Fresh off the set of Law & Order: SVU, Ice-T made a fast getaway from the filming of next season’s popular crime drama, on which he has played Detective Sgt Fin Tutuola since 1999, and traded in his NY badge for his iconic black LA baseball cap and black work gloves. From PD to OG, Ice-T is many things…Predictable is not one of them, but being a grand showman certainly is.
Ice-T lit up the Marquee stage with long-time collaborator Ernie C. Together, in 1990, the two formed the controversial LA thrash metal band Body Count. While the band is most famous…or rather INfamous…for their controversial 1992 self-titled album release, Body Count has successfully produced five additional studio albums: Born Dead (1994), Violent Demise: The Last Days (1997), Murder 4 Hire (2006), Manslaughter (2014), and Bloodlust (2017). Even though most of the band’s set list was comprised of their more popular hits from the 90’s, their subsequent releases such as their 2017 Bloodlust cover performance of Slayer’s “Raining in Blood” is consistent with the Body Count feel and sound that made them famous and fit right in among the BC classics all the way back to 1992’s “There Goes The Neighborhood”.
The show opens with sirens and the Body Count title track, including the 9-1-1 “Smoked Pork” dispatch conversation voice-over introduction and the call to order that is the “Body Count Anthem” and “Body Count’s In The House”, both found on the same album. But while in the past the band has focused more on certain people groups, today the message is a bit more refined, pointing fingers at humanity in general. It’s everybody’s fault: #NoLivesMatter. Ice-T picks on every subject from racism to economics. Nothing is sacred. No one is safe. He says what he wants. He makes no apology. He’s not wrong, but at least he sings it to you in a way that makes you want to smash along with him. Body Count is a thrash metal band, and as such may seemingly lack some of the pleasantries and fine-tuning of modern metal music. This is no-frills, straight-up, old-skool. The sound may be raw and the message reality, but there is no shortage of talent in the band’s ranks. Straight outta Compton, Ernie C is still the band’s lead guitar, and he’s anything but typical. Growing up in LA, he was never impressed with the lack of showmanship found in the average R&B artist. He was influenced by bands like The Isley Brothers, but he wanted to live the adrenaline that only rock ‘n’ roll can provide. Now nearly 30 years later, through the iconoclastic anti-establishmentarianism that is BC, Ernie-C’s slick fingers still deftly noodle through Ice-T’s profanity-riddled “Talk Sh*t Get Shot” pimp lyrics like a knife through hot, face-melting butter. It’s melodic, but at the same time it’s mayhem….kinda like his hair. And even though the guitar players are usually the famous guys in the band (next to the lead singer) Body Count wouldn’t be Body Count with the same amount of impeccable rhythm and groove driving the low end. For many years now, Vincent Price has been the Tiffany lamp shade hanging in the fight club barroom that is Body Count…He really ties the room together. First he’s on one side of the stage, then he’s on the other. He’s looking at you, then he’s pointing at me. Encouraging a sing-a-long and shmooving along to the music in love songs such as “KKK B*tch”, nobody goes to a rock show to stand still and be bored, and Vincent Price makes sure you are neither. Over the years, the Body Count line-up has changed slightly. If it’s been a while since you’ve seen a BC show, you’ll notice their new guitar player, Evildead’s Juan Garcia, who joined the band in 2013, and Ill Will on drums since 2009. But somebody’s gotta hold down the fort, as they say, and that is the same Sean E. Sean…the man behind the curtain (even though he’s right there on stage), working magic and running the samples for every song as he’s done since the very beginning. Every show ends with a bang, and Ice-T makes sure to finish everyone off with the heart-wrenching ballad “Momma’s Gotta Die Tonight” followed by the one track that scattered all the record execs back in the day and put the band on the map….”Cop Killer”.
Despite his hardcore presence, Ice-T has always invited others to share his stage and his spotlight. In the video single for “All Love Is Lost” off the Bloodlust album, Ice-T features SVU co-star Kelli Giddish, who also plays Det. Rollins on the show. Co-starring in tonight’s performance was Hatebreed vocalist Jamey Jasta with his side project “Jasta”, with a surprise performance by former Killswitch Engage front man Howard Jones. Ice-T and Body Count appeared at The Marquee Theater in Tempe, AZ before shipping off on their European tour to support their latest album.
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