Volbeat @ Riviera Theatre, Chicago (US)

VOLBEAT / KILLSWITCH ENGAGE / HARM'S WAY

Date: 13th September, 2016
Venue: Riviera Theatre
Ticket: $40 (€36)
Promoter: n/a


‘All Ages’ shows are always a tricky business because the starting time is extremely early, so one basically has to be close to the venue and get over there as soon as he has left work. But if evening commute is involved, then the driving time can be easily increased two or even three times. And that’s exactly how things went down that otherwise nice Tuesday, despite the rain-bearing clouds that were soon to increase the humidity.

To cut a long (driving) story short, I’ll say that despite leaving as early as possible from home, the three-fold increase in traveling time made us not only lose HARM’S WAY set, but made it half of KILLSWITCH ENGAGE set and if I’m not completely mistaken, we go our spot during “Hate By Design”. Anyway, I cannot claim that KILLSWITCH ENGAGE fall right in my cup of tea, so aside from losing the photo-shooting time, I was ok. Still, the US band performed with high spirits, even though the response from the audience was not the one I was expecting. Sure, there was moshing and some sparse crowd-surfing but the energy levels were not that high. I guess, pairing VOLBEAT with KILLSWITCH ENGAGE was not the best of moves since having people liking both music-worlds is not very common. However, as time passed, more people were getting involved, especially during the singing-along “Always” and the groovier “My Last Serenade”. During “The End Of Heartache”, Jesse Leach left the stage and went right in the middle of the mosh-pit and stayed there without losing a beat from his singing. I think this move kind of broke the (remaining) ice with those who didn’t follow this band, so pretty everyone raised their horns during the Dio cover that followed. However I felt a bit sad because the majority of the audience will never get a chance to get the real version of “Holy Diver” performed by most probably the best singer and definitely best lyric-writer in Metal. Still, if this gets people’s attention urging them to dig into some classic albums, then KILLSWITCH ENGAGE got my vote (despite the almost Nu Metal grooves). The really good and dead-groovy “In Due Time” was the last song of the night for the US band, and as far as I am concerned, KILLSWITCH ENGAGE did a good work warming us up but they still felt like miles away from VOLBEAT’s sound.

KILLSWITCH ENGAGE setlist:

01. “My Curse”
02. “Strength Of The Mind”
03. “Beyond The Flames”
04. “Rose Of Sharyn”
05. “Alone I Stand”
06. “This Is Absolution”
07. “Hate By Design”
08. “Always”
09. “My Last Serenade”
10. “The End Of Heartache”
11. “Holy Diver”
12. “In Due Time”


It was about time to see VOLBEAT live once again and I think I missed a couple of US tours but I will definitely not forget their first one in the US that was hosted in a small venue with no more than just a 100 people inside. Anyways, lots and lots of water has run under the bridge since then and, in fact, there have been significant changes in the lineup and in the band’s musical identity. Yeah, it is not like a big secret or shocking news that VOLBEAT have departed from the heavier and groovier sound and I believe the last time we got a full taste of this was with “Beyond Heaven / Above Hell”. At the same time, VOLBEAT has always been a difficult to label band and this is mainly due to Michael Poulsen’s restless spirit who has always an itch to do something different and in the end of the day following his instincts and taste. So, the last two VOLBEAT albums have drawn big gulps from the American music, getting a bit on the softer and more melodic side. Of course, this is still working with the band but I think in concert, some of the original energy and 'oomph' have been lost. I don’t know, maybe it is just me, but I feel there are two versions of the same band, and even though I like them both, I find it hard to put them on the same stage...

During the stage preparations for VOLBEAT, the beer was flowing in abundance, so the moment the lights went out and the taped “Born To Raise Hell” hit the speakers, everyone went totally bananas. VOLBEAT showed up onstage and it was great seeing Michael wearing his sleeveless jean vest in a Hetfield fashion with all these patches from BATHORY to ENSLAVED and ENTOMBED. I guess the Death Metal virus has never left his system, right? The first song of the night was the amazing “The Devil's Bleeding Crown” from the latest LP that still holds strong ties with the band’s past. Without stopping, “Heaven Nor Hell” kicked in and you could feel the massive waves of energy going on between the band and the audience which was already singing the lyrics. Michael was wearing the biggest of smiles and was constantly moving when he was not delivering his trademark Rockabilly-inspired vocals. Bassist Kaspar Larsen is the latest addition in the band’s lineup and just by looking at him, it seems like a good fit. Yeah, he has that Punk-looking style that I had started to miss the moment guitarist Thomas Bredahl had left. “Let’s get ready to rumble” screamed Michael and the front rows “exploded” with my favorite “A Warriors’ Call”. This awesome way to start-a-show-medley ended with “I Only Wanna Be With You” pretty much presenting VOLBEAT in a nutshell and getting our blood pumping hard inside our veins. Yeah, everyone was in high spirits and immediately joined singing along the Johnny Cash excerpt “Ring Of Fire” that gave a sweet assist to “Sad Man’s Tongue”. Of course, it was time to circle pit and mosh around following the massive and hard-hitting groove.

“Are there some shady ladies here tonight?” Michael asked as a short but most effective intro for the smooth-rolling “Lola Montez”. Right there, I felt the difference in VOLBEAT’s sound but considering the crowd’s energy and, most importantly, the vibes from the solid performance, it was alright and tons of fun. Yeah, “The Gates Of Babylon” sounded heavier than on the record and watching the almost constant crowd-surfing made the entire experience even better. During this one, I experienced something new despite my long concert-going age; ok, I have almost gotten used to see people getting ‘selfies’ during a concert (how lame is that?) but watching all those youngsters holding the cell phones while crowd-surfing to get everything on video seemed absolutely pointless. I mean, this has to take away some of the fun, right? It is like filming yourself looking like having fun instead for actually having fun... Bizarre, to say the least.

“Thank you very much!” said the band’s frontman before removing his in-ear monitors and then he joked: “I have to take this off to hear you, although not using those, it can get you fired from AC/DC”. Then there was a set of rhetorical questions: “Do you like SLAYER? Do you like SATAN?” before getting into the headbanging and with the SLAYER-sounding rhythm “Slaytan”. That one paired really nice with equally groovy “Dead But Rising”. “Are there ladies out there? You know, you have to share your ladies with VOLBEAT said Michael and quickly clarifying this by adding: “of course and I am not saying this in a pervert way, but to get your ladies on your shoulders”, something that happened right away because “16 Dollars” was on the menu. The challenge to sing something in Danish was successfully done with “For Evigt” and then it was time for something special; Michael was wearing a JUNGLE ROT t-shirt and there was a good reason because for “Evelyn”, he invited Dave Matrise onstage to share the vocals and do Barney’s parts of the studio version.

“Goodbye Forever” came out really special, being dedicated “to all those souls we have lost during the last years” and kind of bled some more emotion in the otherwise heavy “The Mirror And The Ripper” that Michael dedicated to Lemmy using his best singing impression of the recently departed legendary persona and musician. And that was the end of the regular setlist that saw the band leaving the stage after a short goodnight. Of course, everyone started chanting “one more song” and how couldn’t they? The band was in top form and spirits, and delivered the songs with more energy than on the record, and that’s a win for me. I mean, even though VOLBEAT have changed their sound, the passion is still there, and just by looking at Michael, I think it is safe to say that he is still a fan of this music and totally enjoys his time onstage. Because the moment this turns into a day-to-day job, then everything gets out of the window.

Anyway, the band got back with Jon Larsen first who took a moment to stand tall behind his drum-kit and in a way acknowledged the fans for their participation into the show and their support. “Black Rose” and “Doc Holiday” were the first part of the encore that drew more people into the crowd-surfing festivities, leading the show into an ending on a high note. “Do you want to seal the deal with VOLBEEEEEAT?” asked Michael before “Seal The Deal” (of course) and “Still Counting” which dropped the curtain with lots of singing-along, making the atmosphere inside the theatre close to start-raining humid. Ok, I did miss “Pool Of Booze, Booze, Booza” and “Boa” but I am sure there was no room in the setlist because a band has to support the latest works, right? So, the result is absolutely positive and aside from the strange match from KILLSWITCH ENGAGE, I left the venue smiling (and sweating) like the rest of the audience.

VOLBEAT setlist:

01. “The Devil’s Bleeding Crown”
02. “Heaven Nor Hell” / “A Warrior’s Call” / “I Only Wanna Be With You”
03. “Ring Of Fire” (excerpt) / “Sad Man’s Tongue”
04. “Lola Montez”
05. “The Gates Of Babylon”
06. “Slaytan”
07. “Dead But Rising”
08. “16 Dollars”
09. “For Evigt”
10. “Evelyn”
11. “The Lonesome Rider”
12. “Goodbye Forever”
13. “The Mirror And The Ripper”
14. “Black Rose”
15. “Doc Holiday”
16. “Seal The Deal”
17. “Still Counting”

VOLBEAT

Volbeat @ Riviera Theatre (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Volbeat @ Riviera Theatre (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Volbeat @ Riviera Theatre (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Volbeat @ Riviera Theatre (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Volbeat @ Riviera Theatre (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos)
Volbeat @ Riviera Theatre (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Volbeat @ Riviera Theatre (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Volbeat @ Riviera Theatre (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Volbeat @ Riviera Theatre (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Volbeat @ Riviera Theatre (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos)
Volbeat @ Riviera Theatre (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Volbeat @ Riviera Theatre (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Volbeat @ Riviera Theatre (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Volbeat @ Riviera Theatre (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Volbeat @ Riviera Theatre (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos)
Volbeat @ Riviera Theatre (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Volbeat @ Riviera Theatre (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Volbeat @ Riviera Theatre (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Volbeat @ Riviera Theatre (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Volbeat @ Riviera Theatre (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos)

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