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On Saturday, October 19th in Brixton, South London, I invented a new game. My new game ‘Spot the Volbeat fan’ has few rules and is remarkably simple. You just spot people who you think may be heading to the Academy, where the Danish metal-country-punks are playing, supported by US power-metal legends, Iced Earth and UK rock n roll upstarts,The Howling.

The game is made easier by the vast amount of things you can buy with ‘Volbeat’ written on them. Shirts, hats, sweat bands, shorts, jackets, hoodies, belt buckles and badges all make an appearance. Iced Earth are next best represented in the merchstakes, but then there’s loads of people in very new looking Alter Bridge stuff they presumably bought from Wembley the previous night.

So, Brixton is thronging with rockers, and rightly so, since for all of their huge popularity in Europe, Volbeat rarely venture to these shores. This is the last of four nights in the UK before they head back into Germany and Scandinavia via Spain, and with the upstairs seating closed off (for ‘unforeseen’ reasons, the venue say), the floor is packed.

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The Howling kick us off, brisk, to the point, certainly raw but with hooks and solos to burn. Bigger things beckon for them, one suspects. Iced Earth bring the proper metal, their backdrop a flaming demon holding human slaves in chains, their stage get-up a mass of spikes and denim, leather and gauntlets. Riffs fly, fists pump and bass drums take a battering. It’s big and loud and daft and great.

And so to Volbeat. They’re no strangers to playing live, so it’s no surprise that they hit their stride right away with a knockout 1-2 of ‘Hallelujah Goat’ and ‘Guitar Gangsters and Cadillac Blood’. The crowd respond accordingly, bouncing and flailing about wildly. ‘Sad Man’s Tongue’ is preceded by a now mandatory sing along to Cash’s ‘Ring of Fire’ and recent single, the ever-so radio friendly ‘Lola Montez’ keeps up the tempo.

There’s no let-up in quality or pace as they power through songs from ‘Beyond Hell/Above Heaven’, including a genuinely moving rendition of ‘Fallen’, Michael Poulsen’spaean to his deceased father. ‘Maybelline I Hofteholder’ gets a rapturous reception, before guitarist Rob Cagianno, a paragon of cool throughout, gets to open the taps on ‘Doc Holliday’.

Concluding with their cover of Dusty Springfield’s ‘I OnlyWanna Be With You’ and the anthemic ‘Pool of Booze…’, they send the crowd into the night happy, sweaty and most likely wearing something with Volbeat on it. Their show is everything that live music should be…impressive, unifying,skillful, but above all, it’s just bloody good fun. Come back soon, lads.

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Credits to owners for use of images

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