Concert Review: Danzig, Hatebreed, Six Feet Under, Disturbed (Northern Lights, Clifton Park, New York, April 29, 2000)

I’ve been in Northern Lights probably 40 times since it opened, but if you’d taken a picture of last Saturday night’s stage and asked me to name the club, I doubt that I could have done it. Why? Because the traveling Danzig and Six Feet Under team brought in a full-18-wheeler’s-worth of amps, lights, risers, barriers, soundboards, stage extensions and other arena-scaled gear, completely reinventing the front-end of Clifton Park’s favorite strip-mall concert hall. Which was way cool, as was the prospect of seeing arguably the two most important singers in modern metal on the same stage on the same night.

Glenn Danzig virtually defined spooky, gothic dark ultra-metal with the Misfits in the early ’80s, putting his deep, sensual voice atop a post-punk three-piece instrumental grind. After Danzig left the Misfits, his former bandmates redirected their ethos towards more lighthearted ’50s monster movie themes, while Danzig himself turned towards the serious side of the evil equation, wallowing in explicit Satanic elements with first Samhain and then the group that now bears his name. Six Feet Under’s Chris Barnes, for his part, literally pioneered the guttural death metal vocal style that defines the very genre, first with Cannibal Corpse, then with spin-off-band-turned-full-time-gig Six Feet Under.

Like Glenn Danzig, Barnes has watched his former bandmates go tongue-in-cheek without him, while he has continued to ply the true darkness that can make men’s souls so very, very ugly indeed. He was a fine voice (and I mean that literally), bellowing out a dozen cuts from the recent Maximum Violence and a quartet of numbers (each of them set highlights) from his group’s 1997 masterwork Warpath over the course of a 45-minute set. Instrumentalists Terry Butler, Greg Gall and Steve Swanson propped him up admirably, laying down the leanest, tightest, most rhythmically-insistent riff-mongering you’re ever likely to hear outside of a Black Sabbath concert. If you don’t get death metal, you haven’t seen Six Feet Under. Case closed.

Danzig (the man and the band) took the stage right at the stroke of midnight and launched into a sweeping, ambitious set that leaned heavily on the group’s new release, Danzig 6:66 Satans Child, which has now proven on both stereo and in concert to be the ensemble’s finest work since 1990’s Danzig II: Lucifuge. The always-very-pumped Mr. Danzig was decked out in his finest fishnet bodystocking shirt (complete with sew-on pentangle accessory), thrusting and posing like a champ while the crowd went nuts before him. The stadium-lighting show didn’t hurt matters in that regard either.

Former Murphy’s Law and D-Generation guitarist Todd Youth is playing his first tour since joining Danzig last year and I gotta tell you, he’s a freakin’ support genius of the highest caliber, a band-member any band-leader should kill to acquire. In addition to plying choice grooves, Youth also tossed out perfect, powerful backing vocals that allowed Glenn Danzig to just focus on looking fabulous all night long, without having to worry about things like keeping the microphone close to face so we could hear him. Youth is still a bit skinny by Danzig standards, though, although he’s so good that I’m confident Danzig will have him swollen with ‘roid rage in no time, just to keep him.

If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, then the Clay People should have been feeling pretty proud of themselves after Disturbed open the evening with a set of sounds cribbed straight from the Clay People song book. Circa 1997. And not as good as the real thing. The ever-dependable Hatebreed filled the evening’s number three slot and they held their own — which is all a band can do when placed between such genre titans as Six Feet Under and Danzig, God bless ’em.

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