Disturbed spent June and the first part of July touring abroad. Their impressive list of tour stops included: Sweden, Finland, Estonia, Russia, Ukraine, Poland, Belgium, Czech Republic, Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria, Greece, and Israel. After returning to play the Rock USA Festival in Oshkosh, Wisconsin on Saturday, they kicked off their next bunch of North American tour dates in little old Mankato on Sunday night.
Pleasantries like free parking, $3 pizza/water/soda, and $6 beer greeted us in small town Minnesota. The Mankato Civic Center is the home of the Minnesota State Mavericks hockey team. The ice was out, but the hockey boards still lined surrounded the concrete general admission floor area. The angular stage protruded in lower and smaller sections reach a point that extended beyond the center ice redline in the arena. With a second satellite stage set up just inside the other blue line, nearly half of the arena’s floor was covered by stages. It was pretty full, but the arrangement probably limited attendance to about 5,000 in this smallish arena. The thing that really caught our eye was the massive video screen behind the main stage. A standard hockey rink is 85 feet wide and this monster screen covered all of that and then some. Looking at it up close it was made of many lightweight strips rather than solid display sections, to allow it to be more easily transported and hung. Yet, somehow, clear as can be.
POP EVIL was displayed in huge black letters on the enormous changing-color background as we found our “on the glass” seats (minus the glass) near the far corner of the rink. Pop Evil is only opening for Disturbed for the first five shows of this North American leg and then In This Moment takes over for the rest of the shows. The Michigan rockers are one of my top-five favorite bands so I was feeling lucky that they were the opener for our show. I’ve seen them live six times in the last two years, mostly in smaller venues. But I’ve also seen them at the Treasure Island Amphitheatre, so I knew they would impress in an arena show too. They played several songs from their latest self-titled album but also many of their earlier well-known radio hits.
Singer, Leigh Kakaty, thanked us for choosing to be here to support live music and asked us to sing along to recent #2 anthem, “Be Legendary,” telling us, “You are legendary, Minnesota!” Then their #1 mainstream rock hit from a few years ago, “Footsteps” which everyone knew. The band has had five #1 hits. Asking if we wanted to keep this Pop Evil party going, Kakaty added his go-to phrase, “Somebody scream!” My personal favorite, the high energy “Take It All” kept things going. Saying he thought it was time to go back to their oldest Pop Evil song, he treated long-time Pop Evil fans to “100 In a 55.” But first he explained that Pop Evil means “pop music is evil”, ripped Justin Bieber, and asked us to scream if we believe in rock ‘n’ roll.
“Last I heard, this is a Disturbed show,” said Kakaty. “Should we bring the metal back? First, everyone needs to stand up. This isn’t a Taylor Swift concert. Now how does that feel?” he asked as the band kicked into their heavier “Waking Lions.” A special helper, of the five-year-old variety, came out on stage. I believe it may have been Kakaty’s son. The lead singer held him in one arm while holding the microphone with his other so the youngster could nail the “Waking the lions in me” over and over to blow away the crowd. After the song, Kakaty told us, “If you are not introducing your kids to rock, you are doing it wrong.”
While that was amazing enough, there was more excitement to come on the band’s final song, their 2013 #1 hit, “Trenches.” Midway through the song, the energetic singer took off into the crowd and worked his way around the entire main floor perimeter while continuing to sing. Then we got a special treat as he hopped over the hockey boards 10 feet away from us and stayed there to finish singing and exclaim, ” Until next time, peace, love, and Pop Evil!”
Now while I’ve seen Pop Evil many times in concert, this was my first time seeing Disturbed live and was I ever impressed. They know how to put on an entertaining show! The Rock 95 host spoke between bands and said it was Disturbed’s third time in Mankato, and lets help make it their best! It had to be, it was an incredible. That was a ROCK SHOW!
It all started with a powerful introductory video that had to be five minutes long, but kept the crowd captivated. The footage showed clips from the band’s early years, progressing to current years, and interspersed with the phrase, “When music is the weapon…” followed by various finishing sentences such as: “Sickness is the cure,” “You must believe in the cause,” “No one is safe,” “A world army awaits,” “Every fist has a voice,” and finally “We must evolve.” Then “DISTURBED Evolution Tour” was displayed as the band emerged
Opening with one of their pair of recent #1 singles from Evolution, “Are You Ready,” to a crowd that was definitely ready. “Get up, get up ……” it continues as it begs for a revolution and standing up for yourself. It’s old school Disturbed, with the music written and shelved back in 2004 and released now with updated lyrics. It was the first single released from the new album after 83% of fans voted for a “heavy” song rather than a “ballad” for the first single. The “ballad” would come later. Singer David Draiman wore his distinctive, long-black coat, but soon was discarded to reveal a sleeveless black t-shirt. During “The Vengeful One” banks of spotlights made for a cool sight before the first blasts of pyrotechnics stole the show. I am always amazed that you can feel the heat from each burst of flames from across the arena. The heat on the stage must be incredible. This left the crowd roaring as the song concluded.
Draiman took some time to speak to the crowd at length, saying, “A shout out to all who traveled from all around to get here. So it wouldn’t be enough to say “Minnesota.” Welcome to the continuation of the Evolution Tour. Not much has changed since we went across the pond and back. All you hear on the media is how divided we are. But I know they are just talking shit. Maybe it takes a rock show, but we all came here for the same reason: to get away from the bullshit they are trying to fill your brains with. We are brothers, family, friends. When I hear their shit, it stupifies me!” You know it. One of their best, with the lyrics “All the people in the left wing, rock, …. the right wing rock, …. the underground, rock.” A guitar solo by Dan Donegan followed this as he played under yellow spotlights with a blue background which then transformed into a beautiful blue and purple geometric laser show. Using all those fancy gadgets.
Disturbed’s cover of Genesis” “Land of Confusion” is obviously a fan favorite; it was #1 for 37 straight weeks. It started with just Draiman and Donegan out front, making you wonder if it would be an stripped down version, but then the rest of the band joined in with their rolling thunder of bass and drums that vibrated right through you. Fans sang along as large “WOAH”‘s were displayed on the large screen for effect with the song’s video playing behind.
The frontman spoke about the importance of holding on to memories. “Time is fleeting, my brothers and sisters,” he started. “The clock keeps ticking. The only way to freeze moments in time is to save them in your memories. The band found that music is like a time machine that can take you back to that special moment when you hear a song that reminds you of that time.” This was the intro to “Hold On to Memories” which the band played acoustically while sitting on stools across the stage. Behind them was a non-stop assortment of the band’s photographs from over the years which was again fascinating to watch on the gigantic video board. I really can’t get over how amazing that was.
A bass solo followed with Draiman’s introduction, “Ladies and gentlemen, Mr. John Moyer.” Drummer Mike Wengren soon helped provide some rhythm along with the clapping crowd for the long-haired bassist. Then it transitioned into a drum solo by Wengren. To be honest, I am usually rather bored by drum solos (drummers don’t hate me) but watching this drum solo was something totally different as behind Wengren was that (running out of adjectives) video screen showing many close up views of the drummer, including an overhead view that I kept hoping would be displayed again.
After the break provided by the solos, the band dug back in for some older hits. It shouldn’t have to be said, but Draiman asked to see those fists for 2006’s “Ten Thousand Fists” then went even further back to 2001’s “The Game.” The commanding singer then announced, “This is our latest single from the new album.” It was “No More” which is currently #8 on Billboard’s mainstream rock chart.
The band left the stage and re-emerged at the opposite end of the ice rink with security escorting them to a side stage adorned with lighted candles. They played their other #1 song, the “ballad” from Evolution. Before they began, Draiman spoke about the demons of depression and addiction and how those afflicted need our support. He continued to discuss the impressive list of people that were taken from us recently. “Yesterday (July 20th) was the second anniversary of Chester Bennington’s death and the birthday of Chris Cornell. And nearly five years ago that Robin Williams died (a large photo of Williams was displayed on the board). His death made people understand these things really are a disease. Addiction and depression are like a cancer.” He then help an impromptu experiment asking the crowd to raise their hands if they have struggled with these demons. With well over half of the audience raising their hands, Draiman said, “Friends you are in good company. Do we have an understanding that we need to recognize the signs before it is too late.” The band made their way back to the main stage after first saying it was ok to give them “knucks” as they walk by as they want to meet all of us. The National Addiction Hotline 1-800-662-4357 and National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-8255 phone numbers were displayed on the screen.
Back on that main stage, a piano began the song I heard many say they couldn’t wait to hear, “The Sound of Silence.” Two acoustic guitars, a cellist, the pounding of kettle drums, and Draiman’s powerful voice made this a memorable live performance of the Immortalized cover of Simon and Garfunkel’s song. The final song of the main set was “Inside the Fire.” While bursts of flames were expected for the closing song with “fire” in its title, we did not anticipate the cloth strips that fell from the ceiling with buckets fueling continuous lines of flame across the stage. I’m not sure how that one was allowed by the Fire Marshall. The band left the stage with a “Thank you Mankato! Good night!”
Knowing an encore was coming, fans still had fun making some serious noise by stomping their feet on the risers until the band returned. Unlike most encores, music was not played immediately. Instead, Draiman again made apparent how concerned the band is with the well-being of their fans. He said, “My favorite part of this is meeting our fans and hearing how our music has inspired or helped you.” He asked a fan named Donnie to come on stage and read most of the lengthy letter he wrote to the band about his 14 years of sobriety and the incredible story of his past addictions. His wife also joined him as the story expanded to discuss how their daughter is now winning the battle with her addictions now too. The couple got to sit up on stage during “The Light” with Draiman asking us to give it up loudly for our survivors. He asked the crowd to light up the room with their cell phones when he got to the phrase “The Light.”
Finishing out the three-song encore was “Stricken” and of course their 1999 hit that put Disturbed on the map, “Down With the Sickness.” Only now did a mosh pit form for the first time tonight. It is so refreshing to hear the full version of the song versus the condensed radio-edit. It is such a good song. Ending with anything else would have been anti-climactic. 18 songs and nearly two hours! That was a ROCK SHOW! Don’t forget to claim your choice of a CD or digital copy of Evolution which is available to all that purchased tickets online.
Are You Ready / Prayer / The Vengeful One / The Animal / Stupify / Guitar Solo / Voices / Land of Confusion / Hold On to Memories / Bass Solo / Drum Solo / Ten Thousand Fists / The Game / No More / A Reason to Fight / The Sound of Silence / Indestructible / Inside the Fire.
Encore: The Light / Stricken / Down With the Sickness.