Heart of Steel: Concert Reviews

ProgPower USA
ProgPower III

Earthlink Live, Atlanta, GA
November 15-16, 2002

Gamma Ray

Review by Michael De Los Muertos
Additional Commentary and Pictures by Ice Maiden

 

ProgPower III was the best metal show I have ever seen on American soil. I've quibbled with myself over the hyperbole that's sure to follow in this review, but after careful consideration I've come to the conclusion that I can't accurately describe what this festival was like without sounding like I'm cavalierly spewing colorful clouds of meaningless hype. Just trust me on this. ProgPower was that good. Two days, ten bands, three of the world's greatest power metal bands making their U.S. debuts, four friends, fourteen beers, two shots of Jägermeister and a half-gallon bottle of Bailey's Irish Cream added up to possibly the most perfect metal weekend I've ever had.

We--five of us, including Ice Maiden and myself--departed Portland, Oregon on a sunny but chilly Thursday afternoon, bound for a city about which we knew very little. For once a large metal expedition didn't creep up on me, and all of us had been loudly proclaiming for weeks how much this show would rule and how great it would be to see Gamma Ray and Edguy on a small stage in an 800-seat club. I have to admit that the concept of that was something of an abstraction. A lot of things about this show didn't make sense when you thought about them. Why Atlanta? The ancestral home of Scarlett O'Hara, Ted Turner, the Falcons and WTBS? And why only 800 tickets? Granted, they sold out in about six nanoseconds after going on sale in July, but how could a promoter afford to bring such huge acts across the sea with only that few spectators to welcome them? Our adventure would ultimately answer all of these questions, but the dots weren't necessarily connected for us. We arrived in Atlanta weary, hungry, and somewhat ill (in the case of Stormwriter, anyway) but still quite stoked for the metal avalanche we expected.

(Ice Maiden's Commentary: For various reasons, each of our metal comrades who headed out on this venture NEEDED A VACATION. All of us were excited to be spending time away from the usual, and with each other. We had a good time the whole way there, even when we were wandering around the streets of Atlanta at about midnight looking for our hotel. In our rooms, Stormwriter drank a bit too much Bailey's on an empty stomach while we waited for pizza-behold the results.)

 

 

DAY 1: FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 15

(Ice Maiden's Commentary: After walking around downtown Atlanta on Friday afternoon, we decided to head to the venue early. The lads had forgotten to bring their tickets when we left our hotel earlier in the day, so I ducked under the awning of a nearby hotel to get out of the rain and wait for them to go back and get their tickets from our hotel. As I sat outside, I noticed that a large number of metalheads were congregating. Some struck up conversations, and we laughed as we realized that we read each others' zines, or knew the bands that some of the folks hanging out there played in. I was enjoying myself very much meeting new people-some of whom actually asked ME for my autograph-can you believe THAT????--when who should appear but Hansi Kursch-photo! Photo! Jon Schaffer gets out of a car and walks right past. Then, who should come out of the hotel but all of the guys from Gamma Ray! Kai frickity Hansen, and he's standing around and chatting with us gathered in the doorway! Like giddy school kids, the doorway clan clamored for pictures and autographs. Finally, the crowd dissipated, but Dan Zimmerman, drummer for Gamma Ray, ended up hanging out with me and a few others for over an hour. Excellent! Among other tidbits of interest, I learned that: (i) Gamma Ray hopes to tour the US for the release of their new album (hopefully with Edguy); (ii) Dan's advice for budding drummers is to lay off the booze (slows down your power while playing); (iii) Dan's 36 years old, and has been playing since he was 12; and (iv) he likes to listen to Pantera (!) and Peter Gabriel (!). All in all, my duck out of the rain proved to be an excellent opportunity to chat with some of my metal idols.

Over an hour and a half after the lads left me to retrieve their tickets, they still hadn't returned-and our hotel was only a 1- minute walk away. I decided I must have missed them, so I headed to the venue. I didn't think that I had arranged for a press pass, but I hoped to be able to locate someone who might be able to give me one. Low and behold, when I presented ID, a pass had already been arranged. Woohoo! Gold Badge-meaning I don't have to wait out in the long line outside in the rain, but could head straight in. This was kicking ass!)

Sixteen hours, one pizza, several shots of Bailey's and a slightly-trashed hotel room later, we found ourselves huddling in a mild drizzle and surprisingly cold temperatures outside the "Earthlink Live," a non-imposing club that was at least built recently enough to have a scrolling digital marquee. We were surrounded by guys (and a few girls) in Blind Guardian, Symphony X and Helloween T-shirts. "This is the line for the Harry Potter opening, right?" I joked, hoping laughter would dissipate the chilly wind. Slowly the line moved inside and immediately we were impressed by the venue, which was clean, well-organized and almost luxuriously appointed (ever seen purple velvet upholstery in the lobby of a metal club before?) The place had a U-shaped lobby that was thoughtfully equipped with a bar every 20 feet or so, plus plenty of room for the CD merchants, T-shirt stands and 'zine booths that were arranged to sell their wares. Within minutes (and one Jägermeister shot) of my arrival I had already met Jim Raggi, the indefatigable publisher of the long-running 'zine Lamentations of the Flame Princess, three loyal Metal-Rules.com readers, and Ice Maiden, from whom I'd been separated earlier in the afternoon and who (predictably) scolded me for going back to the hotel instead of hanging around the lobby of the Granada Hotel where she apparently met Kai Hansen, Hansi Kürsch, and some other people I would have sold various body parts to have talked to. By now I'd made it into the auditorium of Earthlink Live, which had a very wide stage, an uncluttered floor area, and numerous rows of stadium-style seats, all of which offered an excellent view of the action. I'd been at ProgPower for twenty minutes and already things were looking up!

(Ice Maiden's Commentary: I walked to the front of the stage area. Thankfully, there was a barrier, holding the crowd back a few feet from the stage. I asked the security guard, who was amazingly laid back and friendly, while remaining efficient, if I could take pictures in front of the stage. He said that press were allowed up front for the first three songs-perfect! I stood directly front and center in front of the stage and waited for the shows to start. I noticed a guy looking at me strangely, who appeared familiar somehow. He asked me with a slight accent-"You were at Wacken?" Damn, someone from backstage at Wacken! Amazing how small the world of metal is.)

Zero HourAt 5:30 on the tick, the curtain opened on the first band, ZERO HOUR. This is a relatively new band and I confess I know very little about them; I suspect ProgPower is their first really sizable break. These four guys played a fairly standard array of progressive metal, but it did have a fairly punishing edge. I'm not a fan of the standard-issue progressive metal, most of which derives from the same cloth from which Dream Theater was cut, and thankfully Zero Hour stayed away from the Dream Theater clichés for the most part. While nothing they played was particularly revolutionary or insightful, Zero Hour was competent, hardworking and entertaining. Not a bad band to top the bill.

Zero Hour Zero Hour

 

 

One thing I noticed after the Zero Hour set, and that I came to like about ProgPower, was the thirty-minute intervals between sets coupled with the fact that the festival was such a well-oiled machine that you could count on bands starting and finishing exactly on time. SILENT FORCE began precisely at 6:45, as promised. This band is fronted by D.C. Cooper (no relation to vanished '70s skyjacker D.B. Cooper), formerly of Royal Hunt. I only heard two songs of Silent Force's set, and I did like the fact that they were more toward the power metal side of the spectrum than the progressive. Because I saw little of their set it's probably not fair for me to write more on Silent Force, but I will mention that I did not hear anything in their set that I didn't like, and with Royal Hunt credentials I would certainly expect a competent and engaging power metal act.

 Silent Force Silent Force

Silent Force Silent Force

Silent Force Silent Force

(Ice Maiden's Commentary: These guys have the experience to put on a good show. They really got the crowd hyped, and D.C. makes an excellent frontman. They played one Royal Hunt cover, and "You've Got Another Thing Coming" as an encore. Pretty good!)

 

 

EdguyAt this point all watches were counting down to one of the big events of the evening, that being Edguy. I did notice that, despite the profusion of bars at Earthlink Live, there was no food. However, we'd passed a sandwich shop on an adjacent block, and a very convenient lack of a "no-re-entry" rule (such as is common with Jack Koshick festivals) made it a simple matter for myself, Witch, Stormwriter, Ice Maiden, CrashTest and his friend to march over to wolf down a surprisingly good submarine sandwich while awaiting one of the three bands we'd all come to see. On the way back into Earthlink Live I passed a guy who looked vaguely Mexican or Hispanic, and I couldn't help complimenting him on his Manowar Warriors of the World T-shirt. I also met an extremely personable fellow from New York City who occasionally posts on the Metal-Rules message board. While he talked so fast and his accent was so thick that I could understand only about every third word that he said, I understood in short order that he was a tremendous thrash and power metal fan, and was looking forward to Edguy as much as anyone was. As the magic hour approached I felt a certain amount of trepidation. This was Edguy's first U.S. performance. They were great at Wacken, but they seemed a little intimidated by the magnitude of the operation. Would the same thing happen here?

Edguy Edguy

EdguyEDGUY heralded the opening of their set with all the power and enthusiasm they could muster, and frontman Tobias Sammet came onto the stage like a conquering hero. It was obvious in the first seconds that even he was stunned at the response he was getting from an American crowd. Edguy did exactly what an experienced band should do with an enthusiastic crowd--they snatched up the energy and played on it! Within three songs it was obvious that this set was far superior to what they had played at Wacken. Early in the set they brought out my all-time favorite song of theirs, "Babylon," which was the turning point of their performance. From then on it wasn't a band playing to an audience--it was a very large group of 804 metal fans singing along together. Launching through a litany of fist-in-the-air anthems including "Tears of a Mandrake," "The Headless Game" and "Land of the Miracle," every song ratcheted up the immense energy that was eventually out of control. Edguy played flawlessly. Every note of the guitars was right on; every crack of the drums was exactly where it should have been; Tobias's vocals were every bit as powerful and soaring as on their best studio recording. Tobias interacted with the crowd frequently, often thanking them for the response he hadn't expected to get from an American audience, and his enthusiastic personality went a long way toward stoking even greater accolades from the fans. The highpoint of the set came when he announced, "Now we're going to do a little cover tune!" Nobody dared hope he might do something from his (shh!) other project--but sure enough Edguy launched into the title track from "Avantasia," and at that moment this set passed into the realm of the legendary. At the end of the set, after which Tobias promised that Edguy would return to the U.S. with at least twenty dates on their next tour, the members of the band didn't even try to hide their amazement at the cheering, chanting and virtually rabid horde of power metal fans they found themselves confronted with. I spoke with Tobias a few weeks ago over the telephone (read my interview with him here) and he seemed excited about the prospect of playing in America, but not quite sure how it would turn out in reality. Now they know: there are Americans who love power metal, and they're every bit as dedicated as European fans! No one who saw their intense, jaw-dropping set could doubt that.

Edguy

Edguy(Ice Maiden's Commentary: We all know Muertos is a raving fan of any project that Tobias touches, but I have to admit that he is right on the money with his review here. Edguy gave an AMAZING performance. "Mandrake" was a highlight. Tobias hit every note, the guitar playing by Jens was phenomenal, and everyone in the audience was singing along. Like they did at Wacken, the lads poked fun at those who will call them "Edgay" by having the bass and guitar players stand in a line together while playing and do a little "hip sway dance" with girlie expressions on their faces. It's always fun to see a band that knows how to make fun of themselves when they are secure in the knowledge that they kick ass. After their set Jens and the bass player came out to hang out with the crowd and watch the other bands. Very cool guys.)

 

 

Blind Guardian

At this point I didn't think it was even possible for a band to top Edguy's set, but I held out hope that BLIND GUARDIAN might do it. If you read my reviews regularly you know that I committed a (sort-of) sin at Wacken by departing Blind Guardian on the main stage to go see the Unleashed set which was going on simultaneously, and I hoped to repent for my wanderings at ProgPower. With fully a third of the crowd wearing Blind Guardian T-shirts, the anticipation for the headliners was thunderous to say the least. Like Tobias of Edguy, Hansi Kürsch looked like he didn't know quite what to expect from an American crowd. Hansi is not as outgoing as Tobias and doesn't project quite the image of confidence. But he needn't have worried. As soon as the reigning kings of German power metal began "Welcome to Dying," their command of the audience was complete. I was stunned by the Blind Guardian set. Literally and absolutely stunned. "Nightfall," which always sounded to me like a metalized medieval drinking song, had me swinging aloft my cup of Moosehead in true Bavarian beer-hall fashion. "Imaginations from the Other Side" was as masterfully played, more so in fact, than anything I'd heard at Wacken. But the show truly projected itself into the realm of the transcendental with "Valhalla." I wish I could describe what it was like being down on the floor surrounded by metalheads, watching Blind Guardian play their first show in America ever and giving probably one of the greatest performances of their long career, but I honestly don't know the words to convey the experience. Guardian's encore bordered on the explosive. "Mirror Mirror," which had highlighted their encore at Wacken, had nearly everybody in the place on their feet and shouting themselves hoarse. When the set was over I was actually dizzy, and not from the beer. Earlier this year I already anointed the best metal set I'd ever seen (Unleashed's at Wacken). The crown may well pass to Blind Guardian. They simply couldn't have done better. No band could have done better. If Blind Guardian aren't simply the best metal band in the world today, they come close enough to that distinction to warrant the wide-eyed looks of awe that strike spectators when they arrive onstage.

(Ice Maiden's Commentary: Blind Guardian did an amazing job, and had an amazing set list:

Into the Storm
Welcome to Dying
Nightfall
Requiem
Lord of the Rings
Valhalla
Soulforged
Mordred's Song
Time Stands Still (OH MY GODS-THIS SONG SLAYS LIVE, WITH EVERYONE SINGING ALONG)
Bright Eyes
Punishment Divine
Bard Song
Imaginations
Encores: Lost, A Past, and last back almost best-Mirror, Mirror

 

I have to say, Hansi was not hitting the high notes, and he definitely changed key at times to compensate. Still, to switch from almost death-like growled vocals to clean vocals in a split second would tax any vocalist. Brilliant set that sent the crowd into a crazed frenzy. The night definitely could have ended here, but Blind Guardian had requested an early spot in order to make an early flight to the next stop on their tour.

Side note: During Blind Guardian and Angra, Glenn, the promoter, would go in front of the barrier and stand front and center after the photographers left the pit. With his Hawaiian print shirts and his beautiful wife at his side, he clearly was enjoying himself immensely. If there was one person who deserved to be front and center enjoying these great bands, it was this guy. Good job, Glenn!)

 

I felt very sorry for the band that had to follow Blind Guardian. That dubious honor fell on the shoulders of PAIN OF SALVATION, a strictly prog band that, judging from the number of their shirts I saw in the audience, seem to have a strong following. I wish I could say it was deserved. By this time, six or seven beers into the evening, most of our party had retired to the stadium-style seats, having been on our feet during all of Edguy and Blind Guardian. Pain of Salvation's singer was a rail-thin fellow wearing thick horn-rimmed glasses and leather bell bottoms. He talked too much about things that were completely not interesting, such as how terrible it was to get hair in your mouth when you play onstage. PoS's music was simply dull. Aimless guitar arpeggios and other (you guessed it) Dream Theater-isms sprinkled randomly through song structures that seemed like they were calculated with a slide rule. While it's impossible not to praise the technical skill and theoretical musical understanding of prog bands like this, it's another thing to say you enjoyed it. I can't say I did. But I wouldn't wish on anybody the misfortune of following Guardian. Early in the set we left Earthlink Live and journeyed back to our hotel. Hmm, that's strange…we seemed to have a lot more Bailey's Irish Cream left over than we thought we had! After more drinks, a few snacks and some more hotel-room cluttering, I collapsed into bed and slept like a log. Seeing some of the greatest metal bands of all time give their greatest performances takes a lot out of you.

(Ice Maiden's Commentary: Prog. Can't say I track on it. Sure, Pain of Salvation had their following, and for what they are trying to do I'm sure they did it well. I heard many fans say it was their favorite set of the show. It sounded like a hell of a lot of technical "noodling" to me-fusion gone bad and boring as all get out, especially after a show stopper like Blind Guardian.

Bit of advice to the lead singer of Pain of Salvation-I know Prog appeals mostly to the pocket-protector set who set their fashion guidelines by watching "Revenge of the Nerds", but please consider the following stylistic advice: ditch the glasses, ditch the bell-bottom leathers (or at least get a longer pair that actually covers your legs), wear some boots instead of your tennies and consider ditching the attempts at humor. Before everyone screams about how fashion doesn't matter, I just have to say that a show is just that-a show. Wearing nothing special-fine. Attempting to look and act cool when you just aren't-awkward. It's why I never attempt it.)

 

 

DAY 2: SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 16

Our day didn't start out well. In a nutshell: we all overslept. We were late getting to the Waffle House, the greasy breakfast joint where Stormwriter insisted we eat. On the way back we packed seven people into CrashTest's tiny Honda Civic, including a travel-sized Ice Maiden shoehorned into the hatchback next to some of CrashTest's luggage. Witch Hunter's young friend dragged us to several of Atlanta's seediest retail districts looking for a piercing parlor where she could get a labret, only to lose her nerve in the presence of the withdrawal-quaking heroin-addict tattoo artist who ran the joint we ended up at.

(Ice Maiden's Commentary: I had NO IDEA that there would be retail districts with stores that specialized in getting gold-tooth caps for aesthetic purposes and gang "color" garb. Our merry band of metalheads were the only white faces for miles, and that combined with our metal garb made enough of a scene for some folks to come out and stare at us. Pretty funny. I was offered the opportunity to buy some "Dream Green" on two occasions, but politely declined. Also funny when our little friend got to see who would have performed her piercing-can you say crack withdrawals??? Haha! Thankfully she had the sound judgment to return home to a sanitary establishment for her piercing before this freakish dude had a chance to shake and pierce her cheek instead of her lip! Also saw Atlanta's famous "Underground" mall while searching for the piercing place. Yawn.)

We got separated again. At nearly 6:15 PM, almost at the end of Reading Zero's set, I walked into Earthlink Live and my friends immediately vanished into thin air. I wandered around the lobby for some time looking for them. I joined forces with the garrulous New Yorker, who turned out to be completely fascinating to talk to, and again ran into the Mexican dude I'd seen the night before--he and his friends were apparently known around Atlanta as the "Mexican Metal Mafia," and they were probably the most friendly, enthusiastic and utterly dedicated power metal fans I've ever seen. I was so busy quaffing beers and submarine sandwiches (down the block, again) with my new friends that I missed both Reading Zero and Threshold, the first two bands on Saturday's bill. My apologies to their fans.

Reading Zero Reading Zero

(Ice Maiden's Commentary: I saw both Reading Zero and Threshold, neither bands with which I was familiar. They both played very competently, and I know at least one of our friends was moved enough to go buy a Threshold album on the spot. Threshold was having some sound problems at first, which they smoothly ironed out. Classic rock-ish sound.)

 Threshold Threshold

 

 

My feelings on DEVIN TOWNSEND were mixed. I certainly respect his work with Strapping Young Lad, but I don't count myself as one of the "solo" Devin fans--yet I wanted to see at least part of his set. One of the comments I've heard more than once about this festival is that Devin Townsend shouldn't have been on the bill simply because he's not metal. I don't know if I'd go that far, but the music he played was certainly incongruous with the rest of the bands. It was harsh, mechanical, angry, anti-melodic and technically flawless. As with many of the prog bands on the bill, one brief listen to Devin Townsend proves that he's a musical genius, and I also had no doubt that everything he played came directly from the heart--no rock-star posturing, no contrived theatrics, just aggressive music that's as simple in meaning as it is complicated in form. I didn't see all of Devin's set and personally I didn't care for it. But I give him a good review nonetheless, because he played his stuff with mastery and conviction. The Townsend fans in the audience definitely seemed to enjoy the set.

Devin Townsend Devin Townsend

Devin Townsend Devin Townsend

 

 

If an 8.5 earthquake had struck Atlanta in the minutes before GAMMA RAY came on stage, nobody at Earthlink Live would have noticed. The pent-up energy in the place was almost nearly shaking down the walls. All of my friends (with whom I'd been reunited) were tremendously excited about what was expected to be the ultimate performance of the festival. Kai Hansen and company were the 8.5 earthquake, and the entire venue went berserk upon their appearance. Gamma Ray's performance was the third one of the festival to really push the envelope into the "transcendental" category. Their set spanned most of their ever-lengthening career, and its highlights included a stunning rendition of "Heading for Tomorrow," a fist-in-the-air "Land of the Free," and several tunes from my favorite album of theirs, Powerplant, including a song I love but hadn't dared to hope they'd play, "Garden of the Sinner." Kai Hansen was the undisputed master of the evening. He was cheerful, enthusiastic, and deeply appreciative of the great outpouring of energy from the audience. "Send Me A Sign," another Powerplant favorite, and "Valley of the Kings" were (for me at least) the crescendo of this incredible performance. Really my only nit-pick about Gamma Ray was that they broke up the set with a useless drum solo about two-thirds of the way through. Dan Zimmerman is a great drummer, no doubt about it, but drum solos have fallen out of favor in recent years, and rightfully so in my opinion; thus I think the inclusion of one was an unnecessary slowing-down of the momentum Gamma Ray had accumulated. Luckily they picked it back up in a rousing encore. I don't think Gamma Ray's set achieved quite the pinnacle of emotion that Blind Guardian's had done the night before, but it was still unquestionably a highlight of the festival, and a far better performance than I'm used to seeing even at the best metal shows of my life!

Gamma Ray

Gamma Ray(Ice Maiden's Commentary: I agree with Muertos completely, except to me this was the highlight set of ProgPower, followed by Edguy and then Blind Guardian. Kai is simply a master-performer, and every member of the band is a consummate professional who knows how to relate to a crowd. As much of a fan of Dan Zimmerman that I became after talking to him at length and then watching him perform, I have to say that the drum solo was TOO long (impressive though it was) and slowed down the energy of the performance.

Apparently the band wanted to play an additional encore song after "Ride the Sky", but the promoters were trying to keep the bands on a strict schedule, and started to close the curtain even though the guys were still out there interacting with fans. All of the fans in the front row grabbed hold of the curtain and wouldn't let it shut-almost tore it off! This gave the band a chuckle but kinda pissed off the security guards. Unfortunately, when Dan threw his drumsticks out to the crowd, they bounced off the curtain, out of my hand, and in front of the barrier where the security guard snatched it. After pleading with the guard, he gave it back to me. He couldn't even name the band and he wanted to keep the stick! How evil is that! But I got my fully-thrashed drumstick in the end. Yay! I feel like such a starry-eyed fan!)

 

 

At the end of Gamma Ray I retired to the bar for more beers and a debrief among the metal fans still quivering from the amazing set we'd just witnessed. My friends from Mexico were totally wired! Ice Maiden, Witch Hunter and I debated whether or not ANGRA would be worth it. I'd seen their set at Wacken and was very disappointed. However, we decided to give them a shot, and I was pleasantly surprised by their performance which was about 666% better than it was in Germany this past summer. This Brazilian band has been plagued with a slew of lineup changes and a bumpy history of uneven albums. However, you couldn't tell just from watching them at ProgPower. Their frontman was charismatic and energetic, and possesses a pretty formidable set of lungs. Angra's music had a lot more power and consistency than I recall at Wacken. By this time (they came on at nearly midnight) everybody was so tired that we couldn't handle a huge dose of Angra, but what I came away with made me feel much better about this band. Good enough to start buying their albums? Hmm, not sure I'd go that far, but things are looking up for them…

At the end of ProgPower came the bittersweet moment we had to say goodbye to our new friends and to face the reality that tomorrow we had to fly back to Portland and return to our "normal" lives. Everybody I met at the show was simply terrific, and, although the music was undeniably amazing, my favorite thing about the festival was the people I met there. I've known a lot of cool people as a result of metal, and ProgPower added yet another list of really awesome guys and girls to the pantheon of metal friends I've made over the years. Ice Maiden took some group shots of all of us and, despite the great pictures she got of the bands, the pictures of us together will probably be my favorites. With that we departed Earthlink Live, pleasantly gorged on power metal and good friendship. It was the best feeling on earth!

ProgPower III was an immense success any way you look at it. I don't think I've ever been to a show that was more well put-together or more flawlessly executed. A tremendous amount of credit goes to Glenn, the promoter, who not only brought these great bands to U.S. shores, but he made everything work so well that this festival was an absolute pleasure to attend. Even Wacken, where you have to deal with privations such as mud, mosquitoes and aching feet in order to see your favorite bands, couldn't touch this festival for sheer ease and comfort. The beer was cold, the bathrooms were clean, there were places to sit down, the CDs were reasonably priced, the security guards were polite, the vendors were respectable, the show started and finished on-time, the acoustics were terrific, and every seat in the house was a good seat. I've never been to a show with that many positives. While organization goes a long way, I think the quality and caliber of the fans in the audience were also a factor. Proving once again that moshing and crowd-surfing are nothing more than useless and counterproductive muscle-twitching among hardcore kids and unsophisticated metal fans, the crowd at this show, though incredibly animated and enthusiastic, was the perfect metal audience. Since there was no mosh pit you could stand right up at the front of the stage and actually (GASP!) enjoy the music from there, instead of having to navigate your way through a phalanx of flailing, sweat-reeking, testosterone-charged Mongoloids in order to see the bands you want to see up-close. Indeed, everything about ProgPower III was exactly right. This is the way shows should be.

(Ice Maiden's Commentary: Although we didn't attend any of them, each band did a scheduled autograph signing, which was a nice touch. I saw many fans pleased to get to shake the hand of an idol. Also, it was great to have multiple full bars, so there was rarely a wait for a drink.)

As hyperbolic as it may sound, I stand by my statement at the beginning of this review. ProgPower III was the best metal show I've ever seen in America. To have been one of the fortunate few to experience the glory of metal in such a pure form is an experience I'll remember for a long time to come. I only wish my words could do it justice.

(Ice Maiden's Commentary: Amen, my metal brother. I hope to see you old friends and meet some great new ones next year!)


Los Muertos, Ice Maiden, and CrashTest

 

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