Forget bonfire night, last night in the O2 Academy, Birmingham was a night to remember. Grand Magus, Testament and Amon Amarth. Could anyone even come up with a more awesome or well rounded line-up? I must confess, I was unfortunate enough to miss Grand Magus’ set. I’ve seen them before and loved every second so was pretty gutted to miss that awesome introduction to the night.
When I arrived, Testament (9) had yet to take to the stage but the place was PACKED. I mean there was barely any room to move. The energy in the room was positively pulsing with excitement and the roar that rose up as the lads from Testament took to the stage could probably be heard from a mile away. Utter mayhem would probably be the best way to describe Testament’s set. On this tour they are supporting their latest album ‘Brotherhood Of The Snake’ so much of their setlist was from this, yet most of the crowd seemed the know all the words to every song and were absolutely loving it. I’ve honestly never seen a crazier crowd for a support band in all my years of gigging. When the first riff from ‘Into The Pit’ came over the PA, the crowd went INSANE. Crowd surfers, a massive mosh pit, headbangers, the whole nine yards. The whole crowd was jumping and moving, it was like a thrash gig in the 80’s. Even the people seated on the balcony above the crowd were headbanging and shouting along to the words. Chuck Billy, the vocalist, seemed to be enjoying himself too, egging the crowd on the whole set.
I couldn’t fault Testament’s set. The band were absolutely incredible, still able to play the whole set while full of energy men 20 years their junior would struggle to keep up with. The song choices were pretty good, plenty of support for their new album while still throwing in some old classics that everyone knows. All in all, their set was up there with the best thrash gigs I’ve ever been to, quite easily rivalling Kreator and Exodus. In my opinion, a good gig needs two things, a fantastic set with good sound and energy from the band and an enthusiastic crowd. Testament get a solid 9/10 for both of these. I would definitely recommend seeing this band to anyone who hasn’t already.
About 45 minutes after Testament had left the stage, everyone had finished their cigarettes and buying their pints and were back in front of the stage, waiting not-so-patiently for Amon Amarth (10). The stage was set and the crowd, already hyped from Testament were slowly building up excitement to a fever pitch. Chants of ‘AMON AMARTH!’ began to rise from the crowd and when the band stepped out, they must have thought they’d time travelled into the midst of a Viking battle. It genuinely sounded like a scene from 300, the roar of the crowd was deafening. The lads kicked off the set with one of their most famous songs, ‘Pursuit of Vikings’, which even the newest fans of the band knew.
From this high point, the set just got better and better. Vocalist Johan Hegg kept up banter with the crowd the whole way through and I’ve never seen so many battered and happy faces in a pit in my life. Rather than the normal 10-20 person moshpit surrounded by a head-bobbing crowd, Amon Amarth had the entire room moving. The front 3 lines of the crowd were crushed against eachother but having the time of their lives, headbanging like their lives depended on it. The moshpit was constantly jumping and moving, everybody was having a whale of a time. The setlist was made up of older classics like ‘Death In Fire’, Runes To My Memory’ and ‘Guardians of Asgaard’ while also throwing in some of their newer stuff from their 2016 album ‘Jomsviking’. This stuff also went down a treat, with everyone loving tunes like ‘Raise Your Horns’ and ‘First Kill’. All in all, Amon Amarth’s set was a beer-fuelled viking orgy of metal. Utterly flawless. They also get bonus points for having Viking re-enacters battling on stage. 10/10 would go again. First time ever seeing them, but they’ve been one of my favourite bands since I was about 12 years old and they didn’t disappoint in the slightest.
Do yourselves a favour and go and see Amon Amarth and Testament play Bloodstock Open Air 2017 next August! DO NOT MISS IT!
A full gallery of Amon Amarth’s show in London the night before with Testament and Grand Magus, courtesy of our photographer Fran Dignon is also available so please check it out.