After a harrowing journey, which included the death of a SatNav, a torrential down pour, a few flakes of snow and a co-driver that self-proclaims to be utterly rubbish at navigating, we arrived at the O2 Academy in Birmingham for the Rockstar Taste of Chaos tour…  Unfortunately, we had already missed Maylene and the Sons of Disaster and, to my utter dismay, all but one song by Every Time I Die! To rub salt into an already painful and festering wound, I was charged £7.40 for 2 pints of shit beer…

So, after loudly proclaiming never to return to the second city again I found my vantage point and began the wait for In Flames. I’ve got a couple of CD’s by In Flames and have enjoyed them but they have never really grabbed my attention to be a regular visitor to my playlist.  However, I was eager to see and hear what they brought to the stage. I wasn’t disappointed, from the moment the lights were dimmed and the intro music began to the final song it was a brutal wave of metal delivered by 5 guys that live for this, heart and soul given on every shredding riff and pounding drum beat! I will be giving those CD’s another spin just to see if I missed something… If you get a chance to catch them live, do it!

The stage was cleared revealing the huge screens at the back for the Killswitch Engage set. The anticipation was building, the pit was filling and finally the lights dimmed… Killswitch entered the stage, all suitably attired in the same faux white dinner jacket t-shirts, to the Benny Hill theme tune! Adam D. was also wearing his, now traditional, cape but not the Mexican wrestler’s mask I saw him wearing at Download. These guys don’t mess around (well actually that’s not true… if you’ve seen them live you’ll understand!) they opened with “My Curse”. Cue the pit going crazy and the kids flying into the air, surfing! There was no let up in the songs or the energy and passion from the Killswitch boys… During “A Bid Farewell” the crowd were singing so loud that Howard Jones seemed to be taken aback and let them serenade him a couple of times, he seemed genuinely humbled by the moment.  The onslaught continued through “The Arms of Sorrow”, “Reckoning”, “Take Me Away” amongst others.  A highlight of the Download set was a then new track called “Starting Over”, I liked it then, it owned on the new record and it blew me away last night! The four, front of stage, band members were all constantly moving around the stage and hopping onto the podiums placed at either side, playing and interacting with the crowd!  “Rose of Sharyn” and “The Forgotten” followed before the crowd went berserk as the intro to “My Last Serenade”, a personal favourite of my after hearing it for the first time in my friend’s car on the way to band practice back in 2002! “The End of Heartache” rounded off the ferociously stunning set!  Killswitch came back on to perform the Dio classic “Holy Diver” for the encore, what a way to end the show!

I’d like to take this moment to wish Ronnie James Dio a quick and speedy recovery after recently being diagnosed with stomach cancer. I’m sure we all look forward to seeing him on-stage again in the future!