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Road Reports

Who: Iced Earth, Sabaton, Revamp, Born From Ashes
Where: House of Blues - Orlando, FL

"Overall the band absolutely delivered the goods and proved why they have been on a world tour for nearly a year. The denim and leathers just can't get enough."

The Iced Earth/Sabaton/Revamp trek continues on, this time decimating the House of Blues in Orlando's Downtown Disney. Punctually, the local opener Born From Ashes hit the stage at 7:00 to nail a short set of metalcore songs. The vocalist was self-confident and prepossessing an image straight out of Hot Topic. I picture this generation of fans and musicians lying on a bathroom floor with purple faces straining to get these skinny jeans on. Nonetheless the Orlando based band were a great warm up act and made way for Netherlands act ReVamp.

Sexy vocalist Floor Jansen was fairly interactive with the crowd during ReVamp's set. She advised that she was pleasantly surprised at the American responses and support to the tour thus far. She came as an emissary of her other band Nightwish, promising that she is returning to the States soon with them. The Dutch group performed material from their new album "Wild Card" as well as one song, "Head Up High", from their 2010 debut self-title. The crowd was a good mixture of Sabaton/Iced Earth fans but ReVamp certainly had their own dyed-in-the-wool legions as well.

After a quick change of scenery the Sabaton back drop appeared and the military historians took the stage. I've been a fan of Sabaton for a long time but this was my first time seeing them live. The Swedish band was remarkable through their forty-five minute set of symphonic power metal. The dauntless display of perfection from front man Joakim Broden was THE highlight of the night. His stage antics from east to west and interaction with the crowd was appreciable. At one point he discovered an eight year old in the crowd and, after questioning his parents, he found it was the kid's first concert. With some help from the House of Blues staff he was able to put the boy on stage. The child was provided a pair of drum sticks, some guitar picks and Broden's trademark silver sun glasses before sharing the stage as the band burned through "Metal Crue". The group showed off stellar tracks like "Primo Victoria", "Ghost Division", "Swedish Pagans" as well as new song "To Hell And Back" complete with brief history lesson on the heroics of WWII veteran Audie Murphy. The crowd was pleased and surprisingly I saw a few fans leave after Sabaton's set.

Sabaton's background is replaced by the vivid image of Set Abominae and hordes of zombies. The stage was enormous considering this is probably the biggest set up I've seen on my previous three Iced Earth live endeavors. I would imagine the stage size accommodates something of this nature far better than some of the smaller venues the band have used historically. The slow grinding march of "Plagues Of Babylon" begins the charge and soon Stu and company are in full command. "Plagues…" quickly follows with "Democide" and these Midwest titans are showing me the best performance I've seen from them. The opening bells of "Burning Times" sounded like Armageddon, those hook laden riffs leading to Stu singing most of the track in falsetto. That theme continued for most of the Iced Earth catalog sampled by this set. Stu displayed ear bleeding screams that far surpassed anything Owens and Barlow had attempted prior to. When you can sing higher than Owens on "Red Baron/Blue Max" that is truly a monumental effort. He utilized that high register for the ending notes of "Question of Heaven", "Iced Earth", "My Own Savior", "Vengeance Is Mine" and "Dystopia". The battery was consistent throughout and punctuated by eight light boxes that sync strobed with the double bass. The band's set list was almost identical with what they have done nightly other than "Blessed Are You" being swapped out for the faster "The Coming Curse". Overall the band absolutely delivered the goods and proved why they have been on a world tour for nearly a year. The denim and leathers just can't get enough.

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