Amaranthe, The Massive Collision Tour, November 13th and 14th, Flint Michigan, and Green Bay Wisconsin
The Swedish “pop metal” sextet Amaranthe has certainly been showing a lot of love for North America lately. They are currently touring the world in support of their phenomenal third album, “Massive Addictive” that was released late last year. Their most recent tour, this October and November, marks their third tour of North America since the album was released. Amaranthe rapidly became one of my favorite bands after I “discovered” them back in 2012 and I never miss a chance to see them live. As they were not “coming to a city near me” this time around, I made the trip from Maryland to Michigan and Wisconsin to catch them in the middle of the tour. The show package was made even better by the addition of the Butcher Babies, a five piece hard core heavy metal band from LA that are always a thrill to see live. An additional support band called Lullwater, was also on the bill. I hadn’t heard of them before, but I’m always up for a new musical experience.
The show in Michigan was at The Machine Shop in Flint. The venue was relatively large (several hundred people), but was long and narrow so the stage itself was quite small. The show in Wisconsin was at a much larger venue, The Sandlot Entertainment Complex in Green Bay. The Sandlot had a massive stage and the venue itself held 2500+ people. The fans have certainly been rewarding Amaranthe for their frequent visits to North America as the crowds on this tour have been huge… much larger than on their previous tours. The show at The Machine Shop was sold out; the show at The Sandlot was nearly so. I’ve seen Amaranthe on tour a lot, and these crowds were much larger than anything I’ve seen previously.
Lullwater was the first band to take the stage and they played a 6 song set both nights. I wasn’t familiar with their music and couldn’t discern the song titles from the hand scribed set lists taped to the stage, but I though they sounded great. They are a four piece band that hails from Athens, Georgia… a place that is near and dear to my heart as I spend 8 years of my life there pursuing a higher education. Athens has always had a great music scene and is known for spawning great bands (The B-52s and R.E.M. just to name a couple). Lullwater definitely had a quality melodic hard rock sound that I personally really enjoyed both nights. If they are playing in your area… check them out. They are definitely worth a listen!
Next up were the Butcher Babies and, as always, their set was one hell of a party! Fronted by the charismatic Heidi Shepherd and Carla Harvey on vocals, they deliver a mix of harmonies, growls, and screams that goes for the throat with a vicious, razor sharp attack. The music, proved by Henry Flury on guitar, Jason Klein on bass, and Chris Warner on drums, is heavy with great riffs and blistering drum cadence. Heidi and Carla are two of the most energetic performers I think I’ve ever witnessed and the jumping, screaming an headbanging never dies. Heidi sets the tone early on by informing the audience that the band is there to “F*ck Sh*t Up” and demands the audience “Lose their f*king minds”. Their audience is always happy to oblige and the crowd surfing and moshing are constant. The band played the same ten song set each night that began with “Monsters Ball” and ended with “Magnolia Blvd”. The set consisted mainly of songs from their two studios albums with “They’re Coming To Take Me Away” representing their recent cover album. As expected, the Butcher Babies show was great both nights and they definitely got the crowd fired up for the headliner.
When Amaranthe finally took the stage, the crowd was ready! It had been six months since they last came to North America, which… for me, was way too long. For those of you unfamiliar with this band, Amaranthe is a six piece band from Gothenburg, Sweden that play an infectiously addictive style of metal, effectively fused with catchy pop vocals with just the right mix of melody, harmony and death metal growls. The band has three vocalists; two that sing clean (Jake E and Elize Ryd) and one growler (Henrik Englund Wilhemsson). The band is rounded out by a guitarist (Olof Mörck), a bassist (Johan Andreassen), and a drummer (Morten Løwe Sørensen). Unfortunately, due to family commitments, Jake E was unable to come with Amaranthe on this tour and the band brought along Chris Adam (from the band Smash Into Pieces) to fill in the vocals usually provided by Jake.
There is no other way to say it… the show was fantastic both nights. The musical quality was superb and the vocals were stunning. I have to admit though, I really missed Jake not being there. He has a very distinctive voice and stage presence and it just wasn’t quite the same without him. I did think Chris Adam did a great job at filling in. He has an awesome voice of his own, but it is distinctly different from Jake’s voice. I took me about half of the first show to get used to the different sound, but after that everything just fell into place and I was lost in the music. The audience was incredibly energetic and there was a lot more moshing than I’ve ever seen at an Amaranthe show before. Amaranthe’s songs are very “catchy” and the audience sang along to most of the songs. The cheers were deafening and there were lots of “horns” in the air.
Amaranthe played an impressively long set of nineteen songs, which for me, was not nearly enough! Their main set of fifteen songs started out with two songs from the newest album, “Digital World” and “Trinity”; both high energy songs that got the audience jumping right away. Additional songs from the new album included “Massive Addictive” “Unreal”, and one of my personal favorites, “Over and Done”. Also included were most of their video hits including “Invincible”, “1,000,000 Light Years”, “Hunger”, ”True” and the crowd sing-a-long favorite “Amaranthine”. Despite being one of their big video singles, “Burn With Me” was disappointingly absent from the set… again (I haven’t heard them play it since 2013). Other songs from their second album “The Nexus”, included “Electroheart”, “Afterlife”, and “Mechanical Illusion”. We also got to hear a great drum solo by Morten toward the end of the main set. The remainder of the main set was rounded out by songs from their debut album: “Leave Everything Behind” and “Call Out My Name”(complete with Elize’s signature high kick!)
There was a brief intermission before the encores, during which the audience began chanting: “One more song!” But just like everything they do… Amaranthe’s encore set was over the top and included a full four songs. As he usually does, Johan came out before the encores to reenergize the audience before the rest of the band returned to the stage. The encores began with “The Nexus” and “Razorblade” from their second album. Two more songs from the new album finished out the night: “Dynamite” and “Drop Dead Cynical”. It was an incredibly fun and high energy show. After each show, the band came out to do a Meet and Greet with select members of their fan club as they have been doing since the formation of the fan club earlier this year. (If you haven’t joined yet, you need to do it!) They were all gracious and friendly and took the time to make sure everyone got their autographs. The Massive Collision Tour has now ended, but hopefully, Amaranthe will continue their trend of regularly coming back to North America… and hopefully it will be soon!! I, for one, cannot wait until the next time!