Michale Graves, ex-Misfit delivers intimate performance at Madison Theater
By LOUIS SMITH
Albany’s historic Madison Theater was invaded by aging punks and hipsters on Saturday, Feb. 20 to witness the performance put on by estranged ex-Misfits lead singer Michale Graves.
The New Jersey native joined the horror-punk pioneers in 1995 during the band’s reformation and then left the group with then drummer Dr. Chud in 2000. Since his split with the band, Graves went on to pursue a successful solo career, releasing a number of solo records and even teamed up with Marky Ramone to tackle vocal responsibilities during the “Marky Ramone’s Blitzkrieg” project and tour. The Madison Theater show kicked off his “When Worlds Collide Tour,” named after his latest solo album, and includes over 50 dates throughout the United States, with a second date in Albany later on April 28 at The Fuze Box. His current touring lineup consists of Loki, JV Bastard and Tony Bones.
Graves and his crew arrived at the theater a bit later than initially quoted by the staff, but none of the attendees seemed to mind. When an unmarked van arrived in front of the well-lit venue, Graves could be seen unloading amps, hauling drum equipment and helping to set merchandise up.
The man was literally running around the entire venue, where a crowd of roughly 60 patrons patiently sat in the seats of the partially full movie theater, drinking their beer or liquor, and smoking cigarettes outside to give the band time to get set up. Green light bathed the vacant stage which sat under a dark projection screen. Motorhead tracks blared through the house speakers while the band members silently assembled their gear. In light of Lemmy Kilmister’s recent passing, someone in the crowd yelled “We miss you Lemmy!” right before the house music was killed for the evening.
Sometime after 10 p.m., the demon known as Michale Graves emerged from a small opening in the wall behind the drums. No makeup, no fancy outfit—just a man with the voice of a god. Graves belted through renditions of classic Danzig-era Misfits cuts which included “Static Age,” “Night of the Living Dead” and “TV Causality,” all of which were performed with eerie accuracy and stunning intensity. Graves and his band also performed songs from his time spent with the Misfits, which included sterling takes of “Living Hell,” “Fiend Club” and “Speak of the Devil.”
Now 40 year old, Graves still possesses the stunning vocal abilities he had in his youth that helped rekindle the flame of the Misfits back in the ’90s. That very vocal work was almost hypnotic during their performance, while the band blitzed through their set list with a ferocity that rivals that of the current “Misfits” incarnation headed by bass player Jerry Only.
“Walk Among Us,” “Scream,” “Die Monster Die,” and “Dig Up Her Bones” commanded massive crowd response and Graves ended his onslaught with an encore performance of “Saturday Night” which was the perfect way to cap off a night of Misfits tracks.
Once their set list had completed, Graves jet offstage to the lobby-area where the merchandise table he had helped set up earlier was waiting and proceeded to autograph photos and thank everyone personally who came out to support him and the band.
T-shirts, CDs, tour posters and photography were presented to eager fans for their purchase as Graves, armed with a silver permanent marker, took a vested interest in the individuals who had turned up for the show. Unlike other punk-rock idols who may go and hide on their tour busses or unwind in the infamous “green rooms” of rock-club venues, Graves was visible, coherent and present. A man who is truly there for the fans.
For those Fiends who missed this performance, make sure you come and support Graves in April when his tour revisits the Capital Region and occupies The Fuze Box. Being an avid Misfits fan for the past 11 years, and having seen Jerry Only’s touring version of the band twice, I can say that any regular fan should make a point to see Graves play. Unlike Only’s “Misfits” shows that rely on extravagant makeup, costumes and stage decoration, Graves simple rock-n-roll delivery easily overshadows that of the current Misfits touring performance.