‘Oh the weather outside is frightful…’
Alright, so we might only be three days into December, but the opening line from ‘Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow’ is pretty damn apt this evening in Bristol. The wind and the rain has been disruptive for the whole day, and whilst it’s not stopping punters queuing outside the O2 Academy up to two hours before doors open, there is a definite melancholy swirling around. Nevertheless, it’s a healthy audience heading inside to provide tonight’s bands with a strong end to their UK run of dates.
What’s also strong is the Japanese contingent in the venue for support act VAMPS(6), although judging by the near-invisible reception to the house lights going down, it’s immediately apparent they’re not exactly known by anyone else. Furthermore, despite their fellow countrymen cheering every song and singing along in excellent English, the majority of the audience remain very much unmoved for the duration of the set. Onstage it’s hard to draw your eyes away from frontman Hyde who exhudes a great aura and showmanship and they do enough to gain a few new fans, but it’s not until the last three songs of WORLD’S END, REVOLUTION and SEX BLOOD ROCK ‘N’ ROLL that the momentum really picks up. A sparkling finish indeed, but it could have been so much more.
Now let’s be honest here, it’s pretty damn hard to be charismatic when you’re a cellist – it’s not as if you can jump around the stage whilst playing it like a guitar. But Apocalyptica (7) clearly don’t know this, especially not Paavo Lötjönen who is constantly gearing the crowd up and making enough faces and gurns to give Devin Townsend a run for his money. It’s also an impressive vocal display from Frankie Perez – he doesn’t quite have the chops to pull off I’m Not Jesus, but he grows into his own as the set goes on and displays just as much energy as the rest of his peers. Naturally, the Metallica and Sepultura covers go down an absolute treat, but the main highlight is a majestic rendition of Bittersweet which is appreciated with an impeccable silence that allows the graceful tones to flow through the venue with utmost beauty. Elsewhere, VAMPS join them onstage for collaboration song SIN IN JUSTICE and there’s also class performances of Sea Song (You Waded Out) and I Don’t Care. What puts a further dampener on things after the weather is the mix is simply too quiet; whilst it must be difficult to get cellos to the same volume as electric instruments, it does mean that Mikko Sirén’s drums override everything more often than not, which stifles proceedings to fits and bursts of brilliance rather than soaring through the skies. It’s a shame, because Apocalyptica are far more than a novelty metal band nowadays – new album Shadowmaker stands proud with the rest of their catalogue and the band are clearly having a huge amount of fun onstage. They just get hit with the age-old curse of the sound engineers.
Reign of Fear
I’m Not Jesus
House of Chains
Not Strong Enough
Master of Puppets (Metallica cover)
Inquisition Symphony (Sepultura cover)
Sea Song (You Waded Out)
SIN IN JUSTICE (with VAMPS)
Seek & Destroy (Metallica cover)
In the Hall of the Mountain King
One (Metallica cover)
I Don’t Care
Dead Man’s Eyes
Photos by Becky O’Grady