Tour Review : Ronnie Radke’s Three Ring Circus

      Last Friday evening Ronnie Radke’s Three Ring Circus tour stopped locally at the Sherman Theater in Stroudsburg for an evening none will soon forget. While both Radke and Falling in Reverse may have just been at the Sherman in late 2014 supporting Black Veil Brides, this tour was something entirely different and very special as it has been almost a decade in the making. Though some fans were lucky enough to witness Falling in Reverse on the Bury the Hatchet tour as they teamed up with some of the classic Escape the Fate line for two tracks, Ronnie Radke’s Three Ring Circus tour took this to a new level with the band performing a 9 song set under the name Dying is Your Latest Fashion before diving into a proper Falling in Reverse set later in the evening.

      While many fans of Falling in Reverse may not be fully aware of this older material, a good number of the band’s fans stem back to Radke’s early days when he wrote this album so a performance of it introduced a wide level of fan appeal to this tour. The stage was dressed with the now iconic album artwork of Dying is Your Latest Fashion and the set was dialed back in terms of production but this didn’t detract from the performance at it in fact it may have bolstered it. A steady white lighting cast on the backdrop created a powerful visual effect as the band tore through almost entirety of the album without any difficulty.

      Along the way it was clear which songs were crowd favorites and it was visually obvious which fans were in attendance just for these songs as many of them wore classic Escape the Fate shirts from the Radke era. Both “Situations” and  “Not Good Enough for the Truth in Cliche” have been staples in Falling in Reverse’s set since their formation in 2011 so for many fans hearing these songs live has become almost tradition over the past four years.

      From a purely technical standpoint the band delivered a flawless rendition of the album despite the fact the majority of them needed to learn the material before embarking on this tour as only Radke was fully familiar with many of the tracks. That being said I’m not entirely sure Radke himself even performed all of these songs live when touring in support of the album years back which added a level of importance to this first set the band played.

      Much credit needs to be given to Jacky Vincent who breathed new life into some of the classic guitar parts adding an intricacy that wasn’t present in much of the original album and Ryan Seaman also did more than excellent at mastering some of the more complex drum beats from the album. However the true shining star of the set was Ronnie Radke who was all smiles for the duration of the set as he sang the songs that essentially got him to where he is today as a musician.

      Though Radke has been vocal over the years about how these songs aren’t his best work there is no doubt that this album helped shape him into the powerful frontman that he is today and certainly influenced his writing style on the first Falling in Reverse album. While he may have been more tame while performing these songs than Falling in Reverse songs he was still a fantastic front man as he more than entrained the packed Sherman Theater through out the set.

      The highlights of the set for myself were “Webs We Weave,” “The Guillotine” and the surprise inclusion of “The Day I left the Womb” at the tail end of the set. Radke has truly gained control of his vocal range in the past 4 years and hearing him perform these songs now as compared to back in the day showcased his incredible vocal transformation of the over. It is actually hard to fathom the album came out more than a decade ago as these songs remain staples of the post-hardcore scene to this day and are just as popular, if not more popular, now.

      The decision to perform these songs as a separate set is certainly a non traditional approach that truly shakes things up a bit in what should be considered the norm for live performances. Things like this are what keep Falling in Reverse fans keep coming back for more, the band are true entertainers and they aren’t afraid to ruffle a few feathers to please their fans. Many fans never thought they would hear these songs live again and many may have even thought they would never get to so I think it speaks for itself how meaningful this was to the fans. As the set end Radke thanked everyone in the crowd as he took a bow with his bandmates and stated that Falling in Reverse would be back soon following a quick set change.

      During what was a 20 minute set change over many fans stayed where they were eagerly waiting for Falling in Reverse to retake the stage and play the songs that they love so much. However during this time a good chunk of fans did mingle out into the lobby to purchase both some Falling in Reverse merchandise as well as some stuff from Ronnie Radke’s Hood$ UP Brand that also had a dedicated booth on this tour run. Many fans were already wearing Radke’s brand to the show but it was clear that the clothing line was a hit for the fans as the line at the Hood$ UP table was just as long as the actual band merchandise line was.

      As the lights went dark and the Falling in Reverse logo was projected the crowd quickly came running back into the main theater area because they knew that the band would hit the stage in just a few minutes. A lengthy introduction was played through the house speakers which furthered the anticipation for the band’s arrival on stage, Ronnie Radke’s Three Ring Circus Tour saw the band ditching their usual video introduction for a sourced speech that can only be described as both inspirational and monumental.  A bold decision but one that certainly resonated well with the fans and the theme of the entire tour actually.

      As the speech came to an end, the curtain whisked open and revealed a stage aptly themed like a circus and decorated with numerous lights the band brought with them. As the entirety of the band’s lighting production kicked on, Radke gave a massive shout to the crowd as Co2 went off all across the stage and the band dove into the first track off their new album, “Chemical Prisoner.”

      Having just released their third album, “Just Like You,” back in February it came as no surprise that Falling in Reverse’s setlist was heavy on these newer songs. The album was widely praised amongst those who consider themselves music critics and Revolver even went as far to say that “Post-hardcore fans will certainly enjoy what is Falling in Reverse’s strongest record to date.”

      I prefer to let the fans speak for themselves when it comes to how an album was and after I asked numerous fans in the front at the Sherman Theater show it became clear that “Just Like You” is certainly among their favorites. A few fans even went as far as saying that the album is their favorite release of 2015 so far which speaks volumes to what Falling in Reverse has been working towards.

      The first portion of the set mirrored the tracklist on “Just Like You” identically as the band launched into both “God, If You Are Above” and “Sexy Drug” for their second and third songs; after which they dove into their back catalog including numerous songs from both “Fashionably Late” and “The Drug in Me is You.” The night was full of a fantastic crowd sing alongs, plenty of crowd surfers, massive mosh pits, and a Stroudsburg crowd that truly came out swinging from start to finish. This performance marks Falling in Reverse’s third time on the Sherman Theater stage and the second time they headlined the theater so the band is certainly well aware of their dedicated fanbase in the northern Pennsylvania area.

      Ronnie Radke was full of life during the set as he marched from side to side of the long stage belting out vocals in near perfect form, even taking the time to high five crowd surfers who were flooding over the barricade and handing the microphone to a few of them to sing before security escorted them back into the crowd. Radke addressed the fact that “he is an asshole” later in the set as he introduced their new hit “Just Like You,” but as I watched him perform I could see nothing but care for his fans and thankfulness in his eyes. Does he offend people sometimes? Sure but who doesn’t. It is a rock show for god’s sake, the man is allowed to curse if he wants to and I don’t think he is going to suddenly just change his personality because of a few offensive tweets from random people and a dozen tabloid articles about his personal life.

      From day one Falling in Reverse has had to work twice as hard to shed off a negative image cast on the band by a few “journalists” who had it out for Radke, my statement to these folk is to go to a show and just watch. It is on stage that you see Radke for who he really is, a talented musician who cares more about his fans than he does himself and anyone who says otherwise is just spewing false nonsense. That being said Falling in Reverse is nothing without the talented band members who Radke has surrounded himself with since day one.

      Flanking each side of the stage were a teared level of risers for Jacky Vincent to jump onto while performing his insanely intricate solos but Derek Jones made a few appearances on these risers as well during the night. New addition to the band, Zakk Sandler, on bass did an excellent job jumping into the fray and was certainly not afraid to come forward towards the fans who had so amazingly welcomed him to Falling in Reverse for this tour. Stepping into a band this late in their career is no small feat as Sandler had a large amount of material to become familiar with for this tour but he did so relatively easily it would seem because he fit right in the mold of the band more than any other previous bassist has.

      The band’s massive stage production was certainly impressive as each song was a color coordinated masterpiece of light that illuminated the Sherman Theater in a way it most likely never has been before, this was especially true during the rainbow of colors that were projected during “Bad Girls Club.”

      When Ronnie Radke’s Three Ring Circus tour was announced no one knew exactly what to expect from it but now a few weeks into it is has become clear that fans can expect to see Falling in Reverse continuing to push things to the next level as they deliver technically flawless sets to packed venues. Having covered this band so many times for Sight of Sound it has been interesting to watch them evolve of the years as performers and I can confidently say that Falling in Reverse has hit their stride with this last album and this current tour.

      From their first tour supporting “The Drug in Me Is You,” to the two summers they did on Warped Tour and all the headliner tours since Falling in Reverse has continued to build an army of fans that consistently fill venues in nearly every state. Now that the band has been able to tour abroad in the recent months their fanbase will continue to grow and soon they will playing venues that are probably three of four times the size of the Sherman Theater with a sea of fans still singing along to every song in the set.

      The band’s production has never been more impressive, the setlist has never been tighter, and most importantly the band has never been happier. Their on-stage dynamic has reached a point where you can see all the joy in their faces as the crowd sings along to every song in the set, even Ronnie Radke pointed this out late in the set as he thanked every single person in the crowd a million times before diving into the final song of the encore. I could spoil every little detail and surprise of the band’s set but I think so much of what is enjoyable about their set is Radke’s clever dialogue with the crowd in between songs, Vincent’s on the fly solo, the clever cameo appearances during the set and the total unpredictable of their live show.

For those who are curious the full setlist from the show is attached below but trust me when I say you need experience Ronnie Radke’s Three Ring Circus for yourself :

Dying Is Your Latest Fashion Set :
The Webs We Weave
There’s No Sympathy for the Dead
Reverse This Curse
Cellar Door
My Apocalypse
The Guillotine
Not Good Enough for Truth In Cliché
The Day I Left the Womb

Falling In Reverse Set :
Chemical Prisoner
God, If You Are Above…
Sexy Drug
Rolling Stone
Guillotine IV (The Final Chapter)
Tragic Magic
Raised By Wolves
Bad Girls Club
The Bitter End
I’m Not a Vampire

Encore :
The Drug In Me Is You
 Just Like You

Ronnie Radke’s Three Ring Circus is a masterful idea from Falling in Reverse and takes the throne for the best tour we’ve covered in 2015 just due to it’s incredible attention to detail. During the Falling in Reverse set every song played was flawless, yet when performed live the songs felt different than the studio albums in a way that only served to push the tracks to new places. Radke has pushed through the drama that once plagued Falling in Reverse and as a result the band has prospered into where they are today, I can’t wait to see where this path takes them from here because history has shown that they certainly aren’t afraid to shake things up and try something new just for the hell of it. Falling in Reverse is here to stay, whether you like it or not.

Below is a photo gallery of Falling in Reverse performing as “Dying is Your Latest Fashion,” as well as performing their set on the Three Ring Circus tour, all photos were provided by Matt Christine Photography :

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