Review by Claire Frays, photos by Russ Tierney
Five Finger Death Punch’s Knuckleheads descended upon Birmingham’s O2 Academy to witness the bands long awaited return to the UK as a headlining act. Five years have passed since the band last graced the UK with a headlining tour – FIVE years! Driven by the momentum of their impressive stint supporting Avenged Sevenfold last December, the “death punch sound…” returned to Heavy Metal’s birthplace for even more mayhem.
Up first and making their UK debut were Michigan Rockers Pop Evil who have made quite the impact on the US Scene with numerous Top 5 hits on the US Rock Charts and half a million digital single downloads to their name. Musically their sound is reminiscent of the likes of Adelita’s Way, Hinder and Nickelback. Tracks from 2013’s Onyx dominated a riff-charged setlist of hard rock and post-grunge anthems. A shout out must go to the bands guitarist Dave Grah’s who had some seriously crazy mad skills, riffing, throwing his guitar pick in the air and catching it again to riff some more. Big tunes ‘Trenches’ and ‘Last Man Standing’ rounded off a highly impressive debut performance. If they hope to emulate their American popularity in the UK, they certainly left a lasting impression.
Rising Metal stars Upon A Burning Body proved that everything really is bigger in Texas, owning every second of their 45 minute performance. The first mosh pits and walls of death kicked off with ease as frontman Danny Leal commanded the stage with conviction making sure not a soul in the venue was stood still. The instrumental sections of UABB’s songs are a joy to listen to with wonderfully subtle arpeggio sections entwined within the drumming chaos and killer break downs. ‘Texas Blood Money’ was a notable highlight prompting a mass gang chant of “The stars at night are big and bright, deep in the heart of Texas.” For a band relatively new to these shores, these guys are most certainly one to watch. And having seen them support Trivium in 2012, it’s really clear that Birmingham loves this band.
The crowd chants of “Five Finger… Death Punch” resounded across the concert hall as the lights dimmed and ‘They’re Coming To Take You Away’ boomed from the venue PA.
Five Finger Death Punch stormed onto the stage with frontman Ivan Moody grabbing and, proudly waving a Union Jack flag made by the bands UK Fan club moments into ‘Under and Over It’. The dreads of Zoltan Bathory and the epic Chris Kael beard swished furiously as the crowd jumped and moshed wildly, singing every word throughout the songs entirety. The atmosphere only intensified in the moments that followed with the neck breaking ‘Burn It Down’ and the sing-a-long ‘Hard To See’ leaving the crowd hungry for more.
Ivan returned to the stage donning a personalised Aston Villa Football Shirt during ‘Lift Me Up’. There may have been no Rob Halford to accompany the band this time around but, even Halford-less the song more then held its own. Jason Hook provided some pretty impressive guitar porn with a light up version of his M4 Sherman Guitar, which he showed off during the solo – really, it’s probably the snazziest guitar you will ever see – oh and his playing was pretty immense too!
The bands stellar cover of Bad Company went down a treat, whilst Burn MF completely obliterated the Academy. One extremely lucky fan found himself plucked out of the crowd to handle vocal duties with Ivan as the chant of Burn Motherf***** raised the venues roof and then some!
The evening slowed down momentarily with Hook and Moody taking to the stage for highly emotional acoustic renditions of two of FFDP’s most loved ballads – ‘Remember Everything’ and ‘Battle Born’. They were re-joined by Kael, Bathory and Spencer for the finale of ‘Battle Born’ to rapturous applause. Surely even the toughest, most metal guys in the venue struggled to hold back the tears.
The pace and insanity picked up again by the time the much talked about Metalised LL Cool J cover, ‘Mama Said Knock You Out’ rolled around, whipping the crowd into quite the frenzy. Asking the audience if they wanted to be on an upcoming DVD, Ivan was promptly handed a camera during the UK Debut of Volume 2’s blazing opener ‘Here To Die’. He later remarked that his security guy had the chequebook ready to be fined $1000 a minute for going over the venues strict curfew.
A surprise inclusion of the night was a big crowd sing-a-long to ‘Champagne Supernova’ – we suspect Ivan mixed Birmingham up with Manchester, but the crowd loved it all the same. Lighters and mobile phones were thrust into the air for usual set-closer ‘The Bleeding’ in an evening that seemed over in the blink of an eye.
World domination is surely on the cards for these Las Vegas metallers.
1. Under and Over It
2. Burn It Down
3. Hard To See
4. Lift Me Up
5. Bad Company
6. Burn MF
7. The Agony of Regret
8. Remember Everything
9. Battle Born
10. Coming Down
11. Never Enough
12. Mama Said Knock You Out
13. Here To Die
14. Far From Home
15. The Bleeding