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Anyone who’s seen the harrowing depiction of Bobby Liebling’s life in Last Days Here knows that it’s frankly a miracle to see him on stage in the present day. I won’t go into the gory details of his inner demons and cruel twists of fate, but it’s a documentary that everyone should see, even if they aren’t remotely interested in the metal scene. It’s been about five years since the reboot, and Bobby’s put together a solid band (Victor Griffin on guitar, Greg Turley on bass, Sean Saley on drums) that bring the Pentagram song book back to life. I read an interview where Bobby claimed that all of his songs were written in a specific period from 1969 to 1974, and that proto-Sabbath sound still hangs like a damp cloud over every song.
Bugged out eyes, flickering tongue, slightly stilted pacing of the stage, Liebling is the center of attention regardless of what else is going on. There were plenty of highlights, from the lurching start of “Too Late” to the minor key riffage of “All Your Sins” and the classic “Relentless.” However, their shining moment will always be their namesake, “Sign Of The Wolf (Pentagram),” just an amazing match of heavy riff and catchy melody, an arms in the air/shout along if there ever was one. “And now don’t know how but it’s happening to me/Got the love from above but it’s happening to me.” It’s almost like Liebling saw how his life would unfold before he wrote it decades prior; everyone roots for the underdog, and here’s hoping that Bobby’s got more songs and shows left.
What really made this tour special was the surprise re-surfacing of Bang, fellow hard rockers who also hailed from the Nixon-era. “It’s been 42 years since our last tour” said Frank Ferrera as he glanced over at Frank Glicken with a wide grin. The music industry’s history is littered with the dried-out corpses of bands that should have flourished, and here’s another example. Capitol Records couldn’t figure out how to market them and ended up shelving their first record that shouted against the strife of the times (“Death Of A Country” doesn’t really hide anything) so instead their self-titled second record became their debut. “Lions, Christians” has the hallmark of a classic song which Graveyard would have given their canine teeth to write, a swaggering song with heft and bite. “The Queen” makes you feel and smell the rough fringes of a leather coat against your face; “Our Home” or “Questions” would not sound out of place on any classic rock station worth their salt, and really should be on heavy rotation on the Deep Tracks channel of SiriusXM. And lastly, a quick public service announcement: be careful if you take the band’s name literally, late news to the guy who barged his way to the front of the stage and started to violently headbang, only to smash his brow on the edge a stage monitor, splattering blood everywhere.
Openers Kings Destroy also tagged along for Pentagram’s tour of the West Coast last year (along with Radio Moscow who were on most of these dates but missed their 6AM flight from LA) and brought some energy to the venue straight out of the gate. A hulking, cleanly shaven Steve Murphy uses all of the stage and some of the floor to get his point across, while twin guitarists Carl Porcaro and Chris Skowronski twirled and spiraled around each other like two jet fighters in a dog fight.
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