Jonathan Davis at The Machine Shop in Flint, MI

Jonathan Davis brings his Black Labyrinth tour to the world-famous The Machine Shop with support from The Birthday Massacre and Julien-K.

Julien-K from Long Beach, CA gets the crowd fired up early with some cool rock layered with synthesizers.  The sound is dialed-in as usual at The Machine Shop with clear separation, and a solid, pulsating low end.  They run through a short set that includes “Flashpoint Riot,” “Strange Invisible,” and “Institution.”  Ryan Shuck (vocals, guitar) is all over the stage, dancing about and regularly using the monitors at the edge of the stage to lean out toward the crowd.  Toward the end of their set, Ryan asks why a band with no major label is opening for Jonathan Davis.  He announces that Amir Derakh (guitar) and himself were formerly in Orgy and this is their new band.  The crowd erupts when they start playing “Blue Monday,” probably their biggest hit while in Orgy.  Judging from the fans’ reaction to their set, it wouldn’t be a surprise if these guys could take off in the future.

Next up are The Birthday Massacre from Toronto, Canada.  While their music is described as everything from new wave to electronic rock to nu metal, whatever you want to label it, it has the crowd engaged and having fun.  Lead vocalist Chibi seems to be having a lot of fun as she smiles while moving across the stage and whipping her hair about.  And Owen is a riot to watch as he makes crazy faces and poses, leans all over his keyboard, and thrashes his hair about too.  They have been around since 1999, but this is the first time they have played this venue or city according to Chibi.  Their set pulls from five of their albums including the songs “Counterpane,” “All Of Nothing,” “One,” and “Games” from their latest release Under Your Spell.  The sold-out crowd shows them some love with plenty of applause after every song.  Opening for a legend like Jonathan Davis will certainly help them gain further exposure to a broader audience.

The stage goes dark briefly and then is lit in bright red lights.  Drummer extraordinaire, Ray Luzier from Korn, takes the stage followed by Chris Nix on guitar and Brian Allen on upright bass.  They get the set going with “Underneath My Skin” as Jonathan Davis appears to huge cheers.  They follow that up with another upbeat song “Everyone.”  Those two songs are from the 2018 album, Black Labyrinth, and many more make up a majority of the setlist tonight.  The next song, “Forsaken,” is the first of three from the Queen of the Damned soundtrack from 2002.

Jonathan is at ease on the stage and seems to be having a great time tonight, taking time to thank the crowd and keep them energized.  He uses the mic stand as a prop to lean back and also hold on to when bending over and letting his hair fly.  Mostly though, he works the stage from side to side, flailing his free arm about to accentuate the songs. 

Most of the fans here tonight have been following him for quite some time as the leader of metal gods Korn.  While there are no Korn songs in the set tonight, the fans do not seem to mind as several still have that distinctive vocal style and groove they have come to love.  Having Ray along on drums doesn’t hurt as he propels many of the songs with his talents.  And with Brian Allen on bass, the songs have a unique vibe.  Before the halfway point of the set, Jonathan introduces the band and then they jam for a bit, each showing off their skills to the fans’ delight.

“Your God” and the funky “Walk On By” really get the crowd motivated as the faster pace has them bouncing as well as throwing their horns up in appreciation.  Closing the main portion of the set is something you would not expect at a rock concert; a cover of Neil Diamond’s “Love on the Rocks”.  However, it turns out to be really cool with a slide guitar intro and a bit of a rock edge with Jonathan’s vocals.  It gets many of the fans singing along.

Returning to the stage, they play the popular “What It Is,” but this time with a twist.  The guitar has a bluesy feel to it and the upright bass played with a bow gives it an almost jazz-like vibe.  Closing out the show is “Happiness” that has Jonathan and the crowd feeling happy as they bounce up and down and wave their arms.  It’s a great ending to an awesome night of music.

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About Gary Pahlow 62 Articles
Gary is located in Rochester Hills, MI and has been officially photographing and writing concert reviews since early 2016. His main music interests are metal and hard rock, but he is also a fan of most genres including alternative, indie, jazz, and even some pop and country. When not covering or attending concerts, you can find him traveling with his wife or watching the Detroit Red Wings.

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