Samhain Live at the Best Buy Theater NYC Review

by William Burns

Celebrating the 30th anniversary of their debut album, Samhain reunited for a short tour culminating with the closing show fittingly on the holiday they took their name from. Samhain was the short, strange interlude for Glenn Danzig between the iconic horror punks The Misfits and his solo career. Wanting to play in a band that was more authentic and more accurately reflected his musical and aesthetic tastes, Samhain encompassed punk and metal but filtered these genres through gothic ambiance and occult tribalism that never found the same rabid fan base as The Misfits nor the more mainstream commercial acceptance of his solo work. Samhain was truly a transitional project, producing two albums, an e.p. and a posthumous collection that reflected the last gasps of Samhain and the birth of the band Danzig. With the passage of time, Danzig fanatics have rediscovered Samhain (even though their albums are out of print and prices reflect their scarcity) and Danzig’s solo shows have embraced this legacy with short sets of Samhain material. 2014 marks 30 years since the release of Samhain’s debut album Initium and so Danzig recruited original Samhain members London May and Steve Zing (who also play in Danzig’s touring band) and Baroness guitarist Peter Adams to do 6 shows in which they would play Initium in its entirety and then thrash through a selection of Samhain classics. The tour ended in NYC at the Best Buy Theater last night and, though plagued with technical problems, Samhain did not disappoint. Opening acts YDI, Midnight, and Goatwhore were tolerable but the audience was here for the legend. Behind a backdrop of the cover art for November-Coming-Fire, the eerie drone of “Initium” announced the arrival of the band and the thunderous “Samhain” exploded onto the stage. Danzig prowled the stage like a caged animal, running through his gamut of classic poses and rock god moves, alternating between petulance, anger, self effacement, and basking in the glory of his creations. The band was ferocious, tearing into the material like ravenous wolves.  Highlights of the first set included the “All Murder, All Guts, All Fun,” the Samhain-ized version of Misfits classic “Horror Business,” and perhaps the best song on Initium “Archangel” with Danzig donning an out of tune guitar to join in on the madness. After a brief interlude soundtracked by the moody “Misery Tomb,” the second set was even better than the first, with such stone cold epics as “To Walk the Night,” “Mother of Mercy,” and “Kiss of Steel.” The biggest crowd pleasers were versions of The Misfits’ “All Hell Breaks Loose” and “Halloween II.” Samhain encored with the titanic power of “Let the Day Begin,” and with a final “thank you,” the man, the myth, the legend Glenn Danzig was gone. An amazing end to a very special night. 

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