Jon Oliva's Pain - LIVE: The Garage, London 2012

25th Anniversary Tour
July 15 (21:00-22:40)
Capacity 630

Having announced a tour to celebrate the 25 year anniversary of Savatage's Hall of The Mountain King and the 15th anniversary of the self-titled Doctor Butcher album many months ago, by the time it eventually arrived the shows were highly anticipated everywhere.

Originally the tour was meant to showcase material from both albums alongside other Savatage classics and songs from the Jon Oliva's Pain catalogue, with the help of a special guest. It was obvious the guest was to be Chris Caffery, who as well as playing in Savatage was also Jon's partner in Doctor Butcher. His name was never officially announced though, and in the end he didn't actually take part. Because of that all but one Doctor Butcher song were stripped from the set, turning it into a celebration of Hall of The Mountain King only.

The tour was to start in Jon's home state of Florida with a show filmed for DVD release, and besides the missing Doctor Butcher songs, the setlist was everything that had been promised. But it was too long for Europe because of a combination of curfews being quite rightly more prevalent than in the United States, and most stops of the tour having too many support bands involved, so every night several songs had to be cut.

So by the time the tour came to an end in London it already had its fair share of problems. Two support bands that most fans weren't interested in later JOP took the stage and introduced two more problems. First off, for whatever reason, they barely had any of their own equipment with them. Christopher Kinder was having to make do with a small, borrowed drum kit, and Jon Oliva was without any kind of sustain pedal for the keyboards, which meant the cutting of Tonight He Grins Again from the planned setlist. On top of that, from more or less the first song onwards, Jon began drinking from a bottle of vodka, leading to his voice drastically deteriorating as the show went on. Add to that the strange choice to drop all of the JOP songs from the set, including from their new album Festival, and play exclusively Savatage songs save the one Doctor Butcher track, and the show became a bit of a shambles.

Things were mostly saved by the undeniable quality of the Savatage material, and it was surprising to see Jon in such good spirits despite all the problems they were having that day with late soundchecking/arrival etc. but the condition his voice was in after five or so songs was unforgiveable. How good he sounded covering Deep Purple's Child In Time in the encore was therefore remarkable, but as he grated his way through imperious closer Believe the previous moment of glory was quickly erased.

It's a shame that after having to wait so long to see JOP in the UK again (their only other appearance being six years ago at the ProgPower UK Festival), no JOP songs were played and Jon ruined his voice with drink. For most it was still thrilling to hear the Savatage classics played live again, but really this just wasn't good enough.

“ voice drastically deteriorating ”

Setlist: Sirens / Gutter Ballet / Edge of Thorns / Don't Talk To Me / Power of The Night / Ghost In The Ruins / 24 Hrs. Ago / Beyond The Doors of The Dark / Legions / Strange Wings / The Price You Pay / White Witch / Devastation / Prelude To Madness / Hall of The Mountain King // Child In Time / Believe

Photo(s): Andy Lye

Written by Andy Lye
More: 2012, Gigs, Heavy Metal, ,

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