This was our third time seeing A7X. We saw them supporting Iron Maiden at Twickenham in July 2008 (about which I wrote nothing, my livejournal at the time is full of health issues), and with Stone Sour at Hammersmith Apollo (formerly Odeon) in October 2010 (about which I seem to have written nothing other than to link someone else's photo. Although I do have a whole load of photos of my own of that gig, just not online).
I ordered my tickets on literally the first day they went on sale, which meant that we got seated in the first wheelchair area right by the stage. There were two support bands, but we didn't get there in time for the first one because of chronic fatigue and transport issues, and only heard Five Finger Death Punch rather than seeing them as we wandered around inside the Arena in search of the one merchandise stall with the t-shirts we wanted. (Yes, we did get them in the end).
I bought popcorn. I know this is about the least Heavy Metal snack ever, but it was exciting because not only did it say it was made with vegetable oil, it also said it was "suitable for vegetarians" and contained "no animal fat". I ate it, and it Did Not Make Me Ill.
The setlist consisted of 5 songs from new album Hail to the King, 4 songs from their fifth album Nightmare, 2 songs from their fourth self-titled album, only one song from their third album City of Evil, and no songs at all from earlier albums until the encore, which was 2 songs from their second album Waking the Fallen. I was disappointed not to hear Beast and the Harlot, which is for me absolute classic Avenged Sevenfold, but either they're sick of doing it (which would be reasonable) or (as Richard says) their new drummer, Arin Ilejay, isn't good enough to play it.
Shepherd of Fire
Welcome to The Family
Hail to the King
Buried Alive, featuring a totally choreographed sulk and guitar smash by Zacky Vengeance (Richard disagrees and says it was genuine, but he had switched to another guitar just before it happened!)
This Means War
Widdly guitar solo by Synyster Gates
Unnecessary drum solo by Arin Ilejay (Richard says that all drum solos are unnecessary, but I disagree. Drum solos are allowed if the drummer is Mike Portnoy.)
The band were quite laid-back and there was a gap inbetween each song, but it was very hot in the venue (especially from the pyrotechnics) and people were being pulled over the barrier all the time. Honestly, I've never seen a venue so actively giving out water to people. When I went to the loo during the drum solo, the outside area was absolutely full of people sitting on the floor soaked in sweat drinking water or soft drinks to try to cool down. I've never seen anything like it, and I've been to a lot of gigs.
Something that's interesting and made me think was the fact that A7X were blatantly using backing tapes as well as playing live. I remember back in the late 80s/early 90s, it was considered a great sin to use tapes at all - if the band uses a tape, how can you possibly believe that they're playing their instruments? Now, it's considered normal for bands to have pre-recordings for the instruments that aren't part of their regular lineup (e.g. piano, cello), or for backing vocalists who aren't part of the touring band.
It creeped the hell out of Richard when he realised that A7X had a dead backing vocalist. They were using The Rev's vocal tracks, even though he died in 2009. To me, it makes sense - you want the song to sound right.
There's a story behind this next picture. Fiction was the last song that The Rev wrote before he died. It features him singing co-lead vocals. So there was an empty spotlight on the centre of the stage when he was singing. Some people might think it's mawkish that Avenged Sevenfold are still going on about their dead drummer and having a point in every show where they remember him, but I personally found it poignant.
There were MANY PYROTECHNICS.
Overall, I thought it was a really good gig and can't wait until I see them again at Download in June.
Journey home was even worse than the journey out. Didn't walk through the door until 1.45 am. Got to Waterloo and found that the 00:18 train (which we'd expected to get as far as Richmond, then changing to a bus) wasn't going to be coming in until 00:56. Fortunately, the rail replacement bus for the 00:42 train was accessible (sometimes they use coaches, but this was a normal London double-decker), so we took that back to Norbiton. Hooray.
Next: Bullet For My Valentine, this Thursday. Same venue, hopefully better transport.