Story by Metal Head Cosa
Photos by Carina Kay Montgomery
In This Moment hit Springfield, Mo. last Friday for a stop on the third leg of their Half God Half Devil Tour. The Abou Ben Adhem Shrine Mosque and local rock radio station Q102 played host for the show. For the third leg, the group brought Of Mice and Men and Avatar as support. The Shrine Mosque, a 97 year old 4,000 capacity venue, has beautiful architecture was the perfect choice for what was sure to be an amazing concert.
The Göteborg ,Sweden-based band Avatar was the first to take the stage and unlike many shows I’ve been to, the opener had no problem drawing the early crowd. Looking around you could tell their reputation of a can’t miss show preceded them. Fans of the HGHD Tour are no strangers to Avatar as this is a return to the tour for them. They rocked fans on the first leg so it was no surprise the venue was full of citizens of Avatar Country! The group is still riding high on the success on their 2016 release of their fifth studio album “Feathers & Flesh.”
The crowd was already charged by the carnival look of the stage set up and burst into cheers as drummer John Alfredsson in his carnival themed, bell hop style suit started his march to the drum set. As Alfredsson got the crowd in time with a deep, thunderous drum beat, guitar players Tim Öhrström and Jonas “Kungen” Jarlsby along with bassist Henrik Sandelin –in equally snazzy attire – rushed the stage for the start of the show with their hit from the album of the same name “Hail the Apocalypse.”
The music alone was already rocking the audience as lead vocalist Johannes Eckerström marched onto the stage in what seems like 10-foot-tall stature and iconic pale make up, highlighted by diamond eye makeup and his ring leader style suit.
Eckerström and the band waste no time showing their head banging, guitar shredding, heavy metal style! You don’t go to an Avatar show expecting ballads, because even though they have expanded their sound from the dark metal they were known for on their first few albums they still slay with an upbeat, tremendously fun sound and high energy show. They make sure, in their short set, to hit the fan favorites like “The Eagle Has Landed,” “Let it Burn,” and my personal favorite “Smells like a Freakshow.” Avatar will be a headline band for sure so keep an eye out and catch them if you get the chance.
Next to rock the Shrine was Of Mice and Men, an Orange County, California-based band formed in 2009. Not knowing much about OM&M, I wondered if they would be a good direct support to the theatrical In This Moment. The first thing you notice as guitar players Philip Manansala, Alan Ashby and drummer Valentino Arteaga take their position is the simple, stripped down , no bells and whistle stage. Aaron Pauley on vocals and bass takes his relatively new spot behind the front mic after taking the reins due to OM&M’s founder Austin Carlile’s second departure in late 2016.
OM&M is an old school style, stand and jam band. They depend on their straight forward heavy metal sound and face melting jams to entertain the crowd! Despite, in comparison to their tour mates, was not a very crowd interactive set the crowd had no problem responding with horns high and heads banging! OM&M have a good balance of smooth and rough vocals with powerful riffs and catchy beats.
At last it was time for our headliner Los Angeles, California-based band In This Moment, riding a huge wave of success on their new album, “The Ritual,” to take the stage. They are a band known and applauded for their music, amazing theatrics and many different stage set ups.
Although vocalist Maria Brink’s black widow curtain didn’t make the rise to block the stage it didn’t squelch the excitement and screams from the crowd. As the smoke filled the stage and Kent Diimmel took his place at the drums the group used Journey’s “Dont Stop Believing,” a staple of their live show, to get the crowd and swaying and singing together.
The smoke cleared and you could see the high priests of the Blood Legion in their new ceremonial robes and Ritual masks. Guitarist Randy Weitzel and bassist Travis Johnson flanked Brink, who was surrounded by her “blood goddesses,” all high on her riser at stage center. Dressed in long black robes and a wide brim hat she gave the signal to a guitarist Chris Howorth, who was hiding in the shadows, and the intro to their hit “Blood” hit hard enough to feel in your soul.
Brink is known and criticized for her many costumes changes, but she has really got it down seamlessly as the goddesses strip her robs to unveil her new persona – “Mother Maria.”
She becomes more grounded, draped in long white robes, in touch with Mother Earth and the beautiful strength inside us all as she launches into the new track, “River of Fire.” With her goddesses joining her in beautifully choreographed dances. It’s clear Brink is trying to convey deep emotions and tell a story with their show.
Even though the spotlight can’t help but be drawn to Brink, the “dirty gentlemen” have no issues finding the lime light. From Johnson’s thunderous bass and traditional “Faceless Freak” mask to Weitzel’s shredding power riffs and many “war machine” masks and Howorth’s predator mask, their dark imagery and energy take you to the core of their sound. A groove metal that projects deep soulful sounds overlapped with powerful lyrics of overcoming strife and finding strength and beauty in yourself.
ITM and Brink go out of their way to entertain with their music as much as with their live show as they give the crowd hits like “Adrenalize,” “Burn,” and “Sick Like Me.” It’s no surprise the set list is heavy with tracks from “The Ritual,” like their deep , almost hoodoo , deep bayou sounding track “Roots,” Billy Idol inspired “Black Wedding” and a very moving cover of Phil Collins’ “In the Air Tonight.” Every song came with a story as Brink set the moods with quick costume changes and different sets. All the while her “blood goddesses” lurk, dance, leap, and creep around the stage helping tell the story.
In This Moment are a very interactive band making sure to make eye contact, wave , peer at , or simply smile with every fan than can. Brink constantly watches her fans and in true fashion had no issue slowing the show to make sure a few fans getting too rowdy were going to be ok and respect their fellow fans and the many goddesses in attendance.
After Brink introduces her dirty bunch, the guys launch into a fan favorite part of the show – a Metallica melody topped by a stellar Howorth solo. As always, it rocks the crowd and sets the stage for a new favorite part of mine – a Weitzel tribute to Jake E . Lee’s intro of “Killer of Giants.” Not to be outdone Diimmel gives the fans a drum solo for the ages and leaves every fan in attendance spent.
After several words of strength and love from Mother Maria, she sets the scene for their big hit “Oh Lord,” a sultry, deep, moving jam from “The Ritual.” Of course, setting the atmosphere and pulling you into the story with the goddesses for the final track only for then to disappear as fast as they appeared.
Knowing the crowd needed one more song, Brink posed the question “what do you need Springfield?” This in return gets a unanimous reply of “Whore” from the crowd. “Let me feel you Springfield!” Brink cried out to deafening screams. In true fashion, Brink got up on her new podium and offers herself to take our pain and negative energy to use as strength to overcome. As she thanked the crowd and reminded us that we are all beautiful and to spread love, especially in such divisive times, she gives the signal and for their encore the band launches into their hit “Whore.”
In This Moment puts on an amazing show musically, The Half God Half Devil Tour is not to be missed.