Event: Lamb of God – Omens Tour
Venue: Michigan Lottery Amphitheatre – Sterling Heights, Michigan
Date: September 25, 2022
Artists Performed: Lamb of God, Killswitch Engage, Baroness, Suicide Silence
Hello dear readers. Friends. Lovers of METAL! I hope you’re feeling all-caps today. Not letting any of those lower-case assholes mess with your head. We’re here to talk about Lamb of God for a while.
Lamb of God is one of my all-time favorite bands and, as is the case with fans of nearly any mainstream act, catching hell for that happens with uncomfortable regularity. Eventually, discussions about them become less about Lamb of God as a band and more about Lamb of God as a character in the ongoing reality series The Great Heavy Metal Gatekeeping Orgy. Coming soon to a theater near you! Even the word “gatekeeping” has become a character in this bullshit lately, and I’m done letting it raise my blood pressure.
In fairness, I confess to being an active participant myself on occasion. Just take a look at my Sabaton write-up. It is a lesson on how not to write a negative review.
To begin, it is not lost on me that my interest in concert photography far outweighs my ability to capture brilliant examples. I’m always grateful to have an opportunity to improve, however, and the Michigan Lottery Amphitheatre is the biggest venue I’ve taken pictures at so far. Lamb of God is unquestionably the biggest band I’ve taken pictures of, and it was a crazy feeling.
There is an energy present in the photo pit that’s just out of reach for people on the other side of the barrier. There is a nagging sensation of being either 1) in the way, or 2) a small part of the show. You don’t overstay your welcome, and you’re respectful of the people around you, but it has been my experience so far that people love getting their pictures taken.
Suicide Silence guitarist Mark Heylmun seemed one of those people, straightforwardly so, and that did not surprise me in the least. Meylmun always has that confidence about him. Eddie Hermida, on the other hand, seemed more a part of his own world. I never got to see Suicide Silence with Mitch Lucker singing, but I did see Hermida on the You Can’t Stop Me tour. He was cocky, energetic, and full of middle fingers. Ragging! This time there was a stoicism about him. There was an ownership of space sort of hidden under his jacket. Like he was guarding the entrance to a castle full of labyrinth-like nightmares, shedding pieces of himself with a little more ferocity on each song. By the time they got to “Fuck Everything,” I thought, “This dude is about to detonate!” A fantastic performer, Eddie Hermida.
When I last saw Baroness, they had a different guitarist. I was looking forward to hearing how Gina Gleason fit in, and she was incredible. Particularly on “Isak” and “A Horse Called Golgotha,” and her backing vocals were great, too. I can imagine John Baizley being an intimidating presence for a guitarist, but Gina Gleason didn’t lose a step. Baroness has always been a great guitar band, but they’re unstoppable with this line-up.
Killswitch Engage doesn’t fill me with much joy these days. I think there has been some running in place going on with them the last couple years, perhaps still trying to get back in the groove after two years of lock-down. Hard to say. On the other hand, my impression may have been hindered by their placement in the days festivities – sandwiched in between Baroness and Lamb of God – like a slice of warm bologna. Poor guys. They played a tight, hit-filled set, though. The crowd loved every minute.
We all know how it feels in the moments before a band we love hits the stage, especially those we might consider “big guns” like Iron Maiden, Slipknot, Gojira, and the like. Michigan Lottery Amphitheatre is a decent-sized venue with a capacity of 7,300, but it rained like crazy earlier in the day, so that kept the lawn pretty clear. For context, this basically means the entire place could fit inside the pavilion at Pine Knob, but to fill up the pavilion at Michigan Lottery, it would take three and a half Royal Oak Music Theatres.
I’ve seen Lamb of God at all three of these places, and they always bring with them the same intensity and seething disposition. Randy Blythe has a way of making the atmosphere feel more homelike. Cozy, but still a little chilly, and your hoody is full of holes. A place where it’s safe to feel anxious; switched off but still warm enough to keep your mind awake, and when that curtain went down to the sound of “Memento Mori,” the world went away.
“Walk With Me In Hell,” then “Now You’ve Got Something to Die For,” and that crowd was on fucking fire! Those are two of LoG’s heaviest and most adored songs and as such aren’t expected so early in the set, but a catalog like theirs is full of songs fans want to hear. It is a cool feeling when you’re thinking “oh shit! What are they gonna do now?! What are they gonna dooooo?!!”
Of course, there is a large number of songs Lamb of God absolutely has to play. Songs like the two above, as well as “11th Hour,” and “Omerta.” They have been adding “Contractor” to the set, which is a deep cut from Wrath. That song has one of the most murderous breakdowns you’ll ever hear, and as far as I’m concerned, they should keep it on the list permanently.
They always do a couple tunes from whatever record they just put out. This time those were “Omens,” and “Nevermore.” No surprise there. Had it been a week later, the crowd might not have let them get away with not playing “Ditch,” but that might end up being one of those songs a band becomes known for keeping out.
Without fail, the last two songs they play are “Laid to Rest,” and “Redneck,” and in that order. That’s just how things go. See who gives a fuck!!
The show was a complete blast, and there was an extra buzz about the place with the Omens album release on the horizon. The lucky VIPs got early copies that night, as well as pit access, which the band played up nicely for them. I have no idea how much those tickets were, but they seem to have been worth the price.
There is one week left on this North American leg of The Omens Tour. Then Lamb of God is off to Europe through December. If you’ve never seen them live, now’s the time, and if you’ve seen them seven times go again!