Omaha band The Clincher was the first to take the stage. I will admit I knew next to nothing about the band before last night. They had a strong performance, and I would be interested in checking them out a little bit more. Vocalist Lori Piper was the main draw with her ability to change her vocal style from a soft croon to a blood-curdling shriek quickly.
Kill Ritual was next, and I was able to get a little bit of information from the Metal Archives on them, though I feel that information needs to be corrected. The band is much more of a power metal band than a thrash metal band. The riffs were definitely not all that thrashy and the vocals were the driving force. They were catchy enough at the time, but not terribly memorable.
Up next was Sanctuary, a band who has hit some major hardship recently. Legendary vocalist Warrel Dane died suddenly while the band was in Brazil on tour in December. Somehow, the band managed to find a replacement singer to continue with their commitments, and that singer does do a hell of a Dane impression. After overcoming a few sound issues (we were treated to a very loud bass solo randomly), the band performed an incredible set that covered all of their albums. I recently discovered Sanctuary's early albums before forming Nevermore and kicked myself for not looking into them earlier. The performance was of course dedicated to the departed Dane.
Iced Earth finally took the stage and they were absolutely incredible. The band is celebrating 30 years of releasing material under the name "Iced Earth". Of course, guitarist Jon Schaffer is the only continuous member of the band during all of that time, with a variety of other members over the years. Of particular note is that Stu Block, formerly of the underrated Into Eternity, has been the singer for the last few years. Block does a shockingly good job performing a number of songs that were originally written for Matt Barlow. I was a little disappointed there were no tracks from the Ripper Owens era. I think Block could have handled them well. They played songs from all eras of their history. The biggest surprise for me was seeing Schafer himself sing on "Stormrider" from the band's first album. I was not overly impressed with the new songs from last year's album, but a lot of the other songs were great. Iced Earth really does put on a terrific live performance and a lot more people should have been there to see them.
The highlight of the night from my wife's perspective was likely the compliments she received about her clothes and the fact that another woman acknowledged to her that it was nice to see another woman there. She has long referred to metal concerts as sausage parties.