METAL CHURCH - Blessing Progpower USA
September 9, 2017, 4 months ago
It was obvious, from the smile on his face, that guitarist Kurdt Vanderhoof was chuffed to be in front of a large, appreciative crowd capping off the second day of the annual ProgPower USA festival, at Center Stage, in Atlanta, GA. Opening with "Fake Healer", returning singer Mike Howe was even more enthusiastic, dancing and bouncing across the stage, for 90 minutes. "Start The Fire" sees the red pants wearing singer with arms outstretched. When not onstage, he ducks behind the curtain, where he sits and sips a bottle of water. The song ends with Howe holding an impressively exaggerated sustained note. There are dual Marshall (pun intended) stacks either side of new drummer Stet Howland. Make no mistake, the sound is loud! Mixing in newbies, like "Reset", "No Tomorrow" and pink lit "Killing Your Time" allows Vanderhoof and bassist Steve Unger to add backing vocals.
Unger strolls center stage to introduce the slow boiling "Gods Of A Second Chance", as Howe sells it, leaning on the wedge monitors, to the point where he's hanging over the photo pit. "Date With Poverty" sees the crowd pick up the titular chorus. Howe, clearly having fun, fist bumps several members of the audience. Come "No Tomorrow", Unger ties a do-rag around his head, the cloth having been hanging from his belt since taking the stage. He also loses his denim jacket. The big US hit, a green & yellow lit "Watch The Children Pray", is started by Vanderhoof. Howe preps the crowd, with the next line of the chorus, as they oblige, in kind. It segues right into "You're No Friend Of Mine", perhaps the most rocking number of the evening. Rick Van Zant ends up alone onstage, delivering a wicked solo. Upon completion, Howe jokes, "Kurdt wrote this song before I was born. Kurdt is my grandpa". The orange lit, proper set closing "Beyond The Black" sees the crowd add their collective voices to the titular chorus. They return for a two song encore: purple tinged and clap-along begun "Badlands" and red lit, "Human Factor" finale. What year is it?