Children Of Bodom, Bristol O2 Academy, 8th October 2013

Review by Connor Flello

For the third highest selling symphonic “Melo-deathband in Finland, Children of Bodom should have had no problem filling up the O2 Academy, since it only holds 1800 people.

But possibly due to something of an odd line up – from Power Metal to the Gods of Grindcore – there was an insidiously poor turnout, and after watching the audience reaction (just imagine a horde of zombies with a brain dangling in front of them) it felt like watching a group of artists play as though they had a gun pointed to their heads.

When Medeia came on, there must have been about 100 people in the room, with the rest either being at the bar, at the back looking at the band gormlessly or out to find somewhere cheaper to drink. The band themselves looked like they knew they weren’t going to get a good response, but they were the only band that really made the effort with crowd interactions, from having a lead guitarist that integrated with the crowd to heavy synth melodies that soared over the rhythm section.

Insomnium graced the stage to some of the greatest Power Metal I’ve ever encountered.  By that time the audience close to the stage hit about 105.  As awkward as he may have been in various interviews, frontman Niilo Sevänen showed true showman prowess by controlling those who came to watch a rock show.

When Napalm Death came on, the mosh pit finally opened up to include everyone from the hardcore dancing 15 year olds to the middle aged blokes who didn’t get to see this band while they were in their prime. Barney seemed almost schizophrenic, almost fitting on stage from the amount of energy, but between every song it felt like a chat show. Barney spoke to the audience and members of the audience randomly shouted things back, but that was an indication of the turnout.  If you had time to make quips and could easily understand what that audience member was saying at a Napalm Death gig, maybe they should have just played Scum for 45 minutes.

Last but not least, Children of Bodom entered the stage.

It was so fucking painful to watch.

Alexi looked miserable, almost looked like he was being forced to play his guitar.  The other band members stood around idly waiting for something to happen. But this is supposed to be a high octane band, so I was expecting everyone to go crazy, but there was so much free room and most people just chose to gaze and headbang, I felt like I wanted to take all the crowd outside, execute them and replace them with fans that would have treated this as a true performance, not as though it was a run-of-the-mill pub gig.

After listening to Children of Bodom for a year, I had high hopes of what they had in store for this tour.   After watching a performance that looked more forced than Kim Kardashian announcing that she’s had a good movie career, I was incredibly disappointed.  I’m not sure the Finns should take all the blame, though.  The audience was an incredible let down. I was expecting everything to liven up by the time Napalm Death hit the stage, but even for a Tuesday, everyone was just lazy and just treating it like an average “pub gig”.  A band will only play to their best where they are treated well on any circuit.  If Bristol continues to behave like this, then all the knuckleheads will keep moaning that big bands don’t play there.  They’ll have a point, but it’ll all be because of those same knuckleheads.

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