Avenged Sevenfold, Tuesday August 2, Festival Hall
It's a bummer that Sevendust pulled out of this tour. They always put on a killer show and they would have been a great lead-in to A7X. Instead, sole support was Melbourne's Dream On Dreamer. Their hardcore screams and Placebo-esque clean vocals provided a cool contrast, although they seemed to struggle with how to best project themselves on stage: half the band went for the head-down in the shadows' thing while the other half rocked out, complete with Steve Vai guitar spins. But there was plenty of variety and passion in their set and they valiantly stood up to a barrage of glow sticks that could have sent lesser bands whimpering for the doors.
Now, here's the thing about Avenged Sevenfold. They're slick. They have that performance thing down that US bands seem to really grasp: that use-every-inch-of-the-stage, look-every-audience-member-in-the-eye thing that makes you feel like you're a part of the show even if you're way up in the nosebleed section. Kicking off with Nightmare, the title track off their latest album, A7X struck the perfect balance between precision and looseness. When it was time to riff out, they were spot on, but in between songs lead guitarist Synyster Gates casually threw in random guitar licks and even tasty blues riffs. This kind of relaxed intimacy really helps to make each A7X gig feel like its own entity.
The set hit career highlights both old and new - Afterlife, Bat Country, Welcome To The Family, Save Me, and even A Little Piece Of Heaven, a Mr Bungle-esque track masterminded by late drummer The Rev from their 2007 self-titled album. But even though The Rev's taped vocals were piped over the PA at the appropriate times, and even though mention was made of his passing and the band's last trip to Melbourne, the gig never descended into maudlin reminiscence.
Live drummer Arin Ilejay doesn't have the charisma of The Rev (or his temporary replacement, ex-Dream Theater drummer Mike Portnoy), but the stage presence of singer M.Shadows was plenty big enough. And when a little extra kick was needed, there was plenty of pryo.
BY PETER HODGSON
Photo by Talitha Conway