at The Pearl Room, Mokena Illinois, USA, July 22, 2007

A little town called Mokena (a southwestern suburb of Chicago, Illinois) inside the USA is quickly becoming a hotspot for some of the best Metal in the Midwestern States. A two-story, 2,000 capacity, general admission bar called the Pearl Room is booking some of the best European-based Metal acts that most Midwestern USA citizens might ever have a chance to see including; Epica, Firewind, Edguy, Therion, King Diamond, and many more. Tonight, though, on this humid Saturday, in front of a meager mixed crowd of adults and teenagers, this stage belonged to the Power Progressive riffs of America’s own Symphony X. Riding shotgun on this night was another new and on-the-rise American Metal act called Sanctity.


Opening for a mega-size act like Symphony X and the up-and-coming Sanctity is no easy chore; especially for what was this night billed as an “all ages show.” Concert arrangers deemed it a necessity to try to cram four acts into the tiny window of a total of five and a half hours, as an 11:30 pm curfew is the “rule” of some bureaucrats somewhere in Mokena and/or its county.

First up was Chicago’s own Sacred Dawn, which deserve an honorable mention as they were well-received by the home crowd. Sacred Dawn is poised to make some “noise” in the Metal community as they continue to support some of the best acts at the Pearl Room. Additionally, they’ve been confirmed to have a track appearance on the compilation disc for ProgPower USA VIII this fall.


Francine Boucher Live 2007At 6:50 pm, led by the sultry, blonde, female vocalist Francine Boucher, Echoes Of Eternity made the best of a dauntingly small stage and relatively small crowd. Their form of aggressive Metal seemed to be well-received by a particularly patient crowd. Francine covered the stage in a commanding fashion, belting out her vocals with confidence alongside the band’s commendable musicianship.

The “boys” did a good job of letting Francine cover the stage while she attracted the full attention of all the testosterone in the crowd. Let’s face it; what could be more appealing to a youth in his prime other than a blonde, good looking female who also performs Metal? By set’s end, Echoes Of Eternity managed to leave a good impression after playing for a mere 30 minutes and having to deal with a tightly packed stage and moderate sound volume.


Jared Live 2007Call it “paying their dues” or just a strong attention to detail … but every member of Sanctity came onto the stage ten minutes or so prior to their official on-stage arrival to perform their own final sound check. It was evident that enough concertgoers in attendance weren’t familiar with Sanctity because initially this didn’t solicit much of a reaction. At one point, drummer Jeremy had so much going on during his sound check of his bass and snare drums that fans started cheering in between beats as if Jeremy had a drum solo going on.

Finally, leaving (temporarily) and then retaking the stage “officially” at 7:50 pm, Sanctity was blessed with having the volume cranked higher than the acts that had preceded them, and thankfully so. Sanctity’s brand of fun, Thrashy music is by no means meant to be played at low volumes!

Somewhere towards the end of the band’s six song set, the teenagers in attendance started “moshing,” as if giving acknowledgement and the highest form of praise to Sanctity’s fine performance tonight. With only a debut album to feed off of, Sanctity made certain that the two most popular tracks, “Zeppo” and “Beneath The Machine,” were left for last and were delivered with fervor. Sanctity was certainly one of those bands that one could only wonder how much better they might be on a larger, perhaps headlining stage.

Before playing the set’s capper in “Beneath The Machine,” vocalist Jared proclaimed that the band would be back and you can be certain that fans walked away from this night looking forward to that glorious return. In the end, fans got to see something that will definitely flourish into something much larger in the near future!


Michael Romeo Live 2007 With the local city’s curfew in effect, headliner Symphony X was slated to go on at the early hour of 9 PM, which perhaps signifies one of the earliest timeslots for this band after nightfall.

When the lights dimmed and the blue/purple hued spotlights highlighted the stage’s backdrop, a stunning reproduction of the new album’s cover artwork, there was no doubting that the tailor-made “Oculus Ex Inferno” would be piped through the PA. No less stunning was how the band masterfully and effortlessly cut a swath by playing the first four full cuts off their latest opus, Paradise Lost, in order of appearance on the album. For those fans in attendance that hadn’t heard the new album, they certainly missed something special as the band’s live energy on these tracks surpassed the energy of the studio tracks.

Not content to rest on their laurels, the band plowed right into the high energy track “Inferno (Unleash The Fire)” off of their The Odyssey release. This certainly pleased the crowd as fans joined in, on cue, to sing along with Allen on most of the song. Sadly, perhaps due to a shortened set list, the band chose not to play anything of the V release, and instead, perhaps rightfully so, dedicating most of the night to Paradise Lost.

Each facet of the band seemed to be firing on all cylinders this night. Russell Allen was commanding as ever showing why he’s one of the best “front men” in the business. At one point, the adrenaline rose so high, perhaps in part to the sporadic “moshing” through the entire set, that Allen fell forward, arms spread, into the crowd, entrusting fans to catch him. Michael Romeo, while a recognized guitar “hero,” tends to stray from the spotlight. On this night, Michael appeared on stage with his long, frizzy locks and a look all dressed in black, wearing white shoes, which inspired memories of Yngwie’s younger days. While both guitarists have different forms of execution, Romeo was no less effective than Yngwie on this night.

A highlight of the evening was certainly when the band ended their set, said their preliminary “good-byes” and the lights once again dimmed. Instead of chanting something appropriate and typical, like perhaps “S-Y-M-P-H-O-N-Y-X,” the crowd immediately resorted to “O-D-Y-S-S-E-Y” … over and over again. It was pure magic when Allen appeared on stage once again and consoled the fans with reassurances that the band was definitely going to play the entire “The Odyssey” suite as the encore.

Bottom line, if you get the opportunity to see Symphony X on this tour, by all means do whatever is necessary (and legal), to get into the show … you won’t be disappointed!! Two thumbs up, especially for playing on a less than stellar main stage in comparison to what European fans will be graced with when the band supports Dream Theater!

Set The World On Fire * Domination * Serpent’s Kiss * Paradise Lost * Inferno (Unleash The Fire) * Smoke And Mirrors * Walls Of Babylon * Sea Of Lies * Sins And Shadows * (Encore) The Odyssey


  • Scott Jeslis

    Scott is one of the partners at Metal Express Radio. He handles a lot of Metal Express Radio's public relations, screening of new music and radio scheduling. On occasion, he also does reviews and interviews. He has been a proud member of the Metal Express Radio crew since 2004.

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