In Flames, While She Sleeps & Wovenwar Live At Shepherds Bush Empire, London, 18th October 2014

With their new album Siren Charms receiving a very mixed response in some quarters, not to mention this being their first London headline show in more than six years, tonight is a very big night for Gothenburg natives In Flames. Did one of the bands who’ve helped inspire countless amongst the current generation of bands still have what it takes in the live setting? Rock Sins went along to The Shepherds Bush Empire to find out.

First up tonight are Wovenwar (7). The reborn As I Lay Dying minus Tim Lambesis plus Oh Sleeper’s Shane Blay leave a very positive impression with their slick half hour long set. Opening number and first single All Rise immediately gets the interest of many who don’t have a clue who the band are and by the closing Prophets they’ve won over most of the rapidly filling room. A definite success for Wovenwar on their first proper UK tour.

>Wovenwar on stage at Shepherds Bush Empire London 2014
Wovenwar: Promising Start

While She Sleeps (8) waste absolutely no time in inciting madness amongst the assembled throng and by the time second song Dead Behind The Eyes is halfway through there are bodies flying everywhere. Vocalist Loz Taylor is on razor sharp vocal form after his well documented throat problems and equally glib between songs, insulting the crowd when the desired response isn’t received in an attempt to light a further fire under Shepherds Bush collective ass.

It succeeds because Seven Hills and the closing Our Courage Our Cancer receive maximum audience participation and While She Sleeps leave to a huge reception, underlining why they’ve become such rising stars over the last 3 years. Anders Friden’s later assertion that WSS are “the best metal band to come out of the UK since Iron Maiden” still needs further proving but performances like tonight only help match the hype.

>While She Sleeps on stage at Shepherds Bush Empire London 2014
While She Sleeps: Making Up For Lost Time

Any previously mentioned fears over In Flames (8.5) were quickly laid to rest within the first few minutes of their set. Along with the now-obligatory almost blinding light show, Anders Friden and co were on top form as they blasted through the first tracks from Siren Charms, In Plain View and Everything’s Gone. One, these songs sound far more impressive live, and two, though the album has had it’s detractors seemingly few were present tonight at the Shepherds Bush Empire as every word was being bellowed back at Anders by the sold out crowd. The remainder of the first half of the performance saw welcome dips into 2011’s Sounds Of A Playground Fading (Fear Is The Weakness and Where The Dead Ships Dwell have never sounded better) along with “a trip into the vaults of In Flames” for Colony’s Resin which proved hugely popular, as did Reroute To Remain’s Trigger.

As enjoyable as the first half was, the second half of the set went up at least a couple of levels. Beginning with “that” intro that signifies the beginning of the one In Flames song that seems to have (deserved) mandatory performance status, Cloud Connected, and continuing into Only For The Weak both the band and crowd became even more united in enjoyment of what was transpiring. The eight minute ambient epic from A Sense of Purpose, The Chosen Pessimist calmed the madness somewhat but was no less enjoyed before the song that introduced In Flames to many in the UK, The Quiet Place, got an absolutely monstrous rendition that had the pit swirling and horns aloft absolutely everywhere. Even the two guys up in the second level balcony who’d been circle headbanging virtually all evening ramped it up and became a blur of hair and fist pumping.

As endings to In Flames shows go, a quick sprint through recent single Rusted Nail (again received rapturously) before the triple punch of The Mirrors Truth, a snarling Deliver Us and the heaviest In Flames song this side of Behind Space, Take This Life, to finish off was hugely enjoyable. There will be a few out there who would bemoan the lack of “older material” but even songs like Cloud Connected are now over a dozen years and six albums old.

The In Flames discography is now so rich and full that it would be impossible to please everyone but tonight’s selection ticks most of the boxes, promoting the new album and mixing up a healthy dose of the old and the new. In Flames may have left some fans behind with the changes in their sound but by the evidence on offer they are picking up far more fans than they are leaving behind, and on tonight’s performance it’s not hard to see why. They remain one of metal’s most impressive and enjoyable live bands. Long may it continue.

The full In Flames Setlist Was

In Plain View
Everything’s Gone
Fear Is the Weakness
Where the Dead Ships Dwell
With Eyes Wide Open
Through Oblivion
Delight and Angers
Cloud Connected
Only for the Weak
The Chosen Pessimist
The Quiet Place
Rusted Nail
The Mirror’s Truth
Deliver Us
Take This Life

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