Live Review: Shinedown - O2 Brixton Academy, London 07/11/2018

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This past Wednesday Shinedown played a sold out O2 Brixton Academy with supports from Press To Meco and Starset and boy it did not disappoint.

As I arrived at O2's Brixton Academy around five minutes before doors were due to open, I was greeted by a queue that stretched around three or four blocks, the biggest queue I have ever seen for a show at Brixton. The queue was quickly squashed however and before you knew it, you were inside one of Great Britain's most prestigious venues. Then our first act of the evening, Press To Meco, took to the stage. This was my first time seeing the band and it was extremely impressive. The boys seemed to be in sync with each others thoughts as they did not miss a single note of backing track or vocals whilst maintaining a beautifully strange blend of Royal Blood and SiKTH. The packed crowd warmed to them throughout and by the end of the set, they were chanting and clapping along. Without a doubt they gained a few more fans from their performance.

Starset were next and they were nothing like I had seen before at a live show. Those in attendance were shouting their name before they even hit the stage, which I rarely see for a support act and at this point I was thinking we are going to get a decent show if the crowd are reacting this way to them, but I was wrong. What we got was one of the best live performances I've seen in months. Incorporating modern technology such as light up space suits, massive television screens located behind the drummer and light up headwear in a similar style to the old school night vision goggles that were popular in 80's nightclub fashion. Their whole aura created a mysterious and intriguing tone and this is before Starset had even played a note or sung a lyric. You may be thinking at this point though it's all gimmicks and not good music but that couldn't be further from the truth, the band truly encapsulated everything brilliant about the modern rock style; heavy bass and intense but light vocals. You could feel the ground shake around you like a ten on Richter Scale earthquake as they played. Between songs all around me I could hear punters saying how incredible they were and they weren't wrong. At the end of their set Brixton Academy showed off their impressive light show with the lights acting as they and been hacked in a panicked flurry. If you are a wrestling fan boy like me, the lights were in a similar vein to Sami Callihan's (fka Solomon Crowe) entrance in NXT. A great way to end a truly special performance.

To keep up with the wrestling references, it was then time for the main event of the evening. Shinedown hit the stage with a ball of energy and a huge roar from the sold out Brixton crowd after what seemed like an eternal wait for them to arrive. The grizzled veterans of the rock genre wasted no time in getting the party started with "Devil" and "Diamond Eyes." The band set the pace early by not standing still for a second, with both guitarists and lead singer Brent Smith all taking turns to run up a ramp to drummer Barry Kerch, which was a recurring action Shinedown did throughout the night. Before they headed into the next song, Smith turned on the charm by taking a moment to shake every security member’s and photographer’s hand in the photo pit and then thanked every security member located on the balconies and informed them that the balcony crowd "will not be able to stay seated during this next song." And he was right as the familiar singing of "FREEDOM LA LA LA, FREEDOM FOLLOW ME" hit the speakers. The whole crowd went mental as they knew "Cut The Cord" was next up on the agenda. Every word of this song was bellowed back at Smith as he sang away and then eventually orchestrated the crowd and let the crowd take full control of the vocals of the show.

After this we were treated to "Kill your conscience" off Shinedown's latest album "ATTENTION ATTENTION!" This song is slightly different your traditional Shinedown song you are use to but it's a welcome variation to the set list. Slightly slower paced but still sticking with a football crowd chant with a chorus that the crowd can get behind. We went to the opposite end of the scale next with "If Only You Knew" off the 2008 album "Sound of Madness." This continued the rest break for the crowd as the pace was kept down low for a Shinedown show and it seemed the band were enjoying the break as well as the movement on stage reduce greatly for this song.

The pace quickened ten fold after this though with another Shinedown classic "Bully." As Smith screamed "HEY" at the top of his lungs, the pits opened up and became vicious quickly. This carried on throughout "How Did You Love." But as the band brought proceedings up to modern times with "Get Up" the pace slowed and the crowd found their voice again. Shinedown have this great ability to slow down the pace of evening and it not feel like a negative aspect of a show. Personally for I love a high velocity show packed to the brim with songs that scream in your face and tell you that you're in danger and this show was not that but I still loved every second of it. The crowd were constantly invested throughout and they acted as a glue keeping everything together. My prayers were answered however after this as we moved into my favourite song by Shinedown, "Enemies." Keeping with the wrestling theme of the evening, this song was briefly the theme song of WWE's flagship show Monday Night Raw. ‘“Enemies” was filled with phenomenal forearms, dirty deeds and curb stomps. It was aggressive with the heavy bass acting as a chokeslam through the announce desk. The band took full flight again at this point with more movement than a Will Ospreay Vs Ricochet match in New Japan and for sure this song got a five star rating from the crowd.

The set was coming to a close and we have had something new, something old and now it was time for something borrowed as a special treat for the sold out Brixton faithful. Shinedown covered "Don't Look Back In Anger" by Oasis. Obviously. As well as Lynyrd Skynyrd's "Simple Man." As you can properly imagine one of the staples of British culture, "Don't Look Back In Anger" was sung at full volume, Shinedown may as well not have been there as you couldn't hear them anyway at this point. They did find their voices heard again as we ended the show with "Brilliant" off "ATTENTION ATTENTION!" This song's slow build was a perfect end to the evening but when it does kick in you will want to check your pulse because this song makes your heart skip a beat as one of Shinedown's fastest songs whilst also portraying a great message of positivity, drilling into your head that life is... Well brilliant.

Overall this was one of the best gigs I've been to in a while. The supports in Press To Meco and Starset were out of this world and Shinedown reinforced why they are legends of the rock genre. 

Words and Photography by Alfie Drake