As a massive fan of PAIN, a band that has been consistently good live over the years, when they announced that their European tour would include three dates in the UK, I just thought “why not?” and promptly decided to attend all three shows!
Besides, PAIN was the first ever band I reviewed for Soundscape, back at the start of 2013, and I’ve now been running the joint for over two years, so of course there’s a little bit of sentimental value to be found in a PAIN show too.
24 October – The Underworld, Camden
One forgotten gig ticket and an extra half-hour added to my journey whilst I looped back to my hostel to grab it, I arrived at The Underworld in Camden just in time to see opening band Billion Dollar Babies take to the stage and it was a great start to the night. Albeit suffering from a bit of problems with the sound levels (in fact, all the bands did to an extent), the band didn’t let this mar their performance.
The Swedish hard rockers worked hard at warming up the crowd, with a hard-hitting and punchy set, and their enthusiasm couldn’t be faulted – especially when factoring in that it was their first ever UK performance. They were definitely a good choice of opener and they were so grateful that a decent amount of people had turned up early to witness them. All in all, a great way to kick off proceedings.
Up next was another Swedish band, Dynazty, who played a good blend of power metal and hard rock, and picked up exactly where Billion Dollar Babies left off! This was a band that quickly established themselves as being very crowd friendly, and very frequently got people to join in with clapping along and chanting certain lines of their music back! You could really tell they thrived on the energy in the room and they got a very decent response from a room where a good chunk of the gig-goers were probably only seeing them for the first time.
Like the other two support bands on the lineup, I was not familiar with The Vision Bleak ahead of the tour getting underway, but I was absolutely blown away by this band. Their musical style of Gothic Metal tinged with a slight amount of doom and black metal for good measure didn’t necessarily fit the lineup but that wasn’t a problem for me as those are some of the music genres I tend to class as my favourites!
Compared to the other two bands, the performance itself was a bit more serious and muted, but this was by no means a bad thing as that was just the approach that fit their style best. The band projected a mighty wall of sound at the crowd and a highlight was a rendition of a track called Kutulu! which saw frontman Konstanz invite members of the front row to say “kutulu” back at him before the mighty-sounding song got underway. Quite simply, it was just a spine-tingling performance from start to finish, and much headbanging was done.
Admittedly, as their set came to an end I found myself wishing for more from the talented outfit, especially as I wasn’t the biggest fan of PAIN’s latest album Coming Home, but when they took to the stage my misgivings disappeared because even though the set leant quite heavily on their new material (featuring seven songs from the aforementioned album), the new material translated very well into a live format.
With a slightly different lineup featuring new guitarist Greger, bassist André (although he wasn’t a completely new face, as he had previously performed with the band in the past!) and drummer Sebastian (Peter’s son, who was filling in for drummer David who was taking time off to spend with his family), the onstage dynamics were naturally a little different, but they were different in a good way. There was a lot more movement and energy, particularly from bassist André who would frequently bounce and jump across the stage, and the performance just felt tighter and more together as a whole.
The stage show as a whole was great, with a few nice gimmicks to complement the performance nicely – for example, an asylum patient invaded the stage during It’s Only Them before being dragged off the stage, and Call Me featured an extra-special guest appearance from a puppet version of Joakim Brodén – no doubt the same one made an appearance in the video for the song – and it was hilarious watching him singing along at the side of the stage.
Peter complimented the crowd on their response to the show, saying that even though the room wasn’t full up, there was plenty of noise and energy to go round, and that naturally got a roar of approval from the room as everyone ate up what he said. There was just a great vibe between band and crowd as a whole, especially when it came to the performances of some of the more famous songs such as Zombie Slam and Same Old Song – and the set closer of Shut Your Mouth almost raised the roof.
Once again, it was a pleasure to see PAIN – and with two more shows to go, it seemed like I was going to be in for a treat with the next two, especially with the show lineup as strong as it was.
25 October – The Slade Rooms, Wolverhampton
Thankfully, for this show everything seemed to go to plan following my mishaps of the day before, and after a quick interview with PAIN main-man Peter Tägtgren (keep an eye on the site for it, coming soon!) it was time for show number two, and as a whole this show felt a little more comfortable and relaxed, possibly because there was more room onstage for all the bands, and the sound quality was of a much better quality.
Billion Dollar Babies kicked things off once again and whilst their performance in London had been good, they’d really took it up a notch in Wolverhampton. Although their enthusiasm was just as high both nights, perhaps it helped that they had a more ‘complete’ show, as they were able to fit their row of red beacon lights in front of the stage and they added a bit more atmosphere to the show when they were turned on for effect at specific points during songs as it made the songs leave more of an impact on you. Plus, being able to hear the vocals at this show was a definite bonus, and their entire performance packed a real punch as a result.
There was certainly a good atmosphere as Dynazty took to the stage this time round and it was another great performance, no doubt spurred on by the fact there was a number of people in the crowd really into the show and screaming every lyric back at the band! Once again, the crowd was instructed to clap and join in on multiple occasions, and this time round band members were singling people out who weren’t clapping and looked or pointed at them until they joined in too! Perhaps a slightly passive-aggressive way of getting people involved, but it certainly worked, much to my own amusement.
This is a band that knows how to work a crowd, and it didn’t matter if you were a long-time fan of the band or simply someone witnessing them for the first time – you’re destined to have a good time watching them and they sure have some earworms of songs to match their great stage presence. Plus, like with Billion Dollar Babies, it constantly looks like they’re having a fantastic time up onstage, so when a band is having such a good time, how can you not have a good time too?
Up next was the mighty The Vision Bleak and once again, they played an absolutely blistering set. There’s something stunningly beautiful about the music they play and the way their set begins is perfect – the band come onstage and stand with their backs to the crowd whilst a more ambient, softer sound fills the venue, and then when they turn round, they hit you with at full force with a wall of sound. It’ll send shivers down your spine, to say the least, and the tightness to their performance is phenomenal. It’s clear how in-sync everyone is with one another and it makes for a strong performance as a result.
Song-wise, The Night Of The Living Dead was an especially strong inclusion with a suitably spooky vibe to it, and it’s a song that is easy to sing along to and get involved with, so it translates well in a live environment. Additionally, their track Kindred Of The Sunset instantly got my head banging – and honestly, the fact I already felt familiar with these songs (along with their most excellent track Kutulu!) after only one performance really shows what an impression this band made on me in London! The Vision Bleak has really mastered the art of writing catchy and hard-hitting songs that really leave an impression on you, and they have a top-notch live performance to match.
The crowd felt a little more subdued for PAIN this time around and didn’t get quite as raucous or loud as the London one, but even if the atmosphere wasn’t quite as good, PAIN made up for it with another tight-as-fuck performance. As mentioned in my summary of the previous day, the connection between all the members was just undeniable and the way they interacted with each other was just relaxed and natural.
Although it was the same order of songs as before, the set didn’t feel tired or stagnated and this time it was The Great Pretender that shone the most in the performance, although Black Knight Satellite and Call Me were a lot of fun too. And despite the crowd being a bit subdued and not really chanting for the band to come back onstage after the set ‘finished’, PAIN still returned despite this for Same Old Song and Shut Your Mouth – another two fantastic renditions.
Two down…one more to go!
26 October – The Fleece, Bristol
My final night of the three took me to The Fleece in Bristol, a venue that I used to frequent back when I used to live in Cardiff and although I have to say that I didn’t miss the massive pillars in the venue, it was still great to be back!
The lack of space between barrier and stage meant that the beacons weren’t used for Billion Dollar Babies‘ set in Bristol, but that didn’t take anything from their performance because it was yet again another powerful set from the five-piece. Although the crowd for them was perhaps the smallest out of the three days, this didn’t stop them from delivering and not long after the set started, guitarist Pat triggered two small smoke machines attached to his legs and the billowing smoke certainly added a bit more ambience to the performance!
It was a joy to watch the band as they gave it their all yet again, and their sheer passion towards what they were doing was a real treat to see, as when a band is so enthusiastic as these, you can’t help but adore and respect them. Musically they were very strong too, with songs such as Chemical God and opener I Want To See You Burn being particularly good. If this band is touring near you, make sure you go and see them!
There was a definite playful air in the room as Dynazty took to the stage but the set was business as usual as it got underway with their hard-hitting opening track The Human Paradox. However, during their song Raise Your Hands, the band got a special guest onstage – much to their own surprise! – when PAIN’s guitarist Greger stealthily played PAIN’s drumkit along with the track, which was greeted by much amusement from the crowd as well as the band!
Something that was particularly great about their performance each night was when we were treated to the “Jonathan Olsson Experience”, which consisted of a rather fantastic bass solo from the musician, along with him making sure the crowd got involved by pumping their fists in the air at specific interjections, and the smile on his face when everyone joined in was a picture! All in all, Dynazty were just a fun band who really delivered live and, like with Billion Dollar Babies, I hope to be able to see them live again soon.
Up next was The Vision Bleak and once again, they blew me away – each night, I found my neck hurting just that little bit more after all my headbanging to them! This band was just superb in every way, from the tight musical delivery to the incredible songs and captivating performance. I found myself able to join in with multiple songs of their set, with Descend Into Maelstrom being especially powerful once again, and a rather emotive and moving rendition of Into The Unknown gave me goosebumps.
A rather sweet moment of the night saw frontman Konstanz interact with a young member of the crowd ahead of their track Kutulu!, asking him if he could say “kutulu” (with the answer being an affirmative “yes” before being prompted to actually say the word!) and the band then launched into a hard-hitting delivery of the track which ended up being another highlight of their performance. Indeed, the performance as a whole was just superb and in all honesty, whilst I am a big fan of PAIN, this band captivated me each and every night, and for me they were the strongest band on the lineup – I ended up enjoying them most out of the four bands! Needless to say, I will certainly be back for more when they next visit the UK!
PAIN is without doubt a band that is at the top of their live game right now, as the final show of the three was another great performance. There was a lot more movement about the stage, with members walking behind the drumkit as well as across the main stage area, and basically just interacting a great deal with one another, and at one point during It’s Only Them, bassist André left the stage and performed from the crowd for the latter half of the song!
Although I did find myself wishing that the very loud guy behind me constantly screaming at PAIN to play Shut Your Mouth would shut his mouth, as it got kinda grating as the night progressed, the atmosphere in the room was pretty fantastic as a whole and although the crowd wasn’t huge, it was an incredibly responsive one and it felt like PAIN could do no wrong in their performance – and in all honesty, there wasn’t an awful lot to be faulted from them.
And as the cheers filled the room as their final song came to an end, it was a very satisfying end to an incredible three days. It’s rare that I’ll attend a show where all the bands on the bill are consistently good, but that was exactly what happened with the Coming Home Tour. What a fantastic trip!