Friday 11 March, 2016 - The Studio, Auckland, New Zealand.
It’s been just over 14 years since Sevendust were originally slated to perform Auckland as support for Creed in 2002 (to be replaced by Aussie rockers Crash Palance) and since that time the band has seen 8 studio releases come out bringing the total to 11 albums - so the time for a headlining show of their own was well overdue.
Over the last twenty years Sevendust have been consistently producing some of the heaviest, and catchiest melodic radio-friendly metal out there. It's somewhat unfortunate that they're often been lumped into the "Nu Metal” genre to which I firmly associate with the likes of Limp Bizkit (a genre to which I often avoid like the plague), but long time singer Lajon Witherspoon’s vocals bring something so much more to the bands make up - there’s a power, a melody and a warmth to his voice that reminds me of Corey Glover from Living Colour and that lifts them out of a generic “Nu Metal” sound to something more.
Even though I've followed the bands career over the years, they’re not a band I’m intimately familiar with - they are however a band I’ve grown up with (at least, for 1/2 of my life anyway) and who’ve shown to consistently produce great material, and always come up favourably in concert reviews so there was no way I was going to pass up the chance to get to know them more and witness first hand.
So what of the show then? Auckland’s' Silence The City opened the show getting the near full house primed and ready for action. This was the first time I'd heard these guys and they pulled out an impressive, well performed set with a sound that fitted well with that of Sevendust - solid groove laden heavy rock that was neither grunge, nu-metal, or "metal" - +1 would watch again!
Following a short break the house lights dimmed and an enshadowed Sevendust graced the stage ready to burst into light filled intense action with 'Black' from their 1997 self-titled debut album. At this point of the evening I was deep in the pit busy taking photos and getting up close and personal - trying desperately to juggle my attention between frontman Lajon Witherspoon and founding member and bassist Vince Hornsby - two of the energetic stage personas I've seen - the speed at which these guys moved around the stage without skipping a beat was both a joy, and challenge to behold.
One of the main highlights of the show for me - even beyond the music was the showmanship, the inter-band and crowd interaction that showed a band well versed in putting on a well orchestrated show. Several times during the night I would catch Vince or Lajon point at someone; wait for them to acknowledge and notice them; then follow up with playing/singing directly to them - involving the audience directly in the show and making for a memorable concert going experience.
It may sound strange but it was only whilst photographing Sevendust that I noticed, or realised, that they’re a band who NEVER solo (that's the NuMetal way right?). As I was hunting around for great solo/lead breaks to shoot none came, and it triggered a subconscious habit song after song second guessing myself and looking, hoping for a guitar solo but none came - I can’t say it made me disappointed in the band or the show, but it did make me slightly disappointed in myself that I’d somehow never noticed it before. That being said, this in no way made the show any less magical, and in fact I felt it served to make the songs and the performance more fluid - there were no awkward moments where a guitarist goes off into a… quite literal solo as the band leave the stage for 3-4 minutes, or leave the drummer alone to pretend he’s Animal from The Muppets - what we got was back to back solid music, with the only respite being 'Angel’s Son' - the tribute to former SNOT singer Lynn Strait.
Hopefully it won’t be another 14 years till Sevendust return to our shores because Friday night show was killer.
Review reprinted from Libel Music.