At this point in the career, Sevendust knows they have achieved a certain status as the elder statesman of modern heavy rock or active rock, whatever industry buzzword is trending this week. They are still hungry like a new band, putting out quality releases and always putting on a fine show. At the same time, they don’t play it safe artistically. This is why in spite of my love of music that is progressive, extreme, harsh, and thrashy; I still come back to this band that I have always respected. They have been a part of my many musical journeys for a long time. Whether seeing their first tour in New York at a long gone tiny club, to watching 300,000+ people jump up and down to a song they never heard before (‘Rumblefish’) at Woodstock `99, to their recent record-breaking Kickstarter campaign, I am proud to say I was there.
We were in for a treat tonight, with no opening act and just “An Evening With” format. I didn’t even realize the show was long sold out and there were a ton of people waiting to get inside, when I arrived at The Paradise. As evidenced by my earlier show this year with Carcass, this venue should not host really extreme bands or their fans. However for some lighter, more relaxed concerts such as Crosses or the unplugged show tonight; it’s a solid choice. The first really hot day of summer in Boston meant the AC was on full blast so we were feeling chilly in the dark rectangular room. Meanwhile the stage sat ready for a while with some LED candles adding to the mood of the stage filled with guitars, bar stools, and music stands.
Sevendust finally came on stage to their intro music, and the packed crowd approved. As the band took their seated spots for the night and checked their gear, Lajon Witherspoon welcomed the crowd and promised a good time. Drawing on their new album Time Travelers & Bonfires (7Bros.) The immediately launched into ‘Trust’ and the band sound great. Playing acoustically, and only augmented by their touring piano player Kurt Wubbenhorst, they played a flawless evening of music. Even if they were just doing straight up acoustic versions of their heavier songs note for note (which they are not) it is a challenge to play electric acoustic live in a large venue. The rub is even the best acoustic guitars sound too thin at times. It’s also unforgiving for mistakes, but then again, I heard none tonight. The second song of the night was my personal favorite since their first album, ‘Prayer’. I think this song works even better given this treatment than the original. ‘Crucified’ is one of their older songs they have given a slightly new arrangement to on the new album. Known to be a hard hitter behind the kit, Morgan Rose thrashed around and smashed his drums like any other time I have seen the band. Maybe just a touch softer. The entire band also sounded great singing together, not just Lajon and Clint Lowery either. ‘Under It All’ was the first of the new songs played and it fit right in with the oldies and deep cuts too. The gems they pulled out tonight were especially sweet if you were a long-time fan.
Ever the performer, Lajon got out of his seat, prowled the stage, and connected with the crowd as much as possible. It was cool to hear the entire room sing hits like ‘Denial’ just as loudly as a new cut like ‘Gone’. Lajon told stories about the songs, and the making of the new album, thanking the fans for the support. The band left the stage briefly only to return a little later to play some more. The second set had another new song ‘Come Down’, their well known cover of ‘Hurt’ by Nine Inch Nails. ‘Karma’ is a song the band has never played live and it still sounded fiery in this format too. Before closing out the night with a fitting 1-2 punch of ‘Angel’s Son’ and closer ‘Black’, Witherspoon talked about the late Lynn Strait of Snot for whom ‘Angel’s Son’ was written for as well as Dimebag Darrell. It’s nice how the band have kept their perspective all these years. Whether or not you are a fan, if you have a chance to see this tour, do yourself a favor and go get a ticket.
Sevendust Set List:
Under It All
Hurt (Nine Inch Nails cover, Johnny Cash version)
Got a Feeling
WORDS: KEITH (KEEFY) CHACHKES
PHOTOS: ECHOES IN THE WELL