REVIEW: Sully Erna’s “Hometown Life” comes to NYC

I’m not a fan of acoustic shows, but I am a huge fan of Godsmack, which means I’m a huge fan of their frontman Sully Erna. So when Sully brought his acoustic Hometown Life tour to New York, I knew I was spending the night at Gramercy Theater to check out his solo show while I continue to wait for Godsmack to actually come to the NYC area (read: Camden NJ is not the NYC area). So there I was on a Wednesday night, checking out an acoustic show from a guy with one of the best voices in hard rock today, not knowing what to expect.

What I got was Sully’s trademark Boston Italian accent, stripped down to go along with the acoustic guitar and occasional harmonica. Sully’s only got two solo albums – Avalon and the just-released Hometown Life, so he threw it a couple stripped down Godsmack songs along with an Alice In Chains cover, and even covers of Metallica’s Nothing Else Matters – which sounds weird as hell as an acoustic song – and the Pink Floyd classic Another Brick in the Wall Pt 2 before finishing up with one last cover, or technically two last covers, as he played Aerosmith’s Dream On that segued into The Beatles classic Hey Jude to wrap it all up.

Kicking off with his own solo stuff, naturally, Sully opened up with Avalon and Sinner’s Prayer, both off his debut solo album, before getting into the new material with Your Own Drum and Don’t Comfort Me. The stripped down version of Alice In Chains’ Nutshell was accompanied by a video tribute to the rock stars who died way too early, including AIC’s Layne Staley at the very end.

Of course, no Sully show would be complete without the obligatory Godsmack songs, of which there were two. Running Blind and Touche, both of which were featured in acoustic form on Godsmack’s The Other Side, though I was always partial to Voices from that album and would have loved to hear it live during Sully’s acoustic show. That’s not to say Running Blind and Touche aren’t excellent as acoustic songs, they are, but this one comes down to personal preference for  stripped down Godsmack songs.

All told, Sully gave us a 20-song acoustic set that made me reconsider my position on acoustic sets, complete with a piano solo near the end of the night. I knew Sully was awesome, and I knew he and Godsmack put on a solid show, but it’s hard to know what to expect from an acoustic show – Breaking Benjamin tried it and it didn’t play well with their music, where Shinedown has also done it and it went much better. Sully‘s Hometown Life is acoustic by design, and that’s what makes it play so well live, even when he’s throwing in stripped down acoustic covers of songs that are famous for being hard rock songs. Go see Sully if you can, but go in expecting a chill night full of three-piece acoustic music in a seated show. This isn’t one to bang your head to, but it’s definitely one worth checking out. Gallery below.