23/04/2008 Headbangers Ballroom, Hamburg (Germany) 26/04/2008 The Rock, Copenhagen (Denmark) 13/05/2008 Turock, Essen (Germany) 14/05/2008 013, Tilburg, Netherlands
The wait was finally over. JON OLIVA'S PAIN made it back to Europe once more and a slightly jet-lagged band took on the tiny stage at Headbangers Ballroom. I love that place, it's a really cool pub but as a concert venue and for a band of the size (!) of JON OLIVA'S PAIN I don't know? The sound can never be fair for such dynamic and emotional music (and then a six-piece orchestra too). For me this night, I got a lot of guitars, both visually and volume-wise. Matt LaPorte is a truly amazing guitarplayer and to stand very close, right in front of him for a whole show was a true privilege. Just to be able to watch the technique he possesses and listen to precision he plays with is such a turn on!
Of course, the first date of the tour always means some technical mishaps. Most everything, except Mr. Oliva's's keyboard was dead when the intro started and smaller chaos erupted on-stage but Jon kept going by improvising a little and talking to the audience. He signed a ticket and tried to convince us he was actually writing a postcard for his mom. ?It's not like I have anything better to do he said and giggled. They get started after a little while and every time I see them I'm amazed with Jon's voice. It gets better and better each time.
To my surprise almost half the set was JON OLIVA'S PAIN-songs, I've wanted that for a long time. I sure as hell love to hear the SAVATAGE-songs live but since I've seen both SAVATAGE and JON OLIVA'S PAIN several times up to now I hoped it was time to expose more of their own material. So it was, a couple from their latest release Global Warning and some from Maniacal Renderings, but unfortunately nothing at all from the underrated Tage Mahal. Would have loved to hear The Dark or The Nonsensible Ravings Of The Lunatic Mind.
Chris Kinder asked me after the show what I thought. ?Ehm, It was a little strange I say. Well, that's a nice way to put it he replies. Strange? I was more referring to my position so close to the stage and having to duck from Matt's guitar every now and then to not get hit in the head when he was turning around on stage rather than anything negative with the show. Ok, it wasn't the best JON OLIVA'S PAIN show I've seen but it wasn't bad either, not at all. This band can't be bad, no way! Because of the huge musical arrangements of several songs on Global Warning, Tom McDyne was added as a second guitarist on this tour. He is also an awesome guitar player and can absolutely gave Matt a match. But he didn't impress me much with stage presence touring with CIRCLE II CIRCLE a couple of years back. For good or bad, my comment on the forum sort of got stuck and he commented on it just before they hit the stage at The Rock. He has definately improved but he still needs to get out of the darkest corners of the stage and show off a little more.
Well, most of the stage at The Rock was a dark corner. It was hard to get decent pictures, the guys ran out of the frame before my camera had a chance to snap the picture. Also, I though the crowd was a bit lame. Just a few people in the front just made some noise. The crowd woke up for a few occasions and I found that a bit strange because the place was quite crowded. The show-starters for this tour were a bit of a surprise too. That Sirens is a nice trick to set the party-spirit off on everyone is a fact; and the follow up Unusual was a killer. ?If you wonder why I have a walking-cane, Jon said after the first two tracks: I hurt my knee just before going on tour. The doctors wanted me to cancel the whole thing but that was not an option. So, just as you know, I'm not trying to be Alice Cooper. It's just my knee that hurts as hell. Can I have a drink?Jon looked at his crew and said: I need something to kill the pain? ?No offence guys!!!Jon looked at his band and laughed. His laugh is so contagious and even if I've heard that joke several times before it still is hilarious. The mixture of SAVATAGE_JON OLIVA'S PAIN-songs was pretty much the same here as Headbangers Ballroom but the order was completely different and I think the latter one was the best. When The Crowds Are Gone doubtless drew the best response from the audience.
Compared to The Rock, Turock was packed and bubbling with life and I guess that boosted the band. Of course, together with all crazy things that happened in Greece. Yeah, that was completely crazyChris said when I met him during the day before the concert. The crowd was really loud and they stage-dived, even to Believe? Just Believe wasn't on the set-list at all for neither Headbangers Ballroom nor The Rock and that's the cool thing with this band, you never know what happens and it's absolutely worth seeing them more than once on each tour.
Jon has a story to every track and shares gladly. The amazing Hounds were dedicated to his brother Criss, Jon's own favorite songs from Gutter Ballet. I agree with him since it's my favorite from that album too. O To G was dedicated to soundguy Greg Marchak that passed away just when they started to record Global Warning. More stories about all and nothing kept coming in between songs and the Bratwurst incident brought on laughter. Apparently, when SAVATAGE was opening for MOT?RHEAD on their first tour in Germany someone threw a hotdog towards the stage and hit Johnny Lee Middleton right in the face. I hate when people try to deliberately sabotage a concert but Jon and Criss thought it was hilarious and couldn't stop laughing. Need I say Johnny wasn't as amused as his bandmates?
Those two last shows of the tour sure was something special. That Turock was packed was not such a big surprise but that the more than double-sized 013 in Tilburg should be full too? Just great! It's good to see that they get the crowds and response they deserve. It's hard to pick the best one of those two. Turock is intimate and you get close to the stage, still the venue is big enough to create a really good atmosphere. On the other hand it was so cool with the full light-show and huge stage at 013. The bad thing with the second one was the height of the stage, I could barely get my nose over the edge. But performance-wise it's impossible to pick the best one out of these two. Everything was just flawless. The setlists were the same, with the first part of Mentally Yours as an introduction to Tonight He Grins Again, both When the Crowds Are Gone and Believe in the set. Both shows also featuring Doctor Dan on Piano for Jesus Saves.
Musically, it's perfection. But it is still amazing to see small bits and pieces falling into place gig after gig that raises everything an even higher level. The sound is clearly set and the musicians complement each other with grace. It would have been nice with a guitar-duel though.
Unfortunately, it wasn't much time to hang out and talk after the 013-show, the band had to go to the airport and the venue was closing way too early. These aftershow-chat's and signing sessions is sort of a tradition after all shows. That is one more thing that makes this band so unique, they always have time to talk. Just look at the forum and you'll see comment after comment about this and that making them the best band in the world. I'm leaving the venue thinking, they'll never be able to top this. But I've been there before, thinking the same thing and this far they've proven me wrong. So, now all I can do is wait for the second leg of the 'Global Warning Tour'.