Testament/Flotsam & Jetsam/4Arm Dark Roots of Thrash Tour – Toronto, 02, 19 2013 By Kenneth Gallant I must say the last leg of the Dark Roots of Thrash tour has been fraught with problems. First of all, Bobby ‘Blitz’ Ellsworth came down with pneumonia forcing Overkill to leave the tour, and worse yet Testament vocalist Chuck Billy has been dealing with throat issues. All these recent maladies have dampened the spirit of what was to be Testament’s triumphant return to the headlining circuit. So needless to say, the set-up for last night’s show in Toronto had been altered given Overkill’s non appearance at the event. First up was 4Arm, a relatively new thrash band hailing from Melbourne, Australia who stormed the stage to play a spirited thirty minute set to a small group of hardcore fans showing up early to the event. Most of the songs they played live were all taken from “Submissions for Liberty” and for the most part it was a valid attempt to warm up the crowd. We had a brief interlude, while stage crews dismantled the set and got it ready for Flotsam & Jetsam. When they gingerly walked onto the stage a half hour later vocalist Eric A.K. joked that the band hadn’t played in Canada in over 10 years and the last time they attempted crossing the border they were held up for passport issues. He then further added that this time around they got stopped for being too drunk, and that got a big chuckle from the crowd. Once the set got underway though, the band concentrated mostly on the classics and dove into a set of vintage thrash songs from “Doomsday for the Deceiver” and “No Place for Disgrace.” The band was in fine form here and throughout the set and they even decided to play three cuts from their latest release “Ugly Noise.” They closed the hour long set with one of my personal favorites – “No Place for Disgrace” and I must say it was a rousing way to close out the performance. We had another thirty minutes to wait around for Testament to hit the stage and this is where the bump in the road occurred. The crowd was jacked up and pumped for their thrash heroes to storm the stage, but they took a long time to rev up the engine for the opening number “Rise Up.” Chuck Billy was obviously not up to his usual standards and you could tell that he seemed ill, while he continually left the stage in between numbers. In fact both Alex Skolnick and Eric Petersen took turns talking to the crowd, before ripping into several cuts from “The Legacy,” The New Order” and “The Gathering”. I think under the circumstances, the band did their best to keep the thrash juggernaut going as best they could, as Chuck struggled to front the band for the night. There were a few highlights from their set list of classics, and rabid fans were treated to thrash classics like: “Over The Wall,” “Into the Pit,” “The New Order,” and “Practice What You Preach.” When they got around to playing “Disciples of the Watch” the mosh pit was a raging storm of activity and once the song finished the show came to an abrupt end. The band got up and did a round of salutes to the audience before walking off the stage, and the crowd just assumed the band was warming up for an encore, but sadly that never happened. The lights came on and the show had come to end at 11pm, thus cheating fans of twenty minutes of the show. It was clear that Chuck couldn’t go any further, so it was the reason the band shortened the set. I was somewhat disappointed by these turn of events, but the one thing I did come away from was the excellent performance of Flotsam and Jetsam. The boys put on a solid set for an hour and I left the Phoenix Concert Theatre feeling somewhat satisfied. Hopefully Testament can regroup and finish the remainder of the tour.