The mighty Disturbed, awoken from their five year slumber, came crashing into The Observatory in Santa Ana last night, brimming with heavy metal fire and fist-clenching rage to bring down the sold-out house.
Disturbed formally entered a hiatus in early 2011 after a decade of nonstop touring and top-charting records, then unexpectedly reemerged last summer with a brand new record and plans for an intimate club tour, as opposed to the ballrooms, amphitheaters and arenas they were headlining before their hiatus.
That club tour finally made it to Southern California last night, absolutely packing The Observatory to capacity with Disturbed fans. Stifling heat inside the venue and a later-than-expected start did nothing to stem the crowd’s enthusiasm, and when Dan Donegan, John Moyer, Mike Wengren and David Draiman hit the stage and launched into 10,000 Fists, the audience went wild.
The time off seemed to fit the band well, as they crunched through their music with a renewed enthusiasm and visibly fed off the crowd’s energy. Draiman deftly led the way through Disturbed’s impressive discography, visiting furious rager The Game from The Sickness, Prayer and staccato Liberate from Believe, and brand new track The Vengeful One from Immortalized.
Draiman and his cohorts looked like they relished the smaller club setting, bouncing around the stage risers and flipping picks to front row fans. The temperature inside The Observatory was almost unbearable, but the headbanging, fist-raising, ear-wrecking heavy metal music kept the crowd moving and moshing in the center of the floor despite the heat.
While Disturbed’s impressive discography gave them more than enough ammo to destroy the crowd, the band spent an impressive amount of time sharing covers with the audience as well. Early in the night they visited Genesis song Land Of Confusion, originally released on 10,000 Fists, and a major high point of the night came when the band broke out acoustic guitars and a keyboard for original dark ballad The Darkness, followed by their immensely popular new cover of The Sounds Of Silence. Watching Draiman slowly work his way up to a roar on the Simon & Garfunkel classic was a truly inspiring moment, and the song’s powerful impact left the audience spellbound.
The band knocked out a few more fan-favorites with Stricken and Inside The Fire, before jumping back into their world of covers with a mindblowing four song medley of Nine Inch Nails’ Closer, U2’s Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For, The Who’s Baba O’Reilly, and Rage Against The Machine’s Killing In The Name Of, on which David invited opening band Nonpoint’s frontman Elias Soriano to join him. The mosh pit for the song’s final “F*ck you I won’t do what you tell me” easily rivaled any other pit for the night to that point.
Disturbed encored with their old school breakout hits Voices and Down With The Sickness, but not before Draiman pointed out his proud parents up in the VIP balcony. Down With Sickness closed out the night in epic fashion, stirring up multiple pits and turning into a full-blown singalong, including, in an amusingly way, the sight of Draiman’s mother smiling and nodding along to the “No, mommy!” mid-song breakdown.
Disturbed’s absence these past years might have gone unnoticed as bands like Korn, Slipknot and 5 Finger Death Punch picked up much of their touring slack with yearly runs on Mayhem Festival and elsewhere, but fighting for breathing space on the sweat-drenched floor while screaming along to favorite songs like The Game and Stupify was a euphoric reminder of how much Draiman & friends have been missed. No other band delivers the winning combination of heaviness, melody, love, hate and overall raging intensity like Disturbed, and no doubt they’ll continue to reclaim their heavy metal throne in larger arenas soon. The group’s newfound interest in ballads like The Sounds Of Silence also promises an interesting and different future for heavy music, let by the impressive range and obvious musical obsessions of Mr, Draiman.
It’s been a long five years, but the wait was worth it: Disturbed is back and just as heavy, angry and spellbinding as ever.