Gramercy Theatre, New York, NY
May 23, 2013
Concert Review: Red at Gramercy Theatre
SiriusXM channel ‘Octane’ has become the nation’s number one source for hard rock music amid the decline of terrestrial radio and as such, the station has been among the biggest proponents of Nashville rock band Red. It was only fitting perhaps that out to introduce the band to the New York City audience for the first time since the fall of 2011 was Octane disc jockey Kayla Riley, whose energetic interlude only invigorated an already excitable crowd as they awaited the band to take center stage. Touring on the heels of their latest release- February’s “Release the Panic”- Red pulled the finest tracks from each of their four studio albums, coupling their extraordinary light show with a vigorous live performance that spanned the entirety of their 75 minute set.
Fans began chanting the name “Red” in unison leading toward the band’s eventual arrival. The stage was set up as an arena rock show, albeit on a smaller scale- risers for each of the band members to perch atop were placed in front of an elaborately decorated, graffiti inspired set and the aforementioned colorfully ornate light show. Like a whirlwind, the band jolted on stage to the roar of the assembled audience, opening with the unrelenting new tracks “If We Only” and “Faceless.” While much of the band’s set would encompass their latest release, choice favorites like “Mystery of You,” the wild-as-all-get-out “Let Go,” and the melodic “Already Over” proved to be essential crowd favorites for a riled up audience looking for their own type of release.
From the back of the standing room only floor, the band’s live performance is one that captures some of its intense imagery as the fluttering of colored lights illuminate the wildly moving arms of drummer Joe Rickard with every cymbal crash and frontman Michael Barnes’ agility in pounding his skull feverishly or passionately leaping on and off each riser with unmistakable fervor. Following a short but fun drum solo that sampled DJ Khaled’s “All I Do Is Win,” the band ran us on a roller coaster ride from the fast and catchy (“Death of Me”) to the acoustically stripped and slowed down (“Not Alone”), but the main set closer “Feed the Machine” was a guitar fueled rock filled romp that didn’t slow down until the band was literally offstage awaiting their encore.
The foursome returned to the stage with a fury for “Release the Panic” and show closer “Breathe Into Me,” the head pounding single that initially put the band on the musical map. The crowd grabbed every opportunity to sing along with Barnes as he stuck his mic toward their watching eyes, with most in attendance having a difficult time corralling their enthusiasm while bouncing around in place. While Red is labeled a Christian rock act, you’d never realize it solely by listening to their heavy brand of music. But on this night, Barnes held nothing back mentioning their belief in a “higher power,” specifically mentioning “Jesus Christ” by name. Perhaps they were inspired by the New York City turnout or perhaps it’s become a staple at their live shows, but either way, no one in the house seemed to mind the religious overtones- they had too much energy left for the music and opted not to waste it on being judgmental of the band’s beliefs. And to their credit, by the end of the performance, Red had managed to extract every last bit of it from each of them.
- Jane Van Arsdale