What a line-up. I mean, seriously. There are some great tours coming up this year but this is amongst the best. Three bands of various genres, all at the top of their game cranking out great music for three hours.
First up were Huntress who I had the good fortune to interview earlier in the day [link up soon]. You can often tell how good a support band are but how full the venue is when they come on. While Huntress didn’t have the whole place packed, the dance floor in front of the stage was as a good few hundred fans waited for Jill and the guys to hit the stage.
They didn’t just hit it – they pummelled it into submission. Jill Janus is every bit the front woman band can be proud of; strutting, high stepping, looming and just plain dominating proceedings.
That’s not to say that she detracts from the rest of the band. Blake Meahl rattles out those leads alongside new recruit Anthony Crocamo, while bassist (and former guitarist) Ian Alden spends far too much time smiling like a man who’s just heard a baby giggle for the first time as he chugs the four-string. Carl Wierzbicky pounds out the rhythms that keep the band belting through their thirty minute set.
All too soon it’s over and the band head off, another venue conquered and another notch further up in people’s estimations.
A fairly short set change was brightened by two of the crew playing a brief version of Pantera’s “Walk” to the delight of the crowd before Poland’s Decapitated strolled on casually. And then tore the Academy a new one.
I confess they’re a band I’ve heard of, but don’t think I’ve heard anything by. Consider me searching out material forthwith.
Now Decapitated have had their misfortune in the past (losing their drummer in a bus crash in 2007 and escaping unharmed from a plane crash in 2011), but they’ve overcome some of the worst that life can throw at a band to stay on top of their game, although admittedly with only one founder member remaining. Tonight’s performance was a hell of a tribute to the fact that no matter how bad shit can become, you can put it behind you.
Grasping the crowd by the throat, they ploughed through a terrifyingly heavy set. Barely a breath was wasted as they roared through track after track, filling their allotted slot to the brim with quality metal.
So a second support act that left the crowd baying for more and undoubtedly with a bunch more new fans.
The gap between bands was lengthened before the headliners appeared, but with PA singalongs to the likes of “Peace Sells…” the time passed quickly enough.
And then Lamb of God from “Richmond motherfuckin’ Virginia” arrived. In style.
Let’s face it. Lamb of God are incapable of playing a gig without slaying the place. With a 75 minute set, they managed to cram in tracks for all of their albums (OK, not including Burn the Priest) with just enough time between tracks to endure that the audience jumped, pit’ed and wall-of-death’ed as appropriate.
Though the band were missing regular guitarist Mark Morton, his place was filled ably by stand-in Paul Waggoner who normally shreds the strings for Between The Buried And Me. Credit to the guy for learning the songs so quickly and so well.
Randy Blythe, as ever, just didn’t pause for a moment. I don’t recall the last time I saw a band member pour water over themselves before the first song was even started – usually they wait for a few tracks. Not Randy. This is a guy who just knows he’s going to need to cool down in a bit and doesn’t want to pause to do it.
As with many bands, they saved the best for last and the crowd action proved it. A huge circle pit – probably the biggest I’ve ever seen at this venue – opened up for “Redneck”, while “Black Label” saw almost the entire ground floor crash together in a wall of death worthy of any festival performance.
An absolutely belting performance from a band who are riding on a wave at present.