BY PAM WHISENHUNT | Go Venue Magazine
May 10th, 2023 was a blazing 85-degree day in Bonner Springs, Kansas when the crowd started trickling in to the Azura Amphitheatre for Godsmack, I Prevail and Austin Meade to “Rock the Dotte”.
Austin Meade out of Texas opened up with a solid set of soulful rock tunes. Meade has a mainstream, bluesy, classic rock sound. It was a pretty easy-going set to kick things off.
The sun was still blazin’ when I Prevail came out. I Prevail stole the night with their energy. Brian Burkheiser and Eric Vanlerberghe worked the stage like they owned it. They were relentless, starting with three bangers “Bow Down”, “Body Bag” and “Self-Destruction”. They slowed things down slightly with “Bad Things” and rolled into the first verse and chorus of “Chop Suey!” by System of a Down. At one point, Vanlerberghe made his way off the stage and through the crowd. He high-fived people along the way, including the lady at the beer cart. Vanlerberghe grabbed a beer and made his way back to the stage.
I Prevail performed a shortened set. They didn’t have all the usual cryo, bells and whistles but were explosive non the less. They covered their bigger songs “FWYTYK”, “Hurricane”, “There’s Fear in Letting Go”, “Deep End” and finished with “Gasoline”. Definitely a tough act to follow, but Godsmack would be up to the challenge.
The sun went down, and we received a slight breeze when Godsmack, 25-year veterans of the hard rock scene, opened with a prerecorded Mike D hype video. Very unexpected, but who doesn’t like some classic rock and hip-hop snippets (“We Will Rock You”, “So What’cha Want”, “Tom Sawyer” and “Dream On”)? I know I do. After the video, in true Godsmack fashion, they entered with “When Legends Rise” and a profusion of flaming pyro. Their set included “Cryin’ Like a Bitch”, “You and I”, “Lighting Up the Sky”, “Soul on Fire”, “Something Different”, and “What About Me”. As expected, there were tons of pyro, fireworks and laser lights throughout.
Sully Erna took some time out of the set to stand in the spotlight and talk about the good ole days. He questioned why guys need strong shoulders and answered his own question but stating, it’s to put the ladies on their shoulders, just like old times. Erna encouraged the guys to put the girls on their shoulders, instructed staff to turn out the lights and for the crowd to light the place up. The crowd did as instructed, girls were lifted onto shoulders, and cellphones lit the amphitheater.
Erna took a shot at some newer bands, stating they (Godsmack) are one of the few bands to actually play music; they play their instruments with no click tracks or backing. He asked for forgiveness in advance if they mess things up.
Godsmack continued the set and after “Bulletproof” and “Awake” the lights went down, and a piano came out. Erna sat down behind the piano and started to play. He talked about his Scars Foundation, the money it raised and the awareness it’s brought to mental health issues over the years. He dedicated the song “Under Your Scars” to Chris Cornell, Chester Bennington, Amy Winehouse and so many more taken too soon.
After “Voo Doo” a second drum set came out. It was time for Erna and Shannon Larkin (drums) to do their traditional “Batalla de los tambores” dueling drums portion of the show. I remember the first time seeing this years ago and being blown away. It’s still cool to see today.
Godsmack ended with “Whatever”. A banner dropped down showing each of Godsmack’s album covers with the year released and a big “Thank You for 25 Years!” in the middle. Cannons blasted confetti onto the crowd to finish the set, but they returned shortly after for the encore of “Surrender” and “I Stand Alone”.
Godsmack’s Spring/Summer 2023 tour is just getting started, got to https://www.godsmack.com/tour for your chance to catch them.
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