Armored Saint Headlines Rockfest5 at M15 in Corona, CA.
Written by Alison “MetalBabe” Cohen
Photos by Heidi Horvath Photography
Rockfest 5 featured seven bands and began at 3PM on Saturday, November 14th. Shield of Faith was first, followed by Revmatix, Ninth Circle, Kantation, Anger the Giant, Dive Bomber, and headliner Armored Saint. I enjoyed bits and pieces of the opening bands and was happy to be in a different ‘scene’ for the night, surrounded by friends and ‘Metal Heads.’
Fans packed in front of the M15 stage and anxiously awaited Armored Saint’s performance. As I was waiting for them to take the stage, I spoke with several fans who either had never seen Armored Saint perform live, or who hadn’t seen them play in many years. I felt spoiled in a sense, that I ‘just’ saw them play at Wacken Open Air in Germany, was at the Metal Blade 30th Anniversary Show, ‘La Raza’ show at the House of blues in Hollywood, and that I saw them perform at Rocklahoma in 2008, but was really excited for them to take the stage for this Corona, CA. show.
Armored Saint released their 7th studio album ‘Win Hands Down’ on June 2nd, 2015 and have been playing all over the world in support of the release. They played European festivals Wacken Open Air, Free & Easy, Bloodstock, and Alcatraz Metal Fest this year, in addition to scattered dates throughout the U.S. The band is getting geared up to go back to Europe, with dates scheduled in the Netherlands and Germany in December.
The show was off to a great start with the album title and first single, “Win Hands Down,” followed by Armored Saint classic “March of the Saint,” which got fans riled up, pounding their fists in the air while singing along to the chorus. For the third song in, they took us to 1985 with the heavy guitar driven “Long Before I Die.” Frontman John Bush introduced the next song, “Exercise in Debauchery.” John mentioned that they recently put out a video for the song, which tells a story of its own and is full of symbolism and comic strip style bubble words. I just love the catchy dual guitar intro that Phil Sandoval and Jeff Duncan play for this song too!
Gonzo Sandoval started out the drums for “Stricken by Fate,” and John said that they hadn’t played that song in a long time. Then they actually gave us a special treat and played new song “Muscle Memory” live for the first time ever!
One of the things I love so much about Armored Saint is they are all masters in their field. They are completely connected to their instruments, the audience, and each other, simultaneously. It seems most bands may have one or two of these techniques mastered, but each band member of Armored Saint has mastered all three, and gives 110% when they are live onstage.
“Symbol of Salvation” was another crowd favorite with metal fans singing along and pumping their fists in the air. John Bush dedicated “Aftermath” to the people who lost their lives and were injured during the tragedy in France.
The last two songs before the encore were “Left Hook From Right Field,” the only song of the night off of their 2010 release ‘La Raza,’ and “Reign of Fire,” another fist-pumping sing-along. I have to admit, I would have loved to have heard an additional song or two off of the ‘La Raza’ CD, especially “Chilled” or “Little Monkey.” We had a very special surprise guest come onstage for the encore. John Bush’s son Giuseppe, who I believe is about eight year’s old, played guitar on “Can U Deliver” and helped out on vocals for the last song of the night, “Mad House.”
Overall, Armored Saint put on a high-energy rock show, complete with shredding guitars, blistering bass, and the entire front line covering all areas of the stage. Make sure to pick up Armored Saint’s most recent release ‘Win Hands Down’ and catch them live when they’re in your town! They do deliver!
In closing, I’d like to give a huge shoutout to Las Vegas resident Jeff Duncan! Jeff was wearing a red custom Metal Babe Mayhem shirt onstage and using an Al Bane for Leather guitar strap… The perfect combination!