In the faraway land of New York State (US) is a giant egg-shaped landmark where the craziest mix of live performances takes place year-round. Nearly all 982 seats at The Egg are filled for Sully Erna, the former lead singer of Godsmack, who has just released his first solo album, ‘Avalon’.
Before taking the stage, the audience is treated to a five-minute multimedia exploration of sound and how we interact with it, which honestly feels a little bit like a hyped-up science lesson…featuring some rock stars. The set includes numerous blue lights and faux LED candles, which sets the tone for the show and keeps it grounded. Once Erna gets on to the stage, it becomes clear that this is not your typical hard and heavy rock show. He and his band waste no time getting into the opening song and title track off of ‘Avalon’. This and many of the other songs are reminiscent of previous Godsmack hits like ‘Voodoo’ and Serenity’, as they are driven by more drums than one song should normally be allowed to handle.
Erna changes gears and slows things down for the fourth song and our standout for the evening, ‘My Light’, with a visual montage of home videos featuring his infant daughter. Perhaps the most moving piece of the night is ‘Eyes Of A Child’, which features film clips as commentary on the struggles of children in third-world countries. Uniting each song is a strong tribal sound that plays to the depths of the soul – the Indian and Native American imagery only adds to the show’s focus on musical and multicultural exploration.
Opposite Erna on vocals is the powerful and enchanting Lisa Guyer, who takes the lead for a few songs – the sounds that burst from her lungs makes us forget momentarily whose name is on the marquee. Guyer’s voice soars through numerous Indian-inspired melodies layered over throbbing drums and enhanced by her zills (finger cymbals). Each song finds a new place in the musical journey led by Erna and his band. What really blows our collective mind however, is the incredible piano solos by Erna, which are enough to render the rambunctious audience completely silent for moments at a time in awe of his spiritual style of playing.
Each band member shines whether or not they are physically in the spotlight. Bulgarian cellist Irina Chirkova conveys heart-wrenching solos and creates a beautiful sense of melancholy that, when fused with the drumming, pumps soulful life into the performance. Percussionists Niall Gregory of Ireland’s Dead Can Dance and David Stefanelli prove to be the heartbeat of the show, with their strong energy and creativity.
At the end of the show, it becomes painfully obvious that there will be an encore – there is no attempt to turn on the houselights after Erna initially walks off-stage only to return two minutes later, and do a fantastic solo acoustic performance of the aforementioned Godsmack hit ‘Serenity’ that has the audience singing along. Afterward, his full band comes back onstage for a mash-up of Fleetwood Mac’s ‘The Chain’ and The Beatles’ ‘Hey Jude’ that gets the crowd on its feet and yelling even louder. It is without doubt a great way to close the night, with a strong, positive energy that appeals to everyone. It’s quite clear that Erna’s life experience and musical capability carried him through years with Godsmack, and the strength of his solo album proves that he’s still got plenty of life and music to share with us.
For more information visit the official Sully Erna website.