Despite some changes this year with the departure of guitarist Greg Tribbett and bassist Bob Kakaha, Hellyeah is better than ever. Vocalist Chad Gray has amazing energy. He loves what he does and tells the crowd that metal music saved his life. New bassist, Kyle Sanders, is a great addition to the band as well. He is talented and fascinating to watch as he whips his hair around and plays in different directions. Vinnie Paul on the drums is clearly a veteran performer. He interacts with the crowd better than any drummer I have seen. Tom Maxwell is a rock star on the guitar. Also joining the guys on tour is guitarist Christian Brady. He has only been confirmed as a touring guitarist with the band but he has proved to be a great asset. The band keeps the crowd pumped throughout their set, finishing it off with the hit “Drink, Drank, Drunk”.
Avenged Sevenfold took the stage. and their rapport from performing together for 15 years is immediately obvious. They worked well together, anticipating the moves of one another and just having fun. The band wasted no time in getting the crowd fired up with hits like “Shepherd of Fire” and “Critical Acclaim”. Matt Shadows looks as if he was born to be on this stage. His ability to transition from screaming to singing so flawlessly is remarkable. Synster Gates is fantastic on the guitar and it is clear he loves to be on stage. Johnny Christ takes on the role of entertainer; he is playful and makes you feel like he could be just a neighborhood kid you grew up with. Zacky Vengeance is serious but charismatic. Arrin Illejay is hidden behind the drums, but when you can see him, he is captivating; the newest member of Avenged Sevenfold has definitely won the hearts of fans.
Halfway through the show the lights dim and all we can see is Matt Shadows. He begins to speak of his best friend, James “The Rev” Sullivan, their drummer who passed away in 2009. He tells the crowd that throughout the show they will hear a voice that isn’t theirs, it’s the Rev. They have devoted themselves to keeping The Revs memory alive. He sings “Fiction” as photos of The Rev play on the screen behind him. Shadows is emotional but he performs beautifully. It is an intimate moment between the band and their fans as they grieve together. These guys remind us that the bonds of true friendship can not be broken, even by death.
The band brings the energy back with their hit “Nightmare.” The previously solemn crowd erupts as they sing along, ending the night with “Almost Easy.”
These bands put on an amazing show. People from every generation came to see them play and did not leave disappointed. I cannot wait to see what the future has in store for them.