Saviour Machine, Saturday 23rd March 2002
Teckhalle, Owen-Teck, Germany

By Charlie Farrell


Owen Rocknight is an annual event aimed at Christian teenagers and features rock bands with a variety of styles but with a Christian message to their lyrics. There were 9 acts on the bill, playing on two stages, but the reason for my presence were the headliners, the mighty Saviour Machine, whose unique brand of dark, symphonic, apocalyptic prog-metal, I find enthralling. Their live appearances in Europe have been very limited in recent years, since they began their enormous project to recount the events prophesized in the Book of Revelations.

Eric Clayton with Israeli Flag

The setup of the lights and cameras took a while to finalise and so it was not until almost 23:40 that the band finally made their way onstage accompanied by Overture/A Prophecy - the opening numbers of Legend Part I. The crowd, most of whom had been there since before 17:00 gave them a great reception as they walked on stage and began to play. With a DVD to record and no curfew to respect we knew that we were in for a long show but just how long we didn’t know. With 5 studio CDs to their name, each one just short of 80 mins in length, there was no shortage of material but gradually it became obvious that the set would concentrate upon the material from the 3 Legend disks.
Nathan van Hala (keys) and Charles Cooper(bass)

The first part of the show consisted mainly of songs from Legend Parts I and II in which the band, and singer Eric Clayton in particular, lay out the scene of the battle at the end of the World. Israeli and Palestinian flags are dipped in blood (or red paint) as the scene is set during Gog, then the USA and UN Flags receive similar treatment during WWIII / The Beast as the mysterious ‘New World Order’ also gets a bad rap. Keyboards and samples man Nathan van Hala was the key musician directing affairs discretely from his position stage-left but things did not always go according to plan and on a number of occasions one or other musician (or the production desk) was unhappy with some detail and the band are forced to stop and repeat a song. >From the production point of view it is a practical approach and the crowd was so enthralled that they didn’t seem at all bothered by the stopping and restarting.
Eric as the Ancient Serpent

After 80 minutes or so War in Heaven, the closing track of Legend Part II ushers in an welcome intermission in the set and for 10 minutes or so the band and the audience, who were now visibly fading, took a breather. The effect of the break was amazing and the audience, which had gradually been slipping away, began to return. Not only were the audience rejuvenated, but the band were too and they ran through a series of 7 or so numbers from their latest album, Legend III:1 without the need for any major pauses or repeats. This material from this disk is much darker and less melodic due to the nature of the events it is meant to describe and Eric has to play the role of the Beast, donning a menacing pair of wings during The Ancient Serpent and subsequently recounting the arrival of the plagues upon mankind.
Carljohann Grimmark

A necessary change of tapes by the film crew required a further break during which Eric took the opportunity to introduce the other band members and the supporting musicians, who included a 7-piece choir and a string quartet. Besides the usual members of Eric Clayton, Nathan van Hala and Charles Cooper (Bass), the band were assisted by Thomas Weinsjö of Veni Domine who replaced the usual drummer Jayson Heart and Eric's brother Jeff's place on guitar was taken up by the extraordinary Carljohann Grimmark of Narnia.
Eric Clayton

With everything set, the band continued with End of the Age, the concluding number of Legend Part III:1. For once the stage was flooded with blue light rather that the more sombre purple and green which had been the predominant colours up to that point. Eric then left the stage, leaving Carljohann Grimmark, to play a delightfully melodic solo accompanied by Nathan on samples. Its simplicity compared starkly with the dense, complex tunes which had preceded it and was one of the highlights of the evening.

The band continued with The Promise but as Eric did not appear on cue, they were forced to stop and restart - his costume change obviously took longer than anticipated. He returned wearing a white satin outfit with an Israeli flag across his shoulder which he wore throughout the last couple of tunes in the main set, The Final Holocaust and a gorgeous instrumental I Am during which the string quartet had a larger than normal role. With the main set reaching its climax, Eric then plunged into the crowd from where he sang the majority of the closing number - The Lamb.

Eric Clayton and Choir

Despite the fact that it was now 2:40AM, Eric’s concluding "Thank You and Goodnight" had convinced no-one. The crowd were determined to hear some extract from the band's first two releases - Saviour Machine I and Saviour Machine II and finally their wish was granted. Love Never Dies was an excellent start, Legion was a good follow up but American Babylon, supported once more by the choir was enormous. The crowd continued to shout out song titles and as someone suggested they play "till the morning sun", Eric joked "We don’t have enough songs, we’ll be doing the Blues Brothers by then". A compromise was inevitable, "2 more", Eric indicated. We got In a World and a rousing Jesus Christ which finally brought down the curtain on events as the clock edged past 3:15AM.

When the production company have done their job, edited out the mistakes and stitched it together again, we should be able to purchase a tremendous DVD containing around 3 hours worth of a sublime show. Hopefully progress on the completion of the Trilogy will be good and the final installment will be in the shops later in the year. However with the chances of a show like this happening near you being quite small, the DVD may be the only way you’ll get the chance to see a live performance of "The unofficial Soundtrack to the end of the World". If you are at all a fan of highly symphonic, almost opera-like rock productions, then the DVD should be one to check out.


Setlist:
A Prophecy (CD Introduction)
1. The Eyes of The Storm from Legend I
2. The Birth Pangs from Legend I
3. The Night from Legend I
4. Gog (Deathmarch) from Legend I
5. The Invasion of Israel from Legend I
6. WWIII /
7. The Beast from Legend I
8. Ten - The Empire from Legend I
9. The Whore of Babylon from Legend II
10. Behold a Pale Horse from Legend II
11. War in Heaven from Legend II
The Dead Sea from Legend III:I (CD Intermission)
12. Revelation 13 from Legend III:I
13. Legend III:I
14. The Ancient Serpent from Legend III:I
15. Abomination of Desolation from Legend III:I
16. Four Trumpets from Legend III:I
17. The Locusts from Legend III:I
18. The Plague and The Darkness from Legend III:I
19. The End of The Age from Legend III:I
20. The Promise from Legend II
21. The Final Holocaust from Legend III:I
22. I Am from Legend I
23. Legend I:I
24. The Lamb from Legend I

Encores:
Love Never Dies
Legend
American Babylon
In a World
Jesus Christ

 

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