Reggie’s (Plantera7’s) Top Shows of 2011

2011 was a great year for concerts, in my humble life anyway.  I had the pleasurable experience seeing so many of my favorite bands and several new ones.  I feel fortunate enough to live somewhere (for a while) where I can pick and choose which shows I want to see.  I didn’t always have an opportunity like I do here living fairly close to London.  After 9 concerts and 24 bands, I have narrowed my favorite shows to seven.  Here is the pool of candidates:  Black Label Society, Godhead, Overkill, Destruction, Heathen, After All, Children of Bodom, Ensiferum, Machinae Supremacy, Amon Amarth (twice), Metallica, Megadeth, Slayer, Anthrax (Big Four), Iron Maiden, Trivium, Septic Flesh, As I Lay Dying, Opeth, Pain of Salvation, Cake, Machine Head, Bring Me The Horizon, and DevilDriver.

I am listing these in no particular order because it’s hard to rate a band against another when production comes into play.  For example, Iron Maiden playing a huge arena is epic compared to an intimate club show which can also be epic in its own special way.  For the purposes of this post, I will list my favorites and honor the show with an honorary award.

Iron Maiden for Production – You really can’t go wrong going to see Iron Maiden.  This was my first time seeing them and worth the wait.  They played the O2 in London which is huge.  They had the giant stage set, Eddie, and all the lighting and effects a band could want.  Bruce Dickinson can still run around like he did 30 years ago.  It was a great time!  Trivium opened the show which was a cool bonus.

Opeth for Musicianship – After missing them four previous times, I finally got to see Opeth.  They were on tour supporting Heritage which is why their set was not “heavy.”  There was no screaming, growling, or anything that could he considered heavy.  They played an outstanding short acoustic set within their set list.  When it comes to sounding crisp and clean, Opeth is the sure-fire winner here.  They played the Brixton O2 in London with Pain of Salvation.  If I ever have a another chance, I will not miss another Opeth show.

Machine Head for Best Heavy Metal Show – I almost can’t believe the show I just saw with Machine Head.  For so long, this was the kind of band you would see headlining a club or opening for a bigger band like Slayer or Megadeth.  Then something clicked for them when they released Through The Ashes Of Empires.  They have been on fire ever since and are now playing much larger venues with more production to their already killer set list.  Machine Head is a superb live band.  They seemed humbled by the attention they are getting.  They are cool and collective on stage.  This show was at London’s Wembley Arena.  Support was Bring Me The Horizon, DevilDriver, and Darkest Hour-which I missed.

Amon Amarth (twice) for Energetic Performance – Amon Amarth could also win an award for synchronized headbanging.  Their energy is not through bouncing around on imaginary pogo sticks, but through their music.  When they play, you just want draw your sword and leap into battle.  Another great band to see live, they are meticulous and maximize crowd participation.  The first time I saw Amon Amarth this year was in support for Children of Bodom in Norwich, England, and the second time they headlined the HMV Forum in London with Septic Flesh and As I Lay Dying.

Big Four (you know who they are) for Epic Event – Collectively, I estimate seeing the Big Four bands 30 times (collectively) before catching them all on one stage in one night.  Watching them again was nothing new, but all together was larger-than-life.  Each band brought their own element to the evening – Anthrax with energy, Megadeth with precision, Slayer with angst and intensity, and Metallica with production.  Despite all the negative press Metallica has gotten over the last 15-20 years, it was a pleasure seeing them again.  Of all the songs they played, only two were songs recorded in the last 20 years.  Everything was “old school” which resonated well with me.  It was great hearing songs like Shortest Straw and Master of Puppets live gain.  Or course, seeing the Am I Evil collaboration with not only the Big Four band members, but with members of Exodus, Sepultura, and Diamond Head also on stage made the evening memorable.  It was truly a “metal” event that I was happy to be a part of. This experience was part of the Sonisphere Festival in Knebworth, England.

Black Label Society for Showmanship – This is like the sleeper hit of the year.  I was never into Black Label Society until I picked up Order of the Black.  They played at the Corn Exchange in Cambridge about 25-minutes from home – super convenient.  Zakk Wilde may have the “I’m a rock star” ego, but damn that dude can play.  He performed a guitar solo for no less than 12-minutes.  Besides all that, it was a great show with some good production value.  The curtain fell in dramatic fashion and it was on!  Zakk and the rest of the band didn’t let up.  Yes, Zakk is probably the whole show, but he’s good.  Damn good at what he does.

Overkill for the Underdog Award – I need to mention one more.  This was going to be six bands, but I have to talk about Overkill.  Overkill is one of my all time favorite bands.  I saw them this year at the O2 Islington, a small little club-type facility in London.  This was only my 3rd time seeing Overkill and they were great to see live.  They are the metal band that could.  They never hit mainstream and never faded away either.  I think they are quite happy doing what they do best whether people show up to their shows or not.  Believe me, one time I saw them I think maybe 100 people showed up and they still played like it was sold out.  After all these years, Overkill still has the energy and stage presence to rival any metal band out there.

There, you have my picks for best show of the year.  Of course, I can only talk about what I have seen.  It’s been great. I look forward to 2012-already have Dream Theater tickets for February.  Chimaira is coming to a club near me and then there will be festivals. I need to soak up all the metal I can because this is my last year in England.  After this, it’s back to the U.S. and I will have no control over where I go from here.  Keep it real; keep it metal!  Thank you for reading.

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About Reggie

Just a dude writing a heavy metal blog and always on the prowl for a cool metal show. I am also a family man...first and foremost!

Posted on December 20, 2011, in Metal Lists and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.

  1. You got to see some awesome shows this year!! I’m happy you got to see Maiden for the first time, I’ll never forget the day I popped my Iron Maiden concert cherry at MSG in NYC, it was one hell of an awesome night.
    I agree with the Opeth for musicianship show. That setlist really showed how versatile they are in a live setting and I loved how the Heritage songs translated live, I can’t wait to see them again this summer, With Black Sabbath!!!!!!!
    I really need to make a point to not miss Amon Amarth the next time they come to my area. I’ve seen them doing small opening gigs but really want to see them do a big headlining show.
    And Machine Head, damn is that band amazing live, I don’t think there are many other bands that can match their ferocity live. I’m hoping in some short time they release a live dvd/cd of one of their live shows with material from Ashes… onward.

    • Opeth is playing with Black Sabbath? I wonder if they will be playing Download since Sabbath is headlining the end of the festival? That’s Sabbath’s only UK date for now. One would think…

      This is my last chance to catch the UK festivals; I hope they have some awesome bands. Yes, it has been a great year for shows. I am going to catch what I can in 2012 because I am being pessimistic about where I get stationed next. Too much government land in boonies of America if you know what I mean.

      • Ya, Black Sabbath is headlining the Italian Gods Of Metal Festival and under Sabbath is Opeth, then Lamb of God, then Trivium, and that’s all for now. Sabbath and Opeth were enough for me to run out and grab tickets. I’m looking forward to seeing Trivium also, and I’m hoping some more killer bands get signed on. Maybe, since it seems Opeth is doing the festival circuit this summer, they will do the Download show also, I’ll cross my fingers for you.
        Try to stay optimistic on where you get stationed. Law of Attraction 😉 I’m sure you will get stationed somewhere awesome!!! I’ll write a stern letter to the military if I have to, lol.

      • I appreciate the optimism. At this point in my career though, i wont have a choice, it’s really all about timing…what will be available when my time comes. My time is April, that’s when I will find out where our next home will be, and then move in October. There is a possibility for Ohio and I am kind of hoping for that, based on other possibilities, it’s the best one so far. Between Sonisphere and Download, I am hoping at least one day will be one I can/want to go to.

        I think you will like Trivium. They do pretty well and seem to have more energy the more the crowd gets involved. When I saw them headline the second stage at Download in ’09, the place went nuts and they fed off that. Lamb of god looks angry on stage.

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