I Went To Go See Killswitch Engage & Trivium Live Tonight (Feb 1st, 2014), at Manchester Academy. It was a stark, stark contrast to the miserable experiences that I had at the same venue when seeing Bring Me The Horizon a few months ago and Lamb Of God a few weeks ago.
At those gigs I’d been greatly disillusioned by support bands who didn’t interest me and fans who rubbed me up the wrong way, in combination with poor sound. Being up close to these young happy people, having their obnoxious fun made me feel so out of place and removed from humanity. (Until Lamb Of God came on, fucking smashed it live, and fixed my brain!)
None of that tonight, sure, there were a few chuds barging their way through the crowd rudely, and a few people who clearly hadn’t washed or groomed in over a week, but for the most part, the crowd did not irritate me this time (it was almost as nice as the Queensryche crow; the single least stupid, selfish, boorish and annoying crowd I’ve had the pleasure to be in since moving to this city). It was such a great show I think that even if the crowd were off-putting I would still be feeling this happy and satisfied. It was a damn good show, you see.
When I got there, by the time I’d got in, been to the toilet and walked to near the front, I only saw one song from the opening act, Battlecross, but it was very impressive. I’ve psychologically filed them under ‘would see again’ on the strength of just that one song. A far cry from Huntress, or some of the other less interesting bands I’ve seen.
Next up were a band who I’d never heard of, but who turned out to be excellent. They were called Miss May I and their style was very much in the Killswitch/Parkway Drive direction, but they were very good at what they did. Very, very good, with charismatic members, an enthusiastic crowd and heaps of talent. It reminds me of when I first saw Rise To Remain, I should have heard all the Melodic Metalcore I’ll ever need to hear by now, but these guys come along and do it so well, it doesn’t matter if its not ground breaking. Its still damn entertaining.
Not knowing any of their material didn’t stop it being enjoyable. That’s how good they were.
When they finished, there was a brief gap and soundcheck, then it was time for Trivium. They played atop a plastic Cliffside, with big banners behind them, and big ‘T’ things at either side of the stage (sort’ve like statues, the way Slipknot would do with the tribal ‘S’ logo). They also has a fancy light show, a foam cannon that made snow and huge smoke bombs that Lamb Of God and Horizon also had used. Basically, they put a lot of effort into their show. It was a show worth seeing.
Trivium played a few newer songs from the new album, and also surprisingly played ‘Shattering The Skies Above’ from the God Of War 3 soundtrack. I really enjoyed that stuff, but it would’ve been wise of me to have gotten the new Trivium album by now and definitely before the show so as to enjoy them live even more, recognition being one of the most rewarding parts of a live show after-all. They also played a fair few favourites from Ascendency, which went over fantastic. Also, I got the recognition buzz. Yay recognition.
Before the gig I had went online to see what setlist they’d been playing this tour, and was delighted to find ‘Becoming The Dragon’ on it, which is probably my favourite Trivium song (definitely in my top-three at any rate) but for this show they changed things up a bit and replaced a few tracks with the lengthy title-track to Shogun, complete with the falling snow. Fair play. If I’m going to miss out on such a great track at least its for an interesting reason. Like people who see Slipknot live and miss out on a few ragers but get to see ‘Iowa.’
I had seen Trivum before touring Shogun (the album, not the song) and it was a really good show, with a really good performance. This was even better. They have become so impressive, so confidant. The guitar solos are really captivating, the big breakdown riffs are absolutely giant live, and they really know how to work a crowd. It was really, really entertaining stuff. Also this time the crowd didn’t get called pussies for not jumping (my single most enduring memory from my previous Trivium gig for some reason).
The highlights of the night for me were a very heavy rendition of ‘Down From the Sky’ as well as ‘Pull Harder On The Strings Of Your Martyr’ (wherein I derived great pleasure from singing ‘Boat Rudder Strange Mountain,’ naturally) and a fucking phenomenal rendition of ‘In Waves.’ I think ‘In Waves’ is probably the best song the band have ever written and live it was absolutely massive. Also they timed the smoke bombs to go off every time he said ‘Waves’ so it was extra interesting to look at. I’m really glad to have seen it live. What a good time.
After Trivium were over, you’d be forgiven for accidentally walking home, because it was a real headline show. It’s a lot better show than either time I’ve seen Slayer, it was better than both Down and Megadeth who I’d both seen (separately) in this same venue and it was almost as good as that Lamb Of God show that stopped me wanting to jump in front of a car.
Trivium are a great band. Much better than they’re given credit for. I know they are given credit, judging by the adoring crowd, but they’re even better than that. If you get me. They seem to be only getting better too.
Even though I’d have been absolutely happy for it to, and have felt like I’d gotten my money’s worth if it had… the night did not end there.
Next up after a very lengthy pause to dismantle Trivium’s Cliffside, Killwitch Engage took to the stage (to the tune of Eye Of The Tiger no less), with Adam D dressed in a singlet and daisy-dukes, pulling body-builder poses on the monitors in strobe lighting.
I had always been a little bit more of a fan of Howard than Jesse, and I remember being cynical when Jesse re-joined the band. Their new album is absolutely corking though, and the live footage I seen online of his return-shows changed all that. Now I was excited to see Jesse.
I. Was. Not. Disappointed.
That dude is a frontman. God DAMN!
His clean singing live is mind-blowing. His Death Growls and his high screams live are so much better than most other bands I’ve seen. His crowd interaction is genuine and his overall performance just screams of someone who really cares.
The rest of the band are all brilliant live, from the extra bass runs, additional pinch harmonics, and better drum fills. Everything has extra energy, its all so big.
Their stage show had a lot more space in it, without the cliff, but they made up for it with a really, really good lightshow and a lot of personal energy and running around. They used the space well.
Hearing things like ‘Fixation On The Darkness’ and ‘My Last Serenade’ live was frigging gigantic. They really put their all into the performances, and the sound was perfect. Some of those riffs were so crushing. When you think of Killswitch you often only conjure up the clean choruses, but man, some of those grooves are just HUGE.
The material from the new album went over really well live too. Really, really well. ‘The Turning Point’ had me screaming at the top of my lungs and I was far from the only one. ‘All In Due Time’ in particular was so, so massive live, really life-affirming. It was tied for best moment of the night with ‘In Waves.’ I can see it staying in their set forever. It’s a bloody fantastic song. Seeing that live made me feel like how it must’ve felt to see ‘This Love’ by Pantera live.
Y’know what else was huge? The sing-alongs on ‘The End Of Heart Ache’ from the crowd were some of the loudest and most passionate I’ve ever heard. It felt like every person in the building was singing along. Plus the band themselves absolutely slayed that song live. Bass, Drums, Guitars, Vocals, everything was absolute perfection.
Its cool they played so much Howard-era stuff live too. I almost expected them to concentrate only on the songs that Jesse had wrote, but they mixed it up well across their whole catalogue. They opened with ‘A Bid Farwell’ and they played ‘This Is Absoltuion,’ ‘Rose Of Sharyn’ (waaay heavier and better live) and even closed the night out with a really energetic version of ‘My Curse.’ Howard’s stuff sounds really well by Jesse. I didn’t think it was possible, but he arguably delivers some of it even better than Howard himself. That’s high praise from me, because I love Howard.
I hope both Trivum and Killswitch film a DVD on this tour, because this was some seriously great stuff.
As an evening, this was a great one. If this bill is playing in your town, get yourself tickets. It is absolutely worth your time and money. I had a fantastic time and the bands (even the ones I didn’t know) all put on a really powerful, solid and entertaining show.
Good stuff. I’m glad I went.