Their support, Melbourne's Black Majesty, were great. Very accomplished. Worth checking out.
Words fail me in describing how good Symphony X are. Their musicianship is amazing, band leader, composer and guitarist Michael Romeo is a freak, just ridiculously awesome. In a live setting, he just nails everything, and is almost impossible to take your eyes off. I expected him to be great - I was awestruck instead. And that's to take nothing away from the other guys - Michael Pinnella's duelling keyboards, Michael LePond's rumbling bass guitar and the brilliant Jason Rullo on drums are just superb, and the fact that they have been together for over 20 years is testament to their combined ability.
And then there is Russell Allen - by god the man can sing. I already knew that, but when he nails every single note live the way he does in the studio, then you cannot be anything but amazed at his prowess. High, low, soft, hard, heavy - it doesn't matter. And a great frontman, engaging the audience, having his spiels, and generally having a great time. Brilliant.
It was the last show of their Underworld World Tour. They played the entire Underworld album, and it sounded amazing. Russell told us the back story, and the band played it brilliantly. When, after playing "Run With the Devil", Russell began telling us how 'bad' the devil was, a guy standing dead in front of me yelled "The devil sucks!" Russell paused, and said, "Yes. You're right. And the fact that you said that while wearing a Led Zeppelin shirt makes it a thousand times cooler!" He then gave us the "Ah ah ahhhhhhhhAAAA!" from Led Zeppelin's "Immigrant Song", which caused much cheering, and demands to play the song. The band looked at each other, shrugged, and then off the cuff played it in its entirety - yes, Russell nailed every one of Robert Plant's screams. Awesome! And then at the end, when they asked if we wanted one more song, the crowd in unison called for "The Odyssey", the 23 minute monster from the album of the same name. Though they begged off doing it, Russell promised that they would return to Sydney, and play it on the next tour. We'll see, but that would be superb.
Highlights from the night for me were "Nevermore", "Without You", "In My Darkest Hour", "Run With the Devil", and the superb trilogy of "The Serpent's Kiss" and "Set the World on Fire (The Lie of Lies)" from Paradise Lost, and the closing track from Underworld, "Legend". Before playing this song, Russell commented on how the fans of the heavy metal genre are all one family ("heavy metal is just a slice of the slice of the slice of the pie of word music"), and that it didn't matter what genre of heavy metal you loved, we are all a family (echoing the words of Bruce Dickinson at the Maiden gig this year). He then raised the metal salute, the metal flag, and said how this had been given to us by the great Ronnie James Dio, who should never be forgotten, as it was his music and his aura that bind us all together - thus leading into "Legend". Great stuff.
Living off three and a half hours sleep today at work, but it is totally worth it. One of the best gigs I've seen. I can only hope it isn't the last time they tour Australia.