Symphony X and Haken brought progressive metal to Denver, Colorado at The Oriental Theater. 05-23-22

 

 

 

Symphony X and Haken brought progressive metal to Denver, Colorado at The Oriental Theater. US progressive metal giant Symphony X has finally returned to Denver on their 25th Anniversary tour. The last time Symphony X made a tour stop in Denver was in 2011. The Oriental Theater was a packed house of progressive metal fans finally able to see one of their favorite bands after a decade-long drought. Popular UK progressive metal band Haken and Diana Studenberg’s Trope opened for Symphony X.

The L.A.-based group is self-described as “alternative rock with progressive elements.” Trope usually is a quartet. For this tour, it’s just actress/singer Diana Studenberg and guitarist/producer Moon Head with some prerecorded instrumental in filling in the gaps on some songs. Trope’s stripped-down show was a great beginning to a fun prog evening.  They started precisely at seven with their beautiful, emotionally driven tunes. The packed audience at The Oriental Theater audience was mesmerized and enchanted by Studenberg’s vocals. Her vocals remind me of singer Julianne Regan from the 80’s goth band, All About Eve. The music from Moon Head is a blend of A Perfect Circle/Tool and Alter Bridge with some Evanescence.

Trope’s first song was the 2019 single, “Lambs.” Dreamy vocals against some very intricate but distant guitar playing. The whole song was a journey with Studenberg guiding the audience through an emotional experience.  “Pleteau,” “Privateer,” and “Surrogate” followed after “Lambs.” Each song, like the first, was an emotional journey. They ended the emotional atmosphere with their most popular single, “Pareidolia.” “Pareidolia” had the most progressive elements with multiple time signature changes and moody dynamics. Trope’s music is must relisten because there is so much going on within their music and Studenberg’s lyrics.

 

Band:

Diana Studenberg – vocals

Moon Head – guitar

 

 

Setlist:

1.) Lambs

2.) Plateau

3.) Privateer

4.) Surrogate

5.) Planes

6.) Breach

7.) Pareidolia

 

 

For fans of progressive rock/metal music, Haken was next. After a quick set change, Haken came on stage and played an hour-long set. The popular UK progressive band has evolved into a Baskin Robbin’s ice cream of prog-metal, electronic pop, and anthemic rock. Haken could be considered the U.K. version of early Opeth or the current releases by Caligula’s Horse. Most of the songs came from their 2020 album, Virus. This would be the first time hearing these songs live for Haken’s fans because of the pandemic.

They kicked off the show with two tracks from Virus, “Prosthetic” and “Invasion.” “Prosthetic” is a very guitar-driven track with some 80’s thrash riffs but with some eccentric rhythmic twists and turns. This was followed by “Invasion.” Both songs are part of the album, Virus’s psychological themes of the backstory to Haken’s “Cockroach King” character from their 2013 album, Mountain.

Before playing fan favorite, “Cockroach King,” Haken played their just-released single, “Nightingale.” “Nightingale” is the progression of the Haken sound with delicate harmonic parts to heavy monstrous riffs by guitarist Richard Henshall and Ross Jennings’ soaring vocals. It’s a song that sounds better heard live. Jennings came back to the stage wearing his neon light glasses for another fan favorite, “1985”. This was their homage to the prog-rock kings, Yes, in the song “1985.” They even have a callout to “Owner of a Lonely Heart” in the middle of the song. Haken closed the set with a third track from Virus, “Carousel.”

Haken is the Rush equivalent of playing as close to perfect in a live setting. From playing incredibly intricate music with effortlessness to the impeccable vocals of Jennings, they played an impressive mind-blowing set. Even though most of the audience was here to see Symphony X, there was a strong contingent of Haken fans. I believe in their minds that Haken outperformed Symphony X tonight.

 

Band:

Ross Jennings – vocals

Richard Henshall – guitars

Raymond Hearne – drums

Peter Jones – keyboards

Charles Griffiths – guitars

Conner Green – bass

 

 

Setlist:

1.) Prosthetic

2.) Invasion

3.) Nightingale

4.) Cockroach King

5.) Nil by Mouth

6.) 1985 (With ‘Owner of a Lonely Heart’ callout at 5:46 of original track)

7.) Carousel

 

 

As a fan of Symphony X, it was exhilarating to finally see one of my favorite American progressive metal after Queensryche. Russell Allen is one of rock’s best vocalists with his extensive vocal range. He is easily one of the most powerful and consistent singers in metal today. Michael Romeo is the equivalent of Yngwie Malmsteen without the ego. Few metal bands have been able to keep their lineup the same. Except for some early changes, Symphony X’s lineup has remained the same for the last twenty years. Backing up Romeo and Allen are Michael Pinnella on keys, drummer Jason Rullo, and Michael Lepond on bass.

Russell Allen had a great time tonight performing to fans, friends, and family in the audience. New Jersey’s Symphony X put on a tour de force 90-minute set of their classic material from their 25-year history. Symphony X began the 25th Anniversary Tour with the classic track from Underworld, “Nevermore.” It is a perfect song to start as it references songs from the classic Symphony X album, The Divine Wings of Tragedy. Russell Allen came on the stage in dark sunglasses to the screams and cheers of the audience. He looked happy to be singing live again with his musical family. The fans sang along to “Nevermore,” as they knew it by heart.

The audience at The Oriental Theater was singing along, and headbanging to every song played tonight. There was even a small mosh pit. There were songs from almost every Symphony X album, including “Evolution (The Grand Design),” “Serpent’s Kiss,” “Sea of Lies,” “When All is Lost,” and “Set the World on Fire (The Lie of Lies).” I was thrilled to be singing along to my favorite song from Underworld, “Without You.”  Symphony X fans were having a fun Monday evening.

The night’s last song before the encore was “Set the World on Fire (The Lie of Lies).” After the band left the stage, the audience began to scream for “The Odyssey.”  The band obliged with the 24-minute epic as their encore. This is the definition of symphonic progressive metal at its finest. There are beautiful lyrics and incredible vocal acrobats by Allen. Intensive intricate solos by Romeo with orchestral passages telling a musical story.  Every band member had a solo part in the spotlight through the 24-minute epic. This was a perfect ending to an immaculate night of progressive metal.

The touching moment came near the end of “The Odyssey.” He gave a big hug to Michael Romeo as “the brother he never had.” Russell Allen followed by introducing every member of Symphony X.  He then introduces friends and fellow band members from his Trans-Siberian Orchestra group and family watching from the balcony.  Symphony X and Haken captivated the Denver audience with their technical ability and personal charisma tonight. I think after a seven-year hiatus, Symphony X is coming back to regain their title as progressive metal kings. Symphony X and Haken are some of today’s biggest progressive metal bands. Don’t miss this progressive metal concert experience.

 

Band:

Michael Romeo − guitars

Russell Allen − vocals

Michael Pinnella − keyboards

Jason Rullo – drums

Michael Lepond − bass

 

 

Setlist:

1.) 25th Anniversary Intro (taped)

2.) Nevermore

3.) Evolution (The Grand Design)

4.) Serpent’s Kiss

5.) Sea of Lies

6.) Without You

7.) When All is Lost

8.) Kiss of Fire

9.) Run With the Devil

10.) Set the World on Fire (The Lie of Lies)

Encore:

11.) The Odyssey

 

 

 

 

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Hi, I'm a professional photographer based in Colorado Springs, Colorado. I started to take photos at concerts because I get bored very easy and need something to do while watching a musicians or bands perform. So I started taking my point and shoot camera with me and recording what I saw and to show my friends. At first, the camera was just a photographic diary of my concert experience. But after a while I started liking the quality of my shots and concert photography became my hobby. I decided to post my pictures on instagram and facebook. I think fans liked what they saw and started to follow me. Concert photography became my passion and finally I asked All Music Magazine if I could take photos for them. They like my concert photography Instagram page and that opened the door to a whole new area - the photo pit. Now I am happy to say I’m chasing my photography dream - as a professional concert photographer.

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