October 13, 2014 Five Finger Death Punch & Volbeat take over Times Union Center Albany, NY 9-27-14 w/ Hellyeah & Nothing More
While the summer in North America was filled with one powerhouse tour/festival after another, it seemed like every Hard Rock fan from New York to Nevada were clamoring for the fierce foursome of Five Finger Death Punch, Volbeat, Hellyeah, and Nothing More to kick off their twenty-seven-date run starting in September. While each band has remained on the road in recent years, this run is extra special because markets which do not usually get such a massive tour are being granted stops along the way. One of those is the city of Albany, NY which had an unbelievable amount of anticipation weeks leading up to Saturday September 27th when the bands arrived at Times Union Center. When the date finally arrived, fans flocked inside, ready for what was sure to be an exciting night with fantastic music and a few welcomed surprises along the way.
Up first was San Antonio, Texas’ Nothing More. Considered one of the hottest bands to burst onto the scene in years with the release of their major label self-titled album earlier in 2014, this opening slot only solidifies that they are headed for big things. Comprised of long-time friends Jonny Hawkins on lead vocals, Daniel Oliver on bass, Mark Vollelunga on guitar, and Paul OBrien on drums; these guys have the maturity and determination of men twice their age. Kicking off the evening with “Copyright Christ,” they were emphatic and energetic from the get-go. Going into their latest single, “Mr. MTV,” followed by their tremendous mainstream breakthrough, “This Is The Time (Ballast),” their set concluded with an older rendition of their song “Salem.” Unifying for a three man bass solo, everyone was taken by the intensity as Hawkins and Vollelunga joined Oliver to shred and entertain the crowd with amazing instrumentation. These guys certainly know how to rev up a crowd regardless of the time restrictions placed upon them.
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Next to the stage were fellow Texans Hellyeah. Consisting of vocalist Chad Gray of Mudvayne, guitarist Tom Maxwell of Nothingface, drummer Vinnie Paul of Pantera, and newest member bassist Kyle Sanders, what was once thought as a supergroup side project has become a mainstay in Rock. Maxing their biggest statement to date with 2014’s Blood For Blood, the band is looking to show everyone they mean business. Opening up with fan-favorite “Hellyeah!,” off of their 2007 self-titled album, everyone was chanting, sharing in the thrill of the music. Playing on with songs like “Sangre por Sangre (Blood for Blood)” and “Cross to Bier (Cradle of Bones),” Hellyeah sounded heavy, rough and was welcomed by the fans as they mixed in some older pieces, closing with “You Wouldn’t Know.” Gray’s voice is still one of the more unique in Hard Rock/Metal and the chemistry this band shares on stage is spectacular. With that said, Hellyeah was justifiable direct support for Volbeat and Five Finger Death Punch.
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With two solid opening acts already, the time had come for Danish Metal stars Volbeat. By far rising to heights unforeseen, Volbeat continue to climb the ladder of success while remaining true to their eclectic blend of Rock music art forms. Becoming used to headlining one packed venue after another, their humble fan-friendly philosophy still reigns supreme. Showing they know how to command a stage and keep the interest of their followers, nothing about their set was ordinary. Showering the audience with one sing-along track after another with “Doc Holliday,” “16 Dollars,” and “Dead but Rising,” to name just a few, Volbeat was an unstoppable force. Paying homage to the history of Rock-N-Roll, their heavy but dynamic cover of Dusty Springfield’s classic “I Only Want To Be With You” brought smiles to faces and shows that timeless music never grows old.
Moving along in their performance, frontman Michael Poulsen noticed a young fan off to the side of the arena and between songs stopped to ask how old he was, to which he replied he was eleven years old. Poulsen told him to stay where he was because during the next song he would crowd surf over with a t-shirt for him because he, like all of the young children at the show, are the future of Metal. Staying true to his word, Poulsen did just that and it was such a genuine action that no doubt secured a fan for life. Keeping the excitement coming, the announcement that Punk Rock legend Jerry Only of the Misfits would be joining Volbeat on stage for “Angelfuck,” causing pure pandemonium on the floor. Cheers erupted as Only rocked out with the band and this simply made the noise level that much louder for the remainder of Volbeat’s set. Once again, the focus shifted back to the younger generations, inviting the youth in attendance to join them onstage for their song “Pool of Booze, Booze, Booze,” which they cleverly and fittingly amended to “pool of chocolate.” Provoking laughter and joy, they wrapped things up with “Still Counting,” which was an incredible way to end a phenomenal set. Volbeat is without a doubt one of the most unique Metal bands in modern times and a treasure for all generations to check out live.
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Peaking enthusiasm thus far, the night was far from over as one of Metal’s most dominant forces, Five Finger Death Punch, was set to take the stage next. Certainly having a great deal to live up to after the bands before them, Five Finger Death Punch have never been one to back down from any challenge throughout their careers. Once seen as an underdog in Metal, their 2007 debut The Way of The Fist conjured a tidal-wave of success that still hits the shores with such force it is difficult to see it dissipating anytime soon. Releasing two studio albums in 2013 alone merely ramped up their buzz and this Upstate New York crowd were ready to roar awaiting their entry.
Enthralling the crowd from the very first note, they kicked off their set with the ever popular “Under and Over It.” Led by the adrenaline rush of Ivan Moody’s screams and amplified singing, Five Finger Death punch was full of personality and charisma all the way through. Marking the halfway point, the band played Bad Company classic rocker “Bad Company,” but not before recognizing and thanking every member of the audience that currently serves or has served the United States Military. Resonating through the audience and sending chills down spines, it was a wonderful sign of respect for the men and women who have sacrificed so much so people can gather at concerts like these.
Also putting a high value on the future of Metal, the band brought the younger audience members on stage once again to recognize them and encourage their love for the music with the song “Burn MF.” While perhaps not the most child-friendly song, it was a heated and riveting moment for those who came up to stand next to the band. Looking to capture the attention of the older members of the crowd, toward the end of the song Moody had older members of the audience screaming along to the main chorus line at which time he directed all of the younger members on stage to cover their ears with “earmuffs.” Taking a moment to breath and allow drummer Jeremy Spencer to shine with a rapid speed drum solo, everyone cheered more in appreciation for the skill and timely hits he brought. Moving on with songs like frustration releasing “Never Enough,” the set seemed to be coming to an end with “Here to Die.” Of course this simply was not enough for this crowd as everyone anxiously chanted for an encore which saw Moody appear for a show-stopping a capella performance of “Far From Home” with crowd participation. Emotional and inspiring, the evening came to a fast, heavy close with “The Way of the Fist” and “The Bleeding.” Five Finger Death Punch prove time and time again why they are one of the leaders in Metal. With tremendous performances by all four bands, the evening demonstrated that Metal is certainly not going anywhere with the presence and encouragement of the younger generations.