A live Rock-n-Roll show is more than just a night of music, it is a spectacle filled with lights, drama, and emotion, or at least In This Moment, Motionless in White, Avatar, and Gemini Syndrome would like to think so. Uniting imagery with their own unique brands of modern Heavy Metal, the four bands united on the Half God Half Devil Tour, which launched April 7th. A 19-date expedition which finds them stalking the midwest, northeast, and deep south, some would argue it is one of the most exciting bills of the spring of 2017. In fact, headliners In This Moment promise to offer one of their best live shows to date with Lead Guitarist Chris Howorth stating, “Fans can anticipate a whole new show, from new songs to new choreography for existing songs. We’ve vowed to make sure every tour we do is updated from the last one. We are putting everything we have into the new show.”
Raising excitement among their dedicated followers, an eerie feeling settled over Worcester, Massachusetts on the eve of Sunday, April 23rd, when the Half God Half Devil Tour arrived at The Palladium. Yes, spring is in full bloom, but this ensemble of bands teamed up to bring a chilling October feel to the New England town. Ready to be spellbound, fans anxiously awaited to see exactly what the night had in store.
First to hit the stage was Los Angeles, California’s Gemini Syndrome. Turning heads after their 2013 debut album Lux, Gemini Syndrome has built a cult-like following over the years. Growing in size following the success of their 2016 follow-up Memento Mori, their addition to the Half God Half Devil Tour was well-deserved.
Led by the powerful voice of Aaron Nordstrom, he and his band consisting of Guitarists Daniel Sahagún and Charles Lee Salvaggio, along Drummer Brian Steele Medina, as well as Bassist Alessandro, set out to quickly make an impression. Doing just that, their set delivered a heavy thumping as they offered songs such as “Eternity,” “Basement,” and lyrically striking “Anonymous.” In regards to stage setup, perhaps the most stripped down of all the bands on the bill, Gemini Syndrome’s setup was simple with black and white banners creating a stunning monochrome effect. Adding more dazzle with their sharp riffs, they wrapped up the set with “Remember We Die” and fan-favorite “Stardust.” A considerably abbreviated set considering they were openers, Gemini Syndrome continue to mix in one-off headlining shows throughout the tour, so be sure to check them out for more of this extraordinary Hard Rock act.
Up next was Sweden’s own Avatar. Rising to international fame following their 2014 album Hail the Apocalypse, it has been a long road for Avatar. Originally more in the Melodic Death Metal realm, through years of growth and experimentation, Avatar are now the band their fans know today. Complete with a dark carnival-like image, Avatar’s sound is equally as colorful, explicitly shown on their latest effort, 2016’s Feathers & Flesh. Completing a successful headlining North American tour in support of the said album in the fall of 2016, Avatar was delighted to be returning to The States for another plunge into the bizarre.
Inviting the audience into the tent, the focal point of everyone’s vision was John Alfredsson taking his place behind the circus designed drum kit. Larger than life, Guitarists Jonas “Kungen” Jarlsby and Tim Öhrström appeared, followed by Bassist Henrik Sandelin, as they began the pounding intro of the well-known “Hail the Apocalypse.” Then, once the ringleader, Johannes Eckerström, hit the stage, the real fun began as the song took full shape. From here, they wasted no time in delivering the music, blasting into “Paint Me Red” and “Bloody Angel,” matched with synchronized headbanging.
With a devilish smile and piercing eyes, Eckerström sang with passion as he moved along into their most recently released single, “New Land,” further stirring up the frenzy. Keeping that same energy level, some standout tracks included “The Eagle Has Landed” and “Let It Burn” before Avatar concluded with 2012’s “Smells Like a Freakshow.” Another crowd-favorite, the mass of people really let go, throwing up their hands and even crowd-surfing as they chanted, ”We’ve got no rules, no rules, no rules.” As they descended into madness, Avatar made the most of their time on stage, proving to be ultimate showmen.
With the album’s grand introduction only a few weeks away, Chris Motionless and his crew looked to set the stage at The Palladium aflame as they launched the set with the chant-along favorite “A-M-E-R-I-C-A.” Complete with jack-o-lantern props and strobe lights for a chilling effect, once the mood was set, Chris thanks all for coming out as they moved into their latest single, “Loud (Fuck it).” Immediately taken by the new cut, it was off to some older songs including the raging “Devil’s Night,” uplifting “Unstoppable,” and Industrial-laden “Death March.”
Keeping the surprises coming, they soon went into a rendition of System of a Down’s “Chop Suey” where Chris hopped into the pit as he sung, getting up-close and personal with fans. This increased the demand for more as the band segued into “Dead as Fuck” following their happy birthday wishes to one of their lovely stage dancer. Having the room under their thumb, the delightful dark new song “Eternally Yours” would keep the momentum flowing before show closer “Reincarnate” saw them break out water guns to cool down the crowd. Sinister and insane, Motionless in White had completed another fantastic live performance. Promising to raise the stakes with more theatricals to come on a pending headlining tour later in 2017, Motionless in White appear to be on the road to bigger and better things.
Creating a mystique with humongous Black Widow album banner obscuring the stage, the crew prepared the altar where Howorth, Travis Johnson (bass), Randy Weitzel (guitar), and Kent Diimmel (drums) would perform with Lead Lady Maria Brink at the center of it all. With the banner dropping, the secrets that laid behind were revealed as fans exhaled for opening song “Blood.” Continuing on, every song was like a new act in a play, bringing set changes as well as new wardrobe. Eye-gazing, the costumes were similar in style to those seen in the band’s music videos, thus providing a familiar image for fans, sucking them deep into the fantasy.
Luring them further down the rabbit hole, “Black Widow” followed by a brand new song called “River of Fire” before “Adrenalize” and “Burn.” Taking it down a few notches, “The Fighter” took the performance for a more mellow turn before hyping them by up with a blistering guitar solo. At this point, Brink took a moment to thank everyone for joining her and the band in their celebration of diversity, beauty, and acceptance. Giving her talented band the spotlight, each shined bright individually, but the true highlight was their ability to remain impeccably tight all set long with songs like “Big Bad Wolf” as well as another new offering, “Oh Lord.”
Then, for what appeared to be Brink’s final costume change, the band broke out into battle, shredding Metallica’s “For Whom the Bell Tolls,” segueing into “Sick Like Me.” With Black Widow’s horror-esque “The Infection” playing over the speakers, The Pallidum soon became engulfed in smoke, creating an otherworldly feel for the encore that saw the band deliver a chilling cover of Phil Collins “In the Air Tonight.” Slow and emotional, Brink captured the lyrics wonderfully as many sang along before they concluded the show with their signature “Whore,” throwing everyone into one last whirlwind of adrenaline.
Complete with intense showmanship and stunning visual props, The Half God Half Devil Tour is simply astounding. All in thanks to four stylistic Rock powerhouses, together they captured the imagination of The Palladium. Even those who may have enjoyed one band more than the other, they still were all universally enticed by the atmosphere the night provided. As the tour winds down on May 5th, there is still more to come from each band involved, including a summer tour where In This Moment will share stages with everyone from Starset to Avenged Sevenfold, so do not miss out.Photos by: Dennis Brunelle Photography