Tannersville, PA – September 5, 2010
By Mike Flavin
It’s hard to be objective about a show like this – the debut gig of a legendary band with an almost twenty year history, a band whose very existence hung in the balance only two years ago. Fortunately for fans of the group and hard-hitting progressive rock in general, the band decided to carry on after the untimely passing of vocalist Mike Baker in 2008, finishing the brilliant Digital Ghosts album and announcing a serious of live dates. For this debut show under the pavilion at Barley Creek, excitement was as high for the audience as I’m sure the nervousness was for the band. But first things first!
Opening the show with a raucous, energetic, and tight set were New Jersey-based Suspyre. Suspyre rocks as hard as any of the better known prog-metal groups I’ve seen (admittedly, not a large number, but still…) and I’ve never seen a performance from them that didn’t leave me impressed by their enthusiasm and musicianship. Vocalist Clay Barton is a one-man wrecking crew onstage, with a huge persona that allows the rest of the band to concentrate on their flawless execution. The enthusiastic reception from the partisan crowd and the new material from their still in-progress fourth album hints of bigger things to come for this talented group.
After the equipment changeover, Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody” blasting through the PA system got the crowd in the mood for something big – what better tune to announce an event like this than the biggest, most grandiose rock song of all time?
The band came on to a thunderous cheer from the crowd, so loud that many didn’t notice the fireworks that were shot off behind us to celebrate this occasion. Over 300 people, some of whom traveled from all over the US and even overseas, can indeed make a lot of noise!
The set itself was a tale of two bands. Opening with a quick set of “Stiletto In The Sand”, “War For Sale”, and “Mystery”, the nerves seemed apparent, and the band’s stage presence was edgy and tight. There were some very minor technicalities, such as a problem with Carl Cadden-James’ bass cord during the first number, and some hesitancy with the count off between numbers. Minor issues, but most unwelcome distractions, to say the least.
After the third number or so, a different band emerged. Once vocalist Brian Ashland shed the dark shades and jacket, the entire group likewise relaxed and tore into a set of material from all of their albums with power and real emotion. As the audience cheered the band on, they responded in kind by rocking even harder. It was one of those rare exciting moments when band & fans unite, in some kind of Metal Mind-Meld.
Partway through the set, bassist Carl Cadden-James gave an impassioned speech to the audience thanking them for their support, and urging them to support not only the local radio stations that play their music, but to support all music ‘where musicianship matters, where harmony and melody matter’. I certainly couldn’t agree more, and Shadow Gallery is a perfect example of what he was talking about: no tricks, no stunts, no lip-sync or prerecorded tracks, just great musicians playing their hearts out.
I’m a pretty conservative reviewer, but I have to give this one a perfect 10. This was an incredible night!
Clay Barton – Vocals
Sam Bhoot – Bass
Andrew Distabile – Guitars
Gabriel Marshall – Drums
Gregg Rossetti – Guitars
April Sese – Keyboards
Gary Wehrkamp – Electric & Acoustic Guitars, Keyboards, Vocals and Drums
Brendt Allman – Electric & Acoustic guitars, Keyboards, Vocals
Carl Cadden-James – Bass Guitar and Vocals
Brian Ashland – Lead Vocals, Guitar, Keyboards
Joe Nevolo – Drums
Eric Diegert (touring member) – keyboards and guitar
Last of the Survivors
Alterations of the Ivory
+ 3 unreleased un-titled songs
Stiletto In The Sand
War For Sale
Deeper Than Life
Questions At Hand
Ghost of a Chance
Digital Ghost (Intro)
Brian’s Solo Piece
Strong Part II