Arriving at the O2 Ritz Manchester to a massive queue of eager fans snaking around the block, I could instantly tell this was going to be an exciting night. Nearly an hour from when the doors opened, it was time for the evening to begin. Considering the gig wasn’t sold out, the venue was filling up fast.
After a short intro of the “Who’s Afraid of the Big Bad Wolf?” nursery rhyme and a huge cheer from the crowd, Bad Wolves burst onto the stage with “Officer Down” which instantly got the room moving. Lead singer Tommy Vext definitely needed a bigger stage as he didn’t stop moving throughout the whole set and half of the stage was taken up by staging ready for Three Days Grace later in the evening.
After a quick joke about wanting to see everyone moving and that if you weren’t in a wheelchair you have no excuse which gained a round of laughter from the crowd, they began “Learn to Live” which got the first mosh pit of the night started. Without much of a pause and Vext saying a quick “Get your fuckin hands up”, they began “No Masters” which kept the energy flowing. “Remember When” had the whole room singing along and lots of crowd interaction throughout the whole song with hands waving during the chorus’.
During “Better the Devil”, Vext instructed everyone to “Take off your shirts and spin them around your head”, in a similar style to Skindred’s Newport Helicopter. He then joined in and removed his shirt which received lots of cheers from the crowd. The energy continued throughout “Run for Your Life” with one of the biggest circle pits of the night due to Vext’s comment of “I wanna see this pit open the fuck up!”
The next song “Hear Me Now” was another track that had the whole crowd singing along due to it being released as a single featuring Diamante. Throughout the set, lead guitarist Doc Coyle and bass guitarist Kyle Konkiel were supporting Vext with backing vocals and ended “Hear Me Now” with perfect harmonies. Vext introduced the next song saying, “This is a song about werewolves,” followed by “We are filming for a movie, this is your last chance to represent, Manchester!” Which the crowd seemed to take as a challenge as everyone went crazy.
With a quick thank you for all the support the next song has received, it didn’t need any further introduction, it was, of course, “Zombie”. Vext took the time to emphasise that all the proceeds being raised from the song are being donated to the family of Dolores O’Riordan, who originally wrote the song. Before the song began, Vext asked the audience to raise any kind of light they had, which it looked like the majority of the room participated. By the end of the song I had goosebumps.
The emotion in all of the band member’s expressions throughout the entire set just showed how much they enjoy performing and was mirrored in their thank you message to Three Days Grace for taking the band on their first UK and European tour. Considering Vext was in hospital during the week suffering from a severe viral bronchial infection, I am sure I wasn’t the only one there who was incredibly impressed with the set he and the band played.
When the lights dropped, and the band’s intro music began, I am not sure they expected such a huge reaction to the song. The whole crowd started singing along to Bon Jovi’s “Livin’ on a Prayer”. The band and crew must have been impressed as the videographer jumped on stage and recorded the crowd belting out the song. With a huge cheer as the band took to the stage, Three Days Grace began their set with “Mountains”, the first single off the latest album, Outsider, which was a great hit with the crowd.
Between every song there were chants of “Three Days Grace” which lead vocalist Matt Walst encouraged with hand gestures numerous times throughout the night. When “Home” began, Walst seemed to be having some technical difficulties with the guitar he was handed which he gave back to the guitar tech and carried on, seeming un-phased by the issue. After a quick pause to ask how everyone was doing, the band began “The Good Life”, during which Walst really started feeling at home on the stage, constantly dancing and moving around.
It was already clear that the band were more interested in playing more songs than talking too much so they quickly moved onto “Pain”, the second single off the album One X. Walst came down to the barrier during the song and the whole crowd were singing along to nearly every word.
The next song “Infra-red” was introduced as “A song about finding people like you”. During the writing process for the band’s new album, the band said that Walst became a lot more involved in the writing process and I felt like you could see this in his stage presence during this song as he was very confident and dancing to the beat. During the intro to the next song “World So Cold” from the album Life Starts Now, Walst jumped up onto the staging next to the drum kit, shouting to the crowd “Are you ready?!” before the beat kicked in. You could see the emotion of the song on all of the band members faces during the entire track.
Keeping with the pace of the whole set, the band briefly explained how the cover they were about to perform came about, telling the story of hearing it on the radio and liking it so much they decided to cover it; “You Don’t Get Me High Anymore” originally by Phantogram. Walst then asked if there were “Any old school fans in the house?” which received a huge cheer before playing “Just Like You”. Throughout the whole song, the crowd were bouncing and singing along, especially during the chorus.
The band then took the pace down a notch, bringing stools onto the stage for a couple of acoustic songs. They began with a slower, slightly repetitive track off of the new album “Love Me or Leave Me”. This gave the crowd a chance to cool down slightly as nearly the whole venue had been constantly bouncing since the night began. The final acoustic track was a slightly stripped back version of “Get Out Alive”.
After quickly switching the stage back with some music from the film Willy Wonka, Walst introduced the next song, “Painkiller”, and told the crowd to “Get that pit going!”. The next two songs had the majority of the crowd singing at the top of their lungs, especially during the chorus. The reaction to “Let You Down” and “I Hate Everything About You” definitely proved the commitment of the fans in the room as both songs are nearly 10 years old. Continuing with some of their biggest hits, Walst announced it was time to “Release the beast!” before blasting into “Animal I Have Become”, although they did vary the song by adding a snippet of “Seven Nation Army” by The White Stripes in the middle.
After probably the quickest pause before an encore I have seen, the band took a moment to explain that “Sometimes it’s hard to sleep at night surrounded by darkness and it’s hard to get out of that head space, but its never too late to find someone to talk to” which was a great introduction to their penultimate song, “Never Too Late”.
Joking, Walst stated that “That’s it, you’re all tired, we’re going home” before shouting “You want one more?!” As soon as the band began to play “Riot” it felt like there was one about to form in the venue as the energy never damped throughout the whole evening.
Photos by Jack Barker Photography