July 11th 2018 – The Sellersville Theater

Despite living fairly nearby, I had never made the trek to the Sellersville Theater. It is a grand statement in the middle of a very humble little town. The interior is an incredibly nice theater that is, nevertheless, an unexpected setting for a rock show. Given the stadium seating, the small general admission space up front, and the stage that is, generously, a foot and a half off of the ground, it seems more conducive to a ventriloquism act or a high school talent show.

Nevertheless, the sound and lighting were expertly run, everything ran smoothly and the cozy setup made for an intimate experience. It’s not every day you can stand less than 12” from a band.

Thankfully, the evening got right into the good stuff with Act of Defiance. Featuring Chris Broderick and Shawn Drover on guitar and drums (both formerly of Megadeth and other musical endeavors), Matt Bachand on bass (formerly of Shadows Fall) and Henry Derek on vocals (ex-Scar the Martyr) this relatively new project has already put out two releases. Given the pedigrees of all involved, the music highlights their considerable strengths, especially the frenetic soloing of Broderick.

If there was a better scenario to see Armored Saint live, I can’t imagine it. They played my favorite album of theirs in its entirety supplemented with other favorites, in a local venue.

The show began with “March of the Saint”, “Long Before I Die” and “Chemical Euphoria” three tracks that each represented the first three releases. Then, they launched into their landmark, ‘Symbol of Salvation’. The importance of late guitarist Dave Prichard to this particular album and to the band as a whole was also stated during the show, so this kind of felt a bit like a celebration of him, as well.

If you know the album, you know the order of things. It started off in a huge bang with quite possibly their biggest song “Reign of Fire”. The pace was generally up-tempo the whole time, some shakers and acoustic guitar helped to lend some variety to the evening. “Hanging Judge” and “Warzone” were some other personal highlights but one of the joys of this experience is the deep cuts that are unearthed. We were informed that the previous night’s show (the first of the tour) may have been the first time “Burning Question” had ever been played. We were also given some backstory about the inspiration and then they launched into it. Sometimes seeing something live can add a new perspective to something as this is one of the tracks that will warrant revisiting the recorded version.

Dispensing with the usual bit of leaving the stage and awaiting the chants, we were treated to a 3 song encore beginning with an oldie from ‘Delirious Nomad’, “Afterman”. This was followed by the lone post-1991 song they played, “Win Hands Down” which was off of their latest album of the same name. Things wrapped up with “Can U Deliver”.

Being around as long as they have, one might wonder how much the band has left to give. Well, the guitars were tight, bass player Joey Vera was energetic and loud and Gonzo Sandoval’s drums were pounding. Most reassuringly of all, John Bush’s voice was as powerful, if not more so than I could have even hoped for. The man has still got it. Wow.

To top it off, with the band having a show already under their belts and still being fresh, the night’s show was filmed. Keep in mind that the Sellersville Theater is the same venue that John 5 recorded his latest live album (at the time of this writing), so there is a precedent for this location capturing live performances. We were informed that the next show in New York would also be filmed so there is a chance that some or all of this performance will see the light of day as a video release.

Written by: JJ Ellis