Review & photos by Krish Mistry
Currently on tour in support of their fifth album ‘Outlaw Gentlemen & Shady Ladies’ which was released earlier this year, Danish metallers Volbeat play the Birmingham O2 Academy on the first of their four UK dates.
First up to open the evening are The Howling. They take to stage as the venue is already filling up and kick off their energetic set. The London band is formed by Blacky on vocals, The Rev and Grimes on guitar, Chappell on bass/synth and Jackyboy on drums. With influences ranging from the Prodigy to The Sex Pistols and Enter Shikari, they play a hardcore/punk style with electronic samples and a mixture of clean and screamed vocals which get the crowd warmed up nicely with their energetic set.
Next up were Iced Earth – a band I was looking forward to seeing live again. Opening with ‘Plagues of Babylon’ from the forthcoming album of the same name, frontman Stu Block commands the stage with confidence, encouraging the crowd as he goes. He is joined by longstanding guitarist Jon Schaffer (who has been with the band since they formed in 1985), Troy Seele on guitar, Luke Appleton on bass (former FuryUK bassist who joined the band last year) and newest recruit Raphael Saini on drums.
Progressing through a selection of songs from 2011’s ‘Dystopia’ and some older favourites, they power through their set and despite Stu recovering from bronchitis, he can still demonstrate his vocal range and hit the high notes! After things slow down for the ballad ‘Watching Over Me’ the band end with their staple self titled track ‘Iced Earth’.
Although there were some clear Iced Earth fans present, the crowd did seem rather tame with not as much movement as expected, even though the band played as tight as ever from their many years of performing. But with the announcement of their new album next year and a UK tour to follow, it’s something for fans both old and new to look forward to!
After a short break as the stage is then prepared for the headliners, the lights go down and the intro music plays before Volbeat take to stage and kick off with Hallelujah Goat from 2008’s ‘Guitar Gangsters & Cadillac Blood.’ Immediately the crowd are singing along and there is a real buzz in the venue. Frontman Michael Poulsen is joined by newest recruit and ex-Anthrax guitarist Rob Caggiano, bassist Anders Kjølholm and drummer Jon Larsen.
With their unique style of rock and roll/rockabilly infused heavy metal, they play a selection of tracks from their five album back catalogue, including ‘The Nameless One’, ‘Heaven Nor Hell’ and ‘The Mirror And The Ripper” The band are joined by Napalm Death frontman Barney Greenway for ‘Evelyn’ and even perform a medley of Judas Priest’s ‘Breaking The Law, Motorhead’s ‘Ace Of Spaces’ and Slayer’s ‘Raining Blood’ as a tribute.
Frontman Michael continues the banter with the crowd every so often, commenting on the amount of ladies in the audience and requesting that the guys in the audience ask them to dance (even the ugly ones!) and then get the ladies up on their shoulders! After ending the set on ‘Still Counting’ it is encore time, the band return to huge cheers and play ‘Doc Holliday,’ a cover of Dusty Springfield’s ‘I Only Want To Be With You’ and end on a track from their 2005 debut, ‘Pool Of Booze, Booze, Booza’.
Throughout the show all band members have permanent smiles on their faces, and it is clear they are having fun tonight and enjoying the crowd reaction, who are loving every minute! Having gained new fans at Download festival earlier this year, and from tonight’s performance, Volbeat are a band who will definitely continue going from strength to strength!
1. Hallelujah Goat
2. Guitar Gangsters & Cadillac Blood
3. Radio Girl
4. The Nameless One
5. Sad Man’s Tongue
6. Lola Montez
7. Heaven nor Hell
8. 16 Dollars
9. Dead but Rising
11. The Mirror and the Ripper
12. Pearl Hart
13. Evelyn (with Mark “Barney” Greenway)
14. You Suffer (Napalm Death cover)
15. My Body (Young the Giant cover)
16. The Hangman’s Body Count
17. Maybellene I Hofteholder
18. Still Counting
19. Doc Holliday
20. I Only Want to Be with You (Dusty Springfield cover)
21. Pool of Booze, Booze, Booza
See more of Krish’s photos here: