CONCERT REVIEW: Delirium and Charlotte the Harlot tore up River Street like classic metal maniacs
When you go out to see Delirium, you know you’re in for a neck-breaking night of head banging from a group of Scranton guys devoted to capturing the best of the biggest icons in thrash metal history, Megadeth and Metallica. This is, by far, no easy feat.
The level of musicianship that is needed to pull off any type of tribute to a famous band has to be higher than most. Just in using the term “tribute act,” the band is showing how much they love said act. Playing that band’s material is a quest for perfection; nothing less can be accepted. Paying tribute to two bands that are at the top of musicianship in their genre makes that job even harder. Luckily, we’re talking about four guys who realize that and prove their intent to honor these gods of thrash in a way that would make even Metallica and Megadeth proud. Well, Lars might think of suing them first because they play classic Metallica better than Metallica themselves currently do, but with enough pressure, he’ll probably change his mind… again.
On Friday, Jan. 29, guitarists Butch Frable and Bryan “BFun” Munley, bassist/vocalist Brian “Womp” Tomsak, and drummer Chris “Bubbles” Bublo took the stage of the River Street Jazz Cafe in Plains to start the night off with their first set, their tribute to Megadeth. With little fanfare, they ripped into the classic “Symphony of Destruction,” pulling the crowd immediately into the show. Everywhere you looked, heads were banging. As the regular Delirium fan base is composed of those of us who’ve achieved middle-aged metalhead status, it’s safe to say that there were many sore necks, lots of pain relievers popped, and ointments spread that weekend as the audience forgot their age, transported to a time when moshing and head banging was their norm.
Delirium ripped through seven incredibly tight Megadeth classics, with Northeastern Pennsylvania music scene guitar god Frable playing the solos of many assorted Megadeth guitarists effortlessly. While adding his own take, he still nodded respectfully to guitarists from the Chris Poland era on songs like “Wake Up Dead” and “Peace Sells… but Who’s Buying?” and to Marty Friedman on the opus “Hangar 18,” leaving the crowd with wide eyes and gaping jaws.
Delirium even included a cover of a cover, crafting an incredible rendition of Megadeth’s Grammy Award-winning performance of “Paranoid” off the first Black Sabbath tribute album, “Nativity in Black.”
The first set came to an end with the band bashing out Megadeth’s most known song, the immortal “Peace Sells… but who’s Buying?” with Womp channeling Dave Mustaine as he nailed the teeth-grinding, anger-infused opening lyrics. Womp was center stage and commanding listeners throughout the set as only he could. Most of the crowd was on their feet in front of the stage the entire time, fists pumping and heads rolling, as Delirium proved what a tribute band could and should be.
During the set break, some major changes were made. Munley stepped offstage, Womp moved over to strictly bass, and Diona Pavinski took over lead vocal duties. Charlotte the Harlot is then ready to rupture eardrums with the heavy tunes of such classic rock and heavy metal acts as Iron Maiden, Dio, Rush, Black Sabbath, and Ozzy Osbourne. This set is nearly a tribute to Iron Maiden, as the majority of it is heavily devoted to the English rockers; even their name is derived from a Maiden song. They include a very diverse set of classic Maiden mainstays, such as “The Trooper,” “Run to the Hills,” “Flight of Icarus,” and more, mixing it up with some famously beloved tracks like “Tom Sawyer,” “Holy Diver,” “Bark at the Moon,” and “Crazy Train.”
Frable handles all guitar duties for Charlotte the Harlot, his musical love child. This Scranton band was a long time in the making, and he went with his longtime friend and musical partner, Womp, to handle the bass and backing vocals for the band. The two have been associated with many different area bands since the early ‘90s, when they formed Damascus Steel, which ultimately became Marble Orchard. Most recently, they were the core of two well-known local acts, Fireball and Butch Frable’s F3. Behind the skins, it was only fitting to have their drummer from Delirium, Bublo, handle the thunderous percussion needed to cover these extremely heavy acts.
Rounding out the quartet is Pavinski, a singer well-known from her other area band, Pittston’s 9platform9. Pavinski has the pipes to more than adequately cover a range of amazing male singers, such as Bruce Dickinson, Ronnie James Dio, and even Geddy Lee. Her presence was felt immediately, as her long frame and flowing straight hair filled the ethereally lit and fog-filled stage. Moving about and jamming with the different instrumentalists in the band, her self-confidence is evident – she knows she is owning the stage, which is no small accomplishment when surrounded by area phenoms on their respective instruments and belting out tunes in everyone’s musical library that they do not want to hear performed badly. The way that Pavinski worked the stage and the crowd was nothing short of pure professionalism as fans celebrated their love of these iconic bands in a hybrid of dancing and head banging – a horn-worthy sight to behold.
As if people weren’t wiped out enough from the previous two sets, Delirium returned to finish off the night with their tribute set to the band that made thrash metal what it is today – Metallica. If anyone was feeling their age, or even considered that they’d have enough for one night, those thoughts ended as soon as they ripped into “Creeping Death.” Again, horns were held high and necks were thrashing as Delirium tore through an amazing selection of “old school” Metallica – the stuff we never get tired of hearing. This was the music that real Metallica fans cut their teeth on, before everyone and their brother was calling themselves a “metalhead.”
For the Metallica set, Munley took over the lead chores, which he killed. The speed and dexterity were both there as he ripped through an excruciatingly fast set, including such Metallica staples as “Am I Evil/Four Horsemen,” “Orion,” “For Whom the Bell Tolls,” “Master of Puppets,” “Seek and Destroy,” and more. Local music fans may remember Munley from his time with the 2014 Steamtown Music Awards’ Best Metal Act, Behind the Grey.
Metal drumming is never an easy task; three sets filled with varying types of classic rock and metal drummers, including the likes of Neil Peart, Lars Ulrich, Gar Samuelson, Bill Ward, Nick Menza, Vinnie Appice, and the late, great Clive Burr makes that task even harder. Bublo took that task head-on and executed it perfectly. As the second drummer in heavy progressive metal act Bare Knuckle, this guy has some serious chops, never losing time and keeping the beat through an incredibly hard night on the skins, but it’s clear that this is what he was born to do.
While Delirium and Charlotte the Harlot are very intertwined, they do not always perform together, so this rare night of music was a pleasure to capture. Whether separate or together, catch them when you can – your aching head and back may not thank you the next day, but your youthful inner metalhead certainly will.
by Ken Jones
Ken has been a photographer for over 15 years; his specialties include nature and live music photography and video. His work has been featured in ION Indie Magazine and many local publications.