Not too far from the city centre, metal fans young and old (though mostly young) gathered outside the O2 Academy. The reason? To see Finnish ‘melodic death metal’ quintet Children of Bodom play the Birmingham leg of their ‘Ugly World’ tour.
Crowds entered the venue with little else than the clothes on their backs, the tickets in their hands, and enthused excitement for an evening of modern, heavy metal. They weren’t disappointed.
CoB’s audience eventually formed a respectably sized crowd in the O2’s enormous main room. Although a group of teenagers, fuelled by puberty and Monster energy drinks, did manage a mini mosh pit during the opening two acts, Machinae Supremacy and ‘folk metal’ Ensiferum.
By the time Amon Amarth came on, the third band on the bill, everyone was off the sidelines. But as headliners Children of Bodom took the stage the entire floor became a mass of avid head banging.
Standing under an array of coloured lights and tremendous applause, CoB launched into ‘Not My Funeral’, the first track on their recently released ‘Relentless, Reckless Forever’ album. The song, an ode to frontman Alexi Laiho’s past battles with alcoholism, set an energetic and speedy pace for the rest of the night. Grinning defiantly onstage, the band led the crowd in to favourites ‘In Your Face’, ‘Blooddrunk’, ‘Follow the Reaper’ and then a sing-along to a CoB fan anthem, ‘Hate Crew Deathroll’. Even the more cynical, older metal lovers at the back, were soon clapping and bobbing along.
Regardless of the O2’s place in the mediated mainstream, the metal scene’s etiquette translated well into the venue. From the fringes of the crowd, where free cups of water were passed around, to the enthusiastic interaction from the bands themselves, everyone was here to enjoy a brilliant night of Nordic metal.
And in the most endearing sign of metal scene loyalty, the Birmingham crowd even sang an impromptu ‘Happy Birthday’ to honour CoB’s Laiho; who turned 32 on the day of the gig. I wonder what people sing at the end of Drum & Bass parties..?