For the second straight year, Rob Zombie’s Freaks on Parade Tour is bringing the finest in hard rock and heavy metal to fans across North America. Last night, the tour featuring Filter, Ministry and Alice Cooper along with Rob Zombie played in Hartford, CT at Xfinity Theatre. Being the only show in the New England region and closest to Upstate New York, fans traveled from both near and far to catch this stacked lineup.
Filter took the stage first Sunday night shortly after 6PM. While their time on stage may have been short, the group wasted no time cranking out six songs. The set started with three new tracks off of their recent album The Algorithm, which was released just a few weeks ago on August 25th. Filter’s set kicked off with album opener, “The Drowning,” which showcased Filter’s signature industrial rock sound. Next up was the first single off The Algorithm, “For the Beaten.” This is one track that personally surprised me when it came out.. Way back in 2011, Korn decided to mix metal and dubstep on their album The Path of Totality. When Filter released “For the Beaten,” it was an instant flashback to that Korn album. There’s definitely a place for electronic elements to be mixed into metal/industrial rock and Filter combined them perfectly on that song. The last new track played was “The Obliteration”, which was more what casual fans would expect from the group. By this time if anyone was sitting, Richard Patrick got them up on their feet. The final three songs of Filter’s set were massive 90s tracks that everyone in the building knew. The trio of songs, “Take a Picture”, “Welcome to the Fold”, and “Hey Man Nice Shot” were the perfect way to go out with a bang.
Next up on the lineup were none other than Industrial Metal legends, Ministry. Led by front man Al Jourgensen, the band had the task of keeping the show moving and keeping the crowd energized. This was an easy task for Al who’s been going strong for over 30 years. The night started off with a personal favorite, “Thieves” from Ministry’s 1989 release The Mind Is a Terrible Thing to Taste. With such a large studio catalog and a short time slot, Ministry did a great job of playing a little bit of everything. The album that got the most love Sunday night was The Land of Rape and Honey, playing songs such as “Deity”, “Stigmata” and “The Missing.” Closing the night for Ministry was the track “Goddamn White Trash”, a single for their upcoming album Hopium for the Masses, originally set to release this pastAugust but has been delayed until March of 2024. When the album gets released it’ll be under the revised title of Hopiumforthemasses.
After Ministry, the inside of Xfinity Theatre was filled up and ready for the Godfather of Shock Rock, Alice Cooper. As the lights dimmed and the plague doctors blessed the stage, the Banned in Connecticut – Alice Cooper backdrop appeared. With Cooper’s band taking the stage to “Lock Me Up” around the newspaper banner, Alice cut through it with his sword, appearing center stage. Seeing Alice Cooper live is something every music fan should experience at least once in their lifetime. The theatrics that Cooper brings to the stage, along with his band, are always top notch and enhance the experience of seeing his classic hits performed live. The six piece group consisting of drummer Glen Sobel, guitarists Tommy Henriksen, Ryan Roxie, Nita Strauss, and bassist Chuck Garric perform alongside Alice seamlessly. The band knows when it’s their time to shine and they know how to pose for the crowd. With having limited time being direct support for Rob Zombie, the group stuck to it’s traditional setlist as of late which features fan favorites such as “No More Mr. Nice Guy”, “I’m Eighteen”, “Billion Dollar Babies” and many others. Absent from the setlist were all songs off the recently released album, Road, which debuted on August 25th. Unlike previous releases, Cooper’s new album features all of his live band on the album which was a nice touch. One highlight from Cooper’s set was the appearance of Shed Bundy, the snake Alice has on stage for “Snakebite.” During the song Alice parades around stage with the boa around his neck bringing it towards his band members to interact with. Another highlight of the set came during Nita’s guitar solo. Guitar solos aren’t typically something to talk about but Nita’s performance was incredible. Starting the solo at the top of the staircase, she made her way down to the stage alone. Shortly after, the rest of the band joined in to do the “Black Widow Jam” where guitarist Tommy Henriksen joined Nita up front trading solos back and forth. The night started wrapping up for Alice Cooper after the “Ballad of Dwight Fry”, which features him in a straight jacket being taken to a guillotine. Featured during the song is Alice’s wife Sheryl who plays a role in the song’s theatrical parts. The final two songs of the night were “Elected” and “School’s Out”. During “School’s Out”, Cooper took the time to introduce all of his band members and wife to the crowd as giant balloons floated over the audience.
Booking Alice Cooper as a supporting band tour must be difficult decision. Having to follow one of the best live shows in rock every single night is no easy task. That being said, Rob Zombie was up for the challenge this tour. Since last summer’s Freaks on Parade Tour, there’s been a new but familiar face added to the band. That change is the replacement of John 5 with previous lead guitar player Mike Riggs. For those not familiar, Riggs was lead guitar on Hellbilly Deluxe and The Sinister Urge, Zombie’s first two solo albums. This reunion came as a bit of a surprise to fans last year but the change has certainly brought some fresh changes to the live show. Compared to last year’s show in Mansfield, MA, the setlist featured a few different tracks from Hellbilly Deluxe, such as “What Lurks on Channel X?” and “Demonoid Phenomenon.” The stage production this year features tons of pyro, so for anyone in those first few rows, heads up, it gets toasty. Bass player, Piggy D, has a new look this tour as well. Sporting some eerie clown paint for the show, Piggy spent the entire night moving around the stage interacting with the crowd and tossing picks out to lucky fans. During “The Lords of Salem” and “House of 1000 Corpses”, a fake snow rained down over the stage and the audience. The visual appearance of the snow mixed with the lighting during this moment was a reason for many fans to get their phones out to take pictures and record video. That being mentioned, prior to “Thunder Kiss ’65”, Rob addressed the crowd and told everyone to put their phones away to live in the past for a moment. During this speech he made a joke about a gentleman in the front row taking photos with his “film camera.” The perfect evening wrapped up with the usual performance of “Dragula.” During the song, Zombie stands atop a giant staircase with a C02 cannon, creating a fog all around him. As the band said their goodbyes, Piggy and Riggs tossed out handfuls of guitar picks into the crowd which led to many people dog piling on each other to take home a souvenir from the show.
The Freaks on Parade 2023 tour continues for a few more weeks while moving West and wrapping up in Anaheim California. Fans can only hope Rob Zombie continues his tour into next year with a new batch of friends opening up. For tour dates and info, visit https://www.robzombie.com/