Ever wondered what it would sound like if you mixed Elvis Presley and Metallica together? Look no further! Danish rockers Volbeat are your answer. A healthy combination of bluesy drawl and pounding riffage makes Volbeat an infectious obsession for metalheads and rockers alike. Touring to support their latest release, “Beyond Heaven/ Above Hell,” Volbeat concluded their six-week run in the US with two nights at the House of Blues in Anaheim, California. I was lucky enough to attend both nights on Sept. 3 and 4.
As I entered the venue, people already crowded the rail in anticipation of their heroes, and had been waiting for hours outside. Having already reached platinum status in many parts of Europe, Volbeat gained notoriety in the States after opening for Metallica in 2009. Soon after, they began to develop a hardcore following of devoted fans in the US.
A gentleman I met on Saturday travelled all the way from Germany to see the last two shows of the tour. Another young man named Justin came all the way down from San Francisco to catch Volbeat. We chatted for a while, and he told me about the struggles he had to overcome to get there – car trouble, navigation issues and his friend’s run-in with the law. “Volbeat’s one of the only bands I would travel this far to see,” he said. “I would not miss it for the world!”
The first night went exceptionally well, and a sold-out crowd packed the venue wall-to-wall. The energy of the crowd was insane – the second the intro music, Motorhead’s “Born to Raise Hell,” came on the P.A., people began going absolutely crazy. The lights went down, and the band emerged to an even louder roar from the crowd. After briefly pausing to admire the crowd, the band jumped quickly into “The Human Instrument,” the first track off their Platinum album “Rock the Rebel/Metal the Devil.” The floor shook from the crowd’s movement. At one point, frontman Michael Poulsen told the audience to take good care of each other before jumping into the next song.
The truth is, it’s hard not to get sucked into Volbeat’s energy – they know how to put on a great show and have fun at the same time. The band members repeatedly switched positions on stage to interact with all parts of the crowd. Almost everybody was singing along the whole time, especially to the popular numbers like “Sad Man’s Tongue,” “Still Counting” and “Hallelujah Goat.”
“How many of you are coming to tomorrow night’s show as well?” Poulsen asked the sold-out crowd towards the end of the night. When over two thirds of the crowd cheered, he responded, “You guys are some crazy motherfuckers!”
The second night contained just as much magic and energy as the previous evening. The band played a lot of their older material in order to please their hardcore fans. Poulsen spotted a man in the front who was wearing a King Diamond t-shirt, and the band took a special break from their set to acknowledge the Danish metal band by playing a cover of one of their songs.
One thing that Volbeat is admired for is their dedication to their fans. They realize that without their fans, they would not be here. Thus, they go out of their way to keep their fans satisfied. After most of their shows, they will invite the audience to a local pub or bar to have a drink and share some company with them. In this case, it was the upper bar of the venue after the show.
Volbeat concluded both magical shows with “Thanks,” a song which gives a nod of appreciation for the fans. During the song, they invited audience members onstage to sing along with them. Finally, they paid tribute to the bands that helped influence their own sound. They dove into one last medley of cover jams, and even invited Slayer drummer Dave Lombardo to play with them on Slayer’s “Reign in Blood.” The band said goodnight, waved and left the stage to roaring applause. I was left smiling as the lights came back on, and the final note rang in my ear.
In the blink of an eye, my weekend of Volbeat was over. But it wasn’t really over. True to their word, the band re-emerged in the upper bar of the House of Blues to mingle with their most devoted fans. Even with a sore neck and hoarse throat, I couldn’t miss it for the world. I went up to the bar to meet Jon, Volbeat’s drummer. Unfortunately, by the time I made it up to the bar, the rest of the band had come and gone, but at least I could leave enormously satisfied.
In the end, Volbeat delivered just what they promised – a great show with a brand of music that is both captivating and unique. It is obvious that they love and appreciate what they do. Put on one of their records, and I guarantee that you’ll be hooked.