An Evening with Amon Amarth in Springfield, Virginia
Band Photo: Amon Amarth (?)
The last “An Evening with...” tour that I saw was Metallica’s arena tour in the early ‘90s, which happened to be one of the best shows I’ve ever seen. It’s a great concept that I’m surprised more bands don’t try. I was happy to hear that Amon Amarth was putting on such a tour. Playing their latest album in its entirety for the first half of their set, followed by a complete set of other material was the perfect choice, seeing how great “Surtur Rising” is.
As it turns out, “An Evening with Amon Amarth” was not the original plan for this tour, but it could not have turned out any better.
That said, the logistics of this particular show could have gone a little better. Arriving minutes before the show was to start, there was a line longer than I’d ever seen at Jaxx before, making me question if the sold-out show wasn’t actually oversold. I could not imagine how that many people could fit inside of the venue, but they apparently did, and it wasn’t quite as crowded as I expected. But it was still packed pretty tightly. The band delayed their set a full hour in order to get the ticketholders inside, however, which was probably the right thing to do, but left the crowd inside restless.
That would all be forgotten once Amon Amarth took the stage and tore into “War of the Gods.” I’ve known Jaxx to be a little too loud (sometimes a LOT too loud), but the sound was just right this night and the band's brand of melodic death metal sounded perhaps a little less heavy and more melodic than on their studio album, “Surtur Rising.” Without rehashing and reviewing the entire album, “Surtur Rising” made for a fantastic set. While it sounds very homogeneous, the songs themselves peak and dip in speed to provide the right amount of variation over the entire set.
The first few songs start out on a speedier note and had a pit going from the start. “Slaves of Fear” slows things down a little with mid-paced verses before the double bass and double picking enters for spurts here and there. “Live Without Regrets” speeds things up slightly again and has one of the better sing-along choruses. “The Last Stand Of Frej” again slows it down a little before “For Victory or Death” speeds it back up again. “Wrath of the Norseman” is a fraction slower, but carries a heavy groove and galloping riff that made it one of the best headbanging songs yet. “A Beast Am I” got the crowd into a frenzy and the mosh pit expanded, pushing me from a comfortable position somewhat in the off to the side of the middle, directly in front of the left speaker stack, where it was quite loud. Just before their final song of the set, Johan announced it as such, which was answered by a roar from the crowd in return. While just short of six minutes, “Doom Over Dead Man” felt more epic than the other songs, simply for its elegant intro and slow buildup. It was a perfect end to the set, just as it is to the album.
During the intermission, I retreated to the restaurant area to get a drink and some air. When I returned to the main room to check out the merch booth, the wave of heat that hit me left me in shock and utter disbelief. It was like the heat from an oven as it washes over your face when you bend down to peer inside.
Nevertheless, I made my way down to the main floor for the second set, giving up on photography by this point, as it just wasn’t worth fighting to the front of all the sweaty bodies to even get close enough.
I’m not familiar with Amon Amarth’s entire discography, so I can’t comment on each song in the second set. I recognized a number of songs from the band’s previous album, “Twilight of the Thunder God,” and they sounded even better live being played in the “Surtur Rising” guitar tuning. I’m pretty sure they opened with “Guardians of Asgaard” or played it early in the set. A few songs in, Johan spoke briefly about Osama Bin Laden who had been killed the night before and dedicated “Live For The Kill” to the soldiers who achieved the feat. They played another song off the band’s very first release, which sounded a little more extreme and death metal than the other songs, but was good as well. I’m pretty sure “Fate of Norns” was included in there somewhere as well.
At nine or ten songs, the second set, while still excellent, felt shorter than the first. But given the sauna-like environment, I was ready to call it a night. The band came out for an encore and soldiered through three more songs. I stuck around and did the same, despite a fear of passing out from dehydration. I wasn’t about to miss a song and it was well worth it.
Playing “Surtur Rising” in its entirety was a win for fans and a brilliant marketing move as well, as that’s about the heaviest promotion the band could give their latest opus, which debuted at #34 on the Billboard Top 200 chart. Despite the delay and the temperature, Amon Amarth put on a fantastic show and it was great to see them for two hours or more without any supporting bands. The tour just wrapped up, but be sure to check out Amon Amarth live next time they come to your area - it’ll be well worth it.
Photos from the show can be seen in our photo gallery.
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