Arriving early afternoon for my interview with the headliners it was clear that many had got the day off work/school as a massive queue of fans had already gathered early to secure prime vantage points ahead of the doors opening. Three Days Grace play UK shores quite often but despite having been into the band for many years I couldn’t name any friends that actually share my passion for the band, hence I would be flying solo for this one.
Interview completed, and I popped out for a quick bite to eat before rendezvousing with my photographer for the evening and securing our passes at the box office. The legendary Manchester venue is blessed with a balcony, so that was where I headed to await the arrival of tonight’s support Bad Wolves. “Zombie” has secured a place in the heads and ears of many rock fans currently, but I was very keen to witness what they could actually serve up in a live setting with the delivery of their own material from their debut release.
Straight from the off and opening track “Officer down” the band literally battered the audience into complete submission with a brutal and energetic show. I was surprised that the venue was full for the support as many appeared to be as passionate for the Bad Wolves songs. The band successfully engaged the full-to-capacity audience with a variety of songs from their debut album, as circle pits broke out all over the floor. “Learn to Live”, and “No Masters”, had the Ritz audience passionately singing along before the tempo dropped slightly for a subtler “Remember When”. One thing that came over clearly regarding Bad Wolves songs is that they were not all one dimensional-instead illustrating a diversity both in sound and musical style . Suffice to say that I was considerably impressed with my first viewing of Bad Wolves live. Certainly, they had raised the bar extremely high for the following headliners. Their recent single which featured a female vocal “Hear Me Now” was up next-illustrating another side to the band. On this occasion her vocals were instead replicated by the other band members Culminating with that cover-literally had everyone in awe and presented a quite simply stunningly incredible moment as they sang along with the emotional lyrics. I have heard many rock bands at various levels actually cover the song over the years but this live version that I personally witnessed far surpassed anything that I had heard previously. Bad Wolves definitely need to build on the momentum currently surrounding them and make a quick return as soon as possible to the UK. Simply Bad Wolves played one of the best support sets I had seen for a considerable time.
After a cheesy Bon Jovi song as an intro, Three Days Grace arrived on stage and began with a recent single “Mountains”. Guitarist Barry had revealed to me that since Matt had joined the band they seemed to have picked up a new generation of younger fans-which quickly became apparent from the largely teen screaming that tended to jar the ears as the set went on. It took a couple of songs before the band members seemed to find their own energy levels, which the audience had already shown from the outset. Crowd interaction from the stage was kept at a minimum as the band delivered a quite long set.
Dipping into all of their back catalogue it was apparent however that Matt seemed happier doing the newer songs with which he had been directly involved in their creation. That’s not to say that his delivery of the older ones was anything less than quality, just that the newer songs came across better to the ears anyway of this long-standing fan.
A surprise cover was introduced into the set but rather than doing what many bands do, the song choice itself was quite obscure. It lightened the mood before the band went back in time and served up an old favourite “Just like you” Three Days Grace then served up what seems to have become the norm these days with rock bands-the obligatory mid-section acoustic set…Certainly, live shows should offer up a variety and some diversity but the pacing is still oh so important…Take the tempo down gradually not I feel suddenly switch from high energy octane rock bang straight to acoustic mellowness. New number “Love me or leave me” opened this section of the show, and this was followed by a different interpretation of an older favourite “Get Out Alive”. Intensity was quickly restored with the new albums “Painkiller”, and golden oldies “Let you down” and “I hate everything about you”.
A huge set of some eighteen songs culminated in “Never too late” and “Riot” sent an exhausted and sweaty Manchester audience out into the night. A fantastic night of rock music but despite my long-standing affinity to the headliners, the undercard Bad Wolves just shaded things on this occasion. Delivering an intense live experience that I very much look forward to revisiting on their return to UK shores.
Words by Mark Dean | Photos by Daria Mynarska