The stage of The Egg’s Hart Theatre was covered with flickering candles and darkly decorated with a mix of the mystical and macabre in anticipation of Sully Erna’s performance.
Erna, best known as the frontman/vocalist for the heavy-metal-tinged hard rockers Godsmack, has ventured into entirely new musical territory with the release of his first solo album, “Avalon.”
When Erna and his band took the stage, the large audience didn’t hear ear-splitting, guitar-heavy riffs, ala Godsmack. What they got instead was a beautifully crafted and melodically flowing concert filled with intertwining vocal harmonies and exotic middle-eastern rhythms punctuated by rock edges flowing alongside classical motifs – all of which created a springboard for Erna’s from-the-heart passionate vocals.
From the opening title track, “Avalon,” through nine of the 10 tracks on the album, Erna focused on playing and singing as part of the ensemble and not a rock star in the spotlight. He generously shared vocal duties with Lisa Guyer, a compelling singer in her own right, who propelled many a song with a mesmerizing mix of back-up harmonies and vocal leads.
Conservatory trained Irina Chirkova beautifully bowed and plucked her cello. Guitarist Tim Theriault masterfully executed a dynamic spectrum of guitar lines that melted into the rhythms of Chris Decato’s swirling keyboard sounds.
Throughout the aural feast, Chris Lester’s flowing basslines nailed down the bottom end, as drumming percussionists Niall Gregory and David Stefanelli created a solid but ever-shifting wall of beats.
Throughout the magical evening images flashed on the big screen behind the band. Erna moved between the acoustic grand piano, percussion or solo vocals effortlessly presenting a continuous and rolling creative suite of brilliant compositions with surprisingly poetic lyrics.
With the encore of “Serenity,” Erna satisfied the Godsmack fans, and then he added a couple of rather unexpected covers – Fleetwood Mac’s “The Chain” and an audience sing-along on the Beatles’ “Hey Jude.”
Review and photographs by Andrzej Pilarczyk
NOTE: Sully Erna is headed back to Nippertown later this summer, as he leads Godsmack into the Saratoga Performing Arts Center on Friday, August 19. More details here.
SULLY ERNA SET LIST
Sully Piano solo
Eyes Of A Child