Gig review: Five Finger Death Punch at First Direct Arena, Leeds

Five Finger Death Punch at First Direct Arena, Leeds. Picture: Danny Gartside
Five Finger Death Punch at First Direct Arena, Leeds. Picture: Danny Gartside
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It’s somewhat impressive that, given heavy metal’s reputation as the genre of overblown quasi-operatics and excess, Las Vegas had never given the world their bona-fide spin on such an artist until Five Finger Death Punch jackhammered their way onto the scene.

The Nevada five-piece certainly have the theatrics of their hometown down to pat though; dressed like grease-monkey scavengers wielding laser-edged guitars, they embody the Battle Born State’s penchant for turning it up to 11 well.

Five Finger Death Punch at First Direct Arena, Leeds. Picture: Danny Gartside

Five Finger Death Punch at First Direct Arena, Leeds. Picture: Danny Gartside

Crashing into Leeds’s First Direct Arena with all the subtlety of a mace to the face, their brand of ludicrously prosaic-yet-catchy rock threatens to tear the roof off – and is shot through with an unexpected pathos for good measure.

Their presence tonight showcases FFDP’s remarkable durability; in the summer, vocalist Ivan Moody suffered a meltdown on stage and appeared to quit the band halfway through a gig in Holland. Back in the fold after a stint in rehab, his powerhouse roar and croon are occasionally clipped, but otherwise hit with the weight of an anvil.

The past year has all but stripped him any typical arena-frontman-hubris; he cuts an empathetically human figure throughout, cheerfully flicking guitar-picks to successful crowd-surfers during the grooving Never Enough and hauling two-dozen fans sporting his signature painted handprint get-up on stage for the ridiculously titled shred-fest of Burn MF.

A tidy three-song acoustic interlude is accompanied by a frank admission – “I f***ed up,” he acknowledges – and a heartfelt apology that transitions into a spine-tingling Remember Everything.

Even clad in camo cargo pants, the dedication to owning his errors helps Moody transcend the absurdity of being flanked by a giant, suspended skull whilst baring his soul; it creates genuine touching lump-in-the-throat validation from the crowd and a heart-warming virtual all-black hug.

Elsewhere, it’s business as usual; rapid-fire riffs, rattled off with machine-like efficiency. Lift Me Up is a blisteringly fun pastiche of mid-era Judas Priest; Wash It All Away remains a creeping, insidious slice of pop-metal pugnacity.

Ain’t My Last Dance sees Moody’s temporary touring replacement Tommy Vext cameo to bellow its soaring chorus, and their meaty, swaggering remake of Bad Company is as cocksure as ever.

They wrap up with thrash-cum-power ballad debut single The Bleeding, Moody swinging a baseball bat around with the poise of a conductor’s baton.

Big, barmy and surprisingly affecting; Death Punch are a daft delight, refreshingly unafraid to face the mistakes that make them.

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