October 14, 2016 Symphony X Bring Underworld To Gramercy Theatre NYC 10-5-16
It was the 1995 album, titled The Damnation Game, that set Symphony X’s Progressive Metal path for the future. Established in New Jersey since 1994, their melodic approach includes a different form of Progressive Metal that possesses quite a few Symphonic elements, helping to enhance their sound. Together now for over twenty years, they have gained a massive following while their music continues to inspire, and the 2015 album, Underworld, is no different.
Well over a year into the album’s touring cycle, Symphony X is near-ready to close the chapter, hopefully with plans to record a tenth masterpiece. Giving it one last spotlight, they decided to kick off a special, limited United States tour this fall. Kicking off on September 29th in Philadelphia, PA, the abbreviated run concluded on the eve of Wednesday, October 5th, in New York City at the Gramercy Theatre. A fitting place to wind down the select list of shows, Michael Romeo (guitar), Russell Allen (vocals), Michael Pinnella (keyboard), Michael LePond (bass), and Jason Rullo (drums) were ready to consider this the final US show for Underworld.
Having invited New York’s own Magus Beast as direct support, the local favorite was ready to take the stage. A regular at New York City based Metal shows, Magnus Beast frequently supports National touring bands coming into town and is a name known well. Sporting a different look for the night, George Tsalikas filled in on vocals for Ron Scauri while the regular lineup of John Rup (guitar), Andy Zuppardi (guitar), Andy Prezioso (bass), and Tony Passimenti (drums) prepared to get the show going.
Known to be loud, they lived up to their name, rocking out songs such as “We Are Legion,” “I Live,” “Darkness,” “Medusa,” and closing with “Born To Kill.” For an act that has been around since the mid-eighties and working with a different vocalist, they put on a well-produced show that warmed up everyone for Symphony X.
With a brief intermission, fans grabbed a few drinks, engaged in conversation, and before they knew it, it was time for Symphony X to hit the stage. Immediately grabbing everyone’s attention, “Overture” began the journey, paving the way for Underworld to likely be played in its entirety. A good assumption, everyone embraced the new material as the set rolled on with “Nevermore,” “Underworld,” and “Kiss of Fire.” Quite the showman, Allen interacted with the crowd, inviting them to let hell loose. Discussing their excitement about flying over to Japan, shortly after, they moved into another powerful Underworld song, “Without You.” As matters progressed, Allen brought the dark side out of Underworld as he held out two different masks. Those who are followers of the band know these were symbolic to the nine circles of hell. One mask was black and white as the other was more sinister with red and black. Setting the mood, they moved into “Charon,” followed by “To Hell and Back,” striking everyone with intense musicianship and unforgettable vocals.
With everyone singing and moving along, there was little interaction between the band and the crowd, but there did not need to be because the music was the connection. Continuing to run through songs such as “In My Darkest Hour,” the singing from the pit continued as many screamed along with “Run With the Devil.” Taking a deep breath to engage with the audience, Allen explained how difficult it was to run with the devil in real life and confessed that it was the end of the Underworld tour. Continuing to be personable, he playful stating that he wished life was like Disneyland. Laughing at a loud fan’s reaction to the Disneyland comment, he continued, providing inspirational words in regards to one of the final song from the Underworld album. Not exactly a happy ending, Allen explained we do what we can in life, saying this is the character of the Underworld’s swan song, as well as ours, segueing into “Swan Song.” A touching moment, the performance was dramaticly enhanced by the keyboards while Allen’s voice captivated the room.
With the set nearing its close, it was time to drift away from Underworld as Allen mentioned how he missed the old days and went into “The Death of Balance/Lacrymosa,” from 2000’s V: The New Mythology Suite. A welcomed addition to the night, they followed with a mix of back catalogue songs including “Serpent’s Kiss,” from 2007’s Paradise Lost, before concluding the night with “Of Sins and Shadows,” from 1997’s The Divine Wings of Tragedy. Appearing the journey had concluded, luckily Symphony X returned for an encore, beginning with “Set the World on Fire (The Lie of Lies).” Heading to the finale, Allen vowed that their next visit to New York City will be a full performance of 2002’s The Odyssey before closing with the one song not played off Underworld, the album’s final track, “Legend,” to complete the Underworld evening.
There is a reason why Symphony X has such a devoted fanbase, it is because they possess so much energy while incorporating a unique mix of Progressive and Symphonic Metal. One fan was even quoted as saying, “Thank goodness we still have vocalists such as Russell Allen in our lives!” That said, everyone now awaits Symphony X’s return after their journey across to the other side of the world.