Avenged Sevenfold/Stone Sour/Hellyeah, @ Birmingham NIA

 28th October 2010, Review by Scarlett LP

A co-headlining tour featuring two heavy American bands was bound to be overflowing with testosterone, so filling the support slot with superband Hellyeah made sense. Comprising of Mudvayne vocalist Chad Gray and guitarist Greg Tribbett, Nothingface guitarist Tom Maxwell, Damageplan bassist Bob Zilla and Damageplan/Pantera drummer Vinnie Paul (brother of the late Dimebag Darrell), the experience and influence of each member was evident in each cock-wielding track.

A tribute to Dimebag seemed to resonate within the fans, reminding them of the power of the bands about to blow them away. The self-confessed ‘raging alcoholics’ (who felt comfortable admitting that in Brum because ‘This is Britain. We know that kind of shit’s OK here!’) filled their 30 minutes with timeless pieces that could very well have been picked straight out of the start-up of heavy rock in the 70s, but in no way felt outdated.

I wasn’t expecting to like them at all, judging them on their age, appearance and a few YouTube clips, but they impressed even the most sceptical! They certainly got the crowd revved up, gagging for the set to continue with the headliners.

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Avenged Sevenfold came on to Nightmare, from their latest album, and from the very first chord they ripped the stage apart. The pyrotechnics had the audience on a slow-roast, but the smell of hot sweat didn’t distract anyone from the experience.

Synyster Gates and Zacky Vengeance stood back-to-back at various points, belting out screaming solos and giving great photo opportunities to catch the two men together (ok – so I had an ulterior motive for taking my camera, but as a hot-blooded female I will not apologise!)

Avenged Sevenfold mixed old and new tracks, picking a select few from the new album but not going overboard, remembering their long-term fans and recognising them with Unholy Confessions, Beast And The Harlot, Critical Acclaim and Afterlife – the latter featuring a recording of the late Rev’s iconic vocals. M Shadows gestured above at this point, proving that, although Mike Portnoy of Dream Theatre, Jimmy Sullivan’s favourite drummer (according to M Shadows on the night) had replaced him for the tour, The Rev was never forgotten and had never left. This was reiterated when the background fabric pulled back to reveal a huge mural of the boys in a brotherly-hug, ‘Sullivan’ tattooed onto a back. Shadows thanked the fans for sticking with the band during the loss of their brother, and launched into a heartfelt rendition of So Far Away, in memory.

You couldn’t help but feel a part of this tight-knit family, and feel as though it had been your loss, too. However, never ones to dwell, the band carried on with the set, taunting the crowd (‘You crazy brummies!’ was a favourite phrase of the frontman, after awarding the title of ‘the best fucking circle put!’), punching the air in victory, and ending on the crowd’s requested favourite, Bat Country.

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After a breif interval and a spooky display of spinning logos on the fabric hiding the band, Corey Taylor roared onstage, plugging Audio Secrecy with more than a few tracks. For those unfamiliar with the new album, or just perhaps more loyal to the old-school Stone Sour, the set took a while to heat up, however when it did, it packed a punch. Playing ‘Bother’ and ‘Through Glass’ could have been an over-mellow interruption; however the power and passion behind the vocals and guitars ensured the crowd kept the animalistic mentality.

The only downside to the set was the frustrationof waiting for the favourite song, while still being plugged with tracks from the new album. However, sure enough, 30/30-150 rolled around, and the anger from every put-down anyone had ever been attacked with was belted out with each ‘HATES!!’. Ears ringing, feet hurting, running for the last train…the adrenaline from this experience will never fade.

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