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On a cool and damp evening, The City National Grove of Anaheim played host to one of the most anticipated shows in recent memory.   The machine known as Skillet has been grinding out some of the most energetic, uplifting, and acclaimed music now for over 20 years.  During this time, they have garnered a severely loyal and rabid fan-base that routinely pack theaters and arenas all around the world.  Sunday evening was no exception, as the number of people lined up waiting for the venue doors was no less than staggering.  From toddlers to the tenured, the crowd was as diverse as the bands slated to play this evening.  The anticipation was doing a number on me, and I, along with everyone else, couldn’t wait to get this night started.

The first band to grace the stage was Ledger.  The band hit the stage promptly at 7 pm and immediately got everyone fired up.  A quick seven-song set executed with all the power and energy you’d expect from a talented up and coming band.  A rocking yet heartfelt set of songs coupled with the adorable Jen Ledger fronting the group made for a truly captivating set.   After seeing Ledger, I now realized why darn near three-quarters of the crowd was there so early.  If you are slated to attend this tour this year, arrive early and don’t sleep on this band.     

The second band of the night was one I’d never heard of before, Pennsylvania based rockers From Ashes to New.  They stormed onto the stage bringing their, Rap infused Nu-Metal style and wasted no time in dropping the hammer.  This band launched an assault that hit all the marks.  The stage, the production, and of course, the sheer bombastic nature of the live show was not for the weak.  From Ashes to New meant business and delivered.  I would surely see this band again, what an act!

Now, as I waited for Skillet to take the stage, it occurred to me that I wasn’t sure that I’d have enough butt left for them to kick.  With the two previous completely blindsiding me in terms of the quality of their shows, I was hopeful Skillet could follow them in kind and most certainly did.  The Christian/Symphonic metal quartet opened their set with their massive hit “Feel Invincible” and got the near-capacity crowd jumping in place from the get-go.  Taking a quick look around, I saw hundreds of ecstatic, smiling fans seemingly having the time of their lives.

The sound and the message was loud and clear; We’re here to give you a show for the ages and from the outset and Skillet was on track to do so.  The husband and wife duo John (lead vocals, bass) and Korey (rhythm guitar, keyboards, synthesizers, backing vocals) hit the stage like they had tacks in their shoes.  Seth Morrison (Lead guitar) was holding down stage-right steadily pumping out the lead licks the concert-goers were lapping up.  As if that wasn’t all, The previously mentioned Jen Ledger (drums, backing vocals) was a show all by herself.  It’s quite a sight to see a drummer keeping time with the style and conviction she displays.  There is genuine anger in her sticks!   I challenge anyone to show me a drummer who hits harder than Ledger.  As if this wasn’t enough, we were treated to an appearance from The Cello Guy,  Tate Olsen, to drive home the orchestral flavor that Skillet has embraced over the years.  Unbelievable!!!   As you might expect, the energy in the room was off the charts all night.  Their positive and upbeat stage presence was no fluke, as they consistently fed off the equally fired-up crowd throughout their monster 19-song set list.

In a nutshell, if you’re in the mood to see an all-around excellent rock show chock full of titanic sounds and boundless energy, you must seek out Skillet on their 2020 tour.  The package, including Ledger and From Ashes to New,  is a well thought out bill and will no-doubt leave you screaming for more.  This was a hard rock concert for the ages and it fired on all cylinders from their opening crescendo to final curtain call.   This show will have lasting effects on me and will be in my memory for years to come.  Horns Up, everyone!   Be Well.


John McAteer

Photojournalist - Orange County

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