We have ourselves a little Download Festival Christmas reunion on our hands tonight. Of Mice and Men opened up, In Flames scorched our faces off and now headlining; we have Las Vegas’ finest metal crew. Five Finger Death Punch have had a bit of a turbulent year. That may be a bit of an understatement actually, but the band and Ivan are all smiles tonight as they rip straight into ‘Lift Me Up’ as the curtain falls and reveals the skull and crossbars backdrop.
There is an explosion of riffs and a burst of colour as 5FDP fill the NIA with their larger than life attitude. ‘Lift…’ is a massive song to kick things off with and the packed out Arena floor swirls on mass. The band have a strong brand with their red and black team colours (Apart from Zoltan, who sports the blue kit today). We’ve been spotting people sporting the 5FDP strip all over Birmingham this afternoon and looking out over the rammed standing area, the tribe have all made their way here… complete with their red hand prints to the face too.
The first half of the set is loaded with bulging huge tunes. ‘Wash It All Away’ and ‘Get Your Six’ are just two of the thumping songs to get the place pumped and ‘Ain’t My Last Dance’ sees Tommy Vext rejoin the band for a song after his stint as a stand-in over the summer. Probably handy to have him hanging around! Although all looks well with the 5FDP crew from what we see on stage.
The FFDP lot, especially Ivan, have been in the headlines due to their frontman’s “Complete fucking meltdown” earlier this year. “I’m human” is an explanation that goes a long way with the crowd tonight, and we can relate to that here at CB. We all go off the rails from time to time, except there aren’t thousands of people watching when we do it. Thankfully.
The middle section of the set sees a bit of a slow down in proceedings and it all gets a bit ballad heavy with lots of time spent plucking people out the crowd to come up onstage and giving out gifts/bats etc. Jason ‘hired gun’ Hook pulls up a stool and the acoustic guitar for a few tracks with the huge ‘Remember Everything’ seeing 5FDP channel their inner 80’s power ballad love, which crowns a successful change of pace in style.
Speaking of Jason, he really puts in a shift and a half as he belts out intro’s and solos all night long. His extra solid looking hair may be eye-catching, but he spends most of the show out of the limelight whilst producing some scorching work. Ivan, on the other hand, is the complete master of ceremonies as he mixes with the crowd, stalks the stage with his trademark sour face but lets out a smile now and then. The big softie.
The end of the show sees the band come back, predictably, with an almighty bang. The huge grooves of ‘Jekyll and Hyde’ follows the slow burning ‘Coming Down’ and we’re back on to full rock show mode. And then, how about ‘Under and Over It’ and ‘The Bleeding’ to finish with some serious stomp? Yeah, that should do it!
And that was indeed, it. No encore, they leave us and the rest of the crowd thirsty for more. With that new album just around the corner, we shouldn’t have to wait too long. We’d have probably liked to have heard ‘Ashes’ instead of the acoustic bit in the middle, really. However, all in all, we think FFDP are pretty good at this big rock show thing.
After the fall out of the summer, this tour could have been a car crash waiting to happen. That is obviously not the case here tonight however. The whole band look in a good place; in fact they look buzzing and super comfortable on the big arena stage. We’ve been to see the likes of Metallica, Maiden, Sabbath and A7X in the big sheds of the UK this year. None of those bands managed to get a whole arena floor as hyped as FFDP have tonight.
You want your future festival/arena headliners? Look no further..
Words and Pics by Rob W