Where: O2 Academy Islington
Back at the Islington for another night of metal and tonight representing the Swedish metal scene are Gothenburg based bands, The Last Band and headlining act Avatar.
First up tonight were The Last Band, making there debut in both London and England. While unknown to most of the crowd they certainly left a great impression. It’s always hard for a band to play to a new crowd who don’t necessarily know the music, but great music and a charismatic band will always win over a crowd. Combining some groove laden riffs with some punk and hardcore, and a sprinkling of metalcore, it wasn’t long before the crowd were moving to the music. We were treated to a great selection of songs from their recently released album, The Fall, which is well worth checking out. It was clear the band were enjoying playing to a fresh crowd of music lovers in London. By the end of their set the whole crowd were won over. The band also deserve praise for manning their merch stand after their set to talk to new fans. Even during Avatar’s set they were still chatting to their new fans and friends. A band worth keeping an eye out for on future visits to the U.K.
After a quick interval and bar run it was time for the main event. Before the band had even started playing you could tell it was going to be an interesting show, with a backdrop covered in yellow and red trees, and four yellow and red flags on stage. A red and yellow striped curtain was then carried onto stage by men in red waistcoats and hung in the centre of the stage, looking like small tent, all to the sound of folk music. Very mysterious…
For those not familiar, Avatar have a very strong carnival and circus theme. The band describe themselves as A dark, twisted circus sideshow that’s built around bombastically grooving melodic death n’ roll’. With the current stage setup and what was about to ensue it couldn’t be more accurate.
The two men who bought out the striped curtain then reappeared carrying a bunch of cables. It took a few seconds to realise this was the start of the show and the theatrics had begun. Wandering the stage as if trying to plug the electricity in a bright light starts to flash from the side of stage. After a small black out the lights switch on, the curtain in the centre of the stage is pulled down and standing in a jet of smoke is front man Johannes in full carnival gear and makeup. The band kicked in with ‘For the Swarm’, followed by fan favourites, ‘Hail the Apocalypse‘ and ‘Torn Apart‘.
Having a theme for a band can go two ways. It will either fall apart and come across as cheesy or cliché, but it can go the other way and become part of the identity of the band, bringing them into a world of their own. In the case of Avatar, the thematic elements are part of the band and not merely tacked on. The stage show, stage costumes and props all perfectly reflected and complemented the quirky nature of the band and the music. Be it Johannes drinking from a petrol can, coming out dressed as black and white Pierrot clown, or carry a handful of red and yellow helium balloons, it all worked seamlessly. To top it off they even had the band name rigged up in carnival lights which was hoisted up from the back of the stage on pulleys in theatrical fashion. Everything about their show had been thought through meticulously and pulled off brilliantly. London even got to hear a live debut for the song ‘When the Snow Lies Red‘ from the most recent album, Feathers and Flesh.
Avatar are a rare gem of a band and won’t disappoint live. What you hear on the records is what you get at the show. It’ll be interesting to see them develop further over the coming years. All the pieces are there, it’s just a case of watching them grow.