If you are a fan of hard rock and heavy metal in London during the January months, then lucky you! There have been some strong names and lineups kick starting 2017 and its gig calendar. In what is likely to be one of the biggest mainstream metal shows to hit the UK this year came to the O2 and boasted a mammoth lineup consisting of Avenged Sevenfold who brought their huge stage show in celebration of their latest album ‘The Stage’. Tagging along with them, Disturbed and In Flames ensured that there really was something for most people on such a monstrous lineup that would be gracing the grandest stage of them all for two nights in a row.
In Flames played their last opening slot for this tour and it was slightly noticeable with Anders’s vocals, which sounded quite quiet despite the obvious strain on his face and neck. Personally I really enjoyed Niclas and Bjorn who appear to be good friends, playing opposite each other and smiling often, clearly enjoying themselves. They also interacted with members of the audience frequently, Bjorn at one point swearing at me whilst sticking his tongue out. They, for me, gave the show its energy.
Out walks Donegan by himself, standing centre stage, barely lit from either side of him. With a wide stance he started playing the solo to ‘The Eye of the Storm’. It was now Disturbed’s opportunity to entice the arena’s subjects. The pyrotechnics complimented the Moroccan styled square-panelled backdrop that accompanied their set with a marauder of backlit CO2 cannons and lighting arrays. Draiman donning his leather trousers and long leather coat was a great contrast between him and the orange glow that is given off when igniting calcium chloride. The band’s bassist, Moyer, also gave a memorable interactive performance by locking his gaze and pulling various facial expressions. A powerful and credible performance from the four musicians. Disturbed have a presence and set worthy of such a venue.
For the second time that weekend at the same venue, Avenged Sevenfold left audiences listening to ‘Rocket Man’ by Elton John and ‘Space Oddity’ by the one and only David Bowie. Then, all the lights were turned off and the image of the latest album, The Stage, appeared, projected over seven screens, interspersed with lightening flashing before fading into the iconic Death Bat as ‘The Stage’s opening ominous organ filters out. Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome to the stage Synyster Gates, who also started off Avenged’s set solely dominating the stage with the hammer-solo intro to that song, swiftly followed by the blast beats from drummer, Mr. Wackerman.
A credible performance delivered by Avenged Sevenfold who offered up the Sunday crowd a slightly different set list from the Saturday’s show, namely replacing 'Chapter Four' with 'Second Heartbeat' [a tour debut] as well as 'Angles' with 'Beast And The Harlot' [another tour debut]
The band also performed “So Far Away” which not only stood as another tour debut but was also dedicated to the late, great drummer - ‘The Rev’.
As well as the occasional joke, Shadows mentioned his appreciation for people taking ‘soccer’ seriously. All the members that could, made full use of the runway throughout, bringing the musicians down to the same height as the forward barriers. The main stage was six and a half feet high so having this lowered runway really helped make it more personal and close to those fans nearby than had it not been present. The night was drawn to a close, after a three-song encore, by having The Beatles’s 'A Day In The Life” played out.