With this gig, Staind left an impression on me that neither time nor a double-strength detergent will ever wash away. Staind for life and happily so.
Manchester. A place I only tend to visit in the absolute direst of circumstances. Being from Liverpool, there is that whole rivalry thing, you see. So in order for a gig to hold enough draw for me to brave the 45-minute train journey down the road, it has to be something rather special. And that, I must say, it was!
From the outset, I had the opportunity to 'grill' a number of the fans queuing to see their idols. The general buzz was one of pure excitement and anticipation for the night to come. One thing that surprised me whilst waiting for the doors to open was that everybody seemed to be a Staind fan. Usually in gigs past there have been those people who are just there to 'check the band out' or 'for a good night out'. Not in this case. Everybody seemed to be true fans of the guys, and this was reinforced as the night continued on.
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Opening the gig were April Divine, who produced a technically sound and impressive display to energise the crowd for the main act. Having a little difficulty with some technical issues, the Swedish rockers did not miss a step and treated the gathered crowd to an improvised instrumental. This was a very professional and experienced action, and one which kept the momentum of the audience slowly gathering.
Now, the spleen in my eyes never really has much of an impact on everyday life and it doesn't really factor into my thinking much. However, 'Spleen' certainly had a rising impact on the eight hundred-plus fans. A raucous, booming, fast-paced start to the gig which immediately impressed upon the listener how truly gifted this band is. Particularly powerful vocal work and very impressive, tireless ability on the instruments made this a perfect track to start what was to become a highlight of my gigging back catalogue.
As the performance continued, the crowd were treated to a generous mix of powerful, resounding vocals, superb guitar riffs, fast-paced, loud and altogether impressive music which achieved a thunderous appreciation from the gathered mass. Staind seemed more than capable of reaching down into every fan and striking a chord deep within, which drew out every iota of energy, bringing it to the foreground. Times when the pace was slowed seemed to be done in order to heighten the enjoyment when, seconds down the line, the tempo sped towards the heightening crescendo, which was rewarded with thunderous applause.
'Throw It All Away' provided the listener with an absolutely fantastic guitar introduction which incorporated flawless wah-wah work. In my mind, this track contained blasts of brilliance which kept the crowd transfixed until the end. It certainly kept a tight hold on an already enraptured audience.
There where times throughout the gig when Aaron Lewis could've happily rested his voice and just allowed the fans to perform. That was how recognised the songs were and how charged the audience was. They thundered, sang, hooted and screamed their appreciation after every track. Definitely how an audience should behave in my opinion.
Around the halfway point of the set, just before a personal favourite of mine, 'Outside', was performed, we were treated to a little impromptu performance of a Guns N'Roses classic (I shall let you guys have the fun of guessing that one) which, again, encouraged the crowd's participation in banter.
Launching immediately into 'Outside', I could imagine this track at the very start of some modernday Western movie. This was truly superb and it was at this point I wondered, with such powerful vocals, how the hell Aaron still performed so effortlessly up there on stage!
As the gig progressed, Staind produced such tracks as 'It's Been Awhile', 'Not Again' and 'Mudshovel'. 'Been awhile', despite being written nearly as long ago as a lot of the audience had been alive, was instantly recognisable by the fans. Again, the energised crowd began to sing and react to the performance and I'm thinking everybody was on Red Bull (or substitute with energy drink of choice) that night! Lockets all round methinks the next day!
I could continue this for a good long while, write pages and pages which would probably bore you terribly and leave my fingers with blisters from typing. This I will say though: I have been to many gigs but I have never seen a crowd seem so appreciative of a performance. Staind were on absolutely amazing form that night. To me, everything was superbly put together, performed and left me wanting more. What more can a fan ask for?
Staind produced a gig than even the harshest fan would have to agree was charged, powerful, beautiful and enrapturing. Aaron Lewis must have lungs an Olympic swimmer would be proud of, as his powerful vocals never faltered and always looked effortless! Staind shredded that stage and left their mark on Manchester and I am looking forward to May/June next year when they will be back. The stain will still be on me then!