I don’t cover metal often, but when I do it’s Swedish Death Metal! I had more or less stumbled into an Amon Amarth show a few years ago and found it one of the most challenging shows to photograph but also one of the most epic and fun. As it turned out this was also one of my daughters’ favorite band so jumped at the chance to cover at the Skyway last night. As a disclaimer I have rudimentary knowledge about Metal and know next to nothing about death metal. But being clueless doesn’t mean I can’t have fun!
The Skyway Theatre was pretty filled with a sea of black before the first band even took the stage, and the merch booth was doing brisk business. Amon Amarth had printed a limited number of shirts specifically for the Minneapolis show and those sold out in a heartbeat. That might we a great idea for other bands. What few light shirts could be seen in the crowd were either costumes or in one case one bewildered boyfriend (I assume) that got dragged into a metal show wearing a white leather jacket.
Grand Magus was up first. Squeezed toward the front of the stage by the massive setup of the other bands. Their latest album “Wolf God” was released earlier this year, but their short set list focused on their classic songs. Their sound and vocals reminded me of the “classic” Heavy Metal bands I grew up with especially Iron Maiden, and that’s certainly not a bad thing.
Set List: I, the Jury / Steel Versus Steel / Like the Oar Strikes the Water / Iron Will / Hammer of the NorthWhatever comfort I found in my youth, was disturbed rather swiftly by At The Gates. For a band that’s been around for almost 40 years (with some breaks), those Swedes set a furious pace. The staccato of drums hit me from the front, long hair whipping around in the front row hit me from the back. If it wasn’t for my photo gear I would have been tempted to jump over the barrier and join the mosh pit that was forming.
Set List: To Drink From the Night Itself / Slaughter of the Soul / At War With Reality / The Colours of the Beast / Cold / Death and the Labyrinth / Blinded by Fear / The Night EternalThe Skyway seemed even more packed when Arch Enemy took to the stage. The pace got even more frantic and lead singer Alissa White-Gluz hit the crowd with a blast of energy. My jaw hit the floor at the power of her vocals. Arch Enemy is a lot more “interactive” with fans integrating and making them part of the set. At the end of their set fans called them back for a standing ovation – not that anyone had anything to sit on anyway.
Set List: The World Is Yours / Ravenous / War Eternal / My Apocalypse / The Eagle Flies Alone / First Day in Hell / As the Pages Burn / NemesisThe stage turnover between Arch Enemy and Amon Amarth was impressive. Especially since at this venue, gear needs to be taken out through the crowd and down and elevator. Then roadies got to cross Hennepin Avenue in construction traffic and load their busses a block away. But then most roadies had the Viking Invader look, so I don’t think anyone bothered them on their travel to the bus.
A curtain went up to hide the drop cloths being taken off the drum riser shaped like a Vikings helmet. And just to remind their American audience about which explorers got here first Iron Maiden’s “Run For The Hills” played as an intro. The “Berserker” tour is named after their latest album released this spring. Almost 40 years as a band, means that singer Johan Hegg resembles Odin a bit more than Thor but that does nothing to diminish his stage presence. Amon Amarth always has me feeling that they could turn around, pick up helmets, shields and swords and charge the crowd in a Berserker rage. Of course swords and shields came out later in the set for an on stage battle (I wonder if they are changing up who gets “killed” for each show). In this biz, we use the word epic probably way to often, but a concert with 4 bands that continue to one up the energy level, crazy drums, impressive vocalists, nordic gods, demons and warriors can only be described as such.
Set List: Raven’s Flight / Deceiver of the Gods / Runes to My Memory / First Kill / Fafner’s Gold / Crack the Sky / The Way of Vikings / Shield Wall / Guardians Of Asgaard / Raise Your Horns /
The Pursuit of Vikings / Twilight Of The Thunder God