NO ILLUSIONS- SPOKEN STORMS THE HOUSE OF BLUES ANAHEIM

There’s a lot to be said about passion. For most it’s a driving force in life. For an artist it’s a bit more. Passion is something that you feel, but to make others feel it is an entirely different beast. On Saturday, March 16, Spoken rolled into town along with Danko Jones and Volbeat to play a sold out show at House of Blues Anaheim.  Hours before the show a large line was already forming outside the venue with fans adorned in Volbeat shirts. This was a dedicated crowd with many arriving from areas as far north as San Luis Obispo. Walking past them I couldn’t help but think that this would be a tough crowd to win over, but then again, when you’re Matt Baird any challenge is a chance to rise to perfection and preach the passion that is the cornerstone of Spoken’s music.
From the moment founding member and vocalist Matt Baird and company took the stage a striking sense of astonishment seemed to sweep over the audience. A crowd of apathetic cross-armed concertgoers was suddenly transformed. Jaws began to drop. People began to tap the person next to them as if to confirm what they were hearing and seeing was real. Hands were raised and heads started to bang. This is the beauty of Spoken.
Spoken is accretion- where one note builds gradually upon another creating over time a complex musical landscape that completely engulfs the listener. Their songs are constructed within the roots of metal. They have added harmonies, ear-splitting drum beats, multi-layered structured guitar rhythms sprinkled with soaring solos and screaming vocals that explode into a musical mosh pit of intensity. What you hear live sounds like the work of a six-piece band, but what you see are four musicians getting the most out of their instruments as they transition from one song to the next. If you’ve only heard Spoken through their studio albums, you truly haven’t heard them until you’ve seen them. Spoken is a band that knows how to connect with an audience and their songs take on a life of their own when played live.
Touring behind their latest album Illusion, Spoken played a heavy and melodic set that included the anthemic “Through It All” and the musical call to arms “Stand Alone.” It wasn’t just the intensity that vocalist Matt Baird, touring guitarist Scoop Roberts, bassist Ryan Pei and drummer Oliver Crumpton brought that won the unsuspecting crowd over. It was their message of hope brilliantly delivered by Baird’s wailing vocals. Something happened Saturday night that can only be described as spiritual. Forty minutes later, after Spoken had finished their set, people were smiling and there were some that had tears in their eyes. The world of metal has often been thought of as a male-dominated, no feelings allowed sub-culture. Though this is a misrepresentation of the genre, this unfortunate label has, at times, proven true. Spoken broke through barriers and filled a sold out crowd with hope. As a journalist I spend a lot of time not only talking to bands but fans as well. There were many in attendance Saturday night that needed to hear a message of reassurance that people, places and soiled pasts could be rebuilt. To put it simply, Spoken are more than a band; they are ministers of optimism. To tour the world takes tenacity and dedication. To play at the level Spoken does takes talent. To touch a crowd and leave an impact such as I witnessed Saturday night is nothing short of divine intervention. Spoken brings much more than just metal. They bring a message of hope to a chaotic world sowing the seeds of compassion one gig at a time.