Gig Review: Parkway Drive Destroy Alexandra Palace – Saturday 2nd February 2019

By Phil Ashdown

London’s iconic Alexandra Palace was opened on 24th May 1873 and sixteen days later it was destroyed by fire, leaving just the outer walls standing. Quite how this beautiful old building survived the amount of flame and pyrotechnics that Parkway Drive unleashed on Saturday I really don’t know but it must testament to modern health and safety standards.

It would be a massive  understatement to say that anticipation was high for this show from the Byron Bay metalcore band, this being their biggest headline gig to date, the packed, sold-out crowd were certainly expecting great things.

After releasing their sixth studio album, 2018’s Reverence, the Aussie powerhouse manage to retain their metalcore roots whist maturing through some very tough personal problems, further developing their sound with growing power and melody.

As the house lights go off and a massive cheer erupts from the crowd and a backing tape plays over the speakers the band members make a grand and stylish entrance cloaked in black, each holding aloft a lighted torch as columns of flames spurt from around the mixing desk and bombs go off onstage. After making their way through the crowd to the stage each band member is illuminated by a single spot as opener ‘Wishing Wells’ roars to life and a thrilling and exhilarating ninety-minute set begins.

It’s material from Reverence that makes up most of the setlist with eight tracks being showcased tonight, including a colossal sounding ’Prey’ with it’s stadium-ready chorus, a spine-tingling ‘Cemetery Bloom’, and the heavy groove of ‘The Void’.

The production is also huge with explosions and pyrotechnics aplenty to enhance the music. Sparks rain down on the band during the aforementioned ‘The Void’ and massive flames shoot out during ‘Dedication’. The cost of pyro alone for this gig must be more than some bands entire touring expenditure! The lighting is also impressive, how we didn’t all leave with photo-sensitive epilepsy is another mystery! Frontman Winston McCall cuts an impressive figure and his manly lungs range from roaring beast to plaintive, almost spoken-word sweetness.

Another impressive touch that was something of a surprise was when a string quartet appeared on raised platforms to enhance the mighty riffing of ‘Shadow Boxing’ and ‘Wild Eyes’. The cellist was to return later to accompany a solo McCall on another hydraulic floor near the mixing desk for the vulnerable pleading of the poetic ‘The Colour Of Leaving’ lit by a single spotlight whilst the stage remained in total darkness.

McCall returns to the mainstage stripped to the waist with a Molotov cocktail which he lights and lobs into the band logo. The biggest and loudest explosion of the night sets the different levels of the stage alight as the conflagration spreads across the whole production a-la Rammstein.

Finishing with the one-two of ‘Crushed’ and a mighty version of ‘Bottom Feeder’, creating some of the biggest and craziest circle pits as the crowd becomes a seething mass, ensuring nobody left the building disappointed. There were video cameras around the venue with an extending crane camera swooping over the crowd the entire night so I can only presume a possible DVD is being planned.

Much discussion has taken place recently about who can headline festivals such as Download in the future as bands like Iron Maiden and their ilk reach the end of their tenure. After this performance the future of metal is certainly in safe hands and Parkway Drive must be front runners for that honour. In fact tonight they announced from the stage that they are headlining Bloodstock in the Summer.

Vice Grip
Wishing Wells
Vice Grip
Cemetery Bloom
The Void
Idols And Anchors
Absolute Power
Writings On The Wall
Shadow Boxing
Wild Eyes
The Colour Of Leaving
Bottom Feeder

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