Words by Jordan Buford – Photos by James Villa
Tuesday, August 16th, 2016 – The Bomb Factory
As early as seven in the evening the extremely spacious venue was packed as Black Wizard kicked things off; and Killswitch Engage masqueraded as the band of the night, a few thousand people watching them intently as they delivered an impressive set. Once they were done, no one left, though more patrons found places to squeeze in as they eagerly awaited the headliner, Volbeat.
It had been a long fifteen months since they were last in the North Texas area, and their legion of loyal fans were ready for this, the fact that it was a weeknight being irrelevant to them.
During that last major tour in the U.S., the Danish metal band had been offering a glimpse of new music, giving fans a taste of what would wind up on the recently released Seal the Deal & Let’s Boogie. The then unknown (and unfinished) song was called “The Devil’s Bleeding Crown”; and quite fittingly, that was the very song that kicked things off this night.
A banner with the band’s name on it dropped a few seconds into it, the fans cheering and applauding as they saw the quartet, who were already on fire despite having only just begun. That worked as a wonderful opener, the first single that was released from the new album being one everyone is now quite familiar with, and indeed, it had plenty singing along as it set a fiery tone for the night.
Their would be a decent helping of other new tracks to come, but an intriguing medley of “Heaven nor Hell”, “A Warrior’s Call”, and “I Only Want to Be with You” pretty much solidified their hold on everybody.
Michael Poulsen moved down the line, going to the microphone on stage right to sing much of that first one, spending time at the center mic during the next, and that cover found him all the way on stage left. As mentioned, it was a medley, with incomplete versions of those songs, though they did do the bulk of each original, and that was satisfactory for fans. Honestly, it didn’t feel as if you were missing out on much; the flawless transitions and rapid-fire pace only making those two hits sound more bold.
A couple songs later and they struck with “Lola Montez”, and that was the final nail in the coffin. Poulsen and company had everyone’s complete attention, to the point no one could have pulled themselves away even if they wanted to. He turned things over to the spectators who sang the first few lines of the song perfectly and with feeling, the response having him beaming.
He and Rob Caggiano each got to show off their chops on the guitar, particularly the latter as he wailed on his axe, embellishing some of the parts that are heard on the recording of that fan favorite. He made them sound all the more stupendous as they continued going full throttle, roaming and darting about the stage and just being merciless with the delivery of the music.
New tracks and beloved favorites were spaced out pretty evenly for the duration of the night, “The Gates of Babylon” being one of the standouts from Seal the Deal & Let’s Boogie, while the amazingly up-tempo “16 Dollars” had fans pumping their fists in the air and just rocking out.
A well-oiled machine, Volbeat continued to dominate, Poulsen, Caggiano, drummer Jon Larsen, and bassist Kaspar Boye Larsen (the newest member of the group) displaying a level of chemistry that most bands would be envious of as they tore through their set, the depth of their bond only becoming more noticeable as they progressed.
Perhaps the most sentimental song of the night was “Goodbye Forever”, the song about noticing the good in life and embracing it beginning with Poulsen stating the world was losing some great people for “stupid reasons”, something he just wished would stop.
That came towards the end of their hour long set, the fans essentially demanding more before they came back for a few more. The encore was half new and half old; the epic intro that “Doc Holliday” boasts guaranteed it was a favorite this night, while the song that was the inspiration for the new record’s title, “Seal the Deal”, sounded even better than anyone could have anticipated. Hopefully, it will stick around in the set lists for some time to come.
The coolest moment of the night had been saved for last.
There were a few people there that had turned the show into a family affair, bringing their young kids along with them, and before their closing number Poulsen was adamant about wanting to see the next generation of heavy metal and hard rock, as he welcomed every child in attendance to join them. A dozen or so (perhaps a little more) took him up on the offer, standing a little in front of the drum kit for “Still Counting”.
The audience went crazy upon hearing what was coming, and when asked to sing it, they did not disappoint the band they all held in such high regard. Everyone sang much of the first verse in perfect unison, needing no guidance whatsoever; and then Poulsen picked it up right from the start as they began to wrap up the show in epic fashion, making certain everyone walked out in awe.
Volbeat’s a force to beckoned with, there’s no denying that and it has been true for a while. However, this night, they came across as being a different band from the last time I had seen them. Somehow, they’ve become even more polished, even managing to outdo themselves. On top of that they made the new stuff feel as if it had been a part of the shows for years.
Their intent and determination to give the most powerhouse and commanding performance that they could was evident and they did not fall short. They incorporated enough dialogue to build a rapport with their fans and express how grateful they were to them for all the support, but it was never long enough to allow their fire to cool, staying in the zone and to put it simply, just owning it.
Volbeat is highly unique in regards to their sound, the mix of metal, hard rock, and psychobilly being unlike anything out there, and the same can be said of their performance, which is on a level few can match. Honestly, I doubt many bands, with the exception of arena-sized acts, could pack out a venue of this scale on a weeknight and have their fans treating it more as a Saturday night rock show.
That’s just the magic of Volbeat, and hopefully it won’t be too long before Dallas gets another dose of it.
The Devil’s Bleeding Crown
Heaven nor Hell / A Warrior’s Call / I Only Want to Be with You
Sad Man’s Tongue
The Gates of Babylon
Dead but Rising
Guitar Gangsters & Cadillac Blood
The Mirror and the Ripper
Seal the Deal