by Reverend Charles
Photos by: Elizabeth V. Bouras
A positively jovial Glenn Danzig wishing Type O Negative front man Peter Steele "a happy Kwanzaa" and dedicating "Die, Die My Darling" to Tom Jones? This was a Brand New Glenn, far removed from the unapproachable impression the legendary "Evil Elvis" has become known for. There were no half-naked nuns in bondage. No gargoyles for the sacrifices. No one was told "One more fucking time and you die, asshole." Instead, there was kidding around onstage. There were mistakes that didn't end in firings. All in all, it was two boys from Jersey and two boys from Brooklyn having some fairly lighthearted fun. Not exactly what one would expect from the man who recently put out the atmospheric dark ambience of Black Aria II or who sang about how he would "slay you there for my brand new god," way back on Danzig 4.
I found myself traveling down from the comfort of Brooklyn on December 26th to see the Danzig play at the Starlight Ballroom down in Central Jersey. My partners for this trip were my former band mates, Kleibold Harris (whom I had met on the Danzig fan site, the7thhouse.com) and Valium Joy. Normally, I do not venture outside of the New York area for a band, any band. Hell, I missed the Samhain reunion in Philadelphia precisely because of the distance it would have required me to travel. I don't like going places where there are no subways. It's part of why I hate Los Angeles so much. Well, one of many reasons. But, the point is that this show was the first time I went out to the middle of nowhere, New Jersey, all for one reason: this could very well have been the last show Danzig ever played on the East Coast.
It's no secret he's given up touring and seems to be focusing more on his upcoming movie, Ge Rouge, and his variety of projects, ranging from the Jerry Cantrell (or possibly Hank III) blues project to the long-awaited Lost Tracks of Danzig. Sure, there will probably be many West Coast shows to come, but I don't particularly like the West Coast, so if I wanted to see Danzig, this might have been my last chance.
We found ourselves at the club around 8pm that night. Security was tighter than I've seen in a while. Hell, they even took my nail clipper. The place was packed and the opening bands started not soon after I arrived. The first was a fairly serviceable Children of Bodom sounding band who were all very talented, and whose keyboard player didn't seem to particularly be interested in what was going on. One song tended to blend into another until the band did something that actually got my attention, and whipped out "The Duncan Hills Coffee Theme" from the Adult Swim show, Dethklok: Metalocaplyse. That got the crowd excited and I must say it kinda won me over. Still, I can't tell you anything else the band did, except to say that they were all very good at what they did.
The second band, however, was not very good. Their set was short was gave me time to wander about the club, looking for people I recognized as well as time to realize that Central Jersey is pretty much the Land of the Butterface. The audience was not very receptive to this band, and when they proceeded to tell us, "the next song is circle pit worthy" (I must note that I've always been of the belief that any band that has to tell you that a song is "circle pit worthy" usually isn't worth banging your head to, never mind moshing to), they produced a raging mosh pit of three people. Overall, the less said about them, the better, since the end of their set meant that the band we had all come to see was on their way.
As the lights went dark and "Wotan's Procession" began to play over the speakers, the first crowd locked into place and began to pay attention. Cheers arose as Johnny Kelly, Steve Zing, and Kenny Hickey came onstage, those cheers rising to a roar when Danzig, himself, appeared. Keeping in time with the Circle of Snakes track listing, "Skin Carver" was the first song the band played, sounding worlds better than the studio version, this new lineup of Danzig tighter than any since the Todd Youth/Howie Pyro/Joey Castillo days. The monitor on Glenn's vocals were not where they should have been, at this point, but the audience made up for it by singing every word. "Skin Carver" went into I, Luciferi's "Black Mass," the set noticeably quicker this time than previous times I've seen Danzig, possibly to accommodate for the advertised Misfits set with Doyle, due later that night. "Satan's Child" was up next, completing the post-Blackacidevil material.
Next, we found ourselves taken all the way back to the first album, with "Not of This World," a song I hadn't heard in a long time, but the first one I really found myself singing along with. Kenny Hickey perfectly replicated the guitar harmonics of former guitarist John Christ, and, by this point, Glenn's vocals were at a level that was audible. Before playing "Her Black Wings," Glenn announced that, indeed they were keeping things short to allow for time for Doyle's appearance ("we're having a special guest later tonight"), the audience completely under the spell by now. The Danzig 3 title track, "How the Gods Kill," was the end of the first half of the Danzig set as Doyle lumbered onto the stage to his very own introduction music, the level of adrenaline in the room doubling as the Misfits classic, "20 Eyes" was blasted from the stage.
Doyle beat the living shit out of his guitar, Danzig screamed his lungs out, and at this point I noticed, Danzig had been smiling most of the show. As they went through the next few Misfits songs, "Skulls," (apparently, about Glenn's "appreciation" for the female form...from the shoulders up) and "Mommy...Can I Go Out and Kill Tonight?" (During which, the audience exploded into a violent pit), the smile on Danzig's face was bigger than I ever saw it before. He was happy. He was rested. He was comfortable. This was a Danzig without the stress of the road, doing what he loved to do.
Glenn noted that the next two songs were ones he hadn't done in a while, but his band mates had wanted to do them. Suddenly, "Where Eagles Dare," a song I hadn't expected to hear was playing and the place was insane. There were some mistakes with it, but this was about having fun with some older songs and nobody seemed to mind. "Vampira" came next with the audience going nuts during the shaky-voice part of the final line. This was what Jerry Only could have only dreamed of recapturing with his failed reunion. My absolute favorite Misfits song, "All Hell Breaks Loose" was our late Christmas gift, Steve Zing and Kenny Hickey singing the first verse along with all of us in the crowd, topped only by the fury that was "Demonomania," the blast of Earth A.D.-induced speed that followed.
The Misfits set finished up with "Astrozombies" as Danzig 4's "Bringer of Death" played. The audience was notably drained by this point, but how could they have not been after what we all just witnessed? The set ended with two classics from the first album, "Twist of Cain" and "Mother," a great portion of the audience, for some odd reason, breaking into a strange soccer chant as the band left the stage.
The beaten up audience took a while to get Danzig back for an encore, but when they did come back, they came back strong, with Lucifuge's "Long Way Back From Hell." Next up was what I had been looking forward to, having heard that Danzig had done a mini-Samhain set during the West Coast shows, as November-Coming-Fire's "To Walk the Night" was the sole Samhain song of the night. As happy as I was to hear that, I did find myself slightly disappointed that we only got one song from his sophomore band, and also a little puzzled that the one Samhain song they played was from when Steve Zing wasn't in the band. I much rather would have heard/expected "Samhain" or "All Murder, All Guts, All Fun," but considering this was the first time I had ever witnessed a Samhain song live, I was happy with what I got. Finally, Doyle returned (with his theme song, where I noticed Glenn was just cracking up as Doyle milked his intro for all it was worth), and the night ended with the Misfits song, "Die, Die My Darling," oddly dedicated, as I said earlier, to Tom Jones.
Overall, if that was the last time the East Coast would witness Danzig, it was a fitting way to go. I hope there will be more shows in my neck of the woods in the future and I hope I see more of this more relaxed Danzig. It was great to see him up there, just having fun, hanging out, a bunch of East Coast boys playing for an East Coast audience. Overall, it was a great way to spend the night after Christmas, even if the cold New Jersey night was not exactly the best thing for my sweat soaked body to encounter afterwards. Despite that, I went home happy. Sure, I wished that the set had been longer or that there had been more Samhain material, but there was no way I could have complained about what I witnessed.
Let's just hope that 2007 will bring the New York/New Jersey area another taste.
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