Avenged Sevenfold at The O2, Dublin – Review
“I’ve been here since 1am” a tired but excited looking man with a thick Belfast accent says to me while we waited for the first support act at the barrier. Some might find this crazy to believe, but with the popularity of Avenged Sevenfold in Ireland, no one can blame him.
Avatar took to the stage like a duck to water for the first of their 6 songs ‘Torn Apart’. With them being such a last minute replacement for Device, a band fronted my rock legend David Draiman of Disturbed, anyone who didn’t know the band weren’t expecting much from them. They couldn’t have been more wrong. Their face-painted, theatrical frontman marches on stage ready to rally his troops, and he doesn’t fail. Hailing from Göteborg, Sweden, the death metal giants have quite a strong impact on the crowd, especially for a band who have never played in Ireland before. The third song on their setlist (titled ‘Paint Me Red’) was a huge hit with the crowd, singing along with the chorus like there was no tomorrow. The Sweds finished their set with a song entitled ‘Smells like a Freakshow’. If you like your death metal with a hint of funk, groove, killer dreadlocks and theatrics, you’re in for a treat listening to Avatar, and are definitely recommend for newcomers to the death metal scene.
One side of the crowd screams “Five Finger” while the other responds with “Death Punch”. Everyone seems to make it their mission to yell louder than everyone else, and it makes for a ground-breaking chant. Five Finger Death Punch take to the stage with confidence as they break into their opener ‘Under and Over It’ with frontman Ivan Moody giving a smug smile and a proud middle finger to everyone in the crowd. Band/fan interactions are important to every band, but Ivan takes this to a whole new level by throwing himself into the crowd early into their set. Their killer 10 song set-list includes hits such as ‘Bad Company’, ‘Coming Down’ and ‘Never Enough’, and are all definitely serious crowd pleasers. ‘Far From Home’ becomes a memorable moment of their set with the crowd singing the first verse and Ivan singing the chorus A Cappella. The American metal giants finish their set with super-hit ‘The Bleeding’. There are definitely some new Five Finger Death Punch fans in the crowd, and that’s no surprise after such an aggressive, passionate and solid performance.
“Sevenfold! Sevenfold! Sevenfold!”. This chanting begins long before the headliners have even hit the stage. There is a sense of pure excitement and adrenaline in the air (accompanied by the bitter-sweet smell of sweat). The lights go out and there’s the sound of fire crackling. Drummer Arin Ilejay and guitarist Synyster Gates take to the stage followed by bassist Johnny Christ, guitarist Zacky Vengeance and lead singer Matt Shadows and break into tonight’s opener ‘Shepherd of Fire’. The crowd don’t sing along, they scream along word-for-word. Shadows asks the crowd how many are seeing them for the first time and in honour of those seeing them for the first time, breaks into the second track from Nightmare, ‘Welcome to the Family’.
Jimmy ‘The Rev’ Sullivan was Avenged Sevenfold’s beloved drummer up until 2009 when he passed away. According to Matt, they play one song in his honour at every show they play. Tonight’s? The very underrated and beautiful Fiction, which was one of the last songs written by the drummer before his untimely passing. This becomes the most memorable, passionate and emotional moment of the night. During Jimmy’s vocal part of the song, a spotlight is shone on nothing, as though he were there; and to at least 80% of the crowd, he was there, and definitely still is a presence among the family that is Avenged Sevenfold and their fans.
Things go dark after Fiction, and the gentle opening of ‘Nightmare’ begins with the band returning to the stage for one of the loudest sing-alongs of the whole night. The biggest circle pits of the night appear during ‘This Means War’, a track off the band’s latest album ‘Hail to the King’. It gets messy and sweaty and security is brought into the crowd to make sure things don’t get too out of hand.
After ‘Afterlife’, the band leave the stage. All except Synyster Gates who stays to play guitar solos. The crowd are lapping it up and are in awe of every note played by him. He is soon followed by drummer Arin for a drum solo, and the entire band then return to the stage and break into Requiem. The choir singing in Latin (which everyone also sings along to) opens the song and it then breaks into the heavy guitar, strong vocals and hypnotizing rhythm that is Requiem. The entire crowd appear to be in a trance. Final song of the night ‘Bat Country’ closes the band’s main set. If you weren’t injured or sweating before this, you would be there and then with the speed and havoc of the song.
The band disappears off stage while the crowd chants “We’re not leaving”. The crowd clearly haven’t had enough, and Avenged Sevenfold don’t disappoint them. The band come back on to play 2 encore songs, which also happen to be 2 of their older songs, pleasing the long-time fans of the band. They first play ‘Chapter Four’, followed by crowd favourite ‘Unholy Confessions’ to close tonight’s show. During ‘Unholy Confessions’, strangers are seen arm in arm head-banging together as though they’d been friends for years.
And isn’t that what it’s all about? Metal brings people together in ways only metal fans will understand, and tonight is not an exception. So was it worth being out in the cold from 1am? Yes, definitely. It was an outstanding performance from one of the biggest bands of the twenty-first century metal scene. It was solid, it was passionate and they gave 110% in their performance and with their band/fan interaction. There was a loving and dedicated vibe from everyone in the crowd, making the show even better. Matt promised to return as long as they’re wanted back. In which case, they will be returning.
Review by Shauna Collins