Volbeat – Live Review From O2 Academy Islington, London, May 21st 2022

Volbeat captured by Nick Allan

Festival season is almost upon us. Across the board, we’ve seen more bands wanting to play warmup shows before hitting those bigger stages. With a Sunday slot on the main stage of Download awaiting them, VOLBEAT made a stop at Islington’s o2 Academy on their Servant Of The Road tour.

It may have seemed odd to put a death metal band on the same bill as Volbeat. An idea which was a lost on many people. The packed-out Academy gave Birmingham’s BENEDICTION (6) a warm welcome nonetheless, ready for some good ol’ fashioned carnage.

Though Benediction have been an active unit since 1989, there were many faces in the crowd who weren’t knowing what to expect. “We’re about to ruin the evening” came the gruff voice of vocalist Dave Ingram. What the crowd were met with was a wall of vicious growls and in-your-face-riffs. Though a surprise for some of the crowd, there was a healthy dose of headbanging and cheering.

Breezing through material from across their three-decade discography, Benediction had to maintain the audience’s attention. With songs which began to start similar to each other, the crowd’s interest had begun to wane. Scriptures from their recently released album of the same name managed to draw some back into the fold. However, once interest had faded it was hard to regain it. Even with jokes about songs sounding a bit like a car crash.

Ultimately, being put on the same bill as Volbeat was a double-edged sword for BENEDICTION. The death metal legends were being exposed to an ever-expanding new audience. In doing that however, this seemed like an odd decision considering who was headlining.

The joy of a pre-show playlist is that the audience can have their excitement fuelled during the period where there is no action on the stage. With AC/DC’s Highway To Hell and Motorhead’s Born To Raise Hell blasting through the PA system, the party was well and truly started.

VOLBEAT (8) strode on to the stage with a commanding presence. Michael Poulsen (vocals) stood behind his microphone stand with guitar in hand and led the rabble into The Devil’s Bleeding Crown. It hadn’t taken long for mosh pits to open up and start bouncing to the likes of Pelvis On Fire and the country inspired Sad Man’s Tongue. The way in which they sped through the songs did them a little disservice but there were no complaints from the crowd who wanted to hear more, including the quick rendition of Johnny Cash’s Ring Of Fire.

Though it wasn’t all circle pits and pushing unsuspecting strangers around. Poulsen lead the charge as the crowd sang along to I Only Wanna Be With You and Last Day Under The Sun with utter euphoria. As the audience were eating out of the palm of their hand, the joy on the face of Rob Caggiano (lead guitar) was undeniable. The thrilling chug of Seal The Deal followed by the exuberant heaviness of The Devil Rages On kept the room on tenterhooks. The ability to switch from one tonne of rhythm to the other without any teething problems proved the team of Jon Larsen (drums) and Kaspar Boye Larsen (bass) to be one of the premier rhythm sections in modern music.

In the past, Volbeat have been described as one of the most fun live bands on the active circuit. That assumption was proved correct as the crowd were encouraged to leave their troubles at the door and enjoy some rockabilly infused heavy metal. Leaving the night on the monolithic Still Counting, Volbeat gave the audience everything they wanted and a whole lot more. Pouring out into the sticky night, conversations soon turned to the band’s Download set. If this event’s set was anything to go by, Volbeat visit to Castle Donington should be one to remember.


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