As some of you know, I am Australian. I went to Soundwave this year for the express purpose of seeing Avenged Sevenfold (A7X) and Saxon. Neither turned up. So, I was very happy to be in the U.S. for Rock on the Range, to see A7X. But I had to work, so this meant I couldn't go to the fest. So, on the night of Tuesday, May 17, I flew to Lubbock, Texas, to see Avenged live. I am nothing if not persistent.
So, I fly in to Lubbock, go to my hotel, and drive to the venue. Only the traffic is a nightmare, so I parked a mile out and walked in. I parked in Buddy Holly park, I guess he was from there. When I get to the venue, there’s two lines: boys and girls. This is because we all get body searched on the way in. Seriously, why is it that it’s assumed that because someone likes loud music and has an "out there" hair cut, they walk around armed? But, I digress.
I did notice a bullet rolling around on the ground outside the venue. I don’t believe it was a casing, it looked like it was all there. No-one seemed to care.
So, we get in, and the merchandise is right there. I don’t get why merchandise stands could ever not take credit. Thankfully I had the cash for three shirts. I was astounded that they did not have shirts with the Nightmare logo and tour dates. I confess, I bought a pirate shirt for the first time ever, simply because it had the artwork I wanted, and the official merch did not.
I had assumed the first band was Three Days Grace, but I guess Bullet for My Valentine are not as big as I expected ( in the U.S. at least). At Soundwave, they were close to the top of the billing, below Slash, but barely. They are a great live band, with great songs, and I still think their star is on the rise. Their short set was a lot of fun.
Turns out I do know some Three Days Grace songs, probably from Rock on the Range last year. They were also good and got the crowd going.
Finally A7X took the stage. They start by hanging some guy, who ends up twitching for all of "Nightmare." The reason they did not play Soundwave is they said they were not allowed to do their full show. Their full show involves most of the stage being on fire at different times, pyro, and a dude being hung, so I am not surprised they could not do all that at a festival.
The full set list was :
Welcome to the Family
So Far Away
God Hates Us
One thing that struck me is how many new songs they do, in light of our Whitesnake experience last week. I guess A7X is a band on the rise, but, I wanted MORE new songs if anything, although the "old" ones are all killer, too. They were doing "Danger Line" at one point and I was sad not to hear that. "So Far Away" was dedicated to drummer the Rev, and was introduced with a long speech about how they appreciate the fans support, miss the Rev, etc. This seems like a good time to talk about the new drummer. He sounds good. He seems like he’s capable of playing these songs. If the loss of the Rev causes the songs to drop off, well, that will only be shown by the next album.
I will say one thing. The band is tight and they all play well. Singer M. Shadows sounds terrific. However, the backing vocals are a bit off at times, especially the "rough" vocals provided by bassist Johnny Christ. That was off putting at first, but I got used to it, and, as I said, M. Shadows is a great singer: he sounds good all the way through.
I left before the encore. I was sad to miss "Fiction," but I was very tired and had to get up at 4 a.m. to fly back to Dallas due to work commitments. A7X have announced dates in Australia, tickets are not on sale yet, but I will definitely go, and take my daughter at least.
Avenged Sevenfold is a great live band. In my opinion, the best of the modern wave of heavy rock bands today. They certainly put on a huge show, and they have the songs to back it up. I did not time the show, but 12 songs seemed short to me, even if they are all six minutes long, that’s just over an hour. Still, quality over quantity and for the songs and the spectacle, I would definitely see them again.