© Jay Hawkins
Photos by Jay Hawkins
Tonight’s first act was on pretty early, in the grand scheme of things, 18:15, however, doors opened at 17:30, which really doesn’t allow people much time to get home from work, get changed and get to the venue, but that’s another story! I managed to arrive at the venue, just in time for In Flames to take to the stage (by the skin of my teeth in fact) I didn’t even have time to pee!
That said, many people did make the effort to get down early enough to see In Flames perform, who were the first support act to A7x tonight, which is a great honor, in its self, is it not!
Personally, this was my first time seeing these ‘ super swedes’ in action, however I’m aware the band are moving up the ranks and fast, who, along the way, appear to be grabbing the attention of all the right music media types, who’ve all become rather excited and over animated about these guys! As a new viewer, I quickly established why these guys were chosen to support tonight, as they got the crowd well and truly fired up (at least I hope that’s why they were chosen to support?) Being Swedish, we’ll forgive their sense of humour, which we saw plenty of, between tracks. My favorite aspect of this band was their energy, the fact they use 2 guitars AND a kick drum so powerful, my ears started to bleed! Currently signed to Nuclear Blast, they’ve recently released their latest album ‘The End’ which gets accompanied by 2 new music videos ‘The End’ and ‘The Truth’ check them out by following the links. After tonight’s performance, I’ll certainly be checking the band’s new album out, as soon as I can, maybe whilst editing the photo’s I took of them, as it’s available on Spotify!
I may be way off base here, but since Disturbed’s performances at last year’s summer festivals and the fact they’ve produced an AMAZING cover of Simon & Garfunkel’s track ‘Sound of Silence,’ these guys have been a hot property ever since! Let’s face it David Draiman’s voice is incredible and worthy of being inducted into the category of top 100 greatest metal vocalists of all time. His talents don’t just stop their ever, as he is responsible for writing most of the bands biggest hits, such as ‘Stupify and Down With the Sickness’. Wanna hear a true story? Tough, I’m telling it anyway (for comedy value) I first discovered I liked Disturbed when I heard ‘Down with the Sickness’ used as a backing track to an adult movie…..I’m sure you don’t need 2 guesses as to why this track was used! What can I say, I was young, dumb and full of come. These days, I’m mostly just full of…….I digress. Since then, I’ve followed the band’s turmoil career, along with all the bad press that appears to follow these guys, but when all said and done, musically, these guys are ace. I love this band and live, they are even better. As any good band should Disturbed are entertaining and get a crowd doing what they’re meant to do at a live gig, enjoy themselves.
Crowd participation is a must at a Disturbed show, it seems, so for 10,000 fists, David got the crowd punching their fists in the air, in another track, we shouted ‘in light’ and of course, for ‘Sound of Silence’ there was very little prompting needed, for everyone to get their phones out to record David’s amazing rendition of a classic G&F track. What a sight to behold too, who needs Coldplay’s expensive wristbands (although they are cool) when you have a phone with a light on it. “WE ARE, WE ARE DISTURBED”
After Disturbed’s set, the band threw out their guitar picks, as most bands do these days, I didn’t pay much attention, until I saw a young lady, desperately looking on the floor, for one of Dan Donegan’s guitar picks, which landed in front of her, on the barrier side. As I was in an advantageous position, in the pit, I thought I’d help her look. I was in fact, lucky enough to find said pick, but quickly concealed it within my pocket, until such a time that everyone else had given up, only to observe who was still desperately looking for the pick. That same young lady fit the description, so I called her over and held up the pick and offered it to her, much to her amazement, she graciously accepted the presented pick and gave me a big warm hug, which made me feel pretty good inside, to be honest. Secretly I was going to keep the pick, for myself, but felt bad, considering the privileged position I hold, during a show, I photograph, well, for the first 3 songs anyway. No really, I enjoyed giving the super fan, a super keepsake.
Avenged Sevenfold then, the main act, for the purpose of saving time, I’ll merely refer to them by their own reference A7x. The fans, in front of the barrier, waited patiently as the stage crew set to work, in building these caged ‘pen’ like structures, either side of the stage. These acted as viewing platforms, for super fans, who paid extra to get a more advantageous view of their idols. The stage set up also had a long walkway that went out into the crowd, which all the bands tonight, took great pleasure in using, as did A7x. Let’s just say, if I was one of the people, who paid extra, to be on the stage, I’d of felt pretty miffed, as the band spent most of their set, running up and down the walkway. We had a great view mind, from a photographers perspective, many angles to explore and use, artistically! This is what I love, I wish I got more opportunities like this! ‘THE STAGE’ which is the band’s latest album title, lived up to its expectation, as you’d expect, with an album title like this!
Since A7x’s triumphant headline set, at Download, in 2014, where they proved they could provide fans with an arena show, worth paying for, they have done so, ever since. The whole stage set up was incredible, as was the lighting and even the sound impressed me tonight. I don’t usually enjoy the acoustics at the Motorpoint arena, but the band brought so much additional lighting and stage gear with them, it helped to improve the spectator’s experience, tenfold.
M.Shadows was on fire tonight and you could clearly see he was up to the challenge, of entertaining his adoring fans. Surely, this is an easy job, when everyone in attendance is here to see you, right? To pay his respects, to the 7000ish fans who made it down to the Motorpoint Arena, mid-week, on the wrong side of January, he went about high fiving as many people as possible. I nearly got high fived in the face, but got a great shot of the man, trying to avoid him, in the process! Synyster Gate, as he’s known, who’s the band’s lead guitarist also seemed to be enjoying himself tonight! ‘Hail to the King’ was my favorite track of the night, although, I loved hearing Nightmare, also, especially as Daniel (from Nottingham) a super fan, who knows all the band’s lyrics, got to sing the track, with the band, on stage. He didn’t do too badly ever, fair play son!
To sum up, tonight was a remarkable spectacle, from start to finish!