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Testament in Hollywood

By Newsferatu, Writer
Friday, July 14, 2006 @ 12:46 AM


At the Key Club, 7/12/06

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Reviewd by Brad. D.

Seems like it was about a year ago that I heard that Testament was getting back with their "classic" lineup including the mighty Alex Skolnick. I remember at the time thinking that any day now theyíre going to announce a huge world tour, hitting every major city so we all can get the chance to see the original masters who wrote some of the best thrash songs EVER. Any Testament fan who has not yet picked up the "Live In London" DVD is missing out, because that is a showcase of just how good they are and how amazing it is to see the original band back together after all these years.

Well thereís good news and bad, the good news is that Testament is doing a tour right now, the bad (at least for everybody outside of Southern Calif, Vegas and Arizona) is that itís not going to many cities. After a mere 5 shows in the US, Testament is heading off to Europe. Letís hope that this all is just a warm up.

Their first stop on the "mini tour" was Hollywood on a Wednesday night. After a few drinks and dinner down the street, we headed into the Key Club about 10pm. The place was already packed and hot from all the people crowded together. We caught the last song from the opening band Deception, while in line to get a drink from the bar. Not bad, I actually would have liked to have heard more from them. They wrapped up their set and the fog machines started to go while the roadies did the sound check. Meanwhile the crowd continued to swell and chant "Tes-ta-ment" in anticipation.

After about 20 minutes, they came out and delivered a near flawless set of true Bay Area thrash. Kicking off with "The Preacher" around 10:30 p.m. and going all out until just after midnight, not one person left the show disappointed. Testament has so many good songs and so many fantastic albums, itís got to be really difficult to pick which ones to play live. Itís impossible to play every one that a fan would want to hear, but they certainly do their best.

Chuck Billyís vocals are as strong as ever. His ability to go back and forth from a death metal growl, to a scream to clean just works perfectly in every song. Greg Christian continues to do a solid job on the bass. Original drummer Louie Clemente dropped out a couple weeks before the tour started. On the "Live In London" DVD, it appeared the Louie was only able to play a few songs for stamina reasons, so perhaps this remained the case. Early in the set and again towards the end, Chuck thanked Paul Bostaph from Exodus (another Bay Area thrash legend) for joining them for the tour.

The real highlight of the show for me was seeing Skolnick and Eric Peterson playing together again. These guys are the best of the best as far as the thrash guitar sound coming from the 80's through the 90's. I believe that Skolnickís solos, in particular his work on "Practice What You Preach" are truly some of the best ever written. I figured that Iíd never get the opportunity to see him play them live after he left the band in the early 90's, but here he was, doing most of his best stuff. No disrespect to James Murphy, he has done an excellent job since Skolnick left, I think that "Low" and "The Gathering" both hold up well with Testamentís old stuff too. However, there was just something really special about seeing the original guys doing the songs they wrote together years ago.

So Testament covered songs from all of their Skolnick era albums, including "The New Order", "Practice What You Preach", "Souls of Black" and "The Ritual". Every single song was a masterpiece, so itís difficult to describe what the highlights were! I can say personally, Over the Wall is my favorite, so that was a highlight for me. However, the crowd never really seemed to pay any less attention to one particular song in comparison to another, on the contrary, everybody seemed to scream just as loud from the first song to the last. The set list jumped around between albums from "The New Order" to "The Haunting" from "Electric Crown" to "Sins of Omission". After "Trial By Fire" the band said good night and left the stage to the resumed chanting of "Testament, Testament" on and on. It wasnít long before they came back out and delivered "Alone in the Dark" and "Disciples of the Watch" as the encore.

Overall I can only say that this was about as great of a show as Iíve ever seen. One of my favorite all time bands, hitting every song note for note and really appearing to be having a good time playing together again. The Key Club appeared to be at maximum capacity (Iíd say they could play a slightly bigger venue next time with no problem). If this was a test to see whether a big tour is warranted, Iíd say it was a complete success. Iím fortunate to be in LA, one of the few cities they hit on this mini tour, but I think everyone should have the opportunity to see the original Testament lineup all together again. So, the only question that remains is "when are they gonna do a full blown US Tour?????" Oh yeah and how about a new album while youíre at it guys?

Setlist:

  • The Preacher
  • The New Order
  • The Haunting
  • Electric Crown
  • Sins of Omission
  • Burnt Offerings (I think)
  • Souls of Black
  • Into the Pit
  • The Legacy
  • Practice What You Preach
  • Trial By Fire
  • Over the Wall
Encore:

  • Alone in the Dark
  • Disciples of the Watch



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