Staind & April Divine At Manchester Academy 2

Saturday 8th October 2011

As the gradual stomps of feet hurried upon the floor, the Manchester crowd began to grow, as did the anticipation of some hard rock goodness.

The only support for the night was Swedish alternative rock outfit April Divine. Hailing from Ornskoldsvik, Sweden. April Divine, consisted of vocalist/guitarist Joakim Åström, Per Karlsson on drums, Peter Uvén on bass/backing vocals & Johnny Johansson on lead guitars. With two studio albums behind them and with one in progress, April Divine have already toured with names such as Alice Cooper, Thin Lizzy, Black Stone Cherry & Alter Bridge. We were on the quest to discover if April Divine were the support act to talk about after the night. Being fresh on the scene, they planned entertain Manchester. Despite the initial technical difficulties the band pleased the crowd with a little improvisation whilst Åström checked his guitar. After the little mishap and giving their all to the crowd, playing songs such as ‘No One’, ‘Faced Down’, ‘Redemption’ & their take on Seal‘s classic track ‘Kiss From A Rose’, which satisfied and gathered respect for the quartet from all corners.

Wasting no time with the Manchester crowd, Staind unleashed their heavyweight track ‘Spleen’ as the opener. As Aaron Lewis‘ anger and croons vibrated the Manchester Academy, along with the pummelling force of guitarist Mike Mushok, animated bassist Johnny April and providing the blasts from touring drummer Sal Giancarelli, filling the seat vacated by former drummer Jon Wysocki. The weighty ‘Falling’ & popular ‘Right Here’ set the mood for the night quite nicely to begin their hot and heavy set.

Next up for Manchester to enjoy was their new track ‘Eyes Wide Open’ from their recent self-titled opus, it created unsettled thuds of feet and screaming from everyone’s lungs. As the basslines were plucked to signal another favourite track for our audience to recognise, ‘Fade’, the response was massive and gave the audience the chance to sing along to and throw their fists into the blackened room. Shattering the speakers, ‘Crawl’ gave the audience the chance to show what they’re made of when Lewis gave everyone to belt out “So Far Away” back to him. Lewis let Manchester sang the chorus and many even sat on the shoulders of others to project their voices to Staind, leading to smiles and applause from Staind themselves. A quick pause and then came on ‘Just Go’ and ‘Throw It All Way’, gave the audience a breather to appreciate the band as a whole.

The ice-breakers ‘For You’ and ‘Paper Wings’ came blasting through the speakers that released a collective beast of headbanging and screams that vibrated the room. Until ecstatic screams echoed to the sounds of sadness of Lewis‘ voice and heaviness that is ‘Outside’. It was quite a beautiful sight of unison and singing from all spectators of the show.

Before they introduce their next song of the show, Lewis teased the crowd with his take of ‘Sweet Child O’  Mine’, which brought the atmosphere level up for the remainder of their set. ‘Not Again’ was next with its mix of harmony and gritty surroundings, before the audience became rowdy when the first chords of the classic ‘It’s Been A While’ began. What made it very touching and hilarious simultaneously was Lewis‘ appreciation for Manchester in the centre by exclaiming “It’s been a while, since I said FUCK OFF!” Cheers and laughter filled the venue thus delighted Staind.

‘Mudshovel’ was the last chance for Manchester to headbang, before Lewis revealed that Staind will definitely be back for Summer 2012. The slow, but quite breathtaking, encore of ‘Something To Remind You’ ended the night on a high of togetherness with Manchester and just Lewis and Mushok bringing the show to a dramatic & melancholy close.