Thursday, 26 November 2009

Gig Review: Five Finger Death Punch / Shadows Fall - Manchester Academy - 26/11/09

It’s 2:55 and I text Pete to ask what time we’ll be heading up to Manchester to interview/watch Shadows Fall and Five Finger Death Punch. 3:30 he says. That’d be fine were it not for the fact that I’ve not long crawled out of bed and still need a shower (breakfast at this point, it would seem, will not be an option.) So, a brief panic and a lot of rushing later it’s off to Manchester and for me this’ll be the first gig at the new Academy since it was finished (I was there a few years ago to see Within Temptation, but it was still mostly a building site back then.)

So roll on half 7 and we head from the pub over the road to the venue only to find we’ve not been put on the guest list! Well a quick phone call to the Death Punch tour manager sorts that out. Sadly, due to all this faffing around we miss the opening band, MagnaCult.

Next up are Rise to Remain. Now, I’m not going to rant too much about these lot, I’m going to save that for a separate article you’ll see from me in the next few days. Let’s just say that I thought these guys really, really sucked. And that was before Pete informed me the lead singer is Bruce Dickinson’s son. Yeah, I’m sure I could get gigs at Download, Sonisphere and supporting 5FDP if my dad was in Iron Maiden. But like I said, more on that later.

So after the annoyance of having to stand through half an hour of possibly the worst Metalcore band to have ever graced Manchester, the light’s fall and it’s time for Shadows Fall. The Path to Imminent Ruin hits the speakers and SF hit the stage to follow it up with My Demise, which is, as Brian told us earlier “a 7 minute intro to everything you’re going to hear over the next hour.” The crowd seems fairly muted at first and Shadows seem to get a rather understated response, surely pointing to the fact that the majority of people here tonight are here to see 5FDP. Personally, I think this is a shame as Shadows Fall are, for me, one of the best bands of the last 10 years. The lack lustre attitude from the crowd doesn’t last long and by the third song in they’re starting to wake up and really get in to this. Brian does a good job of interacting with the crowd, getting down from the stage to sing on the barrier and crowd surfing as per usual. Tonights set sees a good mix between songs from the new album and enough old classics to keep everyone happy. What Drives the Weak is dedicated “to the ladies" and is followed by a tribute to Dimebag in the form of the band playing the intro to A New Level. Brian demands to see the “biggest circle pit the venue has ever seen” and during Public Execution, that’s exactly what he gets. By this point pretty much everyone in the room is getting in to the groove of things and having a great time. The set ends with The Light That Blinds and Shadows Fall have once again proven why they are one of the best live Melodic Thrash bands out there.

Shadows Fall’s gear gets carted off the stage and the backdrop gets changed and for the next 20 minutes or so, most of the 1,800 fans in the building are chanting the name of tonight’s headliners. A brief intro with sound clips of George Bush stating that “war is the answer” is followed by Five Finger Death Punch storming on to the stage and blasting straight in to Burn It Down from the new album. On a side note, if you weren’t aware of the extensive range of 5FDP merch that’s available, the band do a pretty good job of being a walking advertisement, with all but one of them sporting their own various t-shirts and jerseys. Salvation is up next and Zoltan doesn’t seem quite with it tonight, though I guess that shouldn’t be a surprise seeing as he’s been ill lately (to the point where the band had to cancel some of their European dates earlier this month.) The band head off stage for a minute and when Ivan comes back it’s to a Five Finger Death Punch chant from pretty much the entire crowd, he soaks up the adoration and thanks tour mates Shadows Fall before the rest of the band join him on stage and we’re treated to Way of the Fist and the new single Hard To See before Ivan divides the crowd in two and White Knuckles sees a massive wall of death. Another interlude and they’re back with Never Enough and Ivan offers to shake the hand of anyone who’ll crowd surf to the front, mayhem ensues as many fans rush forward to take up his offer. Meet the Monster is cut short when a crowd surfing fan appears to get dropped by security and seriously injures themselves. Ivan stops the song and goes over to check on the fan and refuses to resume the song till the fan is taken care of. I’ve got to say, this act of kindness and concern has earned the singer, and band, even more respect than I already held for them. After finishing the song and giving a rendition of their latest cover, Bad Company’s track Bad Company the band take a final break and come back on for their encore, The Bleeding, which is my personal favourite 5FDP track (a feeling apparently shared by most others in attendance) and a great way to end the night.

Gig rating: 8/10. All in all it was an excellent gig, with both headliners living up to their reputations for fierce and impassioned live shows and I think it’s safe to say all in attendance had a great time (well, except for the dude who ate concrete.) If you’ve missed Five Finger Death Punch this time, you’ll be able to catch them at 2010’s Download Festival.

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