We arrive at Rock City early as we have been told that support act NOTHING MORE are definitely one to watch and it becomes immediately apparent that we have been advised well. A huge scream permeates the room as the band enter the stage to a storm of sound. The audience at the front are punching the air in time with the drum beat as the band burst into as thunderous sound that is the kind of thing Rock City was made for and the bare footed JOHNNY HAWKINS throws himself into a fervent performance of LET ‘EM BURN.
Unleashing an auditory avalanche of compelling fury the band start CHRIST COPYRIGH and the crowd dance along with wild abandon. DON’T STOP is so powerful that you can feel it in your throat as HAWKINS tears in to an awesome vocal delivery. The crowd sing along to GO TO WAR and are then bounce around to the intense melody of DYRWI .
The tender start of FIFO showcases HAWKINS’ emotive vocal before it kicks up a notch into a raucous belter. The storming soundtrack to JENNY, a song about the HAWKINS’ sister, has the crowd singing along before some very enthusiastic head banging breaks out along the front row during OCEAN FLOOR and BALLAST. Breathless due to the belting performance, I look down at my notebook and then somehow when I glance back at the stage, HAWKINS appears to be straddling a massive metallic dragon in a theatrical ending that rounds off the awesome opening and incorporates a bit of WE WILL ROCK YOU crowd participation. We are very glad that we didn’t miss this brilliant, ballsy band.
Obviously, the rest of the evening is going to be awesome because we are here to see the ever entertaining and energetic PAPA ROACH Jordan enters the press pit with an air of trepidation, remembering that memorable moment at Leeds Festival when JACOBY SHADDIX shouted ‘I’m going to elbow drop that table’ and then flew through the air towards Jordan’s head but thoughts of his impending doom are soon obliterated as PAPA ROACH defy the convention of keeping fan favourites for the encore and unleash crowd mayhem as they perform LAST RESORT. This angst ridden anthem was part of the soundtrack to my university days and so I’m screaming along with the rest of the crowd, ridiculously excited to be part of what seems from the very start to be a great gig.
Everyone around me is smiling deliriously SHADDIX shouts ‘are you gonna get fucking rowdy with us?’ and then gives a full throttle performance of HELP. The crowd demonstrate a resounding ‘yes!’ as everyone dances around and gets the party truly pounding.
SHADDIX descends into the photo pit for a thunderous performance of WHO DO YOU TRUST?, high-fiving fervent fans and smiling at the stupendous atmosphere that resonates throughout the room. Launching straight into MURDER, the band belt out this tempest of a tune to a roaring crowd reaction. Old and new songs are performed with equal passion and the crowd reaction indicates that PAPA ROACH’s latest album has been embraced thoroughly by the audience, who know all the words to the songs.
RENEGADE MUSIC sparks some enthusiastic bouncing and friendly moshing under strobing lights and I’m already exhausted but it doesn’t matter because PAPA ROACH are definitely not a band to come and watch from the side-lines. ANGELS AND INSECTS obviously has the crowd shouting out anti-avarice lines along with SHADDIX, then screaming PAPA ROACH repeatedly over the drum beat. It is fair to say that this doesn’t just feel like a gig anymore. It feels like a celebration of the power of live music.
ELEVATE is a song just made to bounce along to and so the Rock City arena is full of leaping enthusiasts attempting to see how far they can elevate their bodies as others sing along to the repeated refrain. So many of the songs from PAPA ROACH have compelling chorus to create a circle pit to and SHADDIX acknowledges one by shouting ‘let’s start a motherfucking fire in the place right now’ before starting NOT THE ONLY ONE. The crowd oblige and with a fever pitch performance the band and the crowd create an electric atmosphere. My throat feels sore from all my raucous singing but it is worth it as other fans huddle around me and we spit out lyrics with feverish abandon.
The thundering drum of TRAUMATIC leads to a call and response with the crowd and SHADDIX talks about his love of being on stage and the joy of live music to a deafening cheer that indicates that the rest if the crowd are feeling the same sense of community that I’m feeling which they demonstrate in true rock style by creating an epic wall of death and then leaping into the air at the finale of the song. SHADDIX acknowledges the crowd’s enthusiasm by stating ‘you guys are the fucking best’ before storming into CROOKED and FALLING APART with the crowd on backing vocals.
A beautifully emotive rendition of FOREVER keeps the singing going amongst the crowd, followed by SCARS, which SHADDIX sings with a heart-breaking passion that betrays the personal emotion behind this song. PAPA ROACH have songs of fury but they also have songs that explore the heart of the human condition and this is one of the reasons why their fans are so intense in their devotion to the band.
FEEL LIKE HOME sees SHADDIX in the photo pit again, showing that he has a connection to the fans that traverses the differential between rock star and fan that has the crowd singing and dancing with enthusiastic energy before a shout of ‘ay, oh, let’s go!’ is taken up by the crowd as a prelude to TO BE LOVED.
Anyone who loves the kind of passionate performance that PAPA ROACH are known for can probably also acknowledge the onstage whirlwind that was KEITH FLINT always gave everything he had to THE PRODIGY’s gigs. Regardless of the controversy that swirled around the late showman, it is undeniable that he had a powerful persona onstage that will be missed by those of us that witnessed the furious frenzy of his festival performance at Victorious last summer. The incendiary version of FIRESTARTER performed by PAPA ROACH was a fitting tribute and greatly appreciated throughout the crowd and the addition of ‘one minute’s noise for Keith’ was a touching tribute from the band in memory of Flint. The crowd shouting ‘Keith’ repeatedly was a fitting nod to the memory of one of music’s mavericks.
Ending with INFEST and BORN FOR GREATNESS, PAPA ROACH came to Rock City and boy did they rock. As we leave the packed room, everyone has one question on their lips, so, when are you coming back so we can do it all over again , guy