||JONATHAN CHURCHILL: DEFENDING OUR ISLAND
Brixton Academy, London
October 19th 2013
Words: Johnny Churchill
Danish Metal/rock n' rollers Volbeat played Brixton Academy last Saturday, 19th October, to an ecstatic and adoring set of fans who were clearly thrilled to see them perform in London.
After two hours of energy and power, it's clear to me why there is such a buzz around this band. With a brilliant set list of 18 or so tracks from all their studio albums to date, it was a dynamic performance designed to make your foot tap, face grin and heart soar. Highlights were 'Lola Montez', 'Heaven and Hell', '16 Dollars'... well, in fact, the entire set was a highlight!
So, who are Volbeat, and why the excitement? They were formed by lead singer Michael Poulsen in Copenhagen in 2001, from the remnants of his death Metal band, Dominus. Volbeat transcend any one genre by blending a magical mix of punk, rock'n'roll, rockabilly, Heavy Metal, thrash Metal and country.
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Tonight's show saw nods to Johnny Cash, Slayer, Judas Priest and Dusty Springfield, while embedded in their slick rock/Metal tracks is a wonderfully odd blend of Manic Street Preachers and Metallica to name just two.
Hugely well-known in Europe, Volbeat haven't yet cracked the UK market and it was exciting to be at Brixton to see them, knowing that although the venue was quiet, (the upstairs was closed) you were seeing a very special band. I wouldn't be surprised to see their popularity go through the roof after last night, on word of mouth alone.
Despite theirextensive back catalogue of tracks, it was actually new album 'Outlaw Gentlemen And Shady Ladies' which I wanted to hear because it's heavier and more consistent in style than previous records and has the added treat of former Anthrax axe-man Rob Caggiano on lead guitar.
Volbeat had been reduced to a three piece when they parted ways with former guitarist Thomas Bredahl in 2011 and Caggiano was working with them on production and guest lead slots in the studio. Apparently the chemistry was so great with the band that he left Anthrax and joined Volbeat. And based on the strength of last night's show, it's Anthrax's loss.
The set-list kicked off with 'Hallelujah Goat' and 'Guitar Gangsters And Cadillac Blood', and what was immediately apparent was the awesome rich and deep sound quality which you hear on the latest album. The superb rhythm section of drummer Jon Larsen and bassist Anders Kjolholm are so slick and perfectly in sync that you barely notice them, and it's the two guitar wielding frontmen who hold your attention.
Poulsen is a great showman and constantly moves from side to side, engaging with, and energising the audience. For me the best moment of the gig was the run of tracks beginning with the sublime (and cheesy) 'Lola Montez', unleashing a very happy looking Caggiano on the solo, followed by the epic 'Heaven nor Hell', '16 Dollars', 'Dead But Rising' and 'The Mirror And The Ripper'.
On an iPod, these tracks are enough to make you grin like a drunken Cheshire cat. Played live, backed by the fantastic band and Poulsen's energy and flawless performance, it's just sublime.
As the set winds down with a cracking 'Doc Holliday' and the ridiculous 'I Only Want To Be With You' (last seen being covered by Samantha Fox in the 80s), the 'shady ladies' in the crowd are on stage joining the band, and then it's over.
The only negative is that you know they could probably have played for another two hours and been just as good.
In summary, Volbeat are the real deal. Get online and badger them to get back to the UK soon. I can't wait to see them again.
Johnny Churchill: MetalTalk.net \m/
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