By Mark Gromen
After a disappointing non-start sightseeing trip, thanks to the US government shutting museums and National parks, in both Boston and Philadelphia (where they arrived late anyhow), VICIOUS RUMORS delivered a killer set at Voltage, a hookah bar/restaurant, delving back into the catalog with new find, Dutch vocalist Nick Holleman (POWERIZE). The 21 year old kid's enthusiasm is infectious, especially mainstay/guitarist Geoff Thorpe, who looks particularly rejuvenated onstage. As on the European summer festival circuit, they opened with 'Digital Dictator', title track from the sophomore effort, released a quarter-century ago! From jump, the new singer was energetic, headbanging, slapping hands in the crowd and playing off his bandmates, especially Thorpe.
'Minute To Kill' gave way to the dual guitar led 'Lady Took A Chance', Holleman virtually throwing himself around the cramped stage, although his high pitched vocals would be better showcased in a more friendly audio mix. Under minimal red lights, the twin guitar introduced 'I Am The Gun', was one of the few Electric Punishment tunes aired (the titular track appeared soon after. Fan sung-along 'Abandoned' ends with an a cappella, multi-octave scream. 'You Only Live Twice' and 'Mastermind' whiz by. 'Murderball', a heartfelt 'Ship Of Fools' and 'Don't Wait For Me' pass, the audience either in stunned silence, amazed by Holleman's heretofore unknown talent, or adding their voice to the fray. A frenetic, thumping 'Hellraiser' precedes the 'Soldiers Of The Night' finale, which ends with the singer "strangled" by the fan tail ends of a pair of Flying Vs, Holleman's head visible above the guitar bodies.
Jack Frost and his current incarnation of SEVEN WITCHES served direct support, offering an abbreviated set (actually, all the bands seemed rushed off stage, in preparation for a rave after-party at the same venue), heavy on the bluesy hard rock from their Rebirth CD. Hunched over as he played, the rubber-faced guitarist grimaced and mugged throughout. A smoke machine accompanied 'Passage To The Other Side', dedicated to departed family members, before closing with a rousing 'Metal Tyrant'.
More photos from Philadelphia can be seen here