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AXL’S THOUGHTS ON THE SECOND NIGHT OF THE JESSE LEACH/KSE MINI-REUNION

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UPDATE: Reader Ben Alden tells me that Jesse joined the band once again at Northern Lights in Clifton Park, NY. If anyone catches him at any future shows, please let us know…

I saw this video on The PRP this morning, and it’s supposed to be from Leach’s first night performing with the band. If that’s true, then not only did everyone in the band, including Leach, wear the same exact clothes two nights in a row, but Adam D. used the same exact stage banter two nights in a row. Hmm…

First of all, thanks to everyone who let me know that Killswitch Engage were going on at 10 pm. I successfully managed to avoid The Devil Wears Prada. (Who, it’s worth mentioning, had a sign at their merch booth that read “Hoody.” They can’t even be bothered to correctly spell the name of that most basic of metal merch. Sheesh.) Yes, it meant also missing Dark Tranquillity, but that’s the fucked-up world in which we live.

ANYWAY, here are the two lessons to be gleaned from the evening’s KSE set:

  1. If the speculation that Howard Jones may never return to the band is true, the group absolutely cannot hire Phil LaBonte as their new front man.
  2. If the speculation that Howard Jones may never return to the band is true, the group absolutely must bring Jesse Leach back into the fold.

Seriously: it was like a lesson in how to, and how not to, front this band.

I’m sure LaBonte is a nice guy; when Leach took the stage, he could be seen in the VIP balcony area, sitting atop an amp crate, enthusiastically rocking out like any fan in the crowd. I just don’t have a lot of confidence in the dude’s pipes. His screams seemed strained and his clean vocals warbly. (Interestingly enough, he seemed to do better in the lower registers, as at the start of “Take This Oath.”) I might have written it off as a bad night, but I’ve seen LaBonte perform with All That Remains three or four times, and that’s the impression I’ve always gotten of him. He brings a lot of energy to his performance, but he’s not the strongest vocalist on the scene.

On the other hand, not only did Leach seem really happy to be once again fronting his old band, but his voice was in great shape. I didn’t hear him hit a sour note the whole night; he never sounded winded, either. I don’t really believe that Jones isn’t coming back – the band made too many references to him throughout the evening for him to be on the way out – but if he is… Leach strikes me as the way to go.

And… that’s it, I guess. I’m glad I got to see a bunch of the Alive or Just Breathing material with its original singer. It was a lot of fun. If Leach ever does end up playing with the band again, make sure you get to catch it…

-AR

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