4) Sanctuary @ Gramercy Theatre, New York, NY – March 22, 2018
After hearing about the passing of Sanctuary/Nevermore singer, Warrel Dane, I was shocked and heartbroken. Dane’s voice always remained unique and distinct. I remember the time when I first heard his voice as a young teenager on an old cassette of Nevermore’s 1995’s debut thinking, “wow, there’s no one like this.” Moving forward, Dane died shortly after Sanctuary announced supporting Iced Earth’s spring tour. At that time, we didn’t think the group would follow-through with the trek, especially knowing Dane’s vocals will remain irreplaceable. However, the band ended up recruiting Witherfall singer Joseph Michael as the tour became a tribute to the late Dane. Sanctuary’s performance was beyond memorable and Michael’s voice blew me away. One could say, Michael has been impressing me a lot these days, especially with Witherfall’s latest effort, A Prelude to Sorrow. He has “that voice,” and it seems the rest of Sanctuary knew. If it wasn’t for this tour, Sanctuary’s future could still be in question. However, things are look promising for the group with Michael remaining behind the mic.
3) Metallica @ Keybank Center, Buffalo, NY – October 27, 2018
For anyone that knows me, will know Metallica is my favorite band. I remember being told as a kid, “you will grow out of this phase.” “Never get a Metallica tattoo, by the time you get one, you will end up hating them.” Years later, I’m still the same person who loves a band that turned out to be one of the biggest metal bands, ever. I do what I can to not miss a Metallica touring cycle. However, this one did come close. After receiving a spontaneous text from a friend, asking me to go, I looked at their set list and noticed “Spit Out the Bone” was on nearly every single one of them, and decided, “OK, lets book that 8+ hour bus ride.” The impulsive decision was made and I spent more money than I should have for the worst seat in the house. The next morning, I woke up, took that long bus ride from NYC to Buffalo and when I arrived; everything made sense. “This is home.” It didn’t matter which area of the venue, it felt like home to me and my personal “sanctuary.” I was seated at the very top and the sound was horrible. I could barely hear James, but it was OK. It didn’t matter, I was still “part of the family.” Their set was similar to 2017’s North American tour but, it was fun. Finally, the moment arrived for them to play “Spit Out the Bone.” It was the reason why I was there! I waited so long to hear it but, …. Nope. An old familiar tune blasted on the speakers instead, as legends went into “Battery.” At that point, all I could do was laugh and I was still grateful to attend. The entire experience and journey is what makes this my third favorite show of the year. The uncomfortable bumpy bus ride on the way home is another bonus! Oh yes, there was also no sleep since I arrived just in time to catch Carach Angren’s set at Gramercy Theatre!
2) Insomnium @ 70000 Tons of Metal – February 3, 2018
Insomnium performed all of 2016’s Winter’s Gate in the middle of the ocean, under the stars, after 3am. As a photographer, we were able to shoot three songs. Luckily, security didn’t realize the first song was forty minutes long, and I was able to be there, standing in front of the hazy blue silhouette lights as much as I wanted. This was hands down a close call to being the #1 performance of 2018. I will never forget this moment. It is what makes you go “back to the boat.”