Another night, another unmissable gig in Manchester. For once I managed to get there early, a small matter of an interview appointment with Nick from Trivium, which meant that contrary to the usual CackBlabbath timekeeping record I was in the venue in time to see the first band….
Which was just as well as tonight’s openers had come a long way to be here, but judging by the response many of the crowd were already familiar with Upon A Burning Body. Waistcoats, shirts and “proper” trousers are their visual USP, well that and a Life Sucks and then you die attitude. Well life may indeed suck but thankfully UABB didn’t, opening up some impressive pit action with Once Upon A Time In Mexico, and even a hands in the air clap-along with their traditional Mexican flavoured incidental music.
By the time Danny and Co. had finished their short set the crowd were well and truly warmed up. Great to see an early doors support band getting the whole place bouncing.
Although it was still only 20 to 8 the Ritz was rammed (although the progress of the queue was apparently at its usual glacial pace). At first Caliban didn’t seem to elicit the same response from the crowd that UABB had received, more polite than mental, and the requests to open the pit up were initially, for the most part, politely declined. That all changed with the wall of death though… f’kin lunatics. It was great to see the crowd finally spring to life. Took ’em a few songs to get into it, but the Germans were certainly having a damn good go at matching UABB for power and intensity.
I really liked Caliban, it’s an appealing (well, to me anyway) mix of melodic and f’kin heavy, and they put on a great show…. But I can’t help the feeling that this wasn’t really “their” crowd. Still, full marks for effort.
This was only the first night of the tour, but if either of the band’s so far were taking time to get into their stride it certainly didn’t show.
After Tex-Mex and Germany, it was time to crank things up a notch or two. As I Lay Dying have a killer reputation as a live band, and this was my first experience of them live. Now as regular readers will both know, I’m no fan of all things ‘core, but thankfully that seems to be a label that’s misapplied to these guys. Loud, heavy and intense as hell, As I Lay Dying are f’king amazing live, proper force of nature stuff. This was a show as raw and ferocious as any I’ve seen recently.
If Trivium aren’t enough to get you along to this tour then AILD bloody well should be. Awesome. By the time they finished with The Sound Of Truth the whole place was a hot, sweaty mess. And the main event was yet to come.
If ever there was a band who benefited from a line-up change, that band is Florida metallers Trivium. The arrival of “new boy” drummer Nick Augusto certainly gave the band a creative kick up the backside, and last years In Waves was widely lauded as their best album yet. Now I must admit that prior to hearing In Waves for the first time I wasn’t the band’s greatest fan but that album, combined with a show stealing performance at the 2012 Download Festival, converted me.
There was a real air of expectation in the Ritz as their stage time approached. After some impressive performances by the support bands, particularly As I Lay Dying, Trivium were clearly going to have to be on top of their game. Now personally I always like to see a headliner take out support acts that you know are going to give them a run for their money and, true to form, Trivium were going to have to pull something special out of the bag tonight.
The HMV Ritz isn’t always the best live venue, on occasion the sound is shocking and there is just something about it that, I dunno, lacks atmosphere but so far tonight the sound was as good as you could expect (I.E. passable) and the assembled throng of metalheads made sure that the vibe certainly wasn’t lacking.
Even the normally humourless venue security seemed to be enjoying themselves 😉
Trivium took to the stage and immediately set about confirming that their brilliant Download performance was no one-off. Honestly. Quite how band can put in this much intensity night after night I have no idea and they’ve got months of this ahead of them on the European leg of their world jaunt. Matt Heafy is a great festival frontman, but up close and personal in the much more intimate confines of the Ritz he takes things to a whole other level. Before the gig Nick told CackBlabbath that the UK was their favourite place to play, and although he may say it to all the crowds, Matt’s “Hello Manchester. It’s good to be home…” got a massive cheer.
I love bands like Trivium who obviously feed of the energy of the crowd, OK so they do this night after night but they still manage to make the show seem special, they’re not just following a script up there. Heafy is a born performer and the rest of the band are no slouches either, with pounding rhythms and shredding solos supplied in abundance. Tonights set is a balanced mix of old fan favourites and In Waves era stuff, with both being equally well received by the baying hordes. As Heafy said at the start “We’ve got a lot of fucking songs to get through” and over the course of the next hour and a half they delivered a faultless selection of fan favourites old and new.
I’ve had some good nights in the HMV Ritz, and I’ve had some where I was edging towards the exit after about 20 minutes but tonight… tonight was brilliant. Three great support bands building the atmosphere for an absolutely killer headline performance.
Isn’t that what live music is supposed to be about.
As the festival headlining Metal Gods start to get on a bit, there has seemed to be a dearth of bands stepping up to take their place at Heavy Metal’s top table. Well based on tonight’s performance Trivium certainly have the tools in their musical arsenal to take things to that mythical next level. Now I know a few bands have got to this sort of size then stalled but if they can build on the success of In Waves, and keep on blasting out performances like this, then Trivium are destined for bigger… much bigger… things.
And I say this a lot, but I’m definitely getting too old for that headbanging lark 🙂
Photos by Wendy Elaine Photography. Check out Wendy’s Facebook page here…. go “like” 🙂