Thursday 28th October 2010

It’s a tour that promised to rip a new hole in the proverbial buttocks of the UK.  And from the showing I saw in Birmingham, Avenged Sevenfold and Stone Sour kept their word.  The NIA was the place to be on October 28th in the Second City.  Hordes of people were congregating, parking was at a premium and the NIA was stocked to the rafters with fans.  These two bands are sharing the headline spot on this tour – trading off on alternate days.  This particular night, Avenged Sevenfold opened.

I’ll be honest.  I hadn’t rated Avenged Sevenfold much with its overtly metalcore, radio endorsed singles.  But little did I know that the band would teach me a lesson and have me walking away labelling them the best gig I’ve been to this year.

The music box like melody intro of the title track off their new album, Nightmare, echoed through the arena and the sheet that was blocking the audience from seeing the stage dropped in haste.  Guitars wailed as M.Shadows screamed “Nightmare!!!!” and plumes of flames on the flanks of the stage exploded.

They hopped about and pumped the crowd up with Critical Acclaim.  Mike Portnoy, drummer extraordinaire formally of Dream Theater, offered an extended drum solo to Welcome to the Family.  Live, Avenged Sevenfold are so much more heavy than what I’ve heard on recorded stuff and Shadows worked the crowd amazingly well.  Fist pumping and egging them on in the circle pit.

As young girls sobbed for the band next to me, Avenged Sevenfold placated the Birmingham crowd.  Beast and Harlot preceded the Metallica-esque, Buried Alive.  The graveyard stage set burst into flames around the band and Portnoy wowed the crowd with fancy drumstick twirling.

Halfway through the set, the band turned sombre…paying tribute to their comrade and original drummer lost almost a year ago – “The Rev”.  As the crowd chanted “Jimmy – Jimmy – Jimmy”, Avenged Sevenfold dedicated So Far Away to their “brother” and the arena turned into a starry sky filled with lighters and mobile backlights.

Enough mourning and the band rounded out the set in high octane mode, playing Afterlife, the angst ridden God Hates Us and the marathon circle pit inducing Unholy Confessions.  They gave the audience a choice for the last song of Almost Easy and Bat Country.  I had to cup my ears to the reaction when the option for Bat Country was offered…and the band obliged.  No encore.

Stone Sour up next. And the band wasted no time in keeping the momentum up that was left over from A7X…ripping into the rocking Mission Statement followed by the very heavy Reborn.  Corey Taylor was insanely active on stage, throwing water into the crowd and emotionally kneeling as he screamed “I am yesterday, I am everyday, I am gonna be…reborn”.

Made of Scars preceded a rendition of the band’s latest single, Say You’ll Haunt Me.  This is Taylor without the mask, without the gimmicks and pyrotechnics of Slipknot.  This is Taylor singing emotional lyrics to heavy rock tunes.  You get what it says on the tin.  But whilst Stone Sour might be a bit more subdued, they can still rupture your eardrums and did so with the next song, Get Inside.  I could feel the concrete floor of the NIA trembling under my feet as this song pervaded the arena.

Stone Sour aired Unfinished, another song off its latest album, Audio Secrecy.  Then, Taylor led the crowd into a listen and repeat activity of The Banana Boat Song before singing Your God.

The lights went down and Taylor reappeared lone on stage with guitar to shhhh the crowd and acoustically sing Bother and then seamlessly transitioned into Through Glass.  Slowly but surely, the band reappeared, building layers of intensity onto the song before thundering into a massive crescendo helped by the arena crowd singing along.

Bitter End with its heavy beatdowns, Digital and Hell and Consequences ushered the close of the set which was the powerful 30/30-150.  Taylor ripped off his shirt and banged his chest to this anthem and the concert ended with massive cannons shooting confetti and pillars of smoke into the audience.

Words by Juanita McGowen.

pictures provided by Mark Howell.

A large variety of Avenged Sevenfold music is available at zavvi


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