Monday, July 4, 2016

Concert Review: In This Moment @ Iron City, Birmingham, AL 06/29/16

HELLYEAH had just conquered Iron City Birmingham with some of the best, bone jolting metal I'd ever heard blasted from that stage.  Lead singer Chad Gray had completed his assault on the front line of the crowd (including us in the photo pit) with fake (I hope) blood, bottled water, and probably some bodily fluids.  I have literally never seen a man storm a stage as forcefully as he did and completely own it like he had built the damned stage himself.

There was a mass exodus of HELLYEAH fans who left as soon as the band was finished.  This was a sold out show, packed with talent, yet lots of people were there solely to see HELLYEAH.  I swear as soon as Chad walked offstage (there should be a new verb created for him because "walk" doesn't even begin to describe what Chad does), I could feel the absence of him - this quiet void of still and calm and nothingness where just moments before there'd been raw passion, beautiful brutality, seething anger, and bottomless intensity.

As I stood to the side of the photo pit with the other photographers, sharing my Altoids (wintergreen) and letting the fake blood splatters dry on various parts of my body, I wondered how in the hell In This Moment could top the performance I'd just witnessed. How could they even deign to step on the same stage and hope to fill it half as much as the force of nature who had just left it?

I had a lot of time to ponder that question as the stage setup for In This Moment was the longest one I've ever been through to date, as a fan or a member of the press.  The wait was worth it, as Maria Brink, lead singer of ITM, and her band took the stage, launching into their popular, smells like sex hit "Sick Like Me" from the band's chart topping album Black Widow.

For lack of better words or comparisons, Maria is a completely bad ass metal version of Madonna and Lady Gaga combined.  I mean no disrespect to Maria by comparing her to them, it's just the closest universal contrast I can find at the moment.  You really have to see her and the band live to get just how much of an artist she is and how special and unique the entire band truly are.

The band performed a total of 10 songs, spanning five albums to date.  After every song, Maria would retreat to the small tent on the stage for a wardrobe change and setup for the next song.  Every song was a miniature drama, a music video brought to stage in real life, right in front of you.  I can't pretend to know how she does it but Maria turns skimpy, sexy costumes, high heels, dancing, and singing/screaming metal music into a live work of art.  She puts Beyonce to shame.  Shame!

Lest you think she's all packaging and no substance, Maria is wholly talented on many levels.  She writes and contributes to every song in the band's catalog, she plays the piano, she dances like a professional, and can scream and sing metal songs while putting life and beauty to the lyrics she's lived.  Not many artists can do that, regardless of gender.

Her supporting players are, of course, exceedingly talented and know their parts well.  Chris Howorth, who co-founded the band with Maria, is exceptional on lead guitar.  Travis Johnson is a beast on bass, and Randy Weitzel on guitar completes ITM's string assault.  Tom Hane left the band and his drumming duties back in March, so spinning the sticks for now is Kent Diimel (3 By Design fame), although he has not been announced as a permanent member yet.  The backup dancers are the perfect compliment to the entire mesmerizing circus that is an ITM concert.  All come together to complete the part beautiful freak show, part Broadway play, all talented band that is In This Moment.

In between singing and dancing her ass off, Maria was incredibly thankful for the opportunity to perform for us.  She had the lights brought up so she could "look eye to fucking eye" with as many in the crowd as she could, and thanked each and every one for making the choice to be there.  She told the crowd that she doesn't take what she does for granted, that she couldn't do what she does, to live her dreams, without her fans.

Maria spotted two little girls in the audience, who I had observed from the photo pit.  They looked like they were fresh out of the Old Navy at the local mall.  I still don't know what they were doing there but Maria told them to never lose their heart.  She spoke with the passion she sings about in the songs she writes.  It was clear that every word of every song she performed is truth to her.

After the press is booted out of the photo pit, I usually get a beer and stand at the back of the venue to observe the rest of the concert.  As I drank a Yuengling, the crowd waited for Maria to emerge from her magical costume tent for the final song before the encore.

To excited cheers, Maria sauntered out from her tent in a school girl skirt and huge cone hat with the word "Whore" written on it, which is also the title of my favorite ITM song.  Maria explained that the song is about empowerment and heart, rising above other people's perceptions of who and what we should be as women, and proving our haters wrong as we fulfill our dreams.  Women who had stood around me silently, taking in the concert as I had, began singing (myself included), screaming the words with Maria, knowing them by heart, all with our own stories of what the song means to us, rounding out a theme of sisterhood I didn't even realize was there the entire concert.

When it was over, I realized that  In This Moment replaced the emptiness left by HELLYEAH on the stage with their own brand of sexy, fearless, all encompassing intensity.  As the crowd started chanting "We want blood!" while waiting for the encore and performance of the song "Blood", I realized the fake blood Chad from HELLYEAH had spattered on me had dried and had been forgotten about the entire time ITM was onstage.  It takes a very special band and performance to make you forget something like that, even temporarily.

In This Moment is currently touring with Sunflower Dead, Shaman's Harvest, and HELLYEAH on the Hell Pop Tour 2016.  We here at the blog would like to thank In This Moment and Atlantic Records for the press pass and for the opportunity to review the concert.

Here's a video of a live performance of "Whore", pretty much as I saw it just this past Wednesday night.  Enjoy.

'Till Next Time, Y'all!


Recent Articles By Steph

No comments:

Post a Comment

Popular Posts