This was one of the most anticipated shows of the fall Vegas concert season, and the House of Blues inside Mandalay Bay played host to this standing room only Swedish affair, with a four band lineup all hailing from viking country. The line outside the venue formed early, and stretched way past the venue nearly two hours before the doors opened for The Berserker World Tour, with Amon Amarth, Arch Enemy, At the Gates and Grand Magus.
GRAND MAGUS was the most melodic of all the bands on this night, a talented trio of Janne "JB" Christoffersson on lead vocals and guitar, Mats Skinner on backing vocals and bass and Ludwig Witt on drums. Due to the headliners stage setup, these guys were pushed all the way to the edge of the stage with their drum kit right at the edge, and members way to the sides of the stage. This challenge did not stop the band from performing a fantastic set.
AT THE GATES is an old school Swedish death melodic death metal band from Gothenburg, formed in 1990, with a history of breaking up and getting back together throughout their career. This band really fired up the crowd, with “To Drink From the Night Itself”, opening up the first mosh pit of the night, and the crowd kept it up through the bands entire set. At The Gates kept up the pace through their show, until the blistering “The Night Eternal”, that slowly ended with a melodic guitar, as the bands members would each stop playing and walk off the stage. The chants from the crowd brought them back out, where they tossed out drumsticks and handfuls of guitar picks, along with setlists to the outstretched hands of their rabid fans. This was a band that the fans definitely loved seeing.
ARCH ENEMY finally made a Vegas appearance with this tour, formed back in 1995, and now fronted by Canadian-born vocalist Alissa White-Gluz, known for tight leather outfits, flowing blue and white hair and guttural vocals. As with the other bands they were also right to the edge of the stage for their set, but even the condensed stage could not contain Alissa, who jumped and leaped back and forth over the risers and drum setup. Alissa stood swinging her long hair into a circle as the soaring twin guitars of Michael Amott and Jeff Loomis screamed out across the crowd.The band opened the show with “The World Is Yours” under a blaze of flashing blinding white lights which once again sent the crowd on the main floor into a frenzy. “War Eternal” kept up the energy and Alissa asked the crowd to sing along with her for the chorus. Arch Enemy's set was about 40 minutes in length, and included just 8 songs, but even with the shorter set created a huge impact. Arch Enemy closed out their set with “Nemesis” under flashing bright yellow lights, with Alissa running back and forth holding an Arch Enemy flag, waving it wildly to the roars of the fans, and screaming out “Las Vegas, We Are Arch Enemy” as the band concluded their scorching set.
Everything about AMON AMARTH screams Viking heritage from their stage setup to the bands songs and looks, and the band is touring in support of their new CD titled Berserker, released in May of 2019 on Metal Blade Records. The band had a large Berserker curtain covering their stage setup, hiding what was to come, as fans chanted "AMON, AMON..." in anticipation. The curtain soon dropped, revealing an enormous Viking helmet in the center of the stage towards the back, with the band's drum kit on top of it, with two sets of small stairs on each side of the helmet and risers across the front of the stage with fog machines and strobe lights inside of them - a hell of a stage set. The band opened the show with the thunderous “Ravens Flight”, a song about ancient Viking Warriors - what else would you expect from Amon Amarth? - and is also the first single off the band's new cd, and a worthy one it is. AA followed up with “Runes To My Memory” and “Deceiver of the Gods”, which had a larger than life Viking Warrior on stage, with horns coming out of his head and green glowing eyes, carrying what looked to be a magical staff who moved about the stage standing on the risers. During the song “Fafner's Gold” two Viking warriors came out on stage dressed in battle gear carrying swords and shields, and proceeded to have an epic battle onstage which culminated in the death of one of the warriors.
During the second single off Berserker, “Shield Wall”, lead singer Johan Hegg, who many call the Viking King, asked the crowd if they were ready to join him and fight to the last man, to which the crowd screamed a resounding 'YES' back to the stage. Two more warriors appeared onstage on the back risers wearing full battle armor and carrying swords and shields as Johan sang over and over the chorus, “Vikings Raise the Shield Wall, Hold the Front Line, Fight Till Death”. The band then announced that they need a drink and asked the crowd to join them, and all raised real horns and drank out of like true Vikings.
The band closed out their set with “Raise Your Horns”, and exited the stage and the lights went out. After a few minutes in the dark you could see a huge creature emerge on each side of the stage and when the lights came back on, it showed a monstrous dragon with the tail on one side of the stage and the huge head on the other side. This resulted in an epic battle between Johan and the dragon in a fight to the death, with Johan grabbing a larger than life hammer of Thor and pounding the dragon into submission.
The band ended the show , but stayed onstage for at least five minutes thanking the fans and tossing drumsticks, pics and setlists out to the fans. Amon Amarth's lighting was some of the best for a show of this size in the HOB, and the standing room only crowd definitely got their money's worth and a great metal Beserker show.
AMAON AMARTH SETLIST LAS VEGAS:
Runes to My Memory
Deceiver of the Gods
Crack the Sky
The Way of Vikings
Guardians of Asgaard
Raise Your Horns
The Pursuit of Vikings
Twilight Of The Thunder God
Amon Amarth Photos from Harold Mountain / JustAFanPhotos
ARCH ENEMY SETLIST LAS VEGAS:
Set Flame to the Night
The World Is Yours
The Eagle Flies Alone
First Day in Hell
As the Pages Burn
Enter the Machine
Arch Enemy Photos from Harold Mountain / JustAFanPhotos
At The Gates Photos from Harold Mountain / JustAFanPhotos
GRAND MAGUS Photos from Harold Mountain / JustAFanPhotos