The three concerts I covered this week were all on the heavier side of the spectrum. This was one was an evening that proved to be the most epic and most intense of the bunch. The opening band that goes by the moniker of Zeal & Ardor was an aptly titled one that was a great precursor to the headlining acts and describes the evening perfectly well. There was an abundance of passion, energy, enthusiasm and intensity from all three of the bands that are on this North American tour.
The Switzerland based Zeal & Ardor opened up the night at the Skyway Theatre to get the crowd warmed up for a night of music. Baroness bassist, Nick Jost, also got warmed up as well as he took the stage with the opener to thump out some riffs on his bass guitar. It was an interesting juxtaposition of Spiritual vocal melodies but then adding the antithesis of that by including elements of black metal such as in ideology, blast beats, screams and tremolo picking on the guitars. The utilization of three signers created a lush harmony in the vocal department.
All members were cloaked in matching hooded robes. As the 35 minute set quickly ticked by, they eventually pulled the hoods back reveal themselves before continuing on with their set. There was overlapping styles of Gospel and Blues interlaced with more aggressive and heavier aspects. They played out some cool disharmonious riffs throughout the evening. I really enjoyed the recurring guitar theme in all of it’s various configurations heard in the song Don’t You Dare. In a deconstructed form near the beginning, the heavy tremolo version towards the middle but especially in the closing where it is more prominent and dissonant.
Zeal & Ardor Setlist
Come On Down
Blood In the River
Don’t You Dare
Devil Is Fine
Black Brick was a song that I was expecting and eager to hear live. In the lead up to covering this show I checked in to see what sort of material they were making these days and I was fascinated by the relentless barrage of black metal this song offered. As their carefully curated set played out I became more and more enthralled by their artistry. The amount of energy and drive that George Clarke embodied was astounding and most certainly intense.
Dynamic music is something I greatly appreciate but typically I’m not one for jovial music. While the upbeat portion’s of their music is seldom, this added to the contrast which aides in emphasizing the dynamics and this intense music hits you that much harder. The visuals I witnessed on stage made it work for me when hearing the happier parts, something I didn’t have when I first gave them a listen previously and brushed it aside. With the abundance of music that is out there, one can’t always devote as much time to understanding the music fully and actually listen properly. Often times its a quick read up or a suggestion that brings forth the sampling of an unfamiliar band’s work. The desire for more quality music to ingest is met with a culling process to quickly weed out what appears to not fit the bill so the next amazing artist’s piece can be adsorbed. Fortunately for me, this evening was full fledged listening session that swayed me into an appreciation for what they have created.
Brought To The Water
Chlorine & Wine was the first experience with the work of Baroness that I had. Hearing that song live this time around was so much grander. In that moment it struck me that a stage of this size is more befitting of their music. That tiny stage before just couldn’t prop them up to the level they belong at. As the final notes of Chlorine & Wine rung out the crowd began chanting out “Baroness! Baroness! Baroness!” This was amusing for me, as it seemed like their set had ended. The band had just walked off and the crowd was empathically encouraging the band to play them one more song. It hadn’t even been 30 minutes yet and the crowd was eagerly awaiting this fury of energy and emotion to continue. This same audience response occurred two more times. Once more after the new song Borderlines and after the emotive Eula. I was thrilled to hear Eula in this well suited location as it is a favorite of mine. They intro to this live version seemed much slower and more ominous than the original recording. By the time the drums kicked in I was awash with a wave of chills.
Singer and guitarist, John Baizley, was grinning much of the night. He really enjoys playing with his band-mates and it clearly showed across his face and stage presence. Shredding riffs back to back with fellow guitarist Gina Gleason and the countless time they were shoulder to shoulder or facing each other feeding of the energy of one another. There was a time he went walking behind bassist Nick Jost cracking a smile at his playing. Then there was the moment he was facing drummer Sebastian Thomson thrash out on the drums with such great fervency that caused another moment suitable for a grin. They all have a great rapport with one another that is evident in the way they interact on stage.
Gina Gleason is a new addition since my last time seeing Baroness play live. She is an amazing guitarist full of energy that was constantly released on that stage. Whether that be by jumping off the drum kit stage or stomping about with hair flying about while jamming out some riffs. Her vocals offer a nice counterpoint to Baizley’s and I am eager to see how her performance is captured on the new upcoming album
A Horse Called Golgotha
March To The Sea
Chlorine & Wine
If I Have To Wake Up (Would You Stop The Rain?)
The Sweetest Curse
Take My Bones Away
Remaining Tour Dates:
March 31 – Chicago, IL – The Riviera Theatre
April 2 – Toronto, ON – Danforth Music Hall
April 3 – Montreal, QC – Corona Theatre
April 5 – Sayreville, NJ – Starland Ballroom
April 6 – Worcester, MA – The Palladium
April 7 – Albany, NY – Upstate Concert Hall
April 9 – Cleveland, OH – The Agora
April 10 – Silver Spring, MD – The Fillmore
April 12 – New York, NY – Terminal 5