Monday, Oct. 28, 2013 | 10:01 p.m.
A lot of rockers like to talk fire and brimstone, but Avenged Sevenfold can make a full production out of the idea. A7X closed out the U.S. leg of their tour at Mandalay Bay Events Center on Saturday night with red-hot pyrotechnics, a massive skeleton and an arena-worthy performance marred only by occasionally muddled sound.
You have to give the band credit for consistently charming the crowd and keeping the energy high throughout the 100-minute setlist. Frontman M. Shadows seemed to love the audience as much as they loved him, thanking fans from the band’s “second home” of Las Vegas for seeing them on a weekend filled with many heavy-hitter bands in town and giving props to Las Vegas’ ability to mosh.
The band’s production is equally satisfying: Flames spewed from every possible angle in front of a brick castle facade. “Hail to the King” would reveal a giant, regal skeleton bursting through the castle gates, itself spewing even more flames from its batlike wings. The pyromania wasn’t even limited to the band: There was a legitimate lighters-in-the-air moment in “Buried Alive.”
The group’s sound seemed to suffer in some of the more frantic or layered moments – particularly in “Afterlife,” which is a bit of both — individual guitars being difficult to pick out and the backing vocals, likewise, taking a hit. A late-show jam session post-“Afterlife” was fun but strayed close to overstaying its welcome.
They luckily picked up the pace with “Requiem” and the crowd-pleasing “Bat Country,” which had the crowd swaying along to the more melodic parts and some of the band’s best onstage antics: Think bassist Johnny Christ giving bunny ears to guitarists Zacky Vengeance and Synyster Gates during a harmonized guitar duet.
Arena-scale show or not, this is a group that has as much fun playing together as ever. And that’s worth more than any high-end production effect.
The Deftones and Ghost BC
A7X’s supporting acts were a varied bunch, with theatrical Swedish group Ghost BC opening, followed by a set from Sacramento’s experimental metalers The Deftones.
The latter played a satisfying set of longtime favorites (“My Own Summer (Shove It),” “Diamond Eyes”) and well-received “new stuff” from their latest release, “Koi No Yokan.”
Vocalist Chino Moreno does a good-enough job at the haunting croons and inhuman screeches he’s known for, although his range these days doesn’t quite nail everything live. Then again, it’s hardly a detriment considering his stamina onstage.
Set-closer “7 Words” was especially a crowd-pleaser, bringing out energy from the audience and a kinetic Moreno, who was leaping up and down and around the stage for most of the set with an enthusiasm not just reserved for music videos.
Even without the aid of set pieces, Ghost BC is a novel act. Anonymous frontman Papa Emeritus II performs in a ghastly skull mask and the vestments of a Catholic cardinal backed by the band of Nameless Ghouls in pitch-black robes, hoods and masks.
It’s generally more moody than goofy, with Emeritus’ clean vocals and the band’s non-overdriven guitars making for something of a harder-edged, blasphemous Blue Oyster Cult show.
The group’s melodies are catchy and sway-worthy, even when the words themselves fall on the sinister side. Emeritus puts in a few instances of dry humor in between numbers – this wasn’t a set of oh-so-serious metal, but a bit of fun with a dark edge.
Thanks to Bryan Haraway for his photo gallery of A7X and Ghost BC.
Jorge Labrador is the news assistant for Las Vegas Magazine, a sister publication of Las Vegas Sun.