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Armored Saint Delivers in Santa Clara

The old cliché, "absence makes the heart grow fonder," is pretty much a way of life for fans of Armored Saint. The band, up in the Bay Area for the first time since 2006, hit the stage at The Avalon in Santa Clara, Calif., on Oct. 16, performing a spirited one-off gig in support of La Raza, its first album in more than a decade.

Kicking things off with "Loose Cannon," one of the more aggressive cuts off of La Raza, Armored Saint showed no signs of rust. The members then ripped through older classics "Can U Deliver?" and "Nervous Man" before vocalist John Bush welcomed the enthusiastic crowd. The self-effacing frontman jokingly acknowledged a fan's comment about him having hair the last time the band put out an album before introducing another new song off La Raza, "Head On."

To Armored Saint's credit, the new material, which represented one-third of the set, fit in seamlessly with the old standards, receiving close to the same response from the crowd. The band's drum tech joined them on bongos for the tribal-infused "La Raza," and the rocker "Tribal Dance," from the group's 1991 release, Symbol of Salvation, during the middle of the set.

The band, comprised of Bush, bassist Joey Vera, drummer Gonzo Sandoval, guitarist Jeff Duncan and guitarist Phil Sandoval, performed as if they were entertaining an arena, making the most of the Avalon's stage for a crowd in the hundreds. Most impressive however, was not the number of people in attendance, but the makeup of the audience. For every rocker with a thinning hairline or wearing 1980s denim jackets in the crowd, someone in their 20s was there headbanging beside them, a clear indicator that Armored Saint's music has withstood the test of time since its debut in 1983.

Closing the set was a trio of older songs, including the band's signature cut, "March of the Saint." After a short break, Armored Saint came back on to perform "Chilled" from La Raza, a song about accepting life as it comes at middle age, before upping the tempo with "Reign of Fire." Taking hold of its thrash metal roots, Armored Saint ended the 80-minute show with "Madhouse," a fitting closer that inspired the crowd to create an old school mosh pit that swarmed the floor of the venue.

Set list: Loose Cannon, Can U Deliver?, Nervous Man, Head On, Left Hook From Right Field, Creepy Feelings, Last Train Home, La Raza, Tribal Dance, False Alarm, Raising Fear, March of the Saint, Chilled, Reign of Fire, Madhouse.

Armored Saint (with Bomb Scary, Imagika)
Oct. 16, 2010
The Avalon
Santa Clara, Calif.

- Brian Heaton

Armored Saint throwing it down at The Avalon in Santa Clara, Calif.
(Brian Heaton/Oct. 16, 2010)

Joey Vera (bass guitar) and John Bush (vocals) on stage at The
Avalon in Santa Clara, Calif. (Brian Heaton/Oct. 16, 2010)

Copyright 2010, Brian Heaton. All Rights Reserved.