Some of the bands covered here.

Some of the bands covered here.

Saturday, January 20, 2018

Avenged Sevenfold

Breaking Benjamin
Bullet For My Valentine
Van Andel Arena
Grand Rapids, Michigan

This past Sunday, January 14th, people braved the frigid single digit wind chills while waiting in line at Van Andel Arena anxiously awaiting entry to see Avenged Sevenfold, Breaking Benjamin and Bullet For My Valentine.  Van Andel Arena security was very helpful and friendly to patrons entering to see the show.  My assistant and I exchanged concert stories with some of the security while waiting for press.

While we were waiting, one song came to mind that I wanted to experience live was “So Far Away” by Avenged Sevenfold.  The reason is that this song was dedicated to Jimmy “The Rev.” Sullivan.  This song is one of two that inspired me to start a musicians memorial song called “Here’s To The Fallen But Not Forgotten.”  

The other song that inspired me was “In This River” by Black Label Society that was dedicated to Darrell Lance Abbott.  I hold both of these songs dear to my heart because both musicians meant so much to the metal world and to me.

Bullet For My Valentine:  The band consists of Matthew Tuck on lead vocals/rhythm guitar, Michael Paget on lead guitar/backing vocals, Jason Bowld on drums, and Jamie Mathias on bass.  The band was founded in 2005 and their hometown is Bridgend, Wales.  My favorite songs by the band are titled “You Want A Battle ( Here’s A War)” and “Your Betrayal”.  Through the years the band has produced five albums “Venom” in 2015, “Temper Temper” in 2013, “Fever” in 2010, “Scream Aim Fire” in 2008 and “The Poison” in 2005.

The hardest job for the opening band is to get the crowd energized and keep that energy until the next band comes on.  Bullet For My Valentine ignited the crowd and melted their faces off.  A job well done from an old school metalhead’s point of view.

Bullet For My Valentine setlist:
  1. Your Betrayal
  2. No Way Out
  3. The Last Fight
  4. Four Words (To Choke Upon)
  5. You Want A Battle (Here’s A War)
  6. Venom
  7. Waking The Demon
  8. Tears Don’t Fall
  9. Don’t Need You

Bullet For My Valentine tour dates:

Breaking Benjamin:  The band consists of Benjamin Burnley on vocals/guitar, Aaron Bruch on bass/backing vocals, Shaun Foist on drums, Jason Rauch on guitar, and Keith Wallen on guitar/backing vocals.  The band was founded in 1999.  The band is soon to release their sixth studio album titled “Ember”, the fifth was titled “Dark Before Dawn”, the fourth titled “Dear Agony”, the third is titled “Phobia”, the second titled “We Are Not Alone” and the first was titled “Saturate”.

My favorite songs by the band are titled “I Will Not Bow”, “So Cold”, “Never Again” and “The Diary Of Jane”.  Breaking Benjamin sounded better live than recorded.  They made the crowd go wild playing their most popular songs listed below.

Breaking Benjamin made the concert fun when they played the eighth song on the setlist which was a mixture of songs.  This song was a mixture of the Star Wars “Imperial March”, Tool’s song “Schism”, Nirvana’s song “Smells Like Teen Spirit” and my all time favorite metal band Pantera song “Walk”.  While watching Breaking Benjamin perform I was thinking about what the new album titled “Ember” has in store for 2018.  

One thing I like about Breaking Benjamin is that the music draws you in with smooth vocals and music and then slams you around with hard rock and metal growls and music.  I visualise going uphill on a sonic roller coaster then you make it to the top then it’s a sonic thrill ride down hill.  This band draws you in to have a good time and forget about your everyday worries and forget what time it is because you there and it doesn’t matter.

Breaking Benjamin setlist:
  1. So Cold
  2. Angels Fall
  3. Sooner Or Later
  4. Blow Me Away
  5. Never Again
  6. Failure
  7. Breath
  8. Imperial March / Schism / Smells Like Teen Spirit / Walk
  9. Until The End
  10. I Will Not Bow
  11. The Diary Of Jane

Breaking Benjamin tour date:

Avenged Sevenfold:  The band is made up of M. Shadows on vocals, Synyster Gates on lead guitar, Zacky Vengeance on guitar, Johnny Christ on bass, and Brooks Wackerman on drums.  The band was formed in 1999 and their hometown is Huntington Beach, California.  I have to say I have a great new found respect for M. Shadows, Avenged Sevenfold, and Van Andel Arena security.  During the show there were multiple mosh pits formed in the standing general admission areas and people had a great time without a problem.

When a fight broke out in about the center of all the standing area.  M. Shadows and the band stopped the show and the lights came on and security got to the people that were fighting.  M. Shadows said, “you guys stop fighting, we are all here to have a good time.  Why don’t you guys go home and take a hot salty bath and get moist.”  

The band is on tour supporting their album titled “The Stage” released in 2016.  Avenged Sevenfold has seven studio albums “Sounding The Seventh Trumpet”, “Waking The Fallen”, “City Of Evil”, “Avenged Sevenfold”, “Nightmare”, “Hail To The King” and “The Stage”.  

I enjoy metal from each of the albums but my all time favorite that I feel is a masterpiece is titled “So Far Away” I feel it is a masterpiece like many others “Hail To The King” would be next and many more but the most important to mention is “So Far Away” dedicated to Jimmy “The Rev.” Sullivan.  When “So Far Away” was played, the big screens in the background shared pictures of Jimmy “The Rev.” Sullivan throughout the year in loving memory of him.  This was a moment in time that stood still for me and many others.

People throughout the crowd lit lighters or turned on the lights on their phones in honor of him.  M. Shadows reminded people to not take for granted how precious time with friends and loved ones is.  You never know how long you or they have.  My favorite saying is “every day above ground is a good day and life is a gift.” This is why I always tell my family I love them before I go to work or to bed.

The large screens were the best  that I have ever seen throughout the years and concert coverage.  My assistant agreed that the screens, set the show off and the other thing was the big spaceman shown in the pictures.

Avenged Sevenfold setlist:
  1. The Stage
  2. Afterlife
  3. Hail To The King
  4. Paradigm
  5. Beast And The Harlot
  6. Buried Alive
  7. So Far Away
  8. Nightmare
  9. God Damn
  10. Burn It Down
  11. Exist
  12. Higher
  13. Wish You Were Here (Pink Floyd cover)
  14. Bat Country
  15. Critical Acclaim (encore)
  16. A Little Piece Of Heaven (encore)
  17. Unholy Confessions (encore)  

Avenged Sevenfold tour dates:
I would like to say that all three bands were well worth seeing and covering and would do it again and again because of the great music  experience they and the venue helped create.  All the bands passed the true test captivating the crowd and make them forget about everyday worries and have a great time. The venue had great sound quality that is craved by many bands and some have recorded live at the Van Andel Arena because of this.

Please note that all the photos of Bullet For My Valentine, some of Breaking Benjamin and all photos of Avenged Sevenfold are from a point and click camera.

By Dan Spratt (reporter) Dave Geisler (assistant) Kayla Spratt (editor)

Sources of information:

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