(Flyer image via: TestamentLegions.com)
(Ticket stub and guitar picks images via: NYCDReamin Archives)
After a seemingly endless day of waiting, the Gorgeous One and I headed out to Mpalewood last Sunday (May 10th) for an evening of what promised to be some of the most skull-crushing metal ever heard on this or any other planet. We dropped in to Old Country Buffet for a nice dinner before we headed over to the venue, The Rock, which is located just across the street from O.C.B. As we stood ouside the doors awaiting entry, I heard a few guys behind us discussing old concerts they had attended and they were talking about the Stryper/Hurricane show at the Roy Wilkens Auditorium in St. Paul, MN back in April of 1987. I turned and told them that I had just recently posted a story about that very show on my blog. (Read that review HERE.) We were all in agreeance that it was an amazing show and that Oz Fox and Robert Sweet are both tremendous musicians. Soon the doors opened and we were let inside and we headed straight to the t-shirt booth to see what was available. The Gorgeous One settled on a nice "girlie" Testament shirt that she looks amazing in and I picked up a very cool zipper-hoodie with an all-over print and cool graphics and tour dates on the back. Now I can finally retire my old Testament hoodie that I picked up all the way back in 1997 - the thing has served me well and kept me warm through many cold Minnesota winters and is definately showing it's age. We walked over to the stage and found ourselves in the front row, right up against the barricade, on the left side of the stage and settled in to wait for the show to begin.
The show was scheduled to begin at 8:00pm and of course, in true rock and roll fashion, it was about 8:30pm when the first band, Lazarus A.D. finally took the stage. They came out and just a few minutes into their set I could tell these guys were really a great band. The mentioned they were from Wisconsin (Kenosha) and they liked to drink, smoke and rock. And rock they did - with an intensity that most bands would kill to posess. They produce a tight, sonic assault that clearly illustrates their love and mastery of the speed metal genere. The singer commented that it was a dream come true for them to be appearing on the same stage as the legendary Testament. After about 35 minutes or so they wrapped it up and the stage crew appeared and began the tear-down/set-up process. I was wishing Lazarus A.D. could have played a bit longer - which is a rare opinion for me to have about an opening band. The Gorgeous One and I both agreed that they were awesome and that we would definately go and see them again any time we get a chance.
About 20 minutes passed and soon the idiots from Unearth appeared on stage. (I will not provide a link to their website(s) and you will see why in a moment.) From the second they started playing I knew I was not gonna enjoy this band much at all. They seemed cocky, full of themselves and like they were the greatest thing since oxygen. They make alot of noise, that's for sure, but there was no discernable talent that I could see or hear. Just noise. One of the guitarists liked to sip his water/and/or/beer and spit it through his teeth at those in the front row - something I have always found disgusting. He continued to do this throughout the entire set and at one point he was over on our side of the stage and I thought to myself that if he spit his shit at us I was gonna toss my half-full water bottle at his ugly fuckin' face and teach him a lesson. Fortunately he was not as stupid as he looked. I think he saw the look of death that The Gorgeous One was giving him, so he smiled weakly and moved over a bit before spitting his liquids on some other poor suckers a few feet away from us. The continued making their noise for around 45 unbearable minutes and when they announced they only had time for one more number, I screamed "Thank God!" as loud as I could. Alot of people in the crowd behind us were moshing and thrashing away throughout their set and I thought "there is no accounting for taste I guess." Soon, but not soon enough, they were finished and The Gorgeous One and I discussed just how loathesome we both agreed they had been. Unearth - a shit band. Please do NOT support this crap. And no, I will NOT redact my opinion.
Tear-down and set-up for Testament took only about 20 minutes and the intro music was playing and a few Metallica tracks were included in the mix. I told The Gorgeous One how Testament and Metallica had once, long ago, been nearly equal in their musical awesomeness and that at some point Metallica had lost their edge and began to suck the MTV dick of mediocrity and how Testament continued to get better and heavier over the years. I was so excited for her to witness them for her first time. This was the 8th time I have seen the band and they have never disappointed - quite the contrary - they always completely destroy me. And tonights show would be no exception.
For several days before the show I had been jamming the vote-box over at TestamentLegions.com with my vote for "Setlist C". On this tour the band has a thing set up where you can vote on one of three setlists - A, B, or C. Setlist A would be the entire "Legacy" album plus other tracks. Setlist B would be the entire "New Order" album plus other tracks. Setlist C was just an ass-kicking selection of tracks spanning the band's entire 25 year career. I must have voted over a dozen times for setlist C and as soon as the band took the stage I was thrilled to hear the opening number "Persecuted" - the first song from setlist C. So my choice was the winner and I immediately began to get even more excited - I knew an amazing show was getting under way. The band looked great, looked to be enjoying themselves very much and were as tight and heavy as I'd ever seen them. The commenced to decimate the nearly sold-out crowd with a pulverizing setlist which was as follows:
Persecuted/Practice What You Preach/Into The Pit/Dog Faced Gods/Raging Waters/More Than Meets The Eye/Demonic/True Believer/Legacy/Over The Wall/The New Order/Souls Of Black/First Strike Is Deadly/Desciples Of The Watch/D.N.R./Three Days/Formation of the Damnation
Throughout the show I noticed several people videoing the show and I was hoping that some of those vids would turn up on YouTube within a few days. Click the links in the setlist above to view videos from the show. (The link to the one viedo I have found so far seems to be broken right now as the clip is currently unviewable. I'll add more as they appear.) There were also a few photographers between the stage and the barricade with some seriously-pro looking camera equipment taking lots of photos.
At one point, vocalist Chuck Billy was grabbing a bunch of guitar picks and tossing them into the crowd. I noticed he was working his way over to our side of the stage and when he was directly in front of us he smiled a big toothy grin, reached out and placed one of the picks right in the outstretched hand of The Gorgeous One who was visibly thrilled to be handed such a cool momento from the rager himself - she had this huge smile on her face and I was thrilled for her. As the band thrashed on, I noticed a pick on the floor, over the barricade, just out of reach. I motioned one of the security guys to grab it for me which he did. I put it in my pocke without looking at it. As the show was nearing it's conclusion, we decided to move back a bit as it was getting might hot, sweaty and smelly down in front. I reached in my pocket to show her the pick I had got and much to our horror, it was NOT a Testament Pick but an Unearth pick. She snatched it out of my hand with a look of absoulute disgust on her face and threw it across the bar where it landed unnoticed by anyone. I would have done the same thing but she beat me to it. No way was I gonna add anything related to those morons to my collection.
As the show wound dwon, Chuck introduced the rest of the band and they played a few more numbers and then it was all over. As always happens when I see Testament, I was feeling like I had been run over by a mack truck - they just stomp you into submission with sheer power and volume - and it's a beautiful thing. I always leave their shows feeling completely drained. We immediately headed for the door as the band was leaving the stage and hopped in the car for the long drive home, me thrilled again to have witnessed one of my favorites of all time, and The Gorgeous One, awestruck at what she had just witnessed for the first time. The drive home was rather quiet as we were both suffering from some serious ringing in the ears and neither one of us had much to say except "Awesome. Fucking awesome."
Can't wait till the next time, which can't come soon enough.
All Hail The Might Testament!!!
Read my previous Testament Reviews:
04/11/93 - Testament @ Mirage, Minneapolis, MN
07/31/08 - Testament @ Epic, Minneapolis, MN