Written by Amina Abdelwahab
w/ Breaking Benjamin and Bullet For My Valentine
@ FirstOntario Centre
Hamilton, ON, Canada
January 22, 2018
The FirstOntario Centre in Hamilton, Ontario felt built for metal. With worn out walls, re-nailed wooden floor panels and a basement feel to the general admission section; metal-heads were ready to rock.
On January 22nd, 2018, The Stage World Tour featuring Avenged Sevenfold and special guests Breaking Benjamin and Bullet For My Valentine came to FirstOntario Centre. Being a fan of all three bands, I riled with excitement and anticipation. A perfect line-up at a perfect venue: a perfect recipe for a perfect night. I took my place in the middle of the crowd, at 6:25 the stage reeled with glaring lights, and the musical build up introducing Bullet For My Valentine began.
Next up was Breaking Benjamin. While I did have my reservations about seeing this band live due to their extended three-year hiatus from music, they did not let me down. Breaking (ironically) into the more mainstream metal vibes erred on the side of people-pleasing. From long in-between-song rants to covering “Smells Like Teen Spirit” amid a cover-medley, they had us at ‘hello’. At the end of their performance, they had Shaun Foist front-and-center on the runway section of the stage, jutting lightsabers from his drum kit during his solo while Benjamin Burley sliced through the air with his very own red lightsaber – making a mini-speech about being bold, being nerdy, and being yourself. Finally, the band closed off their set with “I Will Not Bow” and invited a teenager to stand with them on stage as they blared through “The Diary Of Jane”. While this set may not have been one for the hardcore metalheads, it surely was one for the fans, the teenagers, and the misfits.
Time for the headliner – Avenged Sevenfold. Now, I have quite a bit to say about my relationship with this band. Having grown to love them due to their ballad-like, yet punk-influenced heavy metal musicality – seeing them live for the first time with Metallica during the Worldwired Tour of 2017 disappointed me. M. Shadows seemed off his game, bringing less-than-energetic enthusiasm to ‘the stage’. However, this time, Shadows riled with energy and passion. Being favorable to the non-guitar-playing lead singer bands, I enjoyed Shadows' stage presence and his complete dominance over the space he had – interacting with fans at all way points in his usual sunglasses-and-backwards-cap-with-a-plaid-shirt-over-a-band-shirt look. That being said, Avenged Sevenfold have taken a page (or a whole chapter) out of Metallica’s book – both in their music and their performance antics. Their latest album, The Stage has taken a turn into extravagance rather than controlled experimentation, and their screen setup, stage work and visuals mirrored that of Metallica’s during the Worldwired Tour. Yet, it was during their cover of “Wish You Were Here” that I remembered why I love Avenged Sevenfold: they’re not afraid of slow. As they closed the night with “A Little Piece Of Heaven” and “Unholy Confessions”, I thought this: what metal band hasn’t been influenced by another? The intermixing of styles and genres has forever been the foundation upon which metal grows – and the deeper the foundations, the better the metal.
M. Shadows - Vocals
Synyster Gates - Lead guitars
Zacky Vengeance - Rhythm guitars
Johnny Christ - Bass
Brooks Wackerman - Drums
Label: Capitol Records
BULLET FOR MY VALENTINE
Matt Tuck - Vocals & guitars
Michael Paget - Guitars & vocals
Jamie Mathias - Bass & vocals
Jason Bowld - Drums
Spinefarm/Search & Destroy Records
Benjamin Burnley - Vocals & guitars
Jasen Rouch - Lead guitars
Keith Wallen - Guitars & backing vocals
Aaron Bruch - Bass & backing vocals
Shaun Foist - Drums
Label: Hollywood Records