Heavyweight Rockers Godsmack Return To Milwaukee, WI in Top Form

Sully Erna of Godsmack performs at Fiserv Forum in Milwaukee, WI on 04/20/2019. Photo Credit: © Ian Bardecki 2019

Milwaukee, WI – As the house lights went down inside of Fiserv Forum, the stage lights came up illuminating the back of the curtain with the giant Godsmack logo that covered the front of the stage. While an intro tape, a mashup of various rock tracks set to the backing of Queen’s “We Will Rock You” played over the arena loudspeakers, you could feel the audience pressure building and ready to explode. By the time the curtain dropped, Godsmack was welcomed back to Milwaukee with a loud standing ovation by a sold-out capacity crowd. With drummer Shannon Larkin pounding out the intro to “When Legends Rise”, the title track from their most recent album release of the same name, the Boston heavyweights of rock and roll explosively took to the stage by every means of the definition.

Alecia ‘Mixi’ Demner of Stitched Up Heart performs at Fiserv Forum in Milwaukee, WI on 04/20/2019. Photo Credit: © Ian Bardecki 2019

Up first was L.A. based Stitched Up Heart, led by Alecia ‘Mixi’ Demner, they opened up the evening at the arena playing “I Can’t Breathe” and “Finally Free”, but the real highlight of their set was when they performed their newest single, “Lost”. While the studio version of the song features Sully Erna from Godsmack, he, unfortunately, did not join them on stage for this rendition, but that did not stop the crowd from enjoying the set by the goth metal rockers.

Michael Poulsen of Volbeat performs at Fiserv Forum in Milwaukee, WI on 04/20/2019. Photo Credit: © Ian Bardecki 2019

Volbeat was up next, the Danish band featuring lead vocalist and guitarist Michael Poulson, former Anthrax lead guitarist Rob Caggiano, drummer Jon Larsen and bassist Kasper Boyce Larsen, played for almost an hour and featured plenty of great music including kicking off their set with “The Devil’s Bleeding Crown”, before shifting into “Lola Montez” and “Sad Man’s Tongue” – clear crowd favorites. The band wrapped up their set with “Still Counting” from their Guitar Gangsters and Cadillac Blood release.

It had been a little while since Godsmack headlined in Milwaukee last, and after kicking off their evening with “When Legends Rise”, they then turned up the heat with “1000hp” and had the crowd contributing to the chorus of “Turn that shit up louder, make it all go faster.” The band then played several songs from their latest release including, “Say My Name”, “Unforgettable”, and their hit single “Bulletproof”. The group also delved into their archives, playing songs throughout the bands’ history, with “Voodoo”, “Whatever” and “Awake”. The band added five new songs to their live set from the new album, and while their latest album itself is a shift from their previous work, that does not in any way mean the band has gone soft. 20+ years strong, and the band still delivers a kick in the teeth live show.

Shannon Larkin of Godsmack performs at Fiserv Forum in Milwaukee, WI on 04/20/2019. Photo Credit: © Ian Bardecki 2019

Before performing “Something Different”, Sully Erna had the lighting crew kill all the arena lights and then had the audience fill the arena with the lights from their cell phones, effectively lighting up the stage on their own. And of course, no Godsmack show is complete without the drum battle of “Batalla De Los Tambores” featuring Sully Erna and Shannon Larkin. With Erna interacting with the crowd, including getting them to sing along with several songs and adding a helpful hand with the chorus when needed, he was in full command all evening long. Including when he asked the male audience members to hoist their ladies up onto their shoulders because, well…boobies. At least Sully likes to tell the crowd that if that happens, it increases their percentage of seeing any. Which they did, as one male fan hoisted another male fan onto his shoulders, which Erna gave a quick shout out to – and asked him to show his boobies, the male fan obliged, much to the amusement of the crowd and the band.

The band was tight all evening long, and quite honestly – has never sounded better. Whether you want to call it age, maturity, or expansion of artistic, musical talent and songwriting, Godsmack was electric all evening long. They even played and joked with each other on stage. Including when Sully Erna was goofing around with the mic stand of Tony Bombola so much that he accidentally knocked the mic off the stand and into the photo pit with an audible “oh shit!” during an inopportune break right in the song before the guitar solo during “Come Together”, the band is clearly having a great time on stage.

The group closed out their set with a four-song encore featuring their latest single “Bulletproof”, “I Stand Alone”, and the Beatles cover “Come Together”. But perhaps the biggest highlight of the evening and strongest message sent, prior to performing “Under Your Scars” that had Sully playing the keyboard during their encore, was his announcing to the crowd that the band has just started a new foundation called The Scars Foundation, to help raise awareness for mental health issues like depression. He mentioned the passing of fellow artists Chris Cornell and Chester Bennington as examples but said that we all know someone who has been affected by depression, someone who suffers from it or suffers from it themselves. He was also quick to point out that their new foundation will not just commit that, but also to helping those from addiction, bullying, abuse, and many others, and be dedicated to providing the resources and tools needed to educate and empower people on a global level that struggle with these burdens. To let people know that it’s ok to have physical and emotional scars in our life and that we shouldn’t hide from them or give in to them, but to use them to make yourself stronger.

Main Photo Gallery of Show

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When Legends Rise
Say My Name
Keep Away
Cryin’ Like a Bitch
Something Different
Batalla De Los Tambores

Under Your Scars
Come Together (Beatles cover)
I Stand Alone

Show Date: 4/20/2019

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Ian Bardecki
Born in Scotland, raised in the United States, based in Chicago. Ian Bardecki is a professional photographer, avid motorcyclist, reader, IT geek, gaming and comic book nerd, who was bathed in music at a young age by his mother who constantly played classical piano in their home. While she also introduced him to the Beatles and Elvis, his father forced on him Hank Williams and Johnny Cash, the local paper boy had him listening to Alice Cooper, his uncle then turned him onto KISS and his first 8 track tape, while his friends turned him onto punk music. Today, his music library ranges from Amadeus Mozart to ZZ Ward and everything in between. Hesitantly agreeing to fill in one night to photograph a concert at a local venue in San Francisco for a friend, was where the accidental love and passion for concert photography was born and hasn’t stopped growing since. As a freelance photographer, Ian has had the honor of working with various artists like, John 5, Sick Puppies, Scott Stapp, Drowning Pool, Anti-Flag and Art of Dying, just to name a few. Ian can be found on Instagram and Facebook under Center Stage Pictures.