We’re not going to be eased in gently tonight. We are still messing about trying to get into Rock City when we hear Tribulation kicking off the nights entertainment. Thankfully, we’re not left waiting too long thanks to the efforts of the newly rejuvenated Rock City staff and after a quick sprint up the stairs, we land in the photo pit at the end of the first song.
Draped in deep red and, well… mainly dark black lighting, we wonder why we have bothered running. There’s not going to be much of a gallery for this gig. There’s quite an creepy occult atmosphere around the place. It’s a bit different to the other week when Steel Panther were here, anyway!
We’re definitely not allergic to a bit of occult death metal though, and these guys do a sterling job in scouring our faces off early in the evening. What do you expect from a band hailing from Sweden?
Speedy yet eerie and blackened but little bit R’n’R too, Tribulation just about have it all. The moody lighting also enhances the band’s image, with the band’s look fitting their sound like a glove. The cramped stage with the drums almost at the front of the line all adds to the claustrophobic atmosphere too.
This band are the full works! A great way to start the evening.
Okay, time to be a bit less harsh. The energy instantly rises when these guys hit the stage and even if the band are not the top of our must see bands of the night, there are plenty of folk in the crowd who would disagree. From spewing riffs and solos in a rapid-fire fashion to drinking a mug of tea, the crowd are enthralled by Jari and co. from start to finish and with every move.
And we have a chance to check out the Arch Enemy merch. Which is quite expensive, actually.
If there is one band that left us thirsty for more at last year’s Bloodstock Festival, then Arch Enemy were it. Re-energising our festival damaged bodies on a Sunday evening is not an easy task, but Arch Enemy managed it at BOA17 and when the tour news came out soon after; we were marking it down on the calendar without hesitation.
We’re not alone either. There are hordes of folk wearing the ‘Bloodstock is Yours’ shirt tonight. How embarrassing, we wearing the same shirt… We should have worn that ‘Pure Fucking Metal’ shirt instead. Oh, wait there…
The stage has become considerably less cramped and Alissa and her band of long-haired comrades fill the stage with all the presence and intensity that we have come to expect from Arch Enemy. ‘The World Is Yours’ gets things off to a flyer and then it’s straight into an old-school gem with the ever-mighty ‘Ravenous’.
Rock City looks pretty much rammed to the rafters by the time the headliners make their entrance and the crowd is well oiled and loud from the off. Jeff and Mike trade some serious solos in ‘Ravenous’ and ‘The Race’ and we soon remember just how powerful Arch Enemy are up there on stage. This guitar pairing of Michael Amott and Jeff Loomis is some combination, especially when they are about half a metre away from your face down in the photo pit.
The first of the many highlights hits us square between the eyes when the grinding opening riffs of ‘My Apocalypse’ start up. We can remember hearing this live on or around the ‘Doomsday…’ tour like it was last week, but although we’re not going to Google it or have a guess on the year. It might have been a bit longer in the past than last week.
‘My Apocalpyse’ starts a rally of belting tracks, actually. From the Alissa era ‘You Will Know My Name’ to the yester-years of ‘Dead Eyes See No Future’ Arch Enemy don’t offer us much opportunity to get back to the bar (Although, we do manage it). They don’t believe in filler material, obviously.
In fact they don’t really believe in anything apart from face-melting tunes. The show rarely drops in pace or momentum throughout as Alissa leaps around the stage with relentless energy and even tries to take us out with the mic stand at one point.
‘The Eagle Flies Alone’ is a semi-slow number with a more groove-laden base but any respite is short lived as ‘As The Pages Burn’ spirals into action.
It’s testament to Arch Enemy’s catalogue that this show is overflowing with big and recogniseable hits. They are a band that have been plugging away at this game for some time without getting the recognition that others have done on considerably less merit. Sold Out tours like this seem to point towards Arch Enemy still being on an upward curve and definitely heading towards the legend status in their genre.
Fittingly, the main set is concluded with the colossal ‘We Will Rise’ which gets the floor moving faster than ever tonight.
If we thought that the BOA2017 performance was a bit good, then this more intimate affair is just brilliant. This band are in fine form at the moment and we can only hope they turn up at a few festivals after the tour has finished.