Something was afoot, a convoy of gargantuan sized 18 wheeler trucks lined up outside the SSE Arena can only mean one thing, Avenged Sevenfold’s European tour lands in Belfast tonight!!! Just two days before the guys headline Download they have graced these Northern Irish shores for their first time, and no better place to pop that cherry than Belfast’s largest indoor arena the SSE. Swedish self-proclaimed freaks Avatar would kick the nights proceedings off with a bang, and set the bar high indeed.
“Please observe a moments silence for your King” came across the tannoy, “No fuckin way” was the response from one enthusiastic crowd member, in typical Belfast fashion. Avatar light up the stage and announce their arrival with great aplomb with a huge platform erected centre stage, whilst one of their guitarists get raised in a throne, crown and all shredding his way as only Avatar could. A sense of theatre is immediate as frontman Johannes Michael Gustaf Eckerström orchestrates the crowd to the pummelling sound of Avatar’s thrashing riffs. “Citizens of Avatar Land, Welcome home” Syncronised head -banging is the order of the day along with dramatic lighting and squealing guitars. Amidst bluesy slick guitar intros disguised as Metal the guys lay down some vicious tracks.
Each band member takes full advantage of their raised platform, the two guitarists in Kungen and Tim Öhrström work each side whilst Eckerström holds down the fort below. Squealing guitar solos match the glorious performance on stage as Avatar make the ticket price worth every penny alone and we’re only 15 mins in. Attire changes and theatrical drama in abundance these guys know how to put on a show. Wall to wall Groove Metal riffs and the SSE Arena lit up like a Christmas tree makes for an incredible introduction by these Swedish Metal masters. They wrap up proceedings with a gargantuan sounding track in ‘The Apocalypse’ with a wall of distortion and and a brutal yet polished performance by the freak show that is Avatar. Fucking awesome!!!!!
The gargantuan video screens behind the stage light up with the cosmos for all to see as the crowd chants their name, the arena washed with mobile phone lights as their army of fans await A7X to take to the stage. The sound is as clear as a bell and duelling guitars, harmonising in between blistering guitar solos sets the tone for the night ahead.
Frontman M. Shadows uses the full length and breadth of the stage as he interacts with his fans, fist-pumping along the way as flame rage high into the air from behind the remaining band members on stage, it’s a sight to see and you can feel the heat from the seated area so anyone in the front row will be leaving with a tan tonight! A monstrous sized beast arises from behind the band “Hail To The King” comes to mind, this all adds extra drama to an already incendiary night. Pound for pound A7X give it out and their fans give it back, Shadows lapping it up front and centre in the middle of the room.
“Are some of you sweating over there?” he asks, “Is it too hot?, It’s an A7X show baby of course its gonna get fucking hot!” and he ain’t wrong, for two hours the guys pummel this Belfast crowd running through old fan favourites and new numbers as they are surrounded by a wall of fire and a light show to take your breath away.
The guys play a fitting tribute to drummer Jimmy “The Rev” Sullivan who was lost back in 2009, cellphones once again like a sea of diamonds glistening in the night air. A7X continue with a back-breaking set that showcases their strengths in dept and drives home why these guys are so highly regarded as one of the top bands in the Metal world today. After almost two decade of graft they are now rightly so the ones who the pack are chasing and who set the bar so high with a behemoth production like this evenings show.
Another monstrous figure hangs above the stage, an astronaut as the cosmos and images of space travel take over the video screens, throw in a cover of Pink Floyd’s ‘Wish You Were Here’ and im sold, ok then!
Alas all good things have to come to an end and as the guys wrap up a gravity defying two hour set they go on a rampage with ‘Unholy Confessions”, the room erupts and Belfast once again is transported into a flaming building that takes your breath away once again.
A stunning performance by a band who have worked hard over the last two decades to earn their right and place at the top of the Meta Tree, anyone going to Download this weekend is in for a treat. Their European Tour continues, dates below:
June 8th Donington Park, Download UK
June 9th Vaanta, Finland Rockfest
June 15th Nicklesdorf, Austria Novarock
June 17th Florence, Italy Firenze Rocks
June 21st Copenhagen, Denmark Copenhell
June 22nd Dessel, Belgium Graspop
June 23rd Clisson, France Hellfest
June 26th Tel Aviv, Israel Live Park
June 28th Madrid, Spain Download
June 30th Sopron, Hungary VOLT Festival.
Photography : Liam Kielt https://www.facebook.com/LiamKieltPhotography/