Marquee television shows. Massive video game franchises. Hollywood blockbusters. Sold-out sporting events. Professional wrestling and mixed martial arts pay per views from around the globe. For nearly three decades, basically any form of entertainment worth acknowledging has embraced and utilized the high-energy, high-octane musical offerings of Godsmack.
Over an illustrious 28 years, Godsmack has released eight studio albums, one EP (The Other Side), four DVDs, one compilation album (Good Times, Bad Times… Ten Years of Godsmack) and one live album (Live & Inspired). Sadly, earlier this year, the legendary quartet announced that their latest offering, Lighting Up the Sky, will be the final album of their storied careers.
While hard rock fans won’t be thrilled with that news, the fact that lead singer Sully Erna, guitarist Tony Rombola, bassist Robbie Merrill and drummer Shannon Larkin are currently touring in the United States for the first time since 2019 will hopefully soften the blow.
The “Best Of Times World Tour” swung through Bristow, Virginia recently and, while the band might be done creating new albums, I’m happy to report they still deliver their signature sound and an engaging live performance.
“Godsmack has been gone away for a while,” Erna said during the early stages of the evening. “The world’s gone crazy. Everyone’s all political.
“I think we need to take this back to what rock shows were in the 80s, when it was all about the music,” he added. “Let’s turn this into a fucking rock show.”
And that they did, opening the show with “When Legends Rise,” “Cryin’ Like a Bitch!!” and “1000hp” to sufficiently prepare the sellout crowd for what was to come. The band even added a generous helping of pyro and exploding bursts of flames as an exclamation point to the evening’s festivities. As Erna began strumming the intro to “Something Different,” he had some words for the packed house.
“Get these girls up on your shoulders tonight so Godsmack can see what Virginia has to offer!” he shouted.
Erna then requested all stage and front of house lights be turned off. With no lights and no production the cavernous venue would have looked completely abandoned, if not for the thousands of cell phones illuminating the amphitheater. Once the band tore into “Something Different,” all the stage lights came back on and the show continued at a full-throttle pace.
“I forgot how fun it was to be back on stage playing music for people,” Erna said. “It could be the tequila. I’m not going to lie. But I’m feeling the love tonight.”
By this point the banter was free flowing and Sully was feeling no pain. After “What About Me” the band needed to pause for a brief moment to allow a tech to repair Erna’s microphone stand after the frontman got a little too aggressive with it. To fill the time, Sully randomly decided to share that he’s been using the Cindy Crawford beauty treatment from late-night infomercials for the last two years. He enthusiastically informed the packed house that the product works and he has no wrinkles on his neck or face.
Someone please get this man some more tequila. Microphone stands be damned.
“Awake” was clearly a crowd favorite. Fog rose from the stage. Pulsating lights flickered as the strip club anthem blared to an approving audience. Welcome to Jiffy Lube Live After Dark. Please keep your hands to yourself, gentlemen.
After “Voodoo,” Larkin’s drum kit moved to center stage and a second set of drums emerged. That’s when I realized we were in for a heavyweight bout as Larkin and Erna squared off during the band’s iconic “Batalla De Los Tambores.” For the next 10 minutes or so, Shannon and Sully dueled, collaborated and rocked the hell out in what felt like an extended jam session with nods to AC/DC, Aerosmith, Metallica and more others.
The stamina, endurance and technical proficiency required to pull off something like “Batalla De Los Tambores” is clearly through the roof, which is why everyone in attendance roared their approval as the track came to a close. It was easily one of the most enjoyable moments of the night and had the band walked off the stage right then and there, no one would have complained.
And yet, Godsmack not only continued the show, but did so with arguably four of their biggest songs to date.
“Whatever” and “Surrender,” followed by an encore performance of “Under Your Scars” and “I Stand Alone” proved a fitting conclusion to the concert for a band with a mind-numbing 27 top-10 singles (Mainstream Rock Airplay) and 12 number-one hits.