Around this time two years ago, If you’d asked me what I thought of Volbeat I’d have politely said “I’m sorry, who are you referring to?” That all changed around 18 months ago when our Music Editor messaged me saying “Hey, I can’t manage these interviews due to work constraints. You free to handle them?” After saying yes, I then did some digging so as to familiarise myself with the band. I was not expecting them to have songs that not just have an infectious groove, they get stuck in your head and you can’t help but hum them again and again. After hearing that they would be playing down the road in Manchester (Yes, I’m in the NW now), I eagerly awaited their return to grace the stage at The Ritz on a rather toasty Tuesday evening.
After connecting with our photographer for the evening, Jack, and commenting on the dire state of rail transport in the north west (seriously, it’s bad. It’s way worse than what the media makes it out to be) it was time for the first band to come on stage. Being billed as “As Lions” on the posters on the way into the venue, I was rather surprised when a band called Fangclub (7) appeared on stage.
With a musical style that I can only describe as being a cross between Nirvana and pop punk, the band attempted to sink their teeth into the Manchester crowd to get them going but left some in state of bewilderment. Whilst they did appeal to some members of the audience, a good number, myself included, looked on in confusion as to how the band fitted in with the style of Volbeat. It probably also didn’t help that the temperature in the venue had reached furnace levels with people consuming considerable amounts of liquid just to stay hydrated. In Fangclub’s favour though, they were very tight as a band and no doubt on a bill more suited they would have gone down well. Their cover of a Nirvana song to end their set was a nice touch as well.
During the incredibly elongated changeover between bands, one poor individual succumbed to the fierce heat and fainted nearly directly in front of me. To their credit, security acted very quickly in getting the individual out of the heat and to a much cooler area of the venue. Two gentleman next to me commented “I was thinking of staying to the end. But in this heat, I’ll be lucky if I even last 5 songs. That person fainting is proof that it’s just too hot in this place!”
Finally after what seemed like an eternity, Volbeat (9) appeared on stage to a thunderous roar from the 1500 people that had crammed into the venue. Opening with “The Devil’s Bleeding Crown” from 2016’s Seal the Deal and Let’s Boogie, the audience immediately sprang into life with people nodding, headbanging and singing along to the infectious grooves of the Danish quartet. Like when they played with Alter Bridge, they had a special guest – Barney from Napalm Death – joining them on stage for a performance of “Evelyn”. Like last time, towards the end of the show, they also invited loads of kids onto the stage to ‘boogie along’ to the music of the band. The act reminded me of what Sabaton occasionally does as well and just goes to show that rock and metal will still live on for the years to come.
With a set-list comprised of songs from the latest album and a cadre of greatest hits such as “Heaven Nor Hell” and a rare outing of “Pool of Booze, Booze, Booza”, the band delivered a cracking set which was again only slightly marred by the venue being like an oven. This, however, did not deter the masses that had gathered from having a great time and partying along to a band that, arguably, could be headlining venues twice the size of this one.
Photos by Jack Barker Photography