Words: Miljan Milekić
Yes, yes, I know. This was an Avenged Sevenfold tour, not a co-headliner, but I don’t care. If you have The Only Band Ever on the bill, no matter who is the main act, they got to be in the title.
But let’s start from the beginning, and the first artist to hit the stage of the SaskTel Centre – Australian Kim Dracula. Mixing metal, pop, hip hop, and everything in between, along with a strong visual presence and theatrics, they offered an interesting audio-visual experience and slotted perfectly with the night’s headliners. Still very new, and young, they do have some work to do to make themselves at home on stage this big, and in front of audiences this size, but it would be unfair to say they’re too far from it. Coming from Hobart, Tasmania, and playing arenas in Canada with Avenged Sevenfold just three years into the career is not only an insane accomplishment in its own right but also shows the power of the internet and Socal Media in today’s world.
Finding their crowd through Tik Tok, and being able to do this barely two weeks after the release of the debut album seemed unimaginable until a few years ago, but here we are. And although their music might not be up my alley, it deserves respect. As expected, most of their set came from the mentioned debut ‘A Gradual Decline in Morale,’ along with the cover of Lady Gaga’s ‘Paparazzi,’ which made them explode on the above-mentioned platform. The special shout-out, however, goes to the stage technician who fixed Kim’s microphone stand approximately 68 times during their set, only to see it being crushed, kicked, dropped, or smashed by a chainsaw merely seconds later.
Have you ever felt like you were hit by a bus? And then immediately run over by a steamroller? That’s about how it felt once Alexisonfire stepped on the stage and unleashed ‘Sweet Dream of Otherness.’ Slowly rolling out, with every note, or beat of the drums, the song was slowly filling out the venue, before Dallas Green-led chorus just hammered us all down. They have arrived, and they did it with a bang. The synergy of vocals Green, George Pettit, and Wade MacNeil have is something no other band in the world can match, and it didn’t take long for it to take full effect, as the band slowly slid into a massive rendition of ‘Boiled Frogs.’
‘Sans Soleil’ came in next, slowing the pace down, although only for a brief moment, before the band dropped an absolute banger in the form of ‘Young Cardinals,’ to amazing back-and-forth with the crowd. Having a limited time on their hands meant that the band was bringing heavy artillery only, and the crowd was all for it. ‘Pulmonary Archery’ was another amazing example of that, as it was played to the lights of thousands of cell phones, which gave it another layer of intensity and emotion. The band gave a nod to legends of the Canadian music scene – The Tragically Hip, with the cover of ‘Fully Completely,’ before going into a huge sequence of ‘The Northern’ and ‘Dog’s Blood’ played back to back. The very end, however, was reserved for ‘This Could Be Anywhere in the World,’ another song that only Alexisonfire could make. Another one that made the whole place go crazy.
Avenged Sevenfold came in next, just after 9 pm, and from the very beginning, it was clear that this was their crowd. I wouldn’t really consider myself a die-hard fan of the band, but after seeing them, more than ever, I understand why they are popular, and why so many people love them. Not only that they are all amazing musicians, and the production and theatrics they had on the stage were insane, but their consistency to go through thick and thin is something worth admiring. Their songs are often big, anthemic, and relatable, while M Shadows is a born frontman.
It didn’t take much for them to get the crowd going, they practically did it right away with ‘Game Over’ and ‘Mattel’ from their new record ‘Life Is But a Dream…’ but the complete chaos ensued with ‘Afterlife’ and ‘Hail To The King’ which followed, sung by probably every person in the venue. And from there, it was just smooth sailing. The band’s set relied heavily on the new record, showing how much they trust it, but the old school fans had their moments as well, especially near the end of the show, with classic A7X tracks like ‘Unholy Confessions’ and ‘A Little Piece of Heaven.’ The closing tones once again came from their new record, in the form of ‘G,’ ‘(O)rdinary,’ and ‘(D)eath.’
Avenged Sevenfold may not be my cup of tea, but the hard work, dedication, and energy they put into everything they do is something I got to respect. But in my books, this night was all about Alexisonfire. Almost coming to terms, years ago, that I may never see them live, even 50 minutes in a massive arena sounded like a chance I’d take any day of the week. And I am glad I did. Hopefully, the first of many.