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Concert Reviews:
Disturbed delivers heavy rock and a heavy message at Little Caesars

By Gary Graff
ggraff@medianewsgroup.com, @GraffonMusic on Twitte

Posted: Wednesday, March 6, 2019

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DETROIT -- Disturbed may enjoy "The Sound of Silence," but the heavy rock quartet made plenty of noise on Tuesday night, March 5, at Little Caesars Arena.

Nineteen years into what's been a mostly chart-topping recording career, the Chicago-formed group remains a prototype of what can be right about its genre. During Tuesday's two-hour, 19-song show Disturbed mixed its brand of brawn with musical sophistication and also showed just as much heart, with a deeply felt message that, at appropriate times, even quieted the headbangers into intent listening.

Frontman David Draiman and company have been presenting populist uber-think since their very first single, "Down With the Sickness," but of late Disturbed is focusing even tighter, on what the strong-lunged singer called "the war against the demons of addiction and depression. Starting with a PSA video while the band trouped to a candlelit second stage on the arena floor for performances of "A Reason to Fight" and "Watch You Burn," Draiman lamented that the list of victims "keeps growing," name-checking fellow artists such as Chester Bennington, Scott Weiland, Chris Cornell and, this week, Keith Flint of the Prodigy. "It takes an army to fight a war, ladies and gentleman," Draiman said, "and even though we've lost some soldiers, there are many more battles to be fought."

Draiman led the Little Caesars crowd in a pledge to be mindful and intervene when they encountered situations and provided phone numbers for addiction and suicide prevention hotlines on the screen. Draiman also returned to theme for an encore version of "The Light," underscoring the song's message of hope -- while also inviting a family of four to join the band on stage and watch the song from special cushions near Mike Wengren's drum kit.

Disturbed's show was hardly an entirely sober affair, however. Following an hour-long opening set by Canada's Three Days Grace -- which included a bit of the White Stripes' "Seven Nation Army" -- Disturbed hit hard with "Are You Ready," whipping up circular mosh pits in the crowd as it pounded through "Prayer," "The Vengeful One," "The Animal," "Stupify," its cover of "Land of Confusion," "Ten Thousand Fists," the politically charge "No More" and the industrial-strength "The Game" from its latest album, "Evolution." Draiman, guitarist Dan Donegan and bassist John Moyer covered plenty of ground on a tri-level, arrowhead-style stage that jutted into the center of the arena, their performance bolstered by lasers and fire and pyrotechnic effects -- including a network of flaming ropes that hung from the lighting rig at the end of "Inside the Fire."

During the gentle "Hold on to Memories" Disturbed presented a sentimental photo and video montage of its career, including family photos. And its hit version of Simon & Garfunkel's "The Sound of Silence" was masterfully staged, too, with Donegan on a grand piano, Wengren playing timpani and a pair of string players helping build the rendition into a crunchy crescendo.

Disturbed has clearly, as its latest album title boasts, evolved during nearly two decades, and clearly for the better. But on Tuesday it also reminded fans that the heavy rock band at its heart is intact -- and as intense as ever.

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