[Live Review] Avenged Sevenfold/Deftones/Ghost B.C. In Detroit, MI

a7xhailtothekingconcertbanner - Christopher Mark

This past Sunday I went to the “Hail To The King” tour, which features headliner Avenged Sevenfold with direct support from Deftones and Ghost B.C.. While each band represents rock/metal they also present a very unique sound, bringing their own flavors to the genre. So, in theory, this tour should be a fun, exciting celebration that pays homage to the heaviness that only metal can bring. And while this tour almost got it right, there is one glaring problem, one issue that I just couldn’t shake off. Head on down to see what it was.

I’ve been trying to catch these guys for a few years now, so seeing them was a real treat. The best adjective to describe them would be “theatrical”, as it speaks to their stage presence as well as the visuals that supported them. The band had no pyrotechnics nor any stage set pieces. Instead, the mood of their performance was based heavily upon the almost Argento-esque use of color. Deep purples washed the stage while green beams shone upon the audience, as though the band was trying to find the perfect victim for a ritualistic sacrifice.

The nameless ghouls of the band performed with enthusiasm, engaging the audience and obviously having a great deal of fun. Vocalist Papa Emeritus II stood on stage with gravitas, addressing the audience with charm and an infectious dry, wry humor. Papa also paid homage to Detroit, the Motor City, by referencing the KISS “Alive!” tour, drawing huge cheers from the audience.

Ghost B.C. was a fantastic opener and kicked the night off wonderfully.

This was not the first time I had seen Deftones, so I knew what I was getting into. And let’s just say that the band did not disappoint in any way. Vocalist Chino Moreno leapt around the stage with seemingly boundless amounts of energy, jumping off the drum riser and stage monitors, climbing on top of the bass speaker cabinets, and even getting right up against the audience. He sang with such crazed fervor that he went through at least three microphones, slamming each on the ground when one would stop functioning and quickly grabbing another.

Bassist Sergio Vega also seemed filled with the same kinetic energy, running around, jumping, and singing with a huge smile on his face. Drummer Abe Cunningham furiously played, his sticks a blur as lights reflected off the cymbals, creating shimmering waves against the plain white backdrop. Electronics man Frank Delgado bobbed sinuously through each song while guitarist Stephen Carpenter had his feet firmly planted in his spot, headbanging with his hair wildly splayed thanks to a small stage fan. The entire group fed off of the crowd, playing such favorites as “Change (In The House Of Flies)” and “Shove It” as well as several tracks from the recently released Koi No Yokan.

Once again, Deftones have shown that they are a live band that is well worth every penny to see.

And now we come to the problem child, the point where things not only went downhill but where they plummeted right off a cliff: Avenged Sevenfold.

Now, I’ll be the first to admit that I’ve never been a huge fan of the band. I like a few songs here and there (“Critical Acclaim” is badass) but they’ve never drawn me in. But this “performance” (if you want to call it that) was nothing short of boring, and, in a way, insulting.

So let’s start with the good, shall we? The stage design was pretty awesome. The backdrop was built as though it were the front of a medieval castle. The center door was framed on both sides by two large screens that were used to display various scenes, such as rotting corpses and skeletal figures locked behind jail bars. The center door opened a few songs in and a large skeletal king emerged, sitting on a throne made of skulls. The head of this statue moved side to side, surveying the audience. Flames shot forth from nearly everywhere, a river of fire often appearing in front of drummer Aaron Ilejay. Bursts of fireworks would appear at timed intervals, creating shockingly loud eruptions. So overall, the stage production was pretty badass.

But onto the problem: the band. They played with almost zero enthusiasm, wandering aimlessly around the stage and barely engaging the crowd. Actually, in a “quite the opposite” move, they very often had their backs turned towards the audience, facing Ilejay. Their complete lack of enthusiasm was mind boggling. Here’s one of the biggest bands in the rock/metal world and they can’t muster the energy to put on a performance that matches their numbers?

It was almost the complete opposite of Deftones. Avenged Sevenfold had an amazing stage production while the band had no enthusiasm. Meanwhile, Deftones had no stage production whatsoever but played with more excitement in one night than most bands can pull out over an entire tour. I’m sure you can guess which one I find more important.

Here’s how bad A7X’s show was: I left five songs in. While I was walking out of the Joe Louis Arena, there was a large crowd gathered around a small television. They were watching the Tigers/Red Sox game (damn those Sox) instead of watching the band perform. I could only laugh as I realized that I was not alone in my views on the band’s “show”.

The Final Word: For a concert that is dubbed the Hail To The King tour, I truly wish the “king” had been dethroned. While it’s always a pleasure seeing Deftones and Ghost B.C. were amazing, I can safely say that I never have to nor want to see Avenged Sevenfold again.

Banner credit: Christopher Mark

Got any thoughts/questions/concerns for Jonathan Barkan? Shoot him a message on Twitter or on Bloody-Disgusting!

  • CTHL

    Had just about the opposite experience in my town.

    Ghost did put on a decent show (not a fan of their music though).
    But Deftones just sat there and played with no energy whatsoever. They got their share of boo’s even. I don’t know, must’ve been a bad day. I’ve seen them before and they weren’t anything like this time.
    Now I’m not gonna say Avenged’s part was any good either, but they at least moved about and played with the crowd some… about the best one can expect with a major non-theatric band. I actually do like their music, but I wish I didn’t have to ever watch them… their douchiness makes me cringe.

    Overall, not a good show… but I’m picky. I need some theatrics to be impressed. GWAR, Zombie, Manson, Tool, Rammstein… those are the only live shows worth goin to. I just went for the friends :-P

    • JonathanBarkan

      As I said in my comment to @hubdog21, perhaps I had an anomaly of a show. But Deftones totally killed it .

      I’ve seen all of the bands you mentioned except for Marilyn Manson. If you ever get a chance, go and see Depeche Mode. Easily one of the best concerts I’ve ever been to. SO GOOD!

      • CTHL

        Unfortunately I do not like Depeche Mode’s music, hehe… but noted.

        • JonathanBarkan

          Really?! It always blows my mind when I meet someone who doesn’t like their stuff. But in a way I can totally understand. But if you’re wiling to take a risk, totally go for it.

    • Adrienne

      First off, to Jonathan Barkan, who feels he has enough Avenged Sevenfold experience to base something off of ONE show he’s ever seen– thank you for you opinionated and far-from-accurate review of something YOU KNOW NOTHING ABOUT. I have seen every Avenged Sevenfold show to come to my hometown in the past six years, and EVERY SINGLE ONE has never been disappointing. Speaking from someone who knows every song, from every album, and appreciates this band not just from one song off the White Album–ahem your half-assed reference to Critical Acclaim–I think someone like me could handle a better “review” than a biased, poser consumer such as yourself. Maybe their Michigan show was shitty, but considering we’re talking about a city whose musical talent stems from Kid Rock and Eminem, maybe you should try attending a show worth going to in the first place. You’re clearly a Deftones fan, so stick to what you know.

      • JonathanBarkan

        Awww, did someone get their jimmies ruffled?
        My review came from a place of open-mindedness. As I’ve stated in other comments I’ve been to shows where my opinion has been swayed completely. I’ve seen bands that I don’t like put on stunning shows. I’ve also seen the complete opposite where bands I like put on boring, unenthusiastic performances. My review comes from a place of looking at other people and seeing their reactions. Seeing people in the outer ring watching a baseball game instead of the show they paid for is a clear indicator that I as not alone in my thoughts.
        As for your slight against Detroit, many of the bands I have interviewed over the years have stated that Detroit is one of their favorite places to hit on a tour, that we bring some of the best crowds. Also, you forgot about Madonna (who revolutionized pop), Iggy Pop (who is a punk rock legend), Alice Cooper (who pretty much created shock horror rock), George Clinton (a funk god), RnB queen Aretha Franklin, Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame-r Smokey Robinson, the genius that is Stevie Wonder, and that’s only scratching the surface. You want to mock Detroit? Bring it on.

    • Will

      How long did each band play?

      • JonathanBarkan

        Ghost B.C. was about 30 minutes, Deftones about 45, and A7X was slated for probably an hour and fifteen minutes? Maybe a bit longer?

  • violentdope

    really? deftones opening for ax7…lame…should be the other way around..who the fuck would boo the deftones?? seen them 8 times and they always kill…

    • JonathanBarkan

      I wish Deftones and A7X switched places. In fact, I wish it were A7X who opened up and Ghost B.C. was the direct support to Deftones. That would’ve been a killer show because I could’ve come late, haha!

  • abelxxx

    rock concerts unlike pop shows are not about beyonce singing a song with two words while shaking her booty for your viewing pleasure… and not at all about what clothes the musicians wear and how many jumps they make… they are about audiences uniting around meaningful songs that they love and getting a chance to sing them with the band… if you don’t like a7x, why bother write a piece that does not contain any new information for the reader… there are plenty of good reviews containing interesting information about this performance and the rock aspect of it on the internet…

    • JonathanBarkan

      A rock show is about atmosphere and engagement. Actually, I think that qualifies for nearly any type of show. And I disagree that a show is simply about “audiences uniting around meaningful songs that they love and getting a chacne to sing them with the band”. I feel that concerts are places to see a band perform, to appreciate them in the midst of their craft. And part of that craft is how they perform. For me, A7X didn’t perform well. They relied on an awesome stage and that’s really about it.
      Also, I bothered writing the piece because not all reviews have to be good. In fact, if all review were good what would be the point of us even writing them? Sometimes it’s very important for a band to face criticism because that’s what will motivate them to better themselves, to push forward and break new ground. Otherwise they’ll just stay the same and become stagnant.

  • hubdog21

    Jonathan,

    I just saw this show in Atlanta on Tuesday. Ghost was a good show for what it was; imagery and mystery. I’d give them a solid “B” for their set. I’m not a fan, but it was entertaining. Deftones…what can you say? They brought their “A” game. Quite possibly the most energetic performance I’ve ever seen. That’s the second time I’ve seen them and I really enjoyed both shows. So far you and I are in agreement. A7X is where we disagree.

    This was my third A7X show. Agreed, the stage production was top notch. That’s a staple for them. I was in the front of the pit and it was anything but a lackadaisical effort. I admit, Syn Gates often appears matter-of-fact, but he acknowledged the crowd, tossed countless picks and just had fun. The rest of the band left no doubt they were all in. Johnny Christ worked the crowd quite well and Zacky was all-in, too. I have been most impressed with Arin Ilejay. He has stepped in and played masterfully. Deceased drummer Jimmy “The Rev” Sullivan will always be part of the family, but Arin plays with passion and purpose. Most importantly, the fans could see that he really enjoys being behind the kit. The most obvious indicator of their appreciation of the fans was at the conclusion, immediately following “Unholy Confessions”, as they strolled back and forth across the stage tossing dozens of picks, drum sticks, towels, and other miscellaneous souvenirs while leaning out and offering up high fives and handshakes. As a paying customer, I felt like I definitely got my money’s worth.

    Maybe if you would have stuck around you would have made the same observation.

    • JonathanBarkan

      I really wish I could’ve seen the same show that you did. Maybe their Detroit show was an anomaly but I have to go with what I saw. And what I saw was a band that had no energy at all. It was really disappointing.

      • hubdog21

        These bands can obviously have bad nights. Unfortunately, you saw one. Living on the road would be tough. I get that you’re just calling it like you see it.

        • JonathanBarkan

          Road life is definitely a tough life. I know many bands that live for 10 months of the year on the road and it’s so draining. It really amazes me.

  • violentdope

    a7x just makes shitty music imo..they are good muscians they obviously can play their instruments just their music is boring to me..

    • JonathanBarkan

      That’s kinda how I feel. They can absolutely play but their music has no soul for me.

  • drfinkelstein

    I saw A7X in Denver on Labor Day for the third time and I thought they put on a great show. I think your issue is you had never seen them live before. Their stage presence is just like that, I think, and has changed since The Rev passed. If you look at footage before his passing they were a lot more energetic on stage. I will say it appears they are compensating for their lack of energy through the stage production and pyrotechnics, but M Shadows has always been verbal with the audience whenever I have seen them and included us in many of the chorus lines and songs.

    Part of it as well is you aren’t an A7X fan. That goes for seeing any band you don’t really like. Each time I have seen them in Denver it has been a full house with people going nuts during their set. I saw them in 2010 where Disturbed headlined and half the venue took off after A7X before Disturbed hit the stage.

    • JonathanBarkan

      Yeah, but I’ve seen bands before that I’d never heard of or didn’t really like and was blown away. It changed me and turned me into a fan.

      • drfinkelstein

        Doesn’t always happen that way. One that pops into my head for me is when I saw Queens of the Stone Age open for Nine Inch Nails in 2005. I wasn’t a huge fan but sat through their set. After it was over I wound up hating them even more. You don’t always walk away with a new favorite band.

        • JonathanBarkan

          Oh yeah, that can DEFINITELY happen.

  • adawong

    how likely is it that the band headlining all domestic and most international rock venues for the past 2 years is as bad as the reviewer is trying to present here? not very… jonathan didn’t like a7x before the show, didn’t like them after, that’s all there is to it… and this conversation led without understanding what a7x is or what they do for modern metal does not rise to the level of a professional concert review but is idle blogger talk which has as much credibility… it’s a good thing 15 mln people from facebook, as well as brits, germans and italians who bought out the coming venues, and especially an army of brazilians and mexicans would not agree… i know because i have attended two of the same shows in other cities, as well as several festivals that the band headlined in previous years, and watched videos of the detroit show posted online without seeing any big differences with other performances there… don’t see any benefit of going into what a7x’s fans know well to support the band here, but will tell you from the experience of a person who in the past 15 years has seen all major rock events including metallica, judas priest, pink floyd, waters, stones, u2, sting, rammstein, elton john, mccartney, iron maiden, muse, all local metal fests (saw depeche mode as well while pop bands belong in a different category), a7x is undeniably special and belongs high on the ladder… there may be problems with their transitioning from a local event headliner to a large scale international venue, but those are all good problems because their music gets better by the day, and technicalities are easy to fix… as a person of international origin, i feel proud for america who gave birth to a powerful modern metal band like a7x and feel puzzled by what seems to me unjustified negativity they face… 2 comments on why i find them belonging with the cream of the crop… 1)have only witnessed audiences sing louder than the band with really really big names and at first was taken aback by a7x fans doing it, it’s a sign of popularity that stems from the band’s ability to grab the hearts at large… 2) a7x as well as their fans don’t seem to give a hoot about the commercial aspect of their activity in spite of the commercial success they have, a7x does music that marks their professional growth and propels metal forward, it’s sign of true artistry and the only thing that matters for the rock music in the long run… oh, and btw, everybody knows m. shadows has a flu, give him a break, he sings in a most difficult style that exists out there and us regular folks would not be able to sing even a few notes like that without spitting out our vocal cords with blood, just ask hail the villain musicians (former, alas)…

    • JonathanBarkan

      While I understand where you are coming from I think your dismissive attitude isn’t really the best way to approach this. Yes, you have been to a lot of concerts. But you should understand that so have I, from seeing bands touring in seedy dive bars to bands playing on some of the biggest stages in the world. I’ve traveled the world to see shows, in all genres, in all venues. I’ve also studied the actual mechanics of how to put together a stage show, including construction, sound design, lighting, and more.
      Where I come from is a place of experience and knowledge. My personal tastes don’t necessarily matter because what I’m writing here is applicable for any band. If Metallica had their backs to the audience and played with no enthusiasm then believe me they would get the same write up. It doesn’t matter who the band is. What matters is how they perform. What I wrote is what I saw and I stand behind it 100%.

  • QueenOfHell

    Im a huge fan of A7X. always have been. always will be. Ive never heard of Ghost w/e before. I love Deftones as well as A7X. =] they are my top 2 fave metal/rock bands of all time. ;D I never got the chance to go to the concerts b/c 1) my dad had to work and 2) I don’t have much money to go anyway.

    • QueenOfHell

      and 3) I DONT live in Detroit, MI. I live in Indiana.

      • JonathanBarkan

        Always sucks when you have to rely on others to go to a concert. They can be loads of fun!

        • QueenOfHell

          Yeah I know. right? All my friends are too busy for me. too busy popping out babies. LOL. Yeah they can be loads of fun. A7X is one of my dream concerts to go to. Along with Deftones as well. I love their music. Both of the bands I mentioned here.

  • viking1983

    avenged sevenfold the second most boring band in rock behind bullet for my valentine (I said rock as they are not a metal band) I have noticed from your picture that they have stolen lich kings mascot for their stage set, overkills logo and also a machine head logo, no wonder people hate them

  • sicko911

    I went to an Avenged Sevenfold concert in 2008 and it was awesome, the energy was great, but many people say now that after their drummer passed away they just don’t perform as well anymore, it’s a shame.
    Now Deftones I used to like until I went to their concert and now I just can’t stand them, it wasn’t even worth head banging.