FFDP & Shinedown – MESMERIZE OnCenter
Excitement and tension filled the air in the Oncenter War Memorial Arena in Syracuse as rock fans flocked Tuesday to see some of their favorite bands perform. Among them was Five Finger Death Punch, the metal mega-stars who just days prior had to cut a show short due to an emotional breakdown of sorts from front man Ivan Moody. Would the same thing happen again this evening, fans wondered? Would Moody even address the controversy surrounding him? With three raging opening acts to sit through first, we would just have to wait and see.
As Lions took the stage first, warming up concert goers with a short but sweet set filled with tons of energy and songs from their forthcoming debut album, which drops in January. Up next was Motley Crue’s own Nikki Sixx’s side band, Sixx: A.M., who offered up a finely tuned set that was a perfect blend of power rock and soul. Sixx blazed on the bass and guitarist DJ Ashba was a show stealer thanks to his sick solos and brief stint shredding in the stands with fans in the balcony area. The most memorable moment however, was during the epic symphony inspired track “When We Were Gods.” The veteran rockers performed like the pros they are, and their classy leather clad backup singers added harmonizing vocals that went along beautifully, making this the true standout of the evening.
Just as Shinedown was scheduled to come on, a twisted version of “Hush Little Baby” began to play over the speakers, the song lulling the audience into a calm moment before blasting them into the stratosphere with a one-two punch of lasers, explosions, and pure unadulterated rock and roll. Looking dapper in sharp suits, the boys proceeded to give Syracuse one of the best performances it’s seen in a long time. The powerful aggression behind songs such as “Enemies,” “Diamond Eyes,” and “Cut the Cord,” was unparalleled, as was the heartfelt genuine emotion during audience favorite “Simple Man.” Despite the enormity of the venue, Shinedown was able to connect with the audience on a surprisingly intimate level. In fact, vocalist Brent Smith spoke of the sentiment behind music, and how much it can mean during the tough times. Quoting a philosopher, the singer said that without music life would be a mistake, and that it is music that will always be there for us when we need it the most. This sentiment seemed particularly relevant given recent events on the tour. Regardless, the audience was left awestruck by Shinedown’s powerful performance, which ended the same way it began: In a blaze of explosives and fists in the air. Everyone agreed: Shinedown alone gave a performance that was worthy of the admission price.
Then we waited for Five Finger Death Punch. The clock was counting down, and the band was running late, a fact that began to cause some concern among concert goers. Finally, the rumblings of drums and guitars began to thump through the speakers and the audience exploded with applause. The group launched into “Lift Me Up,” followed by the track “Never Enough.” Despite his vocal performance during these songs, Moody appeared slightly agitated, as if he had something to prove. Then he addressed IT. The giant brass knuckled elephant in the room. “You know,” he said, addressing the audience, “I came this close to cancelling tonight.” Naturally the stadium erupted in a sea of boos, which he quickly tempered. “In 22 years I have never cancelled a show though, so tonight…tonight you are going to see the real Ivan Moody.” He then launched into “Wash It All Away,” which he sang straight from the soul. Despite admittedly “not being in the best headspace,” Moody and the band proceeded to deliver a raw, one of a kind performance that cities like Syracuse thrive on. Of course, there was the part of the show where the band brings kids on stage to help sing “Burn MF,” but unlike other shows, the children ended up playing a far larger role than they normally do. Moody proudly touted a small boy around with him who thrilled the audience with his cheekiness. However, it was a young girl in the audience that captured the lead singer’s attention. From singing a “lullaby” version of “The Bleeding,” to asking the entire audience to light up the stadium with their phones “just for her,” Moody readily admitted that the children, particularly the young girl, turned his whole night around. So when he and Jason Hook played a stripped down acoustic version of “I Remember Everything,” the audience was right there with them. The fans erupted in cheers of love and support for the singer who, wearing an “F*ck Cancer” shirt, wiped away tears, his voice shaking as he sang. Sure there were the typical elements that every 5FDP show boasts (Lazers! Smoke! Jason Hook on an elevated platform! ), but this was not the show we were used to from the band. This was something better. This was something real.
Often we look to our favorite bands to help lift us up during the times we feel we are being dragged down. We look to them for the comfort and inspiration that their music offers us. What we forget however, is that to relate to our struggles, artists must often experience struggles of their own. Sometimes they stumble, just like us. Sometimes we’re there to witness the heartache, the breakdowns and the ugly moments. And sometimes we’re there to witness the resurrection, the healing, and the humanity. Ivan may not be a hero, and he may not be made of stone, but he left his heart and soul out in that stadium Tuesday, and Syracuse is not likely to soon forget it.
This past Thursday the band announced that front man Ivan Moody had fallen ill and was taking the rest of the 2016 U.S. tour off to get well. The band will still honor its commitment to their fans and the other bands on the tour by asking All That Remains vocalist Phil Labonte to fill the vacant spot. From us here at Team Fuze all we can hope is that Ivan finds inner peace to get well soon so that he can heal himself inside and out.
Kelly Mason / Fuze Magazine
Kim Richer / KLRock’n Photos / The Fuze Magazine
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