On Saturday 7th January American heavy metal band Avenged Sevenfold returned to Dublin for the first time in just over three years to kick off their ‘The Stage World Tour’, the tour is in support of their seventh album ‘The Stage’ which was released out of the blue back in October. Support on the night came from American heavy metal titans Disturbed.
Before Disturbed had even taken to the stage the standing area was packed fans who had made sure to turn up early for them, showing that while Disturbed may have been supporting Avenged Sevenfold that night they are still a band with a very large Irish fanbase of their own. They kicked off their set with the title track of their most recent album 2015’s ‘Immortalized’ before going back 15 years and playing ‘The Game’ off their debut album ‘The Sickness’. The first half of their set was mainly material off their first two albums, however, these songs sounded far from perfect live, it was as if the band was warming up while playing them, most notably, the vocals during ‘Stupify’ sounded a lot weaker than you’d expect from a heavier song. Despite how weak the first half appeared to me, the crowd did exactly as vocalist David Draiman told them to, including screaming the ‘fuck’ parts during ‘Stupify’. The first standout performance of the set, their cover of Simon & Garfunkel ‘s ‘The Sound of Silence’, which has been nominated for a Grammy, signalled the turning point in the set. The lighter stripped back performance of such a timeless classic, with acoustic guitars, bongos and keys with the crowd singing along to almost every word with lighters and phones raised high into the sky, was simply breathtaking. It was followed by a strong performance of ‘Inside the Fire’ off 2008’s ‘Indestructible’, complete with pyro, with pyro sticks burning throughout the set and pyro blasts every time Draiman said the ‘fire’. Another standout was ‘The Light’ during which Draiman requested a moment of audience participation, asking them to raise their phones and lighters every time he uttered ‘the light’, which resulted in the 3Arena being lit up beautifully throughout the song.
They finished their set off with increasingly stronger performances of hit after hit; ‘Stricken’, with a perfect vocal performance from Draiman, ‘Indestructible’, with its headbang inducing pace, and ‘Ten Thousand Fists’, with the crowd raising their fists in time to it. The final song of their set was the expected performance of ‘Down with the Sickness’ with a big pyro blast ending, which was followed by the crowd chanting ‘Disturbed’. The band asked for a quick picture, took it, and then Draiman said ‘I hope to see you again soon’ as the band left the stage. Despite being the support act on the night Disturbed played a full headlining set, their stage production included more pyro than I have ever seen a band use live and it did nothing but add to the show. However, they seemed to spend the first half of their set warming up, but the second half of it more than made up for this with hit after hit and plenty of standout moments: 8.5/10.
Prior to Avenged Sevenfold taking to the stage both Elton John’s ‘Rocket Man’ and David Bowie’s ‘Space Oddity’ played out through the venue’s speakers, the start of a theme that the band’s setlist would expand upon. As this was ‘The Stage World Tour’ there was a lot of buzz prior to the show in regards to what the stage setup would be like for them. The central piece of this stage set up was a giant floating cube with screens on the two sides of it that were facing the crowd. There was also three more large rectangle screens on either side of the cube making their way from the back of the stage towards the front of it. The stage itself was a pretty big rectangle with a walkway leading out into the crowd and two holes in it where members of the crowd who had paid for VIP were standing, making them a part of ‘the stage’ and show itself. While the set up was impressive, I couldn’t help but feel a little bit disappointed by it, due to all the recent interviews with the band that I had read prior to the show, I expected there to be more to it.
The screens flashed white and the band’s deathbat logo appeared on the cube just before the 5 piece made their way to the stage. They kicked off their set with the title track off their latest album, from which the tour takes its name, ‘The Stage’, with vocalist, M. Shadows calling out to the crowd; ‘let me hear you Dublin,’ and hear them he did, as the crowd sang-a-long, showing their dedication to the band, by already knowing all the words to the ambitious 8 and a half minute monster of a track. They followed it up with an early stand-out of the set, ‘Afterlife’ off the band’s self-titled fourth album, with the crowds singing overpowering M. Shadows voice during the chorus, they finished the song to major applause from the crowd. ‘Dublin, how are you doing this evening?’ M. Shadows asked before making a joke about how the band might get given out to if they drink Guinness out of a can. Black and white footage began playing on the screens and the crowd started chanting, as the band started playing the title track off their sixth album ‘Hail to the King’, which was well received by the crowd despite how much the album split fans opinions upon its release back in 2013. It was followed by the first live performance of ‘Paradigm’ off ‘To The Stage’ with M. Shadows telling the crowd ‘I wanna see a circle pit on this one’. Before playing ‘To End The Rapture’ off the band’s debut album, 2001’s, ‘Sounding the Seventh Trumpet’, M. Shadows said ‘I like this little arena. We are gonna play shit from all the records’. The short song was quickly followed by the heavy sound of ‘Chapter Four’ off their 2nd album ‘Waking The Fallen’.
A strong performance of ‘Buried Alive’ off 2010’s ‘Nightmare’ was another stand-out of the set with its multiple guitar solos and its powerful outro section. Before ‘Angels’, another debut live performance, the cube started moving towards the crowd while rotating, then began flashing an image of a planet. During the song, which is one of the bands more ‘chilled’ songs, a mosh pit got going in the crowd with M. Shadows saying ‘only in Dublin’. After the song, the cube moved back to the back of the stage. As ‘Nightmare’ kicked off the crowd exploded to life singing the loudest they had so far that night and multiple mosh pits started throughout the crowd, the crowd sang multiple parts of the song on their own with no need for any help from M. Shadows. M. Shadows continued to speak to the crowd saying ‘it is always a pleasure to get over here to Ireland. This will hopefully give promoters more confidence in us so we can do more shows in Ireland. Alright, best show of the tour.’ Before ‘Almost Easy’ he gave a shoutout to Disturbed telling the crowd that ‘they are a big band and that they don’t need to be here with us’.
During the section of ‘Sunny Disposition’ that featured the sound of a siren, M. Shadows used a megaphone instead of his microphone, which was pretty punk and complimented the big, heavy, weird, and long, song perfectly. The band made an interesting choice to play ‘Warmness on the Soul’ as an instrumental. A giant inflatable spaceman, with a skull face and a light up head, exploded out of the back of the stage, as the band started playing ‘Planets’ before the band finished their main set off with ‘Acid Rain’, as both songs are off of ‘Hail to the King’ they were weird choices to finish out the set with. M. Shadows shouted ‘Dublin, Ireland thank you so much for tonight and we’ll see you next time,’ as he left the stage.
Once again the deathbat appeared on all of the screens as the band made their way back onto the stage for the encore. ‘Bat Country’, oddly the only song in the set off ‘City of Evil’, kicked off the encore with the crowd shouting ‘he who makes a beast of himself gets rid of the pain of being a man’ before exploding, the song resulted in the biggest mosh pits of the night and one of the loudest sing-a-longs. M. Shadows gave the band’s former drummer, The Rev, who died in 2009, a shout out, dedicating the next song to him, before mentioning that his own Dad was at the show, and stating that there was Irish in his family before asking why he can’t grow a better beard. The epic, 8 minutes long, ‘A Little Piece of Heaven’ was the clear standout performance of the night, with The Rev’s haunting vocals playing out through the venue’s speakers seven years after his death, and the clear loudest sing-a-long of the night, with the crowd shouting, singing, and screaming back every single word of the song. The final song of the night was the expected performance of, the heavy, ‘Unholy Confessions’ off ‘Waking the Fallen’, allowing members of the crowd to get one last good mosh in.
While the main set could have been finished off with a stronger song, like the somehow missing performance of ‘Beast and the Harlot’ off ‘City of Evil’, I have to give it to Avenged Sevenfold for putting together a very ambitious stage setup, coupled with a set that covered the band’s entire career, and for easily the best crowd interaction from a band I have ever seen take place in an arena: 9.5/10.