Who: Avenged Sevenfold
Where: Phones 4 U Arena, Manchester
When: 30th November 2013
Best Songs: Nightmare, Bat Country
Their first UK tour with new drummer Arin Ilejay, Avenged Sevenfold were on top form as their paraded the stage of Manchester performing their greatest tunes from a variation of albums.
Formed in 1999, the California based band has seen a few members come and go but has always had lead vocalist M Shadows and lead guitarist Zacky Vengeance at the forefront of the game. They were joined by current rhythm guitarist Synyster Gates at the end of '99 and bassist Johnny Christ in 03. Most people will recall their drummer being Jimmy 'The Rev' Sullivan who sadly died of a drug overdose in the Winter of 2009, this year Arin Ilejay took over the drums and the current line-up came to be.
This is the third time I have seen Avenged Sevenfold live but the first time at a gig dedicated to just them and they put on one hell of a show. The iconic Death Bat symbol was often encased with flames and explosions fired off throughout the set as the audience screamed along with M Shadows to hits such as Nightmare and Bat Country.
They opened up with their latest single Shepherds of Fire from the Hail to the King album and it was an immediate crowd-pleaser, followed by Critical Acclaim and (a personal favourite) Welcome to the Family. Being the brilliant showman that he is M Shadows has a certain knack for making the audience feel like they are the best crowd ever, encouraging screams, moshing and chanting the crowd went crazy every time he opened his mouth.
Of course tribute was made to The Rev and even the hardest of metal-heads was wiping away tears as M Shadows honored their lost friend with Fiction, and, for me, Hail to the King will forever be about the bands greatly missed drummer.
We were also given an outstanding guitar solo from Synyster Gates that, perhaps, lasted a little longer then was necessary but seriously showcased his insane skills, you could honestly feel that everybody was astounded by the pure ease in which he seems to play.
They finished the set with the much-anticipated Bat Country but were shouted back on with an encore where they blew the roof off with Chapter Four and (another favourite) Unholy Confessions. With energy still at a high the band completely owned possibly their most famous song and it sounded just as amazing live as it does on the album from nine years ago.
I was blown away, more than ever, by the incredible talent of all the members; the speed of Arin's drumming, the ease of Synster's strumming and the vocals on M Shadows are unbelievable. Whether or not you enjoy Avenged Sevenfolds music they are the type of band you cannot help but appreciate and, dare I say, envy.
Avenged Sevenfold never fail to impress with fire, lights, raw talent and constant crowd involvement. I cannot wait to see what they have to offer at Download Festival 2014.