The last time Aussie hardcore five-piece Parkway Drive played London it was at the relatively tiny IndigO2 as part of the Metal Hammer Golden Gods. That night I made the terrible mistake of not sticking around to watch their headline set and have regretted it ever since, but we all make questionable decisions sometimes, right? Tonight was my night to finally see Parkway Drive and I could not be more excited, having been looking forward to this show ever since I bought my ticket back in July! I am admittedly quite late to the Parkway Drive party, but when I started listening to their latest album Reverence (released in May 2018), I was instantly hooked – it’s heavy and aggressive tracks provided the perfect soundtrack during some busy and emotionally-draining months at the end of last year.
Tonight was the last of five UK shows as part of the band’s twenty-date Reverence EU/UK tour, and just a few days ago the band announced that the 10,400 capacity Grade II listed Alexandra Palace in North London was completely sold out. Tonight was going to be something special indeed!
Opening proceedings were Aussie deathcore band Thy Art Is Murder. Vocalist CJ asked the photographers to move out of his way (and called us the c-word… but that apparently means “mates” in Australian [It’s a term of endearment in Scotland, too. – Ross]) as he made his way off the stage and up to the barrier to scream right in the faces of the crowd, who seemed to be really enjoying their set. Our own Pit Troll made a guest appearance at the Manchester show, carrying singer CJ shoulder-high through the audience!
Main support were Boston metal five-piece Killswitch Engage who burst onto the stage with intent and launched straight into “Strength Of The Mind” from their most recent album Incarnate (2016). All five band members looked like they were thoroughly enjoying being part of the tour, and the band were very popular with the crowd. Guitarist Adam Dutkiewicz was particularly entertaining – bravely wearing shorts on what was a very chilly February evening indeed, and regularly wiggling his bottom at the crowd. This was my first time seeing Killswitch Engage play live and I really enjoyed their set, which featured a great variety of tracks from their back-catalogue including fan-favourites “My Curse” and “Hate By Design”.
Last to play Alexandra Palace tonight were Australian metalcore titans Parkway Drive, who entered the stage flanked by torch-bearers via a pathway through the crowd – setting the bar high from the very start. Once on the stage, the band members stood on four raised plinths; two either side of drummer Ben, and were lit with spotlights from above. After a dramatic and smokey explosion the boys got straight on with business, opening their set with “Wishing Wells”. This was my first time seeing Parkway Drive live and they certainly did not disappoint.
All members of the band looked like they were having the time of their lives as they played their biggest ever headline show to a heaving crowd of delighted fans. They played a blistering set featuring tracks from Reverence (2018) as well as “Vice Grip” from Ire (2015) plus fan favourites from their back-catalogue including “Wild Eyes” from Atlas (2012) and “Carrion” from Horizon (2007). To add even more to what was already a very visually entertaining live show, for “Writings On The Wall” the band were joined on stage by a string section, which brought a whole new level to what was already a very emotional performance.
For “The Colour Of Leaving” vocalist Winston McCall had made his way through the crowd to a small B-stage close to the sound desk, where he and a cellist performed an emotional rendition of the song. McCall (now shirtless) then re-joined his band-mates on the main stage and lit a molotov cocktail and hurled it towards the band logo on the back of the stage, which dramatically “blew up” and lit a selection of flames along the front and the back of the stage.
The band then began their tremendous encore with “Crushed”, complete with plumes of fire. So much fire! It wasn’t quite up to Rammstein levels, but it was some of the best pyrotechnics I have seen in a long time – the Parkway Drive boys certainly know how to put on a great show! They ended their blinding set with a massive performance of “Bottom Feeder” and further pyro madness.
Want to check them out for yourself and see what all the fuss is about? Parkway Drive have just been announced as Saturday headliners for Bloodstock Festival – so now is your chance!
Photos by Katie Frost
Photos by Gavin Lowrey (Manchester show)
Parkway Drive set-list:
- Wishing Wells
- Vice Grip
- Cemetery Bloom
- The Void
- Idols and Anchors
- Absolute Power
- Writings on the Wall
- Shadow Boxing
- Wild Eyes
- The Colour of Leaving
- Crushed (encore)
- Bottom Feeder (encore)