Alkaline Trio - live in Cleveland (Cover Artwork)

Alkaline Trio

live in Cleveland (2005)

live show

I live an hour away from Cleveland, so since the show was on a weekday, I knew I wouldn't make it in time to see the opening acts. I'd never been to the House of Blues, so I was already a little apprehensive about what to expect. Walking down the street, people kept asking if I had any extra tickets, so the fact the show was sold out just added to it. And by the time I got inside and saw how fancy the place was, security guards all over the place, and TVs everywhere you look, I was pretty damn annoyed. There was even a bathroom attendant to hand out paper towels. It was obvious that this was quite the event, and while I certainly don't consider myself a ‘holier-than-thou' punker, I was convinced the band had outgrown me. I've seen them in concert about 10 times, ever since they were openers and barely anybody paid attention to their set. So I figured I had a good run. I'm a huge fan and I think they are as deserving as any band of their popularity.

It's no secret that the band's live shows can be hit or miss. I've been blown away by them, and I've also been left disappointed, especially as of late. I don't know if I've caught them on off nights, or if it's just the crappy sound of the larger venues they've been playing, but it's been a while since I've left one of their shows feeling satisfied. In fact, I think the only reason I bought tickets for this one was out of sheer habit. So my expectations were pretty low. I did catch Mike Park's last song, and the wait between acts seemed far longer than normal, just adding to my irritation. The band came out to massive applause and enthusiasm from the sold out crowd of 750 (per the maximum occupancy sign). There were no theatrics, no upside down crosses or coffins or any of that crap, just the band tearing into "This Could Be Love." From the opening riff, I was immediately impressed.

The venue's sound was my main concern since I hadn't been there before, but it was outstanding. The guitar, the bass, the drums, the vocals…everything was loud, clear, and distinguishable. Just as important, the band was tight as hell. I'm pretty sure this was one of the earlier stops on the tour, and the band seemed incredibly enthused and genuinely appreciative of the audience's energy. It was just the trio this time around; there was no extra guitar player. And it wasn't missed one bit. Skiba's playing was outstanding and his vocals were even more impressive. He sang every note of every song with full effort. He never dropped his voice an octave to avoid straining or overexertion. He went all out, just like he should have. I think Dan Andriano and Derek Grant are always very consistent, and they didn't let down at all on this night either.

The rest of the set, in no particular order and strictly from memory, included: "Clavicle," "My Friend Peter" (announced as "My Friend Jerry" and dedicated to Jerry Andriano), "Maybe I'll Catch Fire," "Radio" (dedicated to My Chemical Romance), "Private Eye," "Emma," "We've Had Enough," "Jaked On Green Beers," "Warbrain," and "Crawl." They also played two new songs, "The Poison" and "Settle For Satin" (extra guitar player for this tune only), both sung by Dan. The band did a full band version of "Sorry About That," with Mike Park joining in on acoustic guitar, for their one-song encore. Not one of my favorite songs by them, and not something I wanted to see the show ended with, but an amazing version nonetheless.

I never thought I'd attempt a review, much less for a concert where I missed the openers, but I was truly blown away by the show and would hate to see someone else miss it for fear of a subpar performance. My only question is this: was Skiba's face painted white or is he really just that pasty?