Drone, Unearth, Arch Enemy
Hard Club, Porto (PT)
22nd May 2015
Promoted by Prime Artists
Last time Arch Enemy played in Portugal, Angela Gossow and Nick Cordle were still in the band. So more than a concert by a great band promoting their latest album, this was also a welcome party to the amazing Alissa White-Gluz and the legendary Jeff Loomis. Oh, and double birthday party, since it was the b-day of Daniel Erlandsson and someone in their crew who I didn’t get the name of (sorry!).
German post-thrashers Drone were the first ones on stage, bringing to life the expression “warm-up act”. The venue was far from full yet, but the response they got from the crowd made it sound like the almost sold out gig it later turned out to be. Singer/guitarist Mutz asked for a big mosh pit in “Welcome to the Pit”, as if to illustrate its title. Even being one of the early songs, when usually people are still “getting in the mood”, the crowd circled viciously.
During the following song (“Format C”, I think), both Mutz’s mic and guitar went mute. But the rest of the band didn’t hesitate in continuing, as well as the crowd, who started screaming loud heys to compensate the la ck of vocals. Bassist Fabian and guitarist Marcelo couldn’t stop smiling, and neither could I, happy to see how a technical problem was so easily turned around. But I guess metalheads know how to show their support when a band is delivering a great show. “Theopractical”, from their 2007 debut “Head-On Collision”, closed their half-hour set with a golden key. (5/5)
A big part of the crowd had high expectations regarding Unearth and those expectations were totally met. And the Massachusetts metalcore band also seemed very pleased with the Portuguese – I couldn’t see Trevor Phipps’ face when he said how amazing both Porto and Lisbon (in the previous night) were, as the lights were extremely dim (alternated with blinding strobes) during their show, but one could sense the honesty in his words.
Officially promoting their latest “Watchers of Rule”, they didn’t focus entirely on it, performing a quite diverse setlist. But whether it was an oldie or a new song, they all fueled the crowd’s fire. In the last song, “The Great Dividers”, Trevor himself crowdsurfed over the thrilled audience. (5/5)
Despite all the craziness shown during both supporting acts, there was still a lot more in store for the headliners – the security guys had their hands even fuller now. I know the opinions divided when “War Eternal” came out, not just regarding the change in vocals but also the non-change in songwriting, but I doubt anyone can point a finger when it comes to live shows. At least this one in Porto was flawless. Well, okay, Alissa could have picked up the band’s flag in front of the audience during “We Will Rise”, in a victorious pose, mimicking the video, but let’s not be picky.
Of course Alissa isn’t Angela. Why should she be? She has a totally defined identity that actually suits Arch Enemy – it would be senseless to lose that and become a shallow rip-off of her predecessor. Listening to old songs such “Ravenous” with this new energy was surprisingly refreshing. Angela had a dominant posture and a powerful growl, and Alissa has a vibrant attitude and a vocal pitch somewhat higher – it’s not better or worse, just different. And it works damn well live.
She also made us scream along the choruses all the time, and incited to mosh circles, and, of course, asked to sing “happy birthday” to Daniel. And this time, it wasn’t just Michael Amott who shone in “Snow Bound” – Jeff Loomis delighted all the guitar-freaks in the house. And always in those uniforms of theirs, despite the sauna-heat felt in the venue.
“Fields of Desolation” finished the set, but the show was only over after the trendy selfie, with the band holding a Portugal flag that a fan offered them. Sweet! (5/5)
Text & photos by Renata “Pieni” Lino