ARMORED SAINT REALLY CAN DELIVER!
Date: July 17, 2018
Venue: Mod Club Theatre
Location: Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Armored Saint have a special place in my heart as it’s the first “taped” album that I ever listened to. I know what you may be thinking. Why is he even mentioning that he “ripped off” an artist by listening to a “taped” copy. I actually told this story somewhat before for my review of the Metallica concert last year. I was a young lad taking the bus back home from my new high school when I ran into Brian, a former elementary grade student from my previous school. Brian was miles ahead of me in discovering heavy metal music and after a brief conversation, he indicated that he would be able to expand my limited collection (four cassettes) if I provided him with three blank cassettes so that he could tape a few albums for me. Having never gone through this experience before, I handed Brian three 60 minute tapes the next time that I saw him on the bus. Fast forward to the next time that our bus trips coincided and Brian reprimanded me for providing him with 60 minute tapes instead of 90 minute tapes which would have enabled him to provide me with six taped albums rather than three. In any case, I returned home and the first “taped” album that I ever listened to was Armored Saint‘s March Of The Saint album. No need to say that this album is fully engrained in my mind from start to finish. I pretty much grew up with that album along with Van Halen‘s 1984, Ratt‘s Out Of The Cellar, W.A.S.P.‘s self-titled debut and so forth.
Unlike those other bands, I would only go on to obtain one more Armored Saint album (Delirious Nomad taped via a friend) until 2006. I’m not sure why that is as I have always loved the March Of The Saint record. Perhaps there were just too many bands to discover because for anyone first discovering heavy metal, you soon realize that some of the older bands such as — in my case — KISS, Judas Priest and Iron Maiden — have an extensive earlier discography that simply screams to be discovered. In 2006, I ended up getting a copy of Armored Saint‘s Nod To The Old School record and I believe a copy of the Symbol Of Salvation record given that I was familiar with so many of the tracks on that album when I recently purchased it in advance of Armored Saint‘s long overdue tour stop in Toronto that took place a few days ago. In any case, I now have a bunch of other Armored Saint albums that I purchased in my collection including March Of The Saint, Delirious Nomad and Win Hands Down. Interestingly, when I first heard that Armored Saint were going to be playing the Mod Club Theatre, the main reason why I ended up buying a ticket was to see my friend Bruce who was flying from Calgary, Alberta specifically to attend the concert. I am glad that Bruce came down to Toront0 for the concert because I might well have missed out on a great concert had he not attended. As it turns out, Live Nation was kind enough to grant me a press pass / photo pass (thank you) so I gave my purchased ticket to my friend The Meister (you can check out his concert review for the “rival” website Decibel Geek).
Act Of Defiance:
There was only one opening act for Armored Saint‘s tour stop in Toronto consisting of Act Of Defiance, which features two former Megadeth band members — drummer Shawn Drover and guitarist Chris Broderick. Simply based on that fact, I was curious to hear and see the band play. There were quite a few people that were into the band at the front of the stage including my friend Bruce who was headbanging away furiously with a big smile on his face. Funny enough, Bruce confided to me that he didn’t know Act Of Defiance‘s music yet there he was headbanging away while for the L.A. Guns concert the night before, he watched that concert far away from the stage. Bruce‘s rationale was that Act Of Defiance were really putting out there and I have to agree. Act Of Defiance singer Henry Derek was good at interacting with the crowd between songs and getting various pops from the audience at various times.
Unfortunately, Act Of Defiance‘s songs were mostly not to my liking. The lack of melodies and the growly growl background vocals just really took away from my enjoyment of the band’s performance. Interestingly, the last and third last songs played by Act Of Defiance had a bit more melody and were quite enjoyable so I think if the group could just inject a bit more melody in its songs, this could be a band that I would want to follow.
One interesting thing that I noticed about Broderick — aside that he was completely ripped physically speaking (the man must work out quite a bit) — was that his guitar pick seemed stuck to his right hand thumb. I wondered how he was able to do that as he would sometimes open up his hands but his guitar pick stayed stuck to his thumb. At one point during the show, Broderick started giving first bumps or high fives to various people in the general admission audience and I noticed that his guitar pick went flying from his thumb. No one seemed to really pick up on that and after a quick glance on the general admission floor, I noticed Broderick‘s fallen guitar pick and picked it up. I thought to myself as I picked it up, “Fantastic. What a cool souvenir. I’ll add it to my collection.” Oddly, there was a little metal like piece kind of around the guitar pick and I realized that the reason why the guitar pick stayed stuck to Broderick‘s right hand thumb was due to this metal like piece. Broderick must have really wanted to get this metal like piece back because as soon as I picked it up along with his guitar pick, he motioned to me to give them back to him (which I did). So much for my guitar pick souvenir….
Act Of Defiance performing “Birth And The Burial” live at the Mod Club Theatre in Toronto, Ontario, Canada on July 17, 2018:
As Bruce and I were waiting in the general admission area for Armored Saint to go on, to my surprise, he advised me that Armored Saint’s lead vocalist John Bush was in his top three favorite singers with the two others being Nick Walsh (Slik Toxik, Famous Underground) and Kory Clarke (Warrior Soul). Bruce also advised that Armored Saint‘s Revelation album was in his top five records of all time. I have since ordered that album as Bruce‘s recommendations so far (notably the band In/Vertigo) have been very good so far. While I was surprised to hear that Bush was among my friend Bruce‘s top three favorite singers, as soon as I heard Bush sing the first line for Armored Saint‘s opening track “March Of The Saint”, I went from surprised to acknowledging what Bruce had already concluded about Bush. Having Bush in anyone’s top three singers suddenly made a lot of sense. I was literally blown away by how good Bush sounded live. He sounded exactly like on all the Armored Saint records and he seemed to have so much control of his voice. Frankly, it seemed that he was singing all of the songs live absolutely effortlessly.
The rest of the band members were no slouches either as mainstays — bassist Joey Vera and drummer Gonzo Sandoval — along with the guitar tandem of Jeff Duncan and Phil Sandoval sounded very tight on this night. Bush eventually alluded to the fact that the Armored Saint members were like a family and I could definitely feel a high level of camaderie between the band members as they were joking around among themselves on stage. Ideally for me, Armored Saint would have played the March Of The Saint record from start to finish and I would have been in seventh heaven but on this night, it was the Symbol Of Salvation record, which I hadn’t got int0 that much going into the concert. To my surprise, I actually knew quite a few of the songs and some really well like “Reign Of Fire.” The band members sounded simply fantastic together as they teared through the album. My favorites played from Symbol Of Salvation were the ones that I was most familiar with consisting of “Reign Of Fire,” “Dropping Like Flies,” “Tribal Dance” and “Tainted Past.” I really liked the groove for the song “The Truth Always Hurts” which Bush noted the band didn’t get to play until this tour. I enjoyed every song played by Armored Saint on this night although it would have been an even better concert if the band had played more songs that I was more familiar with.
Armored Saint performing “Reign Of Fire” live at the Mod Club Theatre in Toronto, Ontario, Canada on July 17, 2018:
Bush noted that it had been a whopping 18 years since Armored Saint last played in Toront0 and to his credit, he didn’t offer any excuses in that regard but rather indicated that it wouldn’t be another 18 years until we saw the band play again in Canada’s largest city. Bush was good at getting the crowd involved and even struck a conversation with a fan up front who had apparently attended quite a few Armored Saint shows on this tour. The fan asked Bush about his pants to which Bush shared to the audience that during one prior gig on this tour, the bottom of his pants ripped open to reveal that he was wearing red underwear to which he jokingly added that he had been “busted.” Bush also shared that when guitarist Dave Pritchard passed away (of leukemia in February 1990), Metal Blade Records principal Brian Slagel was instrumental in pushing the band to keep going and complete the recording of Symbol Of Salvation. I had heard what a great and influential bassist that Joey Vera was and I could see why as he is quite the bassist. I loved seeing all his facial expressions as well when he played.
On a side note, my friend Bruce is apparently a big Jeff Duncan fan and was concerned that we might be standing on the wrong side of the stage before Armored Saint came out. Bruce was relieved when he saw Duncan setting up close to us on the left side of the stage (if you are staring at the stage from the audience). Bruce was wearing a DC4 t-shirt and apparently Duncan noticed that and was quite pleased as he ended up reaching out and giving Bruce one of his guitar picks while motioning about the DC4 t-shirt. I thought that was really cool of Duncan to do that.
Armored Saint performing “The Truth Always Hurts” live at the Mod Club Theatre in Toronto, Ontario, Canada on July 17, 2018:
After playing the entire Symbol Of Salvation album (what a great record!!!), Armored Saint finished off the evening with “Pay Dirt” (from the Revelation album), the title track for Win Hands Down and the absolute old school classic “Can You Deliver” (from March Of The Saint) which had seemingly everyone in the audience singing loudly along. My friend Bruce had pulled out the setlist for some of Armored Saint‘s prior shows and I noticed that they had closed off the evening with “Madhouse” but sadly, it wasn’t meant to be in this night. Overall, Armored Saint put on a clinic on how a heavy metal concert should be done. I can’t wait to see them play again live. After the show, I also got to meet my friend Bruce‘s lovely wife Rachel who had enjoyed the show from the side while the two of us were headbanging away in the general admission area. Rachel noted how good Bush sounded and I have to think that the general consensus for anyone who has witnessed Armored Saint live is that Bush is one of the all-time great heavy metal vocalists out there.
Armored Saint’s setlist:
01. March Of The Saint
02. Long Before I Die
03. Chemical Euphoria
Symbol Of Salvation:
04. Reign Of Fire
05. Dropping Like Flies
06. Last Train Home
07. Tribal Dance
08. The Truth Always Hurts
09. Half Drawn Bridge
10. Another Day
11. Symbol Of Salvation
12. Hanging Judge
14. Burning Question
15. Tainted Past
17. Pay Dirt
18. Win Hands Down
19. Can U Deliver