In Flames @ Concord Music Hall, Chicago (US)

IN FLAMES / RED / ARRIVAL OF AUTUMN

Date: 24th November, 2019
Venue: Concord Music Hall
Ticket: $26/23€ (adv)
Promoter: FM Entertainment


It’s been an awful lot of time since the last IN FLAMES concert we have attended, so getting on the road on a Sunday evening made total sense. This band has received a lot of criticism for dismissing part of its “heaviness” by using less growling and more clean singing. This is totally unfair because the heaviness is still alive and kicking, and on top of this, I consider IN FLAMES with more depth nowadays as compared to early albums. And to pair this with the awesome concert energy these guys have, is a solid guarantee to have fun. By the way, “I, The Mask” has turned out to be a killer album, so off we went on that decent Sunday (weather-wise).

The first band to hit the stage was the newcomers on the scene of ARRIVAL OF AUTUMN. Aside from checking them online prior to this show, I had zero experience with their live shows but I was soon to find out. The venue was nicely filled despite being a tad early and so ARRIVAL OF AUTUMN would have the chance to win some new fans that night. There were three drum-kits on stage, so ARRIVAL OF AUTUMN did not have much room but this did not take away their onstage energy that hit the red zone from the get-go. The rumpling sounds from the woofers made the venue tremble a bit (and challenge our eardrums in the process) but this stopped as soon as Jamison Friesen greeted us. “Hurricane On The Horizon” is a groovy headbanger, and for this reason, it was a great choice to open the set. I mean, being the first band on stage is always challenging because you are faced with an audience that has not gotten into the concert-going mood and in some cases knows nothing about you. Add to this the fact that it was a Sunday, and you will get what I am trying to say. If you like to describe music with less than a couple of words, for these guys you could go with Metalcore. However, you will be missing the melodic layers along with the awesome guitar leads that could easily be described as flirting with Progressive soundscapes. Song after song, ARRIVAL OF AUTUMN were establishing a wider connection with a bigger part of the audience, something I consider an absolutely success, especially when considering that clearly the band did not have a fanbase present. However, this did not hold the youngsters from pounding harder the deeper they got into the set with “Better Off Without” being a had punch on the face but still with really nice melodic guitar-based touches finishing. As I said, these guys seem to have a great sense of melody and it is awesome that they don’t hide this behind the overall aggression. “We are ARRIVAL OF AUTUMN and we are from Canada”, said Jamison before thanking everyone for coming early to the show. To my experience, Canadian Metal never goes wrong, no matter the genre, and this band was another proof of this fact.

I should not give credit only to the guitars because during “Apocalyptic” I got the chance to take notice of Kevin Student’s four-string action delivering a boatload basslicks while using all the onstage poses under the sun. Great stuff, I tell you. “Everybody get off your feet”, Jamison sounded asking from people to follow his lead and jump for “Old Bones / New Blood” that was quite fitting with a such a groovy start. ARRIVAL OF AUTUMN delivered the goods and primed the audience for what was in store for us. I will definitely check their latest release as I sense there is more in the music from what I was able to get from a live performance.

ARRIVAL OF AUTUMN setlist:

01. “Hurricane On The Horizon”
02. “Witness”
03. “Better Off Without”
04. The Endless
05. “Apocalyptic”
06. “Old Bones / New Blood”
07. “The Horror”

ARRIVAL OF AUTUMN

Arrival Of Autumn @ Concord Music Hall (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Arrival Of Autumn @ Concord Music Hall (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Arrival Of Autumn @ Concord Music Hall (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Arrival Of Autumn @ Concord Music Hall (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Arrival Of Autumn @ Concord Music Hall (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos)
Arrival Of Autumn @ Concord Music Hall (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Arrival Of Autumn @ Concord Music Hall (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Arrival Of Autumn @ Concord Music Hall (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Arrival Of Autumn @ Concord Music Hall (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Arrival Of Autumn @ Concord Music Hall (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos)

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ARRIVAL OF AUTUMN did extremely well and therefore the audience inside Concord Music Hall was ready to welcome RED on the stage. I had not crossed paths with the band from Nashville, TN, although reading the official RED Facebook the terms “alternative” and “Rock”, this kind of made sense. However, one should never judge a band by a couple of words describing its music because often what you read has nothing to do with what you hear.

After a five minutes delay, the lights went out and a taped intro marked “show time” for RED that seemed to have quite a fanbase waiting for them. Yeah, “Fight Inside” was welcomed with enthusiasm and I think the singing-along started right away following the pretty catchy chorus. Alternative Rock seemed appropriate for RED until Michael Barnes pushed his singing towards growling unofficially explaining why this was picked as direct support for IN FLAMES. Yeah, the groovy breaks, the melodic lines and on top of everything the band’s addictive energy were more than enough to justify such choice. “Alright Illinois, how are you feeling tonight?” asked Michael before the heavier “Death Of Me” that saw more action than the setlist opener (the chanting along chorus helped a lot). The down-tuned guitar riffs along with the pounding rhythm topped off by the clean / growling vocals were a golden recipe to keep the party going. This type of energy works every time and will get you in a concert mood no matter what. Indeed it did despite the rather “too modern” music for my old-school ears.

“How many of you have seen RED before?” asked Michael before adding that this band has been around for 14 years justifying my impression why this logo seemed familiar. The recently released “From The Ashes” quickly brought the action back showcasing a band eager to play more and talk less. This worked perfectly with the audience that was adding more energy in “usual” concert activities with mosh-pitting high on the menu. The singer’s statement “If it wasn’t for you, we wouldn’t have been here, so thank you” may seem a bit cheesy to some, but to me this is exactly what you wanna hear, especially from bands that have been around this long. That’s right; a band reaches a certain status and is able to remain there because of the fans’ support and because of those who are still going to the shows and buying records and merch. So, hearing a band expressing this with words is really important and is highly appreciated. After the rather moody “Already Over” and a small guitar / bass change, it was time to rev up the engine with the riff driven “Feed The Machine”. Michael stepped off the stage and into the photo pit to join the fans in the front rows putting the icing on the cake. Despite RED being a bit far from my cup of tea, they did deliver a solid show and maintain the audience energy on the red zone (pun fully intended) from start to finish, wrapping their set with “Breathe Into Me”.

RED setlist:

01. “Fight Inside”
02. “Death of Me”
03. “Confession (What's Inside My Head)”
04. “Let Go”
05. “From the Ashes”
06. “Already Over”
07. “Feed the Machine”
08. “The Evening Hate”
09. “Breathe Into Me”

RED

Red @ Concord Music Hall (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Red @ Concord Music Hall (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Red @ Concord Music Hall (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Red @ Concord Music Hall (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Red @ Concord Music Hall (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos)
Red @ Concord Music Hall (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Red @ Concord Music Hall (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Red @ Concord Music Hall (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Red @ Concord Music Hall (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Red @ Concord Music Hall (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos)

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The lights went out and the short taped intro quickly revealed the setlist opener. Yeah, the short snippets of the electronic effects – imagine trying to start an engine that does not want to... start – pointed to “Cloud Connected” spiking my enthusiasm. And I was not allowed feeling like that as the fans on the front rows were already waving to IN FLAMES who were waiting to kick off the show. Oh yeah, this was an awesome way to start the show and unofficially prove that IN FLAMES have not lost their mojo (as if they ever had). The loud singing-along was the perfect welcome to the band that along with AT THE GATES put the melodic Death Metal of the Swedish origin on the Metal map. “Alright, I think you know this shit”, said Anders and he was absolutely right; everybody joined in during the amazing “Only For The Weak” from the album that established IN FLAMES into my radar, almost two decades ago. Whenever a band is in synch with the audience, the concert experience is golden and during “Take This Life”, everyone, on and off stage, was in the zone. There was no soul inside Concord that could disagree with Anders statement: “I hope we all have an awesome night - I know I will”. Even though we were just three songs deep into the set, it was already obvious this would be a fun night. And seeing the mosh-pit at full force, was a visual confirmation how things would go down.

I was pleasantly surprised seeing the same level of enthusiasm during the songs from the band’s cleaner vocals era. You see, IN FLAMES decided almost a decade ago to push their music-writing envelope past the rather restricting boundaries of the Gothenburg sound that – let’s face it – has been copied / pasted to oblivion. I am glad they have done that, because I cannot name an average album release since then. In fact, I have become a huge fan of this era to the point that I have split the IN FLAMES story in three chapters. How cool was watching Anders giving “wall of death” instructions just before “Call My Name” from the band’s latest and awesome album? On stage left there was Björn Gelotte’s wingman and this guy was extremely familiar… You see, for this tour IN FLAMES had enlisted Chris Broderick who looked so into this sound that it felt like he has been doing this for a long time. Yeah, with a wide smile on his face, Chris was changing sides with Björn with a jaw dropping ease. Sure, this is how professional musicians behave, but to my eyes he looked like he was genuinely enjoying the show.

The answer to the question how did IN FLAMES pair the old with the new material was given with the powerful combo of “Behind Space” and “Monsters In The Ballroom” that come from albums standing with two decades in between them. In case, you missed my point then know that the moshing and the singing-along were of equal level for both. Anders had a harsher than usual throat but with this crazy weather and the brutal touring this is unfortunately part of the deal… However, this did not hold him back and, in fact, he was in top mood making jokes and unable to hide his smile seeing this level of response from the people inside the venue.

“I, The Mask” has been a kind of a slow burner for me but this show kind of sealed the deal with songs like “(This Is Our) House” and “Voices” being better than the studio versions. I mean, hearing the loud singing-along during the former with lyrics that are so relevant these days gave me massive goosebumps, especially during the end with the taped part with young voices shouting “this is the fight, the fight for our lives” was golden. By the way, the oldie “Colony” came in between those two, underlining what I said above matching the old with the new stuff, with the nice crowd-surfing being the visual ‘icing on the cake’.

After introducing the band and thanking Chris, Anders gave us some oral instructions on how to enjoy the next one; “picture the worst person in your life and take that energy and put it in this one”, he said and brought my attention to the lyrics of “I Am Above”. Oh yeah, he was right because by following his suggestion, this song got more energy and a deeper meaning, and watching how this went down, I was not the only one feeling like that. Before hitting us with the last for the night, the IN FLAMES singer said something that everyone should keep in mind when going to concerts; “thank you very fucking much, we wouldn’t do what we do if you weren’t here”. This is the definition of the Metal scene and unfortunately I see many young bands failing to see this by putting their ego in front of everything else. Anyways, “The End” was the literal end for another killer IN FLAMES show and I am already hoping that Anders did not mean when he said “it may take some time to come back”.

IN FLAMES setlist:

01. “Cloud Connected”
02. “Only For The Weak”
03. “Take This Life”
04. “Where The Dead Ships Dwell”
05. “Call My Name”
06. “Behind Space”
07. “Monsters In The Ballroom”
08. “All For Me”
09. (This Is Our) House”
10. “The Hive”
11. “Wallflower”
12. “Burn”
13. “Colony”
14. “Voices”
15. “The Truth”
16. “I Am Above”
17. “The End”

IN FLAMES

In Flames @ Concord Music Hall (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) In Flames @ Concord Music Hall (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) In Flames @ Concord Music Hall (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) In Flames @ Concord Music Hall (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) In Flames @ Concord Music Hall (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos)
In Flames @ Concord Music Hall (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) In Flames @ Concord Music Hall (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) In Flames @ Concord Music Hall (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) In Flames @ Concord Music Hall (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) In Flames @ Concord Music Hall (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos)
In Flames @ Concord Music Hall (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) In Flames @ Concord Music Hall (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) In Flames @ Concord Music Hall (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) In Flames @ Concord Music Hall (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) In Flames @ Concord Music Hall (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos)

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