Following a long delay and a seemingly endless series of sound-checks the lights dim and the crowd noise doubles in intensity. The opening bars of ‘Separation’ ring out and As I Lay Dying burst on with ‘Nothing Left’. Immediately Tim Lambesis’ vocal blows us all away as he lets rip a gigantic roar - it seems to sweep out into the room as a soundwave knocking us back a few paces. His huge frame appears over the madly devil-horning crowd and we know we’re in for one wild ride.
As has gone with the bands before, it’s abundantly clear that when the venue is full the low ceiling and stage mean that anyone back from the first five rows aren’t going to see much of the band tonight. Maybe the odd glimpse of a guitar or the top of Lambesis’ head as he stretches to see how many are in tonight, but mainly just the backs of heads. I can just about make out that there isn’t much room for them all on stage with Nick Hipa hiding behind bassist Josh Gilbert but still churning out a conveyor belt of incredible shred guitar.
‘An Ocean Between Us’ and ‘The Darkest Night’ blast out and those watching echo the words straight back. The pit opens up and the mosh begins in earnest. Tonight the search-lights are in action sweeping out across the crowd whilst the coloured strobes attempt to reduce our view of the band even further. Lambesis is up on the barrier, awash with tattoos, high-fiving and screaming bloody murder at us. As the blistering pace of ‘Within Destruction’ falls away, and the pit collapses into a sweaty mass, he leans forward and asks “Is everybody still alive?” It’s certainly getting pretty stuffy but the endless supply of water at the bar makes it bearable. As their set comes to a close not a soul leaves and they treat us to an encore kicking off with the anthemic ‘I Never Wanted’ and ending on the pogo-friendly ‘Falling Upon Deaf Ears’. It’s certainly been a treat for our ears if not our eyes.
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