There are a lot of bands out there that epitomize certain seasons, and Halloween is one of those dates on the calendar that brings out the freaks for sure. Luckily for us, they do more than come out at night – they go on parade. This night, Rob Zombie’s Freaks on Parade Tour came to Orange County, The Honda Center to be precise.
Call it an early Christmas – or a nightmare before Halloween – all rolled into a bunch of freaky music accompanied by the nuttiest fans on the planet and that teed up what the night was shaping up to be.
Zombie teamed up with Alice Cooper to bring this year’s Freaks on Parade Tour to the West Coast. It was a reprise of last year’s very successful tour, with a few tweaks. This time around they added two great acts with Richard Patrick and Filer, and with Al Jourgensen and Ministry.
As soon as I arrived, the “freaks on parade” was describing the crowd, not the bands. There were fans wearing every imaginable goth-adjacent outfit with little left to the imagination, or twisted Halloween-type costumes that were over the top; and then the was the traditional leather, leather, leather outfits with tons of pomade.
As Richard Patrick took the stage, the Honda Center had hit near capacity. Filter – having recently dropped their album, “The Algorithm” – immediately hit the stage with an electrifying sound and Patrick’s distinctive voice fronting the band. Filter played a nice mix of new songs alongside the classics. With a light show and fog, the crowd cheered to newer songs “The Drowning,” “For the Beaten,” and “Obliteration.”
Because they were an opener, they played an abbreviated set – about 30 minutes – which was too bad because Patrick sounded great. They slid nicely into “Take a Picture,” and before they closed, Patrick said something that made everyone in my section laugh out loud: “WTF people! There are too many of you sitting down; how fucking old are we?” As he said that, the baseline to “Hey Man Nice Shot” filled Honda Center. He then said, “Get off your fucking asses and give this song the respect it deserves.” With that, the joint went nuts.
It was surreal; it was literally like being in an MTV video as the crowd roared. The sound was out of this world good with Patrick at the lead. It was a moment in time the entire crowd would not forget anytime soon.
Filter proved to be a band that comes along once in a life time, twice if you believe in reincarnation – they were that good!
After a relatively short intermission, one time new wave, but now industrial-nu metal juggernaut, Ministry. Immediately, lead singer Al Jourgensen rushed the stage, and the sound was heart pounding and the speed was intense. Honestly, I had not felt a sound like that before. When I say felt, I mean it; you felt the music pound through you, and that’s the best way to describe Ministry – bone crushing!
It’s incredible to believe, Ministry recently reached the 40th anniversary of their first release, “With Sympathy.” Despite the elapsed time since they first blew up, Jourgensen looked and sounded great!
The crowd’s response was positive to their short set too. Blasting the audience with favorites “Thieves,” “The Missing,” “Just One Fix,” with an insane light show, fans were engaged and riveted to every word and motion Jourgensen threw their way.
Then it happened; they lost their minds to “New World Order (N.W.O.).” If you haven’t seen Ministry play this live before, trust me it is an experience you will never forget. They are definitely not for those that like mellow music; their music is not that. It is simply spectacular!
As the crowd took its collective breath, the stage crew did a nice job in getting the next act off and going. Up next was Vincent Damon Furnier, better known to us all as Alice Cooper. Despite being the elder statesman, 75-year-old Cooper was ready to rock. With a cast of solid and insanely good musicians at his side, Cooper also rushed the stage with an eagerness that was apparent. Like all his shows, the crowd was ready to be zapped by shard guitar riffs and an onstage show that would be filled with shock and awe.
As the music started, Cooper emerged from behind the front page of a giant hanging newspaper that said “Banned in California.” The set started ironically with “Lock Me Up,” before launching into the hit parade. The crowd was into it and sang along to “No More Mr. Nice Guy,” and “I’m Eighteen.”
Since Cooper was a headliner, we got to see a little more of this larger-than-life icon. Some of the onstage antics included Cooper singing with an enormous snake hanging on him, and a giant Frankenstein that looked eerily like Cooper during “Feed My Frankenstein.” We also got to see Cooper in a straitjacket, then electrocuted, and beheaded by an enormous guillotine by Marie Antoideath. That creature was played by Cooper’s wife (Sheryl).
What everyone got to experience were the amazing guitar riffs of Nita Strauss. Her cohorts held their own and were equally as impressive. Collectively, they were electricity personified. Joining Strauss were Ryan Roxie and Tommy Henricksen, Chris Wyse was on bass with Chuck Garrick and Glen Sobel slapping the skins.
As they say, game recognizes game. Cooper often sang side-by-side with each member of the band to showcase them; a very classy act.
The showstopper was Strauss’ fiery guitar solo. In the end, the crowd got what they came for: kick-ass songs that sounded kick-ass live. Cooper ended his set with “School’s Out,” which included a drop of Pink Floyd’s “Another Brick in the Wall Pt. 2.”
As with Cooper, the stage crew got to work immediately and the set was ready to go quickly. For this turn, the Zombie set was insanely cool. Lights, camera, action, and go! As the curtain dropped, Zombie was set perched at the top of the stage, 30-40 feet above the stage. The band, featuring Piggy D, rolled out ready to take no prisoners.
With “ZOMBIE” inserted in the enormous skull, above its brow, the crowd went to another level of insanity to “The Triumph of King Freak.” The band literally looked like they came out of “House of 1,000 corpses,” and Zombie, with his signature cowboy hat, as if he was channeling Randy “the Macho Man” Savage (less the dreadlocks of course).
Zombie blasted off with hit after hit from the Zombie catalog, and some going back to White Zombie.
The hit parade featured “Superbeast,” “Feels So Numb,” “Living Dead Girl,” and the gold standard, “Thunder Kiss ’65.”
With large video screens bringing an over-the-top feel to the show, the crowd was treated to scenes from Zombie’s film catalog, flames, flames, flames, and nutty-looking, demon-like creatures throughout the stage. Don’t forget the devil robot!
The crowd went uber-crazy to a fan favorite, “More Human Than Human.” The band was as tight as ever with Piggy D on bass, Ginger Fish on the drum kit, and Mike Riggs who rejoined after the departure of John 5.
Because of their familiarity with each other, the show was fluid, and sounded beyond great. The show ended appropriately with “Dragula.” The entire house was rockin’, and everyone had a night that was out of this world.