Parkway Drive + supports, Alexandra Palace - 02.02.19 / Louder Live
Parkway Drive came to London on a freezing cold Saturday night off the back of an incredible year for them. Despite initially receiving mixed reviews from many critics and long-term fans of the band, their sixth album Reverence propelled them to mainstream success in the metal scene. The more considered and accessible sound of the album helped win them a number of new fans; and this, combined with the band's hard-earned reputation for incredible live performances, culminated in their largest time performance to date to a 10,000 strong crowd at London's iconic Alexandra Palace.
Fellow Australians Thy Art Is Murder had the auspicious task of opening proceedings for the evening. Their aggressive deathcore sound was just the ticket for getting the crowd going. They do an outstanding job of making their set both crushingly heavy, but upbeat and fun as well. Despite being the opening band, they clearly had a dedicated following among the assembled crowd, and frontman CJ McMahon did a fantastic job of energising anyone not in that group. The band were also helped along by a very adept sound system which often lets support acts down, but in this instance gave great depth and volume to the band's savage breakdowns and McMahon's gutturals. All in all, it was a shame that there were still a lot of people queuing outside during their set who weren't given the opportunity to enjoy their set.
As a band with a fantastic back catalogue and a reputation in the world of metalcore that once upon a time might have been as high as Parkway Drive's, you could easily forgive Killswitch Engage for not being overly enthused with the prospect of playing second fiddle to a newer band. This clearly was not going to be the case, however. From the moment 'Strength of the Mind' kicks in, it's clear that we're in for an amazing set. Jesse Leach's screams fill the arena, drawing chants of his name from the crowd and mosh pits galore throughout the venue.
Killswitch are on top form tonight, powering through killer track after killer track and never letting one of them fall flat. The fact that they can play such favourites as 'The End of Heartache' and 'My Curse' so early in their set and still have so much left to offer is testament to the great work that they have done over the last 20 years. Adam D and co keep up this relentless energy all the way to their final song 'In Due Time', which sees them out in style. Anyone being shown the highlights of their set would probably assume they were the headliners.
Despite the great performances by both support bands, the night belonged to Parkway Drive, as they did bring one key element that the others did not - a spectacle. They start as they mean to go on with theatrical music playing over the PA, they enter the stage through the crowd in a procession led by hooded figures carrying flaming torches. By the time they reach the stage and Winston McCall starts the spoken word intro to 'Wishing Wells', excitement amongst the crowd is at its highest. The tension is duly released and the crowd responds accordingly, with pits starting all over the place. This continues into 'Prey', which has the added joy of 10,000 people bellowing the title in a futile attempt to drown out McCall's booming growls.
Although a lot of the crowd were there to hear the new material that launched Parkway Drive into the mainstream, they did do a good job of selectively adding in some older tracks, such as 'Carrion' and 'Karma', which pleased the more die-hard fans while also being heavy enough tracks to keep people moving. Another highlight came with the catchy riff and simple chorus of 'Vice Grip', which again had the audience singing along with gusto. To a slight extent, Parkway Drive became victims of their own success (as well as the success of their support bands), as there was a notable lull in the energy of the crowd during the middle of their set. This was not by any means due to a diminishing of quality from the band, but there was a noticeable burnout which meant the transition from the atmospheric 'Cemetery Bloom' to the explosive 'The Void' didn't hit quite as hard as it ought to have. This part of the set also marked a drop in the spectacle, though this was not to last.
A real 'wow' moment soon came with the introduction of a string quartet onstage for 'Writing's on the Wall' and 'Shadow Boxing'. This created an extraordinary atmosphere and drew gasps from the crowd, so well was it executed. The audience were back in full voice again to sing along to the riff of 'Wild Eyes', which also included guitarists Jeff Ling and Luke Kilpatrick raised above the stage on hydraulic platforms. The main part of the set is concluded with 'The Colour of Leaving' which sees McCall take to the back of the crowd to recite the spoken word section from the sound desk.
The encore starts in literally explosive fashion with McCall throwing a molotov cocktail into the metal backdrop which is the queue for the rest of the stage to light up in flames. This was the real pyro show the audience had been waiting for all along and it leads into a tremendous rendition of 'Crushed' from 2015's Ire. The fire continues for the last song 'Bottom Feeder' which gives the crowd a final chance to expend any energy that they still had left in the tank. For any who were not already convinced of Parkway Drive's rising dominance, this showed what all the hype was about. The only thing to wonder now is where the band go from here.
Parkway Drive's latest album 'Reverance' is out now via Epitaph Records.
Check out the video for the band's latest single 'Prey' below:
Parkway Drive have a host of tour dates announced over the coming months- the full list of dates and a link to tickets can be found on their website: www.parkwaydriverock.com
Connect with Parkway Drive via Twitter: @parkwayofficial
Connect with Parkway Drive via Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/parkwaydrive/