I love when headlining bands go out on short runs. They usually involve great acts full of energy with them who you normally wouldn’t get to see otherwise. This fact was very evident for the recent Light the Torch, Mark Morton, Moon Tooth show at NYC’s Gramercy Theater.
Moon Tooth kicked off the show with ferocious energy, blowing up the venue like a cannon firing the first shot of a battle. I had heard some good things about this Long Island based band, but it didn’t translate into what I saw before me. With the wild guitar antics of Nick Lee, along with the primal vocals of John Carbone, this band just blew me away. Usually opening acts tend to “try” to get the crowd up and ready for the headliners in an often passive manner since most of the crowd may not be familiar with their songs. Instead Moon Tooth seems to just bludgeon you in the head with a sledgehammer and announce that YOU ARE READY TO ROCK.
Nick Lee’s wild guitar antics moved sublimely with the rhythm section of Ray Marte on drums and Vince Romanelli on bass. Meanwhile John Carbone’s vocals seem to exude an almost Neil Fallon-like quality while he stalked the stage like a rhino in heat. Sadly, their set was only about half an hour. They had the energy and the crowd wanting more. And luckily they have an EP set to drop this upcoming week as well. Their somewhat “hometown” show was quite the success.
Mark Morton’s group of “all-stars” took the stage at about 820pm. And for the next hour just lit it up. Mark recently released his first solo album, titled “Anesthetic”, on which he recruited some great guest vocalists in order to give each song it’s own unique flavor. For the tour however, Morton’s band consists vocalist Mark Morales and bassist Nick Villarreal from Sons of Texas, current Bad Wolves/ex-God Forbid/former Lamb of God fill-in guitarist Doc Coyle and drummer Art Cruz, who has played with Prong and Winds of Plague and Lamb of God. Though Mark sings his own song on the album he did an AMAZING job of replicating the other vocal styles and inflections needed for each of the night’s songs. Luckily for the NYC show, Naeemah Maddox was on hand for her song on the album “Reveal”, and filled in the female vocal slot for “Truth Is Dead”. All the while Mark stoicly played his signature Jackson Dominion as the evening progressed, going through the songs on “Anesthetic”, ending the evening with a tribute to Chester Bennington before kicking into “Cross Off”.
Light the Torch might have been the biggest wild card of the evening. While they are comprised of a group of extremely talented and tour proven musicians, vocalist Howard Jones’ health was somewhat in the air. Having had to cancel a few shows over the past week due to his battling the flu and a sinus infection, he made it to NYC and sounded GREAT. Having being a huge KSE fan for a number of years, I found it wonderful to see Howard looking healthier and more svelt than ever. The second he stepped onto the stage, the audience applauded in a very loud cheer. Obviously the crowd was thrilled that he was there and he was as well. Kicking off their set with “The Bitter End”, they blazed through the eleven song set with an intense presence. Delving between their Devil You Know catalog and their current release “Revival”, Howard evoked much audience participation, whether he wanted it or not. Often between songs there was lively jovial banter between people in the crowd and Howard. The typical “We Love You Howard” followed by his telling the crowd that he loves them too. All the way to a few “requests” for some songs NOT on the set list. His signature smile was evident and almost non-metal in a way. I’d think it’s almost hard to smile while singing “Consume the Damned” but he did it.
In fact, an outrageous pit opened up when the band kicked into that very song. Pushing the side barrier a good four feet out of its original position. Guitarist Francesco Artusato silently let his guitar do the talking for him all night. Riffing his way through the evening, never saying a word. Instead, bassist Ryan Wombacher provided backing vocals while laying the heavy bass lines for the set. New drummer Mike Sciulara banged the skins as if the songs were all his from the get go, without any drama.
About halfway through the set Mr. Jones announced how much he and the band really appreciated everyone coming out for the evening, and that earlier that day he was still in Montreal, Canada. So he was extremely thrilled to be in NYC and even threw out a few shout-outs to record exec Monte Connor and PR extraordinaire Amy Sciaretto for never wavering in their faith in the band and helping their musical journey. They then kicked into “Safety of Disbelief”.
When Howard announced that they were going to play one last song, the crowd started to tell him MORE MORE… to which the veteran lead singer informed everyone that this wasn’t up for debate. Doing his best to not break out into laughter the band kicked into their single “Die Alone”, as the show’s closing song.
Great evening. If you’re lucky enough to have any of the night’s bands playing near you, I HIGHLY recommend going to see them and support the music scene.
Back From The Dead
Truth Is Dead
Light the Torch:
The Bitter End
Embracing the Torture
Calm Before the Storm
Lost in the Fire
Consume the Damned
The Safety of Disbelief
Sound of Violence
The God I Deserve
The Way We Die
Review and photos by Bryan Bardes