Salt Lake City was the place for an evening of progressive metal on May 24, 2022. Symphony X is celebrating 25 years as a band, and bringing Haken along for the ride, with Trope as warm up act. The venue was of modest size, but a good crowd made their way in to enjoy an evening of music.
Openers Trope were without two of the band’s members due to international travel issues and perhaps cost issues, so the lead vocalist and guitarist played live to a backing track of the drums and bass. It was a shame the rhythm section wasn’t there, because the percussion and rhythms were perhaps the most interesting part of the songs, and it would have been fun to see the whole band perform live. However, given the realities of the situation, the present members did a fine job, with Diana Studenberg’s vocals being perhaps the best-mixed vocals of the night. All in all, good sound, good songs, and I walked out of the venue with a signed copy of their album.
I was watching Haken for the fifth time, and my only real complaint is that I would have loved if they had more than an hour of playing time. They came out blistering with the two opening tracks from 2020’s album Virus, “Prosthetic” and “Invasion”. Both are terrific life numbers, and the band was in fine form, once and future keyboardist Peter Jones re-integrating seamlessly into the ensemble after the rather abrupt departure of Diego Tejeida. Haken has always been a solid and technically proficient band, but I have long felt that they are at their best live when incorporating a touch of humor into their performance. This concert was no exception as the loudest reactions from the crowd were for the ridiculously wonderful “Cockroach King”, and the moment Ross Jennings comes on stage with his light up sunglasses as the band broke into “1985”, from their homage-to-the-80s album, Affinity.
Unlike Haken, this was my first time seeing Symphony X live, though I’ve enjoyed them since 2000 and the release of The New Mythology Suite. The band’s set, as with Haken’s felt short, and was heavily weighted towards the band’s more recent albums. Starting with “Nevermore” three of the 10 songs came from the last studio release Underworld (2015), The band concluded with the 24+ minute long epic, “The Odyssey” from the album of the same name. Everyone in the band is quite clearly a talented musician, but the stage was owned from start to finish by Russell Allen, who really is one of metal’s best active singers, bringing both power and, when necessary, gentle pathos as he brought the crowd along the musical journey.
All in all, if you are thinking of getting tickets for one of the remaining dates, you won’t regret laying down a few bucks for a terrific evening of good music played well.
Symphony X, Haken, and Trope are still in tour! Make sure to catch them live at a date listed below. BUY TICKETS HERE!