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AVENGED SEVENFOLD In Cleveland, OH With Photos!

By Geoff Ketler, Cleveland Contributor
Wednesday, March 13, 2024 @ 8:50 AM


The "Life Is But A Dream...Tour" Rolls Through The Midwest

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All Photos By Geoff Ketler/Aces High Photography

It was both surprising and exciting to see that Cleveland was included on the upcoming batch of dates dropped by the Huntington Beach quintet last fall. AVENGED SEVENFOLD plays by their own rules - writing, recording, touring, and going on hiatus whenever they see fit. The group has reached that certain point of stardom to be able to command that kind of respect and authority. The same can be said about the natural evolution of the band musically, which has now likely reached its furthest departure yet, with 2023's Life Is But A Dream.... But is it really a departure? A departure from what exactly? You could argue that since 2003's Waking The Fallen, AVENGED SEVENFOLD has made a career out of departures and pushing the sonic envelop, rather than confining their collective musical talents to a small box of genres and fan bases. Always expect the unexpected when it comes to AVENGED SEVENFOLD. Support on this run of dates reflected that eclectic artistic appeal as well.

Bringing out a DJ on tour as support has started to become more and more common these days. Look at the positives - less equipment, time, money, people, tear-down, quicker setup and so on. I get it. It is the condensed soup version of a support band. Look, I could go on and on about how DJs are not really musicians - about how they make a living sampling other peoples' music, but that would be a waste of everyone's time (like a DJ at a rock show). Anyway, SULLIVAN KING "performed" a spirited set like a hype man at a pregame stage outside a stadium. It was tiring. It felt like we were constantly about to reach a climax that never comes (see what I did there). By the time he was wrapping things up, the GA floor of the arena was beginning to swell to maybe half capacity. Some folks seemed to enjoy it and that's just fine, but it wasn't for me.

Up next was the YouTuber/Influencer turned musician, POPPY. The scantily-clad Moriah Rose Pereira pranced out on stage in combat boots and underwear with an almost robotic, soft voice and the occasional scream sprinkled in for good measure. Flanked by a guitarist and a drummer (no bass player) and supported by layers of backing tracks full of synth, vocal harmonies and effects, POPPY's set was fairly well-received. POPPY did not allow any photographers, so you will have to just take my word for it or fire up Google and see for yourself. I understand the irony, but it just seems so cliche - tiny, young, squeaky girl whispering lyrics to a dense, heavy metal facade of riffs and bass. It has been done before, but I will admit that some of the material is quite catchy. I especially enjoyed "I Disagree" and "Concrete". The guitarist fought pedal issues throughout most of the set and Moriah rarely addresses the audience, instead utilizing pre-recorded samples from her YouTube channel as if to never break character. Odd, unsettling, maybe even uncomfortable at times, call it what you will, but it was entertaining and I would be willing to bet that that was the intended effect.

Setlist:

  • "BLOODMONEY"
  • "Church Outfit"
  • "Bite Your Teeth"
  • "I Disagree"
  • "X"
  • "Hard"
  • "Sit/Stay"
  • "V.A.N." (BAD OMENS cover)
  • "Fill The Crown"
  • "Anything Like Me"
  • "Scary Mask"
  • "Concrete"
With the lights down and vocalist M Shadowsseated in a chair, center-stage, donning a ski mask, AVENGED SEVENFOLD erupted into "Game Over" - the lead track off of the aforementioned Life Is But A Dream... It is a chaotic opening that leaves you trying to catch your breath, but not in a messy way - there is balance.

"As it may." The 6-foot-tall stage and over-saturated back-lit reds and blues made this a challenging show to photograph, but I did what I could with my time in the pit. Drummer Brooks Wackerman was there I promise, although I could not see him from my vantage point to grab any images to share with you all. The gap between album cycles seemed to do the group some good. It had been several years since my last AVENGED SEVENFOLD encounter, but they looked refreshed and full of energy, especially M Shadows, who has taken some criticism over the years for his voice and has battled vocal issues in the past. I am happy to report that he sounded fantastic; almost too good. He has definitely put in the time to care for his voice and work on his craft. Likewise, Johnny, Gates, and Zacky all looked like they were having the time of their lives up there. Production was sufficient, but not over-the-top. Large video panels served as the backdrop and there were taller step-ups in the wings of the stage where Zacky Vengeance and Synyster Gates would often retreat for backing vocal duties.

"I've smelled the plastic daisies."

Life Is But A Dream... definitely showcases the group's diverse musical range and theyare able to back it up in the live setting. The new album was well represented in the set, making up a third of the songs performed. The more I hear the new record, the more it grows on me. It is heavy and deep both sonically and lyrically. Having been inspired by the French philosopher Albert Camus, the band delves into absurdism and existentialism. It is provocative, questioning, and unapologetic. Songs like "Nobody" strikes a chord within me that is hard to explain. AVENGED SEVENFOLD can never be accused of being shallow or superficial, that's for certain. "Blinded In Chains" was a welcomed deep-cut that was dedicated to one of the band's former producers, Fred Archambault, who was in the crowd that night in Cleveland. Like I mentioned before, AVENGED SEVENFOLD plays by their own rules, so oddly enough the night concluded with "Cosmic" off of the new record. It is not exactly your quintessential, bombastic closer or a fan favorite (yet), but it is the season to come in like a lion and out like a lamb, so in that regard, it is fitting I suppose.

"Take some time for yourself and just let it go." - M Shadows

Overall, the band sounded tight and the diverse set presented just enough oldies but goodies to keep all fans interested. Led by the strong vocals of M. Shadows and dueling leads of Zacky and Syn, AVENGED SEVENFOLD is here to stay. Part 3 of the Life Is But A Dream... Tour rolls on through the end of the month before AVENGED SEVENFOLD heads to Europe for the summer festival season.

Setlist:

  • "Game Over"
  • "Mattel"
  • "Afterlife"
  • "Hail To The King"
  • "We Love You"
  • "Shepherd Of Fire"
  • "The Stage"
  • "Roman Sky"
  • "Blinded In Chains"
  • "Bat Country"
  • "Nobody"
  • "Nightmare"
  • "Unholy Confessions"
  • "Save Me"
  • "Cosmic"
Check out some more photos from the show!
All Photos By Geoff Ketler/Aces High Photography


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