Gig review: Parkway Drive at O2 Academy Leeds

Parkway Drive
Parkway Drive
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“I hope you don’t mind,” Parkway Drive frontman Winston McCall tells Leeds’s O2 Academy in his broad New South Wales accent, “but we’ve brought our own heaters.” He gestures to several electrical bar fires that lay littered across the stage. “It’s always freezing when we come to England,” he quips with a grin.

Mild April temperatures have not cooled the fire of the Australian metalcore titans though; over 80 minutes, they deliver a balls-up, arena-ready rock set that frontloads visceral songcraft with a truckload of pyrotechnics in a thrilling, ridiculously fun cocktail.

Ostensibly still touring behind fifth record Ire, released eighteen months ago, Parkway’s shift into shiner, eighties-indebted pop metal has been a richly rewarding experience for the five-piece. They play a double brace of tracks across the night, all of which are met with ecstatic rapture. Breakout single Vice Grip – all whirling power-chords and classic rock singalongs – is gloriously fun, as is the meaty, brash Destroyer, which incites an outbreak of excessive headbanging all the way up to the back of the balcony.

They pay their dues with older material too; Boneyards, now a decade old, is frantic nihilism in musical form, whilst McCall unleashes his near-flawless sub-woofer screams over industrial-sized shredding on the acerbic Carrion.

The O2 Academy, relatively intimate at a capacity of 2,300, feels stadium-sized throughout proceedings too, in part to the communal connection forged between band and audience, but mostly due to the barrage of safety hazards deployed throughout. After blasting the crowd with confetti cannons during opener Wild Eyes, the group rarely let up the chance for overblown stagecraft. Gouts of orange flame erupt during Dedicated; streams of white-hot-blue billow forth on the urgent, insistent Sleepwalker. Dark Days, with its Van Halen-indebted licks, is accompanied by a brace of flash-bomb fireworks.

By the time a cathartic encore of Bottom Feeder has hurtled to a close – accompanied by more visual gimmicks – the venue looks like the aftermath of a particularly rowdy jamboree.

Crushingly heavy and tight, with the captivating stage presence to match, Parkway Drive are justly deserving of their plaudits – and outrageously enjoyable to boot.

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