Newsted’s back! I’m sure that some would argue that with all of his post-Metallica projects over the years … Echobrain, Ozzy, Voidvod, Papa Wheelie, painting (rumor has it that there’s an Indian Jones-style warehouse piled high with hundreds of pieces) and of course the Metallica 30th anniversary events … he never left. But there’s something about stamping his own name on a project that makes it more significant. Oh, and there’s also the “Jason’s Back” shirt at the merch table in case you have doubts.
Kicking off what promises to be an active year of touring, Newsted has booked a number of club shows, including a pair in Walnut Creek, California (not exactly the epicenter of Bay Area metal), to shake off the dust and prepare for bigger things to come.
With a 4 song EP just in the can (Metal), the obvious question for the folks that filled the ~200 person venue was, “what the heck is Jason going to play?” And eyebrows throughout the room were certainly raised when the band took the stage to a rap song which people quickly realized was a “Newsted Rap” before joining in. But from there, it was all metal, all the time with the band kicking off the night with a thumping instrumental which had no introduction but was listed as “Amp” on the setlist before moving into another new tune, “Heroic.”
Backed by Jesus Mendez on drums, J.R. Farnsworth and recent addition Mike Mushok (Staind) on guitar, Newsted took the crowd into more familiar territory with the first single off of the Metal EP, “Soldierhead.” Clearly the right choice for a second guitar, Mushok was nuts on stage, head-banging and jumping all over the place and generally rocking out in a way that he surely never did in Staind. As for Jason, he was clearly pumped to be on stage with the new material, no-doubt looking forward to spreading the metal and at times looking downright giddy. In such an intimate venue, it was infectious.
Jason introduced more new material from the forthcoming album which for which recording has been completed. “Long Time Dead” was a classic thrasher, a ’91’ on the dancability scale according to Mushok and clearly a favorite of the band. “Nocturnus” was the heaviest song of the night … thundering, dark and sludgy … and led one audience member to quip that it should have been on the new Black Sabbath album. After “King of the Underdogs,” Jason led the crowd in the “die, die” chant from Metallica’s “Creeping Death.” At first it felt strange not busting into the “die by my hand …” lyric but the segue into another unreleased song, “Twisted Tail (Tale?) of the Comet,” ended up working well. The band rounded out the main portion of the set with “Whiplash,” which is a song that Jason seems to have made his own after years of singing it live with Metallica and which definitely got the most fervent crowd response of the night.
Returning for the first of two encores, Jason took a seat on the drum kit and played the bass solo from “My Friend of Misery.” For the second encore, the band went off script and inserted another new song in the place of Motorhead’s “Love Me Like A Reptile,” which was performed the previous night before ending with Motorhead’s “Roadcrew.”
All-in-all a powerful 90 minute set … not bad for a band with only a 4 song EP!
Setlist (feel free to comment below if you’d like to help fill in some of the blanks):
- As the Crow Flies
- Long Time Dead
- King of the Underdogs
- Creeping Death “die” chant
- Twisted Tail (Tale?) of the Comet
- Whiplash (Metallica cover)
- My Friend of Misery bass solo
- Spider Biter
- Unreleased Newsted Track
- Roadcrew (Motorhead cover)
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