Monday, April 29, 2019

Dream Sets: Savatage

If ever there were a setlist that I’m prepared to cheat on, it’s this one. I didn’t, though (mostly).


  1. “Prelude to Madness/Hall of the Mountain King” (Hall of the Mountain King, 1987). Right off the top, I’m torn. “Hall of the Mountain King” should, by all rights, be the final song. But by now you guys know my love of a good intro leading into a blistering tune to start the show. I’ve always had this vision of the band playing “Prelude” with the thunder crashing, some flashing lights to represent the lightning maybe a few lasers or fast-moving lights, then after that first riff of “Mountain King” when the full band kicks in, everything comes on and the stage and band is fully revealed. It’s my dream show, so that’s what I’m going with.

  2. “Sirens” (Sirens, 1983). Let’s take it all the way back to the beginning for a couple of numbers for the old school fans, starting with "Sirens," a must-play.
  3. “By the Grace of the Witch (The Dungeons are Calling, 1984). Sticking with the old school for a minute, I’ll throw this one in for the family. I probably would have taken the title track, but the wife and son both love this song, and I’m good with it.
  4. “Edge of Thorns” (Edge of Thorns, 1993). Zachary Stephens makes his first appearance of the show with the title track of his debut with the band.
  5. “Handful of Rain” (Handful of Rain, 1994). Lots of title tracks in this set, I’m noticing. Let’s keep the Stephens love going with this one.
  6. “When the Crowds are Gone” (Gutter Ballet, 1989). Let’s slow it down for a minute with one of my favorite Savatage ballads. They will likely be the only band I break my one ballad per set rule with. This one, to my mind, is a classic. So much emotion and feeling.

  7. “Tonight He Grins Again” (Streets, 1991). One of my favorite lyrics on this record and in their overall catalog, so it gets the nod over "Jesus Saves."
  8. “The Price You Pay” (Hall of the Mountain King, 1987). Perhaps one of Criss Oliva’s simplest riffs, but no doubt effective, especially with his brother Jon’s wicked vocals over the top.
  9. “Believe” (Streets, 1991). The second ballad to make the list, this is one of my absolute favorite songs of all time by any band. There’s so much power in it – filled with regret and sadness, but also hope. If I could only pick one song, this would be it. I probably would have gone for the ballad trilogy with “Alone You Breathe” if I had one more slot.
  10. “Awaken” (Poets and Madmen, 2001). This album is often overlooked and very underrated. I felt the need to include one song here, even though it meant that there’s nothing from Wake of Magellan, which I also love.


  1. “Power of the Night” (Power of the Night, 1985). This also would have been a good opener, but it serves as well to get the crowd riled up for the encore. “Raise the fist of the metal child.”
  2. “Chance” (Handful of Rain, 1994). I can’t have a Savatage show without at least one tune that features counterpoint vocals. It’s one of my favorite aspects of their music. My decision came down to this one and “The Wake of Magellan,” but “Chance” won out by a hair.
  3. “Gutter Ballet” (Gutter Ballet, 1989). If you don’t close with “Hall of the Mountain King,” this is the obvious second choice. A fantastic song that gave us the first inkling of the symphonic sound that was to come.

Notable absences

“Jesus Saves.” I really wanted this song in the setlist, but it just didn’t quite make it.

“Christmas Eve Sarajevo (12/24).” I always like to remind people this was a Savatage song first, but it’s more associated with TSO and probably more appropriate to their show.
Tough cuts

“The Dungeons are Calling”
“Beyond the Doors of the Dark”
“Mentally Yours”
“Jesus Saves”
“Ghost in the Ruins”
“Alone You Breathe”
“Dead Winter Dead”
“Blackjack Guillotine”
“Paragons of Innocence”
“The Wake of Magellan” "I Seek Power"

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