Ok. Jeff Waters, Belgrade, Savatage… When? Hm… Think! Just think! Nothing! I hope this decrease in ability to think and remember does not lead to dementia. But, on November 11, 2019, the road led me straight to Annihilator’s “Tour for the Demented” in Novi Sad.
Let’s try to recall my memory once again. Besides with Savatage, I have seen Jeff couple of times with Annihilator, last time in Budapest in… Damn! Here we go again! Ok, ok, if I can’t remember the year I can remember they have played with Death Angel and Testament. Is there still hope I am not demented?
Can we say this condition is caused by sleepless night and hard day at work in my madhouse? If we agree, you can continue reading. If not, you are just wasting your time reading something that possibly did not happen, cause writer is a bit demented.
So, Monday, November 11, 2019, Remembrance Day. Instead of remembering victims of the First World War, we have annihilation. What an irony!
Since all gigs were relocated from Belgrade to Novi Sad in past few years, if you have no car, or you simply can’t drive, if you have a job and can’t take a day off, than, going on gigs during the week can turn to real nightmare. The last bus you can catch from Novi Sad to Belgrade leaves at 22:10 sharp, so in the best case you will hear only support bands. Luckily, we have developed our own strategy that always leads us to shows and back in one piece, more or less ready for work. I thought since I have free day, I could sleep longer and go to Novi Sad fresh, but it just didn’t happen. My neighbor decided it is great day to drill in dawn, so hello sunshine! By the time I left Belgrade, I was so tired that I could only fight with myself to stay awake. We arrived 40 minutes earlier. Is that a chance to wake myself up? First coffee shop, and as large hot chocolate I can get, please! I know for normal people it has no sense at all, but trust me, chocolate is the best cure ever! Ok, I am ready! Let the show begin!
Pleasant surprise! Straight from sunny California, trio Archer Nation showed us that there is a lot more in California besides sun and parties. Those guys are serious talents! Dylan Rosenberg’s guitar skills are at very high level. His passion, motivation and interaction with fans are for the best marks. Not far behind him is drummer Keyhan Moini whose facial expression speaks more than thousand words. Unfortunately, Dave De Silva seemed to be a bit tired, but as time was passing buy his mood was improving and he became more active. Overall, the band sound better live than on recordings. Well done, boys!
Short break and there they were! Led by Jeff Waters, Annihilator started their set with “Betrayed”. I have always known Jeff is like ping pong ball, bouncing on stage, but this was the first time I was photographing him. After few shots, I thought I will get epileptic seizure. From the first to the last riff, that man, who was complaining how old he is (53), showed he has energy of teenager on speed. During the show, we have seen/heard he is very well spokesman, with a great sense of humor. When fans were screaming: “We want more!”, he answered in his own style:
You want your mum? I want my mummy too. Not my actual mummy, but… It seems some of you get my stupid sense of humor.
Introducing band members, Jeff focused on young Fabio Alessandrini. As the youngest band member, the price you pay is to be mocked, right? And if you have ever wondered how Jeff picked him for a band, the answer is simple:
He is cooking pasta in tour bus every night!
What a great recommendation in drummer’s CV!
Remembering the good old days, Jeff said that the first Annihilator’s shows were far from the current shows. Randy Rampage was the wildest one, while others were standing behind him, just like AC/DC. Over the time, they have changed, so today they act like crazy.
During the show, Jeff was not “criticizing” only the youngest band member, but himself too. Besides complaining how old he is, how tired he is since Annihilator is touring for almost two months, he noticed that it can be good for his body shape. He has lost about 15 to 20 pounds. Here is the solution for me! Form the band, go on tour at least for two months and you have the result! Weight loss!
I can’t exactly recall set list, but does it really matter? I could take a few shots of set list taped on stage, but I was afraid if Jeff kicks my head jumping around, it would be really bad. Not for my head, but for the camera. I have no money to buy new one, so let’s not take a risk this time.
I remember “Set the World on Fire”, than nothing and than again drum solo, few jokes, of course, aimed to Fabio , and “Knight Jumps Queen” that was dedicated to, as Jeff announced:
All the girls, woman here…
Of course, you can not miss “Twisted Lobotomy”, “Tricks and Traps” and the song the band like to play the most is, if you had no idea “Phantasmagoria”. One more “fun fact”. When Jeff asked fans do they know his favorite band, he simply answered:
Slayer. And Van Halen (laugh). When people are listening to Annihilator, they have fun, they are happy, with smile on their faces. When they are listening Slayer they are angry, ready to fight. So, that is why metal is the best music in the world. It takes you from one to complete another emotion.
Announcing “Psycho Ward” Jeff said:
You are supposed to be a nice person and not hater. You don’t want anyone to die. But there’s always that one person in your life you’d hit by truck.
Only one? Jeff, I am nice person, but in my head I see at least five people under that truck, and all rule this country, so just guess…
Jeff spoke about new album. How hard it is to make a new… Counting on his fingers… Seventeenth album! Of course, consult band members! Involve them in songwriting! Ask them for advice! And the advice is, recalling “Never, Neverland” album:
You can’t sing in five voices! Pick one and stick to it!
Speaking of “Never, Neverland”, his favorite album, Jeff added that the band will celebrate 3oth years album anniversary next year, and of course, Fabio can’t celebrate it cause he is only 26. And the celebration will be… Another tour where they will play only “Never, Neverland”.
Announcing “Welcome to the Death”, Jeff tried to provoke fans:
The next one is… “Welcome to my Nightmare”… “Welcome to the Jungle”…
Obviously alluding to Alice Cooper and Guns N’ Roses.
Whenever he thought it might be good, you guess, Jeff mocked young Fabio.
You better make some noise or he’s going to cook you some fucking pasta!
A part of the show was dedicated to late Randy Rampage who will always have special place in Jeff’s heart. I will paraphrase Jeff’s words, cause they need to be heard:
Randy was a punk rocker. You might have heard, he has been in a band D.O.A. There was a guy, his fan, who have traveled up to Seattle, Washington, up north to Canada, Vancouver, just to hear him. Than guy was Duff McKagan…
Randy hated “Alison Hell”. It was too commercial song…
But, at the end….
We can not leaving any venue without playing this song. But this is the part I like because I got to dedicate this to Randy. Because he hated the song so-fuck you Randy! You punk rock bastard! So, this one is for Randy specifically. But, we know a lot of people like this song.
What else it could be if not “Alison Hell”?
If I could describe in one word not only Jeff but the rest of the band, it would not be demented but mental! I do not believe he has choose Fabio cause he cooks Italian dishes, or anyone else cause their secret talents. He choose them cause their energies are compatible and their insanity is at the same level. Closest to Jeff’s energy is Aaron Keay Homma. Just pay attention on his facial expression and you will know what am I talking about.
So, what do you say now? After I recall and quoted Jeff, do you still think I am demented? Ok, I still can not recall those years. I could take a peak at tickets, but it would be cheating, right?
Anyway, this one was the best Annihilator concert I have ever seen, so than you Jeff, than you Aaron, thank you Rich and of course, thank you Fabio!
It would not be fer if I would skip the rest of the crew, Annihilator’s team, organizers and fans… Truly, one of the best concerts I have seen in Serbia! Congrats!
And I must tell you, I saw pizza delivery in front of tour bus. So, if that is Fabio’s secret, I can be chef one day! Or a drummer.