Randy Blythe led headlining band Lamb of God in an ebullient, raucous performance Saturday night at the Uptown Theater. Photos by Megan True, Special to The Star
A somber tribute to slain guitarist Dimebag Darrell provided a poignant moment in an otherwise incendiary concert Saturday at the Uptown Theater.
“Eight years ago on this day I lost my brother and my best friend,” Paul said. “He’s alive tonight in Kansas City.”
As the members of all four bands featured at Saturday’s concert joined Paul to toast the memory of Dimebag, many in the audience of about 1,000 chanted the name of the influential guitarist. The touching show of solidarity was followed by a rendition of the eponymous song “Hellyeah.” Randy Blythe, the frontman for headliners Lamb of God, assisted with the selection.
Blythe is all too familiar with onstage violence. He was indicted by authorities in the Czech Republic on manslaughter charges earlier in the week. He is accused of pushing a fan off the stage during a 2010 concert in Prague. The fan died 14 days later from injuries suffered during the fall.
Blythe spent five weeks in prison on related charges in the Czech Republic earlier this year and has indicated that he intends to return to the Czech Republic should a trial ensue.
Blythe didn’t seem burdened by the possibility of an extended prison term during Lamb of God’s 80-minute performance. He playfully interacted with the audience, cheerfully sang a bit of “Kansas City” and gave R&B artist Wilbert Harrison an arbitrary shout-out during a fearsome rendition of “The Undertow.”
In spite of his ebullience, Blythe’s singing remained willfully ugly. Alternately shrieking and growling, he gave voice to 14 selections from Lamb of God’s 12-year recording career. The jarring discography has positioned the Virginia-based band at the forefront of a hostile new form of heavy metal that integrates punk with the form’s established structure.
The gargantuan riffing of guitarists Willie Adler and Mark Morton was particularly effective on “Ghost Walking,” which has been nominated for a Grammy. The sinister groove of “11th Hour,” the grim thrash of “Omerta” and an anarchic version of “Laid to Rest” were similarly menacing.
Lamb of God’s performance was accentuated by two video screens, lasers, searchlights and nominal pyrotechnics. The Swedish band In Flames opted for dramatic backlighting that corresponded with its futuristic din. The act’s tasteful incorporation of electronic elements provided a welcome contrast in an evening dominated by screaming guitars.
Sylosis didn’t require many special effects to dazzle the audience during its opening set. The British quartet struck an ideal balance between nimble velocity and colossal strength.
Perhaps inspired by the vitality of its tour mates and by the memory of Dimebag on the anniversary of his untimely death, Hellyeah gave the most compelling performance of its several appearances in the Kansas City area in the past few years. The Texas-based band tore through material like the aptly titled “Rage/Burn” and the party-minded “Drink Drank Drunk” with ruthless urgency.
As he invoked Dimebag a final time near the conclusion of the concert, Blythe suggested that “true legends never die.” Based on the extraordinary power of his band on Saturday, Lamb of God is also well on its way to attaining that rarified status.