Package tours are great, and in today's musical climate, they seem to be becoming more and more of a necessity, not only for the fans, but also in order for the bands to get out and tour and make some kind of money. Package tours also work to the advantage of younger bands, or bands with diverse sounds to get out in front of a new set of eyes and ears.
However package tours don't come much bigger than tonight's which is of the most eagerly anticipated tours of the year with Trivium and Killswitch Engage teaming up for a co headline tour, bringing with them metalcore shining stars Miss May I, as well as the new boys in Battlecross, on paper this had all the makings of a tour not to be missed, so how was it in actuality?
Battlecross open proceedings this evening, and waste none of their criminally minimal stage time, they go directly for the throat, running through 20 minutes of energy fuelled smash mouth metal, that proves that there is still a place in the modern scene for old school sensibilities and approaches to things. Despite them being the least well known band on the bill, they make a good impression, there is a sense that they will be able to turn this type of performance and audience reaction into something special when they return to these shores for Download Festival in June.
Up next are Miss May I, who are a band I was looking forward to seeing on this tour, after hearing so much about them, and jamming their latest album 'At Heart' I was looking forward to see what the band could bring to the table live. I can safely say that I wasn't left disappointed. I was surprised by just how heavy they are, proving to be more from the metal end of the metalcore spectrum, they put on an impressive show that is energetic, as well as showcasing what a tight band they are, they also manage to get the first pits of the evening going. This in turn leads to some members of the audience flapping around like mentally deficient chickens attempting to take flight, but I digress, its a fine perfomance from a band that is able to prove their mettle, showing they are more than capable of hanging with the big boys, and not crumbling under the immense pressure of opening for bands the calibre of Trvium and Killswitch. As they close their set with a thundering rendition of 'Hey Mister' the place once again erupts and Miss May I walk off stage knowing that on this night they have done themselves proud and big things are inevitably in their future.
The stage gets set up for the first of tonight's co -headline acts, Trivium and there is a suddenly an air of anticipation that is palpable. This is Trvivium's first visit to these shores since the release of their incredible new album 'Vengeance Falls' so its understandable that people are excited. As the intro tape fades out and Trivium go full steam into 'Brave this Storm' it is officially on for the evening. It has to be said that whilst on record Trivium may have had a few creative ups and downs, live they have always been stellar and tonight is no exception as they essentially play a greatest hits set, with the occasional curveball (shogun anyone?) thrown in for good measure. It’s a crowd pleasing move on their part, but there is something else about Trivium tonight, they seem vitalized, they seem more focused and more on point than I’ve ever seen them before. I imagine this is what it must have been like seeing Metallica when they were on the cusp of becoming the festival slaying giants we know them as now. Tonight Trivium have shown once again why they are one of the best young metal bands in the game today.
Under normal circumstances, any band in their right mind would be terrified of following that, but Killswitch Engage aren't just any band. Currently reunited with Jesse Leach and on the form of their lives, trying to stop Killswitch Engage right now would be like trying to take down Godzilla with a water pistol, it really is an exercise in futility. Opening with 'A Bid Farewell' the place goes absolutely apeshit, but this is just the tip of the iceberg. Tonight we are treated to the full Killswitch experience, including the ever amusing Adam D running around the stage like a hyperactive child after 3 cans of relentless and a viewing of the Lego movie, and yes he makes jokes, drinks beer and still shreds like an absolute boss. Jesse Leach is in fine voice and even finer voice, thanking the audience for sticking with both him and the band throughout everything. As for the band themselves, they have never ever been better. 'Disarm the Descent' was a real return to form of an album, and live the songs from it absolutely crush everything put in front of them, they hit hard and fast, but it’s also Jesse's handling of the Howard Jones era songs that is just as impressive as he takes to them well, both respecting them and putting his own spin on them as well.
The inclusion of 'This Fire Burns' was a particular treat and led to a chant of 'Best in the world' which put a huge smile on my face, but for the people that are unaware, that song was used by WWE (or as it currently stands, former) superstar CM Punk as his entrance theme for a number of years, and as a wrestling geek it was nice to hear it getting a live airing.
I don't know how they do it, and I have to admit that I’ve often suspected there is a Lazarus pit lying around in the band's practice space, but every time you think Killswitch Enagage may be dead, they come back 10 times stronger than they were before. It’s amazing to see such will and determination from a band nowadays, especially when they parlay that into such intense and passionate performances as we are being treated to tonight.
With Lamb of God currently on hiatus, I truly believe that Killswitch are currently the band to beat, if any band out there can put on the kind of performance Killswitch can consistently then more power to them. When conversation turns as it always does to bands who will take a step up to be the next generation of festival headliner look for Killswitch Engage to be at the very tope of that list, because tonight was exhilirating. 10/10