A huge bill at this gig – seemingly a promotional tour for four or five acts with two larger acts topping the bill. Unfortunately, someone had selfishly organised a parents’ evening at the school I teach at (I mean, seriously?) so Gillian and I couldn’t get there until after 7pm.
We arrived as Ghost were finishing their set. And wondered what the hell we were watching. Neither of us had heard of them before and it took a while to figure out which of the support acts we were watching. Ghost are weird. Musically, they were OK. Nothing special, nothing bad. What makes them stand out is their stage show.
All the band members except for the lead singer wear dark robes with hoods which obscure their identities. The singer himself goes by the name Papa Emeritus and wears a cardinal’s robes with a skull mask covering his face. All very pomp and ceremony. However, their melodic style just doesn’t go with their appearance. Something heavier and slower would probably fit better.
Either way, they were… different. Not somebody I’d go and see again but I’d consider turning up early to catch a full set if they’re supporting another band I’m going to see.
Next up was Sweden‘s In Flames, someone I think I’ve seen once at a festival. A quality act by all respects, but one that I’ve never really got into. Their set is far simpler than Ghost’s, relying on heavy music rather than showmanship and costumes. Again, not material I’m familiar with, but a solid performance from a band that on another day could be headlining this same line-up. Gillian’s band of the night, too.
The act I’d paid the money for, though, was Trivium. I’d actually decided to get the ticket based purely on the tracks I’d heard from their latest album, In Waves, the title track of which opened their 90-minute set.
The first time I caught Trivium was on a similar, promotionally-geared tour for new bands. That was maybe seven or eight years ago at The Arches in Leeds with Three Inches of Blood and someone else supporting. Since then, the band have become much bigger in a short space of time and matured with it. In Waves is – in my opinion – not just their best album to date but an excellent one all round.
Their show is tight and song-packed with little else other than some good lights to keep the audience engaged. I don’t know a tremendous amount of their material, but the crowd were well into all of it with barely a minute going by without them jumping, moshing or punching the air. For once, the sound at the Academy didn’t let a band down.
Oh, talking of lights, we were stood just in front of the mixing/lighting desks for the performance. Watching the lighting techs do their job was interesting. I did it myself once or twice at Rios in Bradford many years ago for bands I didn’t know. To see someone who knows the material doing their job is something else. The guy controlling the strobes for Trivium was at it like a mad orchestra conductor – flourishes, head swooshes, sharp nods… almost in a world of his own. I’m not taking the piss – he did a great job! It’s just not something you often get a chance to see and, like so many of the other people involved in putting on a show, their work is often taken for granted.
Trivium bowed out with just under 10 minutes to go before the curfew and – amazingly – were booed by a small number for not doing a second encore. Pretty pathetic, frankly, as the preceding ninety minutes had been an excellent performance.
For such a young band (agewise), they really do know how to put on a show. The band have been going for maybe 12 years – the lead singer/guitarist is only 25. Matt Heefy is one of those “handful in a generation” musicians and front-men. Old beyond his years and capable of writing and performing with a great deal of charisma in front of a crowd. Here’s to another five albums.