Classic rockers are a dying breed. A number of big names passed away in 2016 and with so many of the classic rock fraternity now more likely to pick up their bus pass than jump on a tour bus it does make you think about the future. When the bands who have dominated the arenas and filled the top slots at rock festivals worldwide finally call it a day, who will be left to pick up the metal gauntlet and keep the devil horns aloft?
Two of the main contenders have joined together on this tour to prove that rock is far from dead and judging by the very healthy crowd in the Hydro so soon after Christmas it would appear that they certainly have the pulling power required.
Opening the show tonight at the very unrocking time of 6:15pm were In Flames. The band were in full flight by the time I arrived and entering the hall was akin to walking into the backdraft from a raging inferno. The guys’ latest album, ‘Battles’, has been a regular favourite in my car since its release late in 2016 and it was the track ‘The End’ which the band launched into as I took my seat.
In Flames put everything into a performance but tonight they were fighting a losing battle with the sound which was muddy throughout the set. ‘Cloud Connected’ and ‘Paralyzed’ blasted past, we were encouraged by frontman Anders Fredin to dance along to the latter but I resisted the temptation!
Another new track ‘The Truth’ went down well before the band rounded off the short set with the short, sharp shock that is ‘Take This Life’. Tonight was the first ever In Flames gig for new bass player Hakin Skoger who had a huge smile plastered on his face as he took in the crowd’s cheers. With the band on this form, he had better get used to it quickly.
The first of the bright new hopes was up next. During 2016 Disturbed found themselves thrust into the mainstream limelight with their amazing cover of the Simon and Garfunkel track ‘Sound Of Silence’. They even had the dubious honour of being the ‘record of the week’ on Ken Bruce’s Radio Two morning show. With a stunning vocal from David Draiman it brought the band’s name to a whole new audience who are no doubt still in shock from checking out the rest of the album!
The band entered surrounded by smoke and flames and aptly kicked off with ‘Eye Of The Storm’. Draiman commanded the stage and the crowd with ease making good use of the walkway leading from the stage into the centre of the crowd. What followed was a set which confirmed the fact that the future of rock is in safe hands.
Disturbed major in big anthemic songs which are perfect for filling arenas and with the smoke and huge flames blasting out all around they certainly had the visuals to go with them. The set was comprised from across the band’s career, from their debut ‘The Sickness’ through to their last album ‘Immortalized’.
The biggest song of the set though was ‘that’ cover version which was accompanied with a light show from all the mobile phones in the crowd, it looked impressive from my vantage point. The set was rounded off with ‘Down With The Sickness’ which had the crowd screaming along. Disturbed are a class act and one which I look forward to catching again in the near future.
That brought us nicely to a band who have been mooted for big things since they first appeared on the scene. Avenged Sevenfold have been compared to the likes of Iron Maiden and Metallica over the years and on stage they take cues from both. The stage set was almost bare with just a small drum riser and two crowd pits either side much like the Metallica pits of old.
What they lacked on stage they more than made up for in video screens and light show. With nine screens stretched across the rear of the stage and a huge light show there was always something to feast your eyes on. The band also made good use of the stage runway to get up close and personal with the crowd.
Again the set was a career spanning affair with all the big hitters included. Frontman M. Shadows covered all areas of the stage whipping up the crowd as he went. Avenged take a different approach to their show than Disturbed do and this is evident when looking at the comparison between the two frontmen.
David Draimen reminded me of Rob Halford looking every inch the (nu) metal god and playing the part to the full whereas M Shadows is more in the James Hetfield vein replete in jeans, checked shirt and baseball cap. However, this gives each band a different dynamic and ultimately leads to each filling a separate niche in rock which gives variety and, hopefully, two names to fill those festival top slots.
‘Hail To The King’, ‘Nightmare’ and ‘Almost Easy’ had the Glasgow crowd singing along whilst the video screens streamed a constant array of films and images to accompany each track. The guys also played the instrumental ‘Warmness Of The Soul’ which allowed guitarists Synyster Gates and Zacky Vengeance a chance to showcase their fretboard talents. This was a strong set from a band who have the confidence and songs to fill arenas the world over and one that may yet reach the heights of their contemporaries.
Tonight’s show and indeed this tour package is a showcase for the classic bands of tomorrow and on this showing it looks like rock and metal is in fine form. All hail to the new kings!
Review by Dave Wilson
Photos by Iain Scott
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David Randall presents a weekly show on Get Ready to ROCK! Radio, Sundays at 22:00 BST (GMT+1, repeated on Mondays and Fridays), when he invites listeners to ‘Assume The Position’. This show was first broadcast on 14 March 2021 and includes the Top 10 albums at www.getreadytorock.com for that week.
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