After only 13 months since their last Australian tour, Killswitch Engage’s enthusiastic fans made it abundantly clear that the old adage ‘absence makes the heart grow fonder’ is a complete and utter mistruth.
The night began with a bit of a slow start with the unnamed local support act not playing, leaving fans with nothing to do other than buy merch and beer for over an hour and a half from the time the doors opened, but no one really seemed to mind (the beer might have helped).
Kill Devil Hill smashed out a solid 45 minute set favouring tracks off their latest album Revolution Rise, which, judging by the limited display of enthusiasm, may have been a bit of a disappointment to the fans of their 2012 self-titled debut album, despite the high quality of the band’s performance. They played ‘No Way Out’, ‘Crown of Thorns’, ‘Leave it All Behind’, ‘Wake Up the Dead’ and ‘Life Goes On from Revolution Rise’ and just two songs ‘War Machine’ and ‘Rise From the Shadows’ from their self-titled album. The highlight of Kill Devil Hill’s set, especially for the Pantera fans with their hearts fluttering in the presence of Rex Brown, was their closing song, a cover of Pantera’s ‘Mouth For War’.
Despite the good turnout for Kill Devil Hill’s set, it was evident that everyone was there for Killswitch Engage. As soon as the band walked on stage, the crowd lost their shit. Two songs in and I’d already been crushed, bruised and smeared with someone else’s blood. Good times. The excitement of having Jesse Leach back on vocals after a ten year absence combined with the first Australian tour since the release of Disarm the Decent, their 2013 album that remarkably reached number 6 on the Australian charts, resulted in maximum exuberance. Much to the crowd’s delight, there was even a guy in a wheelchair crowd surfing.
Renowned for his on-stage antics, guitarist Adam Dutkiewicz, chugged a beer and somehow broke his amp when putting the empty beer bottle down, but the technical difficulties were quickly overcome and, as the band played on without him, it didn’t affect the show. Killswitch Engage played a near perfect hour and a quarter set with the fans singing pretty much every word. They opened with ‘A Bid Farewell’, a favourite from ex-singer Howard Jones’ era, and played tracks from across four of their albums, Alive or Just Breathing, As Daylight Dies, The End of Heartache and Disarm the Descent, but didn’t touch any songs from either of their self-titled albums. Among the 19 songs that made up their mind-blowing set were ‘This is Absolution’, ‘Rose of Sharyn’, Life to Lifeless’, ‘The Arms of Sorrow’, ‘My Last Serenade’, ‘In Due Time’ with ‘My Curse’ as the closing track.
In a nice finishing touch to the absolutely stellar performance, the closing track was actually the closing track. There was no over-used, pre-planned, cheesy, fake encore, which I appreciated, despite the fact that I would have been happy for the show to continue for days. Judging from overheard opinions, there seemed to be a general consensus that so far this year it has been the gig of the year and I definitely wouldn’t argue with that.