First gig of the year!
What better way to kick-off the year than to jump straight in the deep end with heavy metal heavy-weights Lamb of God.
It was my first time shooting at the Manchester Academy 1, and I loved it!
The first thing I noticed before even getting near the venue, was the colossal queue of people down the street all in the black and camouflage ”metal uniform”, you know, black t-shirt and camouflage pants.
To my dismay, most of that queue was for the box office, which just happens to be where they issue the photography passes from, so I got in line. The queue didn’t move in over 15 minutes, and 5 minutes before Huntress took to the stage a nice security guard let me jump into a shorter 2nd queue that had formed because they opened a 2nd box office window, hallelujah!
Just as I finally got my pass, I hear Huntress starting to play, so I ran into the venue and bulldozed my way through the crowds and made it just in time!
I had never heard of Huntress before, so I had a close listen to the Los Angeles thrashers.
Fronted by blond-haired-leather-clad-screecher Jill Janus, the band have a classic metal sound accompanied by pretty mystical and folkloric lyrics, which reminded me of lyrics by The Sword.
Janus kept the crowd, especially the males, entertained strutting her stuff on the stage, whilst piercing everyone’s eardrums with songs such as Spell Eater and I Want To Fuck You To Death (which was written by Lemmy of Motorhead)
To view more photos of Huntress, please click below:
After a short while, the stage was ready for Decapitated, but before they came on stage, they did a sound check…Little did they know, it would be the highlight of everyone’s night!
I could not see who was playing the guitar from where I was standing, but suddenly a very familiar opening to a song started blaring through the speakers. It was Walk by the mighty Pantera! I kid you not, suddenly the whole crowd woke up and roared in approval. Every person in the crowd, fellow photographers and even the security guards were throwing fists in the air and chanting the iconic lyrics ”Can’t you see I’m easily bothered by persistence.One step from lashing out at you…Respect, Walk, what did you say?”
Honestly, the reaction was amazing, it was as if Dimebag himself was there on stage, and the best part was that even after the 30 second sound-check was over, the crowd carried on and sang the song to the end. It was inspiring to see what a mark Pantera left on a whole generation, and how just the beginning of one of their songs being used during sound-check drew everyone together as one.
Now, I had better write a bit about Decapitated, if not I’ll be here all night rambling on about Pantera.
Hailing from Poland, Decapitated are not new on the scene; they formed in 1996 by founding member and guitarist Vogg and have since toured the world and released 5 albums.
The band suffered a terrible road accident in 2007, which resulted in the death of the founding drummer known as Vitek, and after an understandable period of disbandment, Vogg decided to continue the band and reformed Decapitated with new members.
They became known for their song-writing and technical instrumental approach at a very young age and earned themselves an international fan base in the underground music community.
Kicking off the set with the song 404, the band got the crowd’s juices flowing. I personally couldn’t understand a word that frontman Rafał Piotrowski was saying, but the crowd seemed to be enjoying it, and as he circle head-banged with his waist length dreadlocks and pierced face, he tried to keep a straight face, he couldn’t help but to crack a smile, like that of a little boy, every time the crowd cheered.
Vogg’s influence was clear, with his Vulgar Display Of Power t-shirt, and custom made RAN guitar with the iconic Dean-eque headstock, it was not a surprise to hear little bits of Dimebag Darrell tributes in his playing.
Most of the songs were fast paced, ear bashing metal, but the last song Spheres Of Madness had a good dose of groove in it, which by the swirling crowd surfers in the pit, you could tell was a hit with the fans.
To view more photos of Decapitated, please click below:
After waiting next to the stage like a kid at Christmas, finally the time came to get in the pit for Lamb of God!
With Chris Adler’s drumkit on a monstrously tall drum-riser, it was clear that the big guns were up next.
After a couple of minutes of the whole crowd chanting the band’s name, they emerged onstage and security had to stop people from trying to jump over the barrier with excitement.
They get straight into Desolation and the crowd are going off their hinges, the testosterone is flowing and everyone is in full swing.
After a few ”How you doing Manchester?” from frontman Randy Blythe, they went into the thunderous Ghost Walking.
By this point, I had already been looking at the right side of the stage for about 2 minutes, and wondering if I was going crazy, because the man I saw there with his blue Ibanez guitar did not look like Mark Morton at all, yet no one had seemed to notice this yet.
To my sanity’s relief, right after Ghost Walking, Randy took a moment to point out and explain to the crowd, that Mark had not been able to make it due to a ”family emergency”. Later that night I read in Metal Hammer that Mark’s absence from the European tour had been stated in their press release on the 7th of January.
Anyhow, the man on the axe was Mr Paul Waggoner of Between The Buried And Me. The crowd, who seemed like they had only just realised that it wasn’t Mark, gave him a warm welcome. I knew all too well someone in the crowd who I was sure had noticed his absence the second Mr Waggoner walked onstage, my husband. I was right, he was devastated, as he only likes LoG because of Mark Morton.
After pouring yet another bottle of water over his head, Randy asked the crowd if they would ”Take a walk with him?” and he dived in to the explosive Walk With Me In Hell. By this point the moshpit was going full force but sadly it was the last song I could enjoy from the pit.
I focused on John Campbell and Willie Adler during the last song, and even though they are showing signs of the passing of time, they are still as agile and energetic as any kid in their 20’s. Campbell’s snow white hair and beard make a lovely contrast with his pillarbox red bass guitar. Sadly, I couldn’t see much of Chris Adler at all, as his drumkit was so high up.
After the 3 song curfew was up, we got ushered out of the pit by the biggest security guard ever, and just as we were going out of the side door, I heard the band rip into Set To Fail.
They played other favourites such as Now You’ve Got Something To Die For, Omerta & Redneck, and in true Lamb Of God style they arranged their Wall Of Death, which is where the crowd divides into 2 sections and then on Randy’s count, run at each other like Vikings in battle and try and hurt each other as much as possible. What’s the point? I do not know. I would definitely not recommend getting into a Wall Of Death though.
To view more photos of Lamb of God, please click below: