Although there is a thriving underground scene in Leicester, it is something of a forgotten city when it comes to larger acts (although, with Uprising on the way, this will hopefully change). With few exceptions (Motorhead regularly played here), the majority of bands prefer to head to Nottingham or Birmingham, despite the presence of an O2 academy at the student’s union. It’s a shame because, as last night’s packed Trivium show demonstrated, there is clearly a thirst for metal shows here in the heart of the East Midlands. On Trivium’s part, this UK tour is a brave move, taking in venues from Lincoln to Leicester that are off the regular path for major international acts. It’s a gamble, but one that has paid off, with fans giddy at the chance to see the band without having to travel for hours to get to one of the regular gig circuit cities. With reports of the tour having been absolutely mental and with two awesome support bands along for the ride, the audience in Leicester were loud and demonstrative from the moment opening act As Lions took to the stage and energy levels remained high throughout.
With Rise to the Remain now in the land of the departed, Austin Dickinson wasted no time in raising a new band, As Lions, to give his impressive vocal talents an outlet. From the moment the band exploded on to the stage, the crowd went nuts, helped no end by Austin and his cohort’s impressive command of the stage. Despite being the new blood on the stage, the band knew how to work a crowd of this size (with the venue filling continuously throughout the set) and songs like ‘White Flags’ and the crushing ‘Great escape’ demonstrated that As Lions have both power and melody in spades. A highlight came when Austin got the audience linking arms and an impressive, venue-wide spate of head banging broke out. A short set, but a damn good one, As Lions left the stage as heroes and it’s easy to see why the band are making significant waves at the moment, with an appearance at Download set to send their profile soaring ever higher in the summer.
The last time SonicAbuse saw Heart Of A Coward, it was in the tiny bar at Nottingham’s Rock City, supporting Thy Art Is Murder. At the time we suggested that the band’s impressive set (drawn from the ‘severance’ album) promised big things for the future and it was heartening to see the band playing an infinitely bigger stage this time. Clearly having grown in experience and musicianship, Heart of a Coward put on a show that was both breathtakingly tight and impressively entertaining. Frontman Jamie Graham is a dangerous creature, and he prowled the stage with a menacing stare and a voice that drew parallels with Randy Blythe. More to the point, Jamie’s ability to whip the crowd to new peaks was impressive. The heaviest band on the bill, Heart of a coward drew heavily from excellent new album ‘deliverance’, the band spitting out ‘Miscreation’ and ‘Turmoil Part 1 – Wolves’ with unerring brutality. The audience went completely apeshit over the airing of the band’s first ever single, ‘shame’, but, for this writer, the highlight was set closer ‘Deadweight’ which left the entire pit broken and mangled. Sadly, it was the last night of the tour for Heart of a Coward, but the good news is that the band are now off on a tour of Europe with Decapitated where they deserve every success. Heart of a Coward are band whose blistering power, intelligence and depth will, with any justice, see them headlining shows of this size soon.
After two support acts of such quality, some bands could be forgiven a touch of trepidation, but nerves just don’t seem to be part of Trivium’s lexicon. As the stage crew moved deftly around, they unveiled a stage set that recalled Iron Maiden’s grand tours of the eighties, with two huge skull masks flanking a drum riser made up to look like a medieval battlement. With the venue packed to breaking point and Iron maiden blaring from the PA, expectation hung heavy in the air and the cheer that greeted the arrival of Trivium on stage damn near overpowered the intro music. Whilst Trivium’s albums are varied enough that every fan will have their own favourite, on stage they’re a dead cert, the sort of band with the confidence, the stage presence and the back catalogue to headline with ease. Opening with ‘Silence in the snow’, the audience responded with brutal enthusiasm and the show got off to a flying start. Despite promoting new album ‘silence in the snow’, just four tracks are aired from that album, whilst ‘Shogun’ received equal attention alongside a series of album highlights that sent the audience ever further down the path to madness. ‘Into the mouth of hell we march’ sounded as monstrous as ever whilst ‘built to fall’ and ‘like light to the flies’ flew past in a heartbeat, Matt doing everything possible to incite the crowd to spontaneous combustion between tracks. New songs slotted perfectly into the set as if they’d always been there and when the band followed up the mighty ‘Insurrection’ (from ‘Shogun’) with the pounding might of ‘dead and gone’, enough hair flew in the mosh pit to suggest that future gigs should come with a whiplash warning.
However, as good as the main body of the set was, the real highlights were saved for the end. The majestic ‘down from the sky’ provided a much needed moment of (comparative) respite, whilst Jamie Graham made a brutal return to sing lead vocals on ‘Pull harder on the strings of your martyr’, his crystalline roar tearing holes through the venue as Matt took advantage of the break to roam the stage causing spontaneous bouts of head banging to break out wherever he went. Far from looking nervous in the presence of the headliners, Jamie owned the stage for that brief moment, causing latecomers to rue having missed Heart of a Coward’s devastating performance. Trivium weren’t finished with us, of course, and, following a brief drum solo from impressive newcomer Paul Wandtke, the band returned to lay waste to the audience with ‘In waves’. The perfect set closer, it saw the audience file out like zombies, all energy levels depleted after a lengthy set that never once dipped in energy or power.
Trivium are a band who have evolved considerably since they first emerged with ‘Ember to inferno’ way back in 2003. In that time, they have toured with some of the largest names on the planet, treating each show not only as an event but also as a learning process. The band have been bona fide headliners for some time now and they have only gotten better, with the theatrical production and audience interaction having reached new peaks on the current tour. With vocals on point throughout, a set list of highlights from across the band’s seven studio albums to date and an explosive crowd, there is no doubt that Trivium left a devastated Leicester behind them and we can only hope that more band’s will follow their example and bring the show to fans who have been side-lined for far too long.
Amazing live photography – Jola Stiles