Defenders Of The Faith - Birmingham
Academy - Wednesday 23rd April 2008
There was a time when bands toured with one support
act. Doors opened at 7.00pm, support act on stage at 7.30pm and played
for between 30 and 45 minutes. Headliners usually appeared at 8.45 and
played as long as they saw fit.... Nowadays we have multiple supports
and unusual start times in a scary mirroring of Sky's bastardisation
of football (why is Saturday at 3.00pm such a ridiculous time to kick
off? Oops sorry, get off the soapbox and stick to music!)
My ticket clearly stated doors open at 7.00pm and yet by the time I
sauntered into the venue at 7.15pm Three Inches Of Blood had
already played their set. Hmmm. The bands I saw therefore were...
DevilDriver. Musically ok if unspectacular, their set
will be remembered by many for the excessive use of flash lighting.
Genuinely couldn't see the band for much of their set. Anyone with epileptic
tendencies would have been carted out very early on, yet there were
no warnings in the venue. Completely detracted from what the band were
trying to achieve. Tight enough as a band, I found them very cliched
and predictable in a modern power metal kind of way. Vaguely recognised
the last track from a sampler or two. Ordinary.
Arch Enemy. Still too much flash lighting but nowhere
near as excessive as the previous set. I got into this band relatively
recently and still maintain "Doomsday Machine" is
their benchmark work. Very polished performance, but they seem to be
losing their earlier aggression. Way too many solos, the drum solo being
mind-numbingly dull and why are they playing "Ravenous"
as their second song? Respect that they have to get a crowd on side,
but this is one of their standout tunes and needs to be kept in reserve
to be unleashed in the last couple of songs or so. Played the classics
you would expect; "We Will Rise", "Dead Eyes See
No Future", "Nemesis" and "My Apocalypse"
forming the cornerstone of their set. They are increasing in confidence
as a unit, think I need to see them headlining again to really form
a considered opinion. Enjoyable enough but they seem to be compromising
their earlier brutality somewhat.
Opeth. Thanks to the sound engineer for the setlist.
Got just over an hour on stage and what they played was incredible.
Promised a full headlining tour when the new album is released which
could go down in rock folklore. Started the night with "Demon
Of The Fall" off "My Arms Your Hearse"
followed up by "Serenity Painted Death" from "Still
Life". What a start! Very few bands can match their level
of musical ability, staggeringly technical. Michael Akerfeldt is an
engaging and charismatic frontman, his lengthy introductions between
songs are always entertaining (although there is still the "get
on with it" contingent to contend with..). "Ghost Reveries"
was visited next with an amazing version of "The Baying Of
the Hounds" before "Damnation" was plundered
for "In My Time Of Need". "Wreath"
off "Deliverance" was up next; apparently this has
never been played live before and there were apologies in advance should
it fail, which it didn't. The new album "Watershed"
is due soon; if "Heir Apparent" is anything to go
by it will be a worthy successor to "Ghost Reveries".
Wonderful song played like an old classic. "Drapery Falls"
from "Blackwater Park" concluded the evening in typically
Staging ruined DevilDriver's set, the flash lighting
was a huge mistake. Arch Enemy grow in confidence with
each performance, at the expense of aggression. Opeth
continue to amaze and are at the forefront of avant-garde technical
rock. Can't wait for the new album to be released and the full tour
dates to be announced. Could well be the hottest ticket of the year.