By Mark Derricutt
Date / Venue: Friday November 18th, 2016 - Vector Arena, Auckland
Chicago, Illinois based Disturbed last hit our Kiwi shores in 2011, and were originally set to return at the start of the year on the back of the ill-fated Soundwave Festival. But finally at the end of the year, they've returned to a full house at Auckland’s Vector Arena finally getting to see what they’ve been patiently waiting for - and with a 1.5 hour set, 18 songs, pyrotechnics, smoke machines, and an intense light show the audience were treated well.
The evening started with New Zealand's Devilskin - marking a well timed outing with last weeks chart-topping release of Be Like The River, also their first since front-woman Jennie Skulander gave birth - the time off certainly hasn't slowed their pace and the new songs sound killer. I’d have loved to have heard a longer set, but it seemed just as they were getting right into the mood there was a stage manager off to the side cutting them short, ending things rather abruptly but at least not mid-song. It’s seems Disturbed are running to a tightly controlled timeline tonight!
And tightly controlled she was - little more than 15 minutes later Disturbed were on stage and straight into 'Immortalized' - the title track from their latest 2015 release - which also celebrated going Gold in New Zealand this week. Prior to tonight's show I’d not actually heard the album, outside of the highly publicised cover of 'The Sound of Silence', and I’d not really listened to their back catalogue for some time so it was off to the giant rock box in the sky to stream 5 or so albums back to back all week. Immediately I was reminded as to why the band have gained so such popularity - catchy hooks, heavy - but not “extreme heavy” downtuned guitars, David Draiman’s distinctive vocals: that husky rasp, and the odd monkey squealches (it’s hard to find someone who doesn’t know “OOO WAH AH AH AH” even if they don’t know the band/song).
Anyway, back to the show - lights, blazing hot pyrotechnics, smoke, more lights - the crowd were eating things up whilst Draiman casually strolled around their fairly small, minimalistic stage setup (small compared to the last Vector show I was at: Iron Maiden’s Book of Souls - I suspect everything is small in comparison though), if it wasn’t for the sheer crowd size I think a smaller venue may have worked better, but this worked just as well. I think I physically cringed as Draiman yells “Show me your devil horns” to the crowd, such a cliche ‘metal’ thing, and I find Disturbed music is far to happy and upbeat sounding for such faux-evil sentiments. Still - the crowd didn't care and responded in kind unleashing their inner westy rebellion. …Lights out, we’re all in silent darkness, moments pass, a small orchestra appears on stage as shadows when the scene is unveiled and we enter the haunting cover of Simon & Garfunkel’s “The Sound of Silence”. Oddly - a portion of the crowd around me responded more enthusiastically to this, and the later Genesis cover 'Land Of Confusion' than they had songs come before. I’m not sure what it means when your covers are more popular than your originals, but I suspect it’s more an emotional connection to both the original AND the cover - it amused me to notice though.
Earlier in the week it was publicised the band were donating a portion of the shows proceeds to the Red Cross in support of victims of last weeks Earthquakes, and this was reiterated with “New Zealand is STRONG, New Zealand will REBUILD - New Zealand is INDESTRUCTIBLE”. A well placed song intro for the set closer, the fact the band is showing an awareness of recent problems in the nation they're visiting raises them higher in my regard.
That same thoughtfulness returned again for the encore, with David Draiman calling out a wheelchair bound metalhead he spotted right at the front of the barricade for THE ENTIRE SHOW, after inviting him to join them ringside on stage the encore pulls out the big hits. If ‘Pete’ had a less than stellar view before, now he was side of stage with band members rotating in and around him - guitars and bass licks right in his face - this’ll be one show he’ll never forget!
The Eye of the Storm (Immortalized), Immortalized (Immortalized), The Game (The Sickness), The Vengeful One (Immortalized), Prayer (Believe), Liberate (Believe), The Infection (Asylum), Stupify (The Sickness), Darkness (Believe), The Sound of Silence (Simon & Garfunkel cover) (Immortalized), Inside the Fire (Indestructible), The Light (Immortalized), Stricken (Ten Thousand Fists), Land of Confusion (Genesis cover) (Ten Thousand Fists), Indestructible (Indestructible)
Encore: Voices (The Sickness), Ten Thousand Fists (Ten Thousand Fists), Down With The Sickness (The Sickness)