Just over three years ago, sixteen year-old me had discovered Avenged Sevenfold for the first time and was immediately anxious to see them live. This year that wait was finally over, and what better way for it to be fulfilled than in a massive arena following the release of a surprise album that’s still being talked about. A night of incredible performances, crazy stage productions and a massive crowd marked one of the best live performances I’ve been to. But I’m getting ahead of myself; first the supports.
Openers In Flames put on an peppy but otherwise fairly mediocre performance and I’d venture to say that in cities that didn’t have a crowd as mental as Birmingham (so all other cities), the impact would have been far less. Still, they did a good job of warming us up and in the interval that followed there was already electricity running through the standing crowd as we anticipated Disturbed’s arrival. Beginning with an energetic run through of ‘Immortalized’, the band wasted no time in getting everyone’s horns up, heads banging and voices screaming out “Oh, in the calm before the storm…”. In terms of production, there were definitely no cold bodies at the front of the arena as flames spurted out continuously in bursts and waves during the set.
There was an aura emanating from the band; Draiman in particular maintained that almost demonic, bewitching presence that is so often featured in their music videos. A powerful performance of ‘Sound of Silence’ that had a sea of lights emerging from the audience and an insane end with ‘Down With the Sickness’ and Disturbed left the stage having put on a show worthy of headlining. I even heard people question if Avenged could top their performance and whilst a lot of bands would have struggled to, A7X were not one of them.
Being the concert junkie that I am, one of the main concerns I had with The Stage was how the songs would come across live. There were certainly no anthems like ‘Hail to the King’ on the album, nor are there any crazy mosh songs like ‘Bat Country’. It took approximately 30 seconds for Gates’ guitar to tear in during opener ‘The Stage’ and completely dispel any such thoughts. The first four songs of the set were packed with energy, with Shadows running up and down the stage and Wackerman relentlessly banging through each song with ease.
The setlist only continued upward as unexpected tracks ‘To End the Rapture’ and ‘Chapter Four’ came in following a declaration that they wanted to “play a song from each of our seven records”. Finally, the band ended as they begun with a truly explosive encore of ‘Bat Country’, ‘A Little Piece of Heaven’ and ‘Unholy Confessions’. I may be biased towards the latter but it was the perfect, crazy ending to an insane show.
If I had any critiques to make, it would lie only in production. For the most part, the use of massive screens is always effective and theirs started off really well. However, the staging included a giant floating cube which halfway through the set proceeded to move – painfully slowly – to the middle stage. There were about 10 seconds of fascination because oh my god the screen is actually moving before the silence became a little bit awkward and impatience grew. On top of that, only the front two sides of the cube had screens so for us at the front we got to see the blank back which wasn’t extremely exciting. I personally would’ve scrapped the whole thing and lifted off with their enormous skeletal spaceman right off the bat. Minor details aside, the performance itself was truly flawless. Hopefully I won’t have to wait another three years to see them again!
The full setlist for Avenged Sevenfold’s show can be seen below:
- The Stage
- Hail to the King
- The End of the Rapture
- Chapter Four
- Buried Alive
- God Damn
- Almost Easy
- Sunny Disposition
- Warmness on the Soul (instrumental)
- Acid Rain
- Bat Country
- A Little Piece of Heaven
- Unholy Confessions