All hail the 'Lad'

Who in their right mind would have Strapping Young Lad as their support act? A band so explosive and intense that they threaten to upstage any act, even headliners, that appear after them. About four weeks ago I had the fortune to witness their musical barrage in Orlando, Florida where they, quite frankly, blew me away. Not even the sing-a-thon that is Soilwork, or the riffage of Fear Factory could top what was a flawless, entertaining spectacle. Tonight they supported Arch Enemy at the Manchester Academy 2, a come down from the House of Blues, but on reflection I think the result was honours even.

Sensibly sticking to the same set list, which included 'All Hail The New Flesh', 'Love' and 'In The Rainy Season', the 'Lad' took no prisoners, delivering the same nuclear explosive metal I had witnessed a month ago. Drummer Gene Hoglan is a virtual drum machine, effortlessly pounding away at breakneck speed underneath a mass of hair. Guitarist Byron Stroud and Bass player Jed Simon once again synchronised their head banging, but it was Devin who had the attention of the whipped up crowd. He wasn't as rude to them as he was in America; perhaps he has a soft spot for us Brits, who knows. His between song banter is refreshing and witty, he doesn't need to ask the audience to rock or mosh, they're already doing that. His demonic stare was prevalent but, according to Devin, his seven inches of room on stage prevented him from moving about and stalking the front row. Because of this, we saw a Devin on a virtual leash, unable to affect the whole of his stage presence on the crowd. A minor glitch in another superb performance, and this time I ignored his advice to buy a t-shirt because I already have three.