Volbeat and Iced Earth sounded like a great jab and hook combination when I first heard about it a few months back so a ticket was a no brainer really. I have seen Volbeat live a couple of times before and they were very tight and cool with Michael being a great vocalist and front man for the band. Of course that was with their old guitarist. This time they were playing with the Anthrax guy and to be honest it made no real difference to the music at all. I'm not sure if he has any influence in making Volbeat's music more poppy this time but I think main man Michael Poulsen really wants his band to be more well known and get recognition from outside the metal world and he's sort of half way to getting there.
I say this because a Volbeat show is not attended by the usual metal clientele as such. You get your hardened metalheads but you get a lot of goth types, a lot punky boys and a few country rocker redneck types as well. All sorts basically as the band's music seems to have quite a wide pulling power with it's catchy infectious melodies winning out over the band's louder metallic elements. Of course at the start of the band's career they were pretty heavy but like I said the gradual move into poppier waters seems to be a calculated move. Not that I'm a sell out crying bitch cause I love the songs even more now than on the earlier albums. Any way enough with crappy talk on with the report!
As I entered the already packed Brixton Academy, which would fill out to near enough full capacity by the time Volbeat came on, a band was already playing. They were called The Howling. They had a wolf theme going on hence the name. They were a sort of rough and ready hard rock band. I must admit it I didn't pay attention to them much at all as I was milling round and looking for a closer spot to get ready for Iced Earth. Anyway these guys played for about half an hour and went down like the proverbial lead balloon. No one cared guys, try to write some songs next time.
Next up were the well oiled power metal machine aka Iced Earth. I've seen the icy ones quite a lot recently and they have proven to be a very tight live unit. I guess that's what constantly touring does for you. New boy Stu kills it on the mic and fits the band like a glove now. They played a new song If I Could See You which was a ballad and it was fairly average I must say. Burning Times was great as usual though. Stu tried had to get people excited but this was not Iced Earth's night at all. This crowd adores Volbeat and the true power metal diehards will be out in force in January when da 'Earth comes calling on their Plagues of Babylon European Tour. Oh and the sound was pretty bad once again. Guitars didn't sound good. Stu did his best though with a very solid vocal display but this was a really average performance by the guys and to be honest Schaffer looked bored shitless at times and he was just going through the motions it seemed. The best song was the last one, the band's namesake. Always love that song no matter what. There will be better nights for them, this was a night to forget.
At 9.15pm or so the house lights went down and Motorhead's Born To Raise Hell started out over the PA and it's conclusion the band took to the stage with big smiles and big cheers from the near 4,000 strong crowd. Immediately the sound was much tighter and sharper for the Volbeat boys than either previous band. The band has so much strong material now in their back catalogue that it's hard to pinpoint a song that wasn't well received. I was a bit surprised by how rowdy the crowd got down the front. Of course with this being a Saturday night there were a lot of stupid drunkards around as well which meant there was a lot of crazy moshing and shoving going on. I guess I'm too old for that kind of business. Mind you Michael encourage plenty of pits from the stage as well. It's hard to pick out highlights from the set that stood cause I must admit every song was enjoyable. The melodies are infectious and Michael sings so damn well that it's hard not to have a big grin on your face whilst listening. Of course Volbeat is one of those band that attracts the chicks and every gal in the place was doing plenty of dirty dancing to the bouncy grooves let me tell ya. The problem is you always get a few drunk pervs leering and trying it on and you always get a few angry exchanges which spoils things a bit. However on this occasion I think the smiles outweighed the scowls by far.
Of the main set songs Dead But Rising was a fave of mine and also The Nameless One is a great heavy and melodic track. 16 Dollars with it's spat out vocals was awesome too. The melodic tracks every one just dances to and has a good time on were great as well such Maybelene Hofteholder. Like I said before Volbeat seems to have a uniting power amongst metalheads and rockers and people from outside the scene. You can never second guess who might and might not be a Volbeat fan. Hence their route to super stardom is set. Funnily enough a couple of guys next to me where discussing how big Volbeat might ever get and they came to the conclusion that they had probably reached the maximum exposure. The only way to get bigger would be to ditch heavy guitars completely which would obviously cop them a big old load of flak from the true metalheads. Mind you the Chick to guys ratio would increase at the gigs so there's always a plus side..
This was a very enjoyable performance from the guys. They play with smiles on their faces and the crowd adores them pretty much. I didn't adore them myself hehe but I had fun and the Volbeat live experience has never really disappointed me yet. I don't know if I will go to see them live again though as I tend to be a been there seen that kind of guy when it comes to gigs apart from certain fave bands which I will always wanna see live. Volbeat have great energy, put in sterling performances and have a great singer/songwriter front man. Better than staying home on a Saturday night!
Guitar Gangsters & Cadillac Blood
The Nameless One
Sad Man's Tongue
Heaven nor Hell
Dead but Rising
The Mirror and the Ripper
Maybellene I Hofteholder
The Hangman's Body Count
I Only Want to Be with You
Pool of Booze, Booze, Booza