A THANKFUL TANKIAN DONS MANY MASKS IN ACTION-PACKED HOUR; BUT FANS EXPECTING A MEDLEY OF SYSTEM HITS CAME UP EMPTY
by Sandra Sperounes
Edmonton Journal (Alberta)
March 18, 2008 Tuesday
With: Fair to Midland
Where: Shaw Conference Centre
EDMONTON – Serj Tankian is a man of many guises — ranging from a
short-haired Frank Zappa to a long-locked Rasputin.
The System of a Down frontman unveiled his latest — a vaudeville
barker — during Sunday’s stop at the Shaw Conference Centre.
Clad in a white suit and hat, Tankian brought to life one of the
characters from his solo debut, Elect the Dead, a bombastic reflection
of religion, politics, capitalism and sex.
He kicked his legs, repeatedly lifted his hat, dropped to his knees,
waved his hands, and twirled around like a manic Groucho Marx —
desperately trying to keep pace with the dizzying barrage of metal
riffs, piano melodies and Armenian folk rhythms propelling such
songs as Empty Walls, Sky Is Over and Praise the Lord and Pass the
It’s no wonder Tankian’s set only lasted 60 minutes; he was probably
exhausted by the halfway point.
Not to mention the fact he only has one album to his name — and while
most of Sunday’s 3,000-plus fans were eagerly waiting for a medley of
System of a Down songs, Tankian didn’t bother to acknowledge any of
the band’s biggest hits. (He did, however, play a ferocious cover of
an ’80s punk classic, Holiday In Cambodia, by the Dead Kennedys. O,
Jello Biafra, where are you?)
His System snub is somewhat understandable, but might not bode well
for the future of the band.
Tankian is proud of his record, and based on Sunday’s performance,
he feels liberated. He was much more animated — and personable —
with his new band, The FCC, than with his SOAD bandmates.
He also seemed to possess an even greater range of voices — from an
evil opera singer to a Prince-like falsetto to the aforementioned
vaudeville barker, which he used to comedic effect on Lie Lie Lie,
one of the highlights of Elect the Dead and his set at the Shaw.
Tankian followed with one of a few slow-ish numbers, Saving Us, which
also features some of his more uncharacteristically romantic lyrics.
"I love you baby more and more / We need to laugh and sing and warm
each other’s hearts tonight," he crooned.
By the end of the show, his fans were suitably warmed — and so was
"This is the best crowd we’ve had on the tour," he yelled.
"Seriously." And that’s no lie.