Orlando, Florida was rocking hard Thursday night with Sixx: AM, Shinedown and Five Finger Death Punch at Amway Center. Fans heady with excitement got treated to a nearly five-hour extravaganza, complete with slick backdrops, pyrotechnics, laser lights and three bands giving it their all.
Before I go further, I need to be upfront about a few things: I missed the opening band As Lions because I was at the Shinedown meet and Greet. I can’t and won’t review a band I haven’t seen. Secondly, any of you who have paid attention to many of my posts over the last year know that I am a Shinedown fanatic (hence the meet and greet). Thirdly, last week I had to have emergency gall bladder surgery. I told my doctors that they better have me out of the hospital by Wednesday, or I’m going to that concert in my hospital bed. (Did I mention fanatic?) And lastly, I promised my family I would take it easy, and not “ride the rail” (stand at the front of the pit against the security rail). I kinda broke that promise – I didn’t quite touch the rail, but I was about two people behind it. In a walker, but I was there. (I said fanatic, right?)
So, was it worth it? Hell yeah!
Sixx: AM was up first, energetic, rockin’ and soulful as they played songs from their latest release, Prayers for the Blessed, their companion piece to this year’s earlier Prayers for the Damned. Lead singer James Michael has a dynamic presence, and he belted out the potent “We Will Not Go Quietly,” their current single. Nikki Sixx is still the man on the guitar who can leave the crowd roaring for more (which he did). Their set was about an hour in length, which went by way too fast – but we did get to hear “Rise,” “Gotta Get It Right,” and “Lies of the Beautiful People.” The band finished the set with my very favorite Sixx: AM song, “Life is Beautiful.”
Shinedown took the stage at a little after 8 pm. This is my third Shinedown show this year (fanatic, remember?) and they never disappoint. The band continually changes out the set list, and what a thrill to hear “How Did You Love” live at last! The show mixes up classic and new, with favorites “Fly From the Inside,” “Diamond Eyes,” “Second Chance” and “Call Me” mixing in with tracks from their current CD, Threat to Survival – “Cut the Cord,” “State of My Head” and of course their current single (Number One on Octane’s Weekly Big ‘Uns list) “How Did You Love.” One of the many things that makes this band special and different is their ability to draw everyone in an arena into the show – whether you’re on the floor, off to the sides or even in the nosebleeds, they want you to know they know you are there. Their love of music and their appreciation for the fans is abundant and crystal clear. Their lyrics are deeply emotional and coupled with Zach Myers on driving guitar, Eric Bass on bass and keys, Barry Kerch on thundering drums and Brent Smith’s soaring vocals the set creates a heady mix the fans just devour. The added pyrotechnics were spectacular (Disney wasn’t the only place with fireworks that night) and added an extra thrill to an already thrilling set.
Five Finger Death Punch finished up the show, with Austin Dickinson (son of Bruce of Iron Maiden) filling in for Ivan Moody, who fell ill a couple of weeks ago along with All That Remains frontman Phil Labonte and Sixx: AM’s James Michael. The performance is spectacular, and in no way any disappointment to fans. This was my first time for 5FDP and I was psyched. The crowd was wild, fists in the air, jamming along to “I Apologize,” “Jekyll and Hyde,” their now classic cover of “Bad Company” and others from their latest release Got Your Six. The heaviest rockers of the show, Jason Hook was just grinding on his guitar. Jeremy Spencer’s riser and drum kit was absolutely something to see. Wrap it all up with an impressive laser light show, and you have a “wow” effect to the tenth degree.
A quick word about the audience: I had pretty much given up on general admission after nearly being crushed at a U2 concert in 1987, and I honestly expected to have some trouble with pushing and shoving and an accidental elbow in the ribs. I don’t know if it was because of those particular bands, the venue, the location or what, but I experienced none of that at all. Everyone around us was kind, courteous and respectful. It was noted and appreciated, especially by my daughter, who was convinced I was going to get myself killed.
If I had any quibble at all it was about the sound in Amway – at times it was garbled and emitted a tinny, hollow sound. I can vouch that it is NOT the bands – my second Sixx: AM show of the year and my third Shinedown and those shows were cleaner and crisper. Otherwise, it was absolutely perfect night for this old rocker, still riding a high three days later.
Of course, you don’t have to take my word for it that this was one of the best rock shows of the year; numbers back me up. This tour is the third highest grossing tour of the fall and in many cities one of the highest grossing shows in their respective venues. It’s way past time that hard rock and metal is recognized for all of the glory that it is. I’m sorry to say that if you missed it – you really missed it. The tour concluded Saturday night in Duluth, GA.