the song and Jesse was about to speak to the crowd for the first time. He was immediately drowned out by the crowd’s chants of “Jesse! Jesse!” Fans were excited to see him return to New York, and how could they not be? He was appreciative of their excitement and support, and he and Adam humbly acknowledged it and thanked the fans all night.

Jesse’s singing sounded superb and better than ever. I was fortunate enough to witness him sing a few songs on Killswitch’s most recent tour through the area where Phil Labonte (All That Remains) filled in for Howard. He sounded great then, but even better this past Tuesday night. Every clean, melodic lyric sounded perfectly polished and every growl and scream was straight from the heart. Even Adam’s singing parts sounded wonderful live, along with the rest of the band. Every song was well-rehearsed and if there were any mistakes, they were hard to pick out.

Although many were quick to stamp the Killswitch label on this band, especially since 3/5 of the founding members were playing together, the show discredited any of these assumptions. As I've said before, I’ve seen Killswitch multiple times, but this was one side of Adam, Joel, and Jesse that I’ve never seen before. It is no surprise that there was no encore and no Alive or Just Breathing tracks, as some fans wanted after the set. Times of Grace was something completely different than that era of Killswitch and the two could not even be linked together, other than the fact that 3/5 of the lineup was present. This particular show felt very intimate because these guys were putting their deepest, most vulnerable selves out there, but it was definitely well-received. Gramercy was packed tight from early on in the night and the crowd was great the whole way through. You still had your usual moshing, crowd surfing, and singing, but there was a certain grace in the air that just made this show, as metal as it was, beautiful.


1. Strength in Numbers
2. Willing
3. Hope Remains
4. Fight for Life
5. Until the End of Days
6. In the Arms of Mercy
7. Live in Love
8. Worlds Apart
9. The End of Eternity
10. Hymn of a Broken Man
11. Where the Spirit Leads Me

- Yo Gabby Gabby