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Shinedown, Skillet bring the Carnival of Madness to Boise

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On Tuesday night the 2013 Carnival of Madness tour rolled into the Treasure Valley, albeit in shortened form. The concert, which took place at the Century Link Arena was headlined by radio favorites, Shinedown, along with Skillet, and We As Human.

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The annual hard rock event is celebrating its fourth year, and as one of the last shows added to the end of the tour, Boise missed out on two of the five acts, Papa Poach and In This Moment. Fortunately, In This Moment will be in town later this fall. The upside of the show’s reduction to a three-band bill was longer set times. Skillet performed almost a full hour, and Shinedown delivered a complete 90-minute set.

Nashville based We As Human kicked off the evening with a 30 minute set of Christian influenced hard rock pulled from the band’s eponymous debut album released earlier this summer. While many in the crowd were unfamiliar with the band, the quintet’s lively performance pulled the audience in. They played a seven-song set which was highlighted by their show closer, and hit single, “Strike Back”. If there was any downside to the band’s performance it was singer Justin Cordle’s voice which was often too distorted to decipher or appreciate.

Fellow Tennessee based Christian hard rockers, Skillet took the stage second. The quartet of husband and wife; John (vocals, bass) and Korey Cooper (guitar, keyboards), alongside drummer Jen Ledger and lead guitarist Seth Morrison lit up the stage with of fury of energy. The band is currently touring in support of its ninth album, “Rise” from which the band showcased four tracks; the title cut, “Sick of It”, “Not Gonna Die” and “Circus for a Psycho”. The group opened the show amid bursts of dry ice cloud funnels with its 2009 hit, “Hero” from their awarding winning album, “Awake” from which they also performed, “Awake and Alive” and their mammoth radio single, “Monster”.

The remainder of the set was pulled from their 2006 record, “Collide”, including the title track, “Whispers in the Dark”, “The Last Night”, and the show closer, “Rebirthing”. Joining the band on stage for much of the show were cellist Tate Olsen and violinist Jonathan Chu. At various times throughout the show band members were elevated high above the stage on small platforms that bookended Ledger’s drum kit. Ledger was an uncaged animal behind her kit, balancing vocal duties with assaulting her drums. In all, Skillet served up a stellar 11-song set that won over fans old and new, myself included.

Shinedown headlines this year’s Carnival of Madness for the second time—the first being the inaugural year in 2010. The Florida quartet is always a phenomenal live experience, and this performance was no different. Taking the stage surrounded by carnival actors and pillars of flame shooting into the air, the multi-platinum selling hard rockers exploded onto the stage. They opened the 15-song set with “I’m Not Alright” and “Enemies”, two of seven songs performed off their most recent album, “Amarylis”. From that chart topping album they also played the title track, “Unity”, “Adrenaline”, “I’ll Follow You”, and the final encore, “Bully”.

Each member of the band was on fire as they worked the stage. Drummer Barry Kerch sat atop his throne in carnival make-up, the massive video screens backlighting his fevered performance. Bassist Eric Bass and guitarist Zach Myers flanked the ringmaster, frontman, Brent Smith. Each song was delivered with unwavering intensity, from the propulsive “Devour” and “Diamond Eyes (Boom-Lay Boom-Lay Boom)” to the emotive, “The Crow & The Butterfly” and “Second Chance”. They even treated fans to their incredible rendition of Lynyrd Skynyrd’s “Simple Man”.

In an era where most headliners are limiting their sets to an hour or 75 minutes, it speaks to Shinedown’s commitment and respect for their fans that they go the distance just like the bands which inspired them growing up.
Carnival of Madness wraps up this weekend and it should go down as another successful endeavor for fans and bands alike.

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