Californian metallers Avenged Sevenfold are on a UK arena run after recently dishing up ‘The Stage’, their seventh studio album and the follow-up to 2013’s chart-topping ‘Hail to the King’.
The much talked about supporting line-up of In Flames and Disturbed appear to have done the trick with the Nottingham audience. Arriving at the end of Disturbed’s set, it’s clear to see that David Draiman and company are going down a storm as they finish up with ‘Ten Thousand Fists’ and ‘Down With The Sickness’.
Bowie’s ‘Space Oddity’ serves as an introduction to Avenged Sevenfold – it’s part of an ongoing space theme which includes a bank of hypnotic video screens along the back of the stage and an impressive light show. Hitting us with the title track from the latest album, M. Shadows – his eyes hidden behind shades – saunters down the runway into the crowd for mass adulation and a bunch of high-fives.
While the band themselves look relatively laid back, the versatile vocal of Shadow and the dual guitar work from his bro-in-law Synyster Gates – along with Zacky Vengeance – are engrossing enough. A personal favourite of mine is ‘Afterlife’ from the self-titled 2007 album, and it has the place pumping from front to back before tracks from all seven albums are played out with precision and finesse.
With Zakk Wylde citing him as the torchbearer for young kids to start playing, the talent of Synyster Gates is undeniable. During the first half of the set comes ‘Hail To The King’, ‘To End the Rapture’, ‘Chapter Four’ and ‘Buried Alive’, and throughout it all the majority of audience here can’t help but be drawn to gawp at one of the most technically proficient guitarists in metal.
A7X material is at the very least pretty complex, with some tracks of musical grandeur, so perhaps I was expecting a little too much in terms of overall performance and physical work rate. We know that bassist Johnny Christ is feeling ill, but I am surprised by how nonchalant the entire band come across for a good part of the show. I don’t think it’s necessarily a bad thing, but I was expecting a less sedentary albeit polished performance.
No doubt, the last person of many thinking my way is a lucky fan by the name of Daniel, who is pulled up on stage to sing backing vocals for ‘Nightmare’. The lad can’t believe his luck, but does himself proud and gets a great reception from the crowd.
The animated cube above the stage gives us more to feast our eyes upon during ‘Almost Easy’, the brass ladened ‘Sunny Disposition’ and the ballad ‘Warmness on the Soul’, before a giant inflatable spaceman makes an appearance for main set closers ‘Planets’ and ‘Acid Rain’.
With an encore of ‘Bat Country’, ‘A Little Piece of Heaven’ and ‘Unholy Confessions’, Avenged Sevenfold bring their mighty show – chock full of heavy, growling, melody, production value and exquisite musicianship – to a tumultuous end. Definitely an arena-filling, ticket price worthy, fan giving gig – if I’ve ever been to one.
Review & Photography: Steve Johnston // Rock Music Photographer