Arch Enemy’s performance in Tel Aviv last night was something else. With all the planning and organizing and preparing both strategically and emotionally, I still found myself with a great need for flexibility due to some events I wasn’t entirely prepared for.
The first concern was whether there would be traffic, and if we’ll be late – There wasn’t and we weren’t.
The second concern was if it’ll take us a long time to find the venue. Yet, we found it quite easily. “Follow the black pile,” said my boyfriend, referring to the scattered crowds of metalheads along the way.
Another concern was the weather. I was expecting the worst – being stuck outside waiting in line in the freezing, pouring rain. Though it was pretty cold, it wasn’t raining and we were quite alright.
When we finally made it inside, it was a much bigger venue than what I expected. There were also a few levels and platforms with railings around the stage. We found a decent spot on the left side of the stage on the second platform, right behind the railing. The platform was high enough so that we don’t have to do any contortionist acrobatics to see what goes on onstage. And the railing was low enough for me to be able to headbang, and it also proved to be quite useful for hanging our coats and the t-shirts we bought.
The stage was rather small, but I guess since this is Tel Aviv and not Montreal, and this was Reading 3 and not the Medley, that was to be expected. There wasn’t an enormous crowd, which was good, because I like to be able to breathe during a concert.
The first disappointment came early on. I had a back and forth email conversation with Angela about meeting the band backstage before the show. I gave her my cell number because it was my understanding that I would get a text message from her at around 9:00 and someone would come meet us near the merch area to take us backstage. That didn’t happen. Though we got there on time, I got no text message, and I found out later that night that the dude did come to the merch area where we were waiting, but didn’t see us, obviously, because he didn’t know what we look like.
When Chaos of Nazareth, the opening band, came onstage, I was well within my third stage of disappointment – desperation. I looked to the curtain of the backstage and saw a guy that looked like part of the tour management team. I went up to him, and screamed at the top of my lungs so he can hear me: “Can you tell Angela that Hadass is here?”
He went to check backstage and when he came back, he told me I’m too late, and that the band started warming up to go onstage. Now, if my email conversation with Angela would have been any different, it wouldn’t have been too upsetting. But she made it clear that meeting the band after the show would most likely not be possible, due to schedule matters.
My boyfriend tried to cheer me up, but I was still disappointed.
The inner child was livid. But she kept her passive-aggressive demeanor in the quiet way to which she is accustomed before exploding.
“You know,” she finally said, speaking mostly to herself than to me. “This is Arch Enemy’s first goddamn show in Israel. You’re about to get infused with a highly toxic amount of pure fucking metal right into your skull. The metal demon is at the doorstep of your brain. And here you are moping around because you won’t see the band backstage.”
She scoffed, but she slumped her shoulders and hung her head. The inner dialogue continued.
“Imagine if it would be the other way around,” she mused. “What if you were to see them backstage, and for some reason, you wouldn’t see them onstage. Would that have been worth it?”
The reply was immediate, “Fuck NO!”
“So swallow your bitter fruit. It was a misunderstanding. It didn’t work out, big fucking deal. Now let the metal demon in.”
And in it went. And when Arch Enemy took the stage, the demon thrashed me like a ragdoll. I didn’t fight it. The inner child reveled in the black and red metal aura radiating from the stage, and she savored every flip, every swivel, every snap and twist of the neck.
The show started at 10:30 and ended at 11:50. Arch Enemy played many songs from Wages of Sin and Khaos Legions, and a couple from Rise of the Tyrant, Doomsday Machine and Anthems of Rebellion.
At Graspop, Arch Enemy didn’t play any songs from Root of All Evil, but I thought it was because their festival set lasted 50 minutes and they had to keep the list of their tunes to a strict minimum. But last night, they ended the show without so much as a mention of that record. Though I was disappointed about that too, I was absolutely ecstatic that some of my favorite Arch Enemy songs did make the cut. The songs they played were:
Yesterday Is Dead and Gone
Taking Back My Soul
(Daniel’s drum solo)
Under Black Flags We March
Dead Eyes See No Future
(Chris’s guitar solo)
(Michael’s guitar solo – Intermezzo Liberte)
Dead Bury Their Dead
We Will Rise
Fields of Desolation outro
I never thought Enemy Within, Dead Bury Their Dead and Burning Angel would make an appearance, but when the intro of each song began, the metal demon reclaimed its all-encompassing presence and my headbanging resumed with utmost violence. I screamed the lyrics to all the songs even if I could feel my throat being torn to shreds. There were times I pulled at my hair, pulled at my shirt, pounded my chest with my fists, arched my back and screamed at the sky. Following the show, I asked my inner child, “Did this really happen?”
“No,” she replied. “Here is what actually happened.” And she replayed a more violent, more bloody version of events than I could recall, followed by her evil little rebel smile.
My cousin joined us after the show. He was standing in the front row and scored a setlist, Michael’s pic and a handshake from Daniel. We hung around a little longer, waiting for the crowd to disperse. Meanwhile, I was looking to the backstage curtain every now and again, trying to debate whether or not I should give it another shot.
Finally, I saw the dude that spoke to me during the Chaos of Nazareth set, and decided to go for it. Worst that could happen, he says no and I have to settle with the one picture I have with Angela from Montreal.
“I just want to say hi, and I’ll be out of there,” I pleaded.
He went backstage and came back with a semi-positive answer.
“You can go in,” he said. “But only you. Nobody else.”
“So they can’t come with me?” I pointed at my boyfriend and my cousin.
“No, just you,” he insisted.
I turned to them and said “Sorry, guys!” And followed the guy behind the curtain.
After another 10 or 15 minutes of waiting, I was finally taken to the band’s dressing room. They were standing around drinking coffee, looking a bit ravaged and sweaty, sporting the good old we-just-kicked-a-bunch-of-ass-at-the-hardcore-metal-show-we-just-played look.
I smiled My inner child smiled right through me, stretching my dystrophied jaw muscles as far as they’ll go.
I took a few pictures, got a few signatures and a few hugs, delivered Angela and Daniel the letters that my cousin asked me to give to them, and spoke to Angela a little. I don’t quite recall what I said, but I remember she told me she might be performing at Hellfest. And with Black Sabbath and King Diamond set to play there too, that’s a triple-chippy-chip-churrah for your ass. It totally made my night and compensated for any mishap before the show, any song they didn’t play during the show, and any neck-stiffness I experienced after the show and am still experiencing now.
After the backstage visit, I joined my group of metalheads outside and we went to eat. We got back home at the nice and ripe hour of 3:30 a.m. and I fell asleep with such a resounding snore to raise the dead. What an appropriate way to end the night.
And now the pictures (and a video) for your viewing enjoyment!