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Meet Sully Erna and his softer side

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Playing an acoustic show without the rest of Godsmack, lead singer Sully Erna won over The Joint with humor and good music.
Photo: Allison Duck

Maybe if Sully Erna of Godsmack had been my music teacher, I would have paid a little more attention in class. Surely if Erna had dropped his pants during lessons, as he did during Saturday night’s show at The Joint at the Hard Rock, I would have been rapt. But even without the flash of sunburned hip, Erna’s acoustic show was a treat: two parts VH1 Storytellers and one part PSA for the power of music.

Performing a blend of Godsmack songs, his original music and covers, Erna delivered an intimate performance that felt like peering into Erna’s own living room. The stage was set up with couches and coffee tables and a few lucky fans got to listen to Erna from these prized seats.

While Godsmack is known for their pounding drums and bass, lead vocalist Erna managed to capture the powerful sound of their music while performing stripped down versions on his acoustic guitar and grand piano. In between songs he spoke to the crowd, concluding that the sounds we heard were simply vibrations. It didn’t hurt that the acoustics at the Joint were outstanding and we could literally hear every pluck of his guitar string.

He then asked the audience to share memories of Godsmack songs and concerts. A woman in front was quick to raise her hand and mumble some incomprehensible babble into the mic. After asking her to repeat the comment, Erna motioned her to come on stage and tell him directly what she was saying. When that too was unproductive, Erna called a foul, “Penalty box, 2 minutes for confusing the audience!”

His music, however, remained totally clear. After asking the crowd for song requests Erna took up “Voodoo,” one of Godsmack’s famous drum-heavy tunes. He managed to make the song sound as big as ever using just his acoustic guitar for back up. His powerful voice belted out the eerie lyrics so well that I didn’t even miss the rest of the band.

Ranging over the rest of the show from serious in military tribute “Until Then” to silly, taking to the piano to play a spirited rendition of “The Pink Panther,” Erna ended the evening with a musical montage of classics like “Hey Jude” and “Dream On,” encouraging the crowd to stand and sing with him. He finally bid The Joint farewell saying, “That’s the gift of music. You take that home. That’s from me to you.” Thanks, Sully.

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