If we’re looking for bands to take the next step up… to be the next headliners then we should probably be looking in the direction of Avatar. They’ve been around a while – since 2001 in fact and have seven albums under their belt, the latest being Avatar Country released January last year. Read our review of that album here.
While they had hits beforehand Avatar Country felt different. It felt like a major step forward for the band and the thematic approach to the concept really inspired. It turned me into a fan having been pretty unfamiliar with their work beforehand.
After a really strong showing as main support to Halestorm in September of last year were we also talked to frontman Johannes Eckerström before the show (you can hear that below) we’ve been eagerly awaiting the chance to see them play as the headline act.
We finally got that on a cold Sunday night at the Shepherd’s Bush Empire in London.
You wouldn’t know it had hit minus temperature outside. Or that is was a Sunday night by the excitement and anticipation in the air. Officially it might not be sold out but it has got to pretty damn close. Every movement on stage as the servants of the King prepare for his arrival is met with loud cheers and shouts of “AVATAR”.
There isn’t a single person inside the building who isn’t a fan and that excitement is infectious. When the lights do dim the place erupts and it is phenomenal to be a part of it. We’re witnessing an event heralded by the ‘King’ himself rising up from behind the drums on a throne. All while ‘Glory to Our King’ plays out.
It’s the kind of pageantry and visuas that show just why Avatar could be a future headliner. That and the enigmatic frontman, Johannes Eckerström who is a sight to behold. He moves around the stage like a man possessed by a demon born to entertain and it’s impossible to avert your eyes from his. As well as the madness of his movements, he sounds amazing. He really does have a powerful voice and switches from clean, almost gleeful-like singing to death metal gutturals with ease.
Johannes is a talker but it never disrupts the flow, instead his back and forth is rooted in his character. Delivering tongue in cheek declarations and enjoying every chant directed his way.
Simply amazing, as are the rest of the band who hit every riff, note and melody without missing a beat. Special mention has to go to drummer, John Alfredsson who gives it his absolute all.
The band are so in synch and it pays off. As every single person in attendance laps up what they deliver. A smashing best of that includes many fan favourites like Smells Like a Freakshow, The Eagle Has Landed, For the Swarm, Paint Me Red and Let it Burn.
It’s so much fun and you have to believe that on showings like this across the world there will be few who aren’t coming away impressed.
Avatar at The O2 Shepherd's Bush Empire, London (20/01/19)
The Final Score - 9/10