Live Review and Live Photos by Robert Cavuoto
Twitter : @RobertCavuoto
Rob Zombie made a grand entrance at the PNC Art Center in Holmdel, New Jersey July 31st, appearing atop an elevated 15-foot-high platform, donning his trademark long grey-black tangled hair, cowboy hat, and fringed jacket. As soon as the first chord to the opener, “The Triumph of the King Freak,” was struck, the stage was submerged in blue and red lights while frantic images appeared on the screens behind him, pummeling the audience’s senses. It felt as if the PNC arena was instantly dropped into the pit of hell! And so began the spectacle dubbed “Freaks on Parade” for a 21 U.S. city tour with Mudvayne, Static X, and Powerman 5000.
Rob Zombie has been terrifying audiences for over 25 years, not only on stage as a musician but as a cult horror movie director. He is a seven-time Grammy-nominated recording artist who has sold over fifteen million albums worldwide and directed multiple horror films, including House of 1000 Corpses, The Devil’s Rejects, and The Lords of Salem. He also wrote and directed the new Netflix movie, The Munsters, due out this year. Somewhere in-between, Rob has managed to put out a new album every three to five years and tour!
Ravenous worshipers rocked back and forth in unison with fists in the air as the music spiraled out of control. As “The Triumph of the King Freak ” came to a close, the band erupted with “Superbeast” to deliver the perfect one-two punch of the night. Rob danced like a man possessed, delivering song after song with a sense of ferocity like Satan’s locomotive speeding down the track. Before launching into Rob’s newest single, “Shake Your Ass, Smoke Your Grass,” Peter Criss of KISS came out to help fans sing Happy Birthday to John 5.
The 90-minute, 17-song show paid homage to Rob’s solo career and time in White Zombie like with “Thunder Kiss ’65” and “More Human Than Human.” Some of the most impactful moments of the night included a powerful yet eerie performance of “Living Dead Girl,” Beatles cover “Helter Skelter,” and the deceptively heavy encore of “Dragula.” Rob’s undeniable and identifiable gut-wrenching vocals are the perfect pair to his powerful, gruesome songs that marry acid-fueled metal-techno-industrial-hardcore-dance. A musical genre that he created and owns!
Rob and his band of merry madmen John 5 [guitar], Piggy D [bass], and Ginger Fish [drums] never disappoint as their macabre theatrics only get bigger and more grandiose. If you’ve never experienced one of Rob Zombie’s shows, all the mayhem and chaos are choreographed to Rob’s biggest and best songs from the last three decades, like when a 20-foot-tall Devil vibes with the band while Rob shakes his money maker during “Meet the Creeper” and a 20-foot robot dances with the band to “Living Dead Girl.”
The PNC show was halfway through the band’s tour, and they was firing on all cylinders. I had the opportunity to ask Rob how long it takes him and the band to get up to speed for a tour? He replied, “We rehearse more than most bands. We rehearse for three weeks even though the songs sounded perfect after the first day. After a week on the road, the show gets into a groove. I don’t know if the audience can feel it, but we can physically feel it. It’s just the demand of what the show takes on. After that first week, you feel like you can play it forever.”
John 5 added, “I prepare at home. I always go into band rehearsals prepared to do the show. We do it in a big production rehearsal room and rehearse for about six hours a day for five days a week because of screens and production. It’s not about choreography as much knowing not to stand here or there; otherwise, you will get blown up [laughing]!”
Each member of Rob’s band excelled at their craft, with Ginger being the engine of the band. Piggy D is the ambassador between rhythmic drumming and melodic guitar. He provides the simultaneous kick in the ass and the punch in the chest that the songs need to take them over the edge. John 5’s guitar playing abilities are unsurpassed to most guitarists with the perfect combination of technique, style, and diversity. He is a visionary player that can paint music with his playing.
The theatrics at the show are the ribbon that ties these great songs together; without them, the show wouldn’t have the longstanding impact it does. Rob is the stained, bloodied, soiled fabric of Rock & Roll, and he appears to love it. His presence was felt in the hearts of his fans from the first row to the lawn seats.
Rob commands the stage like a rock star and packs the vocal ability that fans expect while embracing that raw grittiness he did since White Zombie. He is the ultimate performer and continuously gives his audience 110% and expects the same from them. Both longtime fans, as well as first-timers, got more than they bargained for this evening with a thrilling show. Rob and his band are musical masters taking pure emotion and angst to turn it into a defiant irreverence celebration. PNC Arena was the epicenter of the carnage as the band took the audience over the musical precipice.
Tickets for the tour can be purchased here: https://robzombie.com/tour-dates