Concert Review: Shadows Fall @ Starland Ballroom (Sayreville, NJ)

Concert Review: Shadows Fall @ Starland Ballroom (Sayreville, NJ)
Photo credit: Ed Hackimer (@edhack58175)

On Saturday March 16, Massachusetts’ Shadows Fall returned to New Jersey for the first time in nearly a decade to perform 2004’s The War Within in its entirety for the first time as part of the record’s 20th anniversary celebration. The War Within remains arguably the band’s most popular release, though The Art of Balance (released two years prior) is indisputably the release that brought the band the notoriety to launch their decade run at the forefront of the “New Wave of American Heavy Metal”. The performance was the band’s ninth since 2015, and the latest in their post-2021 reunion run of shows.

The event was rightfully billed as a celebration of The War Within, though Shadows Fall opened the show with “Thoughts Without Words” and “Destroyer of Senses” from TAOB. Vocalist Brian Fair was immense all evening, still sporting his trademark body-length dreadlocks and stagediving early in the show, and the band’s energy was palpable from start to finish. The band followed with the title track from Of One Blood, which was rarely performed live until the recent reunion period.

After the opening trio of early material, the band began The War Within portion of the set. However, they chose not to play the songs in track list order.  Although they began with “The Light that Blinds”, “Enlightened by the Cold” did not follow.  Instead, they transitioned into “Act of Contrition” into “Stillness” before playing “What Drives the Weak” and “Enlightened…” back-to-back, which was arguably the highlight of the show. “Inspiration on Demand” and “The Power of I and I” followed, before Fair then commented the band would finish The War Within portion of the set with a trio of songs they have rarely performed live: “Ghosts of Past Failures”, “Eternity is Within”, and “Those Who Cannot Speak.”

After concluding The War Within, the band invited Corey Pierce – drummer of New Jersey’s own God Forbid, which performed with SF numerous times – to play on “Fleshold”, from Somber Eyes to the Sky. The band concluded the show with the Fire From the Sky title track before revisiting “King of Nothing” from Retribution and closing with “Redemption”, the lead track on Threads of Life. Retribution and Threads… are a pair of underrated records and two of the stronger songs from those releases were welcome additions to the setlist.

Photo credit: Steve Vargas (@steve38323)

Jon Donias – wearing a Bon Jovi shirt paying homage to one of New Jersey’s most iconic artists – was fantastic throughout the band’s 17 song performance. As usual, Matt Bachand contributed backing vocals in addition to his guitar duties, while bassist Paul Romanko and titan of a drummer Jason Bittner contributed the rhythm duties. Fair was highly energetic, showing no age in his performance despite noting he had been performing live for two decades but more  sparingly in recent years due to the band’s hiatus.  He was highly complimentary of the Jersey crowd, which matched his intensity for the duration of the band’s performance.  The band chose Starland Ballroom as the venue for this special anniversary show partly due to their fond memories of shows on previous album cycles, beginning with The War Within.

Fair also mentioned the band was in the process of recording and releasing new material, with approximately six songs in process but without a formal release date for a single, EP, or LP. With increased momentum from live performances and studio time, it appears new Shadows Fall music is on the horizon with the possibility of additional dates to celebrate not only The War Within, but fresh material that is distinctively SF while reflecting the band’s creative evolution.

Article & photos by: Steve Vargas (@Steve38323) & Ed Hackimer (@edhack58175)

Great! You’ve successfully signed up.

Welcome back! You've successfully signed in.

You've successfully subscribed to This Day In Metal.

Success! Check your email for magic link to sign-in.

Success! Your billing info has been updated.

Your billing was not updated.