The high point of Lamb of God's set came somewhere around the mid-point, when, after projecting pictures of the band's fans in the military on the twin screens flanking drummer Chris Adler, Randy Blythe dedicated "Now You've Got Something to Die For" to the men and women of our armed forces. Blythe got the crowd singing along so fervently that, at one point, the band and Blythe dropped out completely and let the audience, which was as loud as the band, carry the refrain.
See also: - In Flames frontman visits Great Divide Brewing - The ten best concerts this week: December 10-14 - Lamb of God's John Campbell on how his brother Jeff from 3 Kings Tavern defiled his Star Wars slippers one Christmas
A bit earlier, when the set got going, the twin projection screens on stage showed what looked at first like a test reel, but the visuals soon changed to the famous Lyndon B. Johnson "Daisy Girl" campaign ad from 1964, with the little girl picking petals off a flower counting down to nuclear war. But it stopped just shy of the mushroom-cloud footage -- that came later in the show. As the colorized black-and-white image zoomed in on the iris of the young girl until it was so large that each screen contained one giant eye, Adler pounded out a furious beat, and his image became engulfed in flames as the rest of the band came together for "Desolation."
For his part, particularly on songs like "Ghost Walking," Blythe sounded like some kind of supernatural wild animal, more so than just kind of unintelligible, guttural vocals that typify a lot of death metal. Before "Walk With Me in Hell," Blythe commented how the air here is thinner than he and the other "flatlanders" are used to, and that if he fell down unexpectedly, "Just kick me in the head," he said. "I'll wake up eventually."
"Ruin" was dedicated to bassist John Campbell's brother Jeff from 3 Kings Tavern, who was off to the side of the stage. On the screens, images of faith healers and cult leaders, including Jim Jones, David Koresh and the Manson Family, appeared in succession. At the end, one of the guitars made a sound like an ambulance from somewhere in Europe was slowing down.
"Omerta," beginning with a spoken word section at the beginning and followed by a slower melody, accompanied by juxtaposed images of Jesus and other religious imagery with infamous gangsters, struck the darkest note of the night. After that tune, Blythe said the band was done with slower songs and the outfit went into "Contractor," a track which couldn't have offered a more extreme contrast, tempo-wise.
With two songs left in the set, Blythe thanked all the bands that shared the bill, and for In Flames, he said he had to try his best black metal. The guitar riff was too fast at first, and so the band tried again, and Blythe delivered some rapidfire guttural vocals. It may have lasted the length of eight runs through of "You Suffer" by Napalm Death, prompting Blythe to joke, "We just wrote five black metal records."
After that, he made mention of how Denver is a big city, especially compared to Richmond, Virginia, but that even so, this was the West and we have some redneck tendencies. "I can smell my own people," Blythe declared. "We know why you're here with us tonight. You're just a bunch of rednecks." Of course the song that followed was the funny but also fiery "Redneck," followed by "Black Label," which closed the show.
When In Flames took the stage just before Lamb of God, a blue light flowed together with streaming blue lights giving the sense of water. Once everyone was in place a distorted chord went directly into the song, "Sounds of a Playground Fading," and when the final strains of the song rang out the band went into "Where the Dead Ships Dwell." Afterward, Anders Fridén pointed to a fan in the crowd who appeared to be nodding off and asked if he was falling asleep. Turns out he was just stoned, as Fridén related to us.
At this point, the In Flames frontman borrowed a camera from someone in the front and took a picture of the audience and remarked, "You all look good! Even the stoned ones." Some guy lifted up his shirt in front and Fridén laughed and said, "I don't want to see your titties. You're a man." He paused and then said, "But you do have titties." Fridén sprinkled this good natured ribbing throughout the show and kept the energy lively and fun.
Between the more fluidly dynamic "Cloud Connected" and "Fear is the Weakness," with its impressive display of creative double-kick drumming, Fridén offered some more levity: "I wanna smell Denver!" he began. "I really want people to come down from the bar and throw away that shitty beer you're drinking. It's probably Budweiser or something like that. You should be drinking Avery, Great Divide or Oskar Blues. Life is too short to be drinking shitty beer."
"Deliver Us" sounded a bit different for the band, as it made use of a thick electronic bass pulse in the beginning with synths that blended well with the pummeling thrash riff that came crashing in early into the song. When the song ended, Fridén said they were humbled to come here from "a shitty little country called Sweden to play." Then he wryly, and matter-of-factly, pointed out, "Even though our hockey team could come over and kick yours asses any day." Of course people booed and laughed. "I guess I didn't make any friends with that one."
In Flames closed with "My Sweet Shadow" and after the song got going, Fridén told us, "From the bottom of our cold, cold, cold Swedish hearts, Denver, goodbye for tonight." Gotta hand it to this band who plays such technically demanding music so furiously; the stage banter in a foreign language is every bit as engaging as their playing and better, for that matter, than many bands from here who are native speakers.
Personal Bias: Already liked Lamb of God's mix of death metal, grind and hardcore before the show and appreciated a lot more at the show.
Random Detail: Ran into Ray Koren of Thee Dang Dangs after the show.
By the Way: This was one of the best audiences I've seen at a show. Very enthusiastic and respectful.
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