Avenged Sevenfold returns to Massachusetts – July 19, 2023
Avenged Sevenfold returned to Massachusetts for the first time in nearly a decade! Their last performance in the Bay State was here, at the Xfinity Center, headlining the 2014 edition of the now defunct Rockstar Energy Mayhem Festival. Tonight, they return as headliners, with Alexisonfire and Kim Dracula opening the show.
After solid sets from the openers, Avenged came out to a very darkly lit stage. Frontman M. Shadows sat in a small chair in the center of the stage, donning a Rammstein t-shirt, and a covered by a black ski mask with “We Love You” emblazoned on the forehead, while singing “Game Over,” off their recently released eighth studio album, Life is but a Dream… The darkness on stage would be a theme throughout the night, though thankfully Shadows removed the mask after the first song. After another new song, the crowd really got going when they played 2007’s “Afterlife.”
While the band sounded great, visually, it was an extremely dark show. There was almost no front-lighting on the band, the stage was pretty barebones, with the exception of a giant screen behind them, and even the closeup video on the main screens was very dark.
The show continued on with songs off of their more recent albums, with “Hail to the King,” “We Love You” and the title track of 2016’s The Stage. During “The Stage,” lead guitarist Synyster Gates somehow injured his leg, and left the stage, while continuing to play. The rest of the band was unaware of why he was side stage and playing, so they poked fun at him throughout the song. Shadows made a comment about Gates not being up front for the signature part of his solo, and bassist Johnny Christ stood next to guitarist Zacky Vengeance, recreating the dueling guitar look, all the while laughing.
As soon as the song was finished, Shadows says “oh man, I didn’t realize Brian (Gates’ real first name) was actually injured.” He continued to talk with people backstage, saying “What does he want to do, play the rest of the show backstage?” At that point Johnny came up and spoke into his ear. Shadows again addresses the crowd “Apparently Brian is seriously injured. I know it’s hard, because it’s a Wednesday night, and you made the trip out here, but we’re going to take some time and figure out what’s going on.”
After about 15 minutes, Shadows returned to the stage letting us know his leg was badly injured, but they were wrapping it up, and he was going to finish the show from backstage. They needed a few more minutes to get him set, and setup a vocal mic for him, and they’d be back, and they’d have to cut a few songs due to a hard curfew tonight. One wonders if the darkness of the stage caused him to miss a step or an edge of a ramp.
About five minutes later, the band returned, and Shadows explained this is a weird song to introduce next coming out of all that, and they dedicated “So Far Away” to their late drummer, The Rev. The set continued on, as normal, but with Synyster absent from the stage. Next up was the first single off Life is but a Dream…, “Nobody.” I was not a fan of this song when it was released, but I did find it more enjoyable live. After “Nightmare,” Shadows was chatting a bit before saying “I should stop talking, because we’re going to run out of time,” and the band kicked into their breakout hit, “Bat Country.” I’ve often felt that Avenged Sevenfold is owed a good deal of credit for bringing guitar solos back to popular hard rock music. “Bat Country” was released at a time when rock music on the radio didn’t have guitar solos, and I clearly remember the first time I heard the song on the radio.
The night ended off with “Unholy Confession,” and “A Little Piece of Heaven”. The three-song encore outro off Life is But a Dream… of “G”, “(O)rdinary” and “(D)eath” were skipped, due to the delay and the strict curfew.
Avenged Sevenfold has had some rough luck over the last several years. Their 2018 tour was canceled due to Shadows needing vocal chord surgery, and the seven shows they’ve played so far this year are their first since then. We await details on Gates’ condition, but we all certainly hope the rest of this tour will not be heavily affected.
Update: Vocalist M. Shadows took to the band’s Discord server with the following update:
“So all we know right now is syn felt like a gunshot type of feeling in his calf… Ive played alot of basketball and seen that many times W an achilles rupture or snap. Usually if pulls up into the calf or down into the shoe… but his achilles is still in tact… so it could be a calf rupture or achilles strain. He’s at the hospital now so we will wait and see.”