The year 2017 was full of amazing live performances by Metal talent! Here are our Top 10 Live Performances of 2017.
- Gojira – O2 Academy Birmingham, March 11th
There’s a sizeable difference between a band being good live, and a band being great live. There’s also a sizeable difference between a band being great live, and a band being genuinely extraordinary. Even with Car Bomb and Code Orange as their support bands that night, the fact that Gojira were able to upstage both of them immediately as the opening riff of “Only Pain” roared through the speakers was something truly remarkable. The best performance by a band I have ever seen in my life, demonstrated by the unbelievable setlist and the fact that the sound of their music was like being a tree caught in a hurricane. Gojira are called the best live band in metal for a reason.
- Crossfaith – Slam Dunk Midlands, May 27th
Last year I had Of Mice & Men in my ‘top ten best live performances’ I had seen in 2016, and Crossfaith take the crown for the best set by a band in the Warped Tour/Alternative Press side of the rock and metal scene in 2017. Their perfect combination of Slipknot heavy with Prodigy-influenced electronic music is even better live than it is on album, and the difference in sheer chaos between this Crossfaith crowd and the Gojira crowd was incredibly minimal. I saw about 10 or 11 bands that day, but Crossfaith laid all of them to waste.
- Skindred – Bloodstock Open Air, Aug 13th
Skindred’s initial booking for Bloodstock was undoubtedly going to be met with speculation and curiosity as opposed to outright opposition, which made their hour-long set at the festival’s main stage on its final day so much more enjoyable and rewarding. Everything from the nods to House of Pain and Black Sabbath to Star Wars and AC/DC, and coming off to Carly Simon’s “Nobody Does It Better”, Skindred were a real force of nature and proved that Bloodstock’s pool of bands goes far wider than some would imagine. One of the best crowds I saw all year as well – I did not expect it to kick off as hard as it did when Skindred took to the stage.
- Enter Shikari – Arena Birmingham, Nov 24th
Enter Shikari has over the past 10 years proven themselves to be true orchestrators of organized chaos. Even if you aren’t too keen on their musical output, the sheer amount of thought that goes into every aspect of their live performances is genuinely commendable. Solidarity second song in opened the floodgates, and from then on out every single thing that came out of those speakers felt like the end of the world. While just missing out on being in the top three, Enter Shikari was one of my favourite gigs I’ve ever been to. Top quality stuff from everyone involved, and there’s nothing better than walking out of a venue after a show genuinely loving life. Big up Enter Shikari for putting on a top-notch gig that is unlike anything else I’ve seen anywhere else. That’s way harder to do than it first appears.
- Code Orange – Download Festival, June 9th
Hardcore in its most contemporary form is in a brilliant place right now, with Knocked Loose, Employed to Serve, Grove Street Families, Broken Teeth, Cursed Earth, Turnstile, and more each bringing their own uniquely confrontational styles to the genre. Code Orange, however, is undisputedly the leader of the new wave of hardcore bands. For that band to turn up at an albeit ‘mainstream rock’ festival and be that punishingly nihilistic was staggering. What also made it great is that the people in that tent weren’t there ‘just to watch a band to pass the time’ – they were there to see Code Orange. The best band of the entire festival in my opinion, and after what I considered to be an admittedly disappointing performance with Gojira on their tour, I was so delighted to see them be the band that everyone says and knows they are.
- Municipal Waste – Bloodstock Open Air, Aug 12th
Municipal Waste is gonna fuck you up, and fuck us up they definitely did. Festivals are the best place to see bands, in my opinion, and stepping out onto the field at one of my favourite festivals under a blazing hot sun to see Municipal Waste was one of my favourite memories of the year. A killer setlist, massive crowd, wicked energy – there’s not much else I can say about Municipal Waste that hasn’t been said already. A perfect festival band to have LOADS of fun to, and their entire set was exactly that. One of the best bands around, basically, and a live act you should never pass up on seeing.
- Metallica – Birmingham Genting Arena, Oct 30th
Loads of people are frankly tired about hearing about Metallica by now, so I’ll try to keep this bit as brief as possible. With the exception of an awfully-timed and well-publicised power outage leading up to the ‘darkness, imprisoning me’ section of “One”, Metallica were on fire (both in terms of performance and stage show). All the big hitters, a couple of slightly more obscure songs, and the best material from their new album ‘Hardwired…to Self Destruct’ made for a thoroughly enjoyable evening. Metallica still have it.
- The Dillinger Escape Plan – Nottingham Rock City, Jan 21st
A sad farewell to one of contemporary hardcore’s most vital and continually impressive bands dragged itself all the way through 2017 with the final tour from The Dillinger Escape Plan. I was only able to see them once, but good god was that one time a hell of a experience. While the band has definitely calmed down a bit from their late-90s and early 2000s prime, the whole thing was still absolutely mental and a testament to how much that band will be missed once 2018 rolls around. At the time of writing this Dillinger still have a handful of shows remaining, so if you’re fortunate enough to be going to one of them, give them the mighty send-off they deserve and imaginably will receive.
- Slayer – Download Festival, 11th June
Here’s another Download Festival one for you to finish things off. By this point I was aching, horribly sunburnt, and had probably 3 and a half hours of sleep since first getting to the festival two days prior. The prospects of Aerosmith were soon to be seen, but first Slayer took to the festival’s second stage to deliver a brilliant headline performance. It’s almost a bit cliché to say Slayer is one of the best bands ever, but it is true. “South of Heaven” into “Raining Blood” into “Chemical Warfare” into “Angel of Death” – there aren’t many bands that can provide that run of songs in a row all of which are stone cold classics. SLAYER!
- Venom Prison – Download Festival, June 9th
I’ve been fortunate enough to see promising UK death metal upstarts Venom Prison a number of times throughout the year, from the main stage at Bloodstock Open Air to their own headline show in Birmingham towards the end of the year. By far their most impressive performance I saw of theirs, however, was their total domination of the smaller tent at this year’s Download Festival. Sandwiched in between UK grunge rockers God Damn and the Finnish thrash metal band Lost Society, Venom Prison ruined that tent and put on an incredible display of musical ferocity despite a lot of those in attendance being unfamiliar with the band and their music. Nonetheless, their tour with Trivium, Code Orange, and Power Trip in 2018 is something I am anticipating highly.
And to round off, here are a handful of honourable mentions I couldn’t fit into my top ten:
- Prophets of Rage – Download Festival, June 9th
An hour of Rage Against the Machine songs and one of the best atmospheres I’ve experienced all year. Brilliant stuff.
- Suicide Silence – Download Festival, June 10th
Forget what you’ve heard about that new album, Suicide Silence are still a mighty force to behold as a live band, and all those old songs are still some of the best of their genre.
- Kreator – Bloodstock Festival, Aug 12th
It was a close call between Kreator and Hatebreed in terms of which band got a mention and which didn’t, but Kreator completely decimated Bloodstock that evening and were one of the festival’s highlights. Hatebreed were still great though, obviously.
- Nails – Damnation Festival, November 4th
50 minutes of ferocious grind from one of music’s most violent entities. If you have the chance to see Nails live, prepare yourself.
- Anthrax – Birmingham Institute, February 9th
A sure fire way to know a good night is ahead is to go and see Anthrax play ‘Among the Living’ in full plus their greatest hits.