Normally, while getting ready to see a live metal show, my mind goes through these 3 stages:
1. Set the expectations
2. See the show
3. Put the first two together and draw a conclusion.
Number three of this sequence is the trickiest one: it can range from Mind-blown to Satisfied / Neutral / Disappointed — circle the applicable term. Sadly, the last two are also pretty common and of course, it all depends on how high the expectations were set in the beginning. In case with the Arch Enemy concert that took place on August 23rd, 2015 at the Regency Ballroom in San Francisco, there was nothing left but the feeling of complete fulfillment.
The band has been touring for the most part of the summer and, by the time they reached the Bay Area, I had a pleasure to see some of their live performances at other venues online. Knowing the band’s history and their success with a vocalist replacement, the show was determined to be super-charged.
In a nutshell, Arch Enemy’s lead singer of many years, beautiful and talented Angela Gossow, chose to leave the band in favor of an incredibly fitting then-vocalist of a Canadian band The Agonist, Alissa White-Gluz.
Incomparable Alissa White-Gluz.
According to the web updates, the Arch Enemy performance was scheduled at approximately 9:30 PM. It was difficult to conceal the agony of waiting for the show. Having arrived at the Regency at 6:30, I was able to see three full performances of: Cattle Decapitation, The Veil of Maya, and Born of Osiris, who…just didn’t stand out that much. So, once the last band left the stage, the waiting was almost tangible. It played out well though: a nice spot very close to the stage opened up. I geared up with my Nikon and a camera phone, ready to record the upcoming greatness. Of course, nothing is ever perfect, and this close proximity to the stage resulted in a lower than usual sound quality due to being next to a subwoofer, and a slightly distorted images, taken from under the stage lights.
The band’s logos were up by 9:45 PM. Shortly after, the musicians started arriving — one by one, in a very diligent and thought-through manner. Once Alissa appeared, the audience exploded. Everyone was on the edge — the band’s energy, magnificent sound, and overall politeness and respect towards the audience were just too appealing.
The repertoire was very well-balanced. Band’s most iconic songs, along with the ones from Arch Enemy’s early 2015 album War Eternal, were performed by Alissa brilliantly. Here’s a video of Avalanche from the band’s latest album (please disregard the quality and various distractions!):
It was easy to notice how much the band members enjoyed each other’s company and what they do: rarely one can see such mutual respect and appreciation of one another’s actions. During guitar solos, Alissa would hold her microphone next to the Michael Amott’s instrument; while she was singing, the other band members would surround her and play their parts with admiration.
Michael Amott and his brilliant solo.
While performing We Will Rise, Alissa waved the band’s flag above her head and over the fans (not an easy task for a woman her size) — it felt incredible!
The final moments of the show also felt very personable and authentic. The entire band was there, engaging with the audience — passing flyers, giving away guitar picks, and really letting fans see them without the stage masks. Not a single time they insulted the audience in any manner (a common thing during other metal shows, though it’s widely accepted and considered a part of the subculture). The whole time Arch Enemy were on stage, I was trying to catch my breath — the combination of vocals, lighting, and technical excellence had a truly powerful effect.
Note: Please try to understand the nature of a live metal show while evaluating the media quality. It is a challenging task to stay still in a moving crowd. All pictures / videos shared in this post are taken by me and I hope this summary is helpful.