Sound: Band members:
Davey Havok - Singer
Jade Puget - Guitar
Hunter Burgan - Bass
Adam Carson - Drums
First of all, I was skeptical about Davey's voice, I've heard rumours that he couldn't hit all the notes that he hits on the albums but there was not one note he missed, he nailed everything! His vocals were amazing, seriously, even the screams were perfect!
Also he used the right amount of not singing to let the crowd get involved which was awesome. I really like it when a Singer can stand back for a line and let the crowd sing it for them, really adds to the atmosphere.
Jade was using a Gibson Les Paul the whole time. He changed sometimes between songs for different tunings but the same make was used throughout, I didn't catch the make of the bass being used by Hunter I think it was P Bass of some kind but I could be wrong.
They had a guy to the side of stage with a Mac and a keyboard which you couldn't see but I was at the right angle to see them, these were used for the electronic and extra stuff, very cleverly too. For example at the end of the Death of Seasons, when the string section cuts in, the guy used samples from the mac to play them and the lights went out except on Davey and he did the screaming bit over the top, very powerful and awesome, especially just with the light on him.
The only downside about this was that during Love Like Winter a huge part of the track was just playing from the album version minus bands parts through the mac with the rest of the band playing their parts over the top which is ok but bugged me slightly as it sounded just too close to the album version and there was no room for any improvisiton. The song was good though and the crowd loved it! And they only did it for this one song so I'll forgive them for it.
Over all the sound was amazing, especially Jade's guitar playing, even with one guitarist it was a very full sound and the lead lines didn't sound out of place at all because he's so used to being one guitarist in the band.
He absolutely rocked every song and hardly made a mistake at all, he did mess up slightly on the intro to Leaving Song Pt 2, however, but it was nothing serious, just a couple of notes out of time but I think he was just messing around with the riff more than a serious mistake.
The bassist was very good and he nailed the tapping part before the verse on Beautiful Thieves which I had no idea was on the bass untill I saw him doing it! Seriously I was watching Jade for it and when he was playing something different it really confused me untill I looked at Hunter and it was his part! However he did mess up on the beginning of Beautiful Thieves and completly missed his cue, I think there was something wrong with his strap cause he just didn't come in till a bar later and was faffing around at the back...
Adam Carson was perfect on drums, nothing to complain about at all, played great on every song with a real sense for dynamics. But after playing in a touring band for as long as he has I'm not surprised at all. He even played over the electronic stuff like in Love Not Winter which was cool cause it added more rhythm and meant he was still part of the band.
I'm not sure what kit he was using as it was quite far back on the stage but it sounded beautiful and the bass drum was quite high in the mix which I was happy about.
Overall, the mix was very good, I wasn't amazingly thrilled with Jade's tones because I didn't think they were as good as the tones he used on Sing the Sorrow but it was still good. Also I didn't see him use any pedals even when there were some effects going, I think his pedals were at the back being controlled by one of the roadies which is a bit odd but cool if you want to do it that way.
The bad part to this showed in the intro to Dancing Through Sunday because the roadie messed up the effect on his guitar and the riff started ok but then turned into just white noise mush (an attempt to get the same sound as the album, going from the radio-crunchy sound to the full heavy guitar, but really failed) Davey gave the guy a really bad look too which was amusing!
The only downside about the music was for Davey who complained several times that his ear monitors were messing up and he could hear weird screeching noises and feedback, but despite that he delivered an amazing vocal performance in perfect key and a great voice.
Overall, deffinately a ten out of ten for sound! // 10
Perfomance: I'll start with the layout of the stage;
Drums were at the back on a raised platform, to the sides of this were 6 amp speakers 3 on each side kind of like a wall of amps, I have no idea what they were and because Jade and Hunter were both on wireless I have no idea which were guitar amps and which were bass amps! Then infront of the drums and amps was a running section that the band could run around behind three raised platforms with gaps in between, so it went, gap, platform, gap, platform, gap, platform, gap that the band could jump on for more emphasis, The platforms also lit up from underneath which really leant to the atmosphere of some songs.
Here's how I remember the set and I know they played these songs, the order might not be perfect but here goes! They played seventeen songs:
01. Medicate: great Opener, the intro was a great way to start the show with that lead guitar part and because it's the first single off the new album every person in the crowd knew it and got involved. What was really great was the prechorus part, where the backing vocals do the "This Is" parts, Davey let the audience do it and put his mic towards us to get us to sing louder and it was a great crowd interaction part.
02. Girls Not Grey: this was a great pounder as a second song and definately a crowd favourite as it was there first huge commercial success single and everyone loved it. Davey even hit the stupidly high notes at the end of the track (3:00 on the album track) And Jade did a great job on the backing vocals too, the only thing is I don't understand why it was so early on in there set! I would have quite liked it as the Encore or at least much later, but that's just because it's a personal favourite and really the first track that got me into them.
03. Leaving Song Pt 2: as I mentioned before, the intro was a bit shaky but still great, it still gets to me when Davey does the Spanish bits before the chorus! Great song overall and really shows off Jade's capability to write great guitar parts, especially with the diminished chords building up on the breakdown.
What I really liked about this song was on the clean bit davey got on his knees on the middle platform and sang it really emotionally and then jumped up for the heavy chorus at the end! Was a great performance.
04. I am Trying Very Hard To Be Here: another sick guitar opener and a hard hitter too, the crowd went nuts for this one but it was noticable that not everyone knew it was well as the first three tracks, a couple of great moments and Davey did some very cool dance moves during the chorus when the rest of the band were doing the backing vocals, he was very expressionate with his hands and wasn't static for one minute, the breakdown was amazing. This song was also quite special for me too cause I was right at the front to the left and there was one point where Davey was singing the chorus right too me while I sang back, pretty much everyone on the front row could say this at some point at the gig but it still meant a lot to me!
05. Kill Caustic: this is one of the few songs I like of December Underground, it's quite a heavy song but worked very well. The only thing I was cautious about was the fact that it switchs so much from screaming to singing every three seconds or so! But Davey did fine on the vocals and seemed to handle both very well, he definately knows how to scream properly without damaging his vocal chords. The highlight for this song was the breakdown on the "don't ever speak my name again", was great and everyone went wild when the full on scream part kicks in. Overall a great fast track with a lovely chorus!
06. End Transmission: this track is a nice mellow one which was nice live, the only thing was that it was abit of an anti-climax after Kill Caustic and was a bit of an odd transition but it worked quite nice non the less. The clean guitar tone was great from Jade (Again without touching anything of his equipment) I got hit with a beer bottle during this track which wasn't amazing! At least they only sell plastic bottles at venues here!
07. The Days Of The Phoenix: this was an old track that I wasn't too familiar with and actually had to look up the name for, it was still pretty good and the die hard fans from the older albums new it where as the fans (like me) that really got into the band Sing the Sorrow and later on didn't really know it too well, it was still an enjoyable song.
08. Beautiful Thieves: great song and one of my favourites off the new album, the only thing was the intro from Jade wasn't perfect, it's a bit of a weird riff being hammered on harmonics and whatnot and he missed a couple but it wasn't too bad. It was still a great song and everyone joined in on the chorus with arms in the air and Davey being great with the crowd. An awesome bit was on the clean "who would run for cover" with Davey on his knees again singing up to the crowd! And as I mentioned before I was very impressed with the bassist tapping part. Also the ending, Jade made up for slightly messing up the intro by nailing it which was great!
09. Dancing Through Sunday: this was pretty cool because Jade just ending the tapping outro to the last song and went straight into this but the downside was the sound guy messed the effect on the octave part he was playing. Apart from this the song went great and was very exciting. Jade was perfect on the solo which I was a bit dubious about because it has the different parts too it. The Chorus to the song was also amazing because they all had different vocal lines going on which they did live and hit perfectly. I was very happy with how this track went.
10. Too Shy To Scream: this was a great song and got everyone clapping along to the intro. However I don't like the rhythm to it because it sounds to cliche to me but everyone else enjoyed it. I liked when the vocals came in on the verse and obviously the chorus is a very catchy one which was great. The lights were going like crazy different colours on this one to match the bouncyness of the track!
11. Love Is A Many Splendored Thing: this is another old punk song that they did great justice, the verse is so fast I still have no idea what Davey was singing but everyone knew the chorus of "I hate you" (repeat). I'm not a huge fan of this style of music but I understand that it's where the old AFI was at so I didn't enjoy it hugely but still could understand why they played it.
12. On The Arrow: this is actually a B-side for the December Underground album and as such I had only heard it once on youtube whilst browsing for rare AFI tracks, it was really nice plain chord song which was a real nice tone down and a lot of arm waving from the crowd, the only thing was that the drummer came to a mic with a shaky thing to keep the beat that he does on the recording but it just seemed a bit silly to do live and unneeded... If I was him I would have just left it for one song but still overall was a lovely song.
13. Death Of Seasons: I actually went crazy when this started, Hunter got on one of the platforms and started playing the bassriff and EVERYONE went crazy! It's weird because I assumed that this wouldn't be a favourite as it's easily one of the heaviest songs off Sing the Sorrow but everone loved it the whole way through. It really showed off Jade's and Hunter's ability to write amazing melodies together. The hightlight was the end when everything cut out but the pre-recorded string section playing with Davey on his knees on the front platform, all else in darkness but him lit from below and above screaming the last lines. It was an epic moment and then went completely black for the next song.
14. Miss Murder: then the lights crashed on for the amazing bassline and chorus to Miss Murder. It was so bright and catchy! Everyone was jumping and going crazy and of course, singing along! The only thing about the song was it was missing some of the electric stuff going off in the background, I don't know why they skipped that but they did...
The best bit was Jade going clean on the breakdown, Davey actually started crawling on the floor singing into the mic and leaning on the front platform, it was great!
After the last chorus the band left the stage and everyone started chanting.
15. The Interview: they came back and played the next two tracks off December Underground. Both are quite soft and I'm not sure why they chose these as an Encore and then to end on Silver and Cold but still... This track was ok, it's a bit boring in my eyes and too repetitive but everyone else seemed to enjoy it but it's not really my cup of tea, too soft, especially after the energy packed performance they had just given on everything else.
16. Love Like Winter: this song opened up with the pre-recorded tracks that I mentioned earlier which bugged me because it was so blatant the band were just filling in their parts, I'm also not a huge fan of this song which didn't help and dissapointed me as an Encore but it's definately better than The Interview so in that sense was a better song overall and also it really resonated with the crowd better than the previous song which was good because there was more of a connection.
17. Silver And Cold: I was so scared they were going to end on the last two but they really did save the day by ending on Silver And Cold, the intro was pre-recorded which is fine because the piano was actually played by the roadie in the corner with the keyboard next to the mac so it was just the rain and thunder that was pre-recorded. Then the band came in and it blew the place apart, a perfect ending. Ever person in the whole room knew the words and let it rip and Davey was on top form; Even to leave such a difficult song till last which takes gut, he was fine with the vocal performance. The only thing I was missing was the drum effects before the verse comes in- he just did it straight, I was expecting after so much other electronic work that they would have set drum triggers with the album effects on but they didn't. That's not a huge issue though I just love the effect on the studio version. It was a really beautiful ending and Jade did the Harmony parts on the clean break with him and Davey alternating which worked really well and it just ending on such a high!
Overall it was an amazing performance from the whole band, they weren't afraid to move and interact with the crowd, the only thing I wasn't too keen on was Davey didn't talk to much to the crowd, there wasn't much conversation at all but some frontmen just don't, they just want to get on with it which is ok really. The movement was amazing and energetic from everyone and there was some cool moves from Jade and Hunter with their instruments being held up in the air, Jade playing with one hand behind his back, stuff like that... It was overall awesome! // 10
Overall Impression: The openers were:
- Dear and Departed
- Sick of It All
I hadn't heard of either of them before the night. They both suffered from opposite problems in my opinion, Dear and Departed played pretty good music, good harmonies, nice catchy songs, but they didn't move! AT ALL! They were pretty boring to watch, I could have got the same amount of pleasure from just listening to their album...
The second band, Sick of It All were the opposite. The music was terrible! (In my opinion). Every track was power chords from the guitarist and rough punk screams from the singer which is fine for the first two tracks but gets incredibly boring to listen to. However, the guitarist was actually insane! I have never seen anyone move that much or go that crazy. He was doing flips, spinning his guitar, dancing ect... Really crazy, and the singer had a great confidence perfect for a hard-core punk band. He knew how to interact with the crowd, it just really wasn't music I enjoyed and couldn't wait for AFI to start!
Overall I wasn't impressed with the support but then again it is rare that you are too happy with them! I was there just to see AFI and that's what I loved about the show! They were easily worth every penny and I would have payed more to see them (the tickets were only 16 pounds from the venue) I was very happy with the set that AFI played, seventeen songs is very good and they played five songs off my favourite album, Sing the Sorrow, so I was very happy. I didn't like the ending overall because the two December Underground songs weren't that good and I would not have used them as an Encore but apart from that they were amazing.
However, because I enjoyed the support so little I'm giving the overall gig a 7 out of 10 but if it was just for AFI they would get a 10 out of 10 every single time! They were great and I would recommend anyone to see them, my friend Phil hasn't heard too much of their stuff but he came along and loved them so they really are entertaining, even for a previous non-fan! // 7