© Jay Hawkins
Photos by Jay Hawkins
Tonights gig was an absolute must see, the hottest show in the UK, in my eyes, however many great bands were playing over in Nottingham, but I wasn’t there, so I can only tell you about Volbeat, with support from Iced Earth and The Howling. After work, I braved the traffic and made my way to the heart of the UK and the birth place of Metal, Birmingham. Thank christ for Sat Nav, by the way, with its traffic avoidance system, If i’d of ignored its advice, i’d probably still be stuck on the M42 dying of starvation or something, but, I took its advice and made it in good time!
When I arrived, I was greeted by non other than Chubbs, from Black Acid Soul’s, who kindly agreed to carry my camera bag in exchange for watching the show. 😉 We was then greeted by a que of people, all the way down Bristol Street, which was a sure sign that tonights show was going to be a good’n!
Before the first act came on a dub step track started playing, with three stages at the O2 academy, we looked at each other, as if to say, are we in the right place? Thankfully the 5 piece rock and rolla’s from London, The Howling took to the stage, kicking off proceedings in spectacular fashion!
There’s currently a lot of hype around this young, energetic band, who are getting a lot of media attention and for very good reason. They officially formed in 2012, but have quickly climbed the ranks, with a handful of sell out shows in their home town London, an appearances at Download 2013 and now supporting Volbeat. With them, they bought their modern day, riff fueled, punk rock show thats full of energy. Being a relatively young band, the sky’s the limit for these guys. Good luck to them, as they rocked it hard tonight, however, someone forgot to switch the stage lights on, so we could barley see them!
The honor of main support was given to, American veterans, Iced Earth tonight. Formed back in 1994, now consisting of Jon Schaffer – Rhythm & Lead Guitar, Vocals, Stu Block – Lead Vocals, Troy Seele – Lead Guitar, Luke Appleton – Bass Guitar and Raphael Saini – Drums, these guys look like a metal band. With the venue’s capacity now full, there simply wasn’t room to swing ya beer belly! Primarily, a heavy metal band, you can hear their influences include the likes of Judas Priest, but their material is varied and can be mellow, I’d even go as far as to say they performed a power ballad tonight, one of their biggest hits, “Watch over me”. One common denominator is that heavy guitar riff, thats featured in virtually every track though, given them a distinctive sound.
Apparently, Stu is recovering from Bronchitis, damning guitar players, as he can’t simply go into a shop to replace his vocal chords, but I couldn’t tell he was suffering. If his voice was at 95% tonight, I’d love to hear them when it is at full power, because I was blown away by the power and range in Stu’s voice!
Whilst photographing, I noticed a V (Guy Fawks) mask had been strapped to the drum kit. All became apparent, when Iced Earth performed their track V, from their latest album (Dystopia) released in 2011. During the track Stu held the mask a loft, as a visual aid, to accompany the lyrics. He then threw it into the crowd, which one lucky person caught to keep as a memento. Throughout the set, I could see the crowd were loving every second of tonights performance, with much singing and air guitar playing going on, these guys are honestly a fantastic band to watch live.
Full set list:
Plagues of Babylon
If I Could See You
Watching Over Me
As the stage was prepared for Volbeat, I had the opportunity to observe the crowd, in their masses, I was suitably impressed with the lengths some fans had gone for the occasion. Dressed as Outlaw Gentlemen and Shady Ladies, complete with suits, shirts, ties and hats, in honor of the new album and the character on the sleeve. I also asked a few people how they’d discovered Volbeat, with the majority replying “At Download”, this too was the first time i’d seen the band live, but am aware Metallica are big fans of these guys and had them as support during the World Magnetic Tour in 2009. Well, any band that supports Metallica are destined to become super stars, but most importantly, these guys have something very special to offer.
As me dear old dad says “If a band sound as good live, as they do on the CD, they’re all right in my book” and they do sound every bit as good as their albums, if not better live! To sum up Volbeat, these guys are true romantics and this can be heard in their material, which helps them to appeal on a grand scale, but its how they write and perform their love songs that makes Volbeat so unique. With influences like Johnny Cash and Elvis, these guys clearly incorporate that classic rock sound, but their music goes much further, venturing into country, rock and blues, to full on thrash metal.
Originally from Holland, English isn’t their first language, however, when Poulsen addresses the crowd, I couldn’t hear an accent. Personally, I’d go as far as to say Poulsen has one of the most unique voices in modern music, add into that the great writing and music, he could be given Ronnie James Dio status one day!
The band consist of Michael Poulsen – Guitar/Vocals, Jon Larsen – Drums, Anders Kjølholm – Bass and Rob Caggiano – Guitar
As Birmingham (the home of metal) was kicking off the UK leg of an extensive European tour, as expected, tonights show was incredible to which the O2 can proudly say they delivered a truly remarkable set up, lighting – fantastic, sound – amazing, atmosphere – electric, giving this venue my thumbs up!
A great moment came, after the first 3 songs and we’d been, quite politely, booted out of the pit, when Poulsen harnessed his acoustic guitar and started to play a familiar Johnny Cash track, the crowd went a little silent, to which he asked “do only know Judas Priest tracks…..” hahaha, to which the crowd responded by singing at the top of their lungs, all the words, which blew Volbeat away. Infact, the crowd were in fine form on many occasions and you could see the band really appreciated it, must be a great feeling! I, along with 3000 others loved it, tonight’s Volbeat performance firmly sits in my top 10 gigs of 2013!
Full set list:
Guitar Gangsters & Cadillac Blood
The Nameless One
Sad Man’s Tongue
Heaven Nor Hell
Dead But Rising
The Mirror And The Ripper
The Hangman’s Body Count
Maybellene I Hofteholder
I Only Wanna Be With You
Pool Of Booze, Booza Booza