Did our gig of the month live up to the hype? Is the Pope a catholic?!
Papa Roach + Madina Lake + Heaven’s Basement @ Civic Hall, Wolverhampton, 06/10/09.
Kicking off a tour with a sold-out venue must be the dream way to start a glut of live dates, so it must have given American rockers Papa Roach a huge boost to know there wouldn’t be a spare space in the house tonight as they began their latest visit to the UK. It also goes to highlight the continued popularity of a band who could quite easily have fallen away when nu-metal died; they’ve reinvented themselves as a straight up rock and roll band playing fun, simple songs and they’re damn good at it to boot. No wonder it’s a sell-out.
And it wasn’t just the headliners that made this lineup such a tasty one, with both support bands being more than worthy of the huge crowd’s attention. First up, British classic rock five-piece Heaven’s Basement, who take the stage with the swagger and presence of an experienced headliner. With little fuss, the band get on with warming everyone up with their brand of high-energy, punchy rock played with passion and plenty of rock star posing. The crowd love it, and with songs as good as ‘Reign On My Parade’ and ‘Executioner’s Day’ it is surely only a matter of time before this band moves onto the next level, which is absolutely where they deserve to be.
Second on the bill is Chicago foursome Madina Lake, whose brand of catchy pop-rock saw them bother most of the video channels at some point in the last year and as such they did get lumped in with a load of emo bands. That would make it easy to write them off as another whining band that will disappear as quickly as they broke through, but to do that to Madina Lake would be a grave injustice. Put simply, they are great rock band and a terrific force on stage. To say they were energetic would be an understatement; barefoot vocalist Nathan Leone wins the crowd over with a combination of a great voice, a determination to cover every inch of the stage and high-five the entire front row, and a real passion and gratitude for the applause his band receives, while his brother and bassist Matthew is all over the place like a chipmunk on crack, jumping and every possible break. Songs like ‘Let’s Get Outta Here’ and ‘Here I Stand’ are built for big venues and sound great, while next single ‘Welcome to Oblivion’ points to only one type of future for Madina Lake – a very bright one.
From the opening drum clatter of ‘Days of War’ the collective love in the room for the Papa Roach boys becomes apparent – their fans completely adore them, singing every word at high volume and screaming at the sight of Jacoby Shaddix as he bounces from stage left to stage right. Watching Papa Roach play a gig is like watching a definitive guide on how to play a great show; there’s clapping and there’s singing along, but most of all, there’s a tonne of great songs that just sound better and better the more you hear them.
The majority of the setlist is taken from this year’s ‘Metamorphosis’ album, with singles ‘I Almost Told You That I Loved You’ and ‘Hollywood Whore’ going down a storm. The epic ‘Into the Light’ also gets an airing and manages to sound even bigger on stage than it does on record, which is quite an achievement. Of course, the band don’t forget the songs that won them their fame in the first place, with hit singles like ‘Between Angles and Insects’, ‘She Loves Me Not’, ‘Scars’ and ‘Blood Brothers’ still sounding as fresh as they did when they first came out, before the climax and finale of the show and the song that really got Papa Roach where they are today, the fantatsic ‘Last Resort’. If ever a song was to truly bring the house down then this was it, and the whole room from front to back joined in. They’ve come a long way since the angst-ridden anthem first hit our airwaves, but goodness it still packs a punch and is still an essential rock track, just like its creator is still an essential rock band. Gig of the month for sure, and possibly gig of the year – long live Papa Roach.
Full Papa Roach setlist: Days Of War/Change Or Die/Lifeline/Dead Cell/The World Around You/Had Enough/To Be Loved/Getting Away With Murder/Live This Down/Scars/I Almost Told You That I Loved You/State of Emergency/Harder Than a Coffin Nail/Blood Brothers/Forever/She Loves Me Not/Hollywood Whore/Between Angels and Insects/Time Is Running Out/Into the Light/Last Resort.
Photography: Dave Musson Photography