“It’s been six years since we were last in Newcastle,” comes the confession from Avenged Sevenfold vocalist M Shadows, making for a few albums that fans in Newcastle may not have heard live yet but there’s still some time between the doors finally opening at Metro Radio Arena to when the epic Avenged Sevenfold make their way on stage.
Rewind a little bit to Disturbed, who take to the stage for an hour long set – much longer than your average supporting act but it’s taken well by their fans scattered among the crowd. Their set up is simple, with just an army style sheet behind them and all they have for flare is a little pyro but it works for them. Fire shoots in perfect time with David Draiman’s vocals, which carry through the whole arena with ease. There’s no chance of it being lost or washed out, it’s powerful and he demands to be heard with every note. Highlights of the set included Prayer and The Light, pushing the bounds of their metal sound to the brink and blurring the line of genres to make it their own. It is better in a live setting that’s for sure and not just because of the perfectly timed pyro.
What came a little unexpectedly was a solemn performance of The Sound Of Silence, though Disturbed covered the famous Simon & Garfunkel song back in 2015 it is a vast difference to their usual sound and almost didn’t fit in with the rest of the set. There were no lights, no effects, it was just the band in a line with a couple of added extras on strings. It stands out, though and just goes to show the versatility of Disturbed as long standing as they are.
When Avenged Sevenfold take to the stage, it’s only fitting that they appear playing the opening notes to the title track of their newest album ‘The Stage’. The catwalk is utilised throughout, mostly by vocalist M Shadows, who struts his stuff right to the end where he can reach out for the many waving hands that shoot in his direction the second he nears. The setlist is a triumph of some of the most heavy hitting tracks that the band have put out – except for Beast & The Harlot which is a big miss and something heavily expected from everyone in the surrounding area.
Angels was a highlight, if you know of Avenged then you know that at least every album has a slower track on it. For The Stage that song is Angels and it seems M Shadows lone at the end of the cat walk, part of the set hovering above him like a (rather oversized) halo. He’s come a long way since his days of only screaming and you can hear how well he’s progressed over every album. The guitars are still as killer as ever, if anyone was ever in doubt of their skills, they’d only need to hear solo played out by one Synyster Gates to know that Avenged are a powerhouse of eclectic riffs that echo through the large hall and blow you away leaving you with goosebumps raised once the performance draws to a close.
Enlisting the help of the crowd midway, Avenged pause to wish a member of their crew a Happy Birthday, Big T is called out for blushing as everyone bands together to sing the well known celebration song and it’s a nice touch, a band that size doesn’t typically interact as much or get the crowd involved in anything – at least from what we’ve seen – but Avenged are clearly well versed and know that the key to a good show is keeping that audience engaged throughout. Of course though, with a set up like the one they have, with a giant astronaut floating in mid air, it’s really hard not to be completely enthralled the entire time.
Eventually the show has to draw to a close and there is a moment of weakness from those watching as just before the band are due back with their encore, all you can hear is M Shadows calling out ‘I don’t know man’, almost as if the band are reconsidering doing an encore at all and really, with the lacklustre chants you couldn’t blame them. They do, though and mention that they’ll be taking the crowd to Bat Country and maybe, if that gets them riled up enough, they’ll play an extra song.
Those few words work, like a fire has been set under them as everyone is suddenly animated. Their screams are even deafening when the words ‘A Little Piece Of Heaven’ are uttered and it draws an unrestrained hearty laugh from the vocalist who says; “I’ve never known anyone to get so stoked about murder,” and that’s exactly what the song is about as it begins to play through on screen. The track is 7 minutes long and every second of it is a shining display of Avenged Sevenfolds’ versatility.
Six years on and back with a vengeance, though they were sorely missed you can be sure they were definitely worth the wait. The flurry of new songs that hone in on that familiar Avenged Sevenfold sound are powerhouses in a live setting, like they were completely made for it. It’s only a matter of when will they be back – hopefully there won’t be a six year break this time – and what will they throw at us next.