LIVE REVIEW! Avatar - O2 Institute, Birmingham

January 25, 2019

It's been a slow start to the new year for many, the post-Christmas slump seems to have stretched out for weeks and well into 2019. But as the year heads towards the end of its third week the music scene is picking up and the first major tour of the year hits our shores.

 

Growing in stature year on year now, Avatar return following a successful tour in support of Halestorm at the latter end of 2018. Now they headline Academy sized venues in their own right and with it bring a huge stage show set up.

 

Kicking off an eclectic line up is Dylan Walshe, a one man band from the south east of Dublin. Celtic folk meets bluesy rock in an acoustic setting. Great stuff but not so sure the style fits with the headline act.

 

The Mahones, another Irish act, are up next. Punk rock with a twist, that being a heavy influence on the sound from the accordion of Nicole. The four-piece outfit regal us with hard hitting, fast paced punk anthems, intense drumming together with solid riffing and vocals from Finny. Not to dissimilar in sound from The Pogues, the fans lap it up and the house comes down as they tease a cover of Black Sabbath's ‘Iron Man’.

 

From the minute The Mahones leave the stage Avatar Country Radio comes blasting over the PA. Providing musical interludes, news bulletins and advice for the citizens of Avatar Country. A great way to build up the atmosphere and the suspense in during the half hour wait for the band to appear.

 

As the house lights fade us into darkness the Avatar logo lights up on stage, anticipation builds as behind the drum riser a throne rises highlighted by a solitary spotlight. Sat upon the throne is "The King", guitarist Jonas Jarlsby, adorned with royal gown and topped off with a crown.

 

They open with 'A Statue of the King' Jarlsby sat towering above the stage on his throne throughout as front man, the ever eccentric Johannes Eckerström, stands atop a podium centre stage preaching to the citizens. Eckerström escorts the King down from on high to a new throne front and centre stage for ‘Legend of the King’ guitar solos a plenty as the King addresses his subjects.

 

The thought and effort put into producing the stage show is awe inspiring, reminding me of the spirit of Alice Cooper (without the horror elements) in its implementation. As the throne exits stage left, the show really begins as we are treated to an hour and forty five minutes of music exuberance.

 

Through a back catalogue of seven albums and a multitude of costume changes the show goes on, bubbles fill the rooms as the music does the real talking. Highlights include 'The Eagle Has Landed' and 'Smells Like A Freak Show', Eckerström holding the audience in the plam of his hands, his showman ship on a level like no other.

 

To round off a magical evening, 'The King Welcomes You To Avatar Country' gets the fans moving once more before the finale of the ever popular 'Hail The Apocalypse'.

 

The band may not be every traditional "metal" fan’s cup of tea, but there is no doubting the entertainment value, showmanship and technical excellence the band deliver on. The future is here and now in Avatar Country and the citizens can't wait for more!

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