Despite going through a revolving door of lineup changes, Iced Earth has continued to deliver, and it’s all thanks to rhythm guitarist Jon Schaffer. Their resilient strength is evidently shown in their latest effort, 2017’s Incorruptible, which was the first to include the recruitment of lead guitarist Jake Dreyer as well as the return of Brent Smedley behind the kit. Their overall success has led them to embark on a headlining run, and on March 22nd, they brought the Incorruptible Tour to NYC’s Gramercy Theatre with Sanctuary and Kill Ritual added as support.
The tour was originally announced late last year, just roughly two weeks before the shocking death of Nevermore/Sanctuary vocalist Warrel Dane. During that time, we assumed Sanctuary would drop from the bill. However, the trek turned into an Incorruptible memorial to Dane as the band added Witherfall vocalist Joseph Michael.
Moving ahead to that Thursday evening, the sold-out Gramercy Theatre was ready for a blistering evening and Kill Ritual brought their latest effort All Men Shall Fall to the stage. Between their energetic performance and thrash to heavy metal style, it was the perfect way to kickstart the night.
Sanctuary were up next as Michael was wearing a Dane shirt in honor of the late Sanctuary vocalist. It’s not easy to replace a singer, especially right after their death as we expected to see a handful of emotion coming from Michael as well as a questionable reaction from the crowd. However, Michael already left a great impression earlier in February, when his own band, Witherfall, had their first-ever live performance at 70000tons of Metal, which also included Iced Earth guitarist Dreyer. With that said, it was during that performance when Witherfall had their own grieving to do as they sprayed their former bandmate, Adam Sagan’s ashes across the stage. Sagan passed away in December, 2016 after losing a battle with cancer. During their performance, it felt as though there was a presence with them on the stage. This could have been just a coincidence based on the lighting or maybe there was something from beyond the grave present.
However, Michael’s voice stole the entire performance. Between his presence and massive vocals, it was difficult to stop watching. It is safe to say that he has the next big voice and he made it clear that evening. The rest of the performance remained bittersweet. Everyone in the room were in one way or another, saying their final goodbyes to Warrel Dane as the set included songs “Die For My Sins,” “Seasons of Destruction,” “Battle Angels,” “Arise and Purify,” “Frozen,” “Soldiers of Steel,” “Future Tense,” and “Taste Revenge.”
After forty-five minutes worth of tears, the crowd had just enough time to grab a drink before Iced Earth conquered the stage. One had one too many drinks as she was seen throwing up over the barricade. When you find the best spot in the house, it’s always best to keep track on your level of intoxication. However, this fan was devoted as she didn’t want to leave from her spot regardless of how sick she felt, which is an example of how Iced Earth has an admirable fanbase. They also accept the band’s changes which includes welcoming vocalist Stu Block when he joined in 2011. Joseph Michael was seen in the audience as he was most likely watching his friend/bandmate Dreyer perform. With that said, the mood turned brighter and heavier.
The chemistry between the band’s latest configuration was evident based on their consistent fierce performance. Block surpassed impressing the crowd as he had moments to climb on top of the drum kit. Schaffer moved as though he was indestructible while fans were blown away by Dreyer’s capabilities. Ultimately, it was during their encore performance of “Watching Over Me,” that set the night as one sensational evening. They proved that you can’t put an age limit on metal by inviting all of the kids in the room to join them on stage during the song “Watching Over Me.”
Overall, it was a successful evening filled with a multitude of emotions. It will definitely be one for the books as Iced Earth tends to always deliver, proving that they are everlasting.
Iced Earth Setlist:
“Great Heathen Army”
“Seven Headed Whore”
“I Died for You”
“Vengeance Is Mine”
“Travel in Stygian”
“Clear the Way (December 13th, 1862)”
“Watching Over Me“
“Ghost Dance (Awaken the Ancestors)”