Stone Sour / Avenged Sevenfold - Hammersmith Apollo, London
For two nights two of the biggest names in modern rock, Avenged Sevenfold and Stone Sour joined forces to co-headline at Hammersmith Apollo. Avenged Sevenfold last played in the UK to sold out crowds in 2008 and Stone Sour were last on our shores for Download where they headlined the Dio stage. Leaving early for the Apollo so I could arrive for opening the outside was packed with fans, some of whom had duvets and pillows and had been camping for three or four nights, despite the cold and wet weather, which just goes to show just how much of a dedicated fan base A7X have.
Support for tonight was heavy metal supergroup Hellyeah (Mudvayne vocalist Chad Gray and guitarist Greg Tribbett, Nothingface guitarist Tom Maxwell, Damageplan bassist Bob Zilla, and former Pantera, Rebel Meets Rebel and Damageplan drummer Vinnie Paul) Although the venue at this point was not full, the band's set was tight and loud, and drumming legend Paul can certainly still pound those drums.
The venue begun to fill up more as the wait for Stone Sour was almost over. The into music was faded out, and the lights were dimmed, and hanging in front of the stage was a screen with red lights and flashing imagery and as the cheers begun to get louder, the screen drops to reveal the band and they break into 'Mission Statement' from their new album Audio Secrecy. It is a great start to a great set, and they follow on with 'Reborn' and 'Made of Scars'.
Stone Sour tonight was straight to the point, and although their fans were outnumbered by Avenged Sevenfold’s, they still managed to get a lot of reaction and appreciation. Taylor was on top form, and was engaging with the fans; Jim Root spent his time knocking out the awesome riffery. Taylor thanked the audience for everything they have done for the band, and at that moment he had in his hand the 'Come What(ever) May' gold disc, which he wanted to give credit for to all their fans, at this point you could hear how choked up he was. They end their set with the powerful '30/30-150' after which the evening's division became apparent with many Stone Sour fans leaving once they were over, and people arriving just before Avenged Sevenfold were due on.
It was clear from the faces in the crowd, the anticipation for A7X was high. Hiding the stage from view was a black screen, and all that could be seen was light escaping from either side of the stage, with the barest hint of smoke. As the music was dimmed, the screaming was deafening. With the intro of the single ‘Nightmare’ playing, the screen all of a sudden dropped and the band walk onto a foggy stage that looks like a graveyard. Guitarist Synester Gates is first on: wearing a skeleton mask he approaches the raised ledge where he begins to play. The stage at this point is really impressive, with fire sprouting up from the wall behind them, and as the music is still being played M Shadows comes running out which provokes a lot of excitement. He joine Gates on the raised ledge, where he screams 'Nightmare' – and the crowd eagerly sing along to every word.
They next play 'Critical Acclaim', and when this song is over M Shadows turns to the crowd, and says how he is sad to be this far away from everyone, at which point he declares “I’m coming in there” and stage dives into the front row. He is eventually dragged out by security with a huge grin on his face, and no longer wearing his cap and his t-shirt was non too healthy either.
They move back to their latest album again, with 'Welcome to the Family', which had an extended drum solo at the beginning. They follow on with 'Beast at the Harlot', which has a huge reception from everybody. The atmosphere in the Apollo tonight was something special, and a lot of people came out with remembrance of Jimy ‘The Rev’ Sullivan, with an image of him up on the back of the stage, 'So Far Away' really got the emotions of the band and the crowd going. During the outro a speech is made by M Shadows about his former band member, and lighters are place in the air around the venue as a tribute. They continue their energetic performance, fire and all with 'Afterlife' and 'God Hates Us'.
It comes to the end of the night, and there is one song left to be heard, and M Shadows leaves the decision up the fans. With the choice of 'Bat Country' or 'Almost Easy', it is a case of measuring up the chants for each to determine a winner. The latter wins the vote, and although a short set list, the band ends their fantastic first night in London on a definite high.
Stone Sour: Mission Statement / Reborn / Made Of Scars / Say You’ll Haunt Me / Get Inside / Unfinished / Your God / Bother / Through The Glass / Digital (Did You Tell) / Hell & Consequences / 30/30-150 /
Avenged Sevenfold: Nightmare / Critical Acclaim / Welcome To The Family / Beast and the Harlot / Buried Alive / So Far Away / Afterlife God Hates Us / Unholy Confessions / Bat Country