The crisp night air was coursing with heavy metal currents on Friday night.
Abbotsford Centre played home to the kick off of the Canadian tour featuring metal heavyweights Five Finger Death Punch, Papa Roach, Sixx A.M., and From Ashes To New.
The evening started off with the latter, five-piece Pennsylvania rockers From Ashes To New storming the stage and stirring things up. Matt Brandyberry and Chris Musser share the leads, with Brandyberry delivering rap-styled vocals and Musser singing emphatic lyrics. The band can’t seem to be pigeon holed into one genre, they settle into a sort of metal or hardcore category, but the influences of punk and hip-hop and electronica and many more can be heard throughout their sound.
Looking out through the venue, you could see the band scoring big points with those that made it down early to catch this opener. Fists were held high, and a couple mini mosh pits erupted as the energy of the songs kicked into overdrive.
I am still pretty green to this band, but seeing them live gave me a respect for what they can do. I see great things in their future.
Next to the stage were L.A. hard rock outfit Sixx A.M. Ahead of their performance, I thought about the significance of this band. I mean the fact that former Motley Crue bassist Nikki Sixx formed the band and is an active participant is a big selling point, but is that a shadow they have to lurk in? Or do they stand on their own from that world? Well the short answer is they hold their own, and there is no doubt about it.
They started their set with This Is Gonna Hurt, the title track off of their 2011 album with the same name. James Michael’s vocals rang through the building – “There’s a devil in the church /Got a bullet in the chamber/And this is gonna hurt”. Looking out at the enthusiastic patrons, it was clear the band were in good company, a massive sing along ensued. Guitarist DJ Ashba crept around the stage, his furious finger work sending steel string echoes into the night. Nikki Sixx and his fateful bass brought solidified the timbre to each song. Not only did they rock, they were having fun, and it was contagious. The big wake of Motely Crue is not a problem, as Sixx A.M. is forging their own trail and setting their own bar.
Full Sixx A.M. setlist
This Is Gonna Hurt
When We Were Gods
Everything Went to Hell
Prayers for the Damned
Lies of the Beautiful People
Life Is Beautiful
Papa Roach were the next maniacs to take over the platform. Lead singer Jacoby Shaddix started things off with some intense vocal work for Face Everything and Rise off the bands ninth studio album F.E.A.R. A stream of crowd surfers started to passing along the outstretched hands of the audience. Sixx A.M. had gotten things warmed up, but Papa Roach were catching them on fire.
Jerry Horton on guitar is a mad man on that stage, with a seemingly endless supply of energy. He worked back and forth, bouncing chaotically to every beat in every song. The strings on his guitar being dominated to his will. I would say intensity should be his middle name.
Tobin Esperance, on bass, though he tried to sit further back from the action, still whipped his head in time to the songs. Bouncing and stomping his foot to the beat. We managed to steal some time with Tobin ahead of the show, check out our phone interview with Tobin Esperance right here.
Each member of the band gave it their all, and the massive mob before them appreciated every second of it.
I earned a new found respect for Papa Roach. I cannot wait to have the opportunity to see them again.
Full Papa Roach setlist
Face Everything and Rise
Between Angels and Insects
Getting Away With Murder
Kick in the Teeth
Scars – (Acoustic)
Where Did the Angels Go?
…To Be Loved
Five Finger Death Punch were now setup to destroy the night. The horde on the floor were ready to rock, and chomping at the bit for more.
Their set began with Lift Me Up off of their 2013 album The Wrong Side of Heaven and the Righteous Side of Hell, Volume 1. The stage lit up with a series of flashing strobes as stage smoke billowed from behind the group.
The audience erupted into mayhem almost instantly. Another round of pumping fists surged into the air, as the anthemic song stirred the fire in their souls.
Lead singer Ivan Moody is like an evil ape working around the stage, keeping his body close to the ground. At times he would appear to climb on to his chrome mic stand, hanging their and powering out vocals to his fans.
Guitarists Zoltan Bathory and Jason Hook, leaned back into their positions and worked their guitars with intense, powerful precision. Bassist Chris Kael was charismatic, drumming his steel strings with rhythmic accuracy, and taking many opportunities to interact with the crowd. When someone was truly enjoying the moment, he made sure to toss them a pick whenever he could. Drummer Jeremy Spencer was in the zone. His drum work was explosive, and each wrap of the skins was deliberate and calculated.
Of all the bands of the night, 5FDP was the most fun and the most aggressive. Their attitude on stage and their dramatic delivery made that passionate inferno in the crowd burn bright white. It is no wonder these guys have such dedicated and obsessive fans.
I was impressed with Papa Roach, but 5FDP is another level.
Best moment of the night was when they performed White Knuckles, a track from the bands debut album The Way of the Fist from 2007. When Ivan sang – “I wanna torch it, burn it, scorch it, fuckin’ stomp it out”, I thought the audience was going to lose their minds. A truly special memory from a very memorable night.
Full Five Finger Death Punch setlist
Lift Me Up
Wash It All Away – (Live Premiere)
Got Your Six
Bad Company – (Bad Company cover)
Jekyll and Hyde
Burn MF – (First Time Played Since September 15, 2013)
Wrong Side of Heaven – (Acoustic Version)
Under and Over It
House of Rising Sun
As the night wrapped up, and the crowd spilt onto the streets, I wiped the sweat from my brow and a big grin spread across my face.
All I could think was – “Now that was a rock show.”