Five Finger Death Punch / In Flames / Of Mice & Men – SSE Hydro, Glasgow (18th Dec 2017)

Support reviews by Ross, headliner by Mosh. Photos by Gavin Lowrey unless otherwise stated

So a night of metal on the cards right as the year is winding up with an excellent headliner? I’m up for that. Settled into the Hydro’s lowest tier of seating for the first time ever, it provides a bird’s eye view of the entire arena. You can’t look for seeing Five Finger Death Punch t-shirts everywhere. Despite what seems to be a divisive band, the fans are nothing but die-hards.

Of Mice And Men (c) Gavin Lowrey

By the time Of Mice & Men take to the stage, a sizeable crowd has already formed and the band are clearly relishing it. With melody dripping from them and exuding power, I’m reminded of Killswitch Engage at their pinnacle. The crowd are active and receptive and whilst I thought there were a lot of fans in the crowd, when vocalist Aaron asks who’s never seen an Of Mice & Men show, it’s a surprisingly large number who respond. Horns are constantly thrown, cheers and applause never at any point seem polite and there’s a small yet active pit – complete with our own Pit Troll in the thick of it. With a short burst of a set, newer material with songs from Defy and upcoming Cold World are the focus for the night.

Spending their first song behind a transparent curtain displaying their name, In Flames are given a warm welcome and once the curtain drops, they’re backed by a stage many headliners show envy. Playing to a much larger crowd, it’s glaringly apparent some people are here tonight just for the Swedes. Having not been impressed with their opening set at the start of the year with Avenged Sevenfold, here they make a much grander show of force. Plus, this time around, I could actually hear Anders Fridén’s vocals.

A tight live act and gracious to be part of tonight’s billing, they play as if to a room full of their own fans and make the most of their time. With melodic death metal not being my forté, it’s a welcome change of pace for me and keeps the night varied before the onslaught which is the headliners.

Five Finger Death Punch by Mosh

In Flames (c) Gavin Lowrey

Due to family commitments I couldn’t make it to the venue before 9pm, but managed to catch the very tail end (“The End” literally) of what looked like an impressive In Flames set. Certainly their stage setup looked good enough for any headliner and given the number of shirts emblazoned with their name that I spotted, they certainly weren’t playing to the unconverted.

While Pit Troll was engaging in crowd management on the floor, Ross and I were seated with a superb view of the stage and the crowd and were able to take in the stunning light show that was to follow once Five Finger Death Punch took to the stage. When the curtain dropped to reveal a massive skull and cross-baseball-bats sculpture hanging from the ceiling, a huge cheer erupted and the band launched into “Lift Me Up” followed by “Never Enough”.

As I said, we were in the gods but this offered us a great view of the crowd bouncing, jumping and pitting – with our resident Troll in the thick of the action as always. Frontman Ivan referred to his well-publicised public meltdown earlier in the year, but it was obvious that the crowd had forgiven him (if there was anything to forgive) as the band rattled off a couple of more recent numbers in “Wash It All Away” and “Got Your Six”.

Now at this point I have to mention the sound quality in the venue. For the second time in a little over a week I’ve been to a gig at the Hydro and actually been able to hear it. I was on ground level for Stone Sour and a level up tonight, but in both cases I had little problem with the audio quality. This at a venue I usually avoid due to awful experiences in the past. Credit to the sound engineers, therefore, for both evenings. Especially tonight with Jason and Chris’s backing vocals coming through strong and clear on every song on which they appeared.

Five Finger Death Punch (c) Gavin Lowrey

Talking of additional vocals, Ivan was joined by Of Mice and Men’s Aaron Pauley and Tommy Vext who was covering for Ivan after said recent meltdown. The trio shared singing duties on “Ain’t My Last Dance” before the tempo was dropped (but the excitement not a jot) by thee band’s well known cover of “Bad Company”.

Next, though, was my highlight of the night. Pit Troll, who many of you know and who’re proud to have as a member of our Crew, was having one last fling in Glasgow tonight before moving all the way to the south coast in the new year. This was his last gig and he intended to go out with a bang. And a crowdsurf. And a pit. I’m sure he wasn’t expecting to be invited on stage and to share vocal duties with Ivan for “Burn MF”! Dude, you pulled it off perfectly and we salute you! Check out the (shaky, zoomed) video on YouTube.

Calming things down a little, we were then treated to an acoustic set (no “Stairway”, though…) of “I Apologize”, “Wrong Side of Heaven” and “I Remember Everything”. It really does hit home when you hear these great tracks how varied 5FDP’s sound is; how they can produce absolute melters like “Burn MF” and soul-searching numbers like “I Remember…”.

As we made our way into the end section of the set, it’s worth mentioning Jason Hook’s guitars. He’s got some amazingly beautiful models absolutely brimming over with high-intensity lights and they really add something to the show. Each band member seems to have a “trademark”. Ivan’s jacket, Chris’s beard-locks, Zoltan’s dreads, Jeremy’s mohawk… and Jason’s awesome guitars. I think DragonForce’s Herman would have been jealous of some of those on show tonight!

Better souvenir than a guitar pick! (c) Iain Purdie / Moshville Times

With four songs left, the band didn’t let up steam and encouraged the crowd to give it their all – which they did. “Coming Down” was followed by “Jekyll and Hyde”, a song which one wonders is in some way autobiographical for Ivan. After “Under It And Over It”, Ivan gifted a battered baseball bat to a green-haired lady in the crowd (who when I photographed her afterwards, I thought had an air of Harley Quinn about her!), and the show ended with “The Bleeding”.

All five members spent an age on stage afterwards waving bowing and throwing out picks and the like. The last time I saw them was a few years ago at a rammed O2 Academy, and though they didn’t sell out the Hydro (it’s a massive step up in size) they had far more in attendance than would have fitted into that other venue now. A great show from a great band, and it was wonderful to see Ivan back on smiling form with a band who have stuck by him through his problems. The rewards of this friendship and patience were plain for all to see this evening.

Five Finger Death Punch: official | facebook | twitter | instagram | youtube

In Flames: official | facebook | twitter | instagram

Of Mice & Men: official | facebook | twitter | instagram

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