Location: Chicago, IL

Date: 07/21/2018

By Colonel Angus

It has been a long time since I spent a weekend with one of my favorite bands Armored Saint.  I did get to see them on the Queensryche tour a couple of years back but I wanted to catch them headline their own show for a while now. When I read that they were going out on tour and playing their Symbol of Salvation album in its entirety, it was a no-brainer for me to make a couple to a couple of shows in my old stomping grounds.  The weekend started off with a performance in Chicago on Saturday with another show on Sunday in Milwaukee.  Needless to say, I certainly got my metal money’s worth from those two concerts.

Act of Defiance was supporting at both these shows and both nights, they were brutal (in a good way).  For those of you who have been living under a rock for the past few years, Act of Defiance consists of Chris Broderick and Shawn Drover (ex-Megadeth), Henry Derek (ex-Scar The Martyr), and Matt Bachand (Shadows Fall).  In the time since they formed, they have released 2 great records and this tour focuses on their "Old Scars, New Wounds" release.  While songs like “M.I.A.”, “The Talisman”, and “Overexposure” sound great at home, watching them performed live is a whole different beast.  Derek’s vocals are even more intense when performing in from of fans and the whole band seems to feed off the energy produced in a concert venue.  Even though their set was short, they managed to squeeze in a number of tunes from both disks which included the aforementioned along with “Legion of Lies” and the title cut from the first record "Birth and the Burial".  I read that one of the reasons that Broderick and Drover left Megadeth was that they weren’t given the room to be creative.  Thankfully, this worked out for us metalheads because Act of Defiance Is not only a great band on record but a force to be reckoned with in a live setting.

I have been waiting for 18 years to see Armored Saint put on a headlining performance.  Last time I saw them do that was at the House of Blues on the "Revelation" tour so I was really pumped to catch a couple of dates on this tour.  Even though "Win Hands Down" is their latest release, they decided to celebrate their "Symbol of Salvation" record by playing it all the way through.  Many fans regard that to be their best album (and I agree as well) but they really don’t have a dud in their catalogue and they still churn out quality music like "La Raza" and "Win Hands Down".

The band hit the stage right after Judas Priest’s “Delivering the Goods” was played through the PA (and they did deliver the goods) with “March of the Saint”; the title cut off their first full length record.  The band was given a hero’s welcome by the packed Chicago crowd but instead of basking in the glory, they kept the momentum going with “Long Before I Die” and "Chemical Euphoria".  After a brief breather, the band launched into "Symbol of Salvation" in the same running order as the album.  While the whole thing was great, highlights for me were "Another Day" and "Hanging Judge".  I have been waiting a long time to catch those tracks live and the Saint did not disappoint.  Earlier in the afternoon, a fan gave the band a picture of Dave Prichard which they proudly displayed on their amps and John Bush spoke about he is still a part of the band in spirit and that he is probably watching them and telling them to play the guitar parts correctly. 

Normally, the band leaves the stage and we give them applause until they come back and perform an encore.  Instead of doing this, they just stayed on stage and treated us to an extended “encore” (is it still an encore if they don’t leave the stage?) and played “Win Hands Down”, “Left Hook From Right Field”, “Can U Deliver”, and “Mad House”.  I thought it was great that they played some newer material from the last two disks and they bookended the show with songs from the March of the Saint record.  One of the things I have to say about Armored Saint is that they have lost none of their energy or “sound” after all these years.  They use every inch of the stage (Joey Vera is all over the place) to get the crowd going and Bush sounds just as good as when I first caught them back in the 80s.  Very few singers can sing as well as they did back when they were younger but he manages to prove them wrong.  Phil Sandoval and new guy Jeff Duncan (he’s been with the band since 1990 but technically, he is the new guy – ha!) are a great guitar duo and rival any axe team out there.  I also have to give props to Gonzo Sandoval who manages to keep the rhythms going without skipping a beat; he makes it look so easy. 

As far as weekends go, I have to say that this most recent one with back to back Armored Saint shows will go down as being one of the most fun weekend I’ve had in a long, long time.  My biggest hope is that the guys continue to put out records and play shows throughout the states.  They clearly have a rabid fan base and they did win over some new fans in the process.  Some parents brought their kids along for the ride and after these shows, I’m sure they are fans now as well.  I highly recommend that anyone into metal or hard rock (or whatever you want to call it) attend one of their shows in your area.  Hell, I flew from Texas to Illinois to catch these concerts and it was worth every penny.