Volbeat motors manic metal mashup
Volbeat wears its influences on its sleeve – or would if frontman Michael Poulsen didn’t prefer to bare his arms to display his many tattoos.
His vest. He wears his influences on his vest: Sewn patches of Motorhead, Johnny Cash, the Ramones, the death metal band called Death, and so on.
Bursts of just about all of it could be heard at Volbeat’s metal mash-up Saturday night at Rexall Place – the last show ever in this building under that name. Early on they metalicized the rock standard I Only Want To Be With You, a hit for Dusty Springfield in 1964. Later a song was dedicated to the late Lemmy from Motorhead, and it sounded like pumped-up Bo Diddley. There was Johnny Cash with a snip of Ring of Fire, into Volbeat’s own Sad Man’s Tongue, which only sounds like it was written by Johnny Cash. “Strolling down the highway with Uncle Sam roaring, ‘Rebel kid get your ass home. Your ass belongs to me. Leave your Johnny Cash songs and get home,” Poulsen sang. The lyrics resonate with the American experience.
These guys are from Denmark. When have they been anywhere near the Crossroads or had a mean woman done them wrong in some two-bit honky-tonk in Memphis? I call cultural appropriation.
And isn’t it great? They probably got it from afar, on the radio or old records. It’s a lot of fun seeing a band like this: An old-time rock band dressed in metal clothes, double kicks and screaming twin guitars to match. The sound was solid groove with an aggressive edge, often veering from pleasant pop in country-style punk-polkas to the crunching sinister semitones typical of modern metal. No Cookie Monster death metal vocals here. Poulsen is old school. He sang clear and clean, belting out these rocka-metal-fusion tunes with the style of the rock stars of yore and the ferocity of the hardest of the hard rockers. Lemmy would be proud.
This is not a typical metal band, and this wasn’t a typical metal crowd: A lot of 30-something couples mingled with the usual retinue of average guys in black T-shirts, 6,500 people in total. In short, a very normal Edmonton rock crowd. This isn’t Slayer, after all.
Poulsen’s Danish-ness was hardly noticeable – except in a few places. It’s like the Family Guy joke about the two foreign guys at the coffee ship who’ve been living in the US almost long enough to sound American.
“Make the noise!” Poulsen shouted at one point. Later on, he told the guys in the crowd to hoist their girlfriends onto their shoulders. “Lift up your ladies!” Couples were quick to comply.
Some of the elevated ladies flashed their breasts during the song that followed. That’s just the kind of night it was.
“Thanks for the balloons,” the singer said.
Poulsen, by the way, has an Elvis tattoo. It figures.
In keeping with the theme, the opener Killswitch Engage delivered an interesting, possibly unintended moment to balance the generally dull set of bombastic melodic metal they put on. These guys have two singers, one clean, Jesse Leach, and one “dirty,” Adam Dutkiewicz. Around the mid-point in the set, Dutkiewicz, who sounds like Hulk Hogan needs to clear his throat, attempted to start a chant, “Tits and beer and beer and tits! Tits and beer and beer and tits! Come on! You know this one!”
No one joined in.
Must be lonely out there on the road.