Swedish Metal “Kings” Avatar set the Mercury Ballroom on fire with the Hellzapoppin Circus Sideshow and The Brains.
In spite of a significant snowfall accompanied by freezing temperatures which blanketed Louisville well into the middle of the day, a huge crowd lines up outside the Mercury Ballroom well before the venue doors opened. Gothenburg, Sweden’s hottest metal band, Avatar return to Louisville for the second time in just over 12 months with another sell-out show. The local fan community isn’t about to let some nasty weather get in the way of the opportunity to be part of the Avatar spectacle.
As you enter the venue, you are immediately drawn into the carnival type atmosphere, complete with a decked-out merchandise booth decorated as a carnival tent where fans have the opportunity to enjoy a spin-to-win for various low dollar merchandise. The carnival-type atmosphere extends on stage adding to the overall excitement in the room well before the evening starts.
Avatar are at the beginning of a massive U.S. and European tour called the Avatar Country Tour, in support of their seventh album, Avatar Country, released on January 12. The first single from the album “A Statue of the King” was released on October 24, 2017, followed by “The King Wants You”, released on SiriusXM Octane radio on December 13, both singles receiving glowing reviews.
As the house lights drop, the large stage length curtain falls revealing “The King” (guitarist Jonas Jarlsby) sitting on his throne high above drummer John Alfredsson. Regally outfitted with a rich red cape and gold crown “The King” shreds the intro music for the night, “Glory To Our King” as the spectacle of Avatar explodes in front of the crowd. Without much delay lead singer Johannes Eckerström emerges from the side stage adorned in his circus ringleader garb as Avatar launch into “Legend of the King,” followed by a raucous fan favorite “Let It Burn,” and “Paint Me Red” with the whole venue saturated in deep red hues.
Over the next almost 90 minutes Avatar drive through a set focused on the new album including “King’s Harvest,” their most recent singles “The King Wants You,” and “A Statue of the King”, along with “The King Welcomes You To Avatar Country” with a hair-whipping, guitar shredding frenzy that has the Mercury Ballroom jumping.
Expertly sprinkled into the evening’s performance are many fan favorites including “Puppet Show,” “Tower,” and “The Eagle Has Landed” with the energy level in the Mercury Ballroom increasing during each song. Mixed in was a performance of “War Song” which Johannes explained was one of the first riffs that “The King” had ever written and this is the first time the song is being performed live since early 2008, providing a definite highlight of the night’s performance.
As the deep bass notes of “Freak Show” starts, the venue erupts with the crowd singing at the top of their collective voices, with Johannes instructing the crowd “In the name of The King bang your heads”, bringing to an end an outstanding main set.
Frontman Johannes, now center stage addressing the Louisville crowd for the last time explains, “it is considered a risky model to return to perform at the same venue within a 12-month period. We are not supposed to be able to fill up the same room twice… Yet clearly we did! It is truly amazing and thank you for all of that. Avatar citizens, tonight we all became family.” The crowd roars their agreement as he continues, “When I’m with family, I’m not afraid, not afraid of the dark, not afraid of anything, including the inevitable end. All I can say is ‘Thank You’ and ‘Hail the Apocalypse’”. And so, Avatar brings a night of wildly entertaining and satisfying metal to a close.
Hellzapoppin Circus Sideshow starts the night off in an uncommon yet well-received fashion. The set consists of mind-blowing sideshow acts including walking on glass, and sword swallowing mixed in with some wild magic tricks, which more than suited the carnival theme of Avatar’s show.
Montreal based 3-piece rockers, The Brains provide the main support for the evening. Delivering an energetic set of self-described Montreal Psychobilly, The Brains prove to be a great fit for the evening.