Last Saturday, we happened to make a trip to Koln, Germany to catch Parkway Drive on their (pretty much) sold out Euro tour. Based on the venue’s capacity and the fact Germany loves heavy music, we knew we were in for a lovely night filled with loud music and cheap beers. Good start to gig season 2016, right?
It’s true that Germany is known for its love of music and more specifically the heavy genre not only with its major festivals such as Rock Am Ring/Rock Im Park, but also thanks to its very worldwide-famous bands such as Rammstein or Scorpions. So it’s with no surprise that we arrived in a very-packed venue with a crowd ready to let the pressure of the week behind them and party hard with bands that keep being noticed and grow stronger each time they’re over here.
We’ve seen Parkway Drive quite a few times and throughout the years we’ve noticed a real evolution most likely within the crowds they attract. The band’s latest release ‘IRE’ also confirms it and shows the band is always improving their sound and growing.
Some things never change though, like… How can it always be so crazy, intense and give so much feels at the same time? That, and the fact they always go on tour with bands we must catch. In 2014, they co-headlined with Heaven Shall Burn and their fellow countrymen in Northlane were also part of the tour. This year, as the band never do anything in half, they invited one of UK’s most brilliant bands Architects and Australian metallers Thy Art Is Murder for a kick-ass Euro tour that quickly sold out in various cities.
Cologne is actually the perfect example to show Parkway Drive’s popularity over Europe as the venue could hold 4,000 people and it sold out months in advance. It’s true that at Plug-In, we’ve seen the Aussie band several times, playing to huge festival crowds, or nearly selling out some Belgium’s greatest venues. But that Saturday at Palladium felt like a whole other dimension and kind of surreal, even for a band that’s been going around for years. They’re now selling out numerous huge shows over the UK/Europe like Paris, Brussels, Lyon, London, Budapest, just to name a few and it feels like in 2016, all of us are completely blown away by the band’s power. Parkway Drive clearly is one of these bands that come over here pretty often but still get us super stoked to catch them, never ever being tired of it.
o o o
When we walked in, Thy Art Is Murder had already started their set and the venue was clearly warming up, we could already feel the excitement. Not a space seemed available for anyone to sneak in. This time we knew Parkway Drive would bring us the heavier, hottest tracks with some cool effects and we couldn’t wait any longer to hear some of their newest songs live on a full set. So we made our way through the crowd and when the band kicked in with Destroyer, everybody went crazy straight on since we’d all been looking forward to the night for a while!
The song set the mood for the evening and was a perfect starter as it goes crescendo with the guitars and makes you lose it ’til it drops. They followed with Dying to Believe, also off their latest release and played a few new tracks that are really solid and that we were keen to see performed live like Bottom Feeder, Dedicated and Crushed, all inserted among older tracks off ‘Deep Blue’, ‘Horizons’ and ‘Atla’s. We are still a bit surprised to hear Carrion three songs in the set since the band used to end with this major hit but at the same time we wondered what surprises they had for us. It only kept the excitement growing.
From this song onwards the set kept reaching another level I’d rarely experienced before and the entire venue was losing it, moshing harder, singing louder, pretty much enjoying the night as if not only they had never seen the band before but also as if it was their last show ever. The good thing about Parkway Drive is also the quality of their show and the impact their songs have when played live… They hit like very powerful waves. And the band knows how to get the crowd going wilder and wilder throughout their set with a singer clearly knowing its job and owning the audience like a maestro. This time the band had beautiful light effects and no matter where you stood in the venue, it was remarkably well executed all along the performance adding some pyro here and there, which made the venue even sweatier!
Parkway Drive had a very balanced set list with older tunes that we absolutely love to hear like Karma, Swing, Romance is Dead or Dark Days. During this show the most intense moments were those songs old or new with powerful sing-alongs. Idols and Anchors, Wild Eyes, Home Is For The Heartless and Vice Grip really had a strong impact on the crowd whose voices resonated loudly inside the massive venue. We couldn’t breathe or move but every person in there gave it all they had to make it a great night to remember for a while. The band’s performance really is to underline, as it was really reactive, orchestrating the crowd, but also being very energetic and crazy as per usual.
That evening was unique and different from what we’d seen before, but in a very intense and good way. The moshing never stopped until the very last minute. The crowd was hyped and stoked to take part in such an unforgettable night. The two-song encore was in a way the highlight of the set. We heard Crushed off “IRE” and it was absolutely sick. Not only was this song one of our favourite new tracks, being an absolute tune but the way people reacted to it live was crazy and it gave the song another dimension. And that’s what we love about Parkway Drive: the way they can transform a song live and make it sound even more intense. Parkway Drive ended their set on Home Is For The Heartless holding a red light; Winston McCall thanked the crowd for an incredible night and asked everyone “from top to the back and every set of lungs breathing” to sing along with them. Everyone followed the request with perfection and ended an incredible set with loud screams as the band illuminated the venue with sparkling “showers” of light. Until the very end everyone, fans or the band delivered all they had and made it one for the book.
o o o
However, Parkway Drive’s performance was not the only one noticed… There was another band playing as well that night, opening before the Byron Bay natives. And although there is no need to introduce them, Architects was also one of the reasons that made the evening so sweet for everyone. And whether you were a fan or not, it was undeniably one of their best performances so far. The band were given a warm welcome and kicked in with Gravedigger followed by Broken Cross. The Devil Is Near, Naysayer, C.A.N.C.E.R and a few others were played before they ended with an older success These Colours Don’t Run. The band’s performance was really on point, mainly playing songs off « Lost Forever // Lost Together » their latest album that offered them new fans and many great tours as this album really is filled with smashing, banging songs. Although we would have liked to hear a bit more of other songs, we were still happy kids, having a blast and singing our hearts out.
Aside from the crowd, the band was also really happy and thankful to be back on the road. The singer kept greeting the fans for the success of their latest album but also for stoping by that night and catching their set. Frontman Sam Carter underlined the importance of going to shows, as it makes you who you are and helps you grow as an individual. Through its songs and performances Architects always give out some positivity and encourage people to stand out. Seeing the band give all they had to do an awesome performance in as they said « one of their favourite stops to play » made us even more excited and proud to be part of this.
The band really had a connection with the crowd and managed to get us off our feet, mosh around a lot and circle pit. The crowd was very responsive to the band, which created a great atmosphere and everyone seemed hyped on sugar and thrilled to finally attend the event and see some of the greatest bands in the heavy scene on the same line-up. The band has evolved in terms of performance for sure, going from smaller venues to such a place is a big step and one thing’s sure about Architects it’s how much energy and passion they put into what they do. It struck out to me the first time I caught them live and it’s also one of the things that keep me coming back. So if someone had never seen or heard of Architects before that night, with such a performance it’s pretty sure that these guys will come back. When the band left the stage, we were even more looking forward to a new Architects album followed by new headlining tours and we’re ready to bet that they’ll come back to an even bigger audience.
o o o
All bands delivered good performances, each doing it in their own style yet all pleasing a very excited crowd that had been waiting for this line-up for a while. Both bands reminded us how good it is to be at gigs watching inspiring bands like that. It is important to underline that outside of the music/show technicalities, the fans also played an important part during the night as it was really fun. And people were just chilled, there for the music and to have fun with their pals. Even in between sets we witnessed something unusual (well, for us…) When some of the 80’s biggest hits came on, the whole venue started screaming along and dancing. And the funniest part was when everybody lost it to Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody, making us smile and even more warmed up for Parkway Drive’s performance. Good way to go, Germany, you know the party!
So apart for a fun night watching great bands we love we will mainly remember the atmosphere in the venue and that massive place filled with people singing their hearts out to some of our favourite Parkway Drive and Architects songs. But, what’s really important to underline once more is the bands evolution and how they both keep growing their fanbase tour after tour. Parkway Drive’s shows are never a disappointment; we always have a blast and that’s why we keep coming back every time regardless of what city or venue we can see them in. And as a reminder, they hit Paris on Thursday and Brussels next week so be prepared for killer sold out shows. And you don’t want to miss this!
More photos can be found HERE