Well rockers, concert season has officially begun. And of course it was going to be Disturbed since I haven’t seen them live since they first started when I was back in college and they played Roseland Ballroom. Also because way back then I didn’t think they’d make it, a story I’ve shared with and laughed about with John Moyer, and boy am I glad they proved me wrong in so many ways.
Before I get into what was an amazing show by Disturbed I must give full credit to Three Days Grace for their set which got the night and all of Madison Square Garden energized. They could’ve very easily given half the effort because they are the support on this tour but instead they came out strong with “The Mountain” as if it was their show. Sure some might say that’s an attempt to one up the headliner but I say the contrary. The fact that Three Days Grace gave their full effort is how all bands should be when on tour with another band for support.
I was even surprised by how much of Three Days Grace I actually knew. Going into Monday’s show I knew “I Hate Everything About You” but I truly wasn’t aware how often and familiar I was with their catalog. I found myself completely enthralled in their set singing along to “The Good Life”, “Pain”, and “Riot” as if I’d done so several times over the years. They managed to reach everyone in the building and I will definitely be going back to check out their catalog after this performance.
Of course now that myself and the building were warmed up it was time for Disturbed to bring Evolution to the stage. A unique stage at that. The extended diamond shaped stage was something I’ve never seen before and for the most part worked very well. The only thing cutoff was half of the video wall if your seats were like mine on the side of the stage. Otherwise this stage design allowed for optimal view of the band and for the band to see more of the audience equally.
Of course Disturbed came out with the opening song “Are You Ready?” from the new album Evolution, as the tour is named for, and why shouldn’t they? It’s the quintessential opener that every band wishes for when they first hit the stage. Of course Madison Square Garden was in fact very ready as they roared and sung along as if it’s been done for years now. You’d never know that this was their first time headlining and selling out Madison Square Garden but it certainly won’t be the last.
As the set continued to get rolling it was clear to see everyone, band and fans alike, were going full blast into every note and emotion the music brought on. It was also perfect and reassuring when David Draiman paused prior to “Stupify” not only to acknowledge the crowd but to also remind everyone the rules of engagement for a rock and metal show. How we take care of each other and watch out for each other while still enjoying the show. Something that WE ALL know exists only within rock and metal as the entire building was filled with people of all walks of life.
It was about midway through their version of the Genesis song “Land Of Confusion”, a personal favorite cover of mine, that I found myself almost forgetting we were almost 20,000 strong inside the World’s Most Famous Arena of Madison Square Garden. Disturbed had managed by just the 7th song of the night to make a huge arena feel like it was a smaller more intimate venue. I was over 20 rows away from the stage but still felt like if I could physically reach out the fist bump John Moyer or Dan Donegan that I could’ve reached them.
At this point things got even more intimate as the band setup to do an acoustic version of “Hold On To Memories” where they shared photos and videos of things that led them to this historic night of finally headlining Madison Square Garden. All the while creating a new memory with everyone there.
After bringing everyone back up with “Ten Thousand Fists” and “The Game” Disturbed did something so many more need to do. Remind everyone that they are not alone in the world. Help is out there, even if it’s just the music made that saves you. A video played to remind everyone that suicide is never the answer and to seek help if you’re in dark times. The band did “A Reason To Fight” and “Watch You Burn” from a second, much smaller stage. This allowed the intimacy level to become close again. The crowd was then united and I saw many individuals hug each other after David Draiman asked everyone to raise their hands if they knew someone or they themselves dealt with addiction or depression resulting in every single hand being raised.
This whole moment culminated with a powerful version of “The Sound Of Silence” which was met by lighters and flashlights by The Garden crowd which almost took away the flames from the piano but yet adding to what truly became a moment of unity between Disturbed and the fans.
At this point the emotional rollercoaster has gone up and done so much the only thing left to do was end big – and that’s just what they did. Ending the main set big with “Indestructible” and “Inside The Fire”, both so intense I questioned an encore. Though that was quickly answered by a 4 song encore starting with “The Night” and ending where it all started for Disturbed with “Down With The Sickness”.
As I stated at the beginning of this review, years ago I would’ve never predicted Disturbed would headline Madison Square Garden. Not only am I glad I was wrong and able to recover from a hospital stay to attend this show but I’m even happier to say that this was one of the best shows I’ve ever been too. There’s no doubt in my mind now that this was just the first of many more headline nights at Madison Square Garden for decades to come and I intend to never miss one.