Although I am admittedly a bigger fan of his work as a filmmaker than a musician, I’ve always been interested in seeing a Rob Zombie concert. My opportunity finally came on December 2, 2009 when the Hellbilly Deluxe 2 Tour — also featuring Nekromantix and Captain Clegg and the Night Creatures — rolled through the House of Blues in Boston, MA. The band’s current line-up is somewhat of a hard rock supergroup, featuring John 5 (ex-Marilyn Manson) on guitar, Piggy D. (ex-Wednesday 13) on bass, and Tommy Clufetos (ex-Alice Cooper, ex-Ted Nugent) on drums. Zombie himself is a Massachusetts native (although made no mention of it during the show), and I had heard good things about his shows, so I was looking forward to finally checking him out. It did not disappoint.
When I arrived, Captain Clegg and the Night Creatures had already started (damn you, Boston traffic and parking!). Captain Clegg is a psychobilly band created by country musician Jesse Dayton for Rob Zombie’s Halloween II. They played a wonderful rockabilly cover version of the Misfits’ “Hollywood Babylon” and even teased fans with the first few bars of Black Sabbath’s “Paranoid”. Dayton also wrote the songs for Banjo & Sullivan in The Devil’s Rejects and played one of their tracks, “I’m At Home Getting Hammered (While She’s Out Getting Nailed)”. The half hour set set ended with “Transylvania Terror Train”. Considering Dayton created these songs solely for the film about a year ago, he sounded excellent.
Next up was Nekromantix. They got the crowd moving with their energetic psychobilly tunes, but you could tell they were aching for something heavier. Some angry, biker-looking dudes in the crowd heckled the group a bit, but they didn’t let it affect them. I’m not really a fan of the band on record, but they put on an entertaining 40-minute set. Bassist/vocalist Kim Nekroman plays a really cool coffin-shaped, stand-up bass. It was also the drummer Lux’s birthday, so they had the crowd sing to her.
Finally, it was the moment that everyone had been waiting for. Rob Zombie came out to the track “What Lurks on Channel X?”, and the crowd went wild. Following the relatively ‘lighter’ acts, Zombie sounded heavier than ever, and all of the songs sounded just as they do on record. I had previously only seen Zombie do interviews, during which he’s calm and collected, but when in front of the crowd he’s a ball of energy bouncing around on stage. The first thing he said to the crowd was that he was not there for a rock show — no, you can go to a rock show any night of the week — but rather for a party. Throughout the hour and a half set, the band blazed through a number of fan favorites, including “Living Dead Girl” and “Never Gonna Stop”. He also played a couple of new songs, “Sick Bubble Gum” and “What?”. During the latter, he introduced the crowd to his latest invention, the all-girl mosh pit.
The stage set up was fairly simple, with two smaller screens on either side of the state and a large projector behind the band during the songs. The screens sometimes played footage from classic horror films. For example, Tommy Clufetos’s drum solo was set a video from Nosferatu, and the crowd popped when footage from Zombie’s House of 1000 Corpses was shown as the band began playing the song of the same name. There were also a couple of set pieces, such as a big robot costume for “More Human Than Human”. In the middle of “Thunder Kiss ‘65″, guitarist John 5 played an impressive solo, culminating with a Jimi Hendrix-esque rendition of “The Star Spangled Banner” with his mouth. While he noodled, Zombie went around the perimeter of the crowd with a spotlight as they frantically patted him. The band then left, came out for an encore, left again, and then played “Dragula” to end the night. Zombie put on an explosive performance that can be enjoyed even by those who aren't fans of his music.
Be sure to check out all of my photos from the show here.