Sully Erna @ Grand Ballroom

NEW YORK, NY—It was a gorgeous day in the Big Apple on Thursday, June 16, and it seemed only fitting that I would spend it indoors at the historic Manhattan Center. But it would be worth it seeing as how the multi-talented lead singer of Godsmack, Sully Erna, was going to bring his solo tour for his new album, Avalon, to the Grand Ballroom. I arrived at roughly 7:30 p.m. for the 8 p.m. showing, and the line wasn’t very long with only about 75 people or so.

Upon entering, my buddy and I were guided into the elevator, which took us up to the seventh floor, aka the Grand Ballroom. In the elevator, fans were complaining about the lack of information regarding what time to arrive for the early meet and greet and also the price of the tickets (the cheapest seats were roughly $50 including fees). If you’ve never been there, the Grand is old fashioned, with a church-like ceiling and an upper balcony. After being seated, I noticed that this place was far from a sellout, as the main floor had many open seats and the balcony had less than a dozen people total.

The stage had candles and a large screen behind the instruments, giving fans an opportunity to see some visuals while watching the show. At 8:30 p.m., Sully came out with members from his solo band. After the instrumental track, “In Through Time,” came “Avalon.” Co-vocalist Lisa Guyer was drawing whistles from the males in the crowd while singing and moving around like a gypsy, which she ultimately did throughout the show. Between the acoustic guitars, percussions and visuals, this track seemed like a psychedelic one.

The lead single off the album, “Sinner’s Prayer,” followed. Sully displayed his remarkable voice while singing with Lisa and together, they performed an excellent rendition of the song. The drummers hit hard and the cello of Irina Chirkova was an excellent touch. Sully then went over to the piano and started playing “Broken Road.” His voice became fiery when he reached the fast section and he really showed that he can do it all.

Next came “The Departed.” With Lisa’s body language and the visual of tribe’s in the background, this track became very spiritual. The highlight of the night was when the acoustic song “My Light” was performed. The screen showed Erna with his daughter in a film reel of home videos from when she was a baby up until now. Highlights included Sully playing the piano with her, holding her on stage while singing and teaching her how to walk. It drew cheers, applause, laughter and even some tears. You could really understand the bond between these two, and feel the love they have for each other.

Getting even more intimate, Sully went back on the piano and sung “Until Then…” while the gifted Irina played the cello. Without any visuals, guitars or drums, you could still feel the passion in the room. A hand drum battle between Niall Gregory and David Stefanelli ensued, with fans lauding their performances throughout.

Erna went on percussion for “The Rise.” Lisa handled the vocals all on her own and she sounded almost exactly like Cristina Scabbia from Lacuna Coil. I was very impressed with her singing ability and stage presence, especially during this nearly seven minute-long track. Sully grabbed an acoustic guitar for the emotional “Eyes Of A Child.” The electric guitar broke out as well and the fastest song from the album featured a visual of children that are affected with diseases throughout the world.

Arguably the best song was “7 Years.” Every instrument involved was played to perfection and there is not one complaint I could make about it. The crowd rose for a standing ovation, as they should have. Sully came out to play the Godsmack hit, “Serenity,” which was obviously a fan favorite. He then addressed the crowd for the first time, telling them that this project is something he always wanted to explore and that Godsmack is very much alive.

Each band member came out as Erna introduced them. When he brought out guitarist Tim Theriault he claimed Tim could play almost every classic rock song, and fans began throwing out random song requests such as the guitar solo from “Another Brick In The Wall” and “Back To Black.” I was shocked at how spot on he played them. The set then closed out with a cover of The Beatles’ classic “Hey Jude.”

All in all, it turned out to be a pretty damn good concert. I expected there to be more fans but a few hundred people, including myself, got to explore the other side of an extraordinary musical talent. Having now seen both Godsmack and Sully Erna solo, it really is hard to compare the two but with his performance tonight, I’d definitely recommend seeing him any time he takes the stage.