Review: Avenged Sevenfold, Nottingham Motorpoint Arena

Last night I had the great honour of seeing Avenged Sevenfold live for the second time, at the Nottingham Motorpoint Arena. Last time I saw them, they were performing in the O2 in London during their Hail To The King tour, so it was great to witness how the band’s performance and stage set-up has evolved over the past few years.  However, I’m getting ahead of myself.  Here’s my photo-dump of the few, poor quality pictures I took on my phone.

First up on the line-up were the Swedish metal band, In Flames.  Unfortunately I was unable to watch these guys perform, as we encountered a traffic accident during our drive to Nottingham which put us behind schedule.  I was pretty gutted to miss them, because I reviewed their latest album Battles in November and I really enjoyed it.  If anyone was at the gig last night and you saw In Flames, comment below and let me know what their performance was like!

Next were Disturbed, a cornerstone of American metal music over the past couple of decades.  I had no idea what to expect from this four-piece band, as I only really knew arguably their biggest hit, Down With The Sickness. However, I was absolutely blown away by singer David Draiman’s fantastic voice.  His range and performance was incredible, and was totally not what I was expecting from him.  Overall the bands’s performance was excellent, and their 45-ish minute setlist was full of high octane riff-heavy tracks which got the crowd jumping and circle pits forming.  One moment of calm amongst the storm was the band’s beautiful cover of Simon And Garfunkel’s The Sound Of Silence, accompanied by a live strings section.  If you’ve never heard their cover before, you can check out the music video below:

Finally, Avenged Sevenfold took to the stage, suitably enough opening their set with The Stage.  Bassist Johnny Christ was ill during this performance, which put a dampener on things slightly, but he still performed well and I certainly didn’t notice any issues with his bass playing.

The band played tracks from across their impressive discography, including a few tracks from Waking The Fallen and Sounding The Seventh Trumpet.  I can understand that Avenged Sevenfold must find it difficult to put together setlists, considering that the band has fans of their different eras of music, but I was glad that they managed to play a good number of their older songs to keep long term fans happy.  I was a little disappointed that they only played Bat Country from City Of Evil, but when you’ve got a two hour setlist to fill and seven albums of songs to choose from, something’s gotta give!

My highlights of the night included the performance of two of my favourite songs from The Stage: Sunny Disposition and God Damn.  I also really enjoyed hearing the band perform Planets followed by Acid Rain from Hail To The King: the two tracks naturally go together, and it was a great opportunity to get the flashlights out and belt along to the epic choruses.  And of course, the encore included the incredible A Little Piece Of Heaven, which singer M Shadows dedicated to The Rev’s “fucked up lyrics”, which was a wonderful nostalgic touch.

However, I think I can guess the highlight of the night from Daniel, the man M Shadows pulled up on stage to sing Johnny Christ’s backing vocals for Nightmare in his place.  He looked like he was having the time of his life singing along, and I think everyone else in the arena wished they were on stage in his place.

Overall, the band’s performance was polished and well executed, the same as it was when I saw them live in 2013.  It’s plain to see how well M Shadows, Zacky Vengeance, Synyster Gates and Johnny Christ play together, and they’ve been a band for long enough to work together like a well oiled machine.  New Drummer Brooks Wackerman fits into the band really well, and I really enjoyed his performance of both new and old Avenged Sevenfold tracks.

If you’re planning to see Avenged Sevenfold during the rest of their The Stage tour, you’re in for a real treat. Have you already seen them live this year?  What did you think of the show? Let me know on my Facebook or Twitter page, or in the comment section below this post.

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Review: Of Mice & Men, Nottingham Rock City

Last night I went along to Nottingham and saw one of my favourite bands, Of Mice & Men, performing live for the fourth time.  I hadn’t planned on attending, however a last minute change to my work and my sister’s sixth form schedule meant we could take the trip to see the performance.  I didn’t manage to get any photos from the gig, but here’s a snap from the band’s Instagram account which will give you a taste of the atmosphere.

A photo posted by Of Mice & Men (@omandm) on Oct 4, 2016 at 12:13am PDT

We arrived to the venue a little late, so unfortunately we only heard opening act Hands Like Houses perform three songs of their set.  From what I heard, I really enjoyed their performance: the vocalist’s voice was strong throughout, and the instrumentals sounded pretty tight.  These guys were definitely a solid choice of opening act.  Here’s the video for one of the songs they played:

Following Hands Like Houses was Crown The Empire, whose performance I also really enjoyed.  There were a couple of issues with microphone levels throughout this set, however: during the first couple of songs the vocalist’s voice was drowned out by the instruments, and towards the end his microphone was too loud and the guitars were overpowered.  Even noticing this issue, I still thought Crown The Empire put on a great show, and they really helped to amp up the atmosphere in preparation for Of Mice & Men to take to the stage.  Here’s the music video to one of the songs I most enjoyed hearing them play:

Then it was time for the main act to take to the stage.  Of Mice & Men opened with Pain, one of my favourites from their new record Cold World, and it was a fantastic, high energy start to the gig.  They mainly played songs from the new record, which is understandable as it was only released a couple of weeks ago, as well as a fair few from Restoring Force.  I was extremely pleased when I realised that they were also playing The Calm, The Storm, The Flood and The Depths in succession, which definitely went down well with more long term fans of the band.  Their encore was topped off with Second & Sebring, was was probably my highlight of the whole night.

Overall the performance by Of Mice & Men was brilliant, as per usual, with no noticeable technical issues or dodgy microphone levels.  In the past I’ve consistently noted that Aaron Pauley’s vocals live were fairly weak and quiet, however even though he complained of waking up with a cold yesterday morning, I think his vocal performance was the best I’ve heard.  Maybe he was pushing his voice harder than usual to make up for his illness?  The only issue I found with the band’s performance was Austin Carlile’s clean vocals during Away: I thought his voice was quite nasal, and reckon he’d be better off sticking to harsh vocals from now on.

It was definitely worth seeing Of Mice & Men for the fourth time, as to me their performances are getting better and better every time.  If you’re able to attend any of the remaining UK tour dates this month, I’d highly recommend it.

Were you at the gig last night?  What did you think of the performance?  Let me know on my Facebook or Twitter page, or in the comment section below this post.

Video review: Enter Shikari, Nottingham Motorpoint Arena

On February 20th Enter Shikari played an explosive set in Nottingham, accompanied by The Wonder Years and the King Blues.  Their set list was made up of plenty of songs from their most recent album, The Mindsweep, as well as a lot of older tracks to keep old school fans happy.  But was their first arena tour too ambitious a step? I reported from the Motorpoint Arena once the encore ended.

Review: Of Mice & Men, Nottingham Rock City

Last night was a first for me: I’ve never been to a gig at Nottingham’s Rock City, and I really enjoyed myself.  It’s a really nice venue and so well laid out too: even stood at the back next to the sound pit, I still had a perfect view of the stage thanks to the step down in front of us.  My poor old camera isn’t really suited to taking pictures at gigs, but here are the best pictures I took last night:

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First up on the line-up was Volumes, and unfortunately due to having to queue for the box office we missed most of their set.  I thought it was a bit strange that they started playing so early, as doors opened at 6:30 p.m. and their set was finished by about 7:10 p.m., but maybe there was an early curfew last night.  Their performance was pretty good, even if their vocals aren’t to my taste.  I haven’t seen a crowd as excited for support acts as they were for Volumes and The Amity Affliction, who came next.  Here’s Wormholes, one of the better tracks they played last night.

Next was The Amity Affliction, who put on an awesome show.  Their performance was spot-on and they also got the crowd extremely excited.  I especially like the mixture of Ahren and Joel’s vocals, plus drummer Ryan was on point and enthusiastic throughout the set.  This is Don’t Lean On Me, the track they closed their set with.

Then Of Mice & Men took to the stage.  I was more excited to see them than usual, considering this will be my third time watching the Orange County quintet perform live.  They’re now the band I’ve seen live more than any other, and Of Mice & Men definitely deserve that honour.

This was the first time I’ve seen them headline a gig: the past two times I saw them live, they played at Leeds Festival and in support of Linkin Park at the O2.  You could definitely tell that it was their headline tour, because the entire band was full of swagger and attitude walking on stage.

As per usual, their performance was fantastic.  Their setlist had a good mixture of songs from not only their latest album and its re-issue, Restoring Force and Restoring Force: Full Circle, but from their first two albums as well.  I was really excited that they played O.G. Loko, Let Live and Second & Sebring, as well as including The Depths in the encore.  It was clear to see how excited Of Mice & Men were to be on stage, and the crowd responded with boundless excitement.

Aaron’s vocals were a little wobbly at points, which is something I’ve noticed every time we’ve seen him perform live.  This didn’t detract from the overall performance, but the night would have been improved if he didn’t have to battle quite so hard to be heard over the guitars, drums, and Austin’s vocals.  As it turns out, the crowd were singing on loudly enough to make up for Aaron’s lack of volume.

It’s a shame that Of Mice & Men probably won’t be returning to UK shores until next year, as I would love to see them live again.  It was obvious that the band really enjoyed their performance last night.  Every time I listen to Restoring Force I’ll think of last night’s gig – it was unforgettable.

Currently listening to: Hit The WaveMarmozets