Avenged Sevenfold Shake Manchester
...but did Disturbed steal the show?
Words: Tom Blackwell | Photos: Cai Dixon
Swedish metal veterans In Flames opened up to a great sized Monday night crowd, leading vocalist Anders Fridén to open up to the crowd with genuine sincerity in his voice: Even after 22 years performing, the ability to be humbled by attendance figures is monumental to their longevity.
Fridén went on to say that usually they just get screamed at the whole time, so it made a surprising change to be embraced in calmness by such a large-scale crowd. I would put that down to the intrigue that a lot of the audience held towards the band coupled with the earlier start time with the beer not flowing as freely as later on in the evening.
After a quick football reference of the King of Manchester [fellow countryman Zlatan Ibrahimovic], the metallers jumped back into their heavy set.
In town promoting their latest (and twelfth) album Battles - which in itself is a phenomenal feat – their modest approach to playing hard hitting metalcore anthems is truly inspirational, with the icing on the cake being the crowd interaction. Grabbing a phone from the audience and snapping pics of the band during their own set one such highlight.
Embraced in calmness by such a large-scale crowd, I would put that down to the intrigue that a lot of the audience held towards the band. They’ve never hit the heights of the headliners here in the UK, but the likability and dedication of the five-piece really wins over the neutral.
"The secret recipe is to put five people in a room with stacks of beer and whisky and let them get on with it." - Fridén.
By locking themselves away with a stack of beers and whisky, they are able to make their music, stating that anyone is able to do what they do.
Main support came from Chicago's Heavy Metal masters Disturbed, who looked very much at home in front of over 20,000 people. They excel in a scenario that most people would be terrified to experience.
David Draiman carried an almost majestic persona around the stage, with his long flowing trench coat, power stances and fist pumping action that could start a revolution. He carried a courteous articulation when addressing the crowd, with a certain confidence and calmness that suggested complete control.
This delivery combined with the musical content and the stage show may suggest that Draiman could be perceived as Satan himself, strutting around with such a vivid demeanour [think Gabriel Byrne from Arnie Movie 'End of Days']. This identity backed up with Disturbed's own pyro show (which could be felt from the crowd) really propelled their stage presence, as they oozed confidence from start to finish.
When you create something wonderful and 20,000 people attend to watch you perform it, it must make you feel invincible. And when you've been doing so for 23 years, I can only imagine you get used to the occasion, and perfect the craft. This is one fine example of such work.
Depending on the age group, there are valid grounds to suggest Disturbed were the best band on the night.
Alas, we move on to the final act of the evening, the mighty Avenged Sevenfold.
The band were fantastic and brought a buzz to the room simply with their introduction, delivering everything you would expect from a headline arena band. Their abilities on stage were clear from the outset, Vengeance, Synyster, Christ and Shadows held the front line like style icons on a runway, and they even had the runway to boot.
The stage show was not as impressive as their performance. The big cube floating above the stage left a lot to be desired, but it was important to note that the tour production were trying new things. It is crucial in this modern era of music that bands are attempting to step up to the illusive festival headliner slots, and arguably America's next wave of headliners is fronted by Avenged. There simply aren't many bands that can perform on their level.
The VIP sections of the stage were a nice touch, having exclusive fans slotted in a section of the actual stage to enjoy the gig. Being that close must have been an incredible experience, soaking in the atmosphere, but the arena audio may not have been best suited for those people. The band spent most of their time either running up and down the centre aisle or at the front of the stage, so realistically you can get a better view from the pit.
Manchester United goalkeeper David De Gea met Avenged Sevenfold before the gig and gave them a personalised shirt, and in kind A7X dedicated Hail to the King to the United number #1 for his gratitude.
The band played a two-hour set, with a collection of songs spanning their seven-album catalogue, bringing out a huge inflatable spaceman for the latter songs in their set.
A massive credit is due to the band for hanging around after the gig to throw multiple pieces of signed set lists, plectrums and drum sticks into the crowd for people loitering around. A very classy touch, and a sign that they are affectionate to the kids who placed them on this pedestal of rock gods, and future hall of famers.