Riot V Concert Review, Chicago, IL, July 8, 2016
I like Riot/Riot V. All incarnations. Period. They’ve never released a bad album. Some better than others, but never a bad one.
I ran into their bassist, Donnie Van Stavern, at a RUSH tribute show in San Antonio a few weeks ago and asked him about upcoming shows. He mentioned the Chicago and Detroit shows and I checked my concert calendar and my Southwest account and took the decision to just go. He said he’d hook me up with guestlist for both shows, so that was an added bonus.
I left for Chicago Friday morning on a direct flight, got there, grabbed my rental car and headed straight to the north side of town to pick up Bob, one of the organizers of the Ragnarokkr festival. He graciously offered up his place for the night. We headed first to Metal Haven Grill and I pigged out on their tasty Italian beef and a char polish sausage. It was entirely too much food but it was delicious. You gotta go if you’re ever in Chicago. Their record and CD selection is ever expanding and there is a ton of great original heavy metal artwork on display, mind-numbingly so. From there we went to one of the locations of Reckless Records. I didn’t find anything but it was a cool place. Afterwards we headed back to Bob’s. I changed clothes and off we went to the red line EL train to Reggie’s.
We got in and I saw a couple of folks I knew from the area that I had met at previous Ragnarokkr shows. Crusader was the opening act and they played the whole time I was upstairs at Record Breakers store where I bought a bunch of albums to have shipped back to Texas. Didn’t hear a note of them so I can’t comment. Scars of Armageddon were on next and they were a proggy/power metal/slight hint of nu-metal band with excellent guitar work and a good singer. I’d never buy an album by them but wouldn’t be upset to see them again. Direct support for Riot was a local Judas Priest tribute band called Judas Rising. Pass. I mean, sure, they sounded alright although their singer I think would sound better doing a Di’Anno era Maiden tribute. I don’t know, I just wasn’t feeling it at all.
After a quick set change, the lights go down and you hear the taped live version of Narita and then Frank leads in with the drum into to Flight of the Warrior. The crowd of 200+ was into it, singing every word. They then went into Ride Hard, Live Free from the latest album and then Fight or Fall. I was on the stage left side where Van Stavern and Lance Barnewold (filling in for Nick Lee for this mini tour) we located. Lance is Nick’s perfect replacement. Both guys have flawless execution of riffs and solos. They mix the set up with old and new songs. The whole band was great. I also appreciated getting handed the bottle of tequila from Donnie a couple of times. And just let me say this, Todd Michael Hall is one of the best singers in metal out there right now. That guy’s range is phenomenal. He’s really just a freak of nature vocally like Harry Conklin and Mike Soliz. It was great to hear Black Leather and Glittering Steel in the set as well. They did 6 from Thundersteel including my fave, Johnny’s Back.
At the end of their set, Todd announced that they’d com out to the merch booth right after a quick break. Two minutes after that, Reggie’s staff was kicking everyone out. It wasn’t even 1:30 AM yet. So we just hung out on the street with the locals friends and then went around to their back door to shoot the breeze with Donnie, Mike and Lance. During their set, I took a pick of Lance and posted it on NIck’s Facebook page with the words, “Fake Nick is getting it done.” haha.
It was a great show but I was beat so we hopped on the train back to Bob’s. We got delayed at one stop because of some dude raising hell at the stand and not letting the doors close. The guy sitting across from me woke up and said, “Fucking crackies!” A few moments we were on our way.
I got to sleep around 4AM but I didn’t sleep well at all. I was up and ready to go by 745AM, said adios to Bob and was on my almost 5hr drive to Detroit.