A damp, chilly Wednesday night and the short hop to the Rescue Rooms in Nottingham was under-way for one of the most anticipated shows of the year. Thrash legends Annihilator were coming to town and despite having been around for years this was the first time we had actually managed to catch them live. We were in the presence of true rock royalty in the shape of Jeff Waters. The man is legendary, his guitar skills are legendary and his song writing is legendary and if you scratch the surface there is a whole lot more talent underneath too… multi-instrumentalist, producer and the life blood of Annihilator!
Joining Annihilator for the European leg of the tour were Norwegian ‘Bear’ metal outfit Svölk and Yorkshire’s very own Thrash upstarts, Sworn Amongst.
Taking to the stage first was Svölk, the self proclaimed Norwegian ‘Bear’ metallers. Take a slice of latter day Metallica, throw in a sprinkling of Volbeat and add one or two interesting haircuts and you have Svölk. Huge energy and no shortage of talent slowly but surely brought the ever-growing crowd to life. Tracks such as ‘52’, ‘Overload’ and ‘Time for the Dying’ showed that these guys have a lot of promise and are well worth catching live if you get the chance!
Following on from Svölk were one of the UK’s rising stars in the metal scene at the moment, Sworn Amongst. The four piece set about destroying the crowd with their fast paced thrash/groove metal right from the start. They played tracks from both their debut album “And So It Begins” and their latest release “Severance”. Front man Liam Liddell was full of Yorkshire swagger, frequently engaging the crowd in friendly banter. The highlight of their set was the epic ‘Rules of Engagement’, although the rest of the set was pretty damn good too!
Now it was time for the main event, Annihilator… Few bands have the back catalogue with the size and stature of Annihilator’s from which to put a set list together. We were treated to a greatest hits set with a smattering of tracks included from the latest self-titled release, “Annihilator”. The house lights dimmed and the crowd roared as Jeff Waters and the boys exploded onto the stage with the opener ‘Ambush’, ‘Clown Parade’ followed on straight afterwards, the grin still plastered across the crowds collective face! The whirlwind opening was completed with ‘Plasma Zombies’… the lights dimmed again as Jeff Waters disappeared behind the stack of cabs.
The red glow of LEDs was all that could be seen of Jeff Water’s trademark red Annihilator axe as he returned to the stage, as the lights came up the almighty roar almost took the roof off as the opening riff from ‘King Of The Kill’ burst from the speakers! Another track from the new album was next, ‘Betrayed’ before it was back to the classics with ‘The Box’, ‘Hell Is A War’ and the epic ‘Ultra-Motion’.
Jeff Waters took advantage of the steps either side of the stage to get closer to the fans, frequently sharing high fives and knuckle bumps with as many of them as he could whilst still playing. ‘Set The World On Fire’ was up next, followed by the absolute classic ‘W.T.Y.D.’. The title track from off their latest album, ‘The Trend’ came next followed by yet another monster classic ‘The Fun Palace’.
Next we were treated to something very, very special… The band left the stage and the road crew placed three chairs centre stage and rearranged the mics accordingly. Jeff Waters, Dave Padden and Al Campuzano returned to the stage and proceeded to play through the classic ballads ‘Phoenix Rising’ and ‘Sounds Good To Me’ from the “Set The World On Fire Album”. It sent chills down the spine hearing these tracks live…
It was back to the full band as the main set was wrapped up with ‘21’ and the legendary anthem ‘Phatasmagoria’. The lights went down again but the crowd wanted more, they were having the night of their lives watching Annihilator and didn’t want it to end any time soon. The encore was a short but very sweet affair, consisting of the two opening tracks from the classic 1989 album “Alice In Hell’. The intricate instrumental ‘Crystal Ann’ followed by the legendary classic ‘Alice in Hell’… What a way to end the set!
Nobody wanted the show to end but it had to end sometime. It was a show that will live long in the memory of all of those who witnessed it! Jeff Waters is Annihilator but the contribution of Dave Padden has to be mentioned. Padden’s performance, guitar playing and especially his singing totally blew us away. The Waters/Padden combination is a perfect match and will hopefully see the continuance of Annihilator for many more years to come.