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By Mark Gromen
30 minute change-over and In Flames are onstage. The heat's oppressive, despite it being mid-April, but with too many bodies, bright lights and untold watts of electricity, it's a pressure cooker. Anders Friden is drenched within minutes and outfitted in black work shirts, the rest of the band is soon just as sweaty. Century Media's re-release of the Wrong Again catalog, namely Subterranean and Lunar Strain makes it possible to play 'Behind Space' alongside the latest Clayman material. Although 'Pinball Map' sees significant audience participation, come the chorus, 'Episode 666' seems to be the fan favorite, beginning to end.
With the loss of the club's liquor license, don't know if it was pining for bad beer or adoration for the band, but as Iced Earth strolled onstage, chants of "Schaffer, Schaffer" rose from the sardine packed crowd. The band launched into an instrumental rendition of 'The Star Spangled Banner', with Matt Barlow waving the American flag. Without skipping a beat, they segue into 'Violate', then seamlessly 'Pure Evil' before taking a break. To my mind, the one sore spot is the near lack of vintage material. No 'Angels Holocaust', nor 'Travel To Stygian' seems bizarre, having just returned from Europe, where both are staples of the live show and the issuance of the Dark Saga box set domestically. Called on the oversight, Jon Schaffer claims they don't want to play the same material every tour and will insert said material in the set when they return, this fall. To that regard, Barlow announces from the stage that some songs played will be retired from the set, permanently. While no specifics are given, the lumbering trilogies are prominent suspects. Still, in a 100 minute performance, drawing heavily from the last three albums, it's the only flaw. The aforementioned heat has drained the crowd, so a less than enthusiastic response makes for the decision to cut 'Scarred' and 'Jeckyll & Hyde' on this night. The show ends with 'Iced Earth' as the lone encore.
Afterwards, things are pretty sedate. The Earthlings entertain a few fans in conversation, the other two bands signing autographs in the parking lot, for those booted by security. It's 12:30, early by rock n roll standards. Jon does a live phone interview with a Philly radio station, despite the show's nearly sold-out status. Back on the buses to the hotel, for showers, relaxation and eventually, sleep. Some of the Flamers pack it in around 4 AM, while others try their hands at Playstation until sun up.
36 Hours w/ ICED EARTH, IN FLAMES & JAG PANZER Page 3