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Pentagram and Ancient VVisdom Concert Review, Austin, TX 8/2/2013

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Pentagram came to town yesterday to play Emo’s East.  No need to rehash my love for them, it’s all written here somewhere.

I’ll just say that the band was solid and Bobby sounded great.  New guitarist, Matt, did a great job.  No, he’s not Victor Griffin, but no one is.  This kid did a fine job.  New drummer, Sean, was rock solid as well.  And of course Greg Turley killed it on bass.  I got to spend some time with Greg for a few hours before show along with Jeff, the band’s biographer.  Jeff and Greg know more about Pentagram than Bobby.  Their history with the band is quite interesting.  It was a great time talking with them again.

The Saint James Society opened the show and quite frankly I couldn’t have been more bored.

My friends Ancient VVisdom were on next and played a fine set.  Their singer now plays acoustic guitar and it changes the vibe quite a bit.

Overall it was a great night.

Written by The Metal Files

August 3, 2013 at 11:20 am

Movie Review: Last Days Here (The Story of Pentagram’s Bobby Liebling)

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Bobby Liebling is not a scary dude, but he’s been through some scary stuff.  One look at the scars on his arms and the age in his eyes and you know he’s been down some rough roads, left hand paths even.  Most people who have done meth, heroin and crack for as long as he has don’t survive.  Bobby Liebling is a survivor.

As noted in previous posts (here and here), I’ve been a Pentagram fan for 20+ years.   Finally getting to see them for the first time 2 years ago was a joy and last year’s encounter with them even better.

When I first saw that there was a documentary by 9.14 Pictures about Bobby being made and being world-premiered right here in Austin during the SxSW Festival, I was pretty excited.  Just last year I was fortunate enough to see the premier of the Lemmy movie.

I took off a few hours early for work to be able to attend the movie which was being shown at the Austin Convention Center at 4:30PM.  I go in and there are people everywhere.  The way admission works at these things is that if you have a Film Festival badge or wristband, you get automatic admission into events before those of us who choose not to purchase the credentials.  I never do.  I went to the ticket booth and they said “If there’s available seating it’ll cost $10 to see the movie.”  Sweet.  I think we paid $16 or less last year to see the Lemmy movie.

As I was waiting in the ticket purchase line, I see a long-haired dude in a leather jacket with some credentials hanging around his neck.  He was talking to someone in the next line over and I spot his name on his badge and see that he was one of the directors of the film, Demian Fenton.  He spots me and comes over and asks if I am there to see Last Days Here.  He complemented my Candlemass shirt, we spoke about the film and Pentagram for a few minutes and he left.  A few minutes later he comes back and hands me an 11” x 14” movie poster.  Awesome.

They start letting the badge holders and wristband wielders in then allow the ticket purchasers to buy a ticket and go in.   The theater was huge, bigger than I expected.  There were a few hundred seats on the floor and a few hundred more bleacher style seats.  I headed to top dead center of the bleacher seats.  My guess is that only about 75 people at the most were there.  I saw one guy in a Pentagram shirt and a few other people that I recognized from some shows around town.  Most people there were likely curious movie-goers.  Of course I feel that the turnout was pretty weak. Before the movie starts, the directors and producer were introduced and spoke for a few minutes.

The lights go down and the movie starts. The documentary begins in 2006 and you’re basically hit right off the bat seeing Bobby smoking crack.  It was painful to see.  His arms are bandaged up basically from wrist to should and his hands are swollen looking and black.  The crack and meth make him believe that he has bacteria on him that he has to pick off.  You get a long glimpse of his upper inner-bicep area where he has picked so much that it was just an open sore.  I’m not grossed out very easily but I did turn my head away from the screen for a moment.

You’re introduced to Sean “Pellet” Pelletier who was a huge Pentagram fan that basically became Bobby’s personal assistant, friend and tour manager.  You see his struggle in trying to help the band get things together to do some shows and you see the pain in his eyes from seeing his friend continually get messed up more and more from his drug use.

Bobby’s mom and dad and shown quite a bit as Bobby was living in their basement (The Sub-Basement) for much of his adult life.  His drug use has taken its toll on his parents as well.  His mom was still taking care of him, and really still enabling him.  You get a peek into what may have been a trigger for Bobby’s drug use when his dad speaks about how he wanted bigger and better things for his son (as most parents do).  His dad was apparently a pretty well-known Asst Secretary of State who worked for 3 or 4 presidents starting with Johnson.

It’s a pretty common theme for many drug users it seems.  A lot of pressure from parents to live up to their expectations and out of rebellion and maybe attention seeking, you become self-destructive…by choice.  No one forced those needles into Bobby nor did anyone force him to smoke crack.   I didn’t really get the feeling from the movie that he was being portrayed as a victim and I believe he even states that “I did this to myself.”

Later in the movie J.B. Beverley (“Like” him on Facebook) is shown quite a bit.  J.B.’s band used to play a bar that I worked in back in Virginia and when he was in town, he’d tell me whacked out stories about Bobby.  J.B. was portrayed as a good friend to Bobby in the movie.

There were some cool interviews with former members of the 70s era of the band as well as some good little segments with Joe Hasselvander and Victor Griffin.  There is some great classic footage and some of the modern footage from The Black Cat show where Bobby finally shows up with about 30 seconds left in the last song, gets kicked by the guitarist and the band walks off stage.  You also see the “comeback” footage from the 2009 Webster Hall show in NYC.

In the last few years, Bobby met a girl from Philadelphia who is about 30 years younger than him.  He moved up there from Maryland to live with her, he cleans up, looks good then things fell apart.  She left him, ended up filing a restraining order, he ends up in Jail for a few weeks etc.  Ultimately they get back together, get married and had a child together late in 2010 which is where the movie ends.  When I met Bobby last year, he seemed clean and was in very good spirits.  He seemed like a generally good natured guy who took terrible decisions.  (Review Your Choices, eh?)

Overall I think this was much better than the Lemmy movie as this really told a story.  The Lemmy movie really could’ve been titled “Hanging Out With Lemmy”, but it never really got too deep into the guy.  Last Days Here showed how drug abuse affects the user, the family and the friends.  Much of the sentiments in the movie hit “close to home” for me and there were several moments during the movie where I admittedly got choked up.  It may be a little more comparable to the Anvil movie, except this was about a better band.  They had several good chances for record deals via Colombia Records and even had Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley come down from NYC to check them out at a rehearsal, which eventually bombed.

After the movie there was a quick Q&A session and I caught up with the filmmakers in the hall to give them my thoughts and snap a quick photo with them.  They were all very gracious and I hope the 2 subsequent viewings this week go well, even better than yesterday’s.

As a Pentagram fan, I hope this movie ends up with some decent distribution.  This movie can also serve as a documentary about the damage caused by drug abuse.  I’d love to have this on DVD.  There was a full sized movie poster hanging in the hallway and I asked where I could purchase one.  Unfortunately only 2 were made so I’ll have to wait until they get some distribution before getting something like that.  I’d surely frame it and hang it up.  For now I’ll cherish the poster that they gave me and will hopefully catch one of the 2 shows that Pentagram are playing this week.

Nice work, guys.  Best of luck!

 

Bobby Liebling is not a scary dude, but he’s been through some scary stuff.  One look at the scars on his arms and the age in his eyes and you know he’s been down some rough roads, left hand paths even.  Most people who have done meth, heroin and crack for as long as he has don’t survive.  Bobby Liebling is a survivor.

As noted in previous posts (here and here), I’ve been a Pentagram fan for 20+ years.   Finally getting to see them for the first time 2 years ago was a joy and last year’s encounter with them even better.

When I first saw that there was a documentary about Bobby being made and being world-premiered right here in Austin during the SxSW Festival, I was pretty excited.  Just last year I was fortunate enough to see the premier of the Lemmy movie.

I took off a few hours early for work to be able to attend the movie which was being shown at the Austin Convention Center at 4:30PM.  I go in and there are people everywhere.  The way admission works at these things is that if you have a Film Festival badge or wristband, you get automatic admission into events before those of us who choose not to purchase the credentials.  I never do.  I went to the ticket booth and they said “If there’s available seating it’ll cost $10 to see the movie.”  Sweet.  I think we paid $16 or less last year to see the Lemmy movie.

As I was waiting in the ticket purchase line, I see a long-haired dude in a leather jacket with some credentials hanging around his neck.  He was talking to someone in the next line over and I spot his name on his badge and see that he was one of the directors of the film, Demian Fenton.  He spots me and comes over and asks if I am there to see Last Days Here.  He complemented my Candlemass shirt, we spoke about the film and Pentagram for a few minutes and he left.  A few minutes later he comes back and hands me an 11” x 14” movie poster.  Awesome.

They start letting the badge holders and wristband wielders in then allow the ticket purchasers to buy a ticket and go in.   The theater was huge, bigger than I expected.  There were a few hundred seats on the floor and a few hundred more bleacher style seats.  I headed to top dead center of the bleacher seats.  My guess is that only about 75 people at the most were there.  I saw one guy in a Pentagram shirt and a few other people that I recognized from some shows around town.  Most people there were likely curious movie-goers.  Of course I feel that the turnout was pretty weak. Before the movie starts, the directors and producer were introduced and spoke for a few minutes.

The lights go down and the movie starts. The documentary begins in 2006 and you’re basically hit right off the bat seeing Bobby smoking crack.  It was painful to see.  His arms are bandaged up basically from wrist to should and his hands are swollen looking and black.  The crack and meth make him believe that he has bacteria on him that he has to pick off.  You get a long glimpse of his upper inner-bicep area where he has picked so much that it was just an open sore.  I’m not grossed out very easily but I did turn my head away from the screen for a moment.

You’re introduced to Sean “Pellet” Pelletier who was a huge Pentagram fan that basically became Bobby’s personal assistant, friend and tour manager.  You see his struggle in trying to help the band get things together to do some shows and you see the pain in his eyes from seeing his friend continually get messed up more and more from his drug use.

Bobby’s mom and dad and shown quite a bit as Bobby was living in their basement (The Sub-Basement) for much of his adult life.  His drug use has taken its toll on his parents as well.  His mom was still taking care of him, and really still enabling him.  You get a peek into what may have been a trigger for Bobby’s drug use when his dad speaks about how he wanted bigger and better things for his son (as most parents do).  His dad was apparently a pretty well-known Asst Secretary of State who worked for 3 or 4 presidents starting with Johnson.

It’s a pretty common theme for many drug users it seems.  A lot of pressure from parents to live up to their expectations and out of rebellion and maybe attention seeking, you become self-destructive…by choice.  No one forced those needles into Bobby nor did anyone force him to smoke crack.   I didn’t really get the feeling from the movie that he was being portrayed as a victim and I believe he even states that “I did this to myself.”

Later in the movie J.B. Beverley is shown quite a bit.  J.B.’s band used to play a bar that I worked in back in Virginia and when he was in town, he’d tell me whacked out stories about Bobby.  J.B. was portrayed as a good friend to Bobby in the movie.

There were some cool interviews with former members of the 70s era of the band as well as some good little segments with Joe Hasselvander and Victor Griffin.  There is some great classic footage and some of the modern footage from The Black Cat show where Bobby finally shows up with about 30 seconds left in the last song, gets kicked by the guitarist and the band walks off stage.  You also see the “comeback” footage from the 2009 Webster Hall show in NYC.

In the last few years, Bobby met a girl from Philadelphia who is about 30 years younger than him.  He moved up there from Maryland to live with her, he cleans up, looks good then things fell apart.  She left him, ended up filing a restraining order, he ends up in Jail for a few weeks etc.  Ultimately they get back together, get married and had a child together late in 2010 which is where the movie ends.  When I met Bobby last year, he seemed clean and was in very good spirits.  He seemed like a generally good natured guy who took terrible decisions.  (Review Your Choices, eh?)

Overall I think this was much better than the Lemmy movie as this really told a story.  The Lemmy movie really could’ve been titled “Hanging Out With Lemmy”, but it never really got too deep into the guy.  Last Days Here showed how drug abuse affects the user, the family and the friends.  Much of the sentiments in the movie hit “close to home” for me and there were several moments during the movie where I admittedly got choked up.  It may be a little more comparable to the Anvil movie, except this was about a better band.  They had several good chances for record deals via Colombia Records and even had Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley come down from NYC to check them out at a rehearsal, which eventually bombed.

After the movie there was a quick Q&A session and I caught up with the filmmakers in the hall to give them my thoughts and snap a quick photo with them.  They were all very gracious and I hope the 2 subsequent viewings this week go well, even better than yesterday’s.

As a Pentagram fan, I hope this movie ends up with some decent distribution.  I’d love to have this on DVD.  There was a full sized movie poster hanging in the hallway and I asked where I could purchase one.  Unfortunately only 2 were made so I’ll have to wait until they get some distribution before getting something like that.  I’d surely frame it and hang it up.  For now I’ll cherish the poster that they gave me and will hopefully catch one of the 2 shows that Pentagram are playing this week.

Nice work, guys.  Best of luck!

Pentagram – Concert Review 052610

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PENTAGRAM – BLACK TUSK – RWAKE – MALA SUERTE – STRIDER

So let’s back up to July of 2009.  Looking at my review I don’t remember liking the show as much as I wrote about.  No matter.  This is May 2010 and a different day.

As some of my faithful readers may know I recently moved in downtown Austin to be closer to all of my favorite music venues to make things a bit more accessible.  Mission accomplished.  Last month I was able to hang out with some of the guys from Hammerfall and do dinner with them.  More or less this happened because I live 3 blocks from this particular venue.

Last night my luck struck again.  I left my apartment to hit a local burger joint to meet up with Amelia and have a burger and some beers before we both went our separate ways to see different shows.  As I am crossing the street I see this group of longhairs and noticeably I see Bobby Liebling and Victor Griffin from Pentagram.  I also recognized the drummer Gary from the previous Pentagram show and from a show where he drummed for Valkyrie a few years back.

Basically the first words out of my mouth when we were face to face, and I am sure I stuttered, were, “holy crap…you’re Pentagram!”  I meet tons of bands, some big some small…but this is Pentagram.  The band that

Greg, Bobby, happy fat dude, Victor, Gary...PENTAGRAM!

did Day Of Reckoning!   To me one of the greatest doom albums of all time.  So, as I am totally trying not to be a fanboy, I ask for a picture with the band.  One of their old friends lives here in Austin and he snapped a few shots with my camera and then some with his.  As we’re doing pictures and standing in the street, I asked if they were going to hear Burning Savior from Day of Reckoning.  Victor said no.  Then I asked about Living in a Ram’s Head and Bobby quickly said, “We’ll never fucking play that song again.  I never really liked it!”  Damn!  Then he says to me, “Didn’t Burning Savior scare you?”  I replied with, “It probably scared my mom back in the 80s but never phased me.”  “Right on,” he replied.   So I ask them where they were heading and they pointed to the restaurant that was right behind us.  I told them that they would be making an intestinal mistake if they ate there and they asked for my recommendation.  I took them to Chupa Cabra, the same place I took Hammerfall.  They loved it.  Conversations were pretty funny at the table.  Everyone in the band kept giving the new bassist a hard time.  As we were walking to dinner, Victor and I talked about the upcoming Place of Skulls album.  September!  He asked if I liked it and I said, “If you’re on it, I’m a fan.”  Which is true.

Bobby was great to be around and he seemed clean of drugs.  Sure, he’s a bit burned out but he was pretty funny and had some really cool stories to share.  He seemed like a “sweet old man”, and I say that with the highest respect and regard for what this man has meant for metal.  It was a pleasure to spend that kind of time with the band, especially with him and Victor.  I mentioned to them that I had a book that I would like both he and Victor to sign.  I mentioned that I had a spare copy for sale and Bobby asked if I’d trade a t-shirt for it.   In the grand scheme I lost a little money in the deal but how often does anyone get to give a legend a cool gift and have said legend give you a cool shirt and a poster in return?  After the transaction, they went back to their hotel to rest.

Gary Rosas and Mala Suerte

There were 4 other bands on the bill and I wanted to catch a few of them.  Since I obviously dissed Amelia to hang out with Pentagram I met her up the street for a beer with our friend Natalia.  I caught the last 3 songs of Strider (Austin, TX) and liked what little bit that I heard.  After their set we all just hung outside on the Emo’s patio and jibber jabbered.  Lots of familiar faces, of course.  Mala Suerte was up next and this was the first time I had seem them with their new guitarist.  Seamless transition.  They were good, they always are.  Consistently.  Their singer is one of the first people I met when I moved here and one of my favorite people in this town.  Great dude.  He was wearing an awesome original DIO Last In Line shirt as well.  They finished their set and it was back to the patio.

Next up was Rwake (Arkansas).  They’ve played here several times in the last few years and I always miss them.  I caught a few of their songs last night and will likely never see them again.  Just not my thing.  More patio!

Black Tusk

Black Tusk hit the stage and are a very energetic 3pc stoner rock band.  Their drummer was fantastic.  Seriously.  Fantastic.  The band was fun to watch.  Don’t know that I’d buy their album but I’ll surely go see them live again when given the chance.

The crowd had increased and tonight’s show was on the inside stage as opposed to the outside stage from last year’s show.  I staked my claim at the front of the stage as Pentagram was setting up so I could at least get a few decent photos.  Pentagram his the stage and opened up with the song Day of Reckoning.  They sounded great.  The band was tight, the sound was good and most importantly Bobby’s voice sounded much better.  I had a huge smile on my face for the whole show.  They were great.  I was totally elated.

I am one of the luckiest people I know sometimes.

The setlist was as follows:

  1. Day of Reckoning
  2. Forever My Queen
  3. Ask No More
  4. Run My Course
  5. Frustration
  6. You’re Lost, I’m Free
  7. Review Your Choices
  8. Petrified
  9. Relentless
  10. All Your Sins
  11. 20 Buck Spin
  12. Pentagram (Sign of the Wolf)
  13. When the Screams Come

Setlist...love how they coded it.

Bobby Liebling

Victor Griffin

Pentagram

Greg, Bobby, happy fat dude, Victory, Gary...PENTAGRAM!

Pentagram Concert Review – Emo’s, Austin, TX – 070609

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Pentagram, Outlaw Order, Nachtmystium, Wolves in the Throne Room, Minsk, The Roller – Emo’s, Austin, TX 070609

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I’m pretty sure it was Daniel who turned me on to Pentagram In 1987 when he bought Day of Reckoning on cassette.  It had a cool cover of a mausoleum.  I had seen it advertised in the ‘zines but never bothered with it.  As stated a zillion times before, my parents weren’t so keen on the whole metal thing and this one would have surely gotten mom’s attention just by the name of the band.  I had Daniel dub it for me and I just had it titled “Day of Reckoning” on the cassette with no song titles or anything else.  Hey, we had to play it safe.  I simply adore this album.  Very Sabbathy without some of the heaviness of Iommi’s tone.  Although Victor Griffin really lifted a lot from Iommi, he took that style to another level.  They only other comparable band from that era that was pulling this off was Trouble.

I wanted to see Pentagram live and tried a few times in the mid-to-late 90’s but it seemed that every time I wanted to go up to the Baltimore/DC area to see them, they cancelled.  Typically because of Liebling’s drug and alcohol abuse coupled with his frail mental and physical states.  Sad but I have no sympathy.

In 2000 I went to Jaxx in Springfield, VA to see Raven/UDO.  Joe Hasselvander was drumming for Raven and we talked Pentagram for a while.  He told me some trippy stories about playing with Bobby.

Flash forward to about 2 months ago.  I heard Pentagram was doing a handful of shows in the US and that the final one was in Austin.  Seriously?  Pentagram?  Here?  I got my ticket the day they went on sale as I expected it to sell out.  My friend Jasmine had seen them a few months prior in NYC and she said they were great so I was really excited to finally see them.  In recent years they have used the drummer from Spirit Caravan, Gary Isom and a good guitar player named Russ Strahan.  Not sure who he and the player may have played with before but they sounded fine.

So for the last 6 weeks or so I have been super excited.  I finally (hopefully) get to see a band I have wanted to see for 22 years!

I head downtown around 730 or so and go to the Jackalope for a burger (the best!) and a few beers.  Gary from Mala Suerte and Noah stop in and hang out for a bit.  After we finish, we head over to Emo’s for the show.  I go in and check out the Pentagram merch booth.  Talking to the girl who works it, Nancy, we had a few friends in common from the east coast.  I end up buying both styles of the Pentagram shirts as they don’t sell the XXL versions on the website.  Yea!  Just what I needed, more black t-shirts!

Local doom/sludge band The Roller opens the show on the outside stage.  I’ve seen them several times and they do their thing well.  Halfway through their set I go inside to get a beer and some A/C and check out Minsk from Chicago.  Not really my thing but I guess they are alright.  I liked that sound better when Tiamat was doing it 15 years ago.  Haha.  Just kidding guys…sorta.  Now let’s take into account that I have been up since 530AM and it’s around 10PM.  I’m a little tired.  So I go outside and sit for a while and see some friends, shoot the shit, check out some nice asses…you know, the usual.  Outlaw Order (EYEHATEGOD) were setting up and I found a place in the back of the venue and sat down for their set.  It wasn’t too bad, a little better than their EYEHATEGOD stuff.  I was comfortable on the bench and didn’t go back in to check out Wolves In The Throne Room.  Noah said they were good and he bought the 12” of their latest.  Shortly after Wolves finished inside, Nachtmystium took the stage outside.  Death metal, upbeat, double bass, fist pounding type stuff.  Not bad, nothing groundbreaking.

Then Pentagram sets up.  Pretty decent crowd.  I estimated about 400 or so but definitely not a sellout.  I expected more.  So Pentagram hits the stage.  Bobby looks old.  Well, Bobby is old.  His voice sounded like shit in the first song.  Absolutely awful.  I wonder how it was for the other shows?  It got a little better towards the middle of the set but he was obviously hurting.  I understand it.  Singers can’t always be 100% and with Bobby Liebling I imagine you never know what you’ll get.  He looked really frail but was very mobile.  He seemed to get all the words right.  When he spoke between songs, though, he sounded like Keith Richards.  Couldn’t understand much of what he was saying except when he said “I fucking love you guys!”  He said that about 10 times.  Right on, Bobby.  The band was tight and Russ’ guitar playing was good.  Nice tone, good licks…a fitting guitarist for Pentagram.

But I do have to say I was a little disappointed overall.  I guess maybe because of the setlist.  Having never seen them live, I don’t know what they would usually play, but I expected more stuff from Day of Reckoning.  As previously stated, I love that album.  At minimum I wanted to hear Burning Savior.  The only thing we got from that one was When The Screams Come.  Great song, sure, but it’s no Burning Savior.  They played 3 from Relentless:  All Your Sins, Sign of the Wolf (Pentagram) and 20 Buck Spin.  I never cared for 20 Buck Spin but love the other 2 tracks.  They also played Petrified from Be Forewarned.  There were a few new songs from an upcoming album called Last Rites but I can’t say they were very memorable.  There were a few others in the set that I didn’t recognize as well.  But where was “Living In a Ram’s Head”?  I think in total we only got about 10 or 11 songs.  It seemed as if they wanted to play more during their encore but he stated “They said this has to be our last song of the night.”   The crowd near the front seemed pretty into it.  A lot of people singing along and such.  When I didn’t like was seeing all of the beer cans being thrown around.  I’ve been hit while playing and it sucks.  Also, WTF was with the crowd surfing?  Stupid kids.

The merch girl told me that Bobby usually comes out to sign stuff after the show and as always, I came armed and ready with CD covers…but at the end of the show, I just wanted to go home.  I was tired, hot, sweaty, disappointed and deflated.  One guy I know said “You should be happy that you got to see a legend.  What did you expect?”  I guess I expected a better setlist, but that is my fault, not Pentagram’s.  The sound in there was pretty shitty too which didn’t help much.  Bobby complained several times at the beginning of the set to turn his monitors up.  Like I said, his vocals got a little better as the show progressed but he just sounded beat and tired.  Decades of self-abuse with drugs etc have taken their toll.  In a way I sort of wish I would have stuck around to see if Bobby was signing stuff as I’ll likely not get that chance again.  Oh well.

I was going to write this review last night when I got home but my emotions were still high.  I think I gave a better and more level-headed review by waiting.  I am glad I got to see them even if my expectations weren’t met.

I have attached a setlist from one of the Chicago shows.  I assume this is what we got last night with the encore songs being reversed.

pentagram setlist

Enjoy the vids too!

Written by The Metal Files

July 7, 2009 at 6:21 pm

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