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Concert Reviews:
Godsmack's return powers Uproar Festival opener at DTE
 

By GARY GRAFF
Digital First Media, @GraffonMusic

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INDEPENDENCE TOWNSHIP -- A full day of music on Friday, Aug. 15, at the DTE Energy Theatre came down to one simple thing -- how good Godsmack was at the end of the Rockstar Energy Drink Uproar Festival tour's opening date.

The answer, fortunately, was positive.

The Boston quartet is making a comeback of sorts as Uproar's headliner, having emerged from a troubled hiatus with its first new album in four years, "1000hp," which debuted at No. 3 on the Billboard 200 just two days before the show. The return and the presence of new music clearly energized the group and powered a 14-song, 90-minute show that put a satisfying cap on Uproar's eight-and-a-half hours of heavy rock on a sunny and unseasonably mild summer day.

Even though it's just 10 days old, "1000hp" was the pyrotechnic-laden set's centerpiece, with Godsmack drawing five of the show's first eight songs from it -- including the opening "Generation Day," the title track and first single, and "Something Different," which frontman Sully Erna told the exuberant DTE crowd was likely the next single from the album. The number of fans singing along to the new material confirmed how quickly "1000hp" was getting traction with Godsmack's fans, and Erna even crowed at one point that, "We are back, we are feeling better than ever...and we are very excited to have some new music for you guys."

But the old wasn't forgotten, as Erna and company laced the back end of the set with tightly delivered favorites such as "The Enemy," "Straight Out of Line," "Awake," "Speak and "Voodoo." There were familiar Godsmack totems as well, including call-and-response segments during "Keep Away" and "Whatever" and one of rock's more interesting drum solo sections -- actually a full-band segment during which Erna and Shannon Larkin traded off short blasts punctuated by guitarist Tony Rombola and southpaw bassist Robbie Merrill, finishing with a medley jam that featured iconic riffs such as Queen's "We Will Rock You," AC/DC's "Back in Black," Aerosmith's "Walk This Way," Rush's "Tom Sawyer" and more.

Erna, meanwhile, curried plenty of favor by recalling Detroit's longtime support for Godsmack and declaring it "the ultimate rock city in America" -- with so much sincerity that you felt secure he's not going to say the same thing in Chicago on Saturday night.

The Uproar undercard, meanwhile gave Godsmack a strong set-up -- and a run for its money. Seether tore through a straightforward 45 minutes of its own brand of mainstream-friendly rock, with frontman Shaun Morgan in particularly strong and emotive voice and Staind drummer Sal Giancarelli filling in for John Humphrey, who Morgan said was away on a family matter. Seether surprisingly only offered one song, "Words As Weapons," from its new album -- "Isolate and Medicate," which also debuted in the Top 5 -- preferring to focus on proven favorites such as "Gasoline," "Rise Above This," "Fake It," "Remedy" and a rendition of "Broken" performed only by Morgan and bassist Dale Stewart.

Skillet made plenty of noise during its 35 minutes, fortifying its performance with a pair of string players and some light theatrics -- including steam jets and two powered platforms that hoisted the musicians into the air during the songs. And Grand Rapids' Pop Evil opened the mainstage with a short (25 minutes) but impactful set highlighted by "Tenches," "Deal With the Devil" and "Torn To Pieces" -- the three No. 1 Mainstream Rock chart hits from the quintet's latest album, "Onyx."



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