Five Finger Death Punch

support Megadeth + Bad Wolves
author PP date 24/01/20 venue Royal Arena, Copenhagen, DEN

This decade's concert season starts for the undersigned with a venture into the American redneck world of Five Finger Death Punch, whose meteoric rise to success should not be understated. Today, they are playing at Royal Arena, the second-largest venue in Copenhagen (eclipsed only by the Parken stadium), and even though the upper rafters are closed, the arena looks otherwise nearly sold out both on the floor and in the available seats. Few bands this heavy can play here, attesting to the popularity and success of the hard rockers despite critical scorn.

Bad Wolves

Bad Wolves

Bad Wolves are a familiar name to most Five Finger Death Punch fans because their vocalist Tommy Vext briefly doubled for Ivan Moody during tours while he was in rehab. We're a bit late today so we only catch the last couple of songs of their set, but the sheer charisma and power of his presence are enough to convince the surprisingly many fans that turned out early. The band is churning out heavily chugged, head-bangable rock/metal tracks that are a much better match for this crowd than the Megadeth guitar wankery we would see afterward, but that being said, opting to cover The Cranberries' "Zombie" - albeit in their own sound - is always going to lead to a negative remark from yours truly. We pay money to see your songs, else we'd go to a Cranberries show. That said, no rating given we didn't see the whole set, but the little that we saw looked good!

Megadeth

Megadeth - or Megadave as some jokingly refer to them - is about as good of a match for Five Finger Death Punch as a craft beer bar at an AA meeting. Where one band is simple, catchy, pseudo-heavy hard rock extravaganza characterized by an American Republican guns and flag vibe, the other is a complicated thrash metal band running on last fumes before retirement. Look, no-one is denying that Megadeth aren't good musicians, because for the one hour that we must endure tonight, we get ample time eyeballing various members showcasing their fretwork in their static, stand-still positions on the scene. There dudes trading solos between each other on stage is a good summary of a Megadeth show and one that tonight swooshes way beyond the average Five Finger Death Punch fan's head.

Megadeth

But truth be told, Megadeth has never really been a particularly exciting live band. I still have vivid memories of their stand-still Copenhell spectacle which was every bit as boring as this show - and the same reaction from the crowd back then: everyone standing still and just staring into oblivion. Now, this wouldn't be such a problem if they at least had an arsenal of excellent songs to cover up their nonexistent showmanship. Problem is, they only have a couple of truly great tracks, rest is, frankly, average metal of the nothing saying sort. Tonight, we hear about Megadave beating cancer and apparently thinking of Denmark specifically throughout his recovery. Congratulations on winning the battle against cancer - but the rest smells like bs to me. These are about the only worthwhile remarks from the show - other than my multiple notes about how dead the crowd feels and looks like - until "Holy Wars...The Punishment Due" finally airs some solid riffs that wake us up from a coma. Combined with a muddled sound at least to the seats, awful vocals, and a totally stand-still performance, it looks very much like it's time to retire this band for good.

5

Five Finger Death Punch

It takes about half a riff to shift the crowd from a state of anathema to one of ecstasy when the Five Finger Death Punch curtain drops and reveals a giant inflatable skull with two baseball bats across it on the background. Yes, the American culture has always been strongly present in this band's ethos, whether in songwriting or imagery, which is perhaps why Moody himself is today dressed up as an old 90s rapper in an all-white skull-suit costume that's about as far from a fashion sense as possible. But we're not here to talk about that; the band wastes no time in delivering hits upon hits and the crowd faithfully sings along.

Five Finger Death Punch

Small gimmicks like LED lights on their guitars, laser lights and pyrotechnics behind the band keep us entertained to an extent that we need to be when paying this ticket price, and Moody himself also spends time addressing the crowd: "I'm in a great fucking mood. Thank you for having us... let's wash it all away, wash it all away", he tells us before "Wash It All Away" incites a big sing-along combined with lots of fire on stage.

Five Finger Death Punch

We're now three songs down their set, yet something doesn't feel right. In the past, Five Finger Death Punch shows have always felt like a show of power, an aggressive Moody delivering a muscular performance that holds the crowd in its grip throughout the set, irrespective of what you think about the numbing stupidity of their lyrics or the simplicity of their mainstream metal recorded material. Tonight, however, feels like another day in the office. The sound could be better and the band doesn't look like they're particularly invested in this show.

Five Finger Death Punch

Fortunately, the second half of the set lifts the mood through the roof as the band reaches the most popular parts of their back catalogue. We are given an acoustic rendition of "Wrong Side Of Heaven" that results in a thunderous sing-along, and "Coming Down"'s "Pull meeee under" segments are fantastic. Here, one of the band members is shot up towards the sky on a tall pillar-like platform that moves up and down - the purpose of which isn't entirely clear to me other than he is, of course, coming down in the end.

Five Finger Death Punch

"Never Enough" morphs the Royal Arena floor into a trampoline-esque element as the thousands-strong crowd hops up and down the floor, and after the encore we witness Moody shaking a baseball bat in the crowd before tossing it to a crowd member who claims to have been half a year sober after a touching speech about the struggles of sobriety. Finally, the set closes with a confetti-storm of glitter and fire during "The Bleeding" - leaving us all satisfied with a solid show overall. And that's the thing about Five Finger; you know exactly what you're buying and they deliver the product (and let us be very clear about that: it IS a product) with a frightening level of consistency. It's never gonna be a critic's darling, but for some arena metal sing-alongs, it does its job remarkably well.

8

Setlist:

  • 1. Lift Me Up
  • 2. Trouble
  • 3. Wash It All Away
  • 4. Jekyll and Hyde
  • 5. Sham Pain
  • 6. Bad Company (Bad Company cover)
  • 7. Burn It Down
  • 8. Got Your Six
  • 9. Wrong Side of Heaven (Acoustic)
  • 10. Battle Born (Partly acoustic)
  • 11. Blue on Black (Kenny Wayne Shepherd cover)
  • 12. Coming Down
  • 13. Never Enough
  • 14. Burn MF
  • --Encore--
  • 15. Under and Over It
  • 16. Far from Home
  • 17. The Bleeding

Photos by: Lykke Nielsen

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