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JAXX; West Springfield, VA - 04/19/01

Reviewed by Christopher J. Kelter

Chaos was pretty much the order of the evening. I suspected as much as it was the first night of the tour. Well, there's not much you can do when chaos reigns supreme. As such, I just sat back, relaxed, and let the metal flow. 

Brave, formerly known as Arise From Thorns, delivered their brand of acoustic driven tunes in a quick, but enchanting five-song set.  Michelle Loose's vocals meshed well over the low-key guitars and inventive rhythm section. After starting the set with two new songs, Brave dug back to their days as Arise From Thorns for "Dreaming," "Time Alone," and "Bluer Skies." These featured songs are quite vibrant and really come across well in the live setting. Mike Blevins, Division's guitarist, assisted Brave with lead guitar during their set.

Division, signed to the Progressive Arts Music label, are a power metal band thrash band that throws in a decidedly hard edge into the mix. Tonight's performance was the last show for Division vocalist Scott Stewart and the band gave a spirited performance. Division will continue once a new vocalist is secured for the group. Division are veterans of JAXX and have opened up for Dio, Saxon, King Diamond, and Iced Earth as well as Savatage and Fates Warning on previous occasions.  Division's set ended with a rousing cover of Iron Maiden's "Phantom Of The Opera."

Fates Warning, without a sound check, managed to impress everyone (even those people who seemingly and inexplicably have not heard of Fates Warning until this performance). Fates Warning's material for this performance covered the last 13 years which still accounts for more than two-thirds of the band's history. Unfortunately, for me anyway, no material from "No Exit" or earlier albums was featured in this evening's performance. After the taped intro of "Disconnected Part One" from their latest CD Fates Warning launched into a set that included "Still Life In Water," "One," "Through Different Eyes," "So," "Eleventh Hour," "Point Of View," "Still Remains," and "Monument." Fates Warning's career, ever remaining within the progressive genre, have managed to keep their records diverse and challenging. Tonight's set proved that Fates Warning have written stellar songs throughout their career and seem poised to continue to do so for the foreseeable future.  Ray Alder's voice held up pretty well, although it was noticeable that he has yet to find a comfort zone being so early in the tour - it's quite easy to forgive him for this extremely minor issue. Jim Matheos' guitar was crystal clear throughout the set. Mark Zonder's drumming was impeccable; Zonder's considerable skills are remarkable and it's a shame he doesn't get more recognition. The core of Alder, Matheos, and Zonder were augmented by full-time 'temporary' bass player Joey Vera as well as Shaun Michaud (Event) on guitar and keyboards. 

While I am familiar with Savatage's material I cannot consider myself a true fan of Savatage. And it's not that I dislike Savatage; I've actually enjoyed the material that I've become familiar with over the last few years. However, having finally witnessed Savatage my opinion of the band has changed considerably. Savatage put on a very professional set - in fact, one could say that it was sheer spectacle.  

Amazing lights, stellar sound, and great song choices combined for a great show. Although the Savatage line-up changes frequently there is no doubt that the professional and tight operation that is Savatage keeps high quality metal at the forefront of the fans' minds. 

My personal favorite Savatage songs were played this evening ("Dead Winter Dead," "Edge Of Thorns," and "Chance") so I was quite happy.  However, it was the top-notch set list from song one to song end that really did me in. Other songs included "The Wake Of Magellan," "Handful Of Rain," "He Carves His Stone," "Gutter Ballet," and "Hall Of The Mountain King."

The touring package of Fates Warning and Savatage is a show you will not want to miss. 

Hail to JAXX and Jay Nedry for booking metal shows!

Hail to Kirk C. for believing in the inherent power of metal!

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Copyright 2001 by R. Scott Bolton. All rights reserved.
Revised: 23 Aug 2016 22:57:16 -0400.