It’s pretty hard to believe that Children of Bodom have reached the 20 year milestone. ‘Twenty Years Down N Dirty’ is the banner this tour is being marketed under but it doesn’t seem five minutes since we first picked up our ‘Follow the Reaper’ CD all those years ago. One thing is for sure, Children of Bodom have amassed a mighty arsenal of tunes in the last couple of decades which, no doubt, we’ll get a healthy cross section of tonight.
First up on Manchester Academy II’s stage is Canada’s ONI. Their progressive metal sits well with the Children of Bodom sound and they are indeed a good fit for this crowd. The six-piece just about fit on the cluttered stage, which has Jaska’s drums under cover and some cool looking search lights dotted around the back of the stage. All will, no doubt, be revealed later…
ONI hit us hard with some mind-bending metal. Frontman Jake is a big presence at the front of the stage, switching from clean vocals to growls on regular rotation he has an arm-span that looks as though he could gather up this sizeable early crowd and give us all a big metal bear-hug. He doesn’t of course, he’s got singing to do… and some serious head banging/hair windmilling as well.
Also hard at work at the front of the stage is Johnny D. Not every band that roll through town has a Xylo-synth player in their ranks, but this one does and it certainly gives them a unique edge. Johnny works his magic in a manic looking fashion and certainly gives ONI their proggy edge. Mixed in the dual guitars and they conjure up some unusual noises through the set and we can instantly see why these guys have been chosen to go out on the road with Devin Townsend later in the year.
That’ll be one hell of a noisy bill!
ONI famously worked with Randy Blythe on their ‘The Only Cure’ track. As Jake announces it and it’s Richmond Virginia connection, at least a few people suddenly take a keen interest expecting him to appear for the track. Of course, he doesn’t, but the track still sounds huge with just the ONI guys at the controls.
So our first impression of this band live is a very good one. ONI will be back again this summer for Bloodstock Festival and we’ll definitely be there to catch them on the strength of tonight’s introduction.
Forever Still are another band booked in for Bloodstock Festival. The Copenhagen crew are a huge stage presence for a support band. Maja’s microphone stand rivals Korn’s Jonathan Davis’ for elaborate design and she is all over the stage tonight. The two guitar slingers at stage left and right are live wires too. They traverse the stage switching sides just about managing not to take each other out in the mayhem.
Musically they have a mix of heavy rock and more melodic stuff. They hold the attention of the crowd and seem to have a real connection to the crowd. Now, strictly speaking, they’re not CackBlabbath’s preferred cuppa, but are plenty in the crowd that are into Forever Still and we might guess that there will be plenty more at Bloodstock that will lap this band up.
Here we are then, time for what we’re all here for. The mighty Children Of Bodom with 20 years worth of material at their fingertips. The drums are hoisted high up in the air, there’s some big old search lights across the stage and the whole of Manchester Academy II is lit up like a christmas tree. This is going to be a blast!
Alexi and co. look well geared up for this tour. There are smiles all around the stage and the band look energised and up for a good night. The crowd similarly pay close attention to what’s going off on stage and as the barrage of guitar solos hits us, most are caught up in a bit of a daze as Alexi unleashes the squeals from his axe.
It’s brutal and bouncy, just about everything we love about Children of Bodom. Mixing the upbeat with the downright angry isn’t as easily pulled off by every band, but these guys are well oiled pro’s at this game.
And the setlist, well that is just about perfection!
Early on we get ‘Needled 24/7’ for a chance to shout our lungs out while ‘Bodom After Midnight’ and ‘Lake Bodom’ are two CB favourites to mix into the meaty setlist. The lights match up with the colour of the album for most songs which is a neat little touch and everything about this show oozes quality.
The ferocious encore of ‘The Nail’ and ‘Towards Dead End’ persuades more than a few to catch some crowd surfing action and as the security catch the masses coming over the barrier, it sets the scene of a highly successful night indeed!
Let’s hope Children Of Bodom join the other two bands on the bill tonight over at Catton Hall this year for Bloodstock!