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