This was one of those gigs I wanted to go to, but was announced after our self-imposed ticket-buying clampdown. And then Pop Evil turned up on the bill, got a new distribution deal in Europe and their publicity team kindly invited me along to see what they were like live (and interview bassist Matt, which will be uploaded very soon!).
Pop Evil promised a good live show and they didn’t disappoint. In case you think I’m remotely swayed by the fact that they got me into the gig (hey, I didn’t have to tell you – I’m honest like that), then the welcome they got when they hit the stage was impressive. For a “third band on the bill” who’ve not even got an official release outside of the US, though three albums within their home country, I was surprised by the number of raised hands and voices when Leigh and the band walked out.
They didn’t waste time and filled their half hour slot admirably with a range of tracks that most bands would have struggled to fit into twice that. The sound wasn’t bad – one of those lucky Academy gigs – and they performed like the long-running professionals they actually are.
Two members of FFDP popped on stage briefly to play basketball (last date of the tour shennanigans!) which only added to the chaos. Unlike many openers with limited time to cram in as many songs as possible, Pop Evil took a few moment to engage with the crowd which I think was partly responsible for the significantly larger cheer when they left with a promise of another appearance by the end of the year.
A fairly short break later and Upon A Dying Body strolled, very smartly, onto stage. Dressed in shirts and waistcoats, they launched in a significantly heavier set than Pop Evil, but similar to the previous band treated their forty minute set as if they were headlining.
I gather they’ve been through this way a couple of times before, but in honesty they’re not a band I’ve encountered before. A large number of the audience had, though, judging by the way that they reacted to the names of the songs. Much jumping occurred, an impressive amount of crowdsurfing, and I’m sure some folk went home with some great bruises from the pit.
Also, another guest appearance from members of the headlining act, including bassist Chris doing vocals on one song. Has anyone told him he looks like Davy Jones from Pirates of the Caribbean?
Not bad going. Two bands in, and quality oozing from both. Could Five Finger Death Punch top them both?
Yes. And then some.
With a wealth of songs ranging from the catchy and shouty “Burn MF” to the balladic “Remember Everything“, FFDP don’t really have a niche. Happy to spread their musical wings in any directions they had the entire downstairs pogo-ing, pitting, crowdsurfing in a never-ending tide… and then waving lighters and phones in the air five minutes later.
Add to that a great stage presence, quality metal posing, and a natural connection with the crowd and you’ve got a band who could tear pretty much any venue apart.
There aren’t too many bands left who’ll get someone on stage, but Ivan picked out two lads in the front and had them joining the band for five minutes. Bottles (plastic!) filled with vodka were handed out to the audience. And I’ve never seen more drumsticks and picks being flung around. Perhaps that was partly down to it being the end of the tour, but still.
With the whole party atmosphere, I almost expected Rob Halford to walk out and guest on the vocals for “Lift Me Up”. Maybe he did in Birmingham. It wouldn’t have surprised me.
Oh, did I mention they even publicly announced they’d be at the Hard Rock Café in the town earlier in the day and that they’d hang out with anyone who turned up? Not many bands still do that kind of thing, either, let alone hanging out around the stage door after the gig. Which they also did.
Credit to them for an awesome show and treating their fans really well. Consider me sold on them as entertainers and definitely already waiting for them to announce the next tour!
- Pop Evil – interview with Matt DiRito (moshville.co.uk)