Fans who extol the virtues of Danzig circa 1990 over the last decade's more monolithic crunch-and-bellow tend to forget the reckless directions in which those early performances could stray, and not always in a good way. Singer (he deserves the title) Glenn Danzig has actually raised the bar in terms of consistency, while digging up fresh ways to keep his live shows from deadening. After this sold-out second-to-last stop of Danzig's nine-show tour in support of "Deth Red Sabaoth," many must've been re-evaluating their treasured preconceptions.
You know how Rainbow and Dio used to lose the impact of "Man on the Silver Mountain" by winding it up way faster than the studio version? The same often tended to happen when Danzig tried to recapture the energy of their live hit "Mother" -- but this time they measured out the song's finely crafted dynamic fury and just nailed it. Other classics got a similar precision treatment, such as the premeditated murder story "Twist of Cain" and, just when I was thinking it would go down great at that particular moment, an encore selection of the sleazily seagoing "She Rides." The rhythm the band ground out on the sing-along lust fest "Under Her Black Wings" stimulated a gorgeous dark-skinned woman to undulate in the aisle next to me, an event that made me wish they'd play it again. (The crowd loudly concurred.)
Mr. Danzig took some chances with nonstandards; I was grateful both when the choices clicked (a blues-rockin' "Tired of Being Alive" and the rough-riding encore-ender "Long Way Back From Hell," both surpassing their "Lucifuge" versions) and when they didn't (a sluggish "13," written for Johnny Cash, and the meandering new "On a Wicked Night"). The new rock & sludger "Hammer of the Gods" already sounded like a tool Danzig will still be pounding when he's 70.
Type O Negative drummer Johnny Kelly kept it crisp; tall, cool ex-Samhain bassist Steve Zing filled up the bottom -- that's all they needed to do. Conversely, guitarist Tommy Victor, encouraged by the boss with regular acknowledgments, claimed the stage as never before, charging around, banging his head, shredding insanely and feeding out delicious obbligatos. The inverted silver cross bounced on Glenn's massive chest as he did his gorilla-skulk across the boards; though he carped about the monitor mix, both his rejuvenated melodic shout and the group's slashing hardness penetrated like a pike on the Nokia's pro-tech system.
Danzig hinted that he would have stretched his 75 minutes if the thoroughly appreciative audience had really slavered for it. But hey, this is L.A.
Preceding Danzig, the start-stop modern-metal abstraction of Oakland's All Shall Perish connected only obliquely with Glenn's hometown core. But vocalist Eddie Hermida managed to channel the mob shouts of "Dan-zig! Dan-zig!" into an element of ASP's set, and the sentiment of the keynote "Wage Slaves" plainly struck a chord. So toss the dude a cigar.
I review "Deth Red Sabaoth" here.