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Gig Report: Godsmack @ O2 Ritz Manchester

I can not tell you how long I've waited to see these guys live. I mean this was one of the first bands I ever got into. I remember first listening to Godsmack when I was 13 years old, I was introduced to them via a friend in the school-yard. The album was Awake and I remember borrowing the CD and listening to it over and over again. It was one of the albums that forever shaped my music taste. Along with names like Tantric, Saliva, Three Days GraceBlack Stone Cherry and Alter Bridge, this was the basis of my music taste going forward. So when I say, I've wanted to see Godsmack live for a while, I mean... I've been waiting for ages. They were definitely one of my bucket-list bands, which I can now cross firmly off the list. In all honesty, this was one of the best shows that I have ever been to. I mean everything that could go right at a show went perfect on this night. A great support act, a great main act, an awesome audience, the sound was great and the music was so damn good.

Opening up the evening was the New Zealand hard rock act, Like A Storm. It's a shame that I have never really had the opportunity to see them live before now. They've opened at other gigs that I've been to, but I always have seemed to miss them. Now I have actually seen them, I will say, I am seriously impressed. The band walked on stage and the stage layout alone was impressive with two didgeridoo's set up in the form demonic alters and an atmospheric backdrop. They went on to play an awesome set. Their music is really a kind of a mix of mid-2000's emo rock and early 2010's hard rock and that appealed to me so much, Frontman, Chris Brooks was a treat to watch as he bounced between his responsibilities of singing, guitar and didgeridoo, all while trying to keep the crowd pumped at the same time. I also loved the vocal harmonies here, the balance between Chris and Matt Brooks was great and they worked off of one another really well. The music was super tight and got the crowd going, with fist pumps and headbanging. This was an energetic and well-executed set and they made for a great opener for Godsmack.

The lights dimmed and the crowd went nuts for the men of the hour, Godsmack. Opening on the anthemic tune "When Legends Rise" and when that chorus kicked in the crowd was just so loud singing it back to the band. Believe me, the crowd stayed at this hype level all the way through the night. The energy in the room was just infectious and frontman, Sully Erna lead the charge for the night. He was just so charismatic and charming throughout the set and he was clearly enjoying himself in Manchester. The set was an awesome mix of new material and classic hits. All of which the crowd were ready to sing along to. The sound was on point throughout the set, it was perfectly balanced and you could hear every member of band crystal clear. Obviously, the big hits got a massive reaction. Songs like "Cryin' Like A Bitch", "Awake" and "Straight Out of Line" went down a real treat. Then when they played their big tune "Voodoo" the crowd was so damn loud, I could hear myself think. Believe me, I was right there with the audience, singing my heart out, like I've wanted to do ever since I first heard these tunes.

I mean I could go through the whole setlist and just be a little fanboy about this gig but I think I've made my point that this was an awesome show to be at. Watching Godsmack play was awesome. Seeing the enthusiasm of Sully, the guitar mastery of Tony Rombola, the slick bass work of Robbie Merrill and the cracking drum work of Shannon Larkin, was such a treat for me. The ended their main set with a massive cover of "Come Together" by The Beatles which worked really well as a nu-metal tune. That turned into a big ol' jam out session for the band live on stage. Which was kinda awesome. 

After a small break, the band returned for the encore. Opening this was the beautiful ballad "Under Your Scars", which was preceded by a wonderful speech from Sully on the subject of mental health and suicide. As a package, this really hit home for me and added a whole new meaning to the song. Capping off the set, they played back-to-back hits, first being the new single, "Bulletproof" and finishing the night on the massive hit "I Stand Alone". Overall, like I said at the start, this was one of the best gigs I've had the pleasure of going to. I can only hope it's not another 13 years until I see them live again.


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