Five Finger Death Punch
w. Upon A Burning Body and Pop Evil
@ The Forum, London
31st March 2014
Review by Rowena Lamb
Photographs by Graham Hilling
Recently all I seem to be doing is going to review bands I’ve never seen before and for the most part this is one of the best aspects of being a reviewer. Most of the time I end up having a great time and discover new styles to add to my play list. However, sometimes, just sometimes, I go to review a band for the first time and I’m left frustrated…..that I do not know the words to the songs already and so I can’t shout and sing along with everyone else!
Five Finger Death Punch have been on my list of ‘have to see’ for some time and so I was more than up for seeing what they could bring to their first London show – and a sold out one at that. But nothing could quite prepare me for the sheer amount of bloody brilliance they were about to unleash.
However, before I get too over excited about the headliners, there were two other bands on the bill that evening and the first out of the cage to bat was Pop Evil. Now I wasn’t really sure what to expect from a band called Pop Evil. My mind was flipping between something Kiss like or some crazy electronic, poppy thing that would leave me running to the bar for a drink.
Happily I was wrong about the latter and instead was presented with a very pleasing heavy rock sound. There are pop and electronic sounds and influences hiding in there but they work really well; giving the songs and additional edge and dimension.
Personally I thought they played their set really well, giving it energy and commitment and listening to them again as I type I have to recommend their song ‘Trenches’ as really good example of their sound. It’s heavy and punchy but also has those little melody lines interspersed throughout. Seriously, get on it.
Up next is the sharply dressed Upon A Burning Body (think formal suits) and looking at them you wouldn’t expect the harsh sound they produce and it’s a really nice and stylish contrast.
As far as downsides go, there were a couple of times during their set (and during the headliner) when the lights failed and the stage was plunged into very dull lighting, but they handled it well and in the end it gave the songs in question an acoustic look which actually worked well with their sound, as well as providing another visual/audible contradiction.
Listening to the crowd singing along, ‘Texas Blood Money’ was an obvious favourite and though previously I had thought that ‘Once Upon a Time in Mexico’ was mine, this was only until ‘Sin City’ kicked in. If you like your vocals throaty and heavy the chances are you’ll like this. Same goes for those that like hammer fast drum rhythms.
There’s also the addition of the guitar work which mixes deep chugging with lighter riffs that seem to drag the song along even faster. Pretty it isn’t, hard and heavy it is.
I know for a fact the there were many people there that night who were also there to see ‘Upon A Burning Body’ as well as the headliner and there was an obvious enjoyment spreading through the crowd throughout their set, as well as a louder cheer for them as they took to the stage.
Though there were some around me that were not so keen and I wonder whether for some if the vocal style of this band was a little too heavy for them. It was a contrast to the other two sets but for me I enjoyed it. Their new new album RED.WHITE.GREEN. is available to buy now so go check it out.
Somehow prior to this evening I had only heard a couple of songs by our headliners and having seen them live I have absolutely no idea where the hell I could have been to not see them live before. I can say from the off that I am now a total convert! Bands and gigs like this are the reason I do what I do.
You don’t have to know any of their songs to have a brilliant time and get caught up with their energy and enthusiasm. Though if you needed another nudge, all you had to do was look around you as the crowd were exploding with adoration and enthusiasm.
As you know this gig was sold out and so I knew that it would be packed but this was rammed! Even before the band begins this tells you something about this band and promises much…and they bloody delivered.
Now as I said one thing you expect to see at a sold out gig is a lot of people crammed in together. What you don’t expect to see is someone at that gig dressed as a giant banana. For one brief moment I thought I must have gotten too hot, but no there really was a giant banana on stage. Given the heat it was a strange choice, though given that he was then brought onto the stage to help out with a song perhaps it was the right one.
Another thing I admired about FFDP was the way Ivan (vocals) managed a few incidents in the crowd including bit of a fight, and inviting the injured parties to watch the gig from the side of the stage. I know it’s hard to see the crowd at shows from the stage and you have security at the front to help but I really respected the way he handled things; reminding the crowd that security were there to help and not take shit or abuse when they help you over the barrier, as well as calling one bloke out for doing damage to a female gig go’er at the end of the show. As Ivan says ‘it only takes one kid in the class to ruin it all’.
Though it didn’t ruin the evening for me as it would take a lot more than that to dampen the highs experienced all round after such a stellar performance. The energy was palpable and it was great to see people jumping around and waving their arms throughout. At one stage the crowd looked like one big wriggling mass.
They were also very vocal, both in showing their appreciation for the band but also when singing along, often at deafening volume. The reason for the gig being sold out was patently clear to me from watching them that evening and I am ridiculously happy to have been there to witness such a fantastic set.
I’d had somewhat of a heavy weekend and if I’m being honest I was exhausted and worried when heading to the show earlier about staying alert, but FFDP blew those cobwebs completely way. I felt alert, energiesed and alive and looking forward to what the week could bring (not something I normally feel on Sunday evening).
Set List – (Taken from stage list – songs and order could vary)
- Under & Over it
- Burn It Down
- Hard To See
- Lift Me Up
- Bad Company
- No One Gets Left Behind
- Burn Mother Fucker
- Agony of Regret
- Remember Everything
- Battle Born
- Coming Down
- Never Enough
- Mama Said Knock You Out
- Here To Die
- Far From Home
- The Bleeding