Three Days Grace @ O2 Ritz
Honestly…. Seeing, Three Days Grace live was a little emotional for me. As a kid, I listened to a lot of American alt-rock/post-grunge and Three Days Grace were just the right fit. Looking back they were slightly riding the coattails of bands like Papa Roach and Atreyu. Still, they were, and still are, great nonetheless. Those first two albums honestly changed my life and that’s why they have always held a place in my heart. 13 years after first hearing them. I have finally had the chance to see them live in concert and let me tell you it was a pretty damn good show. Though the iconic voice of Adam Gontier is now gone. The vibrance and energy of their music is still there, which you can hear in their new album Human. The crowd were excited and the atmosphere was fantastic as there was such an age-range. It wasn’t sold out but it wasn’t deserted either, and the fans eagerly waited for the bands to take the stage.
We Are The Ocean
Well, this was a pleasant surprise. I haven’t seen We Are The Ocean live in a long time and this is yet another band that I adored a few years ago. Not having a chance to hear any of their recent material I wondered how their set was going to play out. Very well, it turned out, We Are The Ocean just went for it bringing that high caliber performance that I remembered from their earlier years. I am surprised how they've matured as a band too. Their old pop-punk style stage antics had long gone and they now present themselves as the seasoned rock band that they have become. I have to say a lot of their newer stuff sounds pretty damn decent live, everything sounded big and vocalist, Liam Cromby just nailed every single note. If you need to know how to advertise yourself as a rock band just watch a band like this perform as they just get so into their music and it’s so clear that they love doing what they’re doing. Even when performing a cover it sounds wonderful, like when they play London Grammar's Hey Now. As the set drew to a close, they played the one song that I knew, they played their big hit from 2011, The Waiting Room and man was I buzzed to be singing along to this song again. I thought that this would end their set, but they ended on their new song Good For You which I have admit felt a little lackluster at first but, boy oh, does this song hit you right in the gut when it kicks in. I was completely hooked from start to finish. Hopefully, I won’t leave it another 5 years before I see them again.
Three Days Grace
What can I say about this set? It was great from start to finish. The energy was great, the setlist was well chosen mixing the old hits with the new material. Matt Walst, was ever the charismatic front man keeping the energy alive to the last moment. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a singer that looks like that they’re having this much fun and it was completely contagious. Barry Stock and Brad Walst played well and added their own flair to the proceedings. All this rock chaos was tightly controlled by the drummer, Neil Sanderson who gave a superb showing and the mid-set drum solo (that I’m starting to realise is a common feature with these American rock band shows), it was fun to watch and hear.
The start of the set was pretty frustrating though, I have to admit I’m not a fan of long drawn out band intro’s. I don’t mind if they have a point but if you’re just going to play a song over the sound-system, this one being Rage Against the Machine’s Killing In The Name Of then I’d rather you just come on stage and play. Also, don’t give me the excuse of it building atmosphere, it pisses people off, that’s what it does. Anyway after the long-ass intro and it begins properly with the new song I Am Machine which was immediately followed up with Just Like You from the first album. This got me pumped. It immediately took me back to being a teenager, my emotions rushed out as I sang along. As they ploughed through the set I just got more into it. Every time they played a song from the first, second or third album I just felt so happy to be hearing these songs live. Songs like I Hate Everything About You, Home, Break and Animal I Have Become were just crowd pleasers and did their job wonderfully. The song that caught me completely off-guard was Never Too Late. I won’t go into details but let’s just say that this song meant a lot to me and they performed it perfectly.
So enough of being a fanboy, how was the show from a critical standpoint? Well it was pretty good although it suffered from pacing issues at times like they would rush through some songs but linger on others. The encore felt rushed and they piledrived through Riot, arguably one of their biggest hits. Three Days Grace didn’t have the finesse of We Are The Ocean and by comparison it sounded a little sloppy. Yet, there was a charm to it. Matt Walst was a fantastic showman and kept the crowd hanging on his words. When he started the Three Days Grace chants people shouted right back at him and kept it going. The live production was pretty damn decent and everything sounded clear, maybe a little too much distortion on the guitars but that’s just a drawback of this genre in general. The songs from the new album were pretty refreshing bringing some flavour to the show. I enjoyed tunes like Human Race, Painkiller and So What and it made me want to pick up the new album as I failed to do so last year.
This was a fantastic night and full of emotion for me. When it comes to a band from my childhood/teenage years I’m obviously going to be a little bias. So I enjoyed myself a bit too much rather than thinking of a proper analysis of the show. Both bands were fantastic and this was one hell of a way to kick off 2016, not with a whimper but with a bang.
Words: Mick Birchall
Photos: Wendy Keogh