It was announced the day before that, due to illness, Volbeat were unable to play their headline show at Bristol’s O2 Academy last month. However, organisers promised that the show would go on, with tickets remaining valid for both this show and a rescheduled Volbeat date.
Both of Volbeat’s support acts – Baroness and Danko – stepped up with longer sets than originally planned. Facing the difficult task of playing to a room missing the headliner they had paid for, both bands put in fantastic performances that won the crowd’s favour.
Canadian artist Danko Jones and his three-piece band opened the night. Danko was charismatic, a true rock n roll front man, with a great sense of humour and a physical performance that made him an entertaining watch. His infectious personality was mirrored in his music too, a high-energy slew of 80s-inspired hard rock; quick riffs, rapid drums, big choruses and even bigger solos. It got the crowd engaged, who within a handful of tracks were clapping along and bantering with Danko in between songs.
a high-energy slew of 80s-inspired hard rock
The lyrics of Danko Jones weren’t the most inspired, with songs about important social issues such as going on a date, burning in hell, and fighting a bloke. But the energy, character, and performance put on by both the front man and his entire band made for an enjoyable opener who began making up for the lack of Volbeat.
Baroness (…) felt very much the headliner – not a support filling in for the missing band
Hailing from Savannah, Georgia, sludge metal royalty Baroness came next, playing a blinder of a set with an encore included, and felt very much the headliner – not a support filling in for the missing band. Their set was half songs from their recent fifth album Gold & Grey, bookended by classics from the first four albums, so fans were treated to a handful of old favourites including A Horse Called Golgotha and The Red Album’s Isak.
The crowd were enamoured, chanting regularly (and to particularly giddy-inducing results during the closer, Take My Bones Away) and the band performed brilliantly too, with just enough flash and movement to add to the music but not distract from the complex compositions being played.
Recent addition, lead guitarist Gina Gleason was of note; an energy transmitter who played to the crowd like she owned them, swinging her guitar around and leaning over the stage to chant choruses in their faces.
an energy transmitter who played to the crowd like she owned them
Despite some less than perfect guitar mixing in the sound meaning a few moments were lost to a wall of distortion, Baroness played with a confidence befitting a band much older, and delivered a varied set of metal anthems that filled out the large stage at the O2.
By the end of these performances, the room didn’t feel as tense as it had when everyone arrived. The fact Volbeat hadn’t turned up had been overshadowed by some fantastic music, entertaining sets, and lively showmanship. Whilst it was a shame to not see the Danish rock gods play to a room that, from the amount of t-shirts with their names on, were clearly huge fans of what they do, the support made for a night so entertaining that they comfortably filled the enormous shoes that had been left for them.
Photo by Monica Seide-Evenson