One of the biggest kept secrets of 2016, Avenged Sevenfold released their brand new record, keeping the entire operation a secret amazingly until one day before its release. Being the first band of its kind to do so it seems that the band are creating a record number of firsts with their massive arena tour culminating in tonight’s second performance at London’s O2 Arena. Bringing along for the ride the company of In Flames and Disturbed the shows are set to be one of the band’s biggest not only of their magnitude but their career. Having already mesmerised audiences on night one, we were there to witness the second dressing of The Stage.
However before we were able to fully experience the bombast of Avenged Sevenfold we took a short trip to Scandinavia where we were met with a warm welcome from one of Sweden’s many fantastic exports, In Flames. Having two feet firmly in different camps there are those who love the In Flames of old and those who have been bewitched by their later works. Opening the evening up with Battles ripper “The End” it’s clear when recording their latest in California, performances of this magnitude were in mind. Despite their short set time the band make the most of their time in the limelight with frontman Anders Friden egging the crowd on, taunting them before entering back into newer territory with “The Truth“. Performing in a venue the size of the O2 you would imagine that sound could get lost in the mix. However tonight the lead lines of classics cut through the mix to dazzling effect pushing the band’s signature melodic edge right to the front of fans. Bowing out graciously the band finish with a rip roaring “Take This Life” after Friden chastises the crowd one more time before the band take their leave. With this being the first of many tours and many questioning the capability of the new line up of In Flames, we for one can wholeheartedly ensure you they are an act not worth missing and when they eventually come round once again to the UK. Do not miss them.
Well established within the Download daytime slot, Disturbed are at home in the kind of setting of tonight. Beginning with an appearance of guitarist Dan Donagan performing a roaring solo, it’s fair play to the band they might not be the most technically demanding group in the world but as the mandible wobbling David Draiman takes to the stage he has the audience in the palm of his hands from the word go. Despite personal taste being somewhat against the band it is undeniable that they know how to perform to a large scale crowd, despite the perhaps cheesy calls of “Brothers and Sisters” making Draiman sound more like a tattooed up reverend, the band navigate the likes of classic “Stupify” with ease the likes only a season band could do. Returning after their absence the crowd are well and truly chuffed to see the band return. Off the back of their new album Immortals their cover of Simon and Garfunkels “The Sound Of Silence” is given a full stage makeover. Quickly bringing on stage a grand piano the mood is set. After a quick changeover it’s headfirst into the fan favourite “Stricken” before blasting out the crowd with “Indestructible“.
Returning one final time to the melodic aesthetic, “The Light” sees audience participation necessitated as the crowd collectively illuminate The O2 as the cries of “The Light” burst out of people’s camera phones that would challenge even the most arduous of patronuses. Hitting the ground one last time as the fire bellows out of drumkits, side stages and the likes “Ten Thousand Fists” explodes out through the PA met with fantastic upheaval from the band and their fans but of course it’s “Down With The Sickness” that sees the band’s send off followed by Draiman’s rallying cries of “We Are” and crowd retort of “Disturbed” it’s clear that the band have done their job and entertaining a naysayer like myself in the process, well hats off to the band.
As the dins of Bowie’s, no doubt strategically chosen, “Space Odditty” echo throughout The O2 the lights are extinguished. All attentions drawn to Avenged Sevenfold and their grand set up. As the air is tangible with anticipation and the first bolts crackle on screen the familiar introduction of our title track “The Stage” are put forward before both Brooks Wackerman and my fifteen year old guitar heart throb, Synyster Gates introduce us to the company of Avenged Sevenfold for the evening.
Bursting out on stage, no pun intended, M Shadows is a man who understands exactly what the audience thrives on. Charisma positively oozing out of the frontman, the man knows his place taking a backseat for sections of signature harmony between left and right handed axe men Zacky Vengeance and Gates in the likes of “Afterlife“. Delivering hit after hit tonight from throughout all of the band’s career ranging as far back to the fan favourite and second date London exclusives of “Second Heartbeat” and “Beast And The Harlot“. As previously mentioned you would be forgiven in a venue as large as this for temperamental sound but instead the precise nature of “Paradigm” not only highlight the crunching guitars but highlight M Shadows iconic vocals as he struts his stuff in the centre walkway. Seeing the band firing on all cylinders tonight the atmosphere is positively electric with thunderous renditions of “Buried Alive” and the demented jewelry box tones of “Nightmare“, which sees the biggest singalong to date of the band’s performance tonight. Followed by a drum solo from new tom smacker Brooks Wackerman who evades the dreaded over indulgent drum solo and instead delivers short, sharp to the point performance.
Not one for half measures the experimental nature of The Stage is put forward on the bright sounding saxophones of “Sunny Disposition” which originally jarring on the record nestles well in the band’s set. Apparent from the moment the band take flight to The O2 however is their comfort at being on a larger scale performance. Along with constantly motion of members and the minimalist yet grandiose set up makes for new numbers like “God Damn” to make it a true spectacle to watch. Appropriate for the performance tonight “Planets” makes an appearance with a gigantic space man Deathbat looming ominously over the band for almost the remainder of the set. Which leads us to the highlight of the evening after audience led introduction of crowd favourite “Bat Country” and the band’s finest hour as the audience belt out every lyric from the Danny Elfman led “A Little Piece of Heaven“. Having been asked by Shadows if we wanted to hear a song about necrophilia. Ending things on classic and moshpit igniting “Unholy Confessions” it’s a true testament to the longevity of this band. Quite no one would have predicted that Avenged Sevenfold would been performing in The O2 much less selling it out but one thing is apparent to every single person in the room tonight for the first time in a long while the band are genuinely happy, at peace with the departure of their watchful guardian who is doing a damn fine job at ensuring this band becomes the biggest in Metal period. Avenged Sevenfold, if the world is a stage, then what a show we’ve been given.