When Avenged Sevenfold unveiled their latest album The Stage almost completely out of nowhere towards the back end of last year, it was both a shocking and bold move. Poorer sales than Hail To The King had people clamouring over each other to say that Avenged Sevenfold were on a downward curve, but looking across a sold out O2 Arena tonight it was clear that, as we'd already been shouting so much, this was absolute nonsense. The band had a giant tour post Hail To The King leading to a headline slot at Download Festival, watching them tonight it was clear how important this period in the band's life has proven to be.
Their headline slot at Download Festival was well received on the whole, but it didn't plough through with the level of impact as Slipknot had with their first time in 2009 - a show they were constantly being compared to for obvious reasons. It's perhaps debatable whether they were even ready to play shows of that magnitude at the time, but one thing is for damn sure, the experience of being at the top over the last few years has bolstered their live show to a point where it's impossible to consider them anything less than a festival headliner. Fact is, whether it's going to be in 2018 or later on, judging by the evidence displayed tonight,the next time Avenged Sevenfold headline Download Festival it could end up being more than triumphant.
After all the fire and gusto of Disturbed just before them, Avenged Sevenfold's stage production initially appeared relatively low key in comparison (it developed a bit later on in the show) but that didn't prevent opening track The Stage being absolutely huge. Again, this was a track which was initially met with mixed reviews even from their most hardcore fans when it was released but in a live environment it became a completely different beast. The opening flurry of tracks included the likes of Chapter Four taken from their hugely popular Waking The Fallen preceded by M. Shadows explaining that tonight they'll be playing tracks from every single album so that there was something for everyone - wise move at shows this size. Whilst most of his stage banter was your standard fare there was a slightly bizarre exchange later on in the show where he teased both Beast And The Harlot and Second Heartbeat before saying they'd decided to actually play those the next night instead. Looking at the set-lists he wasn't lying, but the whole thing drew some confused looks between some sections in the crowd. Either way, the band were absolutely on fire tonight, and looking at reports from the rest of the tour as well, it is clear that they are living within a rich vein of form at the moment.
With Avenged Sevenfold rolling in to London for two huge headline shows at the O2 Arena, the band also set up a very special pop-up store in the heart of Camden Town across the weekend. We had a look in on the Sunday morning after the first show and whilst expected, it was still a surprise to see just how huge the crowds were looking to gain access. Your average Camden market trader was sufficiently confused let's put it that way. Being in Camden we spoke to some of those queuing to go in to the store which was selling all kinds of rare Sevenfold merch as well as regular give-aways throughout the weekend and it was clear instantly that for a band as big as Avenged Sevenfold, this was exactly the kind of thing needed as a way of both interacting and thanking their fans. Friday's attendees were lucky enough to meet members from the band who swung by unannounced, and before closing it's doors on Monday the band also did a previously unscheduled signing session. They've clearly taken inspiration from the likes of Metallica who set up similar events around the release of their latest record, but on the whole it is incredibly refreshing to see a band of this size giving a fuck - and that goes a long way.