Review and photos by Ellen Eldridge
Full gallery at the bottom of the post.
Anyone who read my review of Staind knows that the new material returns to the earliest days of angst-driven rock. But even fans of Aaron Lewis’s solo country-style material enjoyed the rescheduled show at the Tabernacle on Sunday night. After opening with “Falling” and “Right Here” off the fifth studio album, Chapter V, Staind kicked right into, “Eyes Wide Open,” the opening track on the recently released self-titled album. The setlist included several of the new songs, which made fans who hadn’t had a chance to check out Staind aware of the band’s continued ability to craft tight, powerful songs that crowds can croon along to.
During “So Far Away,” the lyrics took on the ever-personal, connected feeling as the crowd sang along. Lewis rested his voice for the crowd to cry out the chorus with a wave of fingers pointing, pulsing in time. It truly felt like every voice sang, “Afraid of waking, please don’t shake me….” Those singular voices parted ways to push and pull against one another in a makeshift mosh pit during “Throw It All Away,” also off Staind. From the top balcony, looking down, I could sense the intensity of sharing personal space when it becomes a personal euphoria to commingle fan voices with the breath of the songwriter.
When the band left Lewis alone onstage to announce his forthcoming solo album, scheduled for March 2012 release according to Lewis, he tuned his voice to a southern drawl, and instantly became a sincere, if not clichéd, archetype of classic country music as he sang about his love of the “Red, White, and Blue.” The sincerity shined through his smirk when he bantered at the audience that he figured his ease at writing songs like “Red, White, and Blue” came from being a simple country boy. Then he played “Country Boy” with its opening lyric, “Well, I grew up on an old dirt road in a town you wouldn’t know.” A twangy guitar accompanied further lyrics about whiskey, weed, and living in the sticks. While not a fan of country or particularly of Lewis’ solo work, I did really appreciate the story in “Country Boy” about the Devil’s offer to rocket his career to the top. It felt like the Robert Johnson tale told in a modern setting; it nearly made me think I liked country.
I felt a bit relieved when Staind rejoined Lewis for lyrics directed, “To my mother, to my father…” in “For You.” The kick of the guitars fueled my love for Staind while I contemplated the range of musical style that Lewis does, and does well. Following the song from Break the Cycle with “Paper Wings” from Staind again showed me just how heavy and down-right angry Lewis’ lyrics get. The image of “Paper Wings” representing the craft of songwriting itself appeared as I focused on the chorus, “Make some paper wings and learn to fly; if there’s no tomorrow, burn your paper wings and say goodbye.” The paper wings could actually be a metaphor for a songwriter’s method of experiencing a catharsis through writing.
I don’t think Staind could have chosen a more fitting encore that the soft-spoken, closing track to Staind, “Something to Remind You.” On the second to last date on the tour, playing a makeup show in Atlanta before closing in Orlando, this song felt like a cool down after an intensive and emotional workout. Many fans chose to beat the traffic, walking out as Lewis called, “the road to Hell along the way is paved with good intentions so they say…” and it just fit so perfectly as he continued, “tell the ones who cared enough that I’ve finally left this place.”
Man Made Machine: