Date: November 22nd, 2016
Venue: Voodoo Lounge, Dublin
Line-up: Avatar + The Last Band
While the band had been working away for years with moderate success it was the release of their fourth album Black Waltz that Swedish metallers Avatar began to make a name for themselves. The wide range of musical influences combined with simple and effective beats made them a popular choice among younger fans. A slot as the opener on Avenged Sevenfold’s 2013 arena tour catapulted the bands popularity allowing them now to play shows such as tonight.
Opening the show were country mates The Last Band, a band who thread a fine line between punk and metal. At the heart of it they largely lean towards punk and hard rock with an attitude and swagger but had enough heaviness to keep the metal crowd entertained. The crowd didn’t seem too interested at first, the band was rocking the stage to little effect but as their set went on they really warmed to them and joined in. Rare for a support act, when they had finished up the crowd began to chant for one more song which their vocalist was absolutely taken aback by and was genuinely chuffed, he said that they’d be back to Dublin even if it was only to come back and visit all of our pubs.
Before Avatar took to the stage the lights were turned right down and on the back wall the band’s name lit up as if we were waiting on a musical instead of a metal show. It was then that the four out of five members of the band came out to set the mood with an extended version of ‘For the Swarm’ with frontman Johannes Eckerström then joining in with his schizophrenic vocals. It didn’t take long for the crowd to get warmed up with the band following up with the groovy as hell ‘Hail the Apocalypse’ and ‘Torn Apart’.
While it’s normal for bands to ease listeners into the newer material to gauge their interest this step wasn’t needed in Avatar’s case, with single ‘The Eagle Has Landed’ from their latest album Feathers & Flesh going down a storm along with the crowd singing along to its infectiously catchy chorus. As the night went on I noticed that a large amount of the bands set had been taken from their new album but it just merged so well with their older material. The band had confidence in the material and it showed as they oozed confidence throughout their performance, even choosing to add more new songs to their set with ‘When the Snow Lies Red’ and ‘Sky Burial’.
The main attraction of the band is unarguably frontman Eckerström, while it could already be heard in his near flawless vocal delivery; it was also his charisma and whimsy that really drew people’s attention. It felt like equal parts metal show and cirque du freak. The band all wore theatrical attire and had a circular stand in the middle of the stage, not too dissimilar to one you would generally find in a circus ring. This circus like feeling could be felt all night from the outfits and stage props with it even extending to the merchandise stand set up like an attraction.
After expertly guiding us through a long set of fun and mischief it was nearing the end of the night when the bands trademark track reared its head ‘Smells like a Freakshow’. It’s one that perfectly exemplifies the band and what they’re all about, its driving heavy beat had the floor shaking as the crowd at the front of the stage began to jump up in the air. The band closed with their latest single ‘Night Never Ending’, much more anthemic in nature it lead out the night with a chorus of “whoah’s” from both the crowd and the band.