Thursday, 25 August 2016

Live Review - Arch Enemy at The Engine Rooms, Southampton 24/08/2016

It has been a really long time since I’ve written a long form review. Not since last year’s Download Festival have I done one. The reason I am doing this one is because last night, I went to a gig that I’ve wanted to go to for about 10 years in going to the Arch Enemy show at the Engine Rooms in Southampton. I first saw Arch Enemy at the 2006 Download Festival. I had never heard of them before and the only reason I saw them is that they were still on the main stage after Devildriver had finished on the second stage and I was walking back round. I hadn’t planned on seeing them but they certainly got my attention that day. I remember thinking I’d like to see them again. That opportunity came when they were on the Black Crusade tour bill, headlined by Machine Head and Trivium. Their set was probably only 30 minutes that night but they were the second best band of the night (they would have been the best but Machine Head on The Blackening tour were phenomenal).  Again, I remember thinking I wanted to see them play for longer. I didn’t see them again until Sonisphere 2011. I had a brutal hangover whilst they were on, but I still remember loving their set.

It was another long time before I saw them again, and in that time, Angela Gossow had stepped down as lead vocalist, with Alissa White-Gluz chosen to take her place. I saw the new look Arch Enemy support Kreator in London and it was superb – it was obvious the change in singer had not taken away from how good the band were live. The last time I saw them before last night was supporting Nightwish at Wembley Arena – the biggest indoor venue I had seen them play which, you probably won’t be shocked to learn, I really enjoyed. It wasn’t long after this gig that a headline tour was announced, with a relatively local date to me – this for me was an essential gig ticket purchase. There had been opportunities to see them play headline shows, but logistically or financially, it just wasn’t possible for me. Thankfully, I was now able to rectify this.

I have one small gripe before talking about the positive. The ticket said doors were half 7. The Facebook event said the same thing. I arrived at 7.45 expecting the first band to just be coming on, and they had finished and the main support had come on. I’ve just looked back over my email and I have just found an email telling me doors had been moved an hour earlier. I got that email nearly 3 weeks ago. It would have been useful for this change to be widely advertised as I’m sure I wasn’t the only one that forgot. It is a minor gripe, and one which was caused by my poor memory, but still. I didn’t get to see Griever, which is why there are no words about them. Anyway, that is the only negative point of the evening for me (spoiler alert?)

Not that this gig needed an extra selling point, but it had one in the form of Soilwork being the main support band. I had seen Soilwork twice before this gig, both times on an open air stage at Wacken in Germany, and both times I remember thinking they were great. Last night was no exception to this rule. Due to the aforementioned door time change, I only saw them for about 40-45 minutes (no idea how long their set was). Either way, they had a great set. They didn’t hang around much between songs which was cool to see. As their set concluded, I wished I could drop everything and go and see them again in London (which is today of this writing). I suspect their headline show at the Underworld will be excellent. They closed their set with Stabbing The Drama, which I really like so I was pleased.

As was said earlier, I have wanted to attend an Arch Enemy headline show for quite some time. However, there are occasions sometimes when you build something up so much in your mind that it just can’t possibly reach those heights. The band (in this context) may do absolutely nothing wrong, but because you internally set the bar so high, they had no chance of reaching it. Despite having seeing Arch Enemy live before, and knowing how good they are live, I did fear that I had done this. What I can now say is that if I did set the bar high, Arch Enemy not only reached it, but they surpassed it. It was an outstanding headline set. The set contained pretty much all of my favourite Arch Enemy songs which I’m sure helped my enjoyment of the gig somewhat. Afterwards, I couldn’t think of any song that I would have cut to shoehorn in another one of my favourite songs. Had they played Rise Of The Tyrant and Leader Of The Rats, it would have been the perfect set list for me. The absence of those two songs did not take anything away from this gig for me though – Arch Enemy were just superb last night. I don’t tend to add a rating to the bottom of gig reviews (I tend to save that for festival reviews) but this gig was a genuine 10/10 for me. Choosing highlights from this gig is too tough an ask. I just tried to and I ended up almost writing out the whole set list. I can comfortably say this – when it comes to the end of the year, this gig will without doubt be in my top 10, if not my top 5. My first Arch Enemy headline show was everything I wanted it to be and more – and you can’t ask for more than that can you?

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