Gagarin 205 Club, Athens, Greece
Second time for the legendary Sacred Reich from Phoenix, Arizona in Greece and first after more than two decades. In celebration of their 30th anniversary, the Americans made a stop in Greece to play for the excited fans which were waiting them to come a lot of years. I am pretty sure that the band surely left the place satisfied, as the crowd was rather energetic and screamy at the most parts of the gig. The only negative thing I could mention was the fact that they played less than 70 minutes, which if you put next to the 26 euros of the ticket’s price (29 euros if you got it from the venue the same day, something not mentioned which caused a lot of reactions, unless you got the combo ticket for the live of Overkill as well) and the fact that five days ago I had seen Sepultura playing 100 minutes, together with four other bands and the ticket costing only 25 euros, then me and many fans found that disappointing, but let’s just focus to what was more important than all, meaning the performance.
At half past ten, the four-piece comes out under the sound of the Star Wars theme and it’s ‘’Independent’’ which puts fire inside the club, the band is in shape and Greg Hall gives the boost to the rest with his excellent, loud and steady drumming. The two guitarists Jason Rainey (with a Meshuggah t-shirt, another one to admit this huge band’s worth) and Wiley Arnett, wearing their hats and with their heads down, change riffs and solos clearly focused and Phil Rind -who may have gained a lot of weight since the old days (though he’s in better shape than in 2009 in Hellfest where I saw them again)- has kept his voice at a very high standard until today. A very smiling person who makes you happy to be there for sure. ‘’Love…Hate’’ follows and it’s clear that the band has come to play a very balanced and full of quality set for their Greek friends.
‘’Ignorance’’ is the band’s critically aclaimed debut album, so at the sound of the title track’s intro, all the fans start getting even more excited. The sound is great for the likes of the thrash style and very vast, so apart from the whole obsession, a lot of groove is added to make things even better. Another track from the debut played is ‘’Violent Solutions’’ and it’s getting clearer that the band plays like feeling home. With a safe choice like ‘’One Nation’’, heads go up and down continuously and with ‘’Administrative Decisions’’ we have another classic from the first album that creates chaos. The band looks really excited and you can see it on their faces. A more groovy track from ‘’Independence’’ which is ‘’Free’’ is the next one and it’s the perfect one to come before ‘’Crimes Against Humanity’’, with a seminar rhythm following until the end of the track, before ‘’Who’s To Blame’’ is sung loudly by the fans and we have even more stagedives than in any track who came before.
‘’I Don’t Know’’ follows without pause just like on the album, and as things seem to ease a bit, there come the great cover in Black Sabbath’s ‘’War Pigs’’ as the preparation for the two beloved tracks of the band, which are ‘’Death Squad’’ and of course, ‘’The American Way’’. I could describe what happened but after the encore with ‘’Surf Nicaragua’’ I was left speechless, as the fans lit a torch (!) inside and it’s for sure the best scenery I’ve ever seen in a gig in Athens at least. Another very positive thing was that there were a lot of people who knew how to mosh (CIRCLE PIT YOU WANKERS!) and not just fall on the guys in front of them. The band can’t believe what’s happening, Wiley tries to focus but can’t keep his smile and Phil really appreciates all this by giving another big smile (I am pretty sure that he would hug everybody if that was possible).
A win/win situation gig for the band and the fans, who wanted a little more in the end, but on the other hand, fourteen tracks from a career of three decades of glory, decay, split-up and reformation can’t be forgotten easily. I think that after this, the band is most likely to come much sooner, I think it would be better if they played in a smaller club though, so that it wouldn’t seem a bit empty like Gagarin. The fans have a lot of gigs to choose from and under these circumstances, the capacity was kinda satisfactory but still not enough for a band like Sacred Reich. I don’t know how long this reunion will last, but I surely like the fact that they only tour and they don’t release an album. It would be unfair for the fans to get something lower in quality by the band. I like all their albums but it’s clear that their fans love them for their first three releases (including the ‘’Surf Nicaragua’’ EP). June passes rapidly with such nights and our live experiences become even better. Until next time, it’s certain we all went surfing this time with Sacred Reich.
Report: Aggelos Katsouras.